Meet 25 transgender people who were murdered in 2017
We need to fight harder
It’s hard not to draw a link between the record number of transgender people murdered in 2017 and the transphobic hate coming from the lips of rightwing policy makers like Donald Trump. The actions taken this year to undo almost every legal protection transgender people had gained doesn’t just coincidentally parallel the murders.
Many argue a direct cause and effect.
According the the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Trump administration in 2017 has taken the follow actions, contributing to increased hostilities against transgender people:
October 6: The Justice Department released a sweeping “license to discriminate” allowing federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses to engage in illegal discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so.
October 5: The Justice Department released a memo instructing Department of Justice attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination.
September 7: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing for a constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity.
August 25: President Trump released a memo directing Defense Department to move forward with developing a plan to discharge transgender military service members and to maintain a ban on recruitment.
July 26: President Trump announced, via Twitter, that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
July 26: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or, implicitly, gender identity.
June 14: The Department of Education withdrew its finding that an Ohio school district discriminated against a transgender girl. The Department gave no explanation for withdrawing the finding, which a federal judge upheld.
May 2: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to roll back regulations interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions to protect transgender people.
April 14: The Justice Department abandoned its historic lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-transgender law. It did so after North Carolina replaced HB2 with a different anti-transgender law known as “HB 2.0.”
April 4: The Justice and Labor Departments cancelled quarterly conference calls with LGBT organizations; on these calls, which have happened for years, government attorneys share information on employment laws and cases.
March 31: The Justice Department announced it would review (and likely seek to scale back) numerous civil rights settlement agreements with police departments. These settlements were put in places where police departments were determined to be engaging in discriminatory and abusive policing, including racial and other profiling. Many of these agreements include critical protections for LGBT people.
March: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) removed links to four key resource documents from its website, which informed emergency shelters on best practices for serving transgender people facing homelessness and complying with HUD regulations.
March 28: The Census Bureau retracted a proposal to collect demographic information on LGBT people in the 2020 Census.
March 24: The Justice Department cancelled a long-planned National Institute of Corrections broadcast on “Transgender Persons in Custody: The Legal Landscape.”
March 13: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that its national survey of older adults, and the services they need, would no longer collect information on LGBT participants. HHS initially falsely claimed in its Federal Register announcement that it was making “no changes” to the survey.
March 13: The State Department announced the official U.S. delegation to the UN’s 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women conference would include two outspoken anti-LGBT organizations, including a representative of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM): an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
March 10: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would withdraw two important agency-proposed policies designed to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness.
One proposed policy would have required HUD-funded emergency shelters to put up a poster or “notice” to residents of their right to be free from anti-LGBT discrimination under HUD regulations.
The other announced a survey to evaluate the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, implemented by HUD and other agencies over the last three years. This multi-year project should be evaluated, and with this withdrawal, we may never learn what worked best in the project to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
March 8: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed demographic questions about LGBT people that Centers for Independent Living must fill out each year in their Annual Program Performance Report. This report helps HHS evaluate programs that serve people with disabilities.
March 2: The Department of Justice abandoned its request for a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which prevented North Carolina from enforcing HB 2. This was an early sign that the Administration was giving up defending trans people (later, on April 14, it withdrew the lawsuit completely).
March 1: The Department of Justice took the highly unusual step of declining to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order temporarily halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The injunction prevents HHS from taking any action to enforce transgender people’s rights from health care discrimination.
February 22: The Departments of Justice and Education withdrew landmark 2016 guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students under the federal Title IX law.
The message is clear: this administration believes trans-lives don’t matter.
The violence is disproportionately directed toward transgender women of color. As the Human Rights Campaign points out, “the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive (transgender women of color) of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”
There are almost certainly more people murdered than the 25 identified this year, many of whom are featured below. The youngest identified was 17 years old and the oldest was 59.
