AMERICAblog Newstransgender – AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Fri, 22 Jun 2018 18:31:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Tell Starbucks that homophobia, transphobia and anti-Semitism are bad business http://americablog.com/2018/05/tell-starbucks-that-homophobia-transphobia-and-anti-semitism-are-bad-business.html http://americablog.com/2018/05/tell-starbucks-that-homophobia-transphobia-and-anti-semitism-are-bad-business.html#respond Tue, 01 May 2018 18:55:03 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=144348 Starbucks just did it again. On the heels of the coffee chain’s racist treatment of two African-American customers, Starbucks is now embracing homophobia, transphobia and anti-Semitism. Please sign the petition at the bottom of this page (or here) and demand that Starbucks stop coddling homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic bigots. As you know, in response to […]

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Starbucks just did it again.

On the heels of the coffee chain’s racist treatment of two African-American customers, Starbucks is now embracing homophobia, transphobia and anti-Semitism.

Please sign the petition at the bottom of this page (or here) and demand that Starbucks stop coddling homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic bigots.

As you know, in response to a racist incident in one of its stores, Starbucks plans to shut down its stores on May 29th for mandatory anti-bias training. One of the groups assisting with that training was the lead civil rights group, ADL, which focusing on anti-Semitism, but has also been a longtime leader, going back decades, in the battle for LGBT rights, among others. The ADL, and America’s Jewish community, were speaking out on behalf of LGBT rights back when a lot of progressive allies were still squeamish.

Starbucks has now kicked the ADL out of the anti-bias training, in response to complaints from acolytes of transphobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic bigot Louis Farrakhan. Yes, to prove that it isn’t a bigoted company, Starbucks just took a swipe at gays, transgender people, and Jews.

Starbucks took the move in response to a demand from Farrakhan allies, and controversial Women’s March leaders, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour. Both women demanded that Starbucks drop the ADL. Why? Because the ADL took a stand against Farrakhan’s homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic bigotry. And that was a step too far for Mallory and Sarsour.

Specifically, the ADL recently criticized Mallory’s attendance at a Farrakhan speech where he praised her by name, and then went on to launch a vile attack on gays, trans people and Jews. Afterwards, Mallory refused to condemn Farrakhan’s homophobic and anti-Semitic bigotry, and the ADL rightfully took her on.

Mallory and Sarsour have now gotten their revenge, by convincing Starbucks to embrace their homophobia, transphobia, and anti-Semitism by dropping the ADL from the training, and sending a message to other corporate leaders that anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-Semitic bigotry are acceptable.

Yeah, they’re really not.

To fully appreciate just how badly Starbucks stumbled, here are the recent Farrakhan comments that Mallory & Sarsour (and now Starbucks) are embracing:

Farrakhan attacks Jews, gays and trans people in one fell swoop:

The Jews, he proclaimed, are “responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”

On “white folks” and the “Satanic Jew”:

“White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

Evil Jews control the world

“After insisting that he’s not an anti-Semite but a ‘truth teller,’ Farrakhan suggested, among other things, that Jews are part of ‘the Synagogue of Satan;’ that the white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews; that Jews control various countries including Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany where they take advantage of the money, the culture and the business; that Jesus called Jews ‘the children of the devil’; and ‘when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.'”

Of course, Farrakhan’s history of spouting bigotry and idiocy isn’t new. Here are a few more of his other “best hits” of years recent years:

Farrakhan on President Obama embracing marriage equality (zoom ahead to 2 minutes):

And here’s Farrakhan bashing gays and advocating for sodomy laws:

Farrakhan on Hitler, the “great man”:

“The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man.”

On AIDS being used as a weapon against black people:

“Another method (of depopulation) is disease infection through bio-weapons such as Ebola and AIDS, which are race targeting weapons. There is a weapon that can be put in a room where there are Black and White people, and it will kill only the Black and spare the White, because it is a genotype weapon that is designed for your genes, for your race, for your kind.”

And for added measure, Farrakhan thinks 9/11 was a “false flag” operation:

“Osama Bin Laden didn’t destroy the Twin Towers. that was a false flag operation to take the world’s attention away from the great disunity in America after George W. Bush stole the election.”

Who does Farrakhan really think was behind 9/11? Take a guess:

“It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks.  Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks…  We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11.”

You can read more about the Women’s March’s embrace of Farrakhan’s bigotry in this Advocate op ed.

Louis Farrakhan is a virulent bigot. And Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour are bigots for not only supporting Louis Farrakhan and refusing to repudiate his incessant attacks on gays, trans people and Jews; but for using their status in the Women’s March to attack a longtime and legitimate civil rights movement like the ADL.

As for Starbucks, shame on you for pandering to homophobia, transphobia and anti-Semitism. You clearly haven’t learned your lesson that bigotry is bad business.

Please sign the petition on this page, and make sure Starbucks learns a lesson about bigotry that it will never forget.

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Trump bans transgender troops to divert attention from growing Sessions scandal http://americablog.com/2017/07/trump-bans-transgender-troops-divert-attention-growing-sessions-scandal.html http://americablog.com/2017/07/trump-bans-transgender-troops-divert-attention-growing-sessions-scandal.html#comments Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:29:30 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=143477 Donald Trump today announced a ban on transgender American serving in the US military. Trump not only reversed President Obama’s earlier decision permitting trans troops to serve, Trump even surprised his own military leaders who were not involved in the decision, and who had previously signed off on letting trans people serve. Why did Trump […]

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Donald Trump today announced a ban on transgender American serving in the US military.

Trump not only reversed President Obama’s earlier decision permitting trans troops to serve, Trump even surprised his own military leaders who were not involved in the decision, and who had previously signed off on letting trans people serve.

Why did Trump do this? To divert conservative attention from his growing war with Attorney General Jeff Sessions — conservatives love Sessions, and are increasingly angry at Trump for trying to force Sessions to resign — and to help Republicans at the ballot box in 2018. Donald Trump is now using the American Armed Forces for politics.

Here is my report:

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NBA moves All-Star Game from Charlotte NC due to anti-LGBT law http://americablog.com/2016/07/nba-moves-star-game-charlotte-nc-due-anti-lgbt-law.html http://americablog.com/2016/07/nba-moves-star-game-charlotte-nc-due-anti-lgbt-law.html#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 20:44:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138600 The NBA's decision could cost North Carolina $100 million.

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Big news in sports and civil rights. The US’ National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided to move next year’s All-Star basketball game from the city of Charlotte, North Carolina because of a draconian anti-LGBT law recently passed in that state.

The impact of the NBA’s decision cannot be overstated. This could cost Charlotte $100 million in revenue from the game, and it will likely fuel other events to now pull out of the state, as the boycott had already been gaining ground even before this news.

The law at the heart of the controversy, HB2, does a number of distasteful things:

  1. It repeals city ordinances protecting the civil rights of LGBT North Carolinians;
  2. It forbids North Carolina cities from passing future LGBT rights protections; and
  3. It requires that people who are transgender to only use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity (more on that below).

The transgender provision is especially silly, and offensive.

It’s a bit complicated, but in a nutshell, your “gender identity” is how you self-identify your gender. Do you see yourself as male or female? Your gender identity is not based on what gender you look like, male or female, or what sex organs you may or may not possess. It is based on who you know, in your hearts of hearts, that you are.

