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No, Mr. Trump, we are not disloyal

Jews are not the ‘other’ in America

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Rabbi Denise Eger is founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s Reform Synagogue and a past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. (Photo courtesy Eger)

Once again, President Trump uses anti-Semitic tropes and dog whistles. Recently, Trump questioned Jewish Americans’ loyalty to this country as if Jews are not Americans. His latest round of insults is deeply offensive.   

The Jewish community overwhelmingly votes Democratic in the United States.  In the 2016 presidential election, 71 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. In 2008, Jews voted 78 percent for Barack Obama. Trump, in comments to the press, suggested that Jews are disloyal because they vote Democratic—disloyal to America, to Israel and yes, to him. It is shocking.

The president is trafficking in anti-Semitism. It wasn’t enough to bless Nazis marching in the streets of Charlottesville or demand that the Jewish community be grateful to him for his policies toward Israel. Trump’s words and policies are filled with anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia.

The anti-Semitic trope that Jews are disloyal is an old one dating back centuries. It became the excuse for stirring up violence against the Jewish community in many places.  Whether in 15th century Spain leading to the Inquisition or ancient Rome, or Germany in the mid-20th century, the charge of disloyalty is a serious one.

Jews were always seen as “other.”  Napoleon’s France was the first time Jews were permitted the rights of citizenship. The Jews exiled from our homeland, the Land of Israel, by the Romans in the year 70 were never seen as native Italians, or Russians or Poles. Jews were “Other.”

One of the most vivid examples of the charge of disloyalty was the case of French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus. He was accused and convicted of treason in 1894 for passing army secrets and weapons to the Germans, even though he maintained his innocence. There was ample evidence that anti-Semitic officers concocted the story and that it was someone else who betrayed the country, not Dreyfus. And yet he was found guilty a second time, in 1899, and sentenced to life on Devil’s Island. His case and his cause became symbolic for all the Jews of France who endured great anti-Semitism at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

We, too, must not and cannot let Trump’s trope about Jewish American loyalty slide by.  We must assert our position that Jews in America are not “other.” We are proud American citizens who bring our Jewish values to our political outlook. We are not disloyal because we vote. Rather, we are patriots because we vote our conscience and our values.  Our loyalty is not to a party or to person. Our loyalty is to our country, the United States of America, and to our God.

Like many groups, the Jewish community has issues that are important to us. We are worried deeply by the attack on immigrants and refugees—having been both in recent memory.  We are worried deeply about climate change and the erosion of protections for wildlife and the earth because our religious teachings demand that we care for God’s creation. We are worried deeply about the homeless and the failing safety net in this country because our tradition is to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan and stranger in our midst. 

Judaism teaches that it is the community that must help the poor and impoverished and sets up a system to do so.  We are worried about the security of our elections and the targeting of our free press as our tradition teaches that the word “truth” is one of God’s names.  And yes, we are worried that our love for our ancient homeland, Israel, has been jeopardized by Trump and the GOP making it a political football, chipping away at the bipartisan support so necessary for America’s strongest ally because of the shared values that we have with one another.

Mr. Trump, the Jewish community will continue to vote, continue to lift up our values and to call out your bigotry whenever it shows. And we will, as a Jewish community, unite more strongly in resisting your political tactics that seek to make Israel and the Jewish people a wedge issue in the upcoming political season.

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LGBTQ+ community in Kharkiv braces for another winter at war

The LGBTQ+ community in Kharkiv, Ukraine, braces for another winter at war. The city is 30 miles from Russia

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Kharkiv, Ukraine (Photo by Brian Dooley/Human Rights First)

By Brian Dooley | KHARKIV, Ukraine — Only 30 miles from the Russian border, Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second biggest city and was a key target of Russia’s invasion in February last year, when it was almost encircled.

I have been reporting regularly from Kharkiv since last year’s full-scale invasion, and the city is still often bombed by Russian missiles. United States government officials rarely come here because of the security situation. As temperatures plummet, Russia is targeting Ukraine’s heating infrastructure. 

It hopes to make life unbearable for people in Ukraine’s cities and force another wave of mass movement out of Ukraine and into Poland and other European countries.

Attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid have begun, and some communities in the city have been particularly vulnerable since Russia’s invasion last year, and are facing a difficult winter.

