I celebrated the news after Ugandan activist and trans man Pepe Julian Onziema won a GLAAD Media Award for his interview last year on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, but I hadn't seen the video. Here it is. Jussie Smollet of Fox's musical drama Empire presented the award. Pepe's poise, eloquence, and courage are once again on display here. What an asset he is to his country, his continent, and the world. Congrats again, @Opimva.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, hashtag #IDAHOT. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says of this video:
This video from the United Nations Free & Equal campaign celebrates the contributions that millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people make to families and local communities around the world. The cast features "real people" (not actors), filmed in their workplaces and homes -- among them, a firefighter, a police officer, a teacher, an electrician, a doctor and a volunteer, as well as prominent straight ally and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Observances of #IDAHOT around the world are taking many forms. Here is one, from London.
Good afternoon. I am Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which has worked for LGBT equality in D.C. since 1971. Thanks to Jody Westby for launching Communities Against Law Enforcement Misconduct, and to those who have helped her.
When thousands held a vigil in Meridian Hill Park last August 14 in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Missouri, a few Metropolitan Police Department officers were on hand to ensure order. There was none of the belligerence we have seen in other cities. D.C. has come a long way since the 1991 riot by police against revelers at the High Heel Race on 17th Street Northwest.
Police reforms in D.C. since then have included creation of special liaison units such as the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, which promote trust and cooperation between community members and police. With allies including the NAACP and ACLU of the Nation's Capital, GLAA helped push for creation of the independent Office of Police Complaints in the late 1990s.
After the unlawful mass arrest in Pershing Park in September 2002, our then mayor and police chief refused to acknowledge problems until a federal judge ordered the release of an internal report. Then-D.C. councilmember Kathy Patterson, with assistance from ACLU and support from GLAA, won passage of the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004.
Vigilance, persistent engagement, and data are essential to reform. ACLU-NCA reported in 2013 on a dramatic racial disparity in marijuana arrests in the District. Given the roughly equal rates of self-reported marijuana use by white and black citizens, the disparity was scandalous. A partial remedy came with Initiative 71, the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014, which is now law. This was not the first time intervention was required. In 1998, we needed legislation to stop the arrest of people for drinking on their own front porches.
Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer is receiving glowing notices. Let's use this moment to fight the anti-trans panic that fuels discriminatory legislation.
Human beings are complicated. Pronouns are complicated. Deal with it, people. #BruceJennerABC— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) April 25, 2015
Bruce Jenner comes out as a transgender woman. The reaction I have seen on Twitter has been extremely positive. Garry Shandling's response is typical.
I think what Jenner is doing is as strong and courageous as winning the decathlon. Where's the confusion?— Garry Shandling (@GarryShandling) April 25, 2015
Springfield repeals LGBT rights after campaign focuses on religious freedom and cross-dressing predators in bathrooms http://t.co/QGbDY35rdk— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) April 8, 2015
Tell me again why my rights should be subject to my neighbors' veto? The U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government. It says nothing about plebiscites.
A coalition of LGBT groups in D.C. today issued their Report Card: Status of Metropolitan Police Department Implementation of Recommendations from the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and Community Response.
The groups signing the report card include Casa Ruby, The DC Center for the LGBT Community, DC Trans Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, HIPS, and Rainbow Response Coalition. GLAA is proud to be in this company. Thanks to Jason Terry of DCTC for drafting the community response. He is presenting the report card at today's Performance Oversight Hearing on MPD being held by the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary.
Here is the report card's introduction:
In February 2014, Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) released the findings of the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force (HCATF) she convened in December, 2011, accompanied by the departmentʼs response to the Task Forceʼs recommendations. Shortly thereafter, a coalition of community organizations released its own response, including recommendations not addressed in the HCATF reportʼs findings. Less than a week later, on March 19, 2014, MPD presented to the community a plan outlining “Next Steps” in its efforts to implement the Task Forceʼs recommendations. Now, nearly a year out from these proposed actions, we (the community) revisit the recommendations made by the Task Force and Community Response to evaluate what progress has been made.
The HCATF report highlighted serious problems in the functioning and effectiveness of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) and Affiliate Liaison program, a growing lack of trust in the police among transgender residents and the broader LGBTQ communities, the absence of a comprehensive, standardized training curriculum on LGBTQ hate crimes and cultural competency, the ineffectiveness of the Critical Incident Team (CIT), and several other issues requiring departmental action. In addition to these, the community coalition identified other outstanding issues not mentioned in the report but central to LGBTQ communitiesʼ relationship ￼￼with MPD and included recommendations for action. These included both elaboration on matters included in the report and issues not addressed such as LGBT intimate-partner violence (IPV), interactions with LGBTQ youth, and interactions with sex workers.
