Showing posts with label Transgender. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transgender. Show all posts

February 22, 2017

Trump Rolling Back Protections for Transgender Students



 On REVERSED←⇠←←



The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students, reversing federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow children to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities.

In a letter to the nation’s schools, administration officials plan to say they are withdrawing guidance issued by the Obama administration that found that denying transgender students the right to use the bathroom of their choice violates federal prohibitions against sex discrimination, according to a draft of the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

“This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation,” states the two-page draft, which indicates that the Education and Justice departments plan to issue it jointly. The draft says administrators, parents and students have “struggled to understand and apply the statements of policy” in the Obama-era guidance.

As a result, the departments “have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further consider the legal issues involved.” The letter makes clear that schools must protect all students and that the withdrawal of the guidance “does not diminish the protections from bullying and harassment that are available to all students. Schools must ensure that transgender students, like all students, are able to learn in a safe environment.”

A final version of the letter is slated to be issued Wednesday, according to a Republican operative with knowledge of the conversations within the Trump administration on the issue. The administration is expected to release the letter despite objections from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who did not want to rescind the guidance, the operative said. Officials with the Education and Justice departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday night.

The reversal would represent a significant setback for the gay rights movement, which made enormous gains under President Barack Obama. It suggests that President Trump, who had signaled during the campaign and in the early days of his presidency that he supports gay and transgender rights, will hew closer to the GOP party line. 

“I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily media briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying that the Education and Justice departments would issue fresh guidance soon.

The decision would not have an immediate impact on the nation’s public school students because a federal judge had already put a hold on the Obama-era directive.

But it would instantly affect several legal cases, including that of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teen who sued his school board for barring him from using the boys’ bathroom. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Grimm’s case next month. 

A lower court ruled in favor of Grimm based on the Obama administration’s position on transgender student bathroom use. The change would at least partially undermine Grimm’s case.
 
Gay rights groups, which expected the Trump administration to change course from the earlier transgender guidance, condemned the move preemptively.

“Such clear action directed at children would be a brazen and shameless attack on hundreds of thousands of young Americans who must already defend themselves against schoolyard bullies, but are ill-equipped to fight bullies on the floors of their state legislatures and in the White House,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement Tuesday.

The Obama administration’s guidance was based on the position that requiring students to use a restroom that clashes with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination. Transgender students and their parents cheered Obama’s move to expand the protections, but it drew legal challenges from those who believe it was a federal intrusion into local affairs and a violation of social norms.

The issue of which bathrooms transgender people should be permitted to use has evolved in recent years into a central debate about rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Transgender advocates say that allowing people with gender dysphoria to use their preferred restroom is essential for their health and psychological well-being. Opponents say the accommodations violate student privacy and traditional values.

Many legal experts say that federal law protects transgender students no matter what agency guidance says.

“This administration cannot strip away the rights of transgender students by retracting the guidance — the issue is before the courts now and the law has not changed,” said Vanita Gupta, who worked as the head of civil rights for the Justice Department in the Obama administration and issued the original guidance. “To cloak this in federalism ignores the vital and historic role that federal law plays in ensuring that all children (including LGBT students) are able to attend school free from discrimination.”

It is unusual for a new administration to overturn such significant civil rights guidance, according to advocates who closely track the issue. And such a reversal is likely to leave schools confused about how to proceed, they say; Obama administration officials said that they developed the transgender guidance in response to requests from school officials.

“Schools repeatedly asked for guidance on how to support transgender students and create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all,” said Anurima Bhargava, who helmed the educational opportunities section of Justice Department’s civil rights division under Obama. “The guidance has been, and will continue to be, an important and practical resource for schools.”

Nearly 800 parents of transgender students wrote to President Trump last week, urging him to keep the guidance to protect their children from discrimination. 

“No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of the school day ahead,” the parents wrote. “When this guidance was issued last year, it provided our families — and other families like our own across the country — with the knowledge and security that our government was determined to protect our children from bullying and discrimination. Please do not take that away from us.”

The Obama administration’s directive sparked immediate backlash from those who saw it as a gross overreach of executive power, and several states sued in response.

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick (R) has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the Obama guidance, calling it “blackmail” and the most important issue for families in schools since the Supreme Court ruled against school-sponsored prayer.

In January, Patrick joined Texas Republicans in supporting a bill that would require the state’s transgender residents to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their biological sex, not their gender identity. He said the legislation was necessary to protect Texans’ privacy, including in public schools.

“We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Patrick said at the time, according to the Texas Tribune. “But we know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history. You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.” 

In an interview in May with The Washington Post, Donald Trump, then the presumptive Republican presidential nomination, said he thought that the government should protect transgender people but that it should be up to the states to decide on the bathroom issue.

“I think it’s something where we have to help people — and hopefully the states will make the right decisions,” Trump said in the interview.
 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a longtime opponent of broadening LGBT rights. While in the U.S. Senate, he endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposed expanding hate crime legislation to include acts against gay and transgender people.