Thus, the new law is going to require that trans women, who have not had sexual reassignment surgery, use men’s bathrooms. And vice-versa for trans men. And that gets particularly problematic in the case of, say, a trans man who has not had sexual reassignment surgery — so his birth certificate says “female” —  but who is undergoing hormone replacement therapy (aka receiving testosterone). That trans man is going to look like every other man. And when he enters a woman’s bathroom in accordance with North Carolina law, all bearded and hair-chested, women are going to freak out. (Though it does offer some delicious opportunities for civil disobedience, or rather, civil obedience.)

It’s really amazing the extent to which this move has backfired on North Carolina. It was only a few month’s ago that the LGBT rights movement was scratching its collective head trying to figure out how to effectively respond to the new law. Now, it’s clear that the law is toxic, and corporate America, and others, are on our side.

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GOP adds anti-trans bathroom language to platform http://americablog.com/2016/07/gop-adds-anti-trans-bathroom-language-platform.html http://americablog.com/2016/07/gop-adds-anti-trans-bathroom-language-platform.html#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:22:50 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138387 The Republican party has decided to use its party's platform to weigh in on the transgender bathroom issue.

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In a stunningly tone-deaf development, the Republican party has decided to use its party’s platform to weigh in on the transgender bathroom issue.

Or as someone on Twitter put it, the GOP is now in favor of universal bathroom checks.

The draft platform now includes language language “supporting and encouraging” use of bathrooms based on your gender at birth. NBC reports that the language is in the committee-draft — the platform has not been finished, so it’s still possible the Republicans could remove the language, but would they?

You may recall that this issue became hot this year when North Carolina passed legislation requiring people in state facilities to only use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. The intent, and effect, is to ban transgender people from using the correct bathroom.

The North Carolina legislation, called HB2, also repeals all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) civil rights legislation in the state, and bans municipalities from passing any such legislation in the future.

HB2 transgender bathroom backlash

The backlash against HB2 has been massive and unprecedented, especially from corporate America. The law has already cost the city of Charlotte $80 million in lost business, and the state has lost a large number of conferences, conventions and concerts. Among the companies that have spoken out against the law: American Airlines, Apple, Cisco, eBay, General Electric, IBM, Intel, LinkedIn, Microsoft, NIKE and Salesforce. More from the Independent:

High-profile music acts – Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen – have cancelled concerts in North Carolina. Cirque du Soleil also pulled an appearance in the state. Corporations such as Deutsche Bank and PayPal have put expansion plans on hold.

North Carolina is particularly worried about a threat from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is threatening to pull tournament games from North Caroline in 2017 and 2018,

trans bathroom

Transgender-friendly bathroom via Shutterstock.

So with all of that, what could possibly inspire Republicans to put the trans bathroom ban in their party’s platform? The GOP is enough trouble already with the nomination of Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Now they’re wading into gay-bashing and trans-bashing?

Several companies had already pulled their support for the GOP convention out of concern of being associated with Trump’s extremism, so the convention overlords decided to become even more extreme? Even Donald Trump, as wacky has he is, refused to fully endorse the trans bathroom ban — though after initially opposing it, Trump then reversed himself and said the matter should be up to individual states.

Trans bathroom language undercuts Trump’s claim to be pro-LGBT

Interestingly, Trump has been running as a pro-LGBT candidate, and has repeatedly claimed that he’s more pro-LGBT than even Hillary Clinton. He’s not — in addition to his wishy-washiness on trans bathroom bans, Trump doesn’t support marriage equality. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that while Trump is trying to woo the gays, the party faithful are bashing them at the same time.

Donald Trump and his small hand, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump and his small hand, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

And the Republicans have another problem now — now that the platform contains language bashing transgender people, removing that language would make a statement, a pro-trans statement. So the Republicans are now damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

The irony of all of this is that party platforms generally serve one purpose: To embarrass the party when the platform becomes too extreme. Other than that, the platforms tend to have little impact on enacting actual legislation and policy. And true to form, the Republicans have used the platform to embarrass themselves yet again.

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Black Lives Matter shuts down Toronto LGBT Pride: Demands cops be kicked out of parade, wins http://americablog.com/2016/07/black-lives-matter-shuts-toronto-lgbt-pride-demands-cops-kicked-parade-wins.html http://americablog.com/2016/07/black-lives-matter-shuts-toronto-lgbt-pride-demands-cops-kicked-parade-wins.html#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 17:39:31 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138242 Black Lives Matter protesters brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "Surrender Dorothy."

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Black Lives Matter protesters brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “Surrender Dorothy” this weekend when they shut down the Toronto LGBT Pride parade with smoke flares and a sit-in.

BLM held Toronto Pride hostage, unless their demands, which included excluding police from the parade, were immediately met.

Toronto Pride ultimately relented — agreeing to, among other things, increased minority representation in Pride and kicking the cops out of future parades and festivals. (Pride parades typically have contingents of LGBT cops and firefighters, and booths set up by the local LGBT officers’ group at the accompanying street festival.) Though today we’re hearing that Pride Toronto may now be backing off its shotgun-promise to bar the police from future Pride events.

Judging by their success in forcing Toronto Pride to capitulate, I suspect we’ll see Black Lives Matter groups protesting more Pride parades in the future. And as a longtime national and international LGBT rights activist, I have a problem with that.

In a nutshell: Fred Phelps protests Pride parades. Our friends don’t.

Civil rights allies don’t target each other

Civil rights allies don’t shut each other down on their most important day of the year. And civil rights allies don’t hold each other hostage, treating each other like the enemy. In fact, Black Lives Matter — which is not an LGBT group — was previously invited to help lead the Toronto Pride Parade, and even had an honorary contingent in the parade, which BLM then used to shut down the entire event.

As President Obama noted a month or so ago, it’s one thing to be angry, it’s another to channel your anger effectively. Occupy Wall Street, for example, had been quite good at anger. They were less good at channeling that anger into positive change.

Dogging progressive allies is a waste of resources, and counterproductive. It gets you less bang for the buck than targeting actual racists, and it also ticks allies off, which does nothing to advance your cause. For example, Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination. So BLM targets Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. And the Republicans are two weeks away from a convention where they will nominate a racist xenophobe. So BLM targets the gays. Priorities, people, priorities.

Demanding a cut back on cops following Orlando is supremely bad timing

And let’s say a word about BLM’s supremely poor timing.

Three weeks after the horrific terrorist attack in Orlando, when on that same day a well-armed man was arrested on his way to LGBT Pride in West Hollywood, the LGBT movement is on pins and needles over concerns about another possible attack. We’re getting frisk-searched upon entering Pride parties (as I was upon entering the Buzzfeed party in NYC), and the police are forced to station counterterrorism units to defend our bars (as they did at the Stonewall Inn the week after Orlando) and our meeting places (I also ran in the counterterrorism police outside New York’s LGBT community center).

With all of that, Black Lives Matter thought it would be a good idea to sow chaos by throwing pyrotechnics in the middle of the most important LGBT event of the year. It’s not only the worst time to be demanding fewer cops, it’s also the worst way — by in essence simulating an explosion. Talk about your trigger warnings.

BLM also pulled out of San Francisco Pride last week as a protest against increased security following Orlando. BLM wanted less security in the wake of Orlando, for the same “comfort” reason as above.

You’ll note that, other than the ban on cops, the rest of BLM’s Toronto demands appear relatively reasonable. So why the need to hold Pride hostage?

The list of demands from the Black Lives Matter activists who shut down Toronto's Pride parade.

The list of demands from the Black Lives Matter activists who shut down Toronto’s Pride parade.

