Angie Arévalo died after she was stabbed by a 14-year-old during a family altercation. (TransLivesMatter.info)
A trans woman has tragically died after being stabbed to death by a 14-year-old during a family argument in Columbia, local media has reported.
Angie Arévalo died on Saturday, 6 February, after she was stabbed in the chest when a family confrontation turned violent.
The 35-year-old trans woman was stabbed at around 11am that day, and she died just five hours later at the Santa María clinic from her injuries.
She died after a fight broke out at her home in El Porvenir, Sincelejo. The fight was reportedly related to a dispute over property, with family wanting her removed from the premises.
She was the first trans woman in this city, that is why the community feels sad and regrets her death.
Arévalo’s death was mourned by Verena Revollo, secretary for women in Sucre, who offered her “deepest condolences to her family and loved ones” and said more must be done to protect the human rights of the LGBT+ community.
There has been an outpouring of grief from the LGBT+ community in Columbia since Arévalo’s death.
Trans woman Angie Arévalo remembered as ‘mother’ of trans community.
One activist, named only as Fillín, told theEl Heraldo that Arévalo was considered the “mother” of the trans community in Columbia.
“She was the first trans woman in this city, that is why the community feels sad and regrets her death,” Fillín said.
Meanwhile, LGBT+ organisation Caribe Affirmative said Arévalo had “a high level of visibility” that resulted in her receiving frequent threats to her life.
Those who threatened her wanted to “neutralise her identity and her gender expression”, the group said.
Activists in the country have called for the attorney general to enact a speedy investigation into Arévala’s murder,
Caribe Affirmative pleaded with the government to “promote and guarantee actions for a dignified life for transgender people” in Columbia.
Transgender people continue to face disproportionate rates of violence across the world.
At least 350 trans people were murdered in 2020, with the average age of those killed just 31. Trans women accounted for 98 per cent of those 350 people.
A large majority of the murders (82 per cent) took place in Central and South America.
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These scenes are written submissions from our staff and Autostraddle readers, illustrated by trans artist Bishakh Som. You can read more Scenes from a Gender here.
Submission from reader Felix Grego.
My name is Felix. My wife’s name is Leo. We met through mutual friends before the pandemic. By May 2020, everything felt uncertain except our love. Leo was working with the public, but with no health care. I work for a company that pays for my health care. We decided to get married that month to share my benefits.
The local county clerk’s office offered exceptions to help keep weddings small—the wedding just needed one adult to officiate and two witnesses. My queer neighbor officiated, and our two friends witnessed. The ceremony took place in our apartment building’s parking lot. We now felt ready for anything, including my upcoming top surgery.
After months of delays, I was finally getting the mastectomy I had dreamed about for years. Leo and I were nervous about the added stress of her taking care of me on top of working with the public in a pandemic. We found that the setting created tender moments. Soft touches, loving looks, and the feeling of safety around each other sparked an even deeper love.
I’ve since healed from my surgery and now pounce on any opportunity to take care of her.
I thought I would be unlovable if I transitioned. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to fit in with lesbians. I thought I wouldn’t be attractive to anyone. I tried to convince myself that I was unlovable.
But this experience has taught me that everyone is worthy of love.
Submission from reader Lana Pham.
I met Niko on Grindr. I had gone out with and spoken to other trans guys before, but had never been intimate with any until him. Many I knew or had encountered were either stuck in toxic masculinity or simply incompatible with me. I’m a slight narcissist, so I prefer guys similar to me — quiet, soft, playful, and mischievous. Niko met those requirements, and he was beautiful too.
I wasn’t nervous my first time with Niko and just hoped my cis-dick sucking skills translated well. In the dim light of my room, I could feel his packer underneath rough denim. I was lost in his soft kisses.
He suddenly undressed before me. And when I reached down again, his packer was gone. My hand instead met his wet excitement. After briefly rubbing each other, Niko directed his attention to my breasts with his mouth. He was gentle but firm, then slowly trailed his way down to taste more of me. He enveloped me fully, and I grew harder with every movement. I didn’t want him to stop, but I was excited to return the favor. After fumbling on my own, I directed Niko to sit on my face and take control. He forced my tongue between his lips. When he was finished, the makeup around my mouth had smeared off. I was erect, and he pulled me over to lie on top of him. I felt the full heat of his body as we continued kissing. With a simple shift, I slipped inside him.
I felt tense for a moment, but focused on the pleasure of our bodies instead. Internalized transphobia conditioned me to associate Niko’s parts with femininity, and after sex, I was left to ponder the hypocrisy in that. I was a trans woman who had spent years searching for self-love and sexual enjoyment despite the limitations of a cisgender world. I had allowed myself to remain confined instead of looking beyond what I had been taught. With Niko, I was experiencing my body without any scripts leading me. Enjoying each other’s bodies was the only guide. With most cis men, I have to align myself with cis women to accommodate their understanding of me. My efforts in doing so end up getting in the way of my own satisfaction. I didn’t have to perform with Niko. My body could just be. He was still masculine, and I was still feminine, regardless of what our bodies were doing. Niko widened my imagination to the possibilities of sexual intimacy. And unexpectedly, I was a little more healed.
