Tag: Trans

Watch Now: Trans Dad Featured in NOVA’s “Fighting for Fertility”

Watch Now: Trans Dad Featured in NOVA's "Fighting for Fertility"

In “Fighting for Fertility,” premiering today on the PBS science series NOVA, transgender dad Trystan Reese and his husband Biff Chaplow are one of several couples profiled who shed light on fertility challenges, new technologies to address them, and systemic inequities that impact fertility and fertility care.

Sperm injection into egg - CREDIT: © 2021 WGBH Educational Foundation

Sperm injection into egg. CREDIT: © 2021 WGBH Educational Foundation. Used with permission.

Trystan has long been an outspoken advocate for transgender people and their families, and is clearly comfortable and passionate when talking about his own story and about transgender family formation in general. He offers advice for other trans men considering pregnancy and affirms the “gift” of being a transgender man who was able to be pregnant. “If I’d been assigned male at birth, I never would have had Leo,” he says.

To me, the film seems a thoughtful and respectful portrayal of Trystan’s experience (though I acknowledge my limitations as a cisgender person here, and would welcome input from transgender viewers). While it does show a few pre-transition photos of Trystan, I trust that he supplied them and approved their use.

The other couples featured on the show are straight and cisgender: one exploring technology surrounding “mosaic” embryos (ones that have both normal and abnormal cells), one where the husband has a low sperm count, and another couple facing a life-changing diagnosis. Trystan and Biff’s fertility challenge was somewhat different from the other couples; they weren’t diagnosed as infertile in the sense of not being able to conceive after multiple attempts (though they had one miscarriage before the pregnancy that led to their son, Leo). Instead, they had to navigate how Trystan’s testosterone regimen needed to be paused and his endocrine system monitored in order to maximize his fertility and ensure his health during the process.

The film also includes the experience and work of Reverend Stacey Edwards-Dunn, who founded Fertility for Colored Girls, an organization that advocates for Black women experiencing infertility and addresses systemic injustices surrounding fertility. She notes that “Black women are struggling with infertility at almost two times the rate as our Caucasian brothers and sisters.”

I wish the documentary had also included a two-uterus couple (because we, too, can have fertility challenges beyond simply not having sperm on hand, as this recent memoir makes clear), but I nevertheless learned a lot even from the stories of the straight, cisgender couples about human reproductive systems and about new fertility technologies. (My spouse and I went through reciprocal IVF 19 years ago, and there have been some advances since then.)

Director Larkin McPhee said in a press statement, “The opportunity to build families has grown infinitely thanks to advances in science. ‘Fighting for Fertility’ aims to capture the diversity of families and all of the hurdles that people need to overcome with fertility. The film shows that we all need better transparency around what available options exist because it can be confusing. Our hope is the film will give people a roadmap on how to engage with their doctors or their employers in order to find the right solutions.”

More inspirationally, as Trystan says in the film, “Change comes from moving into the place that is hard, and looking for the light.”

Stream the film in full right now at PBS.org or the PBS Video App. You can also watch it on television at 9 p.m. ET tonight.


Utah Supreme Court rules trans people can change name, gender on birth certificates

Utah Supreme Court rules trans people can change name, gender

In what Equality Utah has called a landmark ruling for the transgender community, the Utah Supreme Court announced on Thursday its 4-1 decision that Utahns have the right to change the name and gender on their birth certificates.

It took over three years for the decision to be made in the case of re Gray and Rice, which was filed after a Utah judge denied the name change petitions of Sean Childers-Gray and Angie Rice.

This denial occurred despite the fact that both plaintiffs met the state’s legal requirements to make the change.

In the decision, Justice Himonas disparaged the judge who had refused.

“As for the district court‘s declaration that ‘some biological facts are not subject to voluntary modification,’ the reader must be clinically aware by now that the sex change we are discussing has less to do with biology than with identity,” he wrote.

In a statement, Chris Wharton, attorney for Childers-Gray and Rice, emphasized that “While the decision was a long time coming, there is nothing radical about the outcome—the right to be treated equally regardless of which county or judicial district you are in.”

Childers-Gray told Fox 13  that the decision will have a massive impact on transgender people in Utah.

“You aren’t just talking about a birth certificate. You aren’t talking about just a driver’s license or a passport. You’re talking about someone’s soul.”

In another statement, Candice Metzler of Transgender Education of Advocates of Utah celebrated the decision.

“Today, the State of Utah has taken a step closer to that ideal of ‘becoming a more perfect Union,”’ Metzler said.

“We have chosen to create a system that actually serves all who use it. We have chosen the health of our community by sending a clear message that transgender, intersex, and gender-diverse people have a place in our communities and state. This decision will go a long way in helping such people know they belong.”

This win comes at a time when the transgender community continues to face vicious attacks from Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country.

Over 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced in over thirty states, many of them targeting healthcare and athletic participation for transgender youth.

