Transgender victims of ‘War on Terror’

This video from the USA is called Glenn Greenwald “Civil Liberties in the War on Terror”.

By Alissa Bohling, Truthout in the USA:

Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming People Among First, Most Affected by War on Terror‘s Biometrics Craze

Monday, 16 April 2012 00:00

When Zev Al-Walid walks through an airport security scanner, he more or less willingly parts with his belt, his shoes and his pocket change, just like any other traveler. But by the time Walid – a man who was designated female at birth and later transitioned – is ready to reclaim his personal items, there’s often an extra hurdle blocking the path to his gate.

Walid, who travels frequently to the United States and countries around the world from his home in Western Europe, remembers a particularly bad trip through a US airport’s backscatter scanner machine.

“I wasn’t really privy to what the picture looked like or anything,” said Walid. “I could just hear the guy, in front of me, talking on the radio, presumably to the person looking at the image. And he was like, ‘Yeah. No. He’s right here. I’m telling you, he’s a man. I’m looking right at him.'”

“I felt physically ill after that,” said Walid.

Man, Woman, Terrorist

Since when did travelers’ gender become the Transportation Security Administration‘s (TSA) business? Since at least September of 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an advisory warning against “Al-Qaeda’s continued efforts to plan multiple attacks against the US and US interests overseas.” The advisory included a list of potential terrorism targets, a mention of recent arrests of unnamed terror suspects and this warning: “Male bombers may dress as females in order to discourage scrutiny.”

Maybe there was verifiable intelligence about male terrorists who like to slip women’s wear over their explosive devices. Or maybe the wardens of the security state read one too many spy novels. But either way, bringing gender into the security arena has major consequences.

“My experiences shifted somewhat after 9/11,” Walid told Truthout, “but I’d say they shifted even more a few years after 9/11, when I started to get read not just as a brown person, but as a brown man.” Walid, who is Muslim, said that, before he transitioned, “My faith wasn’t visible, as I didn’t wear a headscarf, so there was nothing to set off alarm bells.”

“The whole, ‘You are a terrorist,’ kind of thing didn’t really play into the equation, because I don’t think women are seen that way as easily.”

Since the DHS advisory, at least two other factors have brought gender further into the national security equation. One is Secure Flight, the program begun in 2009 requiring passengers to disclose their birth date and gender to airlines to be compared with their government-issued photo ID, purportedly in order to reduce the number of false matches to names on the federal watch list.

The other is the widespread use of body scanners.

Because gender has become one of the first markers in the technology-centric race for body-based data – known as “biometrics” in surveillance-speak – transgender and gender non-conforming people have been some of the first and most directly affected.

In an investigation begun during our “Surveillance in the Homeland” series on civil liberties in post-9/11 America, Truthout uncovered how their experiences illustrate what’s at stake when the human body becomes a data point in the war on terror.

Chris Hedges | First They Come for the Muslims. Chris Hedges, Truthdig: “Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester, Mass., to 17 1/2years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government’s criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on ‘evidence’ the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal”: here.

Britain: GMB union activists staged a vigil outside Parliament yesterday to demand an end to the labelling of transgender people as “mentally ill. At least 18 million transgender people live across the globe, yet the World Health Organisation (Who) has failed to abolish the classification of transgender as a mental illness: here.

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40 thoughts on “Transgender victims of ‘War on Terror’

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the story of Zev Al-Walid, its often another instance of situations cis persons don’t even think of as being invasive or harmful. It also highlights well the intersections of racism and sexism. Thank you again.

    I will watch the video later when I can find my head phones.


  2. Pingback: Al-Qaeda bomb plot, CIA plot? | Dear Kitty. Some blog


    June 6, 2012

    Leslie Feinberg Arrested in Solidarity with Chrishaun McDonald
    Out on bail, still calling for everyone to support CeCe!

    Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network,, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition,, (612) 823-1152

    On the evening of June 4th, Leslie Feinberg–renowned transgender activist and author of Stone Butch Blues and Trans Liberation–was arrested in solidarity with Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald. CeCe McDonald is a 24-year-old African American transgender woman who was walking with a group of her friends in Minneapolis on the night of June 5th, 2011. As CeCe and her friends walked by the Schooner Tavern, a group of white bar patrons began shouting racist and transphobic slurs at them. One of the women in the group smashed her beer glass across CeCe’s face. In CeCe’s struggle to defend her life from this violent attack, one of her attackers died. CeCe was quickly arrested and charged with two counts of second degree murder. In May 2012, CeCe accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter by negligence, and on June 4th she received a 41-month prison sentence. On June 5th, 2012, she was transferred to a men’s prison in St. Cloud, MN.
    Leslie has been charged with felony property damage, and is out on bail. At 8:30am on Thursday, June 7, Leslie Feinberg will appear in court for arraignment.