Taking cops out of the parade does nothing to make attendees feel more “comfortable”

One of the reasons Black Lives Matters forced Toronto Pride to no longer permit police floats, contingents, or booths at future Pride events, is because BLM claims the police presence makes some people of color “uncomfortable.” Perhaps, but the lack of a police presence, post-Orlando, makes a lot of other people uncomfortable. Not to mention, how is removing a few floats and booths going to make things more “comfortable” for people of color, when the entire Parade is now defended like the White House? The cops are still there, just less flamboyant than they’d be in a float contingent or a festival booth. So how does this help anyone feel more comfortable? It doesn’t.

NYPD counterterrorism police stand guard outside the Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood, the day after the Orlando attack.

NYPD counterterrorism police stand guard outside the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, the day after the Orlando attack.

I led a rather high-profile, and effective, campaign against malfeasance in the DC police department back in 2002 or so. I am hardly “soft on cops.” But I still recognize the important and dangerous work the police do. I appreciate them showing up, in force, at our bars and our protests and our Pride events to help ensure that another lunatic doesn’t pump several hundreds rounds into me and my best friends. I also appreciate cops participating in our parades and at our festivals. It sends a great message to LGBT kids, and adults to boot, that even the police think we’re okay. Let’s face it, the homophobes would like nothing better than to have the cops pull their visible support of Pride.

Cops are LGBT too

There’s another thing the BLM protesters are forgetting: Cops are LGBT too. Are LGBT police officers, and LGBT police organizations, also not permitted to march in Pride parades and have booths at Pride events? For example, what of the NYPD’S LGBT group, the “Gay Officers Action League.” GOAL had to sue the NYPD, all the way back in 1996 (before it was cool), in order to get be officially recognized and treated like every other police group. Is GOAL now a bad guy too? And beyond GOAL, the NYPD is itself now doing LGBT sensitivity trainings for other police forces, has trans-friendly bathrooms, and has openly-transgender cops who have transitioned on the job. Should none of that be recognized and lauded?

How exactly do we decide who’s a good gay cop and a bad gay cop?

I fear that what BLM is doing is indicative of a larger problem on the left of late. Progressives are increasingly suspicious of each other; and every lefty sees every other lefty as the enemy, when in the past we used to target, you know, real enemies. Thus, rather than targeting the Republicans, BLM targets Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the entire LGBT community.

In the past, the LGBT movement has also targeted Democratic allies. But we did it for strategic reasons, when those Democrats stopped allying themselves with us. We heckled President Obama and chained ourselves to the White House fence because we felt the President was going soft on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and we wanted to make inaction too costly. Our protests worked. We got the President’s attention, and in the end, he became the fierce advocate he’d promised us all along.

But what is BLM actually accomplishing by getting the police thrown out of Pride parades. And just as importantly, what do they gain by shutting down a sister civil rights movement? We never once shut down a fellow civil rights movement. I can only imagine how “uncomfortable” BLM supporters would be if LGBT activists appropriated their biggest day of the year (MLK’s birthday?) to focus attention on, say, homophobia in the black community.

I’ll close with an extended comment left on the Huffington Post story about Toronto:

Yes, let’s exclude police floats so LGBTQ officers and LGBTQ POC officers and POC officers who are allies can feel excluded and shamed for their choice of profession and their sexuality/skin color all at once.

Those people exist too, you know. And they were there, and many were affected by the choice of these so-called activists.

The bulk of their demands are fair and should have been in discussion long before the parade even started or before they agreed to be the honored guests. Given part of the reason of Pride is INCLUSIVITY, not EXCLUSION, many of their demands likely could’ve been met with organizers prior to Pride, even months before, where the result of their demands could have been put in place for this Pride.

But instead it’s better to be a news headline and to continue the act of excluding people rather than working to find middle ground amongst differences. The police are an integral part of the parade, moreso than the donors who pay for floats to simultaneously pedal their product or company while touting how into equality they are. The police are the ones who try to make the event as safe as possible, set up the barricades for the marches and parade, close streets and implement safety plans for the public in the event of an emergency. In the wake of Orlando, their presence is important. I was at Toronto Pride and spoke with many officers who were not only helpful in giving directions and assisting citizens but also who were there to jointly celebrate as officers and as part of the LGBTQ community.

Instead of excluding their float, we should be encouraging more conversation between parties to find unity and progress. Progress will never come to fruition with acts of exclusivity. We must recognize the past and the acts of those who have harmed all minorities while recognizing the progress that we have made and the progress that we can continue to make through positive activism. Please stop supporting the alienation of allies and minorities who overlap into those groups that many so-called “activists” try to exclude.

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BREAKING: Pentagon drops ban on transgender troops http://americablog.com/2016/06/breaking-pentagon-drops-ban-transgender-troops.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/breaking-pentagon-drops-ban-transgender-troops.html#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:56:30 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138213 "I am announcing today that we are ending the ban on trangender-Americans in the United States military,"

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter just went on TV to announce that the Pentagon is lifting its ban on transgender troops.

“I am announcing today that we are ending the ban on trangender-Americans in the United States military,” Carter said today at a press conference at the Pentagon. “Effective immediately, transgender-Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”

You’ll recall that it was only a few years ago that the Pentagon also dropped its ban on gay troops, when Congress repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Carter said that approximately 4,000 to 11,000 troops, including reserves, are transgender.

Lifting the gay ban was big news, and the Republicans did all they could to block it. It remains to be seen if the Republicans in Congress do the same with lifting the trans ban.

The LGBT community has made remarkable advances during the Obama administration, with help from Secretary Clinton. And the fight for trans civil rights in particular have now accelerated at an astounding pace. In addition to lifting the military’s trans ban, we also saw the overwhelmingly negative response from the business community to North Carolina’s recent effort to ban trans people from public bathrooms.

The North Carolina GOP is now frantically trying to amend the legislation in an effort to stave off the NBA pulling next year’s all-star game from the state. So far, the GOP proposals have fallen woefully short.

It’s a new day for trans rights in America.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis — Win a pony! (not really)

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NC GOP to trans: Get a sex change, then you can pee http://americablog.com/2016/06/north-carolina-trans-bathroom-law-fix.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/north-carolina-trans-bathroom-law-fix.html#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 21:06:35 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138172 Under the compromise, you can only pee if you get a sex change.

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As part of its quest to take the Republican party back to the Middle Ages, North Carolina Republicans have offered a “fix” for their anti-transgender bathroom law. And sadly, it’s just as bad as the problem it’s trying to solve.

You’ll recall that HB2, the offending law, requires people in North Carolina to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

In response to this absurd requirement to, in essence, police the papers of everyone entering public bathrooms in North Carolina, all hell broke loose. The NBA threatened to move next year’s all-star game should the discrimination continue. And a large number of companies and celebrities have announced that they’re boycotting the state, including: Ringo Starr, Deutsche Bank, Bruce Springsteen, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pepsi, Hyatt, HP, Whole Foods, Levi Strauss, Lions Gate, and more.

Asheville, North Carolina, USA - April 2, 2016: Sign about HB2 calling it legislation made in fear and hate at a rally protesting the new NC law that denies rights to those who are gay or transgender. J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Asheville, North Carolina, USA – April 2, 2016: Sign about HB2 calling it legislation made in fear and hate at a rally protesting the new NC law that denies rights to those who are gay or transgender. J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Then a funny thing happened. North Carolina Republicans, realizing that they’ve committed the greatest self-immolation since the Brexit (does that make this the Trans-it?), decided to amend the law to make it more trans-friendly.

Yeah, not so much.

The current version of the law says that if you’re trans, you go to the bathroom of your birth certificate, period. The new version says if you’re trans, and you’ve had a sex change, you can go to the state and get a certificate of sex reassignment that you can then, presumably, flash to the nanny state as you enter the bathroom.

