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Transgender Plea For Rights


Tori Culmer, right, speaking yesterday at the Transgender and Inter Sex Community press conference at the British Colonial Hilton. Also pictured is, left, Alexus D’Marco and Phylicity Smith. 	
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Tori Culmer, right, speaking yesterday at the Transgender and Inter Sex Community press conference at the British Colonial Hilton. Also pictured is, left, Alexus D’Marco and Phylicity Smith. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Transgender, Intersex United (BTIU) yesterday launched its multi-level equality campaign, “Bahamian Trans Lives Matter”, which seeks to secure equal rights for transgendered Bahamians as the debate about the upcoming gender equality referendum continues.

During a press conference at the Hilton on Tuesday, BTIU representatives called on the Christie administration to ensure that the fundamental rights of all genders of Bahamians - male, female and transgendered - are protected. However, the group stressed that it is not trying to shift the focus of the gender equality referendum.

The group is calling for equal access to healthcare, education and employment without discrimination.

Lead spokesperson for the group, Alexus D’Marco affirmed that members of BTIU, and to a greater extent those in the wider lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) community, are forced to live in unwarranted circumstances due to the confines of socially accepted behaviours in The Bahamas.

According to the self-proclaimed “first lady” of the LGBT community, scores of transgendered and intersex men and women are being discriminated on their jobs, in schools and in other social groupings because of this “well-endorsed” stigma.

“The conversation needed to come about, because discrimination (exists) on all levels. If we are talking about equality we have to go across the board for all Bahamians,” Ms D’Marco said.

“The word equal, that’s the key word. Why are you going to discriminate against one set of people and another set of people get all the privileges? That’s discrimination. I am glad the topic (of the) referendum and all of that has come about because we live in ‘la la land’ in this country. Unless we come forward as humans and Bahamians and stand up for our own rights, things will (never) begin to move forward and change.”

Ms D’Marco labelled those opposing the rights and privileges of transgender and intersex Bahamians as modern-day oppressors.

She said naysayers are opting to hide behind outdated research, refusing to acknowledge transgender and intersex for what it is – a medical condition and not as a sexual orientation.

“Just how they can pick up their collegiate math books and biological books, they can pick up and study (transgender). But, we want to live in ‘la la land’ and keep oppressing people, keep oppressing Bahamians when equality should be across the board,” she said.

Ms D’Marco said the group now has the moral support and backing to come forward and demand what it rightfully deserves - “equality.”

Question four of the upcoming referendum will ask voters to eliminate discrimination based on sex in the Constitution by inserting the word “sex” into Article 26.

Those opposing the bill think that this could one day lead to same-sex marriages, but the government has denied this as a possibility and stressed that the focus is solely on gender equality.

Addressing this particular point, BTIU representatives said they aren’t looking to shift the focus of the equality bills, but they want to use the national conversation on equality to be all encompassing.

BTIU stressed that there are no laws to protect transgender and intersex Bahamians.

Rights

Torri Culmer, a member of the BTIU who is advocating for legal protection for transgender and intersex persons against being terminated from their jobs, stressed that her story proves that the rights of these persons aren’t respected in the Bahamas.

Currently unemployed, Ms Culmer said she was fired from at least four jobs in recent years after it was discovered that she was a transgender woman.

She admitted that when she applied for those jobs, she would do so using her female persona with only her passport and other identification documents indicating that she was born a male.

According to her, there were no issues with these jobs until co-workers or customers that had prior knowledge of her transgender state made a point of it.

“(Employers) find it easier to just let me go, to let a transgender woman go,” she stated.

Furthermore, BTIU lodged concerns for its fastest growing age group - trans youth.

BTIU representatives said trans youth are subjected to bullying in schools and often given religious conversion counseling instead of psychological services specific to transgender and intersex people.

Felicity “Peaches” Smith, an 18-year-old transgender youth, said once she and those around her identified her feminine preferences were not a phase, she was ostracised and ridiculed instead of supported.

Ms Smith said she was run out of high school in the 11th grade.

“I didn’t have anybody to talk to just because of who I (am).

“At the end of the day, no matter who I am, I should not be discriminated (against),” she said.

BTIU contend that youth, once pushed out by family members, are left without homes and unable to finish school.