In 1999, when Gwendolyn Ann Smith first promoted the idea of a Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed every Nov. 20, the intention was to memorialize the victims of these killings. The catalyst was the story of Rita Hester, a black transgender woman who was stabbed in the chest 20 times inside her Boston apartment in November 1998, a murder that remains unsolved.
Nearly 20 years later, the violence perpetrated against transgender people in this country is increasingly horrific.
At least one victim, 17 year old Ally Steinfeld, a transgender teenager living in Missouri, this year was mutilated beyond recognition. Her eyes were gouged out, her genitals destroyed, her corpse was burned and her bones were crushed to fit into disposable bags.
We must remember them and we must fight.
Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black transgender woman from Canton, Mississippi, was found shot to death the evening of January 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
Sean Hake, 23, a transgender man in Sharon, Pennsylvania, died after he was shot by police responding to a 911 call from his mother. A friend told WKBN that Sean “had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems.”
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A suspect, 25-year-old Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
JoJo Striker, 23, a transgender woman, was found killed in Toledo, Ohio, on February 8. Striker’s mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said her family loved her deeply.
Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, was fatally shot in Chicago on the morning of February 21. A transgender woman of color, she was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women that were killed in 2012.
Chyna Gibson, 31, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in New Orleans on February 25. Chyna was a much-loved performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death.
Ciara McElveen, 26, a transgender woman of color, was stabbed to death in New Orleans on February 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. As of February 28, 2017, HRC has tracked at least nine murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013.
Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot to death in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 19. One friend, Chesna Littleberry, told Mic that Holland was “like a younger sister” and had helped her learn to accept herself.
Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 22. Watson’s mother said her daughter was “the sunshine of our family,” a “caring, passionate” person who loved cooking and gardening.
Chay Reed, 28, a transgender woman of color, was shot and killed on April 21 in Miami. Reed’s longtime friend told Mic about their longtime friendship — describing her as someone who was full of life and beloved by many.
Kenneth Bostick, 59, was found with severe injuries on a Manhattan sidewalk, he later died of his injuries. Few details about Bostick’s life have been reported, he is believed to have been homeless at the time he was attacked.*
Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color died on May 16, of injuries sustained during an attack on November 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police are treating the assault as a homicide. No arrests have been made at this point.
Kenne McFadden, 27, was found in the San Antonio River on April 9. Police believe she was pushed into the river, which runs through downtown San Antonio. A high-school friend of McFadden described her to local media as assertive, charismatic and lovable. No arrests have been made, but police said they have a person of interest in custody.
Kendra Marie Adams, 28, was found in a building that was under construction and had burns on her body on June 13. Police have charged Michael Davis, 45, with Adams’ murder. Adams also went by Josie Berrios, the name used in initial media reports on her death.
Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia on June 25 during an altercation in an apartment parking lot. In an online obituary, friends remembered Barrin as a “social butterfly” and an “amazing girl” who “loved to make people laugh.”
Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot multiple times in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early morning of July 2. Morgan was transferred to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Authorities have named Kenneth Allen Kelly Jr. as a person of interest in the case.
TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the Georgia Voice, Dangerfield “was found with multiple gunshot wounds outside of her vehicle at the South Hampton Estates apartment complex.”
Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot and killed in Waxahachie, Texas, on August 12. According to their Facebook profile, they identified as “femandrogyne” and a member of the bisexual community.
Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22 during an altercation with her neighbor. Relatives told Huffpost the neighbor was transphobic and that excessive force by police led to her death.
Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5. A friend wrote on Facebook “[Kashmire] loved hard and just wanted to be loved and [accepted].”
Derricka Banner, 26, was found shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 12. Friends describe Banner as a “playful spirit” and “go-getter” who enjoyed life.
Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16. The GT Progressive Student Alliance, a progressive student advocacy group on campus, called Schultz an “incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights.”
Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September. Three people have been charged in her murder. Steinfeld’s family said Ally “sometimes” identified as female on social media.
Stephanie Montez, 47, was brutally murdered near Robstown, Texas. Montez’s longtime friend, Brittany Ramirez, described her as “one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.”