So, in essence, North Carolina Republicans want trans people to register with the state, like animals.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that this solves nothing — people are still going to get carded every time they try to pee in North Carolina — the “fix” also does nothing for those transgender people who haven’t had a sex reassignment, which is the overwhelming majority. They would still be covered by the new law stating that they can only enter the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate.

The “compromise” was immediately shot down by Equality North Carolina and the Human Rights Campaign, as it should be. As Equality North Carolina notes in the press release on the latest “fix”:

Only 33 percent of transgender people actually have gender reassignment surgery. This is due to a variety of factors – including but not limited to cost, age, health and medical needs, and access to skilled providers.

The North Carolina legislature is trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic; or to use the local vernacular, put lipstick on a pig. And if I may mix my metaphors, that pig won’t fly.

If North Carolina doesn’t want to lose the all-star game, and a ton more business, they need to outright repeal HB2. Anything less, and the boycott continues.

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Who was at the Stonewall riots in 1969? http://americablog.com/2016/06/stonewall-riots-1969.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/stonewall-riots-1969.html#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 16:34:39 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138153 Have "white gay men" stolen the history of Stonewall from trans people and people of color? In short, no.

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Who was at the Stonewall riots in 1969? And have “white gay men” stolen the history of Stonewall from trans people and people of color?

For those unaware of what Stonewall is, here is Wikipedia’s succinct description:

“The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. [The police routinely raided gay bars at the time.] They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.”

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

President Obama just this week designated the Stonewall Inn a “national monument.” It’s the first national monument devoted to LGBT history.

I was at a Pride event last year here in NYC, and a few people were angrily demanding that the history of Stonewall be “taken back” from “gay white men” who “stole” it from trans people and people of color. It’s a claim that’s been made before.

Fast forward to today.

Two longtime LGBT leaders/activists, who were at the Stonewall uprisings, one transgender and one lesbian, have just weighed in publicly. Here’s what they witnessed that night.

Trans leader Dana Beyer writes:

“I was there [at the Stonewall Uprising] the second night, too, and the streets were overwhelmingly filled with white men (which included the way I was perceived back then, too).”

Lesbian activist Robin Tyler:

“I was there [at the Stonewall Uprising] the second night. The majority of protesters were white gay men. And a lot of people were very upset about the death of Judy Garland and their grief turned into anger. We talked about it.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that trans people and people of color (or women for that matter) weren’t there too, fighting for all of our rights. As Dana notes, they were — including trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. But it does mean that gay white men didn’t steal, or “whitewash,” the history of Stonewall from anyone. Gay white men were there in overwhelming numbers.

We don’t need to rewrite our history in order to honor it. There’s enough suffering for everyone.

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Diagnosed with nonexistence: How bias deprives medicine of integrity http://americablog.com/2016/06/diagnosed-nonexistence-bias-deprives-medicine-integrity.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/diagnosed-nonexistence-bias-deprives-medicine-integrity.html#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:35:04 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138091 What kind of a society is willing to kill its neighbors and loved ones just because they don’t understand?

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A person’s identity is contingent upon a motley of circumstance; the way we perceive each moment in time’s passing accumulates, molding a sense of self so that we can claim a space in the intersection of a tangible and philosophical universe.

Consciously or not, it’s an arduous task that each one of us undertakes in order to make sense of life’s perpetual flow around us.  Sometimes that flow is interrupted by a shortcoming or an insult delivered to us — we question where we stand and who we are, but eventually this dribble returns to its original state – life goes on.

Until it doesn’t.

The most basic sense of self that we have been taught from a young age is gender, something that we are locked into and yield to the authorities of our doctors and parents without question.  These are people who love and support us unconditionally, increasingly often with the condition that we don’t debate this ideal of self-dom.  The immediate instinct to reject someone who doesn’t accept the ordainments of society is a reactionary characteristic, and the insistence of those we should trust, including loved ones and medical professionals that our anguish is imaginative creates a lavishly monochromatic quality of life for too many.

When I was in a treatment facility for anorexia, I became friends with someone for whom I inadvertently became witness to the emotional exploitation of their private adversities.  P was transgender, and from the first day of her admittance to the facility her toils with her identity, and the obstinacy of society to reject it, were thrown in her face.

Ubiquitously, eating disorder facilities require a naked weigh-in and urine sample at the start of each day.  On that first day, I saw P’s morning supplies marked with two names; one I did not recognize and her name in quotes.  I was horrified, and a friend and I irately brought this injustice to the staff so that they might correct it.  They had placed her real name in quotes and insisted upon the validity of her given gender by placing that name before the latter, without the undermining punctuation.

This was the most tangible contention I witnessed P go through, but behind the scenes a war was waging:

If I was to receive any support, I would have to use my voice in a way that ‘earned’ the sympathy that would motivate other staff or peers into speaking on my behalf. Expressing my ‘feelings’ was not enough, I had to be convincing. Anorexia and social anxiety go hand in hand for me, so the very illness that I was in intensive treatment for also prevented me from receiving the same fair treatment enjoyed by the other patients.

P and I revisited the details of this treatment, where the circumstances surrounding aforementioned ‘weigh-ins’ was reiterated:

I was weighed alone, by a woman, after the cisgender patients had all gone. You can probably guess that I would feel excluded by this. The act of it served to reinforce the idea that in my gender I am only an imposter, alone in my ‘belief’ that I am as much a woman as any other. Yet it is not as if the woman who weighed me in meant to say any of these things to me, and in fact I know that these members of the staff were unhappy with having to carry out this process in this way. It is in this way that an institution itself can be transphobic.

The full weight of her experience slapped me in the face; the entire time that she was struggling alongside the rest of us to overcome the deadliest mental illness suffered, her healing process was sabotaged by the inflexibility of the people who were supposed to help her.  Likewise, another close friend revealed to me that she “hasn’t seen a doctor since 2013” out of fear that she will have this painful experience of being called an imposter.  My heart tightened; our loved ones are being denied basic human rights centered around a chronic illiteracy.  But how damaging can the stubbornness and genuine incomprehension truly be?

Suicide attempts among the transgender community is a heartbreaking 41%, pole-vaulting the 4.6% of the general population in the United States.  This jumps to 50% when they reveal to the people they trust that they identify as non-conforming or transgender, and when medical professionals reject their pleas for treatment based upon this alignment it leaps to 60%.  What kind of society is willing to kill its neighbors and loved ones just because they don’t understand?

On my journey towards understanding what my friends endure, I’m grateful to Dr. Paul R. McHugh, an established and highly respected psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital.  His statements on the transgender and anorexic community have created a concise and accessible ‘Cliff Notes’ of illiterate hatred that is truly impressive.  Claiming that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” and that “people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder”, he has pointed to this identification as a “disorder of ‘assumption’”.  He even paralleled it with anorexia, saying “It is a disorder similar to a ‘dangerously thin’ person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are ‘overweight’”.  This suggests that the years of intense treatment and hospitalization; the arduous hours of research and cross-checking; the professional advisement of world-renowned doctors and therapists and the myriad credible papers and studies done on anorexia are invalid.  I was surprised to find that my history of trauma and abuse had nothing to do with my disease, and that anorexia is a two-dimensional vanity, contrary to the staggering amount of aforementioned literature on the subject. Overwhelming evidence directly contending Dr. McHugh’s opinions – oddly demanding themselves as fact – substantiates the connotation that personal belief is actively undermining the integrity of the medical community and literally killing patients in need.  We live in a disturbing reality where established professionals are casting aside the morals Medicine prides itself on to promote an agenda of unwarranted acrimony.