Officials said these kids often take to street cultures for protection and guidance; and therefore, are preyed upon by older men in both the homosexual and heterosexual communities.

Additionally, the group indicated that access to proper medical care is limited, with many doctors encouraging transgender and intersex people to travel abroad to receive needed medical care.

“There are some things that we need that doctors find themselves discriminating against,” stated Ms D’Marco. “For example, there was one transgender girl, who when another issue going on with her, they asked what medications are you on and she said hormones . . . the doctor looked at her and said ‘What? Who gives you that here?’

“These are the types of things that they face here in this country when they go to the doctor. Everyone can’t afford to hop on a flight to Miami. There are things in the public service sector that we need - healthcare, education and equality,” she added.

LGBT rights advocate Erin Greene said BTIU members should have the right to voice their concerns within the confines of democracy.

“It is very important that other Bahamians, (those) that do not identify with this community take the time to assess what their responsibilities are to this vulnerable minority in the country,” she said.

Ms Greene called on Bahamians to engage the LGBT community respectfully as the matters related to the constitutional referendum play out.

Comments

Fox_Mulder 2 years, 7 months ago

The truth is in the chromosomes. If your chromosomes and DNA say you are a guy, and you dress and act like a woman, you are a freak. Or a lady with a periscope, if you pardon the joke. Yes, the best thing to do would be flying somewhere where your conduct is tolerated, or even encouraged. I wish I had you as far as possible from home

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OMG 2 years, 7 months ago

Utter uneducated nonsense, Incest is widespread in the Bahamas as are some members of the clergy leading immoral lives, but do you advocate them flying away, but wait it is tolerated as is violence in many homes.

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UserOne 2 years, 7 months ago

If you want them far away from you, then you leave.

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Fox_Mulder 2 years, 7 months ago

Comments from freaks about freaks, not valid.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 7 months ago

Government is considering a new law that would require all commercial buildings built after its passage to have restrooms labelled as follows: "MEN", "WOMEN" and "?". Of course general contractors and plumbers are gleeful supporters of such legislation as it would require that additional third room labelled "?". The Government proposes to move forward on this new legislation as soon as they get a resounding majority "YES" vote on June 7th to the four proposed amendments our constitution.

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Reality_Check 2 years, 7 months ago

This new bill will of course be strongly endorsed by Sean McWeeney, Sharon Wilson and Rubie Nottage.

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Greentea 2 years, 7 months ago

This is very interesting. I applaud these transgender women for speaking up and publicly for themselves and their human rights. That is a brave thing to do in this country. I will be voting yes across the board on June 7 and while specifically transgendered people are not covered by these bills, their presence and voice suggests that the country needs to grow up and stop the hypocrisy. Protect the human rights of all.

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jackbnimble 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm curious as to how they will fix this. If the proposed amendment to Bill Number four seeks to stop discrimination on the grounds of "sex" - defined as a male or female - what category would some who is born male or female but chooses to live as the opposite fall into?

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jackbnimble 2 years, 7 months ago

It is my concern if they bring the issue to the public idiot!

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Publius 2 years, 7 months ago

No category, under the Constitution.

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cmiller 2 years, 7 months ago

Jesus.....what next? This will certainly muddy the already muddy waters of the referendum.

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UserOne 2 years, 7 months ago

It does not muddy the waters as the referendum does not address the rights of this group of people.

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DEDDIE 2 years, 7 months ago

If bill 4 passes it will give them all the rights they need. I could see an activist judge interpreting bill 4 to means, "equal rights for all". A simple legal argument is once a person is born male or female, do they lose those rights on becoming a transgender male or female. The answer by the privy counsel will be a resounding no. All the rights they are born with including the one to marry continue indefinitely unless they don't have the mental capacity to enter into a contract. The only other time you negate rights is when you are in prison.

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UserOne 2 years, 7 months ago

You need to educate yourself on what bill 4 says and means. In bill 4 sex refers to the sex you were born with.