Vasyl Malikov of the Kharkiv-based LGBTQI NGOs Alliance.Global and Spectrum Kharkiv has been distributing packages of hygiene goods, food and vouchers for humanitarian aid since last year. He helped to set up a new shelter for LGBTQI people and their relatives in the city.

“There are government shelters, and the authorities say they don’t discriminate against who uses them, but we know from lived experience that these official shelters aren’t always welcoming places for LGBTQI people. They feel vulnerable and are harassed there,” Malikov said. “We thought about setting up a shelter last year, but the situation seemed too uncertain and it wasn’t that easy to find premises, but we have gone ahead now and we can offer accommodation for up to 16 people to stay for up to three months.”

Some of those in the shelter are fleeing areas of conflict on the front lines, others have fled domestic violence, and others have been driven away by families who refuse to accept them. Some people, in Kharkiv for medical appointments, stay for days, others stay for weeks or months.

The shelter is a large apartment that has a kitchen and a large room where workshops and social events are held.  It is on a block near a metro station which, Malikov says, is a useful place to run to in case of heavy bombardments. 

Crucially, a new generator has arrived, which should heat the shelter during power outages. It’s a dual fuel model that can run on diesel or gas and costs around $2,000.

“This is a safe place for LGBTQI people and their families,” explains Malikov. “We shouldn’t have to set up our own facilities, the authorities should be doing this work, but we have to because they don’t.”

Other NGOs are also filling gaps that local authorities are failing to provide. The NGO Sphere has, since 2006 “been uniting women of Kharkiv, including lesbian and bisexual women.” 

Tucked in a small office near the city center, some of Sphere’s activists described how their work has adapted to meet the challenges of the war.

“We’ve been providing aid for those forced to flee their homes because of the war,” says Yevheniia Ilinska, a long-standing member of the organization. “We’ve raised money from abroad — including from LGBTQ+ groups — to distribute basic supplies. We’ve been handing out clothes, including socks, and have provided some to our military.”

Sphere’s activists say that beyond its obvious damage and destruction to the city, the war is causing “a social revolution:” many men are away from their homes fighting in the military, and many family dynamics are changing dramatically.

The activists fear a spike in domestic violence when soldiers return home, a phenomenon witnessed in other countries.

“The full-scale war significantly aggravates some of the problems that existed before, including gender-based domestic and sexual violence, and discrimination at work,” Sphere notes on its website.

The war has also helped change some attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine. Last September, when the dangers from rocket attacks made an open-air parade impossible, Sphere helped organize a successful Pride event in the city’s metro system.

“We dressed wearing national symbols and LGBT flags,” says Ilinska. “And the public reception was very positive.”

The reaction is more evidence of a positive shift since last year’s invasion in public attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, in part because the community’s contribution to the war effort is increasingly seen and valued. Hopes are high that Ukraine will soon legalize same-sex civic partnerships, and eventually same-sex marriages.

But for now, the cold is an immediate challenge. Sphere is raising funds to offer locals a safe place so that “in the event of rocket attacks and power outages, LGBTQ+ people will be able to stay warm indoors, have a hot drink, take a shower, and do laundry,” says Ilinska.

“We’re constantly adapting our work,” says Ilinska. “Adapting our advocacy and our public events, and our projects on targeting humanitarian aid. Kharkiv is changing and so are we, we have to react to this dramatic crisis, to the invasion, and we’re proving that we and our community can resist,” she said.

For more, see Human Rights First’s new report, Ukraine’s Winter War, written by Maya Fernandez-Powell and myself.

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Brian J. Dooley is an Irish human rights activist and author. He is Senior Advisor at Washington DC-based NGO Human Rights First. He is a visiting scholar at University College, London (UCL). He is also a prominent human rights voice on Twitter (@dooley_dooley).

From April 2020 to March 2023 he was Senior Advisor to Mary Lawlor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. He served for eight years as an advisory board member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and was a visiting scholar at John Jay College, City University of New York 2022-2023, and at Fordham University Law School in New York 2019–2020

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Support next generation of LGBTQ+ journalists: #GivingTuesday

The support of a queer journalism fellow can bring LGBTQ journalism to underrepresented communities locally and globally

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WASHINGTON – The Blade Foundation is excited to expand its fellowship program focused on educating and supporting the next generation of LGBTQ journalists. The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade are the leading LGBTQ publications in the country and can provide real life reporting experience to up-and-coming journalists.