He told me that he decided to become a barber when he got kicked out of a barbershop at a young age. The shop wouldn’t serve someone they saw as a girl or queer. After that, he knew he wanted to make a safe space for trans and queer people. He’s about 20 years older than me, so he’s as much a mentor as he is a friend. Even after all the years of transphobia and marginalization he’s experienced, he wears his identity with pride and lifts other trans people up too.
I feel so much safer in his chair than with the cis guy I used to go to. He has never made me feel bad about being anxious around being touched. (I get a little shaky sometimes.) I know I can trust him enough to relax. He approaches me with sincere care and warmth, and an almost paternal sense of affection. He always makes sure to tuck an extra towel into the back of my shirt so the little hairs don’t get into my binder, because he knows from experience that it’ll drive a person crazy. He fist bumps me sometimes which is silly but also somehow very validating? I couldn’t explain why, but it’s good stuff. He always uses my pronouns right and compliments me with masculine terms, which no one else ever does. I leave the shop with the biggest grin on my face, and it sticks for hours.
The conversation flows so easily. I appreciate having someone who just gets it and let’s me gripe about getting deadnamed at the doctor’s office, or chased out of a public restroom. He’s someone who will celebrate the progress of my transition with me. The solidarity is life-saving. It’s wild because the town I live in is pretty traditional and conservative, and somehow I’ve managed to find this amazing little refuge.
It’s so rare that I feel completely understood and valued, and I feel like only another trans person is truly capable of that.
Submission from contributor Adrian White.
When the three of us are together, the air fills with magic. Wynn, Lysi and I are all non-binary, but we relate to our genders in very different ways. These differences are part of what made it possible for us to love each other so well through our transitions—a name change for me, HRT for Lysi, difficulty coming out at work for Wynn, pronouns and top surgery for all of us. We asked each other good questions, gave each other needed time and space, and gently pushed each other when we were scared.
Our trans love story is one of friendship, partnership, and family. Wynn and I are married, and Lysi is very much our chosen fam. The three of us feel like our own little organism, and each pair has its own independent dynamic, too. Though Wynn and I moved to Nashville from Dallas, we still find ways to be present for each other and continue to support each other through the lifelong journey of transition. Because of them, no matter what happens in this transphobic world, I can keep trans joy at the center.
A few months into the pandemic, Lysi drove through Nashville to visit family in Ohio, as their grandfather was in failing health. It had been months since I had looked forward to anything, and hugging them in the parking lot, masks covering our smiles, felt like coming home. We went to the patio area in our apartment complex and Wynn grilled bratwursts and vegetables. There was an ease of being together, in a time when absolutely nothing felt easy. Wynn and I have good friends in Nashville, but it’s different to spend time in physical space with someone who truly knows you. We covered a lot of conversational territory, but I couldn’t tell you specifics. I just remember feeling settled in my body and a deep sense of the way the three of us belong to each other and the joy of sharing a meal with another human being in the sunshine. As the pandemic continually draws me toward despair, I remember that evening and know that soon enough we’ll be together again.
Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki responded to claims LGBT+ rights will harm women. (Getty/Alex Wong)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has shut down suggestions that enforcing LGBT+ non-discrimination protections will lead to trans athletes taking over women’s sports.
The issue was raised at the White House press briefing on Tuesday (9 February), with a reporter appearing to parrot claims made by conservatives suggesting that Biden’s executive non-discrimination order will disrupt high school sports.
Fox News Radio reporter Rachel Sutherland asked: “What message would the White House have for trans girls and cis girls who may end up competing against each other, in sparking some lawsuits and some concern among parents?
“Does the administration have guidance for schools on dealing with disputes arising over trans girls competing with cis girls?”
Jen Psaki makes clear ‘trans rights are human rights’.
Psaki curtly made clear: “I would just say that the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order.
“In terms of determinations by universities and colleges, I certainly defer to them.”
Republicans pushing anti-transgender legislation across the US have recently sought to shift the narrative from bathrooms and locker rooms to sports provisions, as lawmakers seek to establish a legal right to discriminate against trans kids in a number of states.
The tactic bears little reflection on reality, where there are close to zero examples of trans women who have achieved significant prowess in women’s sports.
In the eight Olympics in which trans women have been eligible to compete as women, they have won a total of zero gold medals, zero silver medals, and zero bronze medals.
Biden’s stance that children should not be “denied access” to “school sports” is a reversal of the Trump administration stance, with the Trump-era Department of Education accused of effectively extorting schools into implementing policies discriminating against trans children.
Former Trump officials have launched attacks over trans issues.
Donald Trump’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is among those to launch attacks on the Biden administration over the issue.
Writing for the National Review, she claimed: “In one of his first acts as president, he signed an executive order paving the way for a federal mandate that all schools receiving federal funding let biological men play on women’s sports teams.
“The order was framed as a matter of transgender rights. But really, it was an attack on women’s rights.”
She continued: “If this trend isn’t stopped, the achievements of so many brave women over so many years will be erased. That’s wrong. It’s insulting. And women know it, too… [but] they’re just afraid to speak out, because they know they’ll be silenced and called bigots.”
22 features, two series, two pilots, three shorts, and a panel later, my virtual Sundance journey is complete! While missing the in-person buzz and theatrical experience of a conventional festival, this year’s biggest indie celebration made up for it in accessibility. More people got to participate in the conversation and it was easier to watch more of the slate. Even when festivals go back to being in-person, I hope they learn from the benefits and keep an online component.
