A Boulder, Colorado law has just taken effect forbidding businesses,
schools and other organizations from discriminating against “gender
variants,” also known as “transgenders” — even requiring that public
facilities provide separate bathrooms if necessary for these
A similar law just passed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while Atlanta added
“gender identity” to its charter in January. And last summer, Louisville
and Lexington, Kentucky, both passed laws protecting transgenders from
With little media coverage, the transgender movement is gaining
momentum throughout the U.S. According to the National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force, three counties, 20 cities and the state of Minnesota now
prohibit discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.
Transgenders believe they are part of an international movement to
free individuals from “gender oppression” — which they define as
society’s practice of dividing the human race into male and female. The
term “transgender” encompasses a wide range of sexual behaviors,
including cross-dressers, drag queens, transsexuals (those seeking sex
change operations), and even “she-males,” hybrids who choose to go only
halfway through a sex change operation. They remain partially female and
partially male in their anatomy.
Many transgenders identify internally with the opposite sex, and try
to adjust their outward appearance to match what they believe is their
real gender. Thus, a male who believes he is a woman dresses like a
woman; a woman who believes she is really a man, dresses like a man.
Hollywood aids the transgender movement
Early in February, actress Hilary Swank was named as an Oscar
nominee for “best actress” for her performance in “Boys Don’t Cry.” As a
result of her nomination, the growing transgender movement gained
worldwide publicity for its cause.
“Boys Don’t Cry” tells the true story of a seriously disturbed
Nebraska woman who pretended to be a man. The woman, who called herself
Brandon Teena, believed she was a man trapped in a woman’s body. Teena
posed as a young man, dated girls and went cruising and drinking with a
rough crowd in a small town near Lincoln.
Brandon Teena’s charade began to unravel when she was arrested on a
check forgery charge and police released her real name, Teena Brandon,
to the local newspaper.
Her drinking buddies were enraged to find out who she was. In a
violent act, they stripped her naked to reveal the truth. Then they took
her to a secluded location and raped her. The local police did not file
charges against her rapists — both convicted felons. Later, in revenge
for Brandon’s having turned them in to the police, her rapists murder
“20/20 Downtown” devoted a segment on February 10 to another Brandon
Teena film called “The Brandon Teena Story,” recently released on video.
The tragic murder of Teena Brandon, because of the natural sympathy
it evokes for the victim, is being used by transgender groups to promote
their political and social goals.
What is a transgender?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) of the American
Psychiatric Association lists transvestism or transgenderism as a mental
disorder or a gender identity disorder. While the APA still considers
transgenderism to be a sexual dysfunction, this could change if
transgender activist groups are successful.
One of these transgender groups is the High Risk Project Society
based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The group has published “Gender,
Transgender and Transphobia,” by Sandra Laframboise, to explain the
movement and its goals.
According to the High Risk Project Society, “Transgender people seek
the freedom to express themselves and to present themselves in a manner
that is consistent with their own identity, rather than with the gender
identity imposed on them from birth.”
This includes transsexuals, who “internally experience a
contradiction between their identity and their anatomic sex, and usually
shape themselves physically to recreate a more healthy and harmonious
balance between their bodies and their internal world.”
The term transgender also includes “intersexuals,” or those more
commonly known as hermaphrodites.
“Intersexuals exist on the biological continuum between the poles of
male and female. …” says Laframboise. “Intersexuals struggle against
our rigid two-sex system, for the right to physical ambiguity and the
acknowledgment that there are more than two sexes.”
Cross-dressers are also transgendered persons. These are typically
heterosexual males who enjoy dressing up like women. Drag kings or
queens are also cross-dressers, but usually identify themselves as gays
Transgenderists are those who do not “identify with the gender
identity assigned to them at birth. … Transgenderists generally
perceive their experience of conflict between their sex and their gender
to be the result, not of ‘being in the wrong body’ (as may be the case
for transsexuals), but rather of society’s expectations that they assume
a gender identity that is, for them, inappropriate.”
Transgender bill of rights
The primary goal is to have all forms of trangendered behavior
normalized, accepted and protected. In addition, criticism of
transgenderism is to be stigmatized as a mental illness or criminalized
in hate crimes laws.