The Blade Foundation has a vision to bring training and journalism to new cities around the world. The support of a fellow can bring LGBTQ journalism to underrepresented communities locally and globally. Currently, hundreds of articles are produced each year by the Blade Foundation and published in both English and Spanish.

Your tax-deductible donation supports the work of the Blade Foundation, a 501(c)3 dedicated to funding enterprise journalism projects on LGBTQ issues. Please click on the below link:

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Queer Activists: “I told you so” as DeSantis escalates queer erasure

“It is time to recognize the situation in Florida as the ticking time bomb that it is, because I am tired of saying I told you so….”

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Graphic courtesy of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City

By Cameron Driggers | GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a shocking escalation for too many, and a somber expectation for too few, the Florida legislature will soon consider legislation to effectively disband measures to facilitate tolerance for LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace.

In addition, the proposed law would effectively force the closure of many LGBTQ+ and progressive organizations that have led the opposition to DeSantis’ administration. Specifically, HB-599 mandates that: employees can not be required to use a person’s preferred pronouns, employees can not provide their preferred pronouns and employers cannot exert discipline over homophobia/transphobia.

Most chillingly, the bill would not allow state-funded charities to require employees to undergo any “training, instruction or other activities” relating to gender or sexualities. The implications of these regulations are transparently authoritarian.

As I alluded to before, this development has been received with a puzzling degree of surprise. Evidently, such has been the case following nearly every new outrageous headline summoned by DeSantis’ administration. However, these hysterical reactions are becoming decreasingly indicative of a changing tide in public opinion and more so of an irritating obliviousness among those of us who have been ringing the alarm bells since the very start of DeSantis’ all-consuming battle against “wokeism” in Florida. 

Take the infamous “Don’t Say Gay Bill” for example, which served as the catalyst for the current queer resistance to DeSantis in earnest. That legislation prohibited discussion of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade classrooms. Many were content to dismiss concern, taking the law at face value and assuming it would be confined to K-3 , but even then many of us on the ground knew it was just the first step before Queer erasure was expanded through 12th grade, and we were right.

At the same time, DeSantis initiated a hostile takeover of many public universities, and put in place measures to censor resources and education serving students of color and LBGTQ+ students on college campuses as well. 

LGBTQ+ erasure (also known as queer erasure) refers to the tendency to remove lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual and queer groups or people (i.e. the LGBTQ+ community) intentionally or unintentionally from record, or to dismiss or downplay their significance.

Now, with their heinous agenda successfully forced upon Florida’s public school system, HB-599 suggests that Florida Republicans are prepared to expand the scope of their anti-LGBTQ+ regulations ten-fold. 

Ironically, supporters of laws like “Don’t Say Gay” and “Stop WOKE,” who rejected being labeled a homophobe by asserting their simple desire “to keep that stuff away from kids,” have allowed their fixation on a faux slippery slope to advance one that is actually real.

Upon HB-599’s implementation, not even grown adults would be expected to recognize and respect the existence of queer people in their workplace. 

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But as per usual, the queer community in Florida does not even have the luxury of agonizing over just this bill here and now, because we know that the next one will be even worse. Will they extend the ban on gender-affirming care to all adults? How long until adoption rights for queer couples are on the chopping block? Are we at the point where Ron DeSantis, in his quest to out-fascist Trump, embraces nullification and disregards all federally protected rights for minority groups?

As they have proved over and over again, Florida Republicans never cared about merely protecting the innocence of children. In reality, this goal was always a cheap gimmick to assuage so many useful idiots of their complicity in a full-scale war to eradicate the dignified existence of marginalized communities.

While it is decidedly more pleasant to hope for the best that this latest attack on queer people will finally be the last, it is painfully naive in reality. We know exactly how this culture war ends, and it is that of how similarly reactionary movements have concluded throughout history: with total rollbacks in the rights of the targeted minority group at hand. 

Thus, it is time to recognize the situation in Florida as the ticking time bomb that it is, which demands unignorable direct action in conjunction with federal intervention to hold Governor DeSantis accountable to the Constitution he so flagrantly tramples upon. However, with such a rigid institutionalist like Joe Biden at the helm, the latter unfortunately seems unlikely.

The former, conversely, is very achievable. I should know, because I founded an organization that is doing exactly that: giving young people the resources they need to resist DeSantis’ brand of politics in their own communities. 