Thanks to professionals like this abusing their resources and standing in the community, the standard of care that transgender individuals receive is inhumane.  Although there are people like my friend P that are able to persevere past this insistence upon repudiation of the most basic of human rights, this incessant insistence upon a reality where loved ones and complete strangers are rallying together to grab you by the shoulders and tell you that you aren’t valid, that you are a poseur, this flow of life begins to ebb; marginalized, you desperately reach for the values most intrinsic to who you are, when suddenly society grabs this out of your hands and rejects you completely.  At the most basic sense of self that contemporary society has advertised, you are told you no longer have a claim; you don’t fit this mold; without this foundation for identity, you no longer exist.

As stated by Trans Lifeline, an organization dedicated to providing a support line to an unjustly tyrannized community:

Even if an individual is stabilized past the period of impulse, the underlying factors of institutional and structural barriers leading to suicidality remain.

Typical mental health resources, including individual providers and clinical settings, are often at a loss to address these underlying factors. This arises both from discrimination against and discomfort with transgender people and issues, and from the structure of typical mental health resources to treat mental health as purely a personal, individual issue.

P’s experience and Dr. McHugh’s statements represent a trenchant account of what is happening on a large scale; a toxic culture of nonacceptance that is pitting friends and family against one another, and eroding a respectable profession into a morally and scientifically devoid debris. When an organization or individual labels themselves as a pro-health foundation but structurally undermines recovery — buttressing the original strife with a vengeance — we have to acknowledge that something is inherently wrong and change our approach to one that replaces opinion with credible knowledge and exchanges judgement for nurturing.  To clear the rubble of ignorance and misinformation, to stop the slaughtering of our loved ones, we can look to Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance; that “Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that.  Don’t give in to hatred, don’t give in to fear, instead live lives of love.  That doesn’t mean love those who love like you, who look like you, or who worship like you.  It just means ‘love’.”

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Uproar after Pakistani hospital lets trans gunshot victim die http://americablog.com/2016/05/pakistani-hospital-lets-trans-gunshot-victim-die-rather-treat.html http://americablog.com/2016/05/pakistani-hospital-lets-trans-gunshot-victim-die-rather-treat.html#comments Mon, 30 May 2016 15:23:22 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137649 Alisha, a trans activist, was reportedly shot 8 times at point-blank range. The hospital staff mocked her.

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A horrific story from Pakistan of a hospital refusing to treat a transgender woman who was the victim of gunshot wounds.

The victim, a Pakistani trans activist named Alisha, had been shot multiple times (the local trans activist group, Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says she was shot eight times at point-blank range). Her friends say the hospital staff at the Peshwar’s Lady Reading Hospital, refused to treat her, and instead mocked her.

The staff reportedly came up with all sorts of reasons not to treat Alisha, including claiming they didn’t know what ward to put her in, the men’s ward or the women’s. The staff also allegedly asked her about her breast and genitals, and whether she was a sex worker.

Alisha subsequently died.

The hospital now claims that the delay was due to complaints from other patients, and that the hospital was busy trying to find Alisha a private room. None of that explains why you wouldn’t immediately treat someone dying of multiple gunshot wounds.

Similar concerns have been voiced in the US about the spate of “religious freedom” bills that Republican lawmakers are pushing around the country. LGBT leaders fear that such legislation will be used by medical providers (doctors, emergency response employees) to deny medical service to gay and trans patients.

Unfortunately, there’s a history of local gang members harassing and attacking trans women in Pakistan. Like a similar problem I’ve reported on in Russia, gangs kidnap trans women, rape them, film the encounter, then try to extort money from them. In Russia, neo-Nazi gangs lure young gay men into alleged dates where they are brutalized and filmed, and money is sometimes extorted.

The local news reports that one suspect has now been arrested in Alisha’s murder.

Alisha’s death has made news around Pakistan, and now internationally. Her friends say that hers was the first public funeral of a transgender person in Pakistan. This appears to be Pakistan’s Matthew Shepard moment for its trans community. Hopefully something good can come of this tragedy.

Here’s coverage in a local language, but you can get the gist of it: Alisha’s death has changed things.

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Trump comes out against NC anti-trans law http://americablog.com/2016/04/trump-comes-nc-anti-trans-law.html http://americablog.com/2016/04/trump-comes-nc-anti-trans-law.html#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 15:42:42 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=136744 Either he didn't know the GOP's position, or NC's law is so bad he felt safe rejecting it.

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North Carolina’s recently-passed law mandating that citizens across the state use bathrooms that correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificate, instead of their gender identity — a clear swipe at transgender people — is apparently too much for even Donald Trump.

Asked about the law on the Today show, Trump said that while the law was very “strong,” North Carolina is “paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems.”

He went on to argue that North Carolina should just “leave it the way it is [was],” since “There have been very few complaints…People go; they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.”

Asked if Caitlyn Jenner, or any of Trump’s trans employees, would be able to use the bathrooms they’d feel most comfortable in in Trump Tower, Trump said yes. It’s worth noting that New York City has a non-discrimination ordinance on the books that requires Trump to let people use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Trump also dismissed the would-be compromise of constructing gender neutral bathrooms everywhere, saying that the cost isn’t justified since, again, there’s no real problem to solve.

Here’s the video of the exchange, via ThinkProgress:

There are a few possibilities here. The first and most simple one is that North Carolina’s law is so blatantly discriminatory that even Republican presidential candidates feel safe opposing it. The second possibility is that Trump doesn’t yet know that opposing trans equality is a core GOP position, and we’re a day or two from seeing a full reversal here.

Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University, screenshot via YouTube

Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University, screenshot via YouTube

Either way, Ted Cruz is not impressed. Cruz defended North Carolina’s law earlier in the week, saying “As the father of daughters, I’m not terribly excited about men being able to go alone into a bathroom with my daughters, and I think that’s a perfectly reasonable determination for the people to make.” He has already gone after Trump over North Carolina’s law on Twitter, and we should expect to see it in attacks ads coming soon to an upcoming primary state near you.

Which means that the Republican primary race heading into the next week of voting could hinge on trans equality. Ten bucks to whoever saw that coming.

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Businesses critical of NC over anti-trans bill still donating to Republican Governors Association http://americablog.com/2016/04/businesses-critical-nc-anti-trans-bill-still-donating-republican-governors-association.html http://americablog.com/2016/04/businesses-critical-nc-anti-trans-bill-still-donating-republican-governors-association.html#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:38:53 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=136618 Performing inclusion and practicing profit.

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Following North Carolina’s passage of HB2, the bill rushed through a special session of the legislature that criminalizes trans people’s use of bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, a large number of businesses condemned the measure. PayPal announced that they were canceling plans to expand in North Carolina. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert. The porn site, xHamster, is blocking IP addresses from the state.

A story that the NBA would be moving next year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte to another city turned out to be fake, but it was widely shared because people have been calling on the league to do exactly that. As the public backlash to HB2 escalated, it seemed plausible that they just might do it.

But as Buzzfeed reported earlier today, a number of the business interests that have publicly expressed disapproval with North Carolina’s new discriminatory law — and with Governor Pat McCrory for signing it — still plan on donating to the Republican Governors Association this year, thereby indirectly aiding in Governor McCrory’s re-election bid:

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, via James Willamor / Flickr

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, via James Willamor / Flickr

Although the group supports Republican governors across the country, RGA will spend a significant amount of its resources in 2016 focusing on the Tar Heel state. McCrory’s re-election battle against Democrat Roy Cooper is expected be one of the closest gubernatorial contests in the country this cycle. Another state where the RGA will spend some resources is Indiana, where some of the same companies criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign a religious freedom law last year.

