Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Civil-union law a victory for trans community as well
by Joseph Erbentraut
2011-06-15

This article shared 5843 times since Wed Jun 15, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


For Chicagoan Vicki Byard, June 16 is a day she is anticipating gleefully. That day, she and her partner have planned to mark their new civil union before family and friends.

The union, Byard said, is particularly meaningful to her family because, as a trans-identified couple, she and her partner have struggled with a great deal of stigma from both inside and outside of the LGBT community. With their new legal recognition arrives a moment the couple, together for two years and the parents of two children ( Kate, 11, and Alex, 14 ) who Byard adopted as newborns, can't wait to celebrate.

"To us, it's a really pivotal celebratory time," she told Windy City Times. "I feel that my family will be united in a way I've never had in my entire life to this point."

Yet, the moment is also bittersweet as Byard has felt frustration with the fact that little media coverage of the Illinois civil union victory has featured families that "look like hers," as she explained.

While her partner, Eli, identifies as a transgender man and she as a cisgender woman, qualifying them in the eyes of the law as a heterosexual or different-sex couple, they do not identify with that designation themselves. Their discomfort with being "lumped in" with heterosexual couples made them hesitant to marry. A civil union represents the achievement of the legal recognition they need without the baggage of a categorization that felt disingenuous, she added.

"Marriage didn't feel entirely comfortable because we're a trans-identified family and it felt like we were somehow finding a loophole," Byard said. "We would be taking advantage of certain sorts of rights others in the LGBT community couldn't have. For us, that wasn't a choice we would consider."

The North Park couple's unique identity has left them in a bit of a no-man's land that was most recently reflected when Byard was signing the couple up for the Equality Illinois- and Lambda Legal-sponsored Civil Union Tracker. The tracker, she said, presented no opportunity to differentiate her family from a heterosexual, non-trans-identified one. Neither organization responded to her e-mail messages expressing concern over what she considered to be an oversight.

"There are aspects of our live every single day that are impacted by the fact that we're a trans-identified family," she said. "It was incredibly disheartening to see even organizations that have worked very hard for this civil union law not realize that there are more families impacted by the law than solely those identifying as either same-sex or heterosexual couples. We shouldn't be overlooked."

Representatives from both organizations defended their "tracker," created so that newly civil-unionized couples could more easily access legal resources should they encounter any hassles, but acknowledged that feelings of being excluded from broader LGBT victories can be all too common within the community.

This victory is, indeed, a significant moment for trans Illinoisans in opening the door for legal recognition of queer couples of all types, said M. Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal transgender rights attorney.

"We are always fighting for people to have the most rights they can have and, for trans people, we want their gender identity to be respected at the same time," Levasseur told Windy City Times. "The bottom line is we all benefit from marriage equality."

Trans couples sometimes find themselves in legally precarious positions where recognition is either incomplete, fleeting or not there at all, particularly in situations where one partner within a heterosexual marriage transitions, drawing that marriage into a legal gray area due to the Defense of Marriage Act.

While some judges who have encountered the issue in court have both respected a trans person's gender identity and relationship, that has often not been the case in states lacking marriage equality for LGBT persons, as evidenced in the case of Nikki Araguz, the trans widow of a firefighter. Following his death, his family sued Araguz in an attempt to block her from receiving her late husband Thomas' death benefits. A Texas judge ruled last month that, indeed, their marriage was invalid because Araguz is a trans woman.

Despite the struggles of some, others in the trans community simply do not identify with the issue of marriage, which appears connected to a certain invisibility when it comes to conversations of marriage equality. Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, noted the organizational messaging around the Empire State's campaign for marriage equality has largely been painted as an LGB issue, a fact he finds troubling.

"There's an overarching question we often see in the trans community concerning where we are reflected in the larger LGBT community and since the marriage equality debate is seeming to be the most attention-getting debate in the community these days, it can be become a focal point for that feeling," Silverman said. "It raises the question if we are missing a major opportunity to talk about trans people and how their families are just like anyone else's family by not including trans voices in the marriage equality discussion."

"But ultimately we rise and fall together," he added.

In addition to their civil-union ceremony, they will also be celebrating son Alex's eight-grade graduation before their friends and family the same weekend.