This wasn’t just a film festival during the pandemic — it was defined by it. Much of the work selected engaged with solitude and isolation and the work that was more expansive inevitably felt like an escape. Much of my favorite work felt enhanced by the circumstances of watching alone on my laptop in my tiny room.
We covered eight especially queer things at Sundance, but I watched so much more. Some of the things we didn’t review are still a little gay and I’ll make sure to note when that’s the case. But I also want to share a thought or two about everything I watched. Film festivals shape conversation and I think it’s worthwhile for a queer trans person to add to that even with cis straight films. So without further ado here’s a full recap of everything I saw at Sundance.
These Days (pilot) (dir. Adam Brooks)
I started the festival with this appropriate choice — a pandemic-set pilot about a woman going on virtual dates. It is not gay — and I think Connecting… covered similar ground better — but William Jackson Harper plays a culture writer dating for content and I personally found that relatable.
CODA (dir. Sian Heder)
This was the big winner at Sundance this year and it’s easy to see why. It’s a well-made, uplifting story with just enough specificity and a phenomenal cast. I do think the movie is good — albeit a little predictable — but I also find it to be a frustrating reminder of where we’re at with deaf representation. The protagonist of this movie is the only hearing person in her family and the writer/director is hearing. The deaf cast of Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant are all phenomenal and thankfully given full, well-realized characters to portray. But I wish we were at a place where a movie with a deaf protagonist was winning Sundance, where a movie with a deaf writer/director was winning Sundance. Instead we’re celebrating that the movie cast deaf actors as deaf characters — something that is unfortunately not always the case. Zeinabu irene Davis’ Compensation, a masterful film with deaf protagonists, premiered at Sundance 21 years ago. I just wish progress wasn’t so slow and inconsistent.
Amy Forsyth, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, and Troy Kotsur in CODA
4 Feet High (dir. Rosario Perazolo Masjoan, Maria Belen Poncio)
On the other hand, my very favorite thing I saw during the entire festival is the rare work that centers someone with a disability and is co-written/directed by someone with a disability. This series is also the most queer-normative, sex-positive thing at Sundance and I just loved it so much! Read my full review.
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (dir. Mariem Pérez Riera)
The rare PBS Masters doc that transcends its format. It begins with Norman Lear describing Rita Moreno as the American Dream and then spends the rest of its runtime breaking down why that is not the case. Yes, Moreno is an icon who has gifted us with so many wonderful performances. But the film shows all the ways racism and sexism kept her from even more. Moreno herself is such a burst of light and energy that the film doesn’t feel too heavy, but it does feel grounded and that results in the beautiful, complex portrait Rita Moreno deserves.
How It Ends (dir. Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein)
The writer/directors of this Covid-shot movie were like we’re bored in the pandemic let’s make a movie with our friends. And I think that’s lovely. Seems like they had a lot of fun! But FYI this is an ensemble movie set in contemporary LA where everyone is straight — and I mean straight. Like having conversations about anal as if it’s a wild sex act-level straight.
Rebel Hearts (dir. Pedro Kos)
This is a documentary about nuns!! Social justice nuns!! I didn’t know anything about the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart before this and I left delighted and inspired. “One of the best things that’s happening in the world is the fact that we’re realizing more deeply that awful things are happening in the world” is a quote that will stick with me for a long time. Also at least two of them are gay. That’s not stated in the documentary, but trust me at least two of them are gay — maybe all of them to be honest.
Still from Rebel Hearts
Knocking (dir. Frida Kempff)
An unsettling and grief-filled foray into one queer woman’s mind. This is a simple film, but it’s incredibly effective. Read my full review.
Barbed Wire Kisses Redux (panel)
This panel was a gay film nerd dream. Read my detailed recap.
Ma Belle, My Beauty (dir. Marion Hill)
It’s a delightful escape to spend time in this film’s French setting and chaotic polyamory. But I was frustrated with a subplot I found politically and emotionally muddled. Read my full review.
Searchers (dir. Pacho Velez)
The majority of this documentary about dating during the pandemic is just watching people swipe on dating apps. As expected, how interesting this is moment to moment largely depends on who’s swiping. There’s a queer woman named Lily swiping through Lex who sends the message: “Dating is a drag. Let’s catch an episode of Drag Race at a bar soon.” To which I said: It’s a pandemic!! But Lex just posted a picture of her with someone she’s been dating for a while so good for her. My favorite part focused on a trans woman who already has two partners and says she’s attracted to 50-75% of women. At one point she asks the director, “Are you heterosexual?” He says yes and she replies, “Oh good for you.” That was worth the whole thing.
Superior (dir. Erin Vassilopoulos)
Shot on 16mm, this 1980s-set mystery about two very different twin sisters is as formally confident as it is entertaining. This is exactly the kind of esoteric indie that’s fun to discover at a festival. Technically there’s nothing gay about it, but I did go on a few dates with the co-star/co-writer during my college boy years including showing her Before Sunrise and I don’t know that all feels pretty gay to me.
Passing (dir. Rebecca Hall)
Our one and only editor in chief Carmen Phillips has promised me she’s going to write a full review of this closer to its release. But what I’ll say for now is this adaptation of Nella Larsen’s novel doesn’t just keep the gay subtext — it emphasizes it. I guess that’s what happens when you cast Tessa Thompson and have Angela Robinson as an executive producer.
Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson in Passing
Together Together (dir. Nikole Beckwith)
This a really sweet friend-com about chosen family and identity. Patti Harrison is truly remarkable. Read my full review.
My Name is Pauli Murray (dir. Julie Cohen, Betsy West)
Unfortunately, I agree with Carmen that this documentary is not at the level its subject deserved. But I still appreciated the opportunity to learn more about them. Read Carmen’s full review.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (dir. Jane Schoenbrun)
One of the best films and most unique experiences of the festival. I’m so thrilled that arguably the most inventive work this year is from a trans filmmaker. Trans cinema doesn’t just mean trans representation — it means a whole new way of seeing. Read my full review.
The Pink Cloud (dir. Iuli Gerbase)
This was another favorite of the festival for me! Written in 2017 and filmed in 2019, the marketing around this film about a mysterious pink cloud that forces the world to quarantine is really playing up the coincidence of its existence. But it’s more than just unsettling and relevant. It’s about the different ways people respond to hardship and how difficult that makes it to sustain relationships. I loved this movie so much and it’s not even a little gay so that’s saying something.
Renata de Lélis in The Pink Cloud
Wild Indian (dir. Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.)
Another favorite of the festival! I was really on a roll. This is a difficult film to watch due to both its literal and psychological violence. But Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.’s writing and direction and Michael Greyeyes’ performance make sure its sociopathic protagonist remains complex. Chaske Spencer also gives a standout supporting performance that adds a much needed light to this dark story. Before every screening Sundance had a land acknowledgement which is great, but it’s even better when that’s paired with celebrating Indigenous filmmakers this talented and Indigenous films this accomplished.
Cusp (dir. Isabel Bethencourt, Parker Hill)
The first of several documentaries that made me despair for American adolescence. This film follows three teenage girls living in Texas and shows the repeated abuse they suffer at the hands of men. It’s really good and isn’t graphic, but it just broke my heart hearing these girls recount their experiences. Gender is too complicated for me to be as misandrist as I used to be and yet this movie made it tempting!
El Planeta (dir. Amalia Ulman)
Amalia Ulman writes, directs, and stars in this movie with her real life mother about a mother and daughter determined to maintain a bourgeois lifestyle after Spain’s economic crash. This is a funny and charming movie with a political edge and has one scene that made me desperately miss in-person dates. FYI this movie is straight even though Ulman has short hair that all the men around her dislike.
Try Harder! (dir. Debbie Lum)
Next in the trilogy of doomed American adolescence, this portrait of the top ranked public high school in the country follows a group of kids desperate to get into the college of their dreams. Through the stories of several students, the film does an excellent job showing how race factors into the admissions process, and portraying how the whole system is toxic. Also if you are a person with mommy issues be warned that you might cry.
R#J (dir. Carey Williams)
OKAY. I was not expecting the social media adaptation of Romeo & Juliet to be one of my favorite movies of the festival and yet here we are! And I will not apologize! Everything about this movie where Romeo and Juliet first meet in Instagram DMs worked for me. I was delighted and moved and I loved this burst of weird creativity. The cast is great during the sillier moments and when actually performing Shakespeare’s text. I live on the internet and love Shakespeare and will always have a fondness for my horny teens Juliet and Romeo. Five stars. My new obsession. And, in case this needs to be mentioned, of course it’s gay because Romeo and Juliet are a canon U-Hauling Cancer for Cancer lesbian couple.
Camaron Engels and Francesca Noel in R#J
Ailey (dir. Jamila Wignot)
This is a more conventional PBS Masters doc, but what it lacks in ingenuity it makes up for in archival dance footage. Alvin Ailey remains a bit elusive as a figure, but his work is as powerful and present as ever. This made me hungry for a more experimental dance-focused tribute a la Pina (2011).
Mayday (dir. Karen Cinorre)
How is this movie about a woman in the 40s who is transported to a land of women soldiers who hunt men not even a little gay?? Okay it’s a little gay subtextually, because the girls can’t keep their hands off each other, but this was the rare case when calling for a film to be gayer isn’t me being facetious. I genuinely think this movie is hurt by its heterosexuality and with that its determination to be about how separatism is bad. Look, I agree separatism isn’t the answer, but the movie makes no compelling arguments. Mia Goth gives the most arresting performance as the lead separatist and I wanted to join her army and leave our boring protagonist behind.
The World to Come (dir. Mona Fastvold)
This is a gorgeously directed film that is, unfortunately, tainted by Casey Affleck’s involvement. It’s frustrating that the highest profile queer woman film at the festival is cis and white and produce by and co-starring an allegedly abusive man. Read my full review.
At the Ready (dir. Maisie Crow)
I had no idea that high schools along the border in Texas had criminal justice clubs. Not criminal justice reform clubs — criminal justice clubs. As in, former cops and border patrol training the students and filling their heads with propaganda. Director Maisie Crow approaches her subject without judgment and lets the horror reveal itself. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking to watch these students be manipulated and eventually become disillusioned — and terrifying to see which students remain unfazed. One of the film’s subjects, Mason, identifies as a lesbian at the start of the film, but is not out to his family. He says that the criminal justice club is his chosen family, because he knows his biological family will someday reject him. He struggles the most — his left-leaning, humanistic politics consistently clashing with the other students and the club itself. This is a tough film, but all of the students’ journeys are fascinating to watch, and it’s such a relief that the film ends with Mason in a new community and out as trans.
