Deaths Hub




Trans Filmmaker's Suicide Spurs Bill For Accurate Trans Death Certificates

Lee_atkins

The suicide and posthumous misgendering of transgender filmmaker and activist Christopher Lee (pictured left) has compelled California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (pictured right) to introduce a state bill that would reflect a transgender person’s chosen gender identity on their death certificate.

Lee — who was the first female-to-male Grand Marshal of San Francisco’s 2002 Pride Parade and founded the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival — committed suicide on December 22, 2012. But when his death certificate arrived, it had his female birth name on it and listed his gender as female, even though Lee’s driver’s license said male.

This happened in part because Lee did not undergo gender reassignment surgery (it's cost-prohibitive, not always covered by insurance and not always worthwhile to some trans people), and because of antiquated state laws.

The California Report explains:

Lieutenant Riddic Bowers of the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau. He says a driver’s license is not enough to override anatomy. An updated birth certificate would work, but that requires a court order. And until 2012 getting a court order meant getting surgery.

“Barring that, we have to rely on the documentation that exists, someone’s existing birth certificate and their correlating anatomical description,” Bowers says.

Family opinion is also a factor, and, under current law, next-of-kin has the final word. This is controversial. Many transgender people are estranged from relatives who are uncomfortable with their gender transition.

Lee wasn't in close contact with his family...

Atkins bill would change two key things. First, it would require coroners and funeral directors to record a person’s gender identify rather than anatomical sex. Second, if there’s a dispute, a driver’s license or passport would be sufficient legal documentation to trump family opinion.

If such documents are unavailable, the deceased’s next of kin will decide the gender. 

Atkins’ bill — known as Assembly Bill 1577 or the Respect After Death Act — was filed on January 30, 2014 and is sponsored by Transgender Law Center and Equality California.


British Journalist, Model, and LGBT Ally Peaches Geldof Dead at 25

Peaches Geldof, the second daughter of musician Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, has died at the age of 25, the BBC reports:

GeldofPolice say they were called to an address near Wrotham, Kent following a report of concern for the welfare of a woman on Monday afternoon.

The woman, aged 25, was later pronounced dead by South East Coast Ambulance Service.

"At this stage, the death is being treated as unexplained and sudden," said a statement from Kent Police.

Geldof was a tv host and former journalist with The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. She also worked as a model.

Geldof was also a staunch LGBT ally. Among her statements for equality was one she made in 2012 in a column in The Independent:

"For a country and culture that declares ourselves so progressive, our governments, citizens and, of course, our churches, can be small-minded bigots at the best of times. One day we'll look back on the gay marriage ban as we look back on historical events like apartheid. Because in the end, that's what it is - pointless, futile segregation."

Read her full column here.


Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney Dead at 93

Rooney

Mickey Rooney, who began as a child actor and spent eight decades in entertainment, died at 93 at home in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, the L.A. Times reports:

One of the most enduring performers in show business, he made his debut on the vaudeville stage in 1922 as a toddler and toured into his late 80s in a two-person stage show with Jan Chamberlin, his eighth wife. They were married in 1978 and later separated.

Jokes about his propensity to walk down the aisle were once a staple of pop culture. Even Rooney told them. "My marriage license reads, 'To whom it may concern,'" he chortled to The Times in 1981. The first and most famous of his wives was actress Ava Gardner, whom he married in 1942.

When the 90-year-old Rooney testified before Congress in 2011 about elder abuse, the actor said he spoke from personal experience. A family member who took and misused Rooney's money had left him powerless, he said.

Watch a reel on Rooney's career, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney Dead at 93" »


'Godfather of House Music' Frankie Knuckles Dead at 59

It's a terribly sad day for music as House music pioneer Frankie Knuckles has died at 59, Rolling Stone reports:

KnucklesNobody can agree on who invented the blues or birthed rock & roll, but there is no question that house music came from Frankie Knuckles, who died Monday afternoon of as-yet-undisclosed causes at age 59. One of the Eighties and Nineties' most prolific house music producers and remixers, Knuckles is, hands down, one of the dozen most important DJs of all time. At his Chicago clubs the Warehouse (1977-82) and Power Plant (1983-85), Knuckles’ marathon sets, typically featuring his own extended edits of a wide selection of tracks from disco to post-punk, R&B to synth-heavy Eurodisco, laid the groundwork for electronic dance music culture—all of it.

Knuckles made an abundant number of dance classics, including early Jamie Principle collaborations "Your Love"(1986) and "Baby Wants to Ride"(1987); "Tears"(1989), with Satoshi Tomiiee and Robert Owens; "The Whistle Song"(1991); and his remixes of Chaka Khan’s "Ain’t Nobody"(1989), Sounds of Blackness’s "The Pressure" (1992), and Hercules and Love Affair’s "Blind" (2008).

More from the Chicago Tribune here.

 

Frankie Knuckles - WBMX Friday Night Jams 1986 by Sarah Davies on Mixcloud


Westboro Baptist Church Pastor Fred Phelps is Dead at 84

 Phelps

Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps Sr. died late Wednesday night, WIBW reports:

"Timothy Phelps, son of former Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, told WIBW that his father died before midnight."

Phelps had been reported "on the edge of death" by his estranged son Nate earlier this week. Reports subsequently emerged that  the "God Hates Fags" pastor had been excommunicated after an internal power struggle at Westboro in which a board of elders - Steve Drain, Timothy Phelps, Jonathan Phelps, Samuel Phelps-Roper, Charles Hockenbarger and Fred Phelps Jr - also took down Shirley Phelps Roper from a position of authority.

Following the news that Phelps was near death, Lucien Greaves, the leader of the New York-based Satanic Temple, promised to hold a "pink mass" over Phelps' graves and turn him posthumously gay.

UPDATE:

Westboro Baptist has posted a statement in response to Phelps' death. Read it HERE.


Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray, Who Was First to Marry in Illinois, Dies at 65

Gray

Vernita Gray (left), who married her wife Patricia Ewert last November in Illinois' first legal gay marriage, has died of bone and brain cancer at 65.

Gray was allowed to marry Ewert before marriage equality's then effective date of June 1 after an order from the U.S. District Court in Chicago allowed it, given Gray's terminal illness.

Marriage equality has since been allowed statewide after Attorney General Lisa Madigan published guidance in early March.

The AP reports:

[Family friend Jim] Bennett says Gray advocated for same-sex marriage long before many gay rights activists saw it as a possibility, and she had a knack for working with people across the political spectrum.

Our thoughts go out to Gray's wife, family, and friends.


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