DeVos, who was narrowly confirmed this month after a contentious hearing, has a more nuanced record on gay rights. By reversing course on the transgender issue, she could again find herself mired in controversy at the outset of her tenure.

DeVos has been accused of hostility to LGBT rights because of her extended family’s donations to socially conservative advocacy groups and efforts to ban same-sex marriage. She has tried to distance herself from her family’s position; in 2004, for example, she and her husband did not contribute to a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in their home state of Michigan, though several of their relatives did.

At her confirmation hearing, she asked senators not to confuse her record with that of her family: “I embrace equality, and I firmly believe in the intrinsic value of each individual, and that every student should have the assurance of a safe and discrimination-free place to become educated,” she said at the time. A week later, a spokesman for the DeVos family told BuzzFeed News that DeVos supports same-sex marriage.


February 15, 2017

Separatists/Ukraine are Asked About Missing Russ.Trans/Activist


Seroye Fioletovoye (center-hanging, aka Oleg Vasliyev and Maria Shtern) used to belong to
Pussy Riot

International rights groups have urged separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine to disclose the location and ensure the safety of a Russian LGBT activist and a fellow performance artist who went missing there two weeks ago.

Friends of transgender activist Seroye Fioletovoye (Gray Purple) and musician Viktoria Miroshnichenko say they have not heard from the two since they entered separatist-controlled territory on January 31.

The Kremlin-loyal tabloid news outlet Life News on February 13 cited an unidentified source with the separatists as saying that the two were detained because Fioletovoye had planned to stage a protest in support of sexual minorities in a separatist-held area of Donetsk.

There has been no formal confirmation of that claim, and Amnesty International said in a February 13 statement that it has "serious concerns" about the safety of the two Russians.

The international rights group published a petition calling on separatist leaders to reveal the location of the two Russians and protect them from "physical and psychological" abuse.

Russia-backed separatists control areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine's east nearly three years after the start of their war against Kyiv's forces that has killed more than 9,750 people.

International rights watchdogs and Western governments have repeatedly accused the separatists of illegal detentions and abuses, including torture.

Fioletovoye, who was born Oleg Vasliyev and also goes by the name Maria Shtern, is a former member of the Russian art group Voina, which drew international attention with its daring antigovernment stunts and spawned the dissident art collective Pussy Riot.

The activist typically uses "it" in self-reference, and rights advocates became increasingly concerned after a February 9 update appeared on Fioletovoye's Twitter feed referring to the activist as male.
Two tweets from the account of Seroye Fioletovoye that use a different personal pronoun to refer to the missing LGBT activist.
Two tweets from the account of Seroye Fioletovoye that use a different personal pronoun to refer to the missing LGBT activist.


The tweet was subsequently deleted and replaced with a new post consistent with the activist's typical gender identification.

"Friends, I am in the far-flung regions of the DNR," the tweet reads, using an acronym used by the separatists that stands for Donetsk People's Republic.
"I am busy with a film. There is almost no Internet. I'm alive and well," it continued.

The Twitter feed had been dormant since August, and the sudden tweet has raised suspicions that the activist was not the person who posted it.

"It was very, very creepy, and very concerning, too," Tanya Cooper, a Ukraine researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, told RFE/RL.

Miroshnichenko is a musician who previously collaborated with Fioletovoye. She staged a performance-art piece at a 2013 event related to LGBT issues that Fioletovoye moderated.

In her most recent Facebook post -- on January 31 -- Miroshnichenko wrote that she would be online infrequently until February 15. She added in a comment to the post that she was traveling to the southern Russian region of Rostov, which borders the Donetsk region.

Human Rights Watch said in a February 10 statement that it feared the two had become the victims of "forced disappearance."

"Their disappearance demands an immediate and effective investigation," Cooper said in the statement
Based on reporting by Christopher Miller in Kyiv and Carl Schreck in Washington
rferl.org

February 13, 2017

As Session Become AG The Admin Back Tracks on Bathroom Issue






 

President Donald Trump's administration is stepping back from a request made by former President Barack Obama's administration in an ongoing lawsuit over bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

In a filing Friday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government asked to withdraw a motion filed last year that asked a judge to scale back a temporary injunction blocking Obama’s guidance on the issue. 

The Department of Justice's filing, which came a day after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as Trump's attorney general, said the parties were "currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal."

Texas and 12 other states filed the lawsuit last year challenging the former president's guidance, which directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the directive nationwide in August. The Obama administration later requested that the hold only apply to the 13 suing states while it appealed the ruling. A hearing on the request was set for Tuesday, but the Friday court filing asked that the hearing be cancelled.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said Saturday afternoon that the agency declined to comment beyond the filing. Calls to the Texas attorney general's office were not returned.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said they were "incredibly disappointed" by the filing on Friday.

