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 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

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

This article shared 5700 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 5700 times since Wed Jun 15, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

MCA to showcase Justin Vivian Bond on Oct. 30
2021-10-25
On Saturday, Oct. 30, at 3 p.m., The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., will present "Music Talk: Justin Vivian Bond and Jim Hodges," featuring singer-songwriter, author, painter, performance artist and actor Mx. ...


Gay News

Twitter suspends Indiana politician for misgendering trans official
2021-10-25
Twitter suspended the account of U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., after he intentionally misgendered Health and Human Services official, Dr. Rachel Levine—the first transgender person to hold an office that ...


Gay News

REVIEW Randy Rainbow tackles politics, shows talent at The Chicago Theatre
2021-10-24
YouTube sensation Randy Rainbow brought The Pink Glasses Tour to The Chicago Theatre on Oct. 22. Best known for videos that parody musical numbers with a focus on politics, the heavily curated show began with a ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY MONTH Angela Davis, revolutionary
2021-10-24
By Victoria A. Brownworth - "You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time," said Angela Davis, 78, the country's most famous living revolutionary. She was born ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Trans women in sports, Grindr crime, 'Berlin Patient,' trans death
2021-10-24
Sports icon Billie Jean King, U.S. National Women's Soccer Team Co-Captain and World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, and WNBA stars Layshia Clarendon and Brianna Turner joined more than 150 fellow athletes in women's sports to support ...


Gay News

MUSIC Indie band Fleece is queering country
2021-10-24
Eight years ago, gay songwriter and lead singer Matt Rogers and his friend, bisexual drummer Ethan Soil, founded Montreal quartet Fleece. A few years later, bisexual vocalist Megan Ennenberg and straight man Jameson Daniel—who are both ...


Gay News

CTA proposes reduced fare changes
2021-10-22
During a time when the prices of just about everything seems to increase, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing the opposite, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The CTA has proposed slashing some fares to boost ...


Gay News

MUSIC Elton John's 'The Lockdown Sessions' now out
2021-10-22
Elton John's The Lockdown Sessions is now out, courtesy of Interscope Records. An album of collaborations recorded remotely over the last 18 months, The Lockdown Sessions features UK #1 single "Cold Heart (PNAU remix)," with Dua ...


Gay News

THEATER E. Faye Butler to star in 'Fannie' Oct. 25-Nov. 14
2021-10-21
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., will host the run of Cheryl L. West's Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer), which will run Oct. 25-Nov. 14. E. Faye Butler stars as U.S. civil-rights ...


Gay News

Author Margaret Atwood in anti-trans controversy
2021-10-21
The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood has been called transphobic after she shared an article complaining about gender-neutral language on Twitter. According to PinkNews, the opinion piece—which Toronto Star columnist ...


Gay News

Lyric Opera presenting 'Florencia en el Amazonas' Nov. 13-28
2021-10-21
During Nov. 13-28, Lyric Opera of Chicago will run the company premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas—the first Spanish-language work to be presented as part of Lyric's mainstage opera season. There will be evening performances on ...


Gay News

Celebrities support trans employees in Netflix walkout with video
2021-10-20
As the Netflix walkout in response to the company's continued support of Dave Chappelle's special The Closer was underway at the streamer's Los Angeles headquarters Oct. 20, a video that includes activists and Netflix talent alike ...


Gay News

Colorado becomes first state to require trans care as essential health benefit
2021-10-17
Colorado has become the first state in the country to include transition-related care for transgender people as part of the requirements for essential healthcare in the state, The Washington Blade reported. As part of the change, ...


Gay News

WORLD Plus magazine, The Guardian, Dutch princess, anti-trans ruling
2021-10-17
The largest circulated HIV publication in the country, Plus, unveiled its 25 Amazing People of the Year, per a press release. Just a few of the individuals are actor Billy Porter; Mandisa Nikita Dukashe: South African ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula'
2021-10-17
The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...


 



Copyright © 2021 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


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
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      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      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.