Transgender politician gets sued for “fraud”

Michelle Bruce–who won a City Council seat in Riverdale, Georgia four years ago–is being sued by her (losing) opponent for supposedly “misleading” voters by running as a woman. Talk about classy.

Three rivals ran against [Bruce] in the Nov. 6 election. She captured 312 votes, not enough to avoid a Dec. 4 runoff against the second-place finisher, Wayne Hall, who earned 202 votes.
The third-place finisher, Georgia Fuller, who collected 171 votes, filed a lawsuit claiming election fraud.
The complaint, identifying Ms. Bruce as “Michael Bruce,� says she misled voters by identifying herself as female. It asks a judge to rule the November election results invalid and order another general election.

You know, because Fuller is the arbiter of who is female and who isn’t. Ugh. Apparently, Riverdale tends to favor female candidates. Fuller’s lawyer, Michael King says, “It’s not just sour grapes. The people need to know whether the election is fair.â€? I’m sorry, what’s fairness got to do with it? Sounds more like trans hate than anything else to me.

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  • natmusk

    No let me get this straight…the person suing is a female? and she’s suing the person who won because voters are more likely to vote for females??? under that line of reasoning her and Ms. Bruce would have an equal chance to win based on gender and perhaps (gasp) their political stance and beliefs caused one to be voted over the other….she is just filing this lawsuit to get the news out about Ms. Bruce’s transgender “status” and is probably hoping for a public outcry

  • buffythewhite

    “You know, because Fuller is the arbiter of who is female and who isn’t.”
    No, God is. Those He gives vaginas to are female. Wearing a gorilla suit doesn’t make me a gorilla.

  • http://givingbydesign.blogspot.com rachelgbd

    I live in Georgia and unfortunately they’ll probably get the public outcry. I guess the only thing that could save her is if she’s had her status legally changed to female. However, if the judge the case goes before has any legal conscience she should still be okay. Fraud is intentional misrepresentation that significantly affects the decision of the person you’re defrauding. Even if she weren’t a woman(which I believe she is if that’s how she identifies)running for office is essentially applying for a job in which the “people” are the hiring employer. And employers aren’t supposed to discriminate based on gender so no matter what her gender it ought to be irrelevant. It ought to matter as much as if she told voters her eyes were blue when in fact she was just wearing color contacts.

  • EG

    Oh, buffy. “Because God said so” is a valid argument only under theocracy. It has precisely the same amount of logical weight as “my daddy can beat up your daddy.”

  • http://secondhandsally.blogspot.com/ secondhandsally

    Wait…all it takes is a vagina?
    Well whew, guess I can stop pulling all those hairs out of my face and just scream “I have a vagina” when people tell me I’m not a “real” woman (which has happened).
    I’m glad God makes things so clear cut and gives everyone completely unambiguous genitals and all the appropriate secondary sex characteristics that come with those genitals (as well as the appropriate feelings or sense of identity that come with those genitals).
    *rolls eyes*

  • http://givingbydesign.blogspot.com rachelgbd

    buffythewhite,
    As far as lived reality goes, something is only a gorilla because we say it is. Just like something is only a chair because we say it is. Nature and biology are extremely fluid, no one can really pinpoint what makes someone feminine or a woman. We see it across the species spectrum. And who are we to say what God intended?

  • http://nocookiesforme.blogspot.com/ roymacIII

    “You know, because Fuller is the arbiter of who is female and who isn’t.”
    No, God is. Those He gives vaginas to are female. Wearing a gorilla suit doesn’t make me a gorilla.

    1. That pretends that the illusion of binary sex is justifiable in this day and age, when it’s simply not. There are people who are born with vaginas but who are chromosomally XY. Are they female because they’ve got a vagina, or male because they’re XY?
    2. Why does it matter what plumbing someone is born with? Ignoring the fact that we can change that, why does it matter? If she says “I’m a woman” who the hell are you to tell her otherwise? It’s your business… why?
    3. Last time I checked, dying your blonde makes you blonde, regardless of what color your hair “naturally” is. If I have all of the hair on my body zapped off, I can say “I’m bald.” Doesn’t matter what my “natural” state is, because nobody gives a damn what our “natural” states are, because we’re not, well, natural.