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Publius 2 years, 7 months ago

You're correct here @UserOne. Unfortunately, most Bahamians have #1 - never read the Constitution, much less Article 26 thereof, #2 - do not know that our Constitution and our Statute laws only and always with no exception classify sex as sex at birth, #3 - do not know that the Constitution (Article 15) already states that certain protections on the basis of sex is a right. It is impossible to try to explain what Article 26 is and what the Constitutional rationale is with persons who have never even read it to begin with. Such is life in The Bahamas. What most Bahamians do not understand is that whether Bill 4 passes or not, Parliament can legalize same sex marriage any time it wants to, because the Constitution leaves that decision up to the Parliament to decide. But again, not knowing something fundamental about one's Supreme Law seems to come along with one's birth certificate in our country.

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B_I_D___ 2 years, 7 months ago

I hate what I am about to say because I have to say it. I am all for equal rights for anyone and everyone. I voted yes for it the last time and I will vote yes for it again, even though the PLP will get the bragging rights for it. BUT...there are enough people who are so homophobic and bible thumping hypocrites out there, that what the LGBT community are doing just now is going to be SOOOO counterproductive. If they kept the LGBT side of things as quiet as possible, I'm thinking that the yes vote would have been a certainty this time around...but if they keep pushing and pushing this in the press and via other means, we'll end up with another NO vote. Think about the percentages of the population..I'm willing to bet the LGBT community is a minuscule percentage, not even worth fretting about on the 0-100 scale. But because all this noise is being made, the majority of the population that would benefit from this are likely to lose out again because of the LGBT ripple in there that impacts maybe a handful of people. Bahamians need to grow up.

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UserOne 2 years, 7 months ago

I think it was affected by the legalization of same sex marriage in other parts of the world before the LGBT community ever spoke up. We live in a homophobic and sexist society. That combination is what we are battling here.

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B_I_D___ 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah...it's just so sad that such an important piece of legislation has the chance to get shot down again, because people are so narrow minded and so focused on what such a small percentage of individuals do, that they are gonna screw it up for the majority of people.

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lazybor 2 years, 7 months ago

why nothttp://s02.flagcounter.com/mini/rzN/b..." width="1" />

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Sickened 2 years, 7 months ago

Christian's have got to wonder how God made such a mess when creating these few humans. I know He is supposed to work in mysterious ways but to give women penises and men vaginas at birth and then leave it up to these humans to have to sort it out and get operations to correct His work, seems a little bit bizarre!

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Pearl 2 years, 7 months ago

Sickened (why?), It's a curve ball these people have been given, for sure. The Lord does move in mysterious ways, and maybe this is a test for us to just be tolerant and kind and support them in their journey.

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Sickened 2 years, 7 months ago

Dear Tribune, can you please change the picture to something more appealing? I don't want to see this anymore than I want to see a man in a speedo, or two men kissing!

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TigerB 2 years, 7 months ago

All this could have been avoid had it be voted on in 2002 maybe... I am sick of this, I'm sick of the commercials, and am sick of all the talk. A lot of people out there could have made a difference in 2002, and now maybe adding amendments to the 2002 exercise now, but no, we wasted all that money and time screwing around for political and personal gain... now this next exercise is suppose to be the most important thing in the world? Then when people say their opinion and if its now acceptable or popular people, especially those PLP idiots who voted against in then, making noise? To hell with it all! I'm tired!

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Regardless 2 years, 7 months ago

let them go find a freak show somewhere else.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

Since the PLP took over ........... all kinds of sinful creatures have come from under the rock ..... I wonder why?????? ........... it tells us what the PLP stands for as an organization

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 7 months ago

Similar things were probably said about Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson - U.S. Presidents who lifted up the negro to have equal rights. Perhaps in the Bahamas, the negro should lose all their rights again and ride in the back of the bus? Bahamians are so narrow minded - and have such short memories of when they were without rights. Perhaps a reminder is in order.

Maybe England will take us back over (they can by just revoking the Independence Order of their Parliament) - and take away the rights of all blacks - for a season, until they grow up and appreciate that all humans should have fundamental rights.

Jesus came preaching brotherly love to all (even sinners and tax collectors). I believe if He came here tomorrow, many of these pastors would run out quick and start nailing together a new cross to hang him on. This is because they believe they know more about God's creations than even He does.

TheMadHatter

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 7 months ago

Hmm..I don't support their lifestyle but I don't think they should be picked on, beaten up or denigrated. They are people. On the other hand I believe they should be sensible and act appropriately in whichever environment they find themselves. Everyone else does it, no one with sense starts whining down in church for example.