Ultimately, whether you take action to support our movement or not, just make sure the reason you didn’t was not that you thought it wouldn’t get any worse, because I am tired of saying I told you so.

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Cameron Driggers is progressive student activist attending the University of Florida. As a highschooler, Cameron led state-wide campaigns to resist anti-queer measures, such as the Don’t Say Gay School Walkouts of 2022.

Presently, Cameron continues to advocate for empowerment of young people to make change as an Organizing Fellow for People Power For Florida.

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In her own words: Somali singer IDMAN on queerness & family

Musical artist, IDMAN, creates a sonic tableau of hybrid R&B that explores the highs and lows of navigating relationships & life

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IDMAN (Photo by Tyler Borchhardt/GLAAD)

Toronto native and musical artist, IDMAN, creates a sonic tableau of hybrid R&B that explores the highs and lows of navigating relationships and life. Shaped by her Somali heritage and a deep interest in social activism, IDMAN is a burgeoning singer/songwriter who began honing her skill set in childhood, immersing herself in American pop culture, learning English as a result. Her signature sound is credited to blending both North-American and Somali culture and music, alongside the support of her music collective, Golly Geng, Now, in a personal essay IDMAN is sharing a different kind of tune: her truth.

LOS ANGELES – Imagine that I was a stranger who knocked on your door on a random afternoon and asked: “Who are you when no one’s watching?”

What would you say?

Would I even deserve an answer?

This question will make sense by the end of this letter, but first, I want to tell you a story. 

In 2015, I went on a road trip to Miami for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Trans Justice Miami Power Summit with some close friends and organizer homies. Two of us were hijabis who’d signed up to support our queer/trans family as allies (Talk Valentina). 

A few years before, I was involved in activism where I made some friends while volunteering for a couple of marriage campaigns that ultimately won Mainers the right to same-sex marriage.

Only a select few people knew what I was working on, a family member of mine, her friends, and her father.

It was then that my eyes were opened. 

Her father was really supportive and truly understood MLK’s words: ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Her father saw me and I respected him dearly for it. He will never know how the nuance and compassion he showed me every time we spoke did so much to counter the narratives I’d been taught about who was or could be tolerant.

The first queer person in my life was my mom’s cousin.

I called her Auntie Guruhbadan, which means beautiful (it was a name I gave her not only to protect her identity but because I couldn’t pronounce her actual name as a five-year-old). I mention her because she made flyers for her wedding and it was the first instance where my father and I had explicitly talked about queerness. 

It was awkward and a bit clumsy but I understood two things: my father was trying to come from a place of respect and was talking from his heart.

A good sign.

The second queer person I knew and loved was my cousin, a trans woman.

She lived in the same building as my grandparents and would come over for meals. She presented as femme and wore traditional Somali dresses, hair coverings, and people honored TF outta her pronouns.

They rationalized the use of her pronouns and transition as the result of a head injury from an accident that would make her fight you if you didn’t use the right pronouns.

Yeah…mmmkay. She had them spooked and it was marvelous.

It never felt confusing or out of the ordinary.

They were some of the only adults I truly felt safe around as a kid. It went against everything I’d heard in the West about back home with issues around queerness and gender.

Later that year, I attended my first Pride as an ally.

It was during a speech when a close friend of mine, a Black Muslim woman, came out and referenced Surah Ar Rahman. She related it to our friendship and our presence there together. And it was at that moment that I truly felt the power of the queer community and the importance of family.

“Queer community and family is something different. It is a favor from God that I cannot deny,” she said.

To my friends Rana, Edric, Benn, Del Mar, and Samaa, I thank you for being the exact right people at the right time, with open hearts enough to care and say something.

Their presence in my life has allowed me to embrace my true self without reservation – a great gift that I came to know. It’s led me to a life full of so much pride and honor that has revealed a rich history and legacy.

Growing up I’d been led to believe that hiding your true self from people not equipped to hold or honor you, meant you were ashamed or embarrassed.

Out-culture has always been something I’ve felt like I’ve had to contend with.

I know there are folks out there who feel that silent, personal protest (the rainbow flag in their bag/under their bed) is sometimes the only safe way to feel connected or affirmed.