    Leslie has been a vocal supporter of CeCe’s, showing deep dedication to raising awareness about CeCe’s case and connecting her fight with broader struggles. Leslie flew to Minneapolis from hir home in Syracuse, NY, in early May for the beginning of CeCe’s trial, and returned to Minneapolis for CeCe’s sentencing hearing on June 4th.

    Leslie was arrested almost exactly a year–within the hour–after the attack against CeCe and her friends that led to CeCe’s arrest. Leslie and CeCe spent the night of June 4th, 2012 in the same jail, before CeCe was transferred to St. Cloud on the morning of the 5th. Leslie has been extremely clear that their actions have been in solidarity with CeCe, intended to draw greater attention to the injustice that CeCe is facing.

    “I took this action to support CeCe McDonald in her struggle to defend her own life and to free herself. I’m so ill at this time that I have taken this action in order to demonstrate my solidarity, but I am not able at this time to do many of the activist tasks that go with a solidarity arrest like this: media interviews, written political statements, etc. And that is appropriate! This arrest is not about me. It’s about keeping the focus on CeCe McDonald’s struggle!

    Leslie took a brave action to call attention to the racism, transphobia, and violence inherent in CeCe’s case. In Leslie’s own words, “The prosecution hopes this struggle is over. But it is not over: Free CeCe—now! An injury to one is an injury to all! Come out against racist, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ/+ and sexist wars at home and abroad!”

    We encourage all of those who are following Feinberg’s arrest to plug in to the various ways to support CeCe (by visiting & going to her Facebook page: FreeCece McDonald), and to join local struggles in your communities to fight the violence of the criminal legal system.


  4. Support trans woman jailed after attack

    Cece McDonald is an African American trans woman who was violently attacked outside a bar in Minneapolis in June last year.

    She survived, however one of her attackers was killed. CeCe was the only person arrested and is now facing 41 months in a men’s prison—a very dangerous place for a trans woman.

    She has been sentenced this month, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots when trans women of colour led the battle by LGBT people who were tired of police harassment, against the New York police department.

    This year World Pride will be in London, where LGBT and straight people will march united and demand an end to transphobia and homophobia.

    Go to

    Max Brophy



    • Feinberg is convicted but walks free saying ‘Free CeCe’

      By Minnie Bruce Pratt on February 4, 2013

      Leslie Feinberg Paints “FREE CECE NOW” on Jailhouse Wall

      Saying ‘Free CeCe’

      Minneapolis — Transgender activist and author Leslie Feinberg declared in court here on Feb. 4 that she/ze was “not guilty” on a charge of third-degree gross misdemeanor (property damage) for spray-painting “Free CeCe Now” on the walls and pillars of the courthouse/jail in Minneapolis.

      She/ze did it in solidarity with CeCe McDonald, an African-American transwoman who survived a violent racist, transphobic attack on the streets of South Minneapolis in June 2011, only to be jailed for manslaughter because she and her friends fought back.

      For having spray-painted the message, which Feinberg did not dispute, the judge found hir “guilty,” and asked if she/ze had anything to say before sentencing.

      “I am a revolutionary journalist and member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981,” said Feinberg. “I am not guilty of any wrongdoing. I delivered the people’s verdict on the jailhouse walls. The real crimes are going on behind the walls where CeCe McDonald is imprisoned.

      “By sentencing CeCe McDonald to prison, Minneapolis sent a green light to neo-fascists at a time of growing racist lynching and massacres in the U.S. CeCe was attacked, and survived, at a time when an increasing number of transwomen of color are being assaulted and murdered.

      “Racist mass incarceration is the crime, as even a former Hennepin County prosecutor admitted in an article — that Minnesota has the greatest racist disparity in sentencing of any state in the U.S.

      “The world is watching CeCe McDonald’s struggle. I’m proud to add my voice to the tens of thousands of people who demand: ‘Free CeCe!’”

      The judge admitted that Feinberg’s deed was an act of “civil disobedience.”

      The judge then stayed the imposition of any sentence for two years. During that time, Feinberg is on informal probation, meaning that if she/ze is not convicted of any additional “property damage” for 24 months, the third-degree gross misdemeanor charge will be dismissed.

      The prosecution did not pursue court expenses or a fine. Feinberg walked out of the courtroom without having to perform community service or report to a probation officer.

      She/ze was ordered to pay more than $1,300 for the erasure of the political demand from the wall. Feinberg stated after court, “I refuse to pay for the censorship of the political demand, ‘Free CeCe Now!’”

