Tina K. Russell

November 29, 2009

The tragic life story

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:15 pm

THE tragic life story of a murdered Kentish Town transsexual became clear this week when it was revealed the victim’s mother had committed suicide four years ago and her uncle spent 15 years in prison falsely convicted of an IRA bombing.

Destiny Lauren, 29, born Justin Samuels, was found dead at around 1am on Thursday November 5, in her flat on Leighton Crescent.

It was almost four years to the day since her mother Elizabeth Hill took her own life outside the same flat.

via Hampstead and Highgate Express – Tragic story of murdered transsexual, whose uncle was one of the Guildford Four.

I’m really impressed with this article. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an article about the murder of a transsexual that really gave the victim, and the family, a story. For once, we’re not just statistics, we’re individuals.

The ninth paragraph—count it, nine—mentions that she was a sex worker. I was even more impressed after reading that, both because they didn’t choose to make it their lead (“transsexual prostitute murdered in back alley” is the usual angle, which comes with an air of dismissal), and because it’s rare for a transsexual murder victim to get any kind of life story printed, and rarer still if the victim is also a sex worker.

It’s a little chilling that I’m so used to stories of the murders of transgender people that I find myself celebrating one that is well-written. But, such is the reality of our lives. Reductionist, sensationalist stories of transsexuals’ deaths put us in danger by making us seem less than human, reinforcing a belief that discrimination against us is tolerable and our murders inevitable. However, treating these deaths as what they are—promising lives cut short by evil acts—will get people to think twice about mean things they do or say to transgender people, which will help create a climate in which no murder, of anyone, is tolerated.

November 12, 2008

FUD kills

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:50 pm

Global Update – Measles Outbreak Affects 1 Percent of Gibraltar Population – NYTimes.com
A measles outbreak in Gibraltar has infected almost 1 percent of the territory’s 28,000 people in just three months, according to a report by its public health director.

The outbreak, mostly in schoolchildren, made it clear that the authorities had been wrong in assuming that more than 90 percent of children had had measles shots, the report said. Gibraltar is a British territory, and resistance to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine has been high in Britain since a 1998 report in The Lancet speculated that it could cause autism.

That report has been widely discredited, and numerous later studies showed no link between vaccines and autism. Nonetheless, as a consequence of dropping vaccination rates, Britain has had several local measles outbreaks.

Please get your children vaccinated! We have the luxury of not knowing how bad measles, mumps, and rubella are because we’ve been vaccinated for so long. We should pass that legacy to our children, not put them at risk because of our ignorance.

About the title: FUD is “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It refers to campaigns that instill a vague, unspoken fear in you about someone or something. Basically, all these stories saying that vaccines “could” cause autism (they don’t), or that there is “debate” among scientists (there isn’t), or that the idea is pushed by anyone with a modicum of scientific credibility (it’s not) are the kinds of things that make you think twice, or put off getting your children vaccinated, when they actually really need it. I’m glad that no one has died so far in this outbreak, it sounds like; I just hope we learn that our children shouldn’t have to suffer because of FUD.

October 26, 2008

Propping up a failed Hank

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:47 am

Talking Business – So When Will Banks Give Loans? – NYTimes.com

Joe Nocera at the NYT notes, with some damning evidence, that banks (at least JP Morgan Chase, now the proud owner of my bank, Washington Mutual) don’t really plan on using Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s magical capital injections to free up credit for ailing business owners, despite that being the entire justification for the capital injections in the first place. Instead, banks would prefer to munch on the tattered carcasses of other banks through high-finance acquisitions.

I supported these, uh, injections (into the rump!), since they would yield profits for the government if they work, and hopefully give some control to the government over how the businesses are run. (A note on “moral hazard”: if you want to bail out a failing bank, make sure heads roll, first. CEOs getting generous severance packages for screwing up creates an environment where CEOs take risks without personally facing the consequences, convinced that shareholders have their backs. They might, say, bet the entire company on dodgy financial vehicles, for instance.) Of course, to sweeten the deal for his Wall Street chums, Paulsen made sure that the government bought only non-voting shares, and that the deal wouldn’t put restrictions on how the banks used their money. Wow! Imagine if you went to bankuptcy court and got terms this favorable. You’d think the government would have a bit more leverage in dealing with companies about to go belly-up if they can’t get a government lifeline.