In 1993, an International Conference on Transgender Law and
Employment Policy passed an “International Bill of Gender Rights.” This
bill of rights laid out a lengthy list of goals and “rights” demanded by
The first of these is the individual’s right to define his own gender
“The individual’s sense of self is not determined by chromosomal sex,
genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. … It is
fundamental that individuals have the right to define, and to redefine
as their lives unfold, their own gender identity, without regard to
chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role,”
said the document.
The “bill of rights” also demands that transgenders be free from
psychiatric diagnosis or treatment based on their chosen gender
identities, and it calls for the right of transgenders to marry and to
Nancy Nangeroni, a transgender activist and founder of the
International Foundation for Gender Education, says that Western culture
is “sick” because it “pathologizes” anyone who wishes to go through a
sex change or live as a member of the opposite sex. Society, notes
Nangeroni, forces individuals into two molds: male or female.
“This is the pathology of a sick society,” she says. “The sickness
rests not in the individuals who sense discord between themselves and
the mold, but rather the system that produces the molds. … Let us end
the unconscious manipulation that traps us in a system of fear and
Nangeroni’s views are echoed by Martine Rothblatt, a transgender who
authored “The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender.”
According to Rothblatt, Western culture’s insistence on categorizing
people from the moment of birth as either male or female is as evil as
racial apartheid. Rothblatt believes traditional concepts of male and
female gender roles are socially constructed and come from ancient,
oppressive patriarchal cultures. In reality, says Rothblatt, there are
multiple sexes and expressions of sexuality. Maleness and femaleness are
on opposite ends of a continuum, with gradations of sexual orientations
While Nangeroni characterizes societal disapproval of transgenderism
as pathological, the High Risk Project Society says individual
disapproval of transgendered behavior is “transphobia,” akin to
“homophobia,” the term sometimes employed to stigmatize those who oppose
the “gay rights” movement.
Transphobia, says Laframboise is “the fear, hatred, disgust and
discrimination of transgendered people because of their non-conforming
Gaining protected class status
Minnesota is the only state thus far to legislate protected class
status for transgenders, which has already caused a stir among parents
of public school children. The law, passed in 1993 as part of the
state’s Human Rights Act, says employers cannot fire an employee for
presenting an “identity not traditionally associated with [their]
biological maleness or femaleness.”
Early in 1999, Sandy Crosby became outraged when she learned that the
school district had hired a transgendered music teacher to teach in her
daughters’ middle school. She said she did not want her daughters to
consider a man who dressed in pantyhose to be a role model. Nor did she
want her daughters to have to share a restroom with a man who thinks
he’s a woman, she said.
Crosby and other mothers teamed up with some conservative groups in
an attempt to have the term “transgender” removed from the Human Rights
Act. They have not succeeded. However, in February 1999 the
transgendered teacher resigned, claiming he/she was being harassed.
Parents in Antelope, California also went ballistic in 1998 when
teacher David Warfield informed his students that he would be returning
in the fall as a woman named Dana Rivers. Parents were informed by their
children that Warfield had described to the students his upcoming sex
change operation and his molestation as a child.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal group in Sacramento,
filed suit against Warfield for violating the rights of both the
children and their parents. PJI claimed Warfield had engaged in
unprofessional conduct by having sexually explicit discussions with his
students — without parental knowledge or consent. After coming back to
school as Dana Rivers, Warfield eventually was put on administrative
leave and, to avoid a trial, agreed to leave the high school with a
$150,000 severance package.
Allied with ‘gay rights’ movement
According to the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual lobbying group
in Washington, D.C., a transgender is a “broad term that encompasses
cross-dressers, intersexed people, transsexuals, and people who live
substantial portions of their lives as other than their birth gender.”
Shannon Minter, a transgendered lawyer and member of the
Female-to-Male International group, works with the National Center for
Lesbian Rights in San Francisco. According to Minter, HRC first began
meeting with transgender rights groups in 1995, and in 1996 invited
GenderPac, a transgender group, to join the Hate Crimes Coalition, which
was lobbying for federal hate crimes laws.
In April 1997, HRC invited Minter to a luncheon to discuss
discrimination against transgendered and transsexual youth.
Representatives from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National
Organization for Women, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians
and Gays attended.
According to Minter, “Although much remains to be done before trans
people are fully accepted and included in the gay rights movement, trans
activists have done an extraordinary job of propelling transgendered
issues into the forefront of lesbian and gay policy discussions and
In September 1998, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
voted overwhelmingly to amend its bylaws to include transgendered people
in its mission statement. PFLAG now has a Transgender Special Outreach
Network, which includes coordinators in more than 170 chapters. It has
also published and distributed more than 12,000 copies of the booklet,
“Our Trans Children.”