"Our concern is that it's a very clear signal that at a minimum the Department of Justice — and possibly more broadly throughout the Trump administration — will not protect transgender students," she said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the filing a "callous attack" on transgender students.

"By refusing to fulfill their responsibilities to protect all the nation's students and defend this life-saving guidance, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration have attacked the dignity and safety of transgender students," Keisling said in a statement sent to NBC Out. "While the immediate impact of this initial legal maneuver is limited, it is a frightening sign that the Trump administration is ready to discard its obligation to protect all students."

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor blocked the Obama administration order in August. The Obama administration had cited Title IX, a federal law guaranteeing equality in education. But the judge, in issuing a temporary injunction, said the Title IX "is not ambiguous" about sex being defined as "the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth."

The ruling, he said, was not about the policy issues of transgender rights, but about his conclusion that federal officials simply did not follow rules that required an opportunity for comment before such directives are issued.

In the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court is set in late March to hear the case of a Virginia school board that wants to prevent a transgender teenager from using the boys' bathroom at a high school.

The Virginia case involves 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, who identifies as male. He was allowed to use the boys' restroom at his high school in 2014. But after complaints, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender or a private, single-stall restroom. A lower court ordered the school board to accommodate Grimm, but that order is on hold.

 

January 30, 2017

Boy Scouts Will Allow Transgender Children that Identify as Boys to Join




 
The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it will allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs.

The organization said it had made the decision to begin basing enrollment in its boys-only programs on the gender a child or parent lists on the application to become a scout. The Boy Scouts had previously held a policy that relied on the gender listed on a child’s birth certificate for those programs.

The organization's leadership had considered a recent case in Secaucus, New Jersey, where an 8-year-old transgender child had been asked to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. But the statement issued Monday said the change was made because of the larger conversation about gender identity going on around the country.

"For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs," the statement said. “However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.” 

Kristie Maldonado said she had mixed emotions Monday night when a representative of Boy Scouts of America called to tell her the organization would allow her son, Joe, to re-enroll in his troop after he was asked to leave last fall. Maldonado said she would like her son to rejoin the Secaucus troop, but only if the scout leader who made the previous decision leaves.

She said Joe, who will turn 9 on Wednesday, has spoken publicly about the incident. She called him a "ham" and noted he had a big birthday party on Saturday with the mayor of Secaucus in attendance.

"I'm so grateful. I really am that they're accepting and that there won't be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won't have to go through what my son went through," Maldonado said when reached by phone Monday. "It's a big change for everybody that all are accepted now ... I'm so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I'm still angry."

Maldonado said the earlier decision to remove her son from the troop made him feel different, and she wanted to make sure he knew the troop made a mistake.

The Boys Scouts said the enrollment decision goes into effect immediately.

"Our organization's local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child," the statement said.

Zach Wahls, co-founder of the groups Scouts for Equality, called the decision historic.

"The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution," he wrote in a statement posted to social media. "We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado — the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy — and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right. We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing."

Boy Scouts of America leaders lifted a blanket ban on gay troop leaders and employees in July 2015 amid intense pressure. The group had, after heated internal debate, decided in 2013 to allow openly gay youth as scouts.

The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has accepted transgender members for years.