I feel as though out-culture has set up a dynamic that pressures young people to choose between access to resources like housing, food, security, and feeling valid or authentic to their identity. I hate the parts of out-culture that tugs at the integrity of those already at the bottom of the totem pole. It has always felt wack to me honestly. 

I believe that everyone has the right to choose how and when to disclose their personal identity.

No one should feel pressured to explain their desires or preferences. It’s essential to nurture a culture of respect and care, focusing on things that truly matter, such as providing resources, safety, and community support. I wish we told queer and trans youth more often that there is no standard within which to measure the authenticity of one’s identity, and that they’re valid whether they decide to come out or not. That the world’s reactions to their truths are not their fault, and that they are no less valid in their identities for deciding to withhold it from those they believe cannot honor them.

Statistics show that LGBTQ+ youth, especially those of color, are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Out-culture has often perpetuated anti-black, xenophobic, and Islamophobic attitudes. It’s crucial to challenge the idea that queer and trans people owe intimate details of their lives to others.

Ultimately, it’s up to individuals to decide whom they trust with their identities. It’s okay if someone doesn’t get to know all aspects of who we are. We must prioritize personal boundaries and respect for one another.

I believe in the agency to decide who we share what with, and my circles feel warm and they see me wholly. They get the benefit and gift of getting to experience all of me unabashedly and fully disarmed in some cases because they have demonstrated the ability to see and accept my agency.

It’s a shame, it’s a stain and it should be the regret of a lifetime for someone to deny themselves the love of a queer or trans person because they can’t see beyond their own projection.

What a flop.

It is always their loss.

I promise.

I wrote this letter today not out of a need to validate who I am.

I’m not more legit in my queerness for writing this letter.

I’m here to say that you are no less valid for choosing not to deal with all that may come with these choices.

It is just that: a choice.

I’ve been me, and I’ve been galavanting in my truth for years.

It’s just always been with and around those who could honor that much.

And if this letter is vague, I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more unapologetic. I hope everyone who hears me loud and clear knows this much: I love you, I love us.

There are no comments, no DMs, no culturally enforced shame, and nothing that could deter me from being able to say that much.

I wrote this because I could, and I felt safe enough to..

My folks understood me and I believe in my family enough to love them enough to give them the gift and honor of learning to love me as I am in this lifetime. 

I think they got it.

And I know I’ve got the necessary after-care in place if they don’t. I’ve got a community of support to lean on, a career that offers the financial independence to be okay without the support of family and pathways to medical resources to support mental health help and gender affirming care. Because of this access, not only do I feel safer in coming out, I also feel a responsibility to amplify our voices and affirm the many of us who can’t or might not be able to. It feels that much more important to affirm the validity of those who have been made to feel otherwise. Because I know queerness is universal (it should go without saying) and I know our liberation is bound together. From Palestine to Ferguson, Tigray to Toronto we exist as we always have and our freedom is tied together.

Truthfully, this all started with a friend, a pronoun, and the first line of a song, and it felt necessary to tell the story I want to tell artistically with the proper context. By the time my work is done, it’ll all be there. I hope it makes sense to you then.

I hope you understand that I’ll probably never address questions about what I like, who I like, or why I like whatever it is that I do like.

Personally, I don’t know you like that and it’s rude, tuh. I think the world would be a better place if we cared less about surveillance and policing one another and more about the things that matter – if folks are eating, if they feel safe, if they’ve got a roof over their head or solid community and real friendship around them.

Imagine.

So again, when it’s the middle of the night and someone randomly comes knocking at the doors of your boundaries with questions, remember you actually don’t have to answer them and that this is your house!!!

May our hearts remain inaccessible to the untrained or unopened heart, I love you 🤍 

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The preceding essay was previously published by GLAAD and is republished with permission. The essay was edited by Black queer filmmaker and screenwriter, Sabaah Folayan.

IDMAN’s current singles “Down For It”, “Good Life”, “Look At What I’m Doing To You” and “Hate” have garnered coverage from outlets such as COMPLEX, The Fader, V Magazine, PAPER, Ladygunn, and have generated over 7 million streams.

Recently crowned one of Amazon’s Breakthrough Artists in 2023 and coming off support slots for both Sampa The Great and Ella Mai, IDMAN’s debut EP Risk arrived this summer. Subsequently, a deluxe version, Risk: Reloaded, was released in August and anchored by a remix of Hate featuring Lojay and Highlyy.