Candace Towns, 30, a transgender woman who was found shot to death in Georgia. Town’s friend, Malaysa Monroe, remembers Towns’ generosity. “If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Monroe said.
West Texas A&M University president cancels student drag show
Students and First Amendment lawyers say Wendler’s portrayal of drag shows is off base and the cancellation violates free-speech rights
By Kate McGee | CANYON, Tx. – West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler is drawing ire for canceling a student drag show, arguing that such performances degrade women and are “derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny.”
Students and First Amendment lawyers reject those assertions, calling his comments a mischaracterization of the art form. They also argue that the cancellation violates student’s constitutional rights and a state law that broadly protects free speech on college campuses, potentially setting the university up for a lawsuit.
“Not only is this a gross and abhorrent comparison of two completely different topics, but it is also an extremely distorted and incorrect definition of drag as a culture and form of performance art,” students wrote in an online petition condemning Wendler’s letter and urging him to reinstate the show.
Students plan to protest every day this week on the campus in the small West Texas city of Canyon, according to a social media post by the Open and Affirming Congregations of the Texas Panhandle.
“Drag is not dangerous or discriminatory, it is a celebration and expression of individuals,” student Signe Elder said in a statement. “Amidst the current climate of growing anti-trans and anti-drag rhetoric, we believe that it is important now more than ever to stand together and be heard.”
Elder is part of a group of students who have organized under the name Buffs for Drag to protest Wendler’s actions.
Drag shows frequently feature men dressing as women in exaggerated styles and have been a mainstay in the LGBTQ community for decades. Drag performers say their work is an expression of queer joy — and a form of constitutionally protected speech about societal gender norms.
But Wendler said drag shows “stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood” in a Monday letter that was first obtained by Amarillo news site MyHighPlains.com. Wendler said the drag show was organized to raise money for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works to reduce suicides in the LGBTQ community. Wendler noted that it is a “noble cause” but argued the shows would be considered an act of workplace prejudice because they make fun of women.
“Forward-thinking women and men have worked together for nearly two centuries to eliminate sexism,” Wendler wrote. “Women have fought valiantly, seeking equality in the voting booth, marketplace and court of public opinion. No one should claim a right to contribute to women’s suffering via a slapstick sideshow that erodes the worth of women.”
His comments and decision to cancel the campus drag show come amid surging uproar over the lively entertainment as far-right extremist groups have recruited conservatives to protest the events, claiming that drag performances are sexualizing kids.
Republican Texas lawmakers have also homed in on the performances with a handful of bills that would regulate or restrict drag shows, including some legislation that would classify any venue that hosts a drag show as a sexually oriented business, regardless of the show’s content. On Thursday, a Senate committee will debate a scaled-back bill that would impose a $10,000 fine on business owners who host drag shows in front of children — if those performances are sexually oriented. The bill defines a sexually oriented performance as one in which someone is naked or in drag and “appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”
Rachel Hill, government affairs director for LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, said drag doesn’t mock women. Instead, she said, it’s an art form that allows performers to explore their gender expression and take back power from what she said can be stifling gender norms.
“Drag has always been a way for people who don’t easily fit into the gender binary to embrace different facets of themselves,” Hill said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “Womanhood comes in all shapes and sizes and is what we make of it. That’s what makes drag so powerful.”
West Texas A&M student groups were organizing the drag show, called “A Fool’s Drag Race,” for months. The LGBTQ student group Spectrum advertised the show on its Instagram page, encouraging people to sign up to perform.
Wendler argued in his letter that the West Texas A&M drag show goes against the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s purpose, saying it’s inappropriate even if drag shows are not illegal.
A lawyer for the national campus free speech group Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression rejected that argument as “nonsense.”
“The only prejudice in play here is his,” said lawyer Alex Morey, arguing that Wendler has violated state and federal law by canceling the show.
In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Morey said that performances on campus such as drag shows are protected by the First Amendment.