Associated Press

January 20, 2017

Manning a Powerful Transgender Symbol for Resilience






For most Americans, Chelsea Manning has been a hero or villain based on how they view her decision to leak classified material. For transgender people, she has another dimension — serving as a potent symbol of their struggles for acceptance. 
With Tuesday's commutation of her prison sentence by President Barack Obama, she's now due for release in May, when she will re-enter a society bitterly divided over many aspects of transgender rights. 
Manning was arrested in 2010 and came out as transgender after being sentenced to 35 years in an all-male military prison. Under Army rules, she was barred from growing her hair long while incarcerated, and only after litigation by her legal team was she approved for hormone therapy. 
She spent long stints in solitary confinement, and twice tried to kill herself. 
 Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who filed the medical-care lawsuit, said Manning has viewed herself as a transgender-rights activist even in the isolation of her confinement at Fort Leavenworth. 
"She's always been a hero to me," said Strangio, a transgender man. "Her story really does reflect so much of the systemic discrimination that transgender people face — struggles growing up, suppression of her gender that prompted her to join the military ... and facing particularly egregious conditions in prison." 
"She's an incredibly thoughtful and devoted person," Strangio added. "She's felt a sense of responsibility to the transgender community and wanted to be someone who contributed to the fight for transgender justice." 
Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender author who teaches at Barnard College in New York, expressed hope that Manning would remain an activist and share her experiences. In an email, Boylan depicted Manning as "a woman who's been trapped both physically and metaphorically, finding herself smack in the middle of national disagreements about both the meaning of our war in Iraq as well as the ongoing national conversation about gender." 
"She is seen as a very public face for the complexity of gender, particularly the injustice facing anyone doing time in a facility for men who is surely, by the measure of her own heart, a woman," Boylan wrote. 
Dean Spade, a transgender law professor at Seattle University School of Law, hailed Manning as "an immensely important figure for the trans movement and for the broader LGBT movement." Manning faced conditions in prison that denied her gender, Spade said, and "the world has watched her go through this." 
A cautionary note was sounded by Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, who said there was no consensus about Manning among transgender Americans. 
"The community is divided on her actions, and parading her around as a hero will not only negatively impact her," and exacerbate the split among transgender people, Beyer wrote in an email. "Manning as the face of the trans community would be very dangerous." 
Manning was convicted of leaking many thousands of classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. There was testimony at her trial about her erratic behavior and emotional stress during her Army service. 
Among those denouncing the commutation of her sentence was Jerry Boykin, a retired Army general who is now executive vice president of the conservative Family Research Council. 
"President Obama chose political correctness over our national security," Boykin said in a statement that referred to Manning with male pronouns and decried the legal efforts to compel the Army to pay for gender-transition procedures. 
The Pentagon recently adopted a policy of allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. Some conservatives are suggesting a reversal of the policy after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, although Trump's pick for defense secretary, James Mattis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he has no such plans. 
However, many transgender activists fear that Trump's administration will abandon the Obama administration's efforts to enable transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice at public schools. And in Texas, Republican legislators are pushing a bill that would limit transgender people's bathroom access. 
Among the many problems faced by transgender Americans, their treatment in the criminal justice system is of particular concern to activists. Many juvenile detention centers are ill-equipped to handle transgender teens, and corrections officials in many jurisdictions have sought to avoid paying for sex-reassignment surgeries for adult inmates. 
After Manning's release, the Army will be off the hook for the costs of any further gender-transition medical care that she receives. However, Chase Strangio, the ACLU attorney, said the matter of cost was not paramount. "She can finally navigate her medical care on her own terms," he said. 
Shannon Minter, a transgender man who serves as legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said activists rallied behind Manning partly because her experience epitomized many of their community's problems. 
Her case "has shed a light on the serious abuses that transgender people — and in particular, transgender women — suffer daily in our nation's prisons and jails," Minter said. “While Chelsea's experience is extraordinary in many respects, the abuses she has experienced as a result of being transgender are commonplace and deserve far more attention."
AP

December 19, 2016

North Carolina to Repeal Anti Transgender Law




 

North Carolina legislators will repeal the contentious HB2 law that limited protections for LGBT people and led to an economic backlash, the state's incoming governor said Monday.
Gov.-elect Roy Cooper made the surprising announcement just weeks before he takes office and shortly after the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its own local nondiscrimination ordinance enacted in early 2016. It was that ordinance that Republicans blamed for the statewide law.
"Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte's vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full. I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full," the Democrat said in a statement.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who narrowly lost the November election to Cooper, issued a statement saying he will call the special session but also accusing Democrats of using the issue for political gain.
Repealing the law would be a remarkable sign of cooperation for the incoming governor and the GOP-controlled legislature. Just last week, lawmakers called a special session and stripped Cooper of some of his authority when he takes office next month.
The Charlotte council's move is contingent on North Carolina legislators fully repealing HB2 by Dec. 31.
HB2 requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide antidiscrimination protections.
McCrory and lawmakers have defended the bathroom provisions as providing privacy and safety by keeping men out of women's restrooms. Opponents of the law call it discriminatory.
McCrory complained again about Charlotte's ordinance and accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue.
"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor's race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state," the statement said.
Representatives for Berger and Moore didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Since HB2 passed in March, North Carolina has suffered a backlash that has included companies declining to expand in the state and cancellations of rock concerts. The NCAA and ACC have also moved college sports events out of the state.
The law was also seen as a factor in McCrory's narrow loss to Cooper in the governor's race, even as fellow Republicans U.S. Sen. Richard Burrand President-elect Donald Trump won the state by comfortable margins. McCrory was the first sitting North Carolina governor elected to a four-year term to lose a re-election bid.
Republicans had long maintained that the statewide law was necessary to counteract the Charlotte ordinance that would have ensured transgender people's right to restrooms corresponding to their gender identities. The Charlotte measure was nullified by HB2. Republicans have said the ordinances' repeal was needed before they would consider getting rid of the statewide law.
In a statement after its vote, the Charlotte City Council said it remains committed to protecting all people's rights but that it was willing to take action with the state to "restore our collective reputation."
"The Charlotte City Council recognizes the ongoing negative economic impact resulting from the passage of the City's Non-Discrimination Ordinance and the State's House Bill 2," the statement said.
The state was sued by the federal Justice Department and transgender residents over HB2, while McCrory, Berger and Moore went to court to defend it. Much of that litigation has been delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court hears a separate case from Virginia on transgender restroom access.
 JONATHAN DREW, Associated Press
ABC News

October 17, 2016

NC Gov. Pat McCrory[R] Said Caitlin Jenner Should Use Men’s Shower






North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (GOP); said during a debate Tuesday that fellow GOP’r transgender Caitlyn Jenner better plan on using the men’s bathroom if she visits the state.

