Tag: Trans

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at LGBTQ event / GayCities Blog

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at

Royal Yacht Albatross in Singapore
Royal Yacht Albatross (Image: YouTube)

It’s cheering to see travel and tourism operators catering for the LGBTQ community… when they get it right. Sadly, an incident last week in Singapore shows that some can still get things very wrong.

Royal Albatross Superyacht is a luxury, ‘tall ship’ schooner based in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore. It takes bookings for corporate charters, weddings and other private events, as well as hosting a popular dinner cruise for members of the public.

It recently decided to hold a dedicated LGBTQ dinner cruise. It got in touch with a local LGBTQ dating app, Prout, to ask them if they’d help promote it on social media. Prout duly posted information about the cruise to its Facebook page.

Related: Gay couple’s hotel photo shoot prompts praise and criticism in Singapore

However, soon after the posting appeared, the company contacted Prout to ask questions about its followers.

“Within 10 mins of our social media and telegram post going public, the company contacted us to ask if there were any “transsexuals” following us,” a spokesperson for Prout said on Facebook last week.

“After further communication, the company said that they are open only to those who are “classy and willing to spend”, and not targeting the “trashy transsexual kind who only want to create trouble”. Upon hearing this, we immediately took down all the posts related to that event.”

Prout went on to condemn the company.

“Firstly, as a LGBTQ community group, we want to emphasize that marginalized communities are not here to be exploited by brands and companies to tap on the pink dollar for. If a company is not truly inclusive and does not contribute to uplifting the community, we have no wish to collaborate with them.

“Secondly, to call the trans community “trashy” is offensive and degrading. Transgender persons have historically been discriminated, and it is utterly dehumanizing to use the word “trashy” as it reinforces stigma against them.”

It also criticized the person who had contacted them for using the term “transsexual”, which has largely been replaced with transgender, and which some trans people find offensive.

Prout also posted screenshots of the exchange.

Related: This Vancover pandemic street art showcases pride in Asian men

Not long after Prout’s Facebook posting, Royal Albatross Superyacht took to Facebook to issue a prompt apology. It said the event aimed to “provide a private romantic dinner cruise experience without judgment.”

It went on to say, “Yesterday, a staff member communicated privately with someone and used a bad choice of words to address our target audience. The comments do not represent the position of this company, we retract them entirely and we apologize. We have since corrected the staff member and we will ensure we are more sensitive when it comes to our future communications. In hindsight, we were naïve not to take into consideration the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ community. We are sincerely sorry to have offended by what was said, it was not our intent to exclude any particular group. We welcome everyone.”

It went on to say that the LGBTQ event had been put on hold while they better educate themselves.

“We have suspended our #LoveIsLove sail as we need to educate ourselves on the diverse communities. We invite any group organizers who would be interested in helping us and or holding events like these to contact us privately. Again, we apologize to anyone that was offended.”

The ship’s founder and CEO, Peter L Pela told Coconuts the event would go ahead at a later date.

“We have already started looking into providing diversity training to our staff as we do need to understand more about the sensitivities involved. I would also like to add we are only postponing our plans to hold such an event and we are looking forward to holding a successful event in the future where everyone is welcome.”

Trans woman launches Scottish parliament bid

Mridul Wadhwa: Trans woman of colour launches Scottish parliament bid

Mridul Wadhwa would be the first trans woman and first woman of colour to serve in the Scottish parliament. (Twitter)

Mridul Wadhwa, a women’s rights activist and the manager of a rape crisis centre, has launched her bid to become a member of the Scottish parliament in the 2021 election.

Wadhwa is seeking selection as the Scottish National Party candidate in two constituencies – Stirling and Edinburgh Central. If she makes it through the selection process and wins in the election, she will be both the first trans person to serve in any of Britain’s parliaments and assemblies, and the first woman of colour to serve in the Scottish parliament.

An activist, Wadhwa is outspoken about women’s rights, trans rights and migrant rights, and she was a key proponent for #Vote100 in 2018.

Currently working as the manager of Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, Wadhwa told Brig News, the University of Stirling’s student newspaper, that if elected she will fight to make sure “all of our communities had the voice in Holyrood that they deserve”.

“As a violence against women sector worker, I have dealt with the injustices of homelessness, poverty and trauma every working day of my life in Scotland,” Wadhwa said. “Working on the frontline has given me an insight into what needs to be done to alleviate these.”

“Equality is not achieved when our Black and minority ethnic, disabled and LGBTQ+ residents are excluded,” she continued.

“As a candidate of a diverse background who has worked within these communities, I can reach within Stirling’s diverse community to ensure that structural inequality that continues to exclude minorities is reduced.”