“By unilaterally canceling the event because he personally disapproves of the views it might express, WTAMU’s president appears to have violated both his constitutional obligations and state law,” Morey said. “It’s really surprising how open he is about knowingly violating the law, especially because government officials who violate clearly established First Amendment law will not retain qualified immunity and can be held personally liable for monetary damages.”
The students who started the petition also accused Wendler of violating university policy, which states the school can’t deny student groups any benefits “on the basis of a political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or any expressive activities of the organization.”
In 2019, Texas lawmakers passed a law that required universities to allow any person to engage in free-speech activities on campuses. The law passed with broad bipartisan support.
A West Texas A&M spokesperson said Tuesday morning that Wendler did not have any further comments. The Texas A&M University System, which oversees West Texas A&M, also declined to comment.
Last year, Texas A&M University in College Station drew criticism from students when the office of student affairs announced it would no longer sponsor Draggieland, the annual drag show competition that started in 2020. Students held the performance last year after raising money through private donations. This year’s event is scheduled for April 6.
Alex Nguyen contributed to this story.
Disclosure: Equality Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University System and West Texas A&M University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Kate McGee covers higher education for The Texas Tribune. She joined the Tribune in October 2020 after nearly a decade as a reporter at public radio stations across the country, including in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Austin; Reno, Nevada; and New York. Kate was born in New York City and raised primarily in New Jersey. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University. Her work has appeared on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Here and Now,” and “The Takeaway.”
The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Tribune and is republished by permission.
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NY Attorney General hosts drag story hour- Proud Boys chased off
Approximately 200 attendees enjoyed the read-a-thon, led by the Drag Kings, Queens and Royalty of Drag Story Hour NYC at the center
MANHATTAN – Far-right extremists clashed with LGBTQ+ activists and supporters outside outside the LGBTQ Community Center on W. 13th St. in Greenwich Village Sunday, as inside New York State Attorney General Letitia James hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour event.
Approximately 200 attendees enjoyed the read-a-thon, led by the Drag Kings, Queens and Royalty of Drag Story Hour NYC at the center, a resource hub for New York City’s LGBTQ+ community.
As families arrived with excited smiles, a group of protesters assembled across the street — many of them brandishing Trump signs and wearing garb supporting White Supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, AM New York reported.
Protestors were separated by barricades on either side of West 13th along with a heavy New York Police Department presence with dozens of uniform and plainclothes officers to maintain calm.
Independent freelance videographer and photojournalist Oliya Scootercaster captured the protests as one member of the Proud Boys was led away with blood and scrapes on his face by another Proud Boy after an apparent altercation.
Another far-right protestor, who had covered his face and head with a golden Guy Fawkes mask and USA flag headscarf, was seen being arrested by NYPD officers after he confronted protesters and members of the press, knocking things out of their hands.
Proud Boys Bloody Fight at Protest of Attorney Generals Drag Story Hour in Manhattan via FNTV Freedomnews.tv videographer Oliya Scootercaster:
Maryland House of Delegates approves trans rights bill
The Trans Health Equity Act, passed by a 93-37 vote margin. The measure now goes before the Maryland Senate
ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday approved a bill that would require the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment for transgender people.
House Bill 283, or the Trans Health Equity Act, passed by a 93-37 vote margin. The measure now goes before the Maryland Senate.
“Proud that the MD House of Delegates passed the Trans Health Equity Act with such a strong majority,” tweeted state Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County), who introduced HB 283.
Proud that the MD House of Delegates passed the Trans Health Equity Act with such a strong majority. #TransHumanity pic.twitter.com/1E8MoDFQex— Anne R. Kaiser (@DelegateKaiser) March 18, 2023
Foster parents need more vetting, training for LGBTQ children
It’s common for LGBTQ youth to stay quiet about their sexuality or identity or act out to disrupt a placement before they risk rejection
ROCKVILLE, Md. – About 30,000 children age out of foster care each year and 70 percent of those children wind up homeless. The majority of the homeless population under the age of 18 are LGBTQ youth, often who can’t find an inclusive home and enter group homes where more prevalent mental, sexual, and psychological abuse turns them to the streets.