BuzzFeed News reached out to nearly two dozen companies and trade groups that have given to RGA in the past to become corporate members of the group and have come out against the North Carolina law. None of them said they would be making any changes in their giving over the law.

Most major companies looking to influence policy or maintain their relationship with lawmakers on the state level typically give to both Democratic and Republican gubernatorial groups. Although they didn’t waste any time in criticizing McCrory’s decision, not giving to to the RGA — especially at a time when Republicans control the majority of statehouses and governorships — is a much more difficult decision.

So while companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Citigroup, and Pepsi have all signed onto a letter condemning North Carolina’s Republican governor, all of them will be helping him secure re-election — in what is shaping up to be a close race largely because of HB2’s unpopularity.

Companies have taken an interest in being publicly LGBT-friendly of late, as public sentiment toward inclusion and equality has moved safely into positive territory. However, their less-public actions like political contributions serve as a reminder that they are, first and foremost, self-interested profit machines. Discrimination may be bad business, but so is cutting ties with the party that promises to cut your taxes and get rid of pesky regulations.

So they’re performing inclusion and practicing profit. Which makes sense, I guess, but also adds a dash of salt to their dance.

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Study: In-person conversations can dramatically reduce transphobia (for serious) http://americablog.com/2016/04/study-person-conversations-can-dramatically-reduce-transphobia-serious.html http://americablog.com/2016/04/study-person-conversations-can-dramatically-reduce-transphobia-serious.html#comments Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:29:25 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=136554 The same authors who discredited Michael LaCour's work are out with their own study confirming his conclusions.

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Remember the time last year when the academic journal, Science, retracted a study by UCLA Ph.D. candidate Michael LaCour purporting to show that in-person canvassing could increase support for marriage equality over concerns that the study’s data had likely been faked? As had data in other studies published by the same author?

Well, the authors who originally raised questions about the canvassing study have conducted research of their own (with publicly-available data, this time) and found that LaCour’s study, while discredited, was at least false in the right direction.

Published again in Science, researchers David Broockman and Joshua Kalla found that in-person canvassing was able to dramatically reduce transphobia through conversations that encouraged “actively taking the perspective of others.” Furthermore, the authors found that the attitude change was sticky: When voters were re-contacted three months after they had been canvassed, transphobia remained diminished.

To the extent that the authors’ findings deviated from LaCour’s conclusions, they were even more encouraging. While the discredited study had found that attitude change toward marriage equality was only likely if the canvasser was gay or lesbian, Broockman and Kalla found that both cis and trans canvassers were able to significantly reduce transphobia:

Effects of canvassing on transgender tolerance over time, via Broockman and Kalla (2016) / Science

Effects of canvassing on transgender tolerance over time, via Broockman and Kalla (2016) / Science

The key, the authors found, wasn’t the messenger so much as it was the messenger’s ability to induce “active, effortful processing” among the voters being canvassed. In other words, canvassers were able to reduce transphobia by encouraging voters to articulate the perspective of an out-group for themselves. As the authors explain their methodology:

Working America Field Manager Dave Ninehouser at a Working America member's door. (Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008)

Canvassing (Photo by Molly Theobald for the AFL-CIO)

Canvassers informed voters that they might face a decision about the issue (whether to vote to repeal the law protecting transgender people); canvassers asked voters to explain their views; and canvassers showed a video that presented arguments on both sides. Canvassers also defined the term “transgender” at this point and, if they were transgender themselves, noted this. The canvassers next attempted to encourage “analogic perspectivetaking.” Canvassers first asked each voter to talk about a time when they themselves were judged negatively for being different. The canvassers then encouraged voters to see how their own experience offered a window into transgender people’s experiences, hoping to facilitate voters’ ability to take transgender people’s perspectives. The intervention ended with another attempt to encourage active processing by asking voters to describe if and how the exercise changed their mind.

The results were striking. In-person conversations were able to raise voters’ positive affect (measured on a “feelings thermometer”) by roughly ten percentage points. For perspective, the authors note that this level of attitude change, measured after one conversation and confirmed to have persisted for at least three months, is greater than the American public’s overall change in positive affect toward gays and lesbians between 1998 and 2012.

Perhaps most importantly, the authors also found that the attitude changes produced via in-person canvassing withstood anti-trans attacks later on:

Support for anti-discrimination law over time, via Broockman and Kalla (2016) / Science

Support for anti-discrimination law over time, via Broockman and Kalla (2016) / Science

As the above chart shows, six weeks after the initial contact, the authors re-surveyed participants and showed them one of three anti-trans attack ads from recent campaigns against non-discrimination laws. While the ads did have an immediate and negative effect, as one might expect, the effect was not enough to fully overcome the initial pro-inclusion attitude shift. Additionally, the ads’ effects faded, with support for the non-discrimination law in question returning to pre-attack ad (and post-canvassing) levels over time, suggesting that the canvassing’s effects were stronger.

To be clear, it’s entirely possible that these results are the product of context. Transgender issues have only recently become salient for much of the American public, which means that attitudes toward trans inclusion are less likely to be as deeply ingrained as attitudes toward, say, abortion. Either way, though, this study is welcome confirmation for those who are active in LGBT politics that in-person voter contact — showing up at people’s doors and talking to them about their feelings toward sexual minorities — is an effective way to push back against hate campaigns and increase support for LGBT rights.

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North Carolina stages anti-LGBT coup http://americablog.com/2016/03/north-carolina-stages-anti-lgbt-coup.html http://americablog.com/2016/03/north-carolina-stages-anti-lgbt-coup.html#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 18:46:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=136259 You are more likely to be propositioned by a Republican lawmaker in a bathroom than you are by a trans person.

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In the span of twelve hours, North Carolina legislators (mostly Republicans, aided by a handful of House Democrats) transformed their state into one of the most heavily anti-LGBT states in the country.

And they did it while rejecting the premise of decentralized, local governance that conservatives so frequently harp on when the federal government does something they don’t like.

The story developed quickly, and it goes like this:

On Wednesday, the General Assembly was called back to Raleigh for a special session to consider legislation written by Republican leadership in response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed by Charlotte, North Carolina last month. That ordinance would have taken effect on April 1, and expanded existing LGBT non-discrimination protections to, among other things, allow transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identities.

The bill did more than simply block Charlotte’s ordinance from taking effect, though. It prohibited any North Carolina city from passing any non-discrimination ordinance broader than the state’s existing protections. Additionally, the law imposes specific regulations on public bathrooms across the state. Those regulations specify that a person must use bathrooms corresponding to the gender they were assigned at birth. As TalkingPointsMemo reader SM pointed out, “by law in NC now, transgender porn star Buck Angel (look him up) will have to use the women’s room…isn’t that precisely what these lawmakers are actually wanting to prevent?”

I looked him up. This is Buck Angel. Republican lawmakers just made it illegal for him to use the men’s bathroom, and mandatory that he use the women’s bathroom:

Buck Angel, via Twitter

Buck Angel, via Twitter

Governor Pat McCrory, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Finally, just for good measure, the bill also prohibits localities from raising their minimum wages above the level set by the state. You know, so those who voted for the bill can say that it wasn’t about rank transphobia, but was instead about their principled and paternalistic belief that local governance is bad — that is, when local governments pass progressive policies.

When other states have tried to pass anti-LGBT legislation since the Obergefell ruling, they have often faced stiff and organized opposition from activists, community leaders and, perhaps most importantly, the business community — opposition that has at times prevented such legislation from passing. In this case, the legislation was rushed through in a special session of the General Assembly, likely for the express purpose of avoiding that kind of opposition.