In Stirling, Wadhwa is up against Ellen Forson, Moraig Henderson, Rosemary Hunter, Susan McGill, Sameeha Rehman and Evelyn Tweed to be selected as the SNP candidate.

Her inclusion on the all-women shortlist has offended SNP members who are opposed to trans rights.

On National Coming Out day, Wadhwa described in a Twitter thread how she came to Scotland from India a few years after transitioning.

“In 2005, I started working at Shakti women’s aid and my life changed forever. I came out to some of my colleagues in the first few weeks of working there and never looked back. Those colleagues are now my closest friends,” Wadhwa wrote on October 11.

She added: “I was denied the opportunity to be inspired by the trans women who came before me. Therefore, it is my responsibility to tell my story so that those who come after me, know that a lot more is more possible for them.”

In Edinburgh Central – the seat currently held by Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in the Scottish parliament, by a majority of just 310 votes – Mridul Wadhwa and another activist, Lee-Anne Menzies, are up against Marco Biagi and the former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson.

Like the rest of the UK, Scotland has never had an openly trans or non-binary member of parliament.

Watch: “Mama Gloria” Film Showcases Life of Trans Elder

Watch: "Mama Gloria" Film Showcases Life of Trans Elder

A new film, now streaming, on the life of the 75-year-old transgender activist Mama Gloria (Gloria Allen) is “the story of a mother’s love—the love that Gloria’s mother had for her and the love that Gloria has for her chosen children. And it is fueled by the love that filmmaker Luchina Fisher has for her teenage transgender daughter, Gia.”

Mama Gloria film

Mama Gloria (Gloria Allen)

“When I came out of my mother’s womb, I was out,” Mama Gloria tells us in the documentary. Born in 1945, Gloria became part of Chicago’s South Side drag ball culture and transitioned four years before Stonewall, with the support of her mother, a former showgirl and Jet magazine centerfold, and her grandmother, who sewed clothes for crossdressers and male strippers. She also experienced traumatic violence, lost friends to AIDS, and was harassed by police, but survived to become a nurse and a community leader. In 2011, she pioneered a charm school for young, homeless transgender people, where she passed on the lessons of fashion, makeup, etiquette, and love that she had learned from her mother and grandmother. Her work inspired Chicago playwright Philip Dawkins’ hit play Charm.

Now Gloria is retired and “continues to grow old with joy, dignity and grace,” says the film synopsis. That’s a blessing that far too many transgender people never get to have. Filmmaker Fisher, who describes herself in press materials as “a black woman filmmaker raising a biracial transgender daughter” tells this story of her daughter, now 16, and why Gloria’s example is so important:

One day while I was filming Gloria in Chicago, my daughter sent me a text saying that her life was “half way done.” Gia had read online that the average life expectancy for a Black trans woman in Washington D.C., was 32. It was at that moment that I truly understood why I am making this film…. For Gloria, who never imagined she would live past 40, aging is a gift.

It’s a gift that I want to show my daughter and other young trans people—so they can imagine themselves growing old and having a long, meaningful life. Gloria is their connection to aging and to their future. She is their connection to the past and living proof that transgender people have always been part of our lives and our communities. She is a shining example of how family support—from birth families and chosen families—can impact life outcomes for transgender people.

Mama Gloria film

Mama Gloria with young people at the About Face Theatre

Watch Mama Gloria online at the Chicago International Film Festival for $12, October 14 to 25 (I make nothing from this referral) and see a trailer below:

Want more about trans elders? Check out this other film now streaming about comedian and parent Julia Scotti.

Trans Comedian and Parent Shares Life of Laughter and Change

Trans Comedian and Parent Shares Life of Laughter and Change

A new documentary profiles comedian and parent Julia Scotti. After a ten-year hiatus and a transition to her true self as a transgender woman, she came back to her career in 2011 with more shows, a CD, an appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” and a reconciliation with the children from whom she’d become estranged.

Julia Scotti: Funny That Way

Julia Scotti: Funny That Way

Julia Scotti (L) and Susan Sandler (R)

Funny That Way, from director Susan Sandler, is a touching, funny, and inspiring film that shows us Scotti’s life through her own words, clips from her shows, and conversations with her children (now grown) and others. At the beginning, Scotti explains why she agreed to the project, saying, “Most of all, this is for me … a me that didn’t exist for nearly 50 years.” She hopes it will help her children understand why she had to transition and that it may help young transgender people who may be contemplating self-harm.

She talks of her own growing realization of her true identity, transitioning in the late 1990s at age 47, the difficulty of telling her kids, who were “the only thing I was truly happy about,” and the 14-year estrangement that followed. She also stepped away from a burgeoning career. After performing in clubs and theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada since 1980, appearing on bills with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, Scotti left comedy. She went back to college and taught junior high school for a decade. Several years ago, she decided to get back on stage at a small comedy club; this led to a reentry into the business now as an “old lady,” performances at LGBTQ events across the country, and an appearance on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent, where she became a quarter-finalist and the first transgender comedian to appear on national television. During this period, she also reconnected with her children.

