Monday, August 08, 2005

"Being me isn't a choice"

On Friday the Spokane, WA Spokesman-Review finally got around to covering a story I've been following most of the week. I've held off writing, waiting for details to be confirmed, and those details, more of which can be found on RootBeerRock's blog, are ugly.

Kimberly Stankovich is a transgendered father of two. Her marriage broke up following her coming out as a woman and everything has gone down hill from there. She claims her ex outed her to her employer (the ex disputes this), and has since been unable to find work in ultra-conservative Spokane, leaving her unable to pay court-ordered child support.

From the Spokesman-Review:
At a July 14 hearing, Superior Court Commissioner Royce Moe found Stankovich in contempt for not paying nearly $1,000 a month in child support and spousal maintenance to Stankovich's wife of 15 years, Marnie. The couple filed for divorce in July 2004.

Moe said he was not convinced that Stankovich did not make a choice to be transgendered.

"How is what your client did any different from deciding that she wants to be a punk rocker," Moe asked Stankovich's attorney during a July 1 hearing.

Stankovich, a former Eastern Washington University psychology student, was sent to jail for "willful failure" to meet her court-ordered obligation. Moe gave Stankovich a month to pay or appear on July 29 for one week of incarceration.

Stankovich, who said she has not had more than $1,000 a month to live on since 1996, reported for jail accompanied by an entourage of social activists belonging to a group called Stop the Clock. Once incarcerated, she was placed in a men's wing of the jail, where she was verbally abused for two days until an expert in gender identity dysphoria contacted the jail commander to inform him of the psychological damage such treatment could cause.

[snip] one point, court commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur ordered Stankovich to dress as a man during visitations with her daughters, ages 15 and 12, to spare them the embarrassment of having a transgendered father.

Judge Maryann Moreno later revised that order, allowing Stankovich to dress as a woman. Stankovich is allowed to see her daughters every other weekend and one weekday a month.

She is currently receiving hormones to facilitate her transition to physically becoming a woman but said she cannot afford the necessary surgery.

Kimberly is now out of jail after serving 7 days for contempt. When the divorce goes to trail on August 22, 2005, her attorney intends to argue that transgenderism is not a choice but a situation into which one is born. Kimberly replies that it is a choice, "But it's a choice like eating. If you don't nourish your soul, like not eating, you die."

(cross-posted at I See Invisible People)

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