Monday, April 12, 2010

For @dmarren - an intro to criminal and corporate gender, and the Penner/Daniels question

I don't know if you saw last Friday's post in my Empoprise-MU music blog, and even if you did, I don't know if you saw the postscript that I added to the post a few hours later. That postscript included some advice from Chris Brogan, which directed me to his post on monitoring mentions of yourself.

In my case, I am not only monitoring information about myself, but I am also using the tools to monitor my industry, including mentions of the company that employs me. Which led me to this tweet from @dmarren:

Morphotrak form question #21: Gender; Male, Female, Both...

Now I couldn't determine the context of the tweet, or even where @dmarren is located, so I don't know if this was an employment application, or some other type of form.

But I'm not surprised at the question - not because of something specific about MorphoTrak, but because of some things going on in society.

In a reply tweet, I noted one of these items - the nature of booking criminals. Whenever a suspect is booked, you don't only get the suspect's fingerprints, but you also get a lot of other information about the suspect. Of course, the suspect may lie, but that's why biometric companies are in business.

When submitting fingerprints and related text material to the FBI, the governing document is the Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification, which can be found here. And when you report the sex of the suspect, you are governed by the standard responses for field 2.024. And this is what the FBI says about field 2.024 (as of EBTS v9.0):

SEX 2.024 – Sex. This field is used to report the gender of the subject. The entry is a single character selected from the following table.
If Following Condition Exists Enter Code

Subject‘s gender reported as female F
Occupation or charge indicated "Male Impersonator" G
Subject‘s gender reported as male M
Occupation or charge indicated "Female Impersonator" or transvestite N
Male name, no gender given Y
Female name, no gender given Z
Unknown gender X

Now this only applies to submissions to the FBI. State submissions, or submissions in other countries, may use different criteria to denote sex. However, in most countries, the days in which criminals were either male or female have ended. Take the United Kingdom, for instance.

Thus my tweet to @dmarren regarding how criminal sexes are classified. But as we all know, such classifications are not limited to the criminal world - it also involves dealing with employees and suppliers. Before I was employed by MorphoTrak, I was employed by Motorola, and Motorola is very clear on its desire for a diverse employee base and diverse suppliers. Regarding the former, Motorola has set up numerous diversity councils, including a "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Business Council" in the United States.

(As an aside, I've always wondered how the gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders all feel about being lumped together. Creating the group of non-heterosexuals sounds kind of like creating the group of non-Americans, in which there's only one thing that unites group.)

Now, regardless of one's personal feelings on the matter, it's worth noting that many governments and many companies now recognize recognize transgendereds as a separate sexual category.

So don't be surprised at the questions that you may see on forms.

And regardless of one's feelings on the matter, the sad end of Mike Penner is indeed sad.

November 29, 2009|By Keith Thursby

Mike Penner, a longtime Los Angeles Times sportswriter who made headlines in 2007 when he announced that he was transsexual, has died. He was 52....

In April 2007, Penner surprised colleagues and readers with an essay in The Times' Sports section announcing that he was "a transsexual sportswriter."...

Writing as Christine Daniels, Penner started a column for the paper's website in May 2007 called Day in L.A. and a blog about the transition, then in July began writing for the paper again.

He returned to using the Mike Penner byline in October 2008.

Why? An in-depth story by Christopher Goffard details what happened after Christine Daniels went public, beginning with Daniels' appearance at the unveiling of David Beckham:

Paul Oberjuerge, then a sports columnist for the San Bernardino Sun, was in the crowd. "I hate to be judgmental about these things, but Christine is not an attractive woman," he wrote on his blog, noting that Daniels had a prominent Adam's apple and stood more than 6 feet tall in wobbly heels. "It seemed almost as if we're all going along with someone's dress-up role playing. . . . "

And Daniels didn't feel accepted by the transsexual community either:

As the year wore on, Daniels grew estranged from the Los Angeles transsexual community, complaining that she had become a fundraising tool. At one gathering, she spoke of how supportive the Los Angeles Times had been, only to be confronted by someone who insisted that this didn't reflect the experience of most transsexuals.

"She didn't know who to trust in the community," Sandeen said, "because all these people were willing to use her."

After this and other episodes, there was a change.

One transgender friend, Sara Hayward, heard an eerie shifting in Daniels' speech during a conversation in early March. Now and then, Daniels' soft, steady voice would give way abruptly to Penner's voice, deep and cracking. "It was two voices coming out of the same person," Hayward said....

Daniels stopped taking hormones and began getting rid of the physical trappings of Christine, LaCoe said, giving the jewelry and shoe collection to friends, donating the wigs, carting the clothes to Goodwill. In a matter of months, the whole identity had been banished.

But the reversion to Mike Penner did not settle the situation either. On the evening of November 27, Penner was found dead in his car.

And death did not settle the situation either.

At the family memorial service at Forest Lawn in Cypress, mourners were screened to keep out reporters who might write about it.

A second memorial service, open to anyone, was held weeks later at Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles. The pastor made it clear, as did the picture on the program, that they were saying goodbye not to Mike Penner but to Christine Daniels.

So now we all understand how questions such as form question 21 originate.
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