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The people I remember on Trans Day of Remembrance

Brianna Ghey, Eden Knight, and Ariyanna Mitchell all lost their lives because they dared show the world who they were

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By Erin Reed | MISSOULA, Mt. – Whenever I travel from state to state to discuss the latest wave of anti-trans legislation, one of the most common questions I am asked is about the people who made the biggest impact on me. I never answer with the names of famous politicians or influential activists.

Instead, I think back to the stories of the people we lost along the way in pursuit of a world where transgender people can feel safe and dignified. Brianna Ghey, a young British trans girl who had been heavily bullied, who was murdered on her walk back from a local park. Eden Knight, who successfully escaped brutal oppression in Saudi Arabia by fleeing to the United States, only to be trafficked back there, leading to her suicide. Ariyanna Mitchell, a trans girl, who was gunned down at a party after she was asked about her gender identity.

Every transgender person you meet has lost someone; most of us have lost many. This is a reality I believe is often misunderstood by most cisgender individuals. The cold statistics of suicides and murder rates, frequently cited in studies and debates against right-wing media figures, can obscure the personal impact.

For us, these statistics represent living, breathing individuals we knew: Discord users whose status no longer turns green, phone numbers that will never send another text or call, faces in photographs that resurface every November 20th, only to be gradually overshadowed by newer images of more people who we’ve lost.

On days like today, my thoughts turn to Ariyanna Mitchell, a vibrant and beautiful young black teenager who excelled in dancing. Cherished by her friends, Ariyanna’s courage shone brightly when a gunman invaded the party she was attending. Bravely stepping between the assailant and her fellow partygoers, she was asked about her gender: “Are you a boy or a girl?” Tragically, her response led to her being shot. Ariyanna’s only ‘crime’ was protecting those around her while embracing her true self. She was just 17 years old.

Ariyanna’s story brings to mind the numerous 17-year-old transgender individuals I’ve met while speaking with parents. Witnessing the joy on their faces upon being recognized for who they truly are is a profound experience. I’ve seen parents who, after a journey of understanding, not only accept but also celebrate their child’s gender identity. Reflecting on my own days as a 17-year-old, unable to transition, I think about our collective efforts to create a world where young people like Ariyanna could freely do so. The injustice of stripping away such joy and light from a person is immeasurably cruel.

In March 2023, I learned about a transgender girl named Eden Knight who tragically took her own life in Saudi Arabia. Her story went viral as numerous trans individuals who knew her turned to Twitter, pleading for media coverage of her death. This story resonates with me profoundly because, when mainstream media failed to amplify her friends’ voices, they approached me, hoping I could bring her story to light. I did just that when I became the first journalist to cover her story, a story that would leave a mark on me for the rest of my career. The narrative they shared about Eden was both beautiful and heart-wrenching. As I listened and wept, I connected with those who had witnessed her vibrant life and felt the profound injustice of its loss.

Eden Knight was the daughter of a wealthy Saudia Arabian official. When she went to school in the United States, she came out as transgender, and quickly realized that her identity was incompatible with a government that refuses to recognize the existence of transgender people and incompatible with her father’s role in that government. So she fled, transitioned, and was fully embraced by her queer friends and family.

Eden Knight’s intention to seek asylum was tragically undermined. Her hopes were shattered when she was allegedly lured back to Washington, D.C., by two American fixers, Michael Pocalyko and Ellen Cole. Subsequently, she was sent back to Saudi Arabia, where she faced the terrifying ordeal of forced detransition. The anguish of being forced off of her medication and forced into a male identity proved too overwhelming, leading to her taking her own life. Eden left behind a community that had stood with her throughout her entire ordeal and had grown to love her. Her memory is a driving force in our continued fight against such injustices.

In February of this last year, news made it around the world of a young teen trans girl who was murdered on her walk through a park. Brianna Ghey, a 16 year old girl who made TikToks about her day to day life set to beautiful music, had her life taken by two people her same age. We would later learn that she was heavily bullied in school. When news of her death became widespread, her videos became makeshift memorials with millions of likes. Her life and the way that it was taken shook the community.