This article shared 5843 times since Wed Jun 15, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Okla. governor signs anti-trans, strict abortion measures
2022-05-27
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has recently signed a couple controversial measures into law. According to ABC News, Stitt has signed a bill requiring public school students to use only the bathroom of the sex listed on ...


Gay News

State Farm drops GenderCool Project; Illinois General Assembly LGBTQ Caucus, Equality Illinois respond
2022-05-26
This week in response to an outcry from a hateful few, Illinois-based insurer State Farm dropped their support for The GenderCool Project, which provides LGBTQ-affirming books to schools across the country on a voluntary basis. We ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance purchases South Side building in expansion move
2022-05-26
In its ongoing efforts to provide safe spaces for transgender and gender non-confirming BIPOC, Brave Space Alliance (BSA) closed on a 7,000-square-foot building on 71st Street and Jeffrey Avenue, in the South Shore community, to expand ...


Gay News

Artist Rick Sindt explores queer desire and pornography in 'Skin Remembers'
2022-05-25
Rick Sindt, a Chicago-based artist who recently moved to St. Louis, explores the discovery and development of queer attraction in his exhibit "Skin Remembers." Sindt transforms pornographic stills, repurposing them into images of intimacy. Sindt recently ...


Gay News

Indiana institutes anti-trans sports ban, overrides Holcomb's veto
2022-05-25
The Indiana General Assembly overturned Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of House Bill 1041, which prohibits transgender girls from playing girls school sports, according to the IndyStar. The House voted to override the veto 67-28; the ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'George Michael: Freedom Uncut' to be released June 22
2022-05-24
Sony Music Entertainment and Trafalgar Releasing will release the movie George Michael: Freedom Uncut as a global event on Wed., June 22—and it's fitting that the documentary about the late gay singer will air during Pride ...


Gay News

Ricky Gervais courts controversy with graphic anti-trans jokes
2022-05-24
(WARNING: There is graphic language in this article.) Yet another Netflix special is courting controversy because of a comedian making anti-trans jokes. Ricky Gervais' Netflix comedy special SuperNature has drawn criticism for a string of grap ...


Gay News

Siskel to show 'Judy Garland Summer Centennial Retrospective'
2022-05-23
This June and July, the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., will celebrate Judy Garland to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth (June 10, 1922). The Judy Garland Summer Centennial Retrospective will involve ...


Gay News

THEATER Musical 'Get Out Alive' running July 8-Aug. 7
2022-05-23
Haven will continue its 2021-22 season with Nikki Lynette's multidisciplinary afrogoth musical Get Out Alive, co-directed by Roger Ellis and Lucky Stiff, which features the writer and her personal journey with mental health. The production will ...


Gay News

Lakeside Pride to present 'Sweet Home Chicago" May 29, part of Pride Bands Alliance Conference
2022-05-23
-- From a press release - On Sunday, May 29 at 7pm, Chicago's Auditorium Theatre will host the culmination of the 40th annual Pride Bands Alliance conference. Chicago's Lakeside Pride is welcoming Pride Bands Alliance members from its family of 38 affiliate ...


Gay News

WORLD Nigeria protest, 'Flag in the Map,' Belgium, McDonald's
2022-05-22
Dressed in rainbow-colored vests, members of the LGBTQ+ community marched in a dangerous demonstration in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to protest a bill introduced by lawmakers in Nigeria's lower house of parliament last month seeking to ban ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, JoJo Siwa, WEHO Pride, 'Jurassic World,' Madonna
2022-05-22
The Broadway League announced that all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City have extended the current mask requirement for audiences through at least June 30, Playbill noted. Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, ...


Gay News

Comedian criticized for letting Chappelle open and tell anti-trans jokes [UPDATE]
2022-05-22
Comedian John Mulaney surprised his audience—and drew criticism from some fans—when Dave Chappelle appeared as the opener and reportedly told "transphobic jokes," per Variety. Chappelle's opening set occurred during a ...


Gay News

For International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia HRC highlights grants
2022-05-17
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, is commemorating International Day Against ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer playwright, LGBTQ+ films, BMI Pop Awards, new superhero
2022-05-15
Jeremy O. Harris, the queer Tony-nominated author of Slave Play, has been named the presiding playwright for the 2023 Yale Drama Series Prize—one of the theater world's most prestigious playwriting honors, Deadline noted. Harris joins the ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.