To facilitate the review of the recommended actions put forth last March, we have prepared a list organized by topic and source of recommendation following the structure of the HCATF report and the MPD and community responses. Our assessment reflects information shared with community organizations by MPD. We offer this report card as a way to assess how much progress has been made over the last year, and to invite MPD to respond with updates on its activities to date.
My column this week looks at clashes over gender politics that are testing the civil rights community. Here is an excerpt:
For years, some radical feminists have vociferously opposed transgender people. An example is Janice Raymond, a lesbian ex-nun who wrote in her 1979 book, The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, that trans women, whom she regarded as male predators, were the "avant garde of the patriarchy invading women's spaces." As a liberal feminist and a supporter of trans equality, I very much disagree with Dr. Raymond. Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, explains, "[G]ender identity (the sex of one's brain) drives trans persons to transition, regardless of genital anatomy."
For the LGBT advocates with whom I work in Washington, D.C., that ship has sailed. We do not sit around discussing gender theory. We take it as a given that trans people are citizens entitled to equal protection. We work in coalition to ensure that the "T" is included in legislation, data gathering, and public services (and D.C. is among the top states in the Human Rights Campaign's State Equality Index). Science is on our side: the American Psychiatric Association declassified transgender identity as a disorder in 2012, as it did homosexuality in 1973.
For some, this is not enough. There is a movement to "no-platform" trans-excluding radical feminists (TERFs), that is to bar them from campuses and deny them a platform for their views. This is part of a broader and distinctly illiberal trend whereby universities are seen not as centers for the robust exchange of ideas, but as frightening places full of triggers and micro aggressions....
Russell Brand knocks the media for its exploitation and disrespect regarding Bruce Jenner's gender identity transition.
Yes, the Golden Globes were on TV last night. Above is the opening by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their targets included George Clooney (who was there) and Bill Cosby (who was not). Below, Transparent wins for best TV series - comedy or musical. Actor Jeffrey Tambor also won for his role, and dedicated his performance and award to the transgender community.
The Blade reports:
More than 300 people marched through downtown Washington on Saturday to honor a transgender Ohio teenager who committed suicide late last month. American University student Jes Grobman; Rev. Wendy Moen of First Trinity Lutheran Church and Lourdes Ashley Hunter, co-founder of the Trans Women of Color Collective, are among those who spoke on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square during a pre-march rally. They proceeded to march to the Justice Department where they read a list of demands that include a federal ban on so-called conversion therapy to minors.
Acorn's voice has certainly not been stilled. The outpouring of protest across the country since her death is a welcome sign of the strengthening transgender rights movement. We have a long way to go to gain equality for transgender citizens (and on the ground, not just on paper), and in particular to protect sexual minority youth.
My column looking at the year ahead appears in this week's Blade, revised a bit. Here's an excerpt:
2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.
None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.
Curb the language cops. We will win the marriage fight even if some use the misleading phrase "gay marriage." If people who are not belligerent use the wrong pronouns or otherwise display their ignorance, be like my amazingly patient transgender friends and politely clue them in. Creating change requires the politics of addition; we must always seek new ways to connect with people.
On Saturday, January 10 at 2 pm, a rally and march will be held in D.C. for Ohio transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, who was recently driven to her death by intolerance and abuse. The rally will be held at Mt. Vernon Square/Washington DC Convention Center. The organizers write:
"My Death Needs To Mean Something"
Join us January 10th as we gather in honor of Leelah's wishes to stand up for the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people everywhere.
This event will consist of a few speakers followed by a march.
For more information on the circumstances surrounding the death of Leelah Alcorn, as well as to read her final message, please see the following (warning: suicide and transphobia trigger warnings apply): http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/12/transgender-teen-struck-and-killed-on-ohio-interstate-in-apparent-suicide/
If you or someone you know is transgender or gender non-conforming and feeling suicidal, please know that there is a suicide hotline dedicated to transgender people that you can call: http://www.translifeline.org/
My look at the year ahead in LGBT activism is now up at Bay Windows. Here's an excerpt:
From a liberal perspective, 2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.
None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.
#LeelahAlcorn's parents threw her in front of that truck. They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 31, 2014
He doesn't mean that literally, of course. But their treatment of their transgender daughter was tantamount to throwing her in front of that tractor trailer. A child is not a parent's property, to be sculpted or abused at the parent's whim. We are talking about a human being with a mind and spirit and life and talents and dreams of her own. We have to protect our youth better than that.
Jo Barrow and Tom Namako at BuzzFeed report on this sad story that reminds us how much support our youth need. Below, the Trevor Project's Lifeline.