McCrory, continuing his defense of the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, blamed “liberals” for “a major change in culture” that forced Republicans to respond with the legislation.

May 21, 2016

Your Body does Not Care Where it Relieves it self but Politicians Do


 Written by Jeffrey Kluger and it was originally posted on Time yesterday.

Ted cruz examining dildoRepublican Ted Cruz by #GOPdildo                                                                          

Your genes don't care who you share a bathroom with, but your politicians do

Want to see a living experiment in what happens when traditional gender lines are truly blurred? Forget North Carolina or Mississippi or any of the places in the U.S. where politicians have made the question of which person uses which bathroom an unlikely cultural flash point. 
Take a look instead at Samoa—the tiny island nation that can teach the world’s most powerful democracy a thing or two about the basic business of human sexuality. Samoa, like the U.S. and every other country in the world, is home to plenty of men and plenty of women, but, unlike any other country in the world, it’s also home to the fa’afafine. 
The fa’afafine are, nominally, boys—with a boy’s anatomy and a boy’s chromosomes and, therefore, the “boy” box ticked on their birth certificate.
But the fa’afafine are something more too. They’re typically gay, yes, but they think and act and dress and feel almost entirely “in the manner of a woman,” which is what fa’afafine means. They are thus considered—even embraced as—a third sex.
Typically, the fa’afafine assume traditional female roles in the Samoan culture and, while they are less likely to have children of their own than heterosexual males are, they compensate by being exceedingly dedicated alloparents—the broad category of family caregivers that also includes uncles and aunts and grandparents. That makes the fa’afafine especially prized by evolution. Babies with a greater number loving adults looking after them have a better chance of surviving than those with fewer.
Oh, and as to which public bathrooms the fa’afafine use? Nobody flipping cares.
That’s worth keeping in mind as advocates of restrictive bathroom laws argue that separate accommodations for men and women are more than merely custom, they’re fundamental to human nature—just the way nature wants things to be. On its surface, a scientific argument like this does seem to track.
All evolution is in one way or the other built around the goal of reproducing yourself and your genes, so it stands to reason that there should be no ambiguity about the gender we present to the world, and typically there isn’t. Indeed, we work hard to advertise our maleness or femaleness in the most appealing ways possible. That’s the purpose of sexual signaling like makeup for women or muscle shirts for men.
Ambiguity in this context should be unsettling, especially in public places that require us to disrobe even partially. Things get more disturbing still when the specter of male sexual predators masquerading as females to gain access to women’s bathrooms is thrown into the mix. But none of these arguments bear close scrutiny.
The easiest part to dispense with is the least scientific part—the dangerous man in the girls’ bathroom. Transgender people are no more or less likely to be sexual predators than any other people, and a biological male who wanted to cross-dress to gain access to a bathroom not meant for him would have been doing it already—and presumably could continue to do it despite local laws.
As my colleague Michael Scherer reports in this week’s TIME cover story, “The FBI and local law enforcement do not keep consistent stats on the number of crimes committed in public restrooms, so there is no way to track every claim…But there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators, or that incidents of violence or sexual assault have increased.”
More nettlesome is the human nature argument. It’s undeniable that for most people the idea of mixed gender bathrooms may take some getting used to, but the question is why, and the answer has less to do with evolution than socialization. Even in cultures that have rigid bathroom-division norms, the rules break down fast depending on context—consider camping trips; co-ed dorms; crowded stadiums or theaters where women waiting in long bathroom lines are often waved into the men’s room to help speed things up. And those comparatively conservative cultures are by no means the only kind.
“There is no evolutionary, genetic or primordial drive for a gender binary as we do it and absolutely no primordial drive for two bathrooms, one labeled male and one labeled female,” says anthropologist Elijah Edelman of Rhode Island College. “We have thousands of cultures that do not, and have not, had the gender binary we have right here.”
Even outside the bathroom, sex divisions in the U.S. have blurred and blurred again over just the past half century so that what was once jarring—men with long hair, women in pants, earrings and piercings and tattoos on both sexes—has become entirely unremarkable. A culture that embraces a style trend like the 1990s’ androgyny chic is not a culture governed by genetically determined gender roles.
“We are not sacks of genes walking through the world acting on instinct alone,” says anthropologist Eric Plemons of the University of Arizona. “We are people who learn to see ourselves and each other through the frameworks of cultural practices.”
Yes, some of those those cultural practices can be more deeply felt than others. The proper way to hold a fork is a cultural practice too, but we don’t get terribly rattled when it’s violated. However, the mere fact that we do get rattled—at least at first—by the unexpected anatomy of somebody sharing a locker room with us, does not mean that’s the way we’re all hardwired.
“It would be worth asking who thinks trans-people using the bathroom is such a big deal,” says Plemons. “Clearly groups living in different geographic regions of the U.S. do not have substantively different evolutionary pasts, so why is panic about trans-people organized so differently across the country?”
The answer to that question is partly benign—a large heterogeneous country is likely to be home to many different regions with many different customs and practices. And it’s partly cynical—with some of those regions adopting policies that appeal to an ideological faction, even if it comes at the expense of a minority.
But all of the people in all of those places do come factory-loaded with a human sense of fairness and compassion and empathy—and those are traits that cut across all cultures. For legislators considering restrictive bathroom laws, that should be all the science that’s necessary.