Her death did not occur in a vacuum. In the years surrounding her death, the United Kingdom had become a harsh place for trans people. Trans youth like her face waiting lists for medication that can be up to 20 years long. Legal documents are impossible to obtain for those under 18, and the dignity of trans people is debated daily in the UK Media. Just before he death, Scotland passed a measure that would have lowered the minimum age for legal gender recognition to 16 years old… this would have been old enough for Brianna to be recognized. However, the United Kingdom overturned Scotland’s efforts and kept its own age for gender recognition as 18 years of age. As such, Brianna Ghey’s death certificate officially recorded her as male. Sadly, the government rejected a campaign with the hashtag #DignityForbrianna which would have given her posthumous gender recognition.

On Trans Day of Remembrance, we remember Brianna for who she actually was. We remember her gender, regardless of what final indignity her government did to her. We remember all the lives lost, and all of the people who were misgendered in their deaths by their family or on their official documents. We remember these things to try to make the world better for kids like her. In an interview with Vice, one of her close friends stated, “If Bri would have wanted anything from her passing, it would be change.”

Each of these stories has profoundly impacted me. They all depict trans individuals enduring injustices that remain unresolved. Today, black trans women continue to face rampant violence, with gun violence affecting them disproportionately. The misgendering of trans individuals in death reports persists, a situation worsened by recent legislative actions in states like Montana and Kansas, where laws mandate the incorrect legal gender designation for trans individuals.

The neglect of trans and queer refugees continues, and the same system that facilitated Eden Knight’s tragic trafficking out of the United States remains in place. Currently, thousands of trans youths are being forced into detransition by laws banning their care, enduring the same trauma as Eden. Our efforts must persist until the day we no longer need to add another photograph to the memorial of those lost to such injustices on the day we honor the memory of the trans individuals who are no longer with us.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Trans community demands lawmakers end onslaught of attacks

Black and Brown trans people should be able to live as their most authentic self without fear of transphobic violence and discrimination

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By Bria Nelson | Lawrence, KS. – I enjoy living in Kansas. Specifically, Lawrence, Kansas, where I can attend a watercolor painting class at the local plant shop on Wednesday, the weekly drag show on Thursday, and a vintage clothing pop-up on Friday. But despite the beauty of the rolling Flint Hills, there is something ugly happening in the place I call home. Growing hostility towards the transgender and non-binary community is being codified through policies and perpetuated through violence that threatens our basic human rights. 

Rights activists see such rollbacks of hard-fought progress spreading across the US, and we’re bracing for new attacks that will test the country’s purported commitment to equality. The fight is the most grueling for those of us who are from Black and other marginalized communities. 

In the last year, violence claimed the lives of at least 25 transgender and gender non-conforming people in the US, with violence disproportionately affecting Black transgender women. These numbers are most likely underrepresented, as attacks against the LGBTQ+ community often go undocumented.

Black and Brown trans people should be able to live as their most authentic self without fear of transphobic violence and discrimination. 

To add to the growing animus, some states chose to attack transgender rights through legislation rather than protect them. This past June, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, declared a state of emergency after more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 41 states. Hundreds of these bills specifically targeted transgender people. 

Some of these anti-LGBTQ+ bills would limit the ability to update gender information on identity documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates, weaken nondiscrimination laws and protections in employment, and restrict free speech and expression through book and drag performance bans. State bills also attempt to restrict access to medically necessary health care including bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth, prohibit access to public accommodations like public bathrooms, and prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports. While introducing a bill doesn’t mean it will pass, 84 of these draconian measures made it out of committee and have been signed into law.

Even the introduction of these bills perpetuates harmful stigmas and allows misinformation to spread. I have witnessed how harmful the introduction of these bills has been on members of the trans community I am a part of. In Kansas, 14 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced and four were passed into law in the last legislative session. During that time, my trans friends and peers pleaded with conservative lawmakers to respect their dignity and protect their autonomy over their own bodies. Medical experts testified that the mere act of introducing these bills causes great harm to the mental health of transgender people across the state.

One bill, misnamed the Women’s Bill of Rights though it limits protections for transgender women, passed and went into effect on July 1st.  In response, LGBTQ+ activists in Lawrence refused to rest until the City Commission enacted a sanctuary city ordinance, increasing protections for trans people. Despite the immense fear transgender people were feeling in this moment, their message rang loud and clear: LGBTQ+ people have the right to live without fear, and we are not going anywhere.

Make no mistake, allowing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation to be passed sends a message that legitimizes homophobic and transphobic sentiment.  