Though many have passed or are likely to do so soon, the tireless work of activists, organizers and advocates have led to the failure of some of these bills.

Across the country, activists and organizers rejoiced over the Utah win.


Iris Santos and Natalia Smüt become latest trans people killed in US

Headshots of Iris Santos and Natalia Smüt

Iris Santos (L) and Natalia Smüt. (Houston Police Department/Instagram)

Two trans women were slain on the same day in the US, raising the spectre of a spree of violence that shows no signs of stopping this year.

Iris Santos, a Latinx trans woman, and Natalia Smüt, a “firecracker” of a drag performer who dazzled audiences with her lip-syncing prowess, were separated by some 2,000 miles.

But on 23 April, both their lives were tragically cut short.

Santos, 22, was sitting at a picnic table in Houston, Texas, when an individual beelined towards her, opened fire, killed her and walked away, local enforcement said.

Smüt, 24, was murdered by a man she was reportedly dating at her home in Milpitas, California.

While records may vary between monitoring groups, mired by misgendering and deadnaming among police and press reports, there have now been at least 18 trans or gender nonconforming people violently killed this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

This tally would make Smüt and Santos the 17th and 18th people killed respectively – an unnerving statistic that has shuddered fear among the American trans community.

In four months, the community has mourned: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Dominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy Fennell and Tiara Banks.

What happened to Iris Santos?

In a flyer shared by Houston Police Department officials, the force is urging “the public’s assistance identifying the person of interest in the murder of Iris Santos”.

At around 9:45pm outside of a Chick-Fil-A on 8609 Westheimer Road, by a bustling intersection crammed with supermarkets, eateries and banks, Santos was fatally shot.

Investigators said that the fast-food restaurant’s manager heard gunshots and dialled 911. Officers arrived at the scene to find Santos suffering from her wounds.

Santos’ loved ones are “requesting the community’s help with identifying the suspect”, the flyer added.

The department’s Office of Community Affairs, helmed by LGBT+ liaison Josephine Jones, released local surveillance footage Saturday (1 May) of the suspect walking up to where Santos was sitting.

A second clip, caught by a vehicle’s dashcam, shows the suspect fleeing the scene by running into an apartment complex less than 10 minutes after the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Houston Police’s Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or the Crime Stoppers tipline at 713-222-TIPS.

What happened to Natalia Smüt?

Natalia Smüt, a Black Puerto Rican and beloved drag performer, was stabbed to death in her home in the northern Californian city by Elijah Cruz Segura, 22, of nearby Union City, according to the East Bay Times.

Segura, the Milpitas Police Department said, dialled the authorities himself at 2:29am from the 1000 block of Hillview Court. A bloodied Segura led cops to the victim.

She later died at a local hospital.

Segura was arraigned Tuesday (27 April) and faces charges of murder with a weapon enhancement for his alleged use of a knife in the killing.

Smüt’s death quickly touched off a wave of grief, anger and fear among the LGBT+ community, with more than 100 people attending a vigil for her at San Jose City Hall.

To many, Smüt was remembered for her “motivating and creative spirit”, “captivating performances” and her “love for advocacy within the community”, according to a blog post from LGBT+ advocacy group Project More.

“My sister was amazing,” Smüt’s sister, Vanessa Singh, told the newspaper.

“She was the strongest, most beautiful, and courageous person I know, and now we all have to live without that light in the world.

“I want to see that justice served and that Elijah spends the rest of his life in jail.

“But there will never be enough justice for me because my sister is gone.”

Trans woman found stabbed to death in burning apartment

House building on fire at night

After being slain, Paula Midge’s home was sent on fire by her alleged killer. (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)

Paula Migeon, a 50-year-old trans woman, was murdered and her home set on fire to conceal the crime.

Firefighters rushed to Migeon’s home in Reims, France on 7 April where they found the apartment ablaze.

As the flames razed the complex, Migeon body was found in the bathroom entrance. She had been stabbed 14 times in her throat and neck and the fire, investigators concluded, was accelerated with household cleaning products.

A 27-year-old man was indicted for murder, among other charges, on April 16 after police found he had stolen Migeon’s credit cards and used them to book hotels and order takeaway.

Loved ones remembered Migeon as a kindhearted and bashful woman who only felt comfortable living her life authentically in the safety of her home. She was afraid, they said, “of the gaze of others, of being rejected, of being assaulted”.

“[She] suffered from this solitude,” Brigitte Zagoyan, Migeon’s sister, told L’Indêpendant.

Man indicted for murdering Paula Migeon

A string of Uber Eats and Airbnb payments on the victim’s stolen credit cards enabled police to track down the suspect in her murder, Jean-Paul Isaki, of Châlons-en-Champagne.

Isaki was arrested on April 15 after being found in an Airbnb in Évry, south of Paris. Witnesses claim he was seen leaving Migeon’s apartment mere moments before fire seized the home.