Julia Scotti: Funny That Way

Dan Gagliardi, Julia’s son, and Julia Scotti

The film doesn’t avoid showing us the challenges she and her family have faced, but the focus is much more on how she and her children have come through them; it’s not just a litany of struggles. We see her son Dan as an adult, sharing a stage with Scotti as she talks with a PFLAG group, and clearly comfortable with their renewed relationship. Her daughter Emma looks back on her earlier rejection of Scotti’s transition, and reflects, “I made the unkind decision to prioritize fitting in over my family.” Both children share her love of comedy, though, and this is one of their points of reconnection.

The film is an inspiring story of a trans parent but also simply a story of reinventing oneself in midlife, of healing, second chances, and the power of laughter. It’s funny—as any film about Scotti would have to be, to do her justice—but it’s also moving on many levels.

You can watch it being streamed as part of this year’s virtual NewFest festival of LGBTQ films, October 16 to 27. Get a ticket for $12 here. (I make nothing from this referral.) Scotti is also currently featured in the Showtime special, More Funny Women of a Certain Age.

Here’s a trailer of Funny That Way:

Newfest 2020 Preview: Trans Teens, Jewish Funerals, and So Much More

Newfest 2020 Preview: Trans Teens, Jewish Funerals, and So Much

As the pandemic approaches its one-year mark, the film industry continues to adjust to this new world. Release dates have been pushed, drive-ins have made a moderate return, and film festivals have gone online. While I would do just about anything to sit in a movie theatre again — except risk pandemic safety — that last change isn’t all bad. Film festivals going online means that more people can watch a wider variety of lesser known films!

I was lucky enough to be on the screening committee for Newfest, New York’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival, this year and I am so excited about the final program. And if you live in the US you can watch the films! Even if you’re not in New York!

It’s a big slate with 120 films, panels, and virtual events from tomorrow, October 16th through October 27th. To help you choose what to check out, here are my top ten recommendations.


Bonus #1 – Shorts: Dream a Little Dream

I haven’t seen all of the shorts that are being screened and haven’t even seen all the shorts in this program BUT I did want to mention it, because it has two of my favorite shorts I watched. Maxwell Nalevansky’s Jazzberry and Xanthe Dobbie’s Elagabalus are both electrifying shots of queer creativity and they should not be missed.

Bonus #2 – No Hard Feelings (dir. Faraz Shariat)

This list doesn’t include films only about queer men, but this movie is very good and you should watch it!!

Bonus #3 – All Trans Brokeback Mountain Screenplay Table Read (prod. Gaby Dunn)

Conflict of interest: I am in this! But even if I wasn’t in this I’d still recommend it, because who wouldn’t want to watch Brian Michael Smith, Leo Sheng, Alexandra Grey, Jen Richards, and a bunch of other trans actors (yes, myself included) perform an all-trans version of Brokeback Mountain?? I mean, come on.


10. Ahead of the Curve (dir. Jen Rainin)

Since you’re here on Autostraddle dot com, there’s a good chance you’re someone who cares about the past and future of lesbian media. This documentary about Franco Stevens and the founding of Curve magazine (originally Deneuve) is a fascinating look at the last 30 years of lesbian media, representation, and culture. The film works as both an essential historical record and an exploration of where we are today — and where we might be tomorrow.

9. Rūrangi (dir. Max Currie)

Trans person returns to their small town post-transition has become something of a trope, but what elevates this New Zealand film is its sharp trans and queer perspective. Before activist Caz returns home, we get to see him in his community surrounded by a wide variety of other trans people. And once he arrives, conflict with his dad is accompanied by support from his queer woman friend from childhood and the rekindling of a past romance. This isn’t a fish out of water story centering the reactions of cishet people. This is Caz’s story and the story of the queer and trans people of various genders who fill his life with meaning.

8. Kelet (dir. Susani Mahadura)

This hour-long documentary about Kelet, a Somali trans woman living in Finland, is a gorgeous portrait of the Helsinki ballroom scene and this one captivating individual. The quiet moments between Kelet and her friend Lola are as arresting as the ball scenes and the film ends up being a testament to chosen family and the struggle to own your culture and yourself. There’s a sharp difference between Kelet’s experiences modeling in normative spaces and her intracommunity performances and Mahadura’s camera emphasizes these differences. Kelet is searching for where she belongs and it’s a pleasure to witness a part of that journey.