  • sgzax

    Oh no, I’m at a disadvantage again because I don’t believe in DaddyGod.
    If you show me a picture of a cat with the caption “Ceiling Cat says ur councilman is not a gurl” I might give the argument serious consideration. Or, on second thought, maybe I won’t because I learned all about logical fallacies in college.

  • http://profeministmale.wordpress.com ProFeministMale

    Wow – yeah, because it’s SUCH an advantage being female and running for political office, right? Give me a fucking break.
    If that were the case, the majority of politicians in this country wouldn’t be white men, but rather, black women.
    Somebody better give Hillary Clinton a grope check – according to this reasoning, I think it’s just Bill wearing a wig and trying to run as a woman in order to get voted into office.
    Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

  • Ariane

    The election might not be fair because someone…identifies as female and started out biologically male?
    So…we’re assuming that the voting populace was voting based on someone’s biological sex and/or their identified gender, not on, say, the platform the candidates were running on, or the issues they found important?
    Wow.

  • KidCharlemagne

    My understanding is that she was born a hermaphrodite and has identified as a female her entire life. Makes the whole lawsuit even worse than the reasons espoused above. Looking for link…

  • KidCharlemagne

    My understanding is that she was born a hermaphrodite and has identified as a female her entire life. Makes the whole lawsuit even worse than the reasons espoused above. http://www.11alive.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=61074

  • mirm

    Wanting the world to be made of up women and men (and only those two) won’t make it happen. Needing binary genders to keep your world view organized cannot change the reality of many humans with many varities of sex (at the chromosomal level as well as at the primary sex characteristic level (plumbing), and at the secondary sex characteristic level). So BTW and the rest of the world who cannot take ambiguity, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

  • mirm

    Ariane, your comment lays bare the reality of our entire patriarchal, racist culture. People vote (as well as hire, fire, serve, address, etc) on the basis of race and gender, not on the basis of ideas, worth, performance, etc. It. makes. me. want. to. cry.

  • KidCharlemagne

    Sorry for the double post. Also just wanted to say that I have been lurking here on and off for quite some time, but the recent Lusty Linda (disgusting rape promoting pen holder)finally brought it to a head for me and decided to occasionally comment. As a male, y’all have really opened my eyes to how pervasive this stuff is. I can’t even watch animal planet now without noticing these gender biases coming through in the narration…

  • SarahMC

    KidCharlemagne – once your eyes have been opened it’s impossible to close them. And it’s bittersweet.
    This story is maddening.

  • http://lustylady.blogspot.com Rachel Kramer Bussel

    Some good news on this indeed totally ridiculous case:
    The Georgia Secretary of State’s office will not investigate allegations of election fraud in Riverdale.
    “The inspector general will allow the issue to proceed through the legal process,” spokesman Matt Carrothers said Wednesday.
    Also check out Pridesource, calling the woman suing their “Creep of the Week.” Indeed!

  • Jessica

    buffy, I’m not going to tolerate antitrans comments. consider this a warning.

  • rileystclair

    “If you show me a picture of a cat with the caption “Ceiling Cat says ur councilman is not a gurl” I might give the argument serious consideration.”
    ahahahahahaha WIN!

  • merichan

    there should totally be a counter-suit where Michelle Bruce sues Georgia Fuller because she ran as a blonde (instead of the “natural” brunnette she is) or as a blue-eyes person (instead of the green eyes she “naturally” has). im not sure if either one of those are true as i am speaking hypothetically for humour’s sake here.
    and jessica: thank you for giving them a warning

  • thatabbygrrl

    this story seemed specially relevant coming so soon after the trans day of remembrance. that day focused on violent attacks and assaults on trans individuals, usually by people angry about being “tricked” about the trans person’s “real” gender.
    i’ve been thinking that it’s better that michelle bruce is being sued, rather than physically attacked, by people who believe themselves to have been “tricked”. but the more i think about it, it’s almost more scary to involve our government and justice system in meting out “punishment” to trans individuals who “trick” others. (lots of quote marks in this post!) it somehow legitimizes the complaint of the “tricked” person in a way that a physical assault would not.

  • KidCharlemagne

    SarahMC – Tell me about it. Another item on my constantly expanding list of things to be angry about and help try to fix.

  • SarahMC

    Let’s say a black person who often “passes” for white wins a city council seat against two other folks. Can you imagine one of the losers finding out the winner has a black mother/father/grandparent and suing on the grounds that “He’s actually black!!”