You are not alone. If you need help, please call our 24/7 Lifeline to speak with a trained counselor: 866-488-7386.— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) December 30, 2014
My New Year's resolution is to figure out if gender non-binary is really the new imperative for 2015, or if @DavidMarinerDC is shitting me.— Richard Rosendall (@RickRosendall) December 31, 2014
Also, whether the new unpronounceable acronym is LGBTQIA. (Queer In Action?) We've been wrangling over what to call ourselves for decades. Aravosis weighs in at AMERICAblogGay.
My year-in-review is now up at the Washington Blade. Here is an excerpt:
Military and international. The transition to openly gay military service has gone so smoothly it has generated little news. The fight to end discrimination against transgender service members continues; two dozen have been discharged in the past two years. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit by Sexual Minorities Uganda against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity can proceed. In diplomatic news, Ted Osius III joined a growing list of openly gay envoys when he was sworn in as ambassador to Vietnam.
Health. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led 80 senators and House members in urging an end to the lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with men, calling for science to replace stereotypes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for wider use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, despite strong opposition by Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. There have been no new HIV infections among more than 500 Kaiser Permanente customers using PrEP. New York and the District of Columbia adopted rules forbidding health insurers from denying medically necessary treatment to transgender people. D.C. joined California and New Jersey in passing legislation banning "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors.
Media. Schadenfreude was rampant after Sean Eldridge failed in his bid to buy a congressional seat and husband Chris Hughes provoked a mass walkout at The New Republic by sacking top editors. Hughes was faulted for wrecking a century-old magazine in his effort to create a "vertically integrated digital media company," that is, a word salad. Former TNR writer Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast dubbed them "America's worst gay power couple," but their youthful hubris and confusion of wealth for wisdom transcend sexual orientation.
Bilerico reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the category of sex-based discrimination. This is a big step forward.
A memorial service for former Mayor Marion Barry was held on Saturday at the D.C. Convention Center, in which he was eulogized by a long list of public officials, entrepreneurs, and community activists. Loose Lips reports.
I was interviewed by Martin Austermuhle for a piece that aired on WAMU radio on Friday. Our friend Andy Bowen, who is now executive director of Garden State Equality, wrote a lovely remembrance of Barry for DCist on Thursday.
Regarding the bitterness that some in our community feel over Barry's 2009 vote against marriage equality: One thing people might keep in mind is that while Marion is gone, all of his friends and supporters aren't. Burning bridges by indulging a bitter comment accomplishes nothing. Plus, I hate being a sore winner. We won marriage equality strongly and overwhelmingly, and we did it with a broad-based coalition and with smart and respectful messaging. I confronted Marion in 2009 over his participation in an anti-gay rally at Freedom Plaza as he was leaving that rally, and I challenged him on his vote against marriage equality; but I did it in a civil manner. As a result, I had five more years of a cordial relationship with him, while he continued serving as one of 13 DC Council members. Being nasty would not have helped our cause. Marion was always nice to me, and it cost me nothing to reciprocate. Did I appreciate it when he told me he didn't know any gay couples in Ward 8? Of course not. I was truly baffled by his saying that to me (in the hallway outside the Council Chambers), because there were no reporters or news cameras near us for him to play to. But if I cut off everyone I know who said baffling or obnoxious things, well, I'd have a much lonelier life. Marion was not perfect, but he was a longtime ally (including supporting our successful effort in 1979 to prohibit ballot measures that infringed on rights protected by the DC Human Rights Act). So I gave him credit as well as criticism, and did not break off a productive relationship. May he rest in peace.
In honor of Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, our friends at GLAAD have released this video.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is being observed today around the world, as we can see in the photo above tweeted by Pepe Julian Onziema in Uganda. The observance in Washington, D.C. is at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St NW. Here's the description from the Facebook event page:
Doors Open at 6:00 PM - Program will start closer to 7:00 PM
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
According to The Transgender Day of Remembrance Website:
"The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn't perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who've died by anti-transgender violence."
The loss of extraordinary transgender health activist Andrew Cray last week at age 28 has been hard for a lot of us to get our minds around. The August 30 memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Dupont Circle helped, as gatherings of love and respect do. Working through his illness, Andrew played a crucial role in getting the details right for Mayor Gray's historic executive action earlier this year to guarantee transgender people non-discriminatory access to health care. The service was led beautifully by Bishop Gene Robinson, who had worked with Andrew at the Center for American Progress and had officiated at Andrew's wedding to Sarah McBride six days before. The mutual grieving and celebration of Andrew among the CAP staff and local and national LGBT activists at the service was especially poignant in that he had helped so many people in such a short life.