April 22, 2016

How Many Transgender's are There per State?






December 22, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner feels Lighter Now to be with a Rabidly Anti gay Congregation



                                                                       

Just over a week after Caitlyn Jenner turned heads by making what some saw as transphobic comments about "passing" in an interview with Time, the celebrity is again drawing attention after meeting with an anti-gay pastor in Houston while filming her show I Am Cait.
Houston's KTRK reports Jenner stopped by Second Baptist Church on Wednesday and prayed with the Rev. Ed Young, a vocal opponent of the recently defeated HERO ordinance, which was designed to outlaw discrimination against people on the basis of their sex, race, religion and sexual orientation or gender identity.
Young called the ordinance "deceptive and deadly" and argued it would allow men to use women's restrooms and vice versa. Video of Young denouncing HERO went viral, and voters shot down the idea by a wide popular margin in November.
Jenner was probably hoping to make some kind of statement about LGBT rights at the church. LGBT activists have previously visited the Second Baptist Church as part of outreach efforts around the time the HERO ordinance was put before voters.
"I mean, it's a Christian church," gay activist Ray Hill told KHOU. "And they recognize us as sinners. That's where you're supposed to go if you're a sinner, is a Christian church. So we hope to get to know people and let them get to know us."
According to Towleroadnot everyone is thrilled that Jenner is speaking for Houston's trans community.
"The problem I have with it along with many of our allies is that the taping had no Houston trans representation, and especially Houston trans people of color leaders to discuss on camera an issue that we have been all in about and are the experts at discussing in HERO," local black trans blogger Monica Roberts wrote. "... beside this being my hometown, we also have a diverse crew of kick ass trans activists and leaders that your I Am Cait viewers should have been able to get to know, but because of your (or your producers) lack of vanillacentric privileged vision, that won't happen."
Jenner apologized this week for comments she made during a Time interview earlier this month, specifically for saying other trans people who looked like a “man in a dress” were making others "uncomfortable."
                                                
 Jenner at prayer meeting with vocally anti gay followers.
Dad and @Caitlyn_Jenner had a great conversation and prayer after last night's service!
A couple of thoughts:
For all her life Jenner walked around with a dick between his/hers legs and she expected respect and full human and civil rights which she received. May be because of her money or maybe because thats the way its supposed to happen in this country or not. Then when she decided it was her time she cut off her dick and became a woman. A woman expecting to get every right every american has including to be married. So I ask, What is the problem with Jenner and gays? and Jenner and gays getting married? She has expressed a problem with both. 
Now she is in bed with so called religious figures that believe being gay is a sin but cutting off your dick and becoming a woman is a Christian value.  I have seen all types of excuses from the religious types and non religious bigots about gays  should not being gay. My reaction is no longer disappointment or even laughter. I simply don’t care but in this case I feel bothered. 
I see a few men wondering the desert without food nor water. They the men are forced to drink their own urine and just as they are about to die they get rescued. One of the men thanks his rescuers and tells them that had he not been rescued he might have been forced to drink his own pee and eat his own excrement like all the others did but not him because he had faith in being rescued.
I see that man who lied about who drank the urine and then also passed judgment on all the other ones that did even though he did also as Jenner. He is been there, he is been part of the LGBT but he is too good to admit it instead he passes judgment on the others. He is just lucky that now we have the science to change ones sex.

October 24, 2015

Disgusting Deceptive Ads used to repeal an LGBT Anti discrimination Ordinance




                                                                           

The battle over Houston’s nondiscrimination law took a real ugly turn last week, when opponents aired one of the most outrageous and disgustingly deceptive ads in their effort to repeal it at the ballot box in November.

Even though the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) protects 15 different characteristics from discrimination in Texas’s largest city, those who want to kill the legislation are focused on only one of them: gender identity. And they are ginning up support and misinformed hysteria by calling it “the bathroom ordinance.”

                                                                         

                                                                            

Take a look at the ad from an outfit called the Campaign for Houston. The last frame is as terrifying as the entire ad is flat-out false. Here’s what it says:

Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom at any time simply by claiming to be a woman that day. No one is exempt, even registered sex offenders could follow women or young girls into the bathroom and if a business tried to stop them they’d be fined. Protect women’s privacy. Prevent danger. Vote “no” on the Proposition 1 “bathroom ordinance.” It goes too far.
What goes too far is this bigoted ad and its perversion of the facts. It is an outright lie to say “any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom at any time simply by claiming to be a woman that day.” Such a statement reveals a willful ignorance of what it means to be transgender. In addition, the so-called “bathroom ordinance” people completely ignore a rather specific Houston law that has been on the books since 1972.