  • Kapek

    “buffy, I’m not going to tolerate antitrans comments. consider this a warning.”
    Brilliant. Heaven forbid the First Amendment should hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s all funny until someone loses a penis.
    But that’s any more relevant to this issue than Buffy’s comment. What’s relevant is this: if she was a transsexual transitioning from male to female, but had not yet gotten a change in her legal status, and she checked a box on some candidate application form that said “Female,” then she might be in real trouble. Not from the lawsuit, which is probably without merit in any case, but because the lawsuit might bring this legal inconsistency to light, and thereby invalidate her candidacy.
    In which case, the person who brought the lawsuit would STILL be in second place. So, yes, it’s obviously sour grapes. There’s probably some trans hate mixed in there: but I think this is just motivated by hate, pure and simple. She’d have found some other reason to impugn her opponent’s character if this one hadn’t been available.
    The lawsuit is especially despicable if Ms. Bruce was born a hermaphrodite, and amounts to an attempt to exclude people from public office on the basis office on the basis of their birth gender, something which, I don’t know about you guys, I didn’t have any control over.

  • petralyn

    Let me understand: Riverdale, GA a small hickville suburb of Atlanta had 700 voters turnout to elect a city councilwoman, who was born a hermaphrodite, who the male dominated medical profession selected female at birth, now must past a genital inspection so she can hold public office in this disgraceful little burb? Which is why this transexual women moved from Atlanta and Georgia to Chicago, a much trans-friendlier place to live. This reminds me of one of the last scenes in the “Crying Game,” where Dill confronts the ‘breasts’ used to recruit her man. Furthermore, GOd is a male creation, which we all should suspect.

  • Kapek

    I should probably clarify. If someone is born a hermaphrodite, I think they should be allowed to check any freaking box they want. But if this lawsuit goes through, then any hermaphrodite who runs for office can be accused of lying for checking either box.
    Frankly, boxes like on legal forms are silly. I’m not saying that a society doesn’t have the right to uphold a binary understanding of gender, however stupid or limiting that may be: we do live in a democracy, after all. I’m just saying that boxes for “male” and “female”, as well as boxes for “black”, “white”, “hispanic”, “other,” outside of official censuses, are just silly. People should be given a chance to think outside of them.

  • annajcook

    The complaint, identifying Ms. Bruce as “Michael Bruce,� says she misled voters by identifying herself as female.
    I know that, in this case, the whole thing is being used for a political smear campaign, etc., and it absolutely seems hateful . . . but I think it is also important to remember that outside of circles like ours, trans issues are not well understood. My grandmother (in her eighties) asked at a family dinner last year what the different between transvestite and transsexual was–it was so great that she was honestly curious!–and I’ve had to explain to other family members as well what all the different terms mean, and how to understand sex & gender identification along all these different spectrums. Again, this isn’t to excuse hateful words and actions, but it seems like we should remember that sometimes hateful-sounding words are spoken out of genuine misunderstanding, rather than deliberate anger or fear.

  • rileystclair

    “Brilliant. Heaven forbid the First Amendment should hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s all funny until someone loses a penis.”
    kapek, it’s pretty lol when people think that the first amendment guarantees them the right to spew hate on an internet blog. it’s jessica’s site; she can do whatever she wants. OMG DIKTATURSHIP?!

  • keshmeshi

    You know, if the voters feel they were defrauded, they can vote Ms. Bruce out of office in the next election, which shouldn’t be in too long considering that she won her council seat four years ago. Until then, Ms. Fuller should shut up.

  • Xana

    Just an FYI for those using the term “hermaphrodite”. The correct term is “intersex”.
    Some reading: http://www.isna.org/faq/hermaphrodite

  • soisaystomabel

    Thank you, Xana! I was just about to point that out. Using the term hermaphrodite is ignorant and offensive.

  • SarahMC

    Like, it’s a city council seat in bumfucksville. Get over it, you classless bigot.

  • KidCharlemagne

    petralyn – From what I read this was something that the whole town knew about (it is a small town, after all) and that she identified as female. She STILL got voted in. I think it is a case of one asshole who has a case of sour grapes. Not the whole town gathering in front of her house with pitchforks.
    Also, I was first to use hermaphrodite. Not meaning to be offensive. I was just ignorant about that, but I don’t think I am alone in that regard.