According to PFLAG’s materials, “There is no known cure or course of
treatment which reverses the transgendered person’s manifestation of the
characteristics and behaviors of another gender.”
The goal of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is to
promote tolerance and understanding of the transgender, not attempt to
“cure” him of his or her condition.
‘Worst day of my life’
Jerry Leach is a former transgender. With his wife, Charlene, he
operates a pastoral counseling ministry in Lexington, Kentucky, and has
worked with more than 1,200 men and women who have suffered from a
gender identity disorder.
Leach says he began fantasizing about being a girl when he was three
or four years old. He played with girls’ toys, wore girls’ clothing —
with his mother’s approval — and became aware early on that his mother
had wanted a girl instead of a boy.
“I can remember my first day of school, with my mom sitting with me
on the edge of my bed, letting me know I couldn’t wear a dress to
school. That was a vivid memory for me and the worst day of my life,”
He cross-dressed at home — both his parents knew about it. He left
for the Navy when he was 17, hoping the service could straighten him
out. But after visiting a Navy psychiatrist, the doctor told him he
couldn’t find help in the Navy, and Leach had been discharged within a
couple of weeks.
He met and married Charlene when he was barely out of his teens,
confessing his cross-dressing problem to his bride-to-be and telling her
he was healed.
“During our first year of marriage,” said Leach, “she came home and
found me fully cross-dressed. I had hoped she would love me enough to
accept it in the privacy of our home. But of course, she was very
strongly opposed to it.”
Leach entered public ministry and spent the next 20 years working as
a pastor, assistant pastor or youth leader in a variety of churches. He
would control his urges to cross-dress for long periods of time, but
then would fall. His wife kept his secret for two decades, until she
could bear it no longer. They eventually separated for nearly a year,
while he sought serious help.
The turning point for Leach came when he and Charlene met a couple at
church who were willing to spend time counseling them. Eventually, he
and Charlene became associated with Exodus International, a ministry to
ex-homosexuals. They operated CrossOver Ministries in Lexington for a
decade, and are now counselors to transgenders and the sexually
Molestation, rejection, fantasy
Childhood molestation appears to be a major factor causing a person
to believe he should be the opposite sex.
“Eighty percent of the people we have worked with over the last 10
years have been molested,” said Leach. “I was. I grew up feeling like I
hated men and didn’t want anything to do with them.”
Another cause of transgender desires, says Leach, “is a sense of
being rejected or being unwanted as a boy.” Leach experienced this as a
child when his mother repeatedly expressed the wish that he had been a
girl. As a result, he grew up with a feeling of self-hatred for being a
“Every time a person cross-dresses, he feels like he’s escaping the
reality of being a man,” notes Leach. “It’s an illusory world, it’s a
form of addiction, escaping reality into a fantasy world.”
Leach says that after repeatedly fantasizing about being a woman, the
man disassociates from himself and decides he just wants to stay in the
fantasy world of being a woman.
Sex-change operations only mask the person’s sexual identity
disorder, he said.
“The majority of men I’ve dealt with who have had sex-change
operations realize they’ve done the wrong thing, but they don’t know how
to change it,” says Leach. He is currently working with a transgender
male who has lived as a woman, but who now wants to live as a man. Once
the change is made, it is a difficult and painful ordeal to switch back
to the male gender. Many just give up.
Leach quotes Dr. Rene Richards, one of the nation’s first
male-to-female transgenders. Richards gave an interview in the March,
1999 issue of Tennis magazine, offering this advice to those considering
a sex-change operation: “I wish there could have been an alternative way
back in 1975. If there was a drug that I could have taken that would
have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way
I was, as a totally intact person. I know deep down that I am a
second-class woman. I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals,
but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow. Today,
there are better choices, including medication, for dealing with the
compulsion to cross-dress.”
“In five years, if not sooner, transgenderism will be legislated
into being as an alternative lifestyle,” says Leach. “And if you dare
say anything against it, you’ll be cited for committing a hate crime.”
Leach does take consolation, however, in the increasing number of
calls he’s been getting from transgenders who want help in overcoming
their gender identity problems, and will
soon launch a website, RealityResources.com, to help provide more help
for those struggling with gender identity disorders and other sexual
Frank York is a contributing
reporter for WorldNetDaily.