7. Shiva Baby (dir. Emma Seligman)

This is officially a comedy, but with its horror movie score, claustrophobic cinematography, and premise of running into your sugar daddy and your ex-girlfriend at a shiva, I think it’s safe to say this is the scariest movie of the festival. Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, a 20-something on the precipice of college graduation who has no idea what to do with her life — career-wise or otherwise. Seligman does such an excellent job capturing a specific type of Jewish culture and the simmering anxiety it induces. The cast — that includes Dianna Agron! — is excellent, especially Sennott who excels equally in moments where she’s living a nightmare and in moments where she is the nightmare. It’s probably good that I had to watch this at home because I spent the whole movie shouting NO at the screen.

6. Forgotten Roads (dir. Nicol Ruiz Benavides)

This movie has EVERYTHING. A 70-something lesbian rediscovering her sexuality. Another 70-something lesbian who is married to a man but moonlights as a queer lounge singer. Gays, against all odds, learning how to drive. UFOs. Yes. UFOs. Benavides’ debut film is emotionally accessible and artistically esoteric and that combination makes for an incredible viewing experience. I have seen a lot of lesbian movies in my time and it’s always special when something not only surprises me with its quality but actually just surprises me?? There has truly never been a movie like this one. UFOs!!

5. Your Mother’s Comfort (dir. Adam Golub)

This documentary about Brazilian trans activist Indianara Siqueira is more than just a portrait of a person. Through Siquiera, Golub’s film captures all that she cares about and represents. The film shows the power of sex worker-led community action and mutual aid. It shows the impossibility and the necessity of marginalized people fighting for our lives. And, specifically, it shows the tumultuous recent years of Brazilian politics and the impact of Siqueira and Casa Nem, the house she runs for trans youth. There are so many moments of joy, so many moments of pain. Witnessing Siqueira’s persistence — and her doubts — is a gift right now especially. When I say this film is inspiring I don’t mean that in a surface level hopeful documentary sort of way. I mean it gets under your skin, buries itself deep within, and helps you to keep going another day. If you’re feeling lost in the weeks leading up to the US election, let this film be your comfort.

4. Welcome to the USA (dir. Assel Aushakimova)

This is the first Kazakh lesbian film I’ve seen and it’s always such a treat to get a window into a new country’s lesbian culture and cinema — especially when the film is this good. The title eludes not to the film’s setting, but to protagonist Aliya’s future destination. She has won the green card lottery and is beginning to say goodbye to a home she resents. Saltanat Nauruz is wonderful as Aliya. This is a subtle film and it’s effective largely because of her performance. The whole film feels culturally and personally specific even as it explores issues many queer people face such as obligation vs. desire. This isn’t a plot-heavy film, but what’s on screen lingers long after it ends.

3. BloodSisters: Leather, Dykes, and Sadomasochism (dir. Michelle Handelman)

Autostraddle is co-presenting this 25th anniversary screening of Michelle Handelman’s seminal documentary which means with the code AUTOSTRADDLE20 you get $2 off! So that should make the already enticing prospect of watching this documentary all the more enticing. This portrait of the San Francisco leather scene is graphic and tender. It’s a snapshot of a subculture in a specific time as well as a larger statement about BDSM and BDSM among dykes. It’s so exciting that this film is being rediscovered and will be available for you all to watch!

2. Tahara (dir. Olivia Peace)

There have been a lot of queer coming-of-age movies about a girl in love with her “straight” best friend, but few capture the depth of that experience like Tahara. With the backdrop of a classmate’s suicide and a deliciously awful object of desire, this movie becomes less about the angst of a teenager and more about the search for meaning in a meaningless world. Jess Zeidman’s script is hilarious and specific and director Olivia Peace makes bold choice after bold choice each more effective than the last. The film has a claustrophobic Instagram square aspect ratio, heightened animated sequences, and other sharp formal risks that all work to deepen the story. Cinematographer Tehillah De Castro’s work is phenomenal in moments both bold and subtle. Madeline Grey DeFreece carries the film with a grounded and charming performance and Rachel Sennott is once again a hilarious Jewish nightmare. This is a teen comedy, but it’s a teen comedy about grief, manipulation, and autonomy. It gave me a whiff of horrifying nostalgia before settling into something deeper, something more present. I think this is a really remarkable film!

1. TIE: Alice Júnior (dir. Gil Baroni)/Always Amber (dir. Hannah Reinikainen, Lia Hietala)

This is a tie because I love both of these films so deeply and because they’re both phenomenal coming-of-age portraits of trans teenagers entrenched in social media.