Here is the eulogy given by Sterling Washington, Director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs:
Before Amy reads the condolence letter from Mayor Gray, I wanted to say a few words about Andrew Cray. I admit to struggling with what those words would be, which is a bit unusual for me. This all seemed to happen so fast and I haven't had time to wrap my head around it. And I know that if it is difficult for me, it is unbearably arduous for his family. After all, it was just six days ago that Andy and Sarah were married and now we are eulogizing him.
To say he was an indefatigable activist is an understatement. Andrew Cray did more in his 28 years than so many accomplish in a lifetime. And he did so in service to others. For example, he worked closely with the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs last September to educate the LGBT community about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the local DC Health Benefits Exchange. But, Andrew's most enduring work with the Office involved his legal research and advice when the District moved to bar discrimination against the transgender community in health insurance. This was no easy task and was a year in the making. As we approached the end of the process, there were several surreptitious calls late at night between my Office and a handful of advocates – Andy Bowen, Kellan Baker, and Andrew. Sometimes, it involved Kellan carrying messages to Andrew, whose health had really begun to deteriorate by that point. You see, Andrew was among a handful of legal experts in the country who understood the verbiage needed to ensure our policy was as inclusive as it could be. To be clear, many activists had begun laying the groundwork for this years ago; however, when it came to shaping and actually writing the policy clarification, Andrew was invaluable. Because of his work and that of a handful of advocates, the District has the most comprehensive policy barring discrimination in health insurance (including Medicaid) on the basis of gender identity of any jurisdiction in the country. We are mourning Andrew today, but the fruits of his labor will live on and help so many get the life-saving procedures they so desperately need. And not just here in DC. On Thursday – the day that Andrew died – the city of Cincinnati decided that it would cover gender reassignment surgeries.
Aside from his work, Andrew's passing leaves a hole in the heart of so many of us here. And that is harder to speak to. His love, energy, and friendship still endures albeit in a different state now. And we will carry with us every day the memory of those and we are indeed changed – in a positive way - because our lives were touched by his.
Mayor Gray's condolence letter was read by GLBT Affairs Deputy Director Amy Loudermilk.News reports at the Blade and Think Progress. Cray wrote an op-ed at Advocate.com in March of this year. May this beautiful young man rest in peace. He has certainly left the world better than he found it.
Justin Snow reports at Metro Weekly:
More than three months after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the White House voiced support for a review of the military’s ban on transgender service, a new report finds the Pentagon could immediately open the armed services to transgender Americans in a way that is consistent with military readiness and core values.
Save the Date: Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014 takes place Thursday, November 20th.
(Hat tip: David Mariner)
A transgender girl was stabbed on a Metro train in Fort Totten yesterday in an apparent hate crime. The suspect has been arrested. WTOP report here.
WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has been approved to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy while serving her 35-year prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Associated Press reports.
This is the right decision. Denial of healthcare is not an appropriate form of punishment. All prisoners are entitled to proper healthcare, and transgender prisoners are no exception.
HuffPost reports on the murder of trans woman Mia Henderson in Baltimore early Wednesday morning.
The violence keeps happening. Condolences to Mia and her family, and may those responsible be found and brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Transgender Lobby Day was held on Capitol Hill Tuesday by the National Center for Transgender Equality and five other groups. The need for both cultural and political work on behalf of trans equality is all too apparent.
Sierra Mannie is a senior at the University of Mississippi, in whose student newspaper she wrote a strong article that has been picked up by Time. It is titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture," and here's how it opens:
I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.
She then explains. She makes legitimate points. But then I read a response on Tumblr by my friend David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. Here are a few excerpts from his thoughtful and eloquent piece:
The second thing I need you to know is that I can’t change who I am. I know you may suggest, as you did in your article, that gay men can simply ‘hide’ who they are. Perhaps I should lower the pitch of my voice artificially? Butch it up? Let me assure you, I tried that for the first twenty years of my life, and it came very close to killing me. I can’t hide who I am, nor should I....
Fourth up, and I really need you to hear this one, many of the expressions, sayings, mannerisms, and culture that you claim white men have appropriated from black women.... well a lot of it never really belonged to to straight women to begin with. It originated from LGBT culture, and predominately the Black and Latino Gay scene. Do a little research and look into Ball Culture. Watch Paris is Burning or Tongues Untied. Learn where all those expressions come from.
I encourage you to read both pieces. In a diverse society, respect and understanding must be reciprocal.
.@GLAADC: "We must b clear: we will NOT tolerate redlining of justice in our city! This is intolerable 4 anyone who loves our city" Cosigned— WashLaw4CR (@WashLaw4CR) July 9, 2014
Our friends at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs tweeted today during the Judiciary Committee hearing on three bills. I testified for GLAA on two of them, including the bill to repeal Prostitution Free Zones. @WashLaw4CR liked what I had to say, including my statement about redlining during questioning.