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The content of this blog is unabashedly lesbian feminist in perspective. If that offends you, leave now.

Saturday, July 22, 2006




"The Jerusalem police 24 hours ago informed us that they are unable to provide a safe environment for the march in light of the current hostilities in the region and the excessive stress this puts on their staff. Therefore, we feel it would be neither responsible nor appropriate to hold the march until such time that circumstances allow for a safe and peaceful gathering for all. This is not the time for celebrations, and the march, which would requires extensive security, will not take place due to the situation. The parade will be held with the improvement of the security situation in the country. All other WorldPride events will take place as scheduled in a format that is sensitive to the situation and as part of the continued democratic struggle for a free Jerusalem.

We continue to hear from attendees from around the world informing us that they will indeed be coming to Jerusalem. Their participation inspires us to work toward a successful and safe WorldPride gathering in the spirit of the principles we have always promoted: peace, tolerance and respect for diversity in all its forms.

We are committed to marching in Jerusalem as we have done successfully annually since 2002. A new date for this year's Pride March in Jerusalem will be announced as soon as a cease fire is achieved in the region. We hope and pray together with our colleagues and supporters around the world for an end to hostilities and suffering in the region."

The Jerusalem Open House (JOH) is a grassroots, activist organization of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, and allies. Since 1997, we have worked to make our city a place where all people are free to seek self-fulfillment. Our greatest challenge is a tradition of conformist heterosexism that continues to be enforced by almost all social institutions in Israel, including the family, the school, the state, and the religious establishment. This challenge is especially formidable in Jerusalem, a city of traditional values and deeply rooted religious commitments. Visit JOH online by clicking here.


"I am fully committed to attending all WorldPride programs and events, traveling with dozens of my congregation members to Jerusalem with pride and anticipation next week. Now, more than ever, it is important that we demonstrate the values of WorldPride in Jerusalem a city like no other, a distinctive global symbol. Sadly, that symbol has been hijacked to propagate fundamentalism, segregation, and conflict. WorldPride will be held in Jerusalem to reclaim the symbol that Jerusalem is, for what it was originally all about: tolerance, openness, and respect for all human beings regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, or nationality."

WorldPride is a unique international opportunity to make a global statement, building upon decades of Pride events and the struggle of millions of individuals across the globe for self-fulfillment, for the possibility to be who they are and to follow their heart and their identity. It is through WorldPride that InterPride most effectively expresses the combined energy of its member organizations, responsible for Pride celebrations around the world that attract a combined attendance of between 15 and 20 million, from San Francisco to Montreal to Sydney to Berlin. Click here to visit WorldPride online.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Transgenders Claim FEMA Sex Change Scandal Was Fabricated, Fraudulent

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before a House Homeland Security subcommittee to spotlight $1.4 billion fraudulent waste of Emergency Assistance Funds (EAF) to Hurricane Katrina victims. The unprecedented level of Federal Emergency Management Agency fraud was blared over television newscasts and emblazoned on newspaper headlines: "FEMA funds paid for a sex change."

However, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) is now publicly calling the media and authorities on this claim, demanding proof that this occurred and calling the press on this claim "fabricated" and "fraudulent." In reviewing both House subcommittee testimony and the GAO report (www.gao.gov/new.items/d06844t.pdf) that uncovered the fraud there was no reference of a sex change, nor any surgery of any type being paid for by FEMA funds.

"It appears [the sex change] story was prime red meat for conservatives looking to turn attention away from the President, and onto Katrina victims and FEMA," said NTAC President Vanessa Edwards Foster. "It also appears there's no veracity to the story that EAF funds were used for gender reassignment surgery. These press claims are what's fraudulent."

House Homeland Security Investigations subcommittee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) called the discovered waste "criminal" but never mentioned anything about sex changes. However Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) did note the sex change claim shortly after the House testimony, commenting, "I don't understand how this could happen."

How the sex change allegation originated remains unclear. The June 14, 2006 story by Larry Margasak of the Associated Press noted a sex change in a laundry list of items scammed from FEMA. While outlets as diverse as Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ABC News, MSNBC, Bloomberg Report carried the story, the more conservative news outlets such as Wall Street Journal or Fox News made no mention of the sex change accusation.

When questioned about the story, the GAO's Office of Public Affairs stated "there was no reference to that allegation … because we cannot confirm it."

"The press reported on fabricated claims of sex changes paid with FEMA funds, but no media ever mentioned $2,000 paid to a Christian Broadcast Network from EAF payments," Foster of NTAC commented. The GAO report listed $2,000 paid to Colorado-based LeSEA Broadcasting Network.

After anguishing over the initial FEMA news reports, NTAC Vice President Courtney Sharp said she "was shocked to discover that the [GAO] report didn't mention anything about anyone misusing funds to have gender reassignment surgery."

A New Orleans resident who lost nearly everything during Katrina, Sharp said she listened as co-workers and friends disparaged the person who used FEMA funds to obtain a sex change. "[It] was extremely hurtful to realize that someone had embellished the GAO report and was probably using the negative stereotypes about transgender people [for] media attention."

Sharp said she now feels the public was "bamboozled" by the news report.

"There's an inherent media bias in this story," NTAC's Foster continued. "If you have transsexuals having sex changes it's great press - even if it is uncorroborated! But a confirmed report of emergency victims' funds paid to a faith-based broadcaster is deemed not press-worthy." While acknowledging many Americans have no problem with faith-based groups receiving money, she noted that they would likely not be keen on funds intended for needy victims in an emergency being given instead to a broadcast group to spread the gospel.

"I smell a rat behind the fabrication of this news report. It's very Karl Rove," Foster commented. "It uses an unwitting transgender community to bludgeon Hurricane Katrina victims." She called the uncorroborated claim in the press "despicable."

"Ten months after Hurricane Katrina, residents of the Gulf Coast continue to struggle to rebuild their lives," NTAC's Sharp observed. "The impact has been truly unimaginable. Like the majority of residents, transgender people are responsible, productive, law abiding members of the community and they are also playing important roles in rebuilding the devastated areas.

"The media attack on the transgender community," Sharp finished, "served as my fifth personal "tidal surge" post-Katrina."

Whether originating from Congress, the press or an administration press operative, NTAC urges the responsible party to own up to, and publicly apologize for unfairly portraying the transgender community, and for deceiving the American public.

Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.