There are some hopeful signs. Legislation to outlaw the LGBTQ+ panic defense was introduced in nine states as well as in the US House and Senate this year. Under that defense, people charged with violent crime against LGBTQ+ people can get a reduced sentence or evade criminal liability by stating that the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity prompted the violent act. 

As violence against the LGBTQ+ community continues to increase, it is important now more than ever for lawmakers in statehouses across the country and for the federal government to strengthen protections for trans people and especially for the most vulnerable members of this community—Black and Brown trans women. Lawmakers should be recognizing and protecting LGBTQ+ people’s equal dignity under the law. Legislators should support active efforts to quell discrimination, like Kansas’s HB 2178, and codify LGBTQ+ protections. The US Government should also meet its human rights obligations to respond to foreseeable threats to life and bodily integrity, and to address patterns of violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

While activists continue to fight for LGBTQ+ liberation, I am reminded to celebrate the small wins. I remain hopeful when I see young LGBTQ+ people organizing and exercising their right to protest in the name of egalitarianism.  They remind me that pride is not something solely limited to the month of June, but a badge of honor we always carry with us.

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Bria Nelson is a Researcher and Advocate on Racial Justice and Equity Issues with the Human Rights Watch U.S. Program.  Bria is an attorney and concentrates their research on racial justice and equity issues across the U.S., with a particular focus on reparations for enslavement and its legacies

As a movement lawyer, Bria has also worked to mobilize response and advocacy after the public murder of George Floyd, including undergoing an intensive fellowship training program with Law for Black Lives, an organization focused on grounding movements in Black queer feminism, abolition, and anticapitalism.

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Trans 101: Allyship is an action not an identity

Rose Montoya, is a social media creator with her ‘Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people

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Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is a hugely popular YouTube, Instagram & TikTok creator with her ‘Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

By Rose Montoya | LOS ANGELES – Real allyship is daily action, not an identity. Trans people need you to show up everyday. Educate yourself, stand up for us, vote in favor of our rights, call out hate, donate to organizations like @translifeline and @aadyarising, donate to our fundraisers, etc.

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Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.

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To follow Rose:

rosemontoya.com 

TheTrans101.com

Instagram.com/TheRoseMontoya

TikTok.com/@rosemontoya

 

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Trans 101: Dogs’ Genders 

Rose Montoya, is a social media creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people

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GLAAD/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is a hugely popular YouTube, Instagram & TikTok creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

By Rose Montoya | LOS ANGELES – Having a dog makes me wish that people would treat me and other trans people more like they treat my dog. Everyone asks for Hera’s gender/name/pronouns. No one actually cares about her genitals. But when it comes to me and other humans, people care so much about our body parts but rarely ask for our genders/ pronouns. 

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Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.

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To follow Rose:

rosemontoya.com 

TheTrans101.com

Instagram.com/TheRoseMontoya

TikTok.com/@rosemontoya

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Trans 101: Trans Amorous

Rose Montoya, is a social media creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people

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GLAAD/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is a hugely popular YouTube, Instagram & TikTok creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

By Rose Montoya | LOS ANGELES – Cis straight men are attracted to trans women. Many live in fear and shame of this attraction. Many project those feelings onto us in the form of violence. This must end. There’s an alternative. Being trans amorous is to love trans women openly, with respect, patience, honesty, and understanding. Trans women deserve this love.

To learn more read my op ed in TIME Magazine today

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Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.

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To follow Rose:

rosemontoya.com 

TheTrans101.com

Instagram.com/TheRoseMontoya

TikTok.com/@rosemontoya

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Trans 101: DL Men

Rose Montoya, is a social media creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people

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on

GLAAD/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is a hugely popular YouTube, Instagram & TikTok creator with her‘ Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

By Rose Montoya | LOS ANGELES – Happy Trans Awareness Week! Society teaches men to feel shame and fear of their attraction to trans women. Projecting that onto trans women in the form of disrespect, dehumanization, and violence is unacceptable. Being attracted to us is normal, common, and beautiful. DL men shouldn’t exist. A message to them: please recognize that the shame and fear we experience and the lack of societal acceptance we experience is exponentially higher. We deserve to be treated with love and respect.

To learn more read my op ed in TIME Magazine today

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Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.

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To follow Rose:

rosemontoya.com 

TheTrans101.com

Instagram.com/TheRoseMontoya

TikTok.com/@rosemontoya

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