According to Code 1968, 28-42.6; Ord. No. 72-904, 2, 6-2-72 , “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex without the permission of the owner, tenant, manager, lessee or other person in charge of the premises, in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.”

In short, if you’re in the bathroom for any purpose other than relieving yourself, you’re breaking the law. And if you’re in there to molest children or commit rape, you’re also a monster.

Due to a legal challenge to HERO, the Texas Supreme Court ordered the Houston City Council to repeal the law or put it up for popular vote this November. The straightforward question asks whether the law should go into effect.

Of course, the answer to the Houston ballot question should be yes. HERO foes ignore the fact that nine other Texas cities with more than 100,000, including Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, already have anti-discrimination laws on the books. Houston isn’t breaking new ground here.

That there is such a pitched battle over the Houston statute is further proof that the fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans did not end with the Supreme Court’s marriage-equality ruling in June. And it makes clear that opponents will stop at nothing to ensure that full equality never comes.

                                                                         

Last week, Samantha Power received an award from the Council for Global Equality. The group, which pushes to have American foreign policy inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, presented the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations with its Global Equality Leadership Award. While Power’s remarks were focused on gay rights around the world and had nothing to do with Houston, the sentiment they expressed definitely applied to Houston.

“If we are horrified by the Islamic State singling out LGBT people for attacks and executions, and of course we should be, why shouldn’t we be horrified when other rights of LGBT persons are violated? When, for example, police refuse to investigate attacks against LGBT persons? Or when businesses, schools or other institutions turn away LGBT persons because of who they are?” Power asked. “While the gravity of these abuses vary, all of them reject the inherent rights and dignity of LGBT people.”

Power then added this: “We are all striving to create respect for LGBT rights in those countries because we are not willing to accept a world where basic human rights can only be enjoyed in constricted places. Whether that place is a home or a neighborhood or a state or a country. There can’t be no-go zones for these rights to be real.”

If the voters of Houston reject Proposition 1, they will create a no-go zone for LGBT people. And they better be prepared for the backlash that will result.

April 16, 2015

The He Man on Men’s Health Magazine Cover Photo was born Female


   
The hundreds of men competing to land the cover of Men's Health magazine are nearly all buff, tattooed, fond of bathroom selfies, and look like they know their way around a bench press. Aydian Dowling is no different. The 27-year-old fitness fanatic is currently ranked No. 1 in Men's Health magazine's "Ultimate Guy Search," a nationwide contest to elect one health-conscious, physically fit, and socially aware American man on the cover of its November 2015 issue. 
But for Dowling, the contest is about more than just his ego—it's a chance to redefine what it means to be a man. Dowling is transgender, and he's documented his transition in a series of diary-style YouTube videos over the last six years, building up a loyal fan base of more than 15,000 subscribers who tune in for his candid talks on everything from coming outhormone replacement therapy, surgery, and recovery.
"This was the search for the ultimate man, a man who is well-rounded in all things, so I really felt like, you know, I am a man also," Dowling told TakePart, speaking by phone from his home in Eugene, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and runs the LGBT-oriented clothing company Point 5cc. "It's a big deal," he says. “It puts affirmation on trans men being men.”  
Dowling uses a sports analogy to describe himself as a member of a team working toward a common goal: transgender awareness and visibility. "I'm the ball in Roller Derby," he says, referring to a game where one player acts as a human ball. "You can't get points until the rest of the team pushes the ball. Right now I happen to be the ball and I have no problem smashing down some barriers when I have thousands of people pushing me." 
Among those thousands of supporters are YouTube stars and LGBT activists Hannah Hart and Tyler Oakley, both of whom re-blogged a post about Dowling's bid for the "Ultimate Guy Search" on their popular Tumblr pages earlier this week. At the time of this writing, Dowling had racked up more than 24,000 total votes—or about three times that of his closest competitor—but he says he hadn't even considered applying until his fans suggested it via email. 
While the winner of the contest is selected based on a combination of factors such as physical fitness, community service, and professional success, it's not determined by reader votes alone. A panel of judges including Kenneth Cole, Sofia Vergara, and Men's Health editor-in-chief Bill Phillips will ultimately decide who wins when the voting period closes on June 21.
"At the end of the day, if I get on the cover, it's not about me," says Dowling. "It's about the community as a whole. The transgender community wanted this. They’re the ones that decided to make this a big deal." 

March 28, 2015

A Lot of Anguish in North Carolina over 1st Transgender Prom King


Blake Brockington wanted to be an ordinary teenage boy. But it proved too difficult.