      Local Free CeCe organizers were present in the courtroom. Many of McDonald’s supporters in the U.S. and around the world sent tweets, e-mails, faxes and made phone calls to help deliver the people’s verdict — ‘Free CeCe!’ — to the Minneapolis mayor and prosecutor.

      For more information about CeCe McDonald, go to:



    Uganda: Not a Boy and Not a Girl

    By Viqué-Ocean Kahinju, 15 October 2012

    Gloria, 29, lives with untold pain. A black cloud hang over her life when she discovered she was intersex.

    “I lost both parents when I was two years old and I was taken up by my grandmother who lives in Bunyaruguru.

    When I was in P5, I discovered that urine passed out of a small hole on top of my genitals. However, I found out that I had no vaginal opening,” she says.

    I wondered what had gone wrong with me and why my grandmother and aunties had not told me about my condition. I became desperate. I wished my parents were alive to explain it to me. One day, one of my aunties told me that I was born with that condition and that my late parents knew about it, but had nothing to do,” Gloria says.

    At first, Gloria says, her parents thought she had been bewitched by her stepmother. But when the doctors examined her, they were advised to consider surgery at the age of seven or 10. Unfortunately, they died before she turned seven.

    “I am now 29 years old, but I have never experienced menstruation and I have never developed breasts. People describe me as a man and others as a hermaphrodite; it hurts me and affects my self-esteem,” she says.

    According to a medical examination, the doctors confirmed that Gloria had a very small uterus and no vaginal opening. She also has high levels of testosterone (a male hormone) which is responsible for her condition.

    “Betty Tibaleka, the host of the Untold Story, a local TV talk show, linked me to Kibuli Hospital for treatment. While there, a team of experts from Egypt examined and offered me free treatment in Egypt since my problem is mostly internal and urgently needs treatment.

    However, I was supposed to cover my hormone test and air ticket costs. Consequently, the plan aborted as I did not have a penny. CORSU hospital asked for sh3m to carry out surgery and give me hormone therapy, but I have no money,” adds Gloria.

    “I call upon Good Samaritans to help me, so that I can get treatment,” she appeals.

    I cried myself to sleep:

    Her flat chest and male voice keeps one wondering whether Maria, 21, is a man or a woman. Doctors say she has dominating male hormones in her body. What is more, she has ambiguous genital organs.

    “I grew up with my grandmother in Kalisizo, Rakai district. While I was young, my grandmother never told me anything about my sexuality. When I turned 12, I realised I had a growing penis in my private parts,” says Maria.

    “When I asked my grandmother about it, she gave me a disquieting look. I got distressed and often cried myself to sleep. I kept pestering her for an answer, but in vain. One day, she explained that that’s how I was born. She told me to keep it a secret to avoid being stigmatised.”

    Maria says every time she wanted to consult her friends about her condition, she refrained as she feared being stigmatised.

    “It bothered me that I had this condition. I could not menstruate and I developed a male voice. I also had no breasts at all. Eventually, people began calling me names. Others laugh at me saying ancestral spirits cursed me. I feel worthless, as a result,” she laments.

    Medical tests proved that Maria should have been a woman, although she has a masculine physique.

    However, if treatment is delayed, her condition might be irreversible by the age of 23. Her treatment is estimated at sh3.5m at CORSU hospital.

    “I appeal to all well-wishers, NGOs and the Government to come to my rescue and contribute towards my treatment.”

    Not a boy and not a girl:

    Being born with both female and male organs can be quite distressing. People call you names and you struggle to fit in society

    Learning about his intersexuality tortured him to bits. The truth is that William, 22, a resident of Jinja, was a boy in a girl’s body.

    This upset him as arguments arose about him and some people considered him demonic.

    “I found out the abnormality when I started to menstruate at the age of 15. I nearly fainted, but opted to keep it a secret. I did not know how to explain this mystery to any of my friends or relatives who had always known me as a boy,” says William.

    “My dilemma began when my parents died while I was a small boy. I was left under the care of a stepmother, who probably did not realise I had a problem,” William adds.

    He says the fear of being stigmatised kept him tight-lipped about his condition.

    “I knew my life had hit a bumpy phase and thought I would die. As time went by, matters were not helped as I continued to menstruate.

    Though physically I looked like a boy, it did not stop me from experiencing every natural process a girl undergoes.”

    “I developed breasts. My hips were pronounced and my voice was feminine. But with the biology knowledge I had, I knew it was only girls that menstruate, develop breasts and hips. I could not find justification as to why this was happening to me,” William laments.

    “Sometimes I desire to be in a relationship, but I am not sure whether I should get a female or male companion. I feel empty when people stare at me and call me names such as hermaphrodite. Sometimes I wish I was not born.