He was indicted with a slew of charges, including aggravated rape and murder as well as theft and fraud, Lunion reported.

During a press conference, prosecutors said Isaki forcibly entered Migeon’s apartment as part of a counterfeit cheque scheme to scam her out of €500.

He strangled her, prosecutor Matthieu Bourrette alleged, leaving her unconscious so he could ransack her apartment for the money.

“The victim on the ground was starting to move again,” he added. “He then pulled her to her bed to rape her, while preventing her from screaming by putting a cushion on her head.”

Prosecutors believe that when she threatened to call the police, he stabbed her with a pair of scissors, which he used to cut off her hair and dress, before setting the place ablaze and swiping her credit cards.

“He killed an angel,” Zagoyan said.

“[She] was a very nice, pleasant person. Everyone said so. [She] never had a violent act.”

“I remember our difficult childhood, but especially the laughter that we shared between ourselves to hide our suffering,” she added.

“[Migeon] laughed all the time, wherever [she] went.”

Trans woman denied life-saving COVID vaccine due to ‘mismatched ID’

Woman Getting a Flu Vaccine

A trans woman was refused the COVID-19 vaccine. (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)

A trans woman in Oklahoma was denied the life-saving coronavirus vaccine because she had a “mismatched” identity document.

The resident, who has not been named, was turned away by the Logan County Health Department because her name did not match what was written on her ID card.

She sought to explain this administrative snag to healthcare officials – she was waiting on the paperwork, she claimed – but the department still refused, KOCO5 News reported.

Frustrated, the woman reached out to Freedom Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s sole statewide LGBT+ advocacy group, for help – and they were prepared for a fight.

Oklahoma vows to ‘rectify’ trans woman denied vaccine

Tweeting the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the group wrote: “Why is Logan Co Health Department turning away a trans woman trying to get a vaccine and telling us to take it up with the state?”

The department replied on 14 April that it is coordinating with both county health officials and activists to “rectify” what happened.

“It is a top priority to ensure equity in our state’s public health system, including ensuring every Oklahoman has access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” it added.

State officials later stressed that the incident was a one-time thing in a statement to activists.

“The equity of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution has always been paramount in the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s effort to vaccinate Oklahoma,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, a situation with a resident being denied a vaccine, due to a mismatched ID, at one of our county health departments was handled poorly.”

In Oklahoma, trans locals face an uphill climb all too common in the US to have their name and gender changed on identification documents.

Applicants must acquire a court order or note from a physician proving they have undergone gender-affirming surgery, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Name Change Information.

While more and more state legislators have cleaned up these confusing legal frameworks, making it easier to acquire accurate ID, roadblocks – and there are many – remain.

In the confusing patchwork of US states that allow trans people to update their documents – or not at all – the muddled system, at times, limits what kinds of services trans people can access.

Processes to change a driver’s licence or birth certificate widely varies from state to state, monitoring group National Center for Transgender Equality shows.

But policymakers aren’t exactly lacking in reasons to iron out these processes.

According to a report from the Williams Institute, 42 per cent of trans people who are eligible to vote in 45 American states do not have accurate identification documents. Researchers estimate that’s more than 350,000 trans Americans.

Moreover, a trans person simply having a passport or birth certificate with the correct gender can drastically improve their mental health, a study found.

While many states do not offer a gender-neutral option for non-binary, gender nonconforming and intersex folk.

Even then, some people (and countries and international agencies, such as the United Nations) question whether there’s even a need for a gender marker on identity documents at all.

Trans teen given two funerals because parents fought over his gender

funeral image two people in mourning

An Australian trans teenager, who is unnamed for legal reasons, was given two funerals after his parents failed to agree on his funeral arrangements, including which name to put on their son’s headstone. (Envato Elements)

A 15-year-old who tragically died by suicide has been given two separate funerals after his parents argued over his gender in court.

The Perth schoolboy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – died on 4 March in hospital, days after attempting to take his life, Perth Now reported. After his death, the teen’s estranged parents went to the Family Court of Western Australia after they failed to agree on his funeral arrangements, including which name to put on their son’s headstone.

The boy’s father reportedly wanted his son’s deadname – the name assigned to the teen before he came out as trans – on his headstone. But his mother said she wanted to use the name her son chose when he came out as transgender.

The boy’s mother told the West Australian that her son “would hate” to be deadnamed at his memorial. She said: “[His father] wanted all the ashes [interred together] and [his son’s birth name] on the plaque.

“I would agree to have [the birth name] in brackets but his [chosen name] first.”

Eventually, the parents agreed to split their son’s ashes and put both names on any memorial plaques. However, the 15-year-old’s deadname will appear on his death certificate because, before his death, he was unable to legally change it on his birth certificate.