Still from At the Ready
The Blazing World (dir. Carlson Young)
This is an inventive, visually arresting fever dream of a debut from actor Carlson Young. It didn’t totally work for me, but I admired its creativity.
Would You Rather (series) (dir. Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret)
Inspired by conversations of its young leads, this French web series feels almost too authentic to teenagers. By that I mean GOD TEENAGERS ARE MEAN. This is a tough one to recommend because if there’s a category of offense this series covers it. But usually one of the other teens is quick to argue — this is a show about friends playing Would You Rather? so debates are frequent. For example, are our two main girls homophobic or are they secretly in love with each other? Truly who’s to say. I enjoyed this despite frequent cringing.
Pleasure (dir. Ninja Thyberg)
Ninja Thyberg’s first feature that takes a realistic look at the porn industry is the arrival of a new cinematic voice. The short version came out in 2013, but Thyberg decided if she was going to make this film she couldn’t do so as an outsider, instead befriending members of the industry and entering that world. The commitment pays off with a cast of primarily porn actors and an authenticity felt throughout. Despite its unique setting, this is a sort of classic rise to stardom story. It’s that familiarity and the depth of the characters’ relationships that make this more than a portrait of an industry — it’s a portrait of a person.
This Brazilian short about a cis mother looking for her missing trans daughter traffics in the usual trans trauma that cis directors love. But at least it takes a more mystical approach to its story and isn’t completely maudlin.
Trepanation (short) (dir. Nick Flaherty)
This experimental animated short is directed by a trans person and focuses on a character I presume to be queer even if the plot is too vague for that kind of labeling. A hole appears in this person’s floor and things just get weirder from there. I was really taken with the 3D animation and the moving abstract story.
This Is the Way We Rise (short) (dir. Ciara Lacy)
I really enjoyed this straight-forward portrait of queer native Hawaiian slam poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani. The film shows how she is inspired after years of not writing by the efforts to protect sacred land on Mauna Kea.
Weirdo Night (pilot) (dir. Mariah Garnett, Jibz Cameron)
I ended the festival with this filmed pandemic performance of Dynasty Handbag’s queer cabaret show. Some of the performances are stronger than others, but after a week of watching movies in solitude it was nice to have a memory of being dragged to your friend’s show. This may be the first in a series of virtual shows and I’d certainly watch more. Especially if every episode had a performance as good as Together Together star Patti Harrison singing a song entitled “I’m Not Gay.”
Patti Harrison, Vagabon, and Sasami in Weirdo Night
And that’s Sundance! I hope you got to see some exciting work or that you seek it out when it’s released. And I hope in 2022 I’m actually in Park City, because while, yes, I am gay enough to run into someone I briefly dated even at a virtual festival, there is something different about being gay in-person.
President Biden’s executive order yesterday ending the ban on transgender people serving in the military is not only a victory for the many trans people in uniform, but also for the children and families they support.
Jennifer and Deborah Peace and their children – Credit: TransMilitary
The premise of the executive order is very simple: “All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve.” Biden added, “The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”
For the more than 15,000 transgender people currently serving, that’s an acknowledgment of equality. For those who are parents, it means they do not have to fear losing their jobs and being unable to feed and house their children. The U.S. military is the country’s largest employer of transgender people, according to the 2018 documentary TransMilitary. The unemployment rate for trans people is three times higher than the national average, and over one quarter (27 percent) of trans people who held or applied for a job reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to their gender identity, per the National Center for Transgender Equality‘s latest U.S. Transgender Survey. (The survey covers 2016-17, but I can’t imagine the number improved during the last four years.)
As Deborah Peace said in Transmilitary about her spouse Jennifer Peace, a captain in the U.S. Army and a trans woman, “She was the breadwinner of the family.” The Peaces have three children.
The removal of the ban will also, I imagine, positively impact service members and their spouses who are not trans themselves, but are raising transgender or gender-creative children. Consider: The Department of Defense Child Development Virtual Lab School (VLS), an online professional development system for the 33,000 child- and youth-care professionals working with children of military families on bases around the world, in 2018 launched a course on “Creating Gender Safe Spaces.” Sarah Lang, associate director of research and professional development at VLS, told me in an interview, “Part of the reason we developed this course was that people working in military childcare saw gender-expansive kids and reached out to us. We want to be supportive of children and families with gender-expansive or LGBT members, and to arm staff with tools to navigate conversations with other families.” Clearly, then, there were enough of these families that such a program was worth creating. Yet children are less likely to thrive in an environment that condemns their identities. Transgender people serving openly (and perhaps occasionally visiting on-base classrooms) may give these children important role models.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also clarified that the new policy applies not only to transgender people currently serving, but also to those wishing to enlist. He noted, too:
The United States Armed Forces are in the business of defending our fellow citizens from our enemies, foreign and domestic. I believe we accomplish that mission more effectively when we represent all our fellow citizens. I also believe we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity. We would be rendering ourselves less fit to the task if we excluded from our ranks people who meet our standards and who have the skills and the devotion to serve in uniform.
This is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.