To explain all the reasons I love Alice Júnior would be to spoil one of its sweetest surprises. But what I will say is that occasionally I watch a movie or a TV show that changes what I dare to expect from trans media and this is one of those films. We simply do not get trans media this inventive and charming and queer and FUN. This is a trans girl coming-of-age romcom that doesn’t shy away from the realities — or the specificities — of being trans, but still manages to have the humor and charm of any cis fave. Anne Celestino Mota is incredible as Alice, a character who would fit right in with the rebel girls of the best late 90s/early 00s romcoms. She’s so funny and real and it’s such a thrill to see what a talented trans actor can do when given actual good writing. Every choice big and small is done so right and I’m used to it being done so wrong and I just love this movie so much I want to SCREAM. This is what we deserve! This is what we could have! This is what we DO have! FINALLY.

Always Amber is about a genderqueer teenager named Amber, but this isn’t a straight forward documentary about a trans teen. Reinikainen and Hietala follow Amber’s lead, telling the story through videos Amber records themself and focusing on what Amber cares about most. Because, yes, Amber is trans, but they’re also a teenager and what matters to them most is their friend drama with another trans teen named Sebastian or their romance with another trans teen named Olivera. Unsurprisingly, this group of trans teens have more interesting and complex things to say about gender than the vast majority of discussions we usually get to see in media. This documentary is about a person and it’s about a generation and it’s about a future that is yet to exist. It’s a political declaration that all people regardless of age should get to determine how they present and how they’re addressed and who they are. Amber gets to experience an adolescence most of us were denied. It’s a delight to spend time with them in their world. But in showing this near-fantasy it reveals an even greater one. Amber actually deserves more. Amber deserves a world where they don’t have to fight for themself or their community — where it’s just inevitable.

Movies can reflect our world. They can also imagine a better one. Alice Júnior does both. Always Amber does both. Two special films and the standouts of this year’s Newfest.


Join us and NewFest for the virtual screening of Bloodsisters: Leather, Dykes, and Sadomasochism, director Michelle Handelman’s enduring 1995 film that documents the queer outlaws of the San Francisco leather scene. Get a Festival Pass or tickets with a $2 discount at newfest.org/festival with the discount code AUTOSTRADDLE20. The New York LGBTQ Film Festival runs October 16-27 and features 120+ new films and events on demand. See you there!

Puberty blockers case is a matter of life or death for some trans teenagers

Puberty blockers case is a matter of life or death

Mermaids at Pride in London, 2019. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Daminee Budhi is the legal policy officer at Mermaids. Writing ahead of this week’s landmark court battle over trans children’s access to puberty blockers, she argues that a positive ruling for the claimants could affect access to healthcare for all children.

A judicial review has been brought against The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which houses the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) clinic, and which supports young people, and their families, who are experiencing difficulties around their gender identity.

The claimants are a 23-year-old former Tavistock patient, Keira Bell, and a ‘Mrs A’, the mother of an autistic 15-year-old who is on the GIDS waiting list. Their argument goes that that those under the age of 18 are unable to give informed consent for affirmative medical treatment, specifically puberty blockers.

If successful, the case threatens to set a far-reaching and regressive legal precedent, undermining the landmark case of Gillick v West Norfolk (1986), which has given young people the right to make important decisions about their own bodies without the need for parental consent. Gillick competence recognises “the evolving maturity and individuality of children”. All children. Not certain children with certain needs. Ending Gillick competence for trans teenagers seeking puberty blockers would fly directly in the face of international best practice and effectively class them as being incapable of making decisions like anyone else their age.

Being transgender is not a psychiatric disorder.

The World Health Organization reclassified gender incongruence last year, stating correctly that it is not a psychological or psychiatric disorder. But what is seemingly nodded to in this case is that trans young people are presenting as gender-diverse due to some form of mental instability, or lack of competence. In fact, studies have shown that, far from affirming or consolidating mental-health issues, puberty blockers can and do have a positive effect on trans young people because they delay of the onset of a puberty that is likely to cause them immense distress. 

Puberty blockers can and do have a positive effect on trans young people.

As one example, puberty blockers have been described as ‘life savers’ by a study published in the medical journal Paediatrics in January 2020, which showed that the treatment significantly reduces a trans child’s likelihood of experiencing mental-health issues or suicidal thoughts. 

Make no mistake: The outcome of this judicial review is a matter of life or death for some trans teenagers. 

Puberty blockers now, contraception and abortions next?

Not only would this judicial review, if successful, question young trans people’s ability to consent to medical treatment, it would also require such an intensely personal medical decision to be handled by an often intimidating and impersonal judicial system – rather than a medical team, who are trained to support young people in making such important medical decisions. 

Meanwhile, this case has far-reaching implications beyond trans lives. As a cisgender woman as well as a trans ally, I want to explore the broader implications of this case to all women. What might the judicial review mean, more generally, for young people and their right to make decisions about their own bodies? 

This case has far-reaching implications beyond trans lives.