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Publius 2 years, 7 months ago

Ms Greene called on Bahamians to engage the LGBT community respectfully as the matters related to the constitutional referendum play out.

You are co-opting the referendum issues for your purposes but are demanding respect thereto. This is the kind of foolery that causes people to get irritated. This referendum has absolutely nothing to do with transgender etc rights, but you are trying to hijack the discussion knowing full well that the lack of knowledge, understanding or appreciation in the society for what the referendum is actually about would only help to fuel further misgivings.

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My2cents 2 years, 7 months ago

I am all for equal rights...men, women, or whomever should be allowed to enter into marital contracts with whomever they chose and enjoy the same civil liberties that everyone else has.

What they seem to want is to become a protected class. However, being transgender is a choice regardless if the person feels it's their 'truth' or not. Only hermaphrodites and similar conditions are scientifically proven, but most transgenders are not that. Therefore, if a 6'+ man decides to wear a skirt, heels, make-up and expect to land a secretarial type job...he is delusional.

Society should not be forced to play along with anyone's delusions. I personally would not hire him for the same reason I would not hire a scantily clad woman with her breasts exposed, visible tattoos, etc. because I'm running a business, not a side show.

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Publius 2 years, 7 months ago

And contrary to what was said by one of the persons at the press conference, transgender identity is not a medical condition. The APA, which previous diagnosed transgender identity as a mental disorder, currently defines this as dysphoria, meaning a transgender person in psychiatry and psychology is diagnosed as a person who has an extreme discomfort with the gender they in fact are. Medical science does not classify such persons as truly being the gender they believe they are. How they feel is how they feel, but it is not true or correct to say medical science affirms their belief as being biological fact.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

This is the work of SATAN ........ just like the delusional PLP Referendum ...... just get over it and leave the Satanic freaks to the underground freak clubs, bars and swingers joints etc

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Publius 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't mean you any disrespect in saying this, but it never ceases to amaze me how Bahamians allow politics to literally cause them to see day as night and night as day. These four Bills were drafted, tabled and passed by the Ingraham administration. No matter how much we are justifiably sickened by this current administration, they are not the author of any of these four Bills and their bringing Ingraham's Bills forward do not suddenly change those Bills or the fact that these inequalities for the children of Bahamian women and men (Bills 1&3) and the spouses of Bahamian men and women (Bill 2) ought never have been written into our Constitution in the first place. If we really did not want spouses to have such a right, neither Bahamian men nor women ought to be given that right - yet it was given to the men and not the women - all of whom are Bahamian just the same. Despite the indisputable fact that these are previously passed Bills re-introduced, people still choose to see it differently simply because of politics. Ironic since some of us accuse transgender of refusing to accept the reality of what they really are and instead choosing to believe the opposite. If you don't agree with the Bills then so be it, but at-least let your opinion be based on fact and not delusion.

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themessenger 2 years, 7 months ago

Publius my friend, you know that old Bahamian saying "you can take the man out da bush but ya can't take da bush out da man." Unfortunately these very important amendments will again be derailed by the "cultural uniqueness" of our people, they won't let you down, they won't disappoint you.

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SP 2 years, 7 months ago

....................... Government shooting at a pebble and ignoring boulders .........................

Where is the equality when foreigns can get crown land, business licenses, incentives etc, when a Bahamian cannot?

Where is the equality when foreigners are allowed to gamble in casinos and Bahamians cannot? What kind of nonsense is that?

Bahamians have been requesting a referendum on article 7 dealing with the massive problem of the Haitian invasion and citizenship while successive governments continue turning a deaf ear to the electorates demand. This is what we should demand to be included in the up coming referendum!

This transgender question is an individuals chosen lifestyle issue with all the accompanying bells and whistles. Persons choosing to live as transgender also must chose to accept the stigma with the package, same as smokers, alcoholics and drug addicts.

Majority of Bahamians WILL VOTE NO TO ALL QUESTIONS in solidarity against this PLP government!

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cmiller 2 years, 7 months ago

Thing is....if they were born men, they already have all the rights of Bahamian men, so what more rights do they need? Some extra rights that the rest of Bahamian men won't get????

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

True ............. they can only get Bahamian passports as a MALE ...... just do their Too Wong Fu after dark ........... or have they altered their original DNA???......SMDH

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