When an LGBTQ child enters the foster care system, the pot of eligible homes becomes smaller, said Rob Scheer, the founder of Comfort Cases, a non-profit that supplies personal care items to youth entering the foster care system.
“The first thing we think of as kids in our system when we realize that we are part of the LGBTQ+ family, is why am I damaged?” said Scheer, a gay man who experienced the foster care system as a child. “Why am I not given that open space to be free and be who I am?”
The average child in foster care moves from three to four homes before finding a long-term placement. This is often due to foster care agencies’ neglect to inform foster parents that a child is a part of the LGBTQ community. However, when foster parents are informed of the child’s identity, less movement occurs.
Even when children come out as being LGBTQ and the foster parents allow them to stay, some homes do so in order to receive a monthly stipend from the government or private foster agency, Scheer said. This puts children at risk of both direct and indirect mental abuse.
Indirect heterosexism that sends micro-messages of shame is extremely harmful to kids, according to Chloe Perez, the CEO of Hearts and Homes for Youth, a non-profit working with children with higher levels of need, such as therapy appointments for a mental health diagnosis.
“We have had parents who have talked about, ‘Oh, you know, his frilly, girly, feminine ways,” said Perez. “Maybe they’re not saying I hate gay people…but it’s that subliminal messaging all the time that is equally detrimental.”
It’s common for LGBTQ children to either stay quiet about their sexuality or identity or act out to disrupt a placement before they risk rejection from the family.
By age five or six, many children already experience rejection and the resulting trauma from multiple placements, Perez added. However, when foster parents know how to manage disruptive behaviors, there’s less risk of additional placement disruption.
But this requires specific vetting and training procedures for potential foster parents.
Once potential foster parents complete all of the state’s criteria, Hearts and Homes for Youth provide an additional, extensive training program. Since some kids come into the non-profit’s care after 14 or 15 placements, this process includes trauma-response training that informs parents of a child’s possible emotional reactions.
If any foster parent says they don’t want to foster LGBTQ or BIPOC kids, Perez said they try to understand where the parents’ concern stems from to resolve the issue.
“[Whether it’s] cultural, age or based around religion…we have seen that sometimes just really having that in-depth conversation can help them shift,” said Perez. “If they’re not willing to do that, then that’s a no-go.”
Parents are often more direct when it comes to saying they won’t take an LGBTQ child as opposed to a child of color, Perez added, because people are more comfortable openly expressing their opinions about sexual orientation or identity than race, which is more commonly condemned.
If problems arise once a child is in a foster home, an agent conducts an at-home check-in to assess whether the foster parent needs to redo training. However, most issues after the placement are centered around parents’ discipline practices, such as smacking a child, rather than discrimination.
In the case that a foster home isn’t suitable, Hearts and Homes for Youth also offers five group homes and an independent living program for pregnant and parenting teen moms.
However, the high rate of suicide among LGBTQ children in foster care continues to reflect the conditions for most LGBTQ kids beyond their care.
“What we need to do in society is step up our social responsibility and make sure that we are giving these kids everything that I give to my five children,” said Scheer. “Guidance, unconditional support, and unconditional love.”
For information on how to become a foster parent in D.C., visit cfsa.dc.gov/service/become-foster-or-adoptive-parent.
Kentucky Republicans pass extreme anti-trans youth healthcare bill
“This is a sissy bill. I voted yes but I wanted more teeth in it.” Kentucky Republican State Rep. Richard White (Dist.99)
FRANKFORT, KY. – In a maneuver LGBTQ+ activists and Democrats called deceitful, Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature rushed through Senate Bill 150 Thursday, an anti-transgender measure first in an unannounced House Education Committee meeting in a 16-5 vote and then to the House floor where it again passed along party lines 75-22 and limited debate before moving the legislation to the Senate where it passed 30-7 on a nearly party line vote.