  • annajcook

    While some intersex people seek to reclaim the word “hermaphrodite� with pride to reference themselves (much like the words “dyke� and “queer� have been reclaimed by LBGT people), we’ve learned over the years it is best generally avoided, since the political subtlety is lost on a lot of people. (from ISNA link above)
    Thanks for the link, Xana . . . like KidCharlemange, I never realized that “hermaphrodite” is a loaded word with negative connotations. I think it’s sad, because language with mythological/historical roots (eg “lesbian”) can often be powerful in positive ways. But I’ll try to remember for future reference!

  • carolina girl

    But, but, but, EG, “my daddy can beat up your daddy.” OK, maybe he can’t. Your daddy could be like really strong and stuff.
    Seriously though, when, oh when, will gender no longer matter? If the candidate is well suited for the job and the voters elect said candidate, why do we even care if said candidate is female, male, or anything else? When will the world figure out that gender is relative and that people, regardless of gender, can be well suited for a job (even in politics) no matter how they identify? It’s ridiculous that we’re even still having to discuss these things in the year 2007.

  • dananddanica

    gender will always matter as people will most likely never reach the point where they vote only with their minds and not their emotions. People like to identify with their representatives and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
    This case is absurd though, I cannot understand actually filing a lawsuit because of this.
    Question though in regards to the intersex: What do they do when it comes to a specific gender benefit? A woman’s college scholarship for example. If I have a child and it is intersex, when it turns 17 and we’re looking at funding college, would we be eligible for all possible scholarships?(within our ethnic group)
    If they are defined as one gender or the other at birth but reject that, how are they treated when it comes to legal or financial benefits? I find this fascinating, if anyone could direct me to a site with this kind of information I’d appreciate it.

  • Xana

    dananddanica: You might want to check out the website Intersex Society of North America for some more info: http://www.isna.org/faq/patient-centered
    Usually, a gender is assigned (though this doesn’t mean surgery) to the child. This can change as the child grows up and feels either more male or female. That’s a very basic explanation of something very complex, but the website has some more info that explains it in more specific terms.

  • http://kissmypineapple.blogspot.com/ kissmypineapple

    gender will always matter as people will most likely never reach the point where they vote only with their minds and not their emotions.
    That’s somewhat of a defeatist attitude, isn’t it? How can you say with any certainty that so long as our world exists, gender will forever evoke an emotional response? Sure, miles to go and all that, but I think someday, gender will be as important as eye color. Someday.

  • electronBlue

    Yes, Xana, thank you for the link. It’s a really interesting site, and although I had some familiarity with the issue, I still learned a lot (including why not to use the term “hermaphrodite”).
    Like Kid Charlemagne, I’m pretty new to this blog, and just starting to comment now and again. It’s always interesting, often funny, and a real eye-opener at times.

  • prairielily

    I found another article, even older than KidCharlemagne’s. It’s from 2004. So the people of Riverdale have known about Michelle Bruce’s transgendered status since at least 2004.
    http://www.sovo.com/2004/9-24/news/localnews/riverdale.cfm
    And they still voted her in! In this little town in a conservative part of the country, they elected a transgendered person! So maybe this town doesn’t deserve to be insulted, just Georgia Fuller and her like.
    And obviously Fuller has very little to stand on if Michelle Bruce’s transgendered status has been public knowledge for at least three years.

  • Xana

    To all the people calling Riverdale, Georgia “bumfucksville” or “hickville”… I don’t think it is alright to use such terms simply because it is a small town. From what I can tell from the article, it is not the townspeople, but the losing opponent who appears to have the issue. As prairielily said, the town has been aware of Ms. Bruce’s status for years.