Western Australian laws do not allow minors under the age of 18 to change their name without both parents’ consent. If one parent consents and the other doesn’t, the matter is remanded to the Family Court.

Perth Now reported that the teen’s mother held her service for her son by the Swan River, and “hundreds of people” turned up to pay their respects. Family and friends of the teenager remembered him as a “good and caring friend who always listened” and an “amazing artist who was great at drawing, painting and makeup”, the West Australian reported.

Trans girl has simple message for lawmakers over athletic bans

Trans girl who just wants to play sports has simple message for lawmakers

Rebekah in the ACLU video “Meet the girl who lawmakers want to ban from playing sports”. (YouTube/Human Rights Campaign)

A 14-year-old girl who plays field hockey at school has told lawmakers considering anti-trans bills that she just wants to play sports with her friends.

In a three-minute Human Rights Campaign video, Rebekah says sports are simply “something that I really like doing”.

“I’m so much more than trans. That doesn’t make me less of a girl, doesn’t make me less of a human, either. I’m just me!” she says.

The video has been published in response to a Republican-led “legislative boom” that has seen at least 25 states introduce over 60 bills targeting transgender children, the most common being bans on trans girls and women competing in sports. More than 50 anti-trans bills across 30 states are attempting to ban trans girls and women from playing on female sports teams.

More anti-trans bills have been introduced in the first three months of 2021 than in any other year so far – and it’s no accident, legal advocates have warned. Many of them target trans girls just like Rebekah.

In the video, Rebekah plays hockey with three of her team mates.

She has been “playing field hockey for four years now,” she smiles, explaining: “The concept is so fun because like, you get to have a stick and you get to hit a ball with it.”

“I also really love the people I’m always surrounded with and the community that I create,” she says. “It’s such a tight-knit group.”

The video shows her arm in arm and hugging her friends. “When we’re on the field, my teammates, they just see me as me,” Rebekah says. “They see me as a teammate who they’re going to play with, who they’re going to win with, who they’re going to lose with, and just someone who they will work with together.”

Rebekah is a bright student who finds school easy, according to her mum, Jamie.

“Rebekah’s really good at a lot of things,” Jamie says in the video. “She aces her schoolwork with very little effort. She’s great in music and theater. She doesn’t have to try really hard. And so sports are this place where she does have to work hard. She learns a lot from not being the best, and from really having to commit to get better at something.”

But if trans girls are banned from girls sports teams – as is being proposed in dozens of US states – Rebekah will simply stop playing.

What Will It Take to Protect Trans Youth in Arkansas (and Everywhere Else?)

What Will It Take to Protect Trans Youth in Arkansas

The news these last few weeks has been… a lot. This week’s Extra! Extra! takes a look at the devastating anti-trans legislation just passed in Arkansas, the Chauvin trial, voter suppression, the pandemic that is not yet over even if we’re all pretending it is and more.

A Devastating Week for LGBTQ+ News

Our conversation about anti-trans laws is broken

Arkansas becomes first state to outlaw gender-affirming treatment for trans youth

Natalie: The bans on health care access — during a damn pandemic no less — are offensive and wrong and should be struck down. The American Medical Association shouldn’t just denounce the bills, they should move to revoke the credentials of any doctor who refuses to provide critical and necessary gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Himani: This is one of those times when I’m simply horrified. I honestly am at a loss for words about how to process the news out of Arkansas and the rising tide of anti-trans legislation at the state level. As countless activists and writers have said, these laws and bills will cause people to die. Quite literally. This isn’t one of those moments where I can reflect on some particular angle of what’s happening. No matter how you look at it, it’s awful.

In the last EE we included an article about proposed legislation in Georgia similar to what just passed in Arkansas, and the article was centered around the work of a doctor who provides and advocates for trans health care in the South. I’m not sure that revoking licensing for doctors is going to really help this situation. Medical professionals are already placed in an impossible position because of the terrible laws that have passed/are being considered: if they provide life-saving care they will face criminal charges. Revoking their credentials will only further drive health care providers out of the state which is going to hurt a lot of people, including trans people who will lose access to affirming and competent health care providers. And given the anti-science rapacity of Republicans, I’m not sure that the threat of losing health care providers is actually going to force their hand to change their stance on this. A lot of the places that are taking on anti-trans legislation are the same ones that already have health care shortages and have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

There’s still time to stop some of this in other states. Chase Strangio of the ACLU put together a twitter thread of what’s coming down the line and steps that you can take (also shared by Carmen in yesterday’s AAA):

Rachel: It’s impossible to overstate how devastating this is, and the fact that as many advocates for trans youth have pointed out, it will absolutely lead to the deaths of trans kids. I’m tempted to draw comparisons between previous eras of anti-LGBT lobbying, like the National Organization for Marriage’s run in the 2000s and anti-Prop 8 organizing; you may remember the “It’s Already Happened” ad which also weaponized “concern” for children for a far-right cause. This political and cultural moment targeting trans people is part of a longer legacy, but it’s crucial to name that this chapter of it isn’t something we can lay at the feet of solely Republicans. The current attack on trans kids owes a great deal to the TERF and transmisogynistic logic that increasingly pervades liberal circles, including cis queer women’s communities. As many have pointed out, allegedly ‘well-intentioned’ liberals ‘just asking questions’ about trans kids, like Jesse Singal’s infamous Atlantic cover story, is a huge part of how we got to this moment, and voting Republicans out of office isn’t a meaningful solution here. Trans kids need more than legislative solutions; they need cis people to work to uproot the violent transphobia in all our communities, not just the Arkansas legislature.