Back to the issue at hand. The whole idea of the “capital injections” was that we would partially nationalize the nation’s failing banks to keep them afloat for a while. The government, as it is said, is the “investor of last resort”; if nobody else will buy stock in your company, perhaps Uncle Sam will (though I’m flabbergasted at why Paulsen wouldn’t have insisted on giving Uncle Sam a seat on the board). This was an idea initiated by Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Britain, and now being copied all over the world as though it were a high-concept game show. Now, Britannia had a good idea: banks that bent over and accepted the injections would be held to certain terms on how they spent the money (according to Nocera, here); for instance, they would have to lend the money to ailing businesses, as freeing up credit was the entire justification for the plan here and everywhere. The United States of America, on the other hand (or at least its appointed “Count Baron von Moneypants,” in Jon Stewart’s words), made no such requirement.

Back to the damning evidence. So, banks, at least JP Morgan Chase, are more focused on consolidation than the stated goal of “freeing up credit.” Without the requirement to lend, they won’t, and are instead planning to use the money to purchase smaller banks and place them on their corporate mantles. Now, I generally think well of the practice of, say, Chase buying out Bear Stearns and the Surprised Cow Bank (“Wha?! Mooooo…”); if Bank of America buys out Merrill Lynch for $2.50 and a Snickers bar, that’s a lot of accounts that aren’t to go down in a bank failure. (And, you’ll note that Paulsen let Lehman Brothers go under, begetting this crisis; had he given government backing to an acquisition, Lehman Brothers may have found a suitor and we may not have been faced with a crisis so big that we’d need to give him sweeping powers to handle it. …Wait a minute…)

But, there’s a problem: this disaster began with institutions “too big to fail”, well, failing. If big banks decide to play Pac-Man and gobble up all the smaller (or formerly big) ones, the next financial crisis will involve banks way too big to fail. Plus, there’s the problem Nocera focuses on: this whole bailout package was proposed as a way to free up credit, so that businesses can get loans and your friend can keep his job in lean times. If banks want to play hunter-gatherer with the money—instead of making loans and freeing up credit—what, exactly, are we paying for?

Is Paulsen—a man who predicted none of this, was consistently behind the curve, and spent the months before the crisis insisting everything was fine—just laying the groundwork for the next big crisis? And when does he plan to disprove our notion of him as a man beholden to his former colleagues on Wall Street and put some enforcement into his role as temporary supreme bank lord? When is Uncle Sam going to start carrying a big stick, and stop simply handing out free bags of money?

August 29, 2008

Give it time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 10:25 pm

Please read.

Response: Young transsexuals should be allowed to put puberty on hold | Comment is free | The Guardian
Your article (‘My body is wrong‘, G2, August 14) sensitively reports the anguish of the young teenage transsexual as the body changes in the direction of the wrong sex. That anguish is medically treated in other countries. But in the UK the “wrong puberty” is allowed to progress for years before treatment. Not only are these unwanted body changes traumatic as they develop, but if the teenager goes on to live as an adult of the other sex, they pose additional hardship. Aptly, the article tells of a mother whose (now) daughter was denied hormone treatment “until the age of 16, by which point she already had an Adam’s apple, a deep voice and facial hair”.

It is difficult for someone who is not a parent of a very distressed – perhaps suicidal – young teenage transsexual to empathise with what appears to be such a radical treatment. This is similar to the situation 40 years ago with sex-change surgery for adult transsexuals. In 1969, when I endorsed the first transsexual surgery for the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, not only were most physicians opposed, but I was, with my surgical colleague, concerned about the possibility of prosecution for mayhem, punishable by 14 years in prison.

There are arguments against early puberty suspension. Your article quotes Polly Carmichael of Gender Identity Development Service as saying: “The Dutch data [on gender suspension] looks promising. But they have not been doing it for so many years that you have long-term follow-up.” Perhaps. But we do have long-term follow-up of the consequences of denying timely treatment.

April 7, 2008

Awesome Transsexuals: Vikki-Marie Gaynor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 8:29 pm

Transsexual trucker wins sex discrimination claim – icWales

A transsexual trucker has won a sex discrimination claim after he was forced out of his job just weeks after arriving at work dressed as a woman.

Former soldier Mike Gaynor was well-liked and respected in his trucking job in Liverpool, which he landed in October 2006.

While I’m annoyed that this paper got the name and pronouns wrong–a horrendous practice that seems to be abating at most respectable newspapers–I am happy at every precedent that says that transsexuals, indeed, have rights. Also, this should help reveal to people how widespread this kind of discrimination is, so that we may end it once and for all.

You should not lose your job for being who you are, no less than a cissexual man should be punished for coming to work wearing a dress shirt and pants. Obviously, companies have the right to set a dress code, but they ought to be accomodating to someone honest and forthright about his or her transition.

Discrimination sucks, and that you simply do not understand the group you are discriminating against is no excuse. Maybe you’ll listen after you’re sued successfully for firing a good employee.

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