The case goes right to the fundamental core of Gillick competency and how it should be applied to different demographics of young people. I see a very real risk that this case challenges the rights of all those under 18 who rely on Gillick competence in order to make their own informed decisions about their bodies. That includes women under 18 who require access to the pill and even abortions without parental consent. 

We cannot view the rights of trans children in a vacuum; to do so would be a dangerous mistake. If this claim were successful, it would be a huge loss for anyone who believes that children should have the right to decide, when appropriate, what happens to their bodies.

Gillick competency – as well as the Fraser guidelines that refer specifically to advice and treatment about contraception and sexual health was created to protect young people, at the same time identifying that they have the right to be their own advocate once they have an ability to understand what the consequences of treatment may be, or importantly, what the consequence of not having treatment may be. 

If we deny trans young people the ability to consent to medical treatment, who will be next?

What would be next? In my opinion, it’s a slippery slope: if we deny trans young people the ability to consent to medical treatment, who will be next?

We are all as vulnerable as the most vulnerable people in society, and right now, with constant misinformation spread online, in politics and in traditional media including the UK’s largest newspapers and the BBC, trans people are very vulnerable indeed. If a positive claim does have a domino-effect, we are looking at a potential mass rollback of child rights across the board. This undermining of Gillick competence nods towards a future where the right to abortion and pro-choice decisions are restricted for all, destroying freedoms long fought for by women’s rights activists. 

The rights of all children are at stake in this case – not just trans kids.

At Mermaids we support young people and families no matter the journey they are on. We offer no medical advice, but we do bear witness to young people being provided with vital information, such as the purpose and nature of the treatment, the likely effects and risks attached to undergoing such treatment (and the effects of not), the chances of success, as well the availability of other options that are out there, given to them by NHS medical professionals. 

The rights of all young people – transgender or otherwise – are at stake here.

I would ask people not to let the rhetoric around trans issues blind them to the truth lying barely beneath the surface of this case. The rights of all young people – transgender or otherwise – are at stake here. If young people have the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies, then surely we must accept that transgender and gender-diverse children cannot be excluded from that right. 

In the Face of Government Neglect, Trans Leaders Spearhead Housing Solutions

In the Face of Government Neglect, Trans Leaders Spearhead Housing

There’s no place like it. A shelter from storms. Not a place, but a feeling. We’ve all heard those inspirational quotes about home — what it should feel like. For trans people, finding home can feel like leaping through hoops of systemic transphobia, sexism and racism to access and maintain safe and affordable accommodation.

It’s common knowledge that institutions already target trans people with housing discrimination. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule in July that allows homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters. As detailed by the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five transgender people in the U.S. has been discriminated against when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes because of their gender identity. In Louisiana, one in three trans people report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.

Whilst governments fail, Black trans organizers excel. In the South, initiatives like the House of Tulip address the housing crisis for trans people. Based in New Orleans, Mariah Moore and Milan Nicole Sherry founded House of Tulip after launching an online fundraiser to build a long-term, more sustainable solution to housing for trans and gender non-conforming people.

The fundraiser went beyond the initial goal of raising $400,000, allowing House of Tulip, also referred to as Trans United Leading Intersectional Progress, to close on a property they will restore into four different units and offer to trans and gender nonconforming people in the city of New Orleans. Mariah and Milan have partnered with a general contractor and architects, and are looking into organizational management. They have also begun searching for more land to purchase as further additions to their land trust model.

The founders circle of House of Tulip. Via their Instagram.

Over 7,000 people donated to the community land trust that supports Black trans leadership and Black trans futures. “It takes organizations a lot longer to build this momentum. Being able to do it so quickly speaks volumes about the fact that people really understand and know that housing for trans people is really needed,” Mariah said.

The majority Black and women-led collective could achieve not just land justice but also autonomy within their physical spaces — especially in this era of lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing. Owning land gives people the right to grow their own crops or simply be outside. House of Tulip’s long-term housing solutions include citywide benefits such as creating safeguards around exclusionary development and gentrification, as well as paths to homeownership. “I envision smaller land purchases with decently sized homes on them that our community members actually own so that their pathway to homeownership is a reality,” said Mariah.

Mariah’s work at the House of Tulip remains grounded in the women and kin that got her this far: “I was shown so many examples of strength and resilience modeled by fierce, brilliant, brave women around me who were sex workers. They taught me that my life was still valuable, I still deserved respect and humanity. I think about all of the times they showed up for me and helped guide me – they’re part of the movement.”

Anti-trans rules and policies introduced by the U.S. administration is accompanied by a hostile culture against trans people. The current epidemic of murders — with many recent cases in the South, including Shaki Peters and Queasha D. Hardy in Louisiana and Jazzaline Ware in Tennessee — paints a bleak picture of the violence trans people continue to face and the adversity that needs to be challenged.