As we move forward, however, let us not forget how we got here. TransMilitary, which profiles not only the Peace family, but also several other transgender service members, is available on several of the major streaming services. I encourage you to watch. It’s a reminder that not only did transgender service members and their families feel the negative impact of the ban, but that many put their careers on the line by sharing their stories and speaking out against it. It is in large part because of their efforts, along with research (and more research) and the work of many other advocates, that Biden put pen to paper and signed yesterday’s order, affirming transgender people’s right to serve their country on equal terms.
Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace, and Senior Airman Logan Ireland – Credit: TransMilitary
If reading’s more your thing, check out the 2019 NPR profile of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bree “B” Fram, her spouse Peg, and their two kids; this piece by Alli Alexander, an Army veteran, mother, and now military spouse, about her husband’s transition while in the Army; or this InStyle profile of Capt. Peace.
This executive order is personal for me—I have a friend who is a transgender man, a parent, and a serving member of the Armed Forces. I’m delighted for him and his family, and for all transgender service members. Thanks to them for their service to us all.
The American Library Association (ALA) today announced its 2021 Stonewall Book Awards for LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult books, part of the Youth Media Awards that also include the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott Medals. The winner was a board book that includes not only same-sex parents, but also gender creative kids and a pregnant transgender man.
The Stonewall Book Awards — Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (to distinguish them from the Stonewall Book Awards for adult books) are chosen by a committee of the ALA’s Rainbow Round Table, “the oldest professional association for LGBTQIA+ people in the United States.” This year’s winner is:
We Are Little Feminists: Families, by Archaa Shrivastav (Little Feminist), a board book that uses simply rhymes to celebrate many types of families as it shows photos of real families around the world engaged in everyday activities. While other books may have similar themes, this one is notable for the photos of actual families and the broad LGBTQ inclusion. Several of the families include two moms and two dads; there are also children who seem nonbinary or gender creative, and one image of a transgender man who is pregnant. (Readers may recognize him as trans advocate Trystan Reese, who posts about his family on Instagram at @biffandi.) Some images are below; note the publisher has not made the one with Reese available to the media, but it’s very similar to this one on his Instagram. This is truly a joyous book that belongs in any library or bookshelf for young children.
Four honor books were also selected:
Beetle & The Hollowbones, written and illustrated by Aliza Layne (Atheneum Books for Young Readers): In this middle grade graphic novel, 12-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who lives in the eerie town of ‘Allows, fits in neither as a sorceress nor as a ghost whose spirit is trapped in the mall, like her nonbinary best friend Blob Ghost. When Beetle’s old best friend, Kat Hollowbone, returns to town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone, Beetle is reminded of her inadequacy. Yet plans are afoot that endanger Blob Ghost and force Beetle to act, confronting her fears and her feelings for Kat. A fun and clever story that is surprisingly human despite the fantastical characters.
You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson (Scholastic): In this middle grade novel, Liz Lighty is a Black, nerdy, poor, wallflower, which sets her apart in her small, rich, Midwestern town. But when a scholarship to an elite college falls through, she unexpectedly finds herself in the social spotlight, running for prom queen and the prize money that brings. As if that’s not hard enough, she may also be falling for one of her competitors. Full review.
Darius the Great Deserves Better, by Adib Khorram (Dial Books): This sequel to Khorram’s young adult novel Darius the Great Is Not Okay, continues the story of Darius, an out gay Iranian American teen navigating romantic relationships and family as well as bullying, racism, and his family’s financial struggles. He also has queer grandmothers.
Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender (Balzer + Bray): A young adult novel about a Black, transgender teen whose plan to foil transphobic harassment lands him in an unexpected love triangle—but also leads him to redefine how he feels about himself.
In addition to the above, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Susan Gal (Charlesbridge) won the Sydney Taylor Book Award, presented annually to “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” While the LGBTQ content is slight (one pair of visiting relatives to the Passover seder is a two-dad couple), I’m still going to mention it. Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and many other LGBTQ-inclusive works, arguably brought LGBTQ picture books into mainstream awareness, so I’m happy to celebrate any recognition of her work. Full review.
And queer mom Jacqueline Woodson won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award for her middle grade novel Before the Ever After (Nancy Paulsen Books) about a 12-year-old whose father, a retired football player, is grappling with traumatic brain injury.
The full list of ALA Youth Media Award winners is here.
Congratulations to them all!
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Maybe this really is RuPaul’s Best Friend Race?? After the premiere’s dalliance in psychological torture, we return this week with just about the most wholesome Drag Race episode in the show’s 13 seasons.
But first! We must wrap up the psychological torture! The queens in the Porkchop Loading Dock are voting one of their own out with lipsticks All Stars-style. They didn’t even get to see each other’s lip syncs so this is based entirely on first impressions. Joey votes Elliott. Denali votes Joey. Kahmora votes Utica. The rest remain anonymous to the viewers but Elliott and Utica tie for the bottom. They do a re-vote and bye-bye Elliott — two Ts, three eliminations, one hour on Drag Race. Impressive stats.
Not to be that girl, but I’ve watched enough Drag Race to know this wasn’t the end for Elliott. Still, the queens seem so convinced! Rosé the Gemini has a comically cold confessional where she’s basically like oh well.
