Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-11-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

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

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Palatine school district to back trans access to restrooms, lockers 2019-11-15
National Center for Transgender Equality dissolving staff 2019-11-14
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus present Merry, Merry Chicago! concerts 2019-11-14
The Joffrey Ballet's reimagined classic The Nutcracker begins Nov. 30 2019-11-14
Artemis Singers part of LGBTQIA+ improv show 2019-11-14
Caucus launches The Prosperity Project 2019-11-13
SHOWBIZ Out singer, 'Hamilton,' 'Sense8,' Dolly Parton, Shangela 2019-11-12
NATIONAL Manhattan sculpture, Pulse memorial, TrevorLIVE LA, unsolved murder 2019-11-12
10 QUESTIONS with Laverne Cox 2019-11-12
Singer Greyson Chance in Chicago Nov. 29 2019-11-08
Sheridan speaks on trans military members 2019-11-08
Val's halla Records to close by Nov. 30 2019-11-06
Six Trans Candidates Win Elected Office Tuesday Nigh 2019-11-06
Groups ask Pritzker, IDOC to save life of transgender prisoner 2019-11-05
SHOWBIZ Rachel Weisz, John Waters, Jeff Goldblum, Lady Gaga 2019-11-05
'Chicago Celebrates Sondheim!' Nov. 16 2019-11-05
City of Chicago Announces 2020 Festival Dates 2019-11-05
OCTOBER CONCERTS Yoke Lore; Matt and Kim; ayokay and Wingtip; San Fermin; Jonathan Bree 2019-11-04
Local LGBTQ activism topic of panel at library discussion 2019-11-04
Opera Review Dead Man Walking 2019-11-04
Opponent Targets Danica Roem With Anti-Trans Attack Ad, Victory Fund responds 2019-11-01
Hozier in Chicago on Nov. 3-4 2019-10-31
Chicago Gay Men's Chorus to present HOLIDISCO 2019-10-30
OPERA 'Dead Man Walking' makes Lyric debut 2019-10-30
Salute to Robert Ollis on Nov. 4 2019-10-30
Tegan and Sara discuss high school biography 2019-10-30
LGBT HISTORY MONTH Diaries reveal hidden worlds for museums 2019-10-30
152,000 transgender adults are enrolled in Medicaid 2019-10-29
Illinois candidates among latest Victory Fund endorsements 2019-10-29
Lesbian Chorus Artemis Singers at Improv Comedy Nov. 1 2019-10-29
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Counterfeit Madison not faking it 2019-10-26
Day of Outrage to honor life of Atatiana Jefferson Oct. 28 in major cities 2019-10-25
Planned Parenthood of Illinois offers gender affirming hormone therapy 2019-10-23
CONCERTS Roselit Bone and Reverse Cowboy; New Pornographers; Charli XCX 2019-10-22
Honey West, Freddy Allen to reunite for cabaret performance at Drew's 2019-10-22
SHOWBIZ George Michael, Billy Porter, Michael Hutchence, LGBTQ-history film 2019-10-22
Artemis Singers workshop Oct. 30 2019-10-21
Community reacts to Women & Children First anti-trans vandalism 2019-10-20
Ravinia president/CEO leaving post in 2020 2019-10-19
Story Jam features local celebs in a show to raise money for immigrant youth 2019-10-18
 



Copyright © 2019 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
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

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.