Mariah is not alone in creating optimism and hope for the trans community. Award-winning activist Kayla Gore founded My Sistah’s House with Ellyahnna C. Wattshall in 2016, intending to bridge the gap in services for trans and queer people of color in Memphis, Tennessee. That year, there were only 71 beds available in emergency shelters across the Memphis metro area and none of them were designated as trans-specific. Federal guidelines for these shelters don’t protect trans people. In response to the city’s lack of emergency housing and a steady decline in Black homeownership rates, My Sistah’s House provides both emergency shelter and now stable mortgage-free housing to trans people of color.

Members of My Sistah’s House visits a supplier of tiny homes. Via the GoFundMe page of My Sistah’s House.

Kayla originally converted her six-bedroom house into an emergency housing facility with eight beds available for queer and trans people in need of shelter. “Housing equals safety [and the] violence that we face happens in the street more often than at home,” she wrote on the My Sistah’s House website.

Now, Kayla and Ellyahnna are raising money to build tiny homes to house trans women of color who are at higher risk of violence and discrimination when attempting to access housing in Memphis. With each home costing $13,000, they’ve been able to fundraise to build 20 micro-houses and create a neighbourhood on almost 30 acres of land they’ve purchased. They’ve received support from volunteers who have helped to build the homes. The pair plan to create community gardens in addition to housing and recreation spaces spread throughout underserved communities with any additional funds.

In a moment like this, there is so much work going into mutual aid for more vulnerable communities. As we shield ourselves in our respective homes, many of us are able to donate with a click of the mouse or share with a few taps on a smartphone. Will these fundraisers appear on our timelines when the pandemic wanes? Kayla writes on the Tiny Homes fundraiser, “Share not only our fundraisers after violence or death; share the tiring work of Black and browns [sic] trans men, women, and my Fam that said fuck all that shit!”

Black trans people have yet to fully benefit from their involvement in liberation and activism, even in movements committed to leaving no one behind. The leadership of Black trans folks like Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is finally being recognized as transformative. “It’s because of Black TGNC people that LGBTQ people remain closer to freedom,” Mariah reminds us.

In our wildest dreams, what would it feel like for trans people to have full freedom within housing? Things feel more vivid — brighter, lighter and promising. Vivid because there are possibilities of homes for generations to come. Thriving neighborhoods full of joyful trans folks, free from policing, violence and risk of homelessness, the heavy burdens and fears no longer weighing us down. Neighbourhoods abundant in interdependence and mutual care — the feeling of being at home in this world.

Share and donate to House of Tulip or My Sistah’s House to help fund housing for Black and brown trans and gender nonconforming people.

Discovery’ adds the first trans and non-binary characters to ‘Trek’ canon / Queerty

Discovery’ adds the first trans and non-binary characters to ‘Trek’

Blu del Barrio & Ian Alexander

Continuing to boldly go where the franchise has never gone before, CBS All Acess has announced Star Trek: Discovery will add the first transgender and non-binary characters to the sci-fi stalwart.

ET reports that Ian Alexander, of The OA fame, will join the cast of Season 3 as Gray, a would-be Trill host. In the Star Trek universe, the Trill are a symbiotic species, always living in pairs. The humanoid form (played by Alexander) is the host for another, far older, form of alien life. The pair share memories and personality traits when united.

Related: Michael Chabon is afraid he didn’t make ‘Star Trek: Picard’ obviously gay enough. Really.

Blu del Barrio will play the role of Adria, a hyper-intelligent non-binary teenager. Adria joins the crew of the Discovery after bonding with the ship’s resident gay couple, Hugh and Paul (played by Wilson Cruz & Anthony Rapp, respectively). Hugh and Paul already made history as the first on-screen gay couple in Star Trek canon.  For del Barrio, Star Trek: Discovery will mark their acting debut.

Cruz shared his joy over the announcement, tweeting: “I couldn’t be more excited for or PROUD of these TWO new loves of my life if I tried. We are family! #lgbtq #representationmatters Love you so much!”

For CBS All Access, the addition of Alexander and del Barrio represents a pivotal moment not just for Star Trek, but for the streaming network as a whole. As such, the writers have consulted with Nick Adams, Director of Transgender Representation for GLAAD to create characters both compelling and authentic.

Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach,” co-showrunner Michelle Paradise said in a statement. “We take pride in working closely with Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander and Nick Adams at GLAAD to create the extraordinary characters of Adira and Gray, and bring their stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment and joy.”

Star Trek: Discovery returns for Season 3 on October 15.

