Gender Nation: Funeral funded, certificates changed, and film faux pas fixed

in Gender Nation/Gwen Smith

Gender Nation is a bi-weekly column by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, reviewing news affecting the trans, intersex, and genderqueer community.



Funeral funded for fallen trans man

Daine Gray, a 22-year-old trans man who was studying at City College of San Francisco took his life on the 2nd of July. Thanks to the generosity of both his friends and sympathetic strangers, Gray will receive a proper burial.

After his death, his body stayed in the medical examiner’s office, with Gray’s parents refusing to claim his remains.

“What I was originally told by them is that his parents wanted nothing to do with the body, wanted nothing to do with the funeral, wanted nothing to do with anything, said Lady Katerina, a counselor for the Queer Resources Center at CCSF, to KNTV in San Francisco.

Katerina started the fundraiser to help cover funeral expenses for Gray, using GoFundMe in an attempt to raise $17,000 to provide a casket, burial clothes, funeral services, and his final resting place.

To date, the campaign has raised $22,873 from 915 people, well surpassing the estimated cost of the funeral.

Over the course of the campaign, too, Katrina has been in touch with Gray’s family. They have apparently had a small change of heart. Gray’s mother and other members of her family do intend to be present for the funeral.

While there are no known figures, it is painfully common for transgender people to be disrespected in death, and many stories abound of transgender people buried under their deadnames and birth genders, being dressed up in an identity they did not share in life at the behest of an unsupportive family.

In many cases, their friends are also not allowed to attend the service, and may never know where their friend’s remains ended up.

Thanks to lawsuit, Puerto Rico to correct birth certificates

Transgender Puerto Ricans will now be able to adjust their birth certificates to match their gender identity, thanks to a lawsuit sponsored by Lambda Legal.

The ruling was handed down last April, striking down the territory’s existing policies barring the change. As a result, birth certificates can be changed as of the second week of July.

As of this date, all but three of the United States still bar a change to birth certificates for transgender people: Tennessee, Kansas, and Ohio, with Lambda Legal already filing a suit against the latter.

The inability to update one’s birth certificate is a possible source of discrimination for transgender people, who can face harassment, denial of benefits, and other issues due to having an incorrect gender marker on their birth certificate.

No more Rub and Tug for Johansson

Scarlet Johansson has dropped her bid to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a transgender man who has ties to organized crime in the 1970s. Johansson was a producer on the movie project, titled, Rub and Tug, and was assigned to play Gill in it.

The trans community addressed their concerns, citing many other recent films in which non-transgender actors portrayed transgender people. In response to criticism, Johansson’s publicist told critics “they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

Each of the above performed as transgender people, often to critical acclaim from non-transgender audiences. They also faced criticism from transgender people, making the statement all the more outrageous.

Johansson did eventually relent after it became clear that the backlash had become too big to contain.

“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante “Tex” Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” Johansson was quoted as saying to Out.

Many remain concerned, as the project still retains director Rupert Sanders, who has worked with Johansson on Ghost In The Shell, which featured Johansson as an Asian character. That said, the film’s future remains in limbo with both the main actor and a producer exiting the project.


What does "transphobia" mean to you?

Do you write about issues affecting the trans community?

Submit articles for publication on the TransAdvocate here.

Gwen Smith has been a transgender advocate for more than two decades. She is the writer of the Transmissions column for the Bay Area reporter, now in its 15th year. She is also the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance an early transgender Internet pioneer, and the managing editor for genderfork.com.