    However, doctors explained, my conflicting hormones result from having both gonads (ovaries and testes),” William says.

    Doctors also discovered that William has a vaginal opening under his penis instead of male testicles and ambiguous organs that the doctors later realised to be a vagina. Medical tests have further proved that he has a birth canal and a uterus.

    “Having breasts and a vagina under my penis freaked me out. And the worst part is that whoever I ran to for comfort made fun of it. Some fuelled gossip about my gender ambiguity. It really worked my nerves. In fact, I dropped out of school,” William narrates.

    “However, some Good Samaritans contributed sh500,000 and I had surgery. Both breasts were removed, but the nipples were preserved,” William adds.

    “According to the medical tests, the uterus and birth canal ought to be removed as well, lest I develop complications. I was told I will need hormonal therapy. My penis will be enhanced and given artificial testes. I thank the Support Initiative for People with Congenital Disorders (SIPD) for giving me useful information about my condition.”

    “I am now settled; knowing that intersexuality is a biological condition that can be solved. Nonetheless, money is the setback. I come from a poor family, so no one can raise the money required for the operation,” he adds.

    Call for help:

    William’s surgery was set for last year but he had no money. The operation and drugs would cost sh4,080,000 at Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda (CORSU) hospital. He calls upon well-wishers, NGOs and the Government to help him raise the money.

    Break the silence:

    Julius Kaggwa, the executive director of Support Initiative for People with Congenital Disorders (SIPD) – Uganda, a non-government organisation that advocates and offers services for intersex people, says calling people with congenital disorders hermaphrodites is an ugly show of gender prejudice.

    Kaggwa experienced first hand the discrimination as an intersex person before he underwent corrective treatment as an adult.

    “The term ‘hermaphrodite’ is dehumanising. There is nothing like a hermaphrodite in human beings. These people are medically suffering from disorders of development,” he argues.

    The life of the people with congenital disorders in Uganda is distressing. They are discriminated against.

    “They may give up school, work and other activities. As a result, parents also abandon or kill babies born intersexual.

    The public, intersex people and parents of intersex children need to learn that intersexuality is a medical condition like any other and can be solved,” Kaggwa notes.

    “Parents need to treat these children as their peers. An intersex child can live a healthy life until the disorder is corrected. Professional counselling, however, is advisable if a child is overwhelmed by their intersex condition,” says Kaggwa.

    For help: SIPD offices can be found on Plot 1306, Nateete-Masaka Road, and Adjacent Total Nateete. Tel: +256-414 27 47 82, +256 757 38 67 40 and +256 (0) 773 231 066.

    Email: or

    Ask the expert:

    Dr. Reuben Kiggundu, Gynaecologist at Mulago Hospital

    What is the difference between a hermaphrodite and an intersex person?

    A The intersex condition is often referred to as ‘hermaphroditism’ but it is different from hermaphrodites’ situation. A hermaphrodite has both male and female organs that are fully developed, while the intersex person’s genitals are either vague or confusing in shape.

    They lie in between female and male. Intersexuality thus is an abnormality in the reproductive and sexual system of a person that causes their genitalia or an internal reproductive system to neither conform to a clearly male nor female body.

    How exactly does one become an intersex person?

    Genital ambiguity of an intersex person is a result of disruption or mismatch of genetic interaction.

    With the complexity of genetic or chromosomal mismatch, the foetus may manifest a combination of both male and female characteristics. The child’s body shape becomes more confusing as it grows as it does not conform to a specific sex.

    Can intersexuality be corrected?

    Frequently, babies born in hospital are often operated on shortly after birth to correct their congenital disorders. They undergo a surgery to give them either a penis or vagina. However, surgical operations are carried out either in the early or later stages of one’s life, preferably at puberty.

    Does intersexuality come with risks?

    Babies born at home could be at a risk since such deformities are hardly noticed; if they are, they may never get corrected as most parents are terrified to seek medical assistance for their intersex children. They believe in myths and are afraid they will be stigmatised if people learn about their children’s abnormality.

    This might pose risks to the baby if the deformity has health implications on its well-being. For instance, where the baby cannot pass urine as a result of a malformed penis or urethra or has bowel discomfort, such disorders are life-threatening and need immediate medical attention.

    However, if the disorder has no immediate harm on the child, it could be corrected later in their life when they are old enough to make choices about their gender.


  6. Thursday 21 March 2013

    Transgender ban in public facilities

    US: Arizona lawmakers want to prohibit anyone not associated with their birth gender from using public toilets, showers and dressing rooms.

    The move comes less than a month after Phoenix passed a Bill prohibiting gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.

    But Republican John Kavanagh wants to make it a misdemeanour for someone to use a public facility assigned to a gender other than that detailed on their birth certificate.


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