The initial legislation, HB 470 had been effectively tabled Wednesday night as the result of discord among the Republicans. In Thursday’s limited debate on the House floor, Rep. Keturah Herron, a Black LGBTQ lawmaker decried the fact that there was no notifications which made it appear as though Republicans were jamming the bill through without the Democrats present.
Journalist and columnist Erin Reed noted that the bill itself contains several provisions and combines many anti-trans bills into a single, all-encompassing piece of legislation that targets many aspects of the lives of trans youth.
One provision states that schools cannot adopt policies that “keep information confidential from parents,” a policy which will be used to forcibly out transgender students. Another states that school districts can’t require students to use any pronouns for trans students that do not conform to that student’s “biological sex.”
The bill contains teaching bans on LGBTQ+ topics similar to Don’t Say Gay bills, would force schools to turn over student’s answers to private questionnaires and surveys, bans students from bathrooms not matching their gender identities, calls trans students in locker rooms “unsafe,” and bans gender affirming care for trans youth.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that schools would not be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age – a key provision of “Don’t Say Gay” bills across the country. Schools would not be allowed to talk about sexually transmitted diseases or human sexuality before sixth grade and would need to require parental consent in sixth grade and up.
Another provision requires school districts to craft bathroom policies that, “at a minimum,” will not allow trans kids to use the bathroom tied to their gender identities.
The Courier-Journal also noted that
SB 150’s initial provisions, including one allowing teachers to misgender their students, remain intact. A new section added a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youths, despite medical experts and their professional associations saying such care is safe and effective treatment for children with gender dysphoria.
Doctors would be required to set a timeline to detransition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy. They would be allowed to continue offering care as they taper a child’s treatments, if immediately taking them off the treatment could harm the child, the bill says.
“It is appalling to see Kentucky lawmakers work so hastily on dangerous legislation that will only put young LGBTQ Kentuckians in harm’s way. In the last year, nearly half of LGBTQ youth in Kentucky seriously considered suicide — alarmingly, nearly 1 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth in the state made a suicide attempt. Our leaders are pushing political wedge issues and sidestepping the real challenges like addressing the youth mental health crisis,” said Troy Stevenson, Director of State Advocacy Campaigns for The Trevor Project.
“The Kentucky Legislature should not be inserting itself into critical decisions best left to parents and doctors by imposing a blanket ban on best-practice medical care. They should be working to increase access to essential care and creating safer, more affirming spaces for LGBTQ Kentuckians — not further stigmatizing or endangering an already marginalized group of young people. We urge the Governor to reject this harmful legislation and send a message to the young LGBTQ Kentuckians watching these debates that they belong in this state.”
Local media reported that the moment the SB150 officially cleared the Senate, spectators in the gallery opposed to the anti-LGBTQ measure screamed and shouted expletives at the lawmakers on the floor below.
The bill now heads to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who has ten days to either veto or sign the measure into law. The governor is widely expected to veto the bill.
The Republican-led legislature, however, will be able to override his veto when it returns for the final two days of the legislative session on March 29 and 30.
The ACLU of Kentucky called the bill “unconstitutional,” vowing legal action should it become law.
Know what’s a real drag? Florida’s attack on LGBTQ community
The editorial board of the Miami Herald wrote a scathing critique of the policies of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis
MIAMI – The editorial board of the Miami Herald on Thursday wrote a scathing critique of the policies of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The board comparing the governor’s anti-LGBTQ+ and so-called anti-WOKE campaign and legislative agenda to the 1977 anti-gay movement founded by singer Anita Bryant.
Know what’s a real drag? The ‘free’ state of Florida’s tired old tropes to attack LGBTQ community | Opinion https://t.co/1OV4ZjjkYb— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) March 16, 2023
“They carried signs saying “Protect our children” and “Don’t legislate immorality.” Their leader said she spoke as a mother and a Christian, her “Save our children” campaign proclaiming to save Florida’s youth from the influence of gay people,” the board wrote.