It would have been bad enough had the General Assembly blocked Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance based on a thoroughly-debunked myth about trans women. As Chris Kluwe pointed out on Twitter, “you’re more likely to be propositioned by a Republican lawmaker in a bathroom than a trans person.” But what could otherwise have been a mean-spirited attempt to deny trans people in Charlotte protection from discrimination was instead a mean-spirited coup that left all LGBT people throughout North Carolina without the possibility of basic protections in housing or hiring discrimination — along with backward mandates that force people into the wrong bathrooms.

Makes absolutely no sense.

 

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Christie ties terrorism to trans kids’ “confusion” over their gender identities http://americablog.com/2015/12/christie-terrorism-trans-kids-confusion-gender-identities.html http://americablog.com/2015/12/christie-terrorism-trans-kids-confusion-gender-identities.html#comments Tue, 22 Dec 2015 15:17:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134760 The need for cognitive closure is strong with this one.

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Chris Christie’s been getting a lot of mileage out of anti-trans bigotry lately. It wasn’t enough for the presidential hopeful to vetoand laugh about — a bill that would have made it easier for trans people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate. Yesterday, he implied that questions about their own gender identity are too confusing for kids who are already confused about terrorism, so it’s best not to accommodate them.

Really.

From CNN, on Christie’s answer to a question about California’s recently-passed law allowing high schoolers to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities:

Chris Christie, via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Christie, via Wikimedia Commons

Christie responded by joking that life is simpler in New Jersey, “Men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms and there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion about that — public accommodations. And I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”

He quickly pivoted to his bigger concern that terrorism is making growing up too confusing for children.

“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” Christie said. “Think about those kids in Los Angeles who last week had their entire district closed because of a threat. Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school. Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe? How did their mothers and fathers feel when they sent them to school that day? And now today the Nashua schools are closed, based on a threat as well. How are those kids going to feel when they go back to school?”

There’s a lot going on here. First, yes, men go to men’s rooms and women go to women’s rooms, but since when does Chris Christie get to decide who’s a man and who’s a woman? Second, I’d imagine that when high schoolers in Los Angeles went back to school after classes were canceled over an obvious hoax, terrorism wasn’t the first thing on their minds. If anything, the wild-eyed paranoia that led to the district to err too far on the side of caution is the most confusing thing about the whole episode, and Christie, by leaving out the fact that the terror “threat” in Los Angeles wasn’t at all credible, is adding to that confusion.

Either way, that has precisely nothing to do with gender identity — which is made much more confusing when a teenager is told that their sense of self is actually incorrect.

Christie wasn’t done, though. As CNN continues:

[Christie] then cited the San Bernardino attacks as proof that “every place in America is a potential target for terrorism” before coming back to his broader point that “children learn better, grow up better, mature better when they live in a safe and secure and loving environment.”

“The fact though is that we want our kids not to have to decide which bathroom they get to go in. And not to be subject to peer pressure about which one to go in. And not to be subject to the embarrassment that could come with going in a bathroom where somebody maybe doesn’t agree that they should be in there or not,” Christie said.

“Why do we do this to our children? It doesn’t make any sense. So I don’t know. I’m the common sense guy from New Jersey, you know, I don’t think life needs to be this complicated. I think it needs to be a lot more straightforward.”

Here, Christie is effectively saying that we can save our kids the hassle of being bullied by their classmates by having the government do the bullying for them. If we don’t let trans kids be trans, Christie argues, then no one will make fun of them for being trans. It’s so simple! Just use the government to cover everyone’s eyes and plug everyone’s ears, and the issue (because it is an issue) will go away on its own!

Life is complicated. Gender is complicated. Terrorism is really, really complicated. No matter how strong Christie’s need for cognitive closure may be, he can’t change those things.

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US Department of Transportation to investigate Alabama drivers license bureau closures http://americablog.com/2015/12/us-department-of-transportation-investigate-alabama-drivers-license-bureau-closures.html http://americablog.com/2015/12/us-department-of-transportation-investigate-alabama-drivers-license-bureau-closures.html#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:15:10 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134490 Alabama is now juggling voting rights issues on at least three fronts.

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The US Department of Transportation announced today that it will investigate the State of Alabama over its decision to close roughly half of its drivers license bureaus earlier this year — a move that disproportionately affected black citizens.

Red counties will now be devoid of drivers license bureaus, via Kyle Whitmire / AL.com

Red counties will now be devoid of drivers license bureaus, via Kyle Whitmire / AL.com

As USDOT wrote in a statement, they will be investigating whether the state’s actions “violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal assistance.”

“Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation is making it clear that Title VI is not optional and that we will work to make sure all of its components are enforced,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Driver License Offices offer essential services to the American people, including providing thousands in Alabama with a method of identification. It is critical that these services be free of discrimination, and serve the people of the state fairly and equally.”

As Departmental Civil Rights Acting Director Stephanie Jones added, “Our concern rests in the possibility that the State’s closure of driver license offices disproportionately constrains the ability of some residents to secure driving privileges, register personal and commercial vehicles, and obtain proper identification –a critical requirement for access to essential activities such as opening a bank account and voting.”

Any organization that administers state programs with federal assistance is subject to Title VI’s requirements, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency ALEA, the department responsible for administering the state’s motor vehicle laws, is no exception. Since ALEA receives “substantial Federal assistance” from USDOT, it is subject to federal nondiscrimination standards — standards that could very well have been violated when it chose to close 34 drivers license bureaus. As AL.com’s John Archibald wrote when the closures were announced, eight of the ten counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters in the state are now without a drivers license bureau and every resident of a county that is at least 75 percent African-American will have go to another county to obtain their drivers license.

Alabama, via Shutterstock

Alabama, via Shutterstock

This is the latest in a string of voting rights issues for the state of Alabama. In October, facing a separate federal lawsuit, the state admitted that it had never been in full compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and would be updating its processes accordingly. Last week, the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s photo ID requirement for voting. The lawsuit cited, among other things, the same DMV closures that sparked this USDOT investigation. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley defended the photo ID law by citing the state’s newfound compliance with the NVRA — a total dodge that suggests he doesn’t feel too confident about the law’s chances in court.

Alabama is now juggling voting rights issues on at least three fronts at the federal level. As it turns out, when you operate in a democracy and you make it harder for specific classes of people to vote, the voters take notice and appeal over your head. The federal government’s power to guarantee voting rights may be more limited than it was a few years ago, but overt discrimination still doesn’t fly. It will be interesting to see what USDOT’s investigation finds.

 

 

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Christian schools seek Title IX waivers to bar trans students http://americablog.com/2015/12/christian-schools-seek-title-ix-waivers-bar-trans-students.html http://americablog.com/2015/12/christian-schools-seek-title-ix-waivers-bar-trans-students.html#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2015 14:28:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134388 Government-funded discrimination.

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27 Christian schools across the South and West have been granted religious exemptions under Title IX that will allow them to bar LGBT students and faculty. Another nine schools have applications pending.

According to a report from Andy Birky of The Column, the recent wave of exemption requests has come following President Obama’s updated interpretation of Title IX in 2014 that the law “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” meaning that institutions of higher education that receive federal funding could not discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

That is, unless they got a religious exemption. As the Birky wrote:

When Title IX was passed in 1972 to combat discrimination based on sex, Congress added a small but powerful provision that states that an educational institution that is “controlled by a religious organization” does not have to comply if Title IX “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

These “right-to-discriminate” waivers were relatively rare until the last year. A handful were requested in the 1980s and 1990s, many by religious schools who wanted to ensure they could prevent women from being hired in leadership roles without running afoul of discrimination laws.