Republicans are waging war against US children: Anti-trans bills part of longstanding GOP campaign

Natalie: It seemed inevitable that the anti-trans legislation that’s proliferating across the country would make its way to my home state of North Carolina. After all, the same conservative forces marshalling this effort — the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Eagle Forum — are the same folks who were behind HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” in 2016. But it seems like, with each state we hear about taking up these anti-trans bills, they continue to get progressively worse: as if the Right is testing the bounds of the Courts’ tolerance for their bigotry. How much of their hatred can they write into law before the Courts step in and say, “enough!”

What’s happening in North Carolina is insidious: it goes beyond not offering healthcare to trans youth — though, clearly, it does that too because these are reprehensible human beingsRepublicans have “devised a way to punish gender thoughtcrime.” If the bill becomes law, state employees would be required to report any “symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex.” What’s that mean exactly? No one really knows; it’s that broad. Is a teacher responsible for reporting the tomboy in class that likes to wear baseball caps and boys shoes? Under this law, yes. Is “gender nonconformity” limited to clothing or do short haircuts or kissing other girls count?

They were coming for trans people and we should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the trans community to battle them…and if you haven’t devoted yourself to the cause of securing trans equality, you should…because this North Carolina bill shows us, without a doubt, that they’re coming for all of us next.

Prosecuting the Murder of George Floyd

Trial by trauma

Chauvin defense falls back on racist stereotypes

Himani: I read a fair amount of depressing news on a regular basis, and the coverage of this trial has just completely drained me. The witness testimony, the newly released footage, the shamelessness of the defense — harrowing is really the only word that comes to mind. But, I also think it’s incumbent on all of us who are not Black to engage with this, to really look at this violent, corrupt, racist system in the face. To bear witness to the injustice of this trial — with the defense relying on racist tropes and police crossing the proverbial blue line so that they can bolster the “bad apples” argument — and the many, many trials before it that haven’t even made it this far. To that end, here are two of the best articles I have read about it. I also highly recommend the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder’s daily coverage of the trial for an in-depth look at the proceedings.

Rachel: Himani is absolutely correct; harrowing is the only word that comes to mind. Everyone I know impacted by this trial locally is just exhausted and hollowed out, especially after this past year. I keep coming back to this witness’s cross-examination, both very difficult and very sustaining to hear (does not contain video or audio of Floyd’s murder). The cross-examiner’s line of questioning is so blatantly, explicitly racist, and also the witness is so clearly anticipating and aware of his limited rhetorical options for resisting it; but has to just… sit with this? His grace and determination are so admirable, and also it’s so unspeakable that he should have to call them to bear.

Meanwhile, In Canada

Cops Wrongly Entered Black Family’s Home, Left 11-Year-Old ‘Shaking’

A Little Bit of Hope

New Mexico eliminates qualified immunity

Natalie: I know I should be focused on what a tremendous accomplishment this is for activists in New Mexico and their allies in the legislature and governor’s mansion but the response from the head of New Mexico’s state’s police chiefs association made me laugh out loud. He discounts the law entirely, claiming it “will only ‘get a few people some justice in state court.’” First, I’d point out that a few people are better than no people, but more importantly: if it’s not a big deal, why are police associations across the country fighting so hard to preserve qualified immunity? And if police associations are sincerely concerned about addressing “more pressing issues, such as police training,” why don’t they address them? And why don’t they stop condemning activists when they call for more training? Oh, that’s right, because they’re not sincere at all about stopping the epidemic of police violence against the citizenry they’re sworn to protect.

But, back to the subject at hand, this is a historic moment for New Mexico, especially since the state boasts one of the highest rates of fatal police shootings in the country. I’m hopeful that momentum — which began in Colorado — continues to build for an end to qualified immunity. This isn’t justice — and these victims and their families deserve justice — but it is accountability and that matters too.