“It was 1977, and singer Anita Bryant, known for her Florida orange juice commercials, became the face of an effort to repeal a Dade County ordinance that prohibited discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
“Like Bryant in 1977, they say they are acting in the name of “Protection of Children” — to name a bill targeting drag shows. It’s under that premise that the DeSantis administration has threatened essentially to shut down drag-show venues that allow minors. The state is going after their liquor licenses.
In the free state of Florida, parental rights reign unless a parent’s choice doesn’t align with state bureaucrats. Whose job is it anyway to parent children? If Florida’s real issue is with exposing minors to sexually explicit content, then they should also vet every artist who performs at big concert venues.”
Read the full editorial (Link)
Ritchie Torres speaks about personal mental health struggles
Openly gay N.Y. congressman appeared on ‘GMA3’
NEW YORK — New York Congressman Ritchie Torres has spoken out about his struggle with depression and the importance of mental health in the wake of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)’s recent hospitalization for clinical depression.
Torres, a Democrat who is the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress, told “GMA3” hosts DeMarco Morgan and Eva Pilgrim on Tuesday that he had “an obligation to tell” his “story in the hopes of breaking the shame and silence, and stigma that too often surrounds the subject of mental health.”
Torres views his coming to terms with his mental health issues — while also being open about it — as a form of “public service” to the American people.
“We live in a society that historically has shamed people for experiencing mental illness, that has framed mental illness as a failure of character or a failure of willpower. And I’m here to send a message that mental illness is nothing of which to be ashamed, that there are millions of Americans who struggle with depression and anxiety,” Torres explained.
Even before being elected to Congress, Torres, 34, spoke freely about his past experiences concerning mental health issues and how they affected him. While campaigning, one of his opponents tried to use his depression as a counterpoint to prove that he was not worthy of being in public office.
From then on, Torres vowed to “never again would I allow my mental health to be weaponized,” he told Time magazine.
He emphasized the importance of psychotherapy and medication as a means of controlling his depressive episodes and going through his day by day as a congressman.
He noted, however, that “there are people who have trouble accessing mental health care.”
“And even if you do, the process of experimenting with psychiatric medications can be draining and debilitating, because there’s no one size fits all,” he added.
Torres said he hopes that Congress can pave the way for more mental health care for the millions of Americans who need it.
“Our healthcare system is fundamentally broken and Congress is no closer to fixing it,” he argued.
I was once hospitalized because of severe depression. I thought of taking my own life because I felt the world around me had collapsed.
I would not be alive, let alone in Congress, were it not for mental health care.
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) March 15, 2023
Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs statewide LGBTQ protections act
“This bill being signed into law is a beacon of hope and sends a powerful message of acceptance to LGBTQ people across the nation”
LANSING – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act on Thursday, which expands basic protections for the LGBTQ community.
The measure, Senate Bill 4 was sponsored by Out State Senator Jeremy Moss who less than a year previously had been shot down by the Republican majority as he attempted to have a non-binding resolution to recognize “Pride Month” adopted by the Senate.
In her signing remarks, Whitmer noted: “In the words of Detroit native Lizzo, it’s about damn time! Bigotry is bad for business. Come to Michigan, you will be respected and protected under the law.”
Sen @JeremyAllenMoss, the state’s highest-ranking openly gay lawmaker, opening the bill signing event. He shepherded the legislation through passage.— Rachel Louise Just (@RLJnews) March 16, 2023
Nearly this time last year, Moss wasn’t able to get the support of a Leg leader to simply pass a resolution honoring Pride Month.
“As Equality Michigan celebrates this historic step forward, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Generations of activists have inspired us to fight for justice and equality for all LGBTQ+ Michiganders, and our community has been working to update our state’s civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in every single legislative session since Elliott-Larsen was first adopted,” Erin Knott, Executive Director of Equality Michigan said in a statement.”