                                                                             

For more than two decades, Time Out Youth has been a central, celebratory hub for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens. On Wednesday afternoon, however, the mood at Time Out Youth was less than celebratory. Just two days earlier, Blake Brockington, a popular 18-year-old who was one of the group’s transgender members, apparently took his own life. “He was a leader, not just at our center, but in our community,” Rodney Tucker, Time Out Youth’s executive director, told TakePart.
Brockington’s death comes just weeks after the Charlotte community mourned the passing of Ash Haffner, a 16-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide. In recent months, several transgender teens across the country have committed suicide, driving a broader debate about our society’s understanding, and treatment, of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
 Just a year ago, Brockington drew national headlines for becoming North Carolina’s first transgender prom king. Photos from that night show the short-haired senior at East Mecklenberg High School, in Charlotte, grinning ear-to-ear—with all the trappings of prom royalty: a light-blue button-up shirt, a black tie, a red-velvet coat, a yellow-studded tie.
“Throughout my life, I haven’t always been treated equally as a male, so I’ve always wanted this, and everybody has told me I couldn’t do it,” Brockington told local reporters at the time. Brockington hoped his story would inspire other transgender youth, and said: "Even though you go through some things, and have some negative encounters in your life, anything is possible. You can do anything you set your heart to."
Brockington’s journey toward manhood began early. He was born into a deeply religious home in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, he was forced to wear dresses to church and family gatherings. “It didn’t make sense,” he told the Charlotte Observer earlier this year. “I felt like a boy.”
By the time he’d turned 12, Brockington had moved to Charlotte with his father and stepmother. The move complicated the already tricky puberty experience. “When I got my period my aunt told me, ‘Welcome to womanhood.’ I was like “Noooo!” he recounted to the Observer.
Brockington was a sophomore at East Mecklenberg High School when he began his gender transition.  Eventually, he chose the name “Blake,” apparently because it came to him in a dream. He told the Observer that he liked how masculine the name sounded. It was at Time Out Youth’s annual prom that he finally got to bask in being a transgender man, a friend of Brockington, Joanne Spataro, wrote on a local blog. “It was the first time that anybody had referred to me as my preferred name, my pronouns,” he said. “It was the only place where I felt kind of accepted.”
But Brockington’s family struggled to accept his transition. Eventually, he moved in with a foster family. “My family feels like this is a decision I made,” he told the Observer. “They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Brockington was caught in a web that’s familiar to many transgender youth. It’s difficult to accurately gauge the size of the LGBT youth population. But researchers have found that some LGBT youth—particularly those who lack family support--are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, and nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression. Up to forty percent of the nation’s homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to some estimates. In some cities, like New York, a significant share of homeless LGBT youth are of color.
The stakes are particularly high for the black transgender community. According to a National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 34 percent of black transgender people reported a household income of less than $10,000 per year, and 21 percent reported being refused medical care due to bias. More than 40 percent of those surveyed had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
Brockington spoke bravely, and publicly, about his own battles. “I felt like I’ve lived my entire life as a lie,” he says in the trailer for a short documentary about growing up in  Charleston. “I’ve always been kind of different, and it was always a bad thing in my family,” he remembers. Even after winning homecoming king, and after raising more than $2,300 to help build a school in South Sudan, he said his classmates didn’t accept his gender identity. “It’s been really hard, Brockington says in the trailer. “High school’s been really hard.”
A representative from East Mecklenberg High School declined to discuss Brockington’s time there.
But Brockington’s challenges seem to have been magnified after his homecoming win. Articles celebrating his accomplishments  appeared in local and national news outlets. While there was a great amount of support following Brockington’s victory, online critics were relentless. “That’s unfair to young men who were nominated and to the young woman who was voted queen, smh,” wrote one . “Maybe they voted for HER out of pity,” wrote another. “Its homecoming KING and QUEEN not TWO homecoming QUEENS [sic].” The criticism also found its way directly to Brockington. He later told the Observer: “This was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey….Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.” 
Brockington was a politically active member of North Carolina’s LGBT community, and his death is reverberating across the state. “He seemed like a really loving, exuberant person,” recalls Qasima Wideman, a 19-year-old LGBT activist who met Brockington at the first Trans Pride Parade in a nearby city, Greensboro, last year. “I admired how brave it was for him to put himself out there as a black trans man.”
At Time Out Youth, Tucker, the executive director, says there’s been an effort to increase its support transgender youth in recent months. That work includes adding a new weekly transgender support group that’s attracts about 15 participants each week. The recent deaths, Tucker says, “are definitely bringing to the forefront questions of how we can be supportive of people in transition and or who are gender non-conforming.”
 Blake Brockington, North Carolina's first openly transgender prom king, died this week. (Photo: YouTube)
And that support is crucial, as Brockington told reporters before his death. “I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our head). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”  
Jamilah King is TakePart's staff writer covering the intersection of race/ethnicity, poverty, gender and sexuality. Her work has appeared in Fusion, Salon, The Nation, San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Advocate, Al-Jazeera America, Colorlines, and The California Sunday Magazine.

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