Now that Title IX has been interpreted to include protections for gender identity, schools are seeking religious exemptions to allow them to discriminate against trans students. The exemptions could also allow these religious institutions to avoid having to house same-sex couples, to say nothing of hiring faculty in same-sex relationships.

Not only have schools already used these waivers to expel trans students, and to defend themselves in the subsequent lawsuits, they are training each other as to how to organize their right to discriminate:

College classroom via Shutterstock

Come on, guys via Shutterstock

In addition to the webinar, the [Christian Legal Society] has developed sample language for schools to include in their official policies; if a school hasn’t yet developed a student handbook policy about its “sincerely held religious beliefs” about transgender students, they can copy CLS’. Many schools have done just that.

Ohio Christian University, Belmont Abbey, Biola, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Oklahoma Wesleyan University have language either identical or remarkably similar to the CLS sample language.

In addition to CLS, the CCCU has been hosting trainings and conferences since late 2014 that delve into the issue of Title IX exemptions.

Entire denominations are issuing resolutions in order to keep LGBT students out of their affiliated colleges and universities. For example, Baptist General Convention of Texas adopted a resolution in February on the “transgender agenda.” That resolution was aimed directly at garnering schools a Title IX exemption.

As is the case with other religious organizations, including religious schools, if they want to discriminate against people who don’t share their hateful religious beliefs, that’s their prerogative. But the insistence on discriminating while receiving government funds isn’t okay. And Christian schools are literally conspiring to do exactly that. Legally.

Bad enough that the government condones religious organizations’ discrimination by making them tax-exempt; it continues to finance their discrimination by leaving exemptions like these on the books.

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Ted Cruz calls Obama administration support for trans teens “lunacy” http://americablog.com/2015/11/ted-cruz-calls-obama-administration-support-for-trans-teens-lunacy.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/ted-cruz-calls-obama-administration-support-for-trans-teens-lunacy.html#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2015 19:10:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134155 He can't think of a not-horny reason why someone would want to use a bathroom corresponding to their identity.

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In a radio interview on the conservative show Louder With Crowder, Ted Cruz took a brief aside from hate-mongering over Syrian refugees to get a dig in at the Obama administration for supporting a Virginia teen who is suing the state for the right to use the bathrooms corresponding to his gender identity.

Prompted by the host, Steven Crowder, who said of the Obama administration that “we’re talking about a generation of people who get offended if you use the genetically proper pronouns,” and therefore “getting to the point of calling something Islamic terrorism is a little further down the trail,” Cruz responded:

Look, these guys are so nutty that the federal government is going after school districts, trying to force them to let boys shower with little girls. Now listen: I’m the father of two daughters, and the idea that the federal government is coming in saying that boys, with all the god-given equipment of boys, can be in the shower room with junior high girls – this is lunacy! …You know, the funny thing is, my five-year-old knows there’s a difference between boys and girls. And yet modern Leftists can’t figure that out.

Here’s the video:

The irony here is that trans teens are acutely aware of the difference between being a boy and being a girl, and how harmful it is when people like Ted Cruz insist they’re wrong. These aren’t boys trying to sneak into girls bathrooms for the view — although it seems as though Cruz has certainly had that idea himself. In the Virginia case, which Cruz was responding to, the teen is fighting for the right to use the boy’s bathroom! Because they identify as a boy! Pearl-clutching over a hormonal rape-fest in the girl’s locker room has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

But it sure does turn the god- (and trans-) fearing Christians out to vote.

(h/t Buzzfeed)

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One week after HERO’s defeat, Dallas strengthens trans protections http://americablog.com/2015/11/one-week-after-heros-defeat-dallas-strengthens-trans-protections.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/one-week-after-heros-defeat-dallas-strengthens-trans-protections.html#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2015 15:06:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133910 Throwing some serious shade in Houston's direction.

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Dallas would like the rest of the country to know that they aren’t Houston, updating their city’s non-discrimination ordinance to more clearly protect citizens based on their gender identity.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

When the Dallas ordinance was approved, “gender identity” was erroneously included under the definition of “sexual orientation.” The ordinance prohibits discrimination citywide in employment, housing and public accommodations. On Tuesday, the council voted to list “gender identity and expression” separately alongside sexual orientation, and more clearly define the terms.

It also more specifically defines those terms, defining gender identity as “an individual’s real or perceived gender identity as male, female, both, or neither” and sexual orientation as “the actual or perceived status of an individual with respect to the individual’s sexuality.”

Dallas, via Wikimedia Commons

Dallas, via Wikimedia Commons

Dallas has had an equal rights ordinance that covers LGBT people, along with a host of other demographic groups, on the books since 2002. As Media Matters noted multiple times during the false, hate-driven campaign against HERO, not once had anyone in the city taken advantage of the ordinance to go into a bathroom they weren’t supposed to in order to harass or assault anyone. And, of course, it’s already illegal to sexually assault someone — regardless of whether you’re in a bathroom or elsewhere.

This being the case, Dallas’s city council felt it was wholly non-controversial to update the ordinance to specifically protect trans people, although that didn’t stop Texas Values, an organization involved with the campaign to defeat HERO, from crying rapist, worryingly noting that the language in Dallas’s update is “strikingly similar” to the protections included in HERO. The organization’s president, Jonathan Saenz, said that Dallas could expect a “Texas sized response” following the update’s approval.

Which would be a shame, because Dallas is planning a Texas sized LGBT tourism campaign, which could show by way of example that voting down non-discrimination ordinances a la HERO is not only bad morals; it’s bad business.

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Ben Carson proposes separate but equal bathrooms for trans people http://americablog.com/2015/11/ben-carson-proposes-separate-but-equal-bathrooms-for-trans-people.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/ben-carson-proposes-separate-but-equal-bathrooms-for-trans-people.html#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2015 22:10:40 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133614 Does he realize that one bathroom for both trans men and women doesn't solve the problem? Nevermind.

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Insisting that he is for equal rights, but not for “extra” rights, Ben Carson proposed earlier today that, if we’re really so insistent about accommodating trans people we should just give them separate bathrooms. You know, so they don’t make the rest of us “uncomfortable.”

Asked by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos how he felt about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’s defeat at the polls on Tuesday, Carson flatly suggested that creating separate bathrooms just for transgender people to use would be preferable to letting trans people use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify. As he continued:

It’s one of the things that I don’t particularly like about the movement. I think everybody has equal rights, but I’m not sure that anybody should have extra rights — extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else. The way that this country was designed, it was “live and let live,” and that’s the way I feel.

Ben Carson, screenshot via YouTube

Ben Carson, screenshot via YouTube

I’m not sure if Carson was being entirely serious, as his tone in answering the question was abrupt and dismissive. I’m also pretty sure that Carson doesn’t understand that all trans people wouldn’t want to use the same bathroom under one trans demarcation, meaning that for his proposal to work, it would require literally doubling the number of non-gender-neutral bathrooms in places of public accommodation.

Also, not for nothing, how is mandating the creation of separate bathrooms for trans people less of an “extra” right than letting them use regular bathrooms in the first place?

As ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford pointed out, the idea of creating a separate bathroom for trans people was the actual plot of a South Park episode last year, although I doubt that’s where Carson got the idea.

It’s also worth noting that Ramos interjected when Carson insisted that he has a “live and let live” attitude toward LGBT people by reminding him that he is opposed to same-sex marriage. As if he thought that someone else pointing out this rather obvious hypocrisy would get Carson to admit that he’s wrong.

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