“We applaud Governor Whitmer for signing this bill into law, and are humbled by this pro-equality legislature that made amending ELCRA a top priority. Senator Jeremy Moss and Representative Jason Hoskins introduced this legislation and championed it all the way through to the finish line.
The victory we have today in Michigan is a great one, but it’s also one we don’t take lightly at this moment. Let it not be lost on us that this privilege, however hard-earned, is a unique one that exists amid a nationwide political assault on LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and non-binary youth, and their families. There are over 400 anti-trans bills moving across state legislatures in the US, twice the amount introduced last year.”
“This bill being signed into law is a beacon of hope and sends a powerful message of acceptance to LGBTQ people across the nation. At The Trevor Project, we work every day to protect the lives of LGBTQ youth, and days like today prove that in generations to come, both their legal and lived equality will no longer be fodder for political debate,” said Troy Stevenson, Director of State Advocacy Campaigns for The Trevor Project.
“Our research shows that having at least one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 percent. We applaud the elected leaders, advocates and Gov. Whitmer for making this a reality, and affirming the dignity and rights of LGBTQ Michiganders by codifying these protections into law.”
New VA Mission Statement recognizes commitment to all Veterans
“To fulfill [Lincoln’s] promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military & for their families, caregivers, & survivors”
WASHINGTON – In a speech delivered Thursday at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA), located at the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in suburban Virginia, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued an updated version of its 1959 mission statement.
The new mission statement is: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
As the VA Secretary commenced his remarks, he honored several notable women in the audience including Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, the assistant secretary of veterans affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs.
Fulton, is a 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Ny., which was the Academy’s first class to admit women. She is an Out Lesbian and served as a founding board member of Knights Out, the organization of LGBT West Point graduates, and later worked with OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT military members and SPARTA, an LGBT military group advocating for transgender military service.
“Whenever any Veteran, family member, caregiver, or survivor walks by a VA facility, we want them to see themselves in the mission statement on the outside of the building,” said Secretary McDonough. “We are here to serve all Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors — and now, our mission statement reflects exactly that.”
In crafting the new mission statement, VA surveyed roughly 30,000 Veterans. Among Veterans surveyed, the new version of VA’s mission statement was chosen over the current version by every age group; by men and by women; by LGBTQ+ Veterans; and by white, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans.
In addition to two rounds of surveys, VA conducted dozens of small-group engagements with Veterans to understand what was most important to them in a VA mission statement, then incorporated that feedback into quantitative research. The new mission statement reflects that VA serves all of the heroes who have served our country, regardless of their race, gender, background, sexual orientation, religion, zip code or identity.
The previous mission statement was: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.” The previous mission statement is posted in roughly 50% of VA’s facilities. Over the coming months, VA’s new mission statement will replace the previous version.
VA Announces New Mission Statement, Recognizing Sacred Commitment to Serve All Who Served:
Senate confirms Garcetti for India ambassadorship
The period between Garcetti’s nomination and confirmation marked the longest stretch without a sitting U.S. ambassador to India
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate voted 52-42 on Wednesday to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of India.
Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Mark Kelly (Ariz.) voted “nay,” while Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Steve Daines (Mont.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), and Todd Young (Ind.) voted “yea.”
Garcetti’s appointment has been languishing in the Senate for nearly two years, threatened most recently by Democratic defectors who objected to unresolved allegations that the former mayor knew — or should have known — about sexual harassment by a former top aide, Rick Jacobs.
Hirono, who earlier this week had pledged to support Garcetti’s nomination, said Wednesday that she changed her mind after learning new information, but declined to offer specifics.
Throwing additional uncertainty into Wednesday’s vote was the absence of six senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is recovering from shingles and announced plans last month to retire at the end of her term, and Jon Fetterman (D-Pa.), who recently checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of clinical depression.
The White House and Garcetti nevertheless pushed for the vote, which had been delayed by the split control of the Senate until the new Congress was seated in January. The period between Garcetti’s nomination and confirmation marked the longest stretch without a sitting U.S. ambassador to India since formal diplomatic relations were first established with the country.
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