If you watched TV this year, you know trans folk were totally hot in 2005, popping up on every show from the Simpsons to CSI. These trans characters weren’t just the ubiquitous chicks with dick types either. FTMs got in on the cultural exploitation with representations on shows like Cold Case. Of course the price of admission to the small screen is still high—most transgender characters still face murder (either as victims or perps).
Thankfully the Sundance channel premiered the first series dedicated to transgender characters—and nobody dies. The reality show TransGeneration follows four trans college students as they deal with transgender issues. MTV’s gay and lesbian channel LOGO will be re-running the entire eight episodes of TransGeneration in 2006.
Two actors portraying transgender protagonists have been nominated for Golden Globe Awards this year. In the groundbreaking film Transamerica, Felicity Huffman plays a pre-operative MTF who takes an unexpected journey when she discovers she fathered a son (who is now a teen runaway hustling in New York). Cillian Murphy was nominated for his role in Breakfast on Pluto as Patrick ‘Kitten’ Brady, a small-town Irish boy who’s reborn as a London transvestite cabaret singer in the 1960s and 70s.
At 2005 film festivals the diversity of the FTM community was examined in numerous documentaries, including Luke Woodward’s sexually explicit Enough Man, Julien Rosskam’s touching Transparent, and Joseph Parlagreco’s look at an FTM’s struggle to join the seminary, Call me Malcolm.
Trans athletes made progress in their fight to participate in competitive sports. Professional golfer Mianne Bagger became the first transgender woman to tour with the European Ladies golf tour and play at the British Open. A 47-year-old transsexual named Martine Delaney, who’s an Australian soccer player with a 25-year career in the men’s division, was permitted to join an Australian women’s soccer league. Canadian Mountain Biker Michele Dumaresq’s controversial win to ride in women’s competitions was documented by Debra Wilson in 100 percent Woman.
While the trans nation made strides in the world of entertainment and sports, our quest for legal rights and protections yielded mixed results. Nearly three years after her murder California teen Gwen Araujo finally got some justice when two of her murderers, Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, were convicted of second degree murder. Not far from the Araujo trial, a very different verdict came down in another California courtroom. Citing “gay panic,” Estanislao Martinez was sentenced to three years for manslaughter after stabbing a transgender woman, Joel Robles, 20 times. Martinez received an additional year sentence for using scissors in the attack.
When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the workplace discrimination case of transgender police officer Philecia Barnes, it upheld a Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Barnes. The court ruled that Barnes was discriminated against when she was prevented from advancing to the level of detective. Employment discrimination of trans people is still alive and well, as indicated when the Library Of Congress rescinded a job offer after learning the applicant was in the process of transitioning from male to female. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the transwoman involved.
A long-running child custody battle between transgender father Michael Kantaras and his ex-wife, Linda, was finally resolved. At television psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw’s urging, the parents accepted a mediated agreement to share child-raising decisions and allow Kantaras “significant” visitation. Although Kantaras won joint custody in a nationally watched 2003 custody trial, successive appeal cases had been less supportive of the transman’s parental rights.
An Illinois Court of Appeals denied transman Sterling Simmons custody of his son, despite the boy’s request to live with his father, on the basis that Simmons was not legally male and therefore his marriage was invalid and he has no custody rights. The Chicago transman has lived his entire adult life as a male and has undergone some sex-reassignment operations. His birth certificate had been legally changed to reflect his male gender prior to his marriage to the boy’s mother. Their son was conceived through artificial insemination.
This next year is poised to see even more political, social and cultural changes affecting the transgender community, and TransNation will be there to cover them all.
FTM writer Jacob Anderson-Minshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.