We’re Not Even Trying to Lie Any More about “American Democracy”

Yes, the Georgia election law is that bad

The fight over voting rights comes to Arizona

Himani: Isn’t it incredible how the seasons have just barely changed and yet the state of Georgia has moved swiftly since November to enact voting restrictions that completely undermine the notion of democracy? Arizona isn’t too far behind either. As the article from Vox rightly points out, the details are hardly the point because the Republican party has been playing a very, very long game of eroding democracy to, effectively, secure a one-party rule. And, in many ways, the Republican party has already won that game given that 60% of Republicans still think the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Sounds an awful lot like a bunch of countries abroad that we like to criticize for being democracies in name only, doesn’t it? Honestly, I don’t even know what to hope for in 2022 or 2024.

Fulton DA won’t prosecute lawmaker arrested during election law signing

Natalie: I wanted to highlight the effort by Park Cannon in Georgia for two reasons: first, what was done to her was egregious. For the sin of wanting to bear witness to the anti-democratic legislation being signed into law, Cannon — a duly elected lawmaker — was arrested by the Capitol Police.

But also? In a previous edition of EE, I bemoaned Kyrsten Sinema and her inaction on the filibuster …and how upsetting it is to note that the person standing between LGBT people and the Equality Act is a person from our community. While Sinema remains a disappointment, LGBT representation among our elected leaders is still vital… and there are queer women, elected to public office, who are doing incredible things for our community and beyond. Park Cannon is doing that in Georgia and we should remember and celebrate that.

News from the Court

Will Justice Breyer Retire? Reading The Clerk Hiring Tea Leaves

President Biden to Sign Executive Order Creating the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States

Natalie: I don’t know how much, if anything, this group will accomplish…or if this is the kind of group that’ll recommend the kind of change that’ll make the Supreme Court into a representative body (which may be point, considering who Biden is)…but this is like a Murderers’ Row of brilliant legal minds.

Labor Rights and Discrimination

The Anti-‘Cancel Culture’ Republican Party Is Trying to Cancel OnlyFans

Rachel: This story may seem like kind of a nonstarter given the glut of extremely urgent stories impacting the wellbeing of multiple marginalized communities, and in some ways it might be – hopefully this story goes nowhere! But in other ways, it’s deeply troubling, and it’s a major tell about the way both the specter of sex work and policing of digital spaces are being leveraged by GOP policy right now. As backstory, laws meant to crack down on ‘trafficking’ (a legally murky concept, and a topic plagued by QAnon conspiracy theories) have either shut down most online portals for sex work or severely restricted them. Even the legal platforms like OnlyFans, which explicitly allow for legally confirmed adults to sell access to digital images or video in exchange for money, are increasingly limiting performers: any terminology that could be in any way related to offline meetups is banned or will get you kicked off the platform; many types of content or thematic representations are banned completely; performers routinely report that their earnings are frozen or withheld and have no recourse to getting them back. Even with all these restrictions, platforms like this are still weathering attacks from right-wing legislators and pundits who would like to see them shut down after an influx of workers have turned to them to stay afloat during the pandemic & recession. In this letter to the Attorney General, Rep. Gosar argues that OF violates “the Mann Act, known as the “white-slave” law, the 1910 law forbids paying to transport women over state lines for prostitution,” saying “On this site, individuals can advertise their willingness to travel across state lines for illegal or immoral activities, and the platform providing publicity for these individuals appears to subsidize and capitalize off this travel.” The implication is that OF is not just “immoral,” but a pretext for trafficking.

This is not actually a bill, and if it was, there’s no reason to assume it would pass; Gosar is, to put it lightly, a wingnut. But this attempt comes at a time when, as the Daily Beast reports, “a new panic around pornography. First, The New York Times collaborated with a homophobic church to paint all PornHub users as sex traffickers and criminals. Then Utah decided to pressure phone manufacturers to block porn on adults’ phones. After four years of insisting freedom of speech is under attack by the left during the Trump era, Republicans are back to policing Americans’ sexuality and censoring porn stars.” Furthermore, it comes at a dangerously unstable moment of QAnon preoccupation; they truly believe there are massive global trafficking rings of white children, and that even the amateur porn industry is a cover for it. Rep. Gosar has been strongly linked to the Capitol attack, organized by the same QAnon devotees; we know what they’re capable of when they’re serious about something, and now they know there are basically no consequences for them.

Sex work advocacy and organizing has been really visible and effective in recent years, with meaningful progress towards decriminalization; as we also see with advances in rights and visibility for trans people, progress is always accompanied by backlash. This is worth prioritizing not just because sex workers are people and sex work organizing is labor organizing, but because, as sex worker advocates often remind us, sex workers’ rights are canaries in the coal mine; what happens to sex workers happens to non-sex-working queer people and women soon after.

Racism and sexualization of Asian women pushes them into low-wage jobs

It’s A No: Amazon Warehouse Workers Vote Against Unionizing In Historic Election

Natalie: The headline should be, “Amazon Successfully Manipulates Workers To Vote Against Their Own Interests.”

Himani: Not sure if it was manipulation so much as intimidation. Probably both, in all reality.

COVID-19 Update

The Overlooked Demographics of COVID

Himani: This was a bit of a dense read, but the main takeaway is this: “The headlines have been ‘Men Fare Worse Than Women’ [when they get COVID]. But who disappears in that picture? Black women who are dying of COVID at extremely high rates. That specific vulnerability is lost. It’s the Kimberle Crenshaw intersectionality story.” This is not a particularly unexpected finding, but I think the main point of these researchers, that the intersections are not getting analyzed, is important because again and again research tends to focus on things along one dimension only.

Reading this article against the backdrop of the anti-trans legislation that has been getting passed, I couldn’t help but focus on this statement from one of the researchers: “And what we have observed in the discourse around sex differences is a focus, a rush to biological causal variables. But our research has shown that there are extreme variations in the degree of the sex disparity similarly across states. All of this shows that biology would be a very poor candidate to explain these kinds of variations, just like we consider biology a very poor candidate to explain the extreme racial disparities that have been seen. Instead, they pattern along these well known social trajectories.”

Republicans are so focused on the “biological definition of sex,” and while I don’t know that anyone is connecting any dots between the reporting on the “sex disparity” in COVID outcomes to anti-trans policy, specifically, this article — once again — undermines the notion that biology can explain everything. This is complicated because historically, medicine has focused the bulk of its research on cis men and used that to extrapolate to the medical needs and experiences of everyone else — which is well known to cause disparities in reproductive health care and has led to limited understanding of the health of people who are not cis men. So I don’t want to completely dismiss or discredit the work that countless people have to done to move the needle away from making cis men the standard for whom the entire world and on whom our understanding of the world is defined. But certainly, as we all know, going to the other extreme of relying on “biology” to explain everything has led to a lot of other horrors ranging from eugenics to conversion therapy to the latest round of anti-trans policies.

Children now playing ‘huge role’ in spread of COVID-19 variant, expert says

Natalie: This week, my nephews — who have spent most days with me since last March — went back to school. It’s not the first time they’ve been in a classroom this school year but it is the first time they’ll go back without social distancing or health protocols or three week rotations. It’ll be as close as to normal school days as they’ve experienced in a year, only with masks. I’m as nervous about sending them out into the world — and having them come home — as I’ve ever been…and this reporting did not calm my anxiety, especially since the UK variant’s dominance continues to grow.

Canada Is One of the Only Countries Fighting Three COVID Variants at Once

Himani: Reading this and the previous articles is literally like watching my worst nightmare regarding the pandemic slowly unfold. I feel like the world is reopening far too fast. I feel like people are moving on with their lives, but the virus hasn’t moved on from us because that’s not what viruses do. I feel like the communities that have already paid the worst price for this will do so again and again and again. I’ve grown so tired and so weary of watching the same people make reckless decisions that put all of us at risk while the rest of us continue to make our lives smaller and smaller to try to curb some of the damage. I’m losing my grasp — if I ever really had it in the first place? — on what is necessary to do in this moment to keep us all safe and what is just an extension of my personal struggles with a childhood largely defined by isolation taking over my life. Basically I’m unraveling, as so many of us are, from the weight of a year of gaslighting by political leaders across the world about the severity of the situation we are in.

Covid: new vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists

A year after pandemic hit, Haiti awaits vaccines amid apathy

Rachel: I want to echo both Himani and Natalie, and Himani’s observation that “I feel like the communities that have already paid the worst price for this will do so again and again and again.” I’m also torn and increasingly exhausted from trying to parse the multiple realities we’re all living in; I feel incredible relief at the vaccine rollout (my mother works in schools with developmentally disabled kids, a job that can’t socially distance; my brother works in retail, and they’ve both been working in person the entire pandemic) and frustration with folks who seem hellbent on stoking doubt in vaccine efficacy and suggesting that it’s unethical for vaccinated people to change their quarantine behavior at all. I also feel grief and anger at how unequal the rollout is, especially on a global scale; there are wealthy communities in the US who really can pretend covid is functionally ‘over’ even though it only slightly impacted them in the first place, and there are so many more deeply disenfranchised communities who will seemingly never get that chance even after all they’ve lost and continue to lose.

International News

Ferry brings 1,200 survivors of Isis Mozambique massacre to safety

Oxfam to investigate misconduct claims against staff in DRC

Himani: There is a long, disturbing history of abuse committed by “humanitarian workers” in developing countries. These abuses range from gross neglect to rampant sexual exploitation to corruption. The problem is so ubiquitous that conspiracy theories have taken hold around it and undermined organizations actually doing credible work. And so, once again, Oxfam is under scrutiny for literally all of the above issues. It’s just so damned shameful.

Alleged Narco President Hires GOP Lobbyists to Sing His Praises in Washington

Natalie: It’d surprise — or horrify — most people how common this is.

Northern Ireland Is Experiencing Its Worst Violence in Years. What’s Behind the Unrest?

‘The Beautiful Dreams That Are Burnt’: Portraits From Iran Under Sanctions

DOJ Affirms Protections for Transgender and Other LGBTQ Youth (+ Two Other Wins for Trans Youth)

DOJ Affirms Protections for Transgender and Other LGBTQ Youth (+

While the current legislative season is seeing a horrifying record number of anti-transgender bills, there were three wins this week: the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a memo affirming that Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, contrary to what the Trump administration had said; the governor of Arkansas vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming medication or surgery; and the NCAA president has spoken in support of transgender youth in sports.

DOJ - Bostock quote

At the DOJ

The DOJ memo (PDF), written by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Civil Rights Division, says that Bostock v. Clayton County, the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibited discrimination in employment based on sex, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This rescinds guidance from the Trump administration that had claimed it didn’t.

Let’s look a little more closely—watch the Roman numerals carefully. Back in 2016, the Obama administration issued guidance (PDF) that said discrimination against transgender students on the basis of gender identity violates Title IX, a civil rights law passed in 1972 that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or education program that receives federal taxpayer money. In 2017, the Trump administration’s Department of Education withdrew that guidance, citing “significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms.” The focus on bathrooms and locker rooms was a red herring, as I explained in a post at the time.

In 2020, the Bostock ruling said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex, also necessarily prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Trump administration then looked at whether Bostock applied to education as well as employment. In other words, did it impact the interpretation of Title IX, which was enacted as a follow up to the Civil Rights Act? The Trump administration concluded that the term “sex” in Title IX only includes “biological sex, male or female,” and therefore transgender students were not protected under Title IX.

The current DOJ’s memo, however, cites President Biden’s Executive Order from January that says Bostock’s reasoning applies to other laws that prohibit sex discrimination “so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.” The DOJ writes, “The Executive Order directs agencies to review other laws that prohibit sex discrimination, including Title IX, to determine whether they prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. We conclude that Title IX does.” Boom.

In Arkansas

Governor Asa Hutchinson’s (R) veto of the anti-trans bill in Arkansas is welcome, albeit provisional; as the ACLU tweeted yesterday, “This isn’t over yet. We are watching closely to see whether the legislature overrides the veto.” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU, tweeted that even if the bill is overridden, however, “This moment is hugely important and a testament to so many people who put their privacy and their safety on the line to organize and defend trans lives.” Until the threat of a veto from the majority Republican legislature is past, though, this legislation remains one of the most potentially harmful anti-trans bills out there. An overwhelming medical consensus is that gender-affirming care helps, not harms, transgender students.

If you live in Arkansas, contact your legislators now and tell them not to override the veto.

[Update: 3:10 p.m. ET, 4/6/2021: The Arkansas legislature has overridden the veto, and so this heinous bill has passed. Strangio tweeted in response: “We will see you in court you cruel cruel people.”]

In the NCAA

Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, spoke out against the anti-transgender bills across the country that are aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports. In a letter sent to HRC President Alphonso David, Emmert said that such legislation is “harmful to transgender student-athletes” and “conflicting with NCAA’s core values.” As the “March Madness” season of NCAA basketball championships wraps up, he also reiterated the NCAA’s commitment to hosting championship games in locations “free of discrimination,” writing, “The NCAA Board of Governors policy requires championship host sites to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination. The board policy also requires that safeguards are in place to ensure the dignity of everyone involved in the event.”

Emmert also said the NCAA was aware of President Biden’s executive order “that strengthens the enforcement power of Title IX as it relates to transgender students on campuses. This federal guidance will be another important mechanism that states consider when formulating new legislation. All NCAA schools also must follow state and federal laws, including Title IX.”

Moving Forward

Despite these positive happenings, anti-trans legislation remains a threat in the many states with pending anti-trans bills (including some states one usually thinks of as pro-LGBTQ, such as Connecticut and New Hampshire). Check to see if your state is among them, and contact your legislators to explain why they should not support these bills. Looking for explanations of why trans children and youth need access to gender-affirming care? The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (among other professional medical organizations) have statements you can wield. Want arguments for why trans athletes should be allowed to play sports? Try this series at OutSports; this report from the Center for American Progress; or my own two cents as a cisgender athlete who welcomes trans participation.

Happy Trans Day of Visibility! : actuallesbians

Happy Trans Day of Visibility! : actuallesbians

Today is a day to celebrate and lift up the voices of our trans* and non-binary siblings. Visibility on its own however does not provide equality. Instead we must continue the fight for the human rights of our community at a time when they are under attack from many directions.

Many US states are in the process of pushing anti-trans legislation. If you live in one of these states please contact your political representatives and urge them to vote against these attacks on members of our community.

And finally, thank you to all members for reporting transphobic comments and posts to the mod team, you’re an integral part in helping us keep this subreddit an accepting place.