  • Kapek

    Actually, KidCharlemagne, you weren’t the first one to use “hermaphrodite” here. Michelle Bruce was.
    “Me being intersexed or a hermaphrodite, born with both sexes, thinking out of the box, if I was to work for the city of Riverdale, I am not protected.”
    In continuing to use the term myself, I was giving Ms. Bruce the benefit of the doubt. “Hermaphrodite” implies two fully formed, fully functioning sets of genitalia: “intersex” describes a single set that lies somewhere inbetween male and female, usually with an enlarged clitoris and vestigial testes.
    Now, true hermaphrodites are extremely rare, so Ms. Bruce, more likely than not, was born intersexed. If she was, then I don’t know why she chose to use the older term: perhaps she was trying to reclaim it, perhaps it was simply more understandable to the people of Riverdale, Georgia, or perhaps she wasn’t aware that it really implies something fundamentally different from “intersexed.” By applying it to herself, it implies that her female gender is a choice she is proud of, since a true hermaphrodite could just as easily employ surgery to become a male.
    That definitely gives her cachet as a woman, but I’m not sure it helps her argument. The fact is that she didn’t choose to be born intersexed, she probably didn’t choose to be assigned a female gender (most intersexed infants are given immediate, misguided “corrective surgery”) and she certainly deserves protection under the law from workplace discrimination. But if she wants to suggest that she did have a choice, and that she’s proud of it, then without knowing her personally, I’m going to continue to use her terminology.

  • dananddanica

    pineapple,
    I agree we are very far from that point but I’m not entirely sure we want to get to the point where gender is only as important as eye color. Our gender informs our experiences and our views, at least to some degree. Even if we are able to progress as a civilization to the point where all people are equal, ones gender will still shape us as people in some way and thats not entirely a bad thing. It may just be another physical characteristic at that point but it would still be more important than eye color. My husband (the Dan part of Dan&Danica), is 6’5 and quite large. That physical presence has helped make him who he is today and I would say his gender has had an even more profound effect and always will. This will always translate at least somewhat into our representatives.
    I’ve read the links provided above and thank you for them, I need to look into it more, those sites are bit light on specifics as to how intersex as a category would be treated. Its amazing when you stop and think how divided our world is by the binary sex paradigm.

  • buffythewhite

    “buffy, I’m not going to tolerate antitrans comments. consider this a warning.”
    To say that those born with female parts are female is antitrans? You’re a fraud. You don’t have the guts to discuss a topic. You bloviate and then call people who disagree with you haters and ban them. Chickenshit.

  • Kapek

    See, now THAT’s the kind of disruptive invective that you can ban. Of course, you wouldn’t have to, if you hadn’t provoked it with a threat.

  • Faerylore

    You know I was just getting used to how *nice* it was around here without all the trolls.
    Apparently they came back.
    On the plus side, I guess we know their spawning interval now.
    To dananddanica, while I think gender is important on a personal level, why should it be important on a public level? Gender for example has no direct impact upon job performance, and it shouldn’t influence our social rank.
    I do think it is important on a personal, social level (which I think is the vein you were thinking in), in that it does shape and distort (good, bad, and grey) our lives in so many different ways as we bumble along in society. But I don’t think it should matter publically.
    But OTOH is somebody’s birth sex important ever? Fuck no.
    Except of course for our society’s stupid tendency to limit one’s genderfluidity based off of what parts they have to accessorize it with…

  • anomrabbit

    I think that if the voters had an issue with Ms Bruce’s gender, she wouldn’t have been elected. It’s that simple.
    Also, buffythewhite, you have /no idea/ how offensive your comments are to some of us. This is Jessica’s blog, and the comments are under her discretion.

  • EG

    See, now THAT’s the kind of disruptive invective that you can ban.
    Actually, it’s Jessica’s blog, so she can ban any damn person she wants.
    The first amendment protects buffy from government action based on her ridiculous religious bigotry. It doesn’t mean that anybody else has to provide her with a platform from which to spew it.

  • kissmypineapple

    EG, thank you. Beyond that, I’m sure that BTW knows just exactly how offensive her/his comments are, and that is precisely why s/he posts them.
    Faerylore, that’s what I was trying to say, but apparently did it badly. Though, dananddanica, I know lots of people disagree with me, but I don’t see gender as a physical trait. Sex is. But gender is a social construct; I can no more point to my femininity than I can to my liberalness. I hold certain beliefs, and people call that liberal. I walk and talk and wear my hair a certain way, and people call that feminine.

  • http://kissmypineapple.blogspot.com/ kissmypineapple

    EG, thank you. Beyond that, I’m sure that BTW knows just exactly how offensive her/his comments are, and that is precisely why s/he posts them.
    Faerylore, that’s what I was trying to say, but apparently did it badly. Though, dananddanica, I know lots of people disagree with me, but I don’t see gender as a physical trait. Sex is. But gender is a social construct; I can no more point to my femininity than I can to my liberalness. I hold certain beliefs, and people call that liberal. I walk and talk and wear my hair a certain way, and people call that feminine.