But enough about the losers! Back in the workroom the winners are starting their first real day. Ru pops up on the screen to congratulate them on a job well done and Olivia flashes the cutest little self-satisfied smile!! Have I mentioned I have a crush on Olivia and her smile? I have a crush on Olivia and her smile.
Ru joins them in the workroom and who does he introduce? Elliott! With 2 Ts! Ru gives an inspirational speech about how they’re all winners and how they shouldn’t let anyone make them feel bad about themselves and it’s like okay but you just psychologically tortured them you terrifying fracker.
All of the other queens are immediately paranoid about Elliott and Elliott doesn’t help by immediately talking shit to the shit talker herself, Kandy Muse. This was a big episode for Gottmik re: trans stuff, but I am also very closely tracking her romantic possibilities, and I must say she seemed delighted by Elliott creating drama.
The mini challenge is two runway looks which is often the first challenge in premieres. I always love this, because it acts as a great introduction to the queens’ aesthetics and leads to some truly iconic looks. (Remember Violet Chachki’s reveal??) The first category is Daytime Drama Mama and the queens do not disappoint — especially Gottmik and Symone. Gottmik wears a latex dress with a rainbow on the bottom and a bright blue sky on top. Symone wears a fabulous multicolored suit.
The next category is Nighttime. Gottmik is once again the standout, with a long black dress with a slit up the side and one of her nipples only covered with a pasty. She says that since she had top surgery she loves to have her nipples out and what a gift for us all. Tina says with her outfit she was trying to show her sexy side — it’s helpful when queens explain their high concept looks. Elliott similarly touts her sexiness saying she belongs in a Gentlemen’s Club — I think in this case the gentleman is Tim Burton. (I’m sorry, but if Ru is going to be nice this episode I’m going to be mean!)
The main challenge is a new version of Ru’s song “Condragulations.” The queens will each write a verse and choreograph the number together. We learn that Tina was in a boy band and that Olivia writes music and plays piano! “Who’s ready to be the star student? Me!” she exclaims. Adorable.
No one wants to take charge of the choreography, so Tina takes over by default. Elliott is literally a choreographer, but she is intimidated as the loser of the bunch. I get that, but also she should’ve shown what she can do! And her plan backfires because eventually she does swoop in and her initial hesitation just makes everyone more suspicious of her. Gottmik is thrown when they start choreographing her section because her lyrics start “I was born a girl” and she hasn’t disclosed to the cast yet. She suddenly feels really dysphoric in a way that surprises her and she’s worried it will hold her back.
The next day Gottmik is feeling a bit better and confides in Olivia. Olivia’s so supportive!! She says her pronouns are she in drag, he out of drag and asks Gottmik for hers. Gottmik says hers are the same and she feels clocked when people overcompensate and he/him her in drag. It’s a really nice moment and endeared me to both queens even more. As a trans woman who hangs out in a lot of overtly cis dykey spaces I feel a kinship to Gottmik inserting herself into such an aggressively AMAB space. I’m sure doing it on television is even harder. It makes total sense that she’d have new waves of imposter syndrome-induced dysphoria.
The simmering drama with the newly dubbed “Elliott the Spy” simmers down to nothing after she explains what really happened in the Porkchop Loading Dock. LaLa points out that Elliott got eliminated three times and suspicion sort of just turns to sympathy. The queens are more concerned that the others weren’t actually sent home which is very silly to me, because of course they weren’t. They talk about who they would send home of each other and give the pageant girl answer of saying their biggest threats. The consensus? Tina and Gottmik are the biggest threats. But Olivia thinks they shouldn’t underestimate her.
The new version of “Condragulations” is fun, but the song isn’t great to begin with and the queens don’t quite reach the level of last year’s incredible “I’m That Bitch.” That said, LaLa and Symone were the two standouts and everyone at least did pretty well.
The runway category is Lamé You Stay and once again Gottmik and Symone wow. Symone is dressed as a sexy boxer. Much like her bestie/roommate Gigi Goode, Symone refuses to rest on her looks and instead loves a concept. Personally, I love when people are beautiful and clever, because then I don’t have to admit to being shallow.
Ru, Michelle, and Ross are joined this episode by choreographer Jamal Sims. Michelle has a grey streak in her hair and it really did a lot for me. For some reason all four judges are So Nice. They point out a few missteps among the queens, but mostly their notes are just encouragement and jokes about poppers.
Backstage during Untucked the queens also have a lovefest. Symone gushes over LaLa, Gottmik officially discloses to everyone else to lovely feedback, and everyone talks about how much they love each other. Is this what quarantine has done? Everyone is so starved for human connection that you put a couple of catty drag queens in a room together for a week and they’re ready to elope like Clare and Dale on The Bachelorette??
I don’t mean to sound disappointed. I love to see the queens thrive and get along. And it would’ve felt wrong for anyone other than Elliott to go home this week. Instead having Symone and Olivia lip syncing for the win and $5K was a treat. They’re both sexy and campy and just pure entertainment. And I was thrilled for Symone to get another win.
But I’d be lying if I wasn’t daydreaming of next week when the insecure losers are at each other’s throats — or the week after when the two teams come together. Maybe this is all part of Ru’s long game of psychological torture. Create hierarchies, create alliances, force Gottmik to do another round of disclosures.
I’m sorry I doubted you, Ru. The library will soon be open.
Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:
+ Tina mentions that back in New York, Kandy created a lot of unnecessary drama. But Elliott came for her pretty aggressively and she kept her cool. I guess we’ll see…
+ Symone compares her second runway look to The Matrix Revolutions which feels pretty trans to me.
+ An ad for Boy Butter! On TV! You love to see it.
+ The main challenge was sponsored by the Werq the World Tour — Ru never fails to be Ru.
+ When Gottmik disclosed during Untucked, I was so confused, because I felt like her lyrics were obviously a disclosure. But nope! LaLa admits to having no idea from the lyrics that Gottmik is trans.
+ Ru jokes that this week there no bottoms, only tops, except the judges. I’m sorry but I refuse to believe Michelle Visage is anything less than a top-leaning switch. I’m actually fully convinced she topped Adore Delano while they were on tour and that’s why Adore was so hurt when she was mean to her on All Stars 2. Is this based on anything but vibes? No. But please don’t take this fanfic away from me.
+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone (is she the frontrunner now??)
+Queen I have the biggest crush on: Olivia Lux, Gottmik, and the thought of Olivia Lux and Gottmik together
+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack:The grey streak in Michelle Visage’s hair
A trans woman must pay for her own children to be relocated to live with their other parent abroad. (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)
An Ontario, Canada, court has ruled that a trans woman must pay the travel costs for her two children to move in with their mother in Washington, US.
Increasingly isolated from her family, the upshot of a legal custody battle has seen Darcy feel she is drifting from her children after her former spouse divorced her in 2017.
Her ex is now remarried to a man who works for Microsoft, theOttawa Sunreported. Darcy and her family were then plunged into a custody battle that sowed division and fear, she said, as her former partner wished to relocate to Washington as her new husband’s job is there.
In the judgment released last month, justices ruled that Darcy’s youngest children can move some 4,000 kilometres away to stay with their mother, step-father and half-sibling.
“I’m in shock, just shock,” the 37-year-old told the outlet.
“They’re moving my kids to a place I can’t go and the idea that I somehow should pay their costs to take my children away seems kind of unfair.”
For a trans mother weary of the US, fears of coronavirus and transphobia loom
Ontario Superior Court justice David Broad considered that while a joint custody agreement would be in the best interests of the children, they need to be allowed to move with their mother.
It’s a decision that has left Darcy reeling, weary of both the rampaging coronavirus keeping country borders shut as well as a US she feels is unwelcoming of trans folk.
“The likelihood of me seeing my kids now is just so low because of COVID,” she explained, finding little respite in the virtual access judges granted her alongside extended long weekends, four weeks in the summer and a week over Christmas vacation.
To her list of woes, she added that as a trans person she “doesn’t feel comfortable” in the US. “I used to travel there for work and I won’t anymore,” she added, worrying that her children would be exposed to transphobia if raised there.
But Broad disagreed. Writing in his judgement: “It was clear from her testimony that the applicant’s concerns respecting these issues are sincere and strongly held.
“However, no expert evidence was led that would suggest that living in the State of Washington, with exposure to the local culture, would adversely affect the children’s development and best interest.”
Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights (Getty/TOM WILLIAMS)
A Republican senator has claimed that transgender children play sports as part of a “deliberate, sadistic effort” to “harm girls.”
The claim comes from Mike Lee of Utah, a fervent opponent of LGBT+ rights who appears to be attempting to cast himself as a defender of women after a solid nine years in the Senate opposing their right to access reproductive healthcare or marry someone of the same sex.
Lee is among a group of Republican lawmakers behind the so-called Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, a bill that would revoke federal funding from schools that allow transgender girls to participate “in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls”.
The Orwellian bill defines sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth”, though it does not elaborate on how this will be determined – with similar state-level laws requiring genital exams in cases where an athlete’s sex is disputed.
Republican senator Mike Lee launches shocking attack on trans children
Speaking to the Deseret News, Lee claimed that “biological males might as a pretext use certain words in order to qualify themselves in girls and women’s athletics”, despite zero recorded cases of someone transitioning with the express intent of getting ahead in a professional sport, let alone at the high school level.
Without any evidence at all to back up his claims, he soldiered on: “Some of them might do it to win a prize or a trophy or scholarship.
“Others might do it just to prove that they can or for bragging rights. Others still might do it in a deliberate, sadistic effort to harm girls and women.”
Again, none of this has ever happened, apart from inside the head of a senator with an extensive history of cheering on anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
‘Defender of women’ is not so keen about them getting married or getting healthcare
Lee was previously behind an attempt to effectively erase civil rights protections for married gay and lesbian couples.
The GOP senator spearheaded efforts to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would have blocked the federal government from enforcing anti-discrimination protections or civil rights laws in cases where people acted based on “a sincerely held religious belief” in marriage.
He has also intervened in court battles over LGBT+ discrimination laws in the past, arguing that religious business owners have a right to discriminate on the well-trodden grounds of ‘religious freedom’ and ‘free speech’.
The newly-converted champion of women’s rights also has an extensive history of anti-abortion legislation, supporting moves to pull federal funding from women’s healthcare providers that offer reproductive healthcare.
The lawmaker has also sought to restrict minors’ access to abortion and ban the procedure after 20 weeks, suggesting women should be forced to remain pregnant aside from “in cases of rape, or cases of incest against a minor”.