 

Protect your trans sisters. Don’t fall for anti-trans right wing rhetoric. : actuallesbians

Protect your trans sisters. Don't fall for anti-trans right wing

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

This trans tech leader founded a company to help seniors manage their medical costs / LGBTQ Nation

One medical myth facing Americans is that by the age of 65, when most of us are eligible, Medicare will relieve the cost pressure of their health insurance plans.

In fact, premium costs, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses are just as much a problem for Medicare recipients as they are for the general population. For LGBTQ elders, who often face greater health care and financial issues. choosing the wrong Medicare plan can be a disaster.

Related: Here are critical resources to help transgender seniors face the challenges of growing older

That’s where Trusty.Care comes in. Founded two years ago by Joseph Schneier, a trans man married to a trans woman, the digital health company provides health insurance brokers with the platform to help consumers pick the plan that minimizes out-of-pocket costs.

“Most of us approach retirement thinking Medicare will cover us and it will be okay, but it’s a major risk area,” says Schneier. “We decided to build a platform used by insurance brokers and others to assess the risk to older adults of incurring out of pocket costs and match them up with the right product for the most coverage at the least risk based on the individual’s preference.”

That simple idea turned to be a winner–literally.

Last month, AARP Innovation Labs and End Well Foundation selected Trusty.care as the winning startup in a national competition in which startups pitched ideas to help transform the experiences of aging, illness, and caregiving in America. (You can watch Trusty.Care’s winning pitch here.)

“AARP Innovation Labs supports and sponsors pitch competitions in a continued effort to make meaningful impacts on the challenges of aging,” says said Jacqueline Baker, Director of Innovation Programming, AARP Innovation Labs. “The needs of LGBTQ older adults are too often overlooked in the marketplace, and it never surprises us when people who have overcome their own life challenges, in turn, help others to overcome challenges as well, which is what Joseph and the other finalists are doing.”

Schneier was well-positioned to tackle the Medicare out-of-pocket problem. For more than a decade, he has worked in the health care space, so he was able to identify a problem in search of a solution.

“People are surprised to see that health care costs are the second largest expense for seniors and the least able to be controlled,” says Schneier. Indeed, health care costs are a leading cause of a sharp rise in bankruptcy among American seniors. Bankruptcy is “growing fastest among older adults, and almost always because of health care costs,” notes Schneier.

Trying to match the right plan with seniors’ needs has always been a challenge. But the need for a solution has only grown since Trusty.Care launched, thanks to a change in government policy.

“Up until last summer, most people used the government Medicare.gov finder,” Schneier says. “But then Medicare.gov removed the ability to save medication information.” Because medication costs are a key driver of out-of-pocket expenses, the change made it difficult for insurance brokers to project just how much a plan would end up costing each consumer.

As a result, says Schneier, “There is a tremendous hunger for products like ours in the market.” That change also exposed that the market hadn’t kept pace with change. “It was definitely operating like it was 1995 and didn’t mind too much. The change forced their hand.”

The pandemic has also accelerated change, as more seniors follow shelter-in-place policies to protect their health.

“Since you can’t meet face to face, people are looking for digital solutions,” notes Schneier.

At present, Trusty.Care has a staff of eleven. “We have a very diverse team,” says Schneier. “People know from the get-go that this is a space the is by definition inclusive. People are attracted to us who wouldn’t necessarily have a place at the table.”

Schneier says that being trans has informed who he is as a leader.

“Being trans, and especially being trans masculine–I’ve taken that as an opportunity for me to emulate what a man can be in leadership,” he says.

Schneier also sees the inherent privileges that come from being a white male.

“There are definitely a lot of times when it’s a confusing space to be a passing trans person passing as a white male,” he says “I have a lot of layers of privilege that are not obvious to everyone. I’m married to a trans woman, and her life is significantly more complex.”

As just one example of the privilege that comes with being male, Schneier notes that raising money for his company now is a lot easier than it was as a woman.

The assumptions people make sometimes force Schneier to challenge them.

“There are definitely moments where I’m in situations where people will assume I’m a straight, white, cis man and say things that really put you in the position of needing to speak up,” he says.

In the meantime, Trusty.Care is growing by leaps and bounds.

When it launched, the platform had just 10 brokers. By the end of this year, the company expects to have 20,000 brokers using the platform. Since each broker can bring in thousands of customers, the company will be serving the needs of a significant number of seniors, a growth trajectory that many tech firms would envy.

Throughout this progress, Schneier is keeping his sights on what drove him to found Trusty.Care in the first place.

“Our mission is that no retiree should go through bankruptcy because of out-of-pocket costs,” he says. ” We can’t change everything, but we can change what we can.”

For more information on how AARP is helping LGBTQ seniors, visit AARP.org/pride or WATCH the recent AARP Pride Town Hall Below: