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Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in El Salvador on the rise

President Nayib Bukele has not publicly condemned murders

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San Salvador, El Salvador (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Blade published a Spanish version of this story on Nov. 21.

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in El Salvador have increased over the last two months.

Unknown suspects in a vehicle on Oct. 27 stabbed Anahy Miranda Rivas, a 27-year-old transgender woman, with a knife on Los Héroes Boulevard in San Salvador and dragged her to death.

The body of Jade Camila Díaz, a trans community leader in Morazán department, was found floating in the Torola River on Nov. 9, three days after she was reported missing. The murder of Victoria, 44, who was brutally killed, was reported on Nov. 16. The body of Oscar Cañenguez was found the next day near San Vicente’s market.

The country’s LGBTQ organizations remain on alert and they have not stopped their constant social media condemnations of the rise in the number of these cases against the LGBTQ community.

“What is happening @FGR_SV @PresidenciaSV? We demand concrete actions! Enough LGBTI deaths!,” Erick Ivan Ortíz, an LGBTQ activist and a member of Colectivo Normal, in a tweet in which the offices of El Salvador’s Attorney General and president were tagged.

Culture Minister Seucy Callejas, whose ministry is charged with the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in government policies on Twitter said, “We condemn social violence, especially that which targets the most vulnerable communities.”

“We are working to uncover the causes of the recent homicides,” added Callejas in her statement that LGBTQ organizations and activists criticized

“The culture minister made a pronouncement by tweet and refers to LGBTI people as most vulnerable communities, noting her discomfort with us,” William Hernández, director of Asociación Entre Amigos, told the Los Angeles Blade.

A trans woman’s disappearance in Santa Ana became public after these crimes against the LGBTQ community took place. This case is the one to which the El Salvador’s attorney general referenced, clarifying a person had been detained for having committed a crime.

“The prosecutor gave more importance to the crime,” Hernández told the Blade. “It was as though they implied that they kill us because we are involved in illegal activities and not because of LGBTIphobia.”

Assemblyman Josué Godoy, a member of the Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party who represents Santa Ana department, on social media declared, “We have seen over these last few days a series of hate crimes against the LGBT community, primarily against trans women. We must act.” He urged the State to condemn these crimes and act with respect to them.

El Salvador’s human rights ombudsman, via a statement from Julio Guillermo Bendec, condemned anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and said through outrage and social pressure the State must act to curb violence and discrimination against this segment of the community. At the same time, he urged authorities to undertake actions necessary to prevent these events that continue to happen.

The U.N. in El Salvador, which also wanted to show its solidarity with the LGBTQ community, on Wednesday issued a statement via social media and a poster.

“The U.N. system in El Salvador makes a call to national authorities who are charged with investigating these crimes that they punish those responsible, consider transphobia as an aggravating factor, and take urgent measures to prevent more acts of violence based on prejudice and hate towards the LGBTI community,” said the U.N. in El Salvador.

President Nayib Bukele as of deadline had still not issued an official statement or comment on his social media pages about these crimes against the LGBTQ community. Some may see this silence as a setback to the work that organizations have been doing for many years.

“The quality of life conditions for the LGBTI community for which we have been working for many years are falling apart for many people,” Hernández told the Blade. “They possibly think we have not achieved much, but we must keep fighting as long as changes don’t come from the State.”

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele
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The Vatican

Pope Francis expresses openness to blessings for same-sex unions

Pontiff vehemently opposed marriage equality in native Argentina

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Pope Francis (Photo by palinchak via Bigstock)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has said he is open to the possibility that the Catholic Church would allow blessings for same-sex unions. 

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on Monday released a letter that Francis wrote to five cardinals who urged him to reaffirm church teaching on homosexuality ahead of this week’s Synod on Synodality, a meeting during which LGBTQ+ Catholics, women in the church and other issues will be discussed.  

Francis wrote the letter on July 11.

The Associated Press reported Francis said “such (same-sex) blessings could be studied if they didn’t confuse the blessing with sacramental marriage.”

“This new step, outlined in a document released on Oct. 2 by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, allows for pastoral ministers to administer such blessings on a case-by-case basis, advising that ‘pastoral prudence’ and ‘pastoral charity’ should guide any response to couples who request a blessing,” noted Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministrya Maryland-based organization that ministers to LGBTQ+ Catholics, on Monday in a press release. “It also indicates that permitting such blessings cannot be institutionalized by diocesan regulations, perhaps a reference to some dioceses in Germany where blessings are already taking place with official and explicit permission. ‘The life of the church,’ the pope writes, ‘runs through many channels in addition to the standard ones,’ indicating that respecting diverse and particular situations must take precedence over church law.”

DeBernardo in the same press release said the “allowance for pastoral ministers to bless same-gender couples implies that the church does indeed recognize that holy love can exist between same-gender couples, and the love of these couples mirrors the love of God.”

“Those recognitions, while not completely what LGBTQ+ Catholics would want, are an enormous advance towards fuller and more comprehensive equality,” he said. “This statement is one big straw towards breaking the camel’s back of the marginalized treatment LGBTQ+ people experience in the church.”

The Vatican’s tone towards LGBTQ+ and intersex issues has softened since Francis assumed the papacy in 2013.

Francis has publicly endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples, and has said laws that criminalize homosexuality are “unjust.” Church teachings on homosexuality and gender identity have nevertheless not changed under Francis’ papacy.

Francis earlier this year told a newspaper in his native Argentina that gender ideology as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” because “it blurs differences and the value of men and women.” 

The pope was the archbishop of Buenos Aires when a law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in Argentina took effect in 2010. Francis was among those who vehemently opposed the marriage equality bill before then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed it.

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Pennsylvania

Openly gay journalist shot dead at home in Philadelphia

Jim Kenney, the Mayor of Philadelphia, said in a statement that he is “shocked and saddened” by Kruger’s death

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Josh Kruger, shown here with his cat named Mason, was shot seven times & collapsed in the street after seeking help. He was transported to Penn Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead. (Photo Credit: Josh Kruger/Facebook)

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – An openly gay journalist was shot to death in his Point Breeze neighborhood home in the 2300 block of Watkins Street in South Philadelphia early Monday morning.

According to Officer Shawn Ritchie, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department, 39-year-old Josh Kruger was shot at about 1:30 a.m. and collapsed in the street after seeking help. Kruger was transported to Penn Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:13 a.m.

Police said that Kruger was shot seven times throughout the chest and abdomen and that no weapons were recovered nor have any arrests been made. Homicide investigators noted that there was no sign of forced entry and the motive remains unclear.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement:

“Josh Kruger lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities — particularly unhoused people living with addiction. As an openly queer writer who wrote about his own journey surviving substance use disorder and homelessness, it was encouraging to see Josh join the Kenney administration as a spokesperson for the Office of Homeless Services.

Josh deserved to write the ending of his personal story. As with all homicides, we will be in close contact with the Philadelphia Police as they work to identify the person or persons responsible so that they can be held to account in a court of law. I extend my deepest condolences to Josh’s loved ones and to all those mourning this loss.”

The local PBS/NPR affiliate, WHYY reported Kruger had written extensively with bylines in multiple publications, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, The Philadelphia Citizen, WHYY, and Billy Penn.

CBS News reported that Kruger overcame homelessness and addiction to work for five years in city government, handling Mayor Jim Kenney’s social media and serving as the communications director for the city’s Office of Homeless Services.

He left city government in 2021 to return to journalism, according to his website.

“He was more than just a journalist,” Kendall Stephens, who was a friend and neighbor of Kruger’s told CBS News. “He was more than just a community member. He was somebody that fought that great fight so many of us are not able to fight that fight because we’re too busy sheltered in our own homes wondering if someone is going to knock down our doors and kill us the same way they killed him. The same way they tried to kill me. And we’re tired of it.”   

Jim Kenney, the Mayor of Philadelphia, said in a statement that he is “shocked and saddened” by Kruger’s death.

“He cared deeply about our city and its residents, which was evident in his public service and writing. Our administration was fortunate to call him a colleague, and our prayers are with everyone who knew him.”

The District Attorney’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee issued the following statement:

“Many of us knew Josh Kruger as a comrade who never stopped advocating for queer Philadelphians living on the margins of society. His struggles mirrored so many of ours — from community rejection, to homelessness, to addiction, to living with HIV, to poverty — and his recovery, survival, and successes showed what’s possible when politicians and elected leaders reject bigotry and work affirmatively to uplift all people. Even while Josh worked for the Mayor, he never stopped speaking out against police violence, politicized attacks on trans and queer people, or the societal discarding of homeless and addicted Philadelphians.

“We are devastated that Josh’s life was ended so violently. We urge anyone who has information that could lead to an arrest and prosecution for Josh’s murder to contact the Philadelphia Police or the DA’s Office directly. LGBTQ+ Philadelphians experience violence of all kinds every day; few people used their platforms to remind powerful people in government of that reality as effectively as Josh Kruger did. Josh and the communities he advocated for every day of his life deserve nothing less than justice and accountability for this outrageous crime.”

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National

National test of Integrated Public Alert & Warning System Oct. 4th

On Wednesday at 2:20 p.m. ET, there will be a nationwide emergency alert test on cell phones, wireless devices, radios, and TVs

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Image courtesy of The Federal Emergency Management Agency

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) on Oct. 4, 2023.

On Wednesday at 2:20 p.m. ET, there will be a nationwide emergency alert test on cell phones, wireless devices, radios, and TVs. This is a standard test that occurs at least once every three years. No action is needed.

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Nebraska

Nebraska to force “non-affirming therapy” on trans kids

In guidelines released by the state, trans youth will have many requirements to start care, including one likened to conversion therapy

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EIM/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Editor’s note: Important update- The regulations have been removed from the website but can be found in an archive here.

By Erin Reed | LINCOLN, Neb. – A new set of regulations released on Monday morning by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services spells out several new restriction on transgender youth in the state.

The restrictions, allowed under a new law passed by the Nebraska legislature this year, would curtail gender affirming care for those under the age of 19, the age of majority in the state. While several restrictions are poised to create hurdles for those seeking care, one in particular stands out as especially troubling: a mandate that all trans youth seeking treatment undergo five months of therapy that is “not in a gender affirming context,” a nod to a novel form of conversion therapy championed by those opposed to gender-affirming care.

The new regulations delineate a series of hurdles that transgender youth must navigate to access care. One rule, for instance, mandates that trans youth must have been fully out and living as their gender identity for six months prior to treatment, a throwback to an archaic and decades-old standard of care. This standard was discarded following criticisms that requiring transgender individuals to present as their gender identity, before hormones could facilitate such presentation, was psychologically painful and not linked to improved outcomes. Another stipulation demands that only a trans youth’s parents may collect their prescription, which must be labeled for gender dysphoria. Additionally, these youth must be handed obligatory medical misinformation forms, proclaiming the medication to be risky and promoting “alternatives” to care.

Most troublesome, however, is a particular regulation on the mental healthcare of transgender youth. The document states that transgender youth must obtain 40 hours of therapy, with a maximum of two such hours per week, that is “not in a gender affirming context.” Read literally, this could involve forcing transgender youth to be misgendered and their old names used for months before obtaining care. Such a regulation may put therapists and providers in legal jeopardy merely for practicing the basic respect and dignity of their patients. The guidelines also state that the therapy has to probe for other “mental and physical health conditions” that the guidelines claim may be “driving the patients distress.”

You can see the guidelines around therapy here:

Collectively, these guidelines champion a new form of conversion therapy dubbed “Gender Exploratory Therapy.” Despite its innocuous name, this therapy seeks to explore all possible causes for a transgender person to experience gender dysphoria other than genuine transness.

It’s important to highlight that the patient being transgender is never deemed an acceptable conclusion. Treatments are perpetually dangled just beyond reach until the trans youth believes they are not actually transgender, that too much time has elapsed and puberty has induced too many changes for a successful transition, or they turn 18 and age out of care.

Mirroring crisis pregnancy centers, these tactics are deployed under the pretense of “alternative care” and “neutral treatment,” despite the deception inherent in the care provided. The duplicity surrounding gender exploratory therapy is evident in its founders, its practitioners, and on the Gender Exploratory Therapy Association’s (GETA) own website.

One of GETA’s co-founders, Lisa Marchiano, was implicated in leaked emails of a working group seeking to ban gender-affirming care nationwide. In these correspondences, she employs the far-right doxxing website Kiwifarms to relay information about a transgender activist to Fox News.

Although the GETA website presents the practice as “care without pushing a political agenda,” it conspicuously displays a brief aimed at blocking Title IX anti-discrimination protections for transgender youth. Evidently, “value neutral, non-ideological care” is a misnomer for this form of therapy.

Many accounts of patients going through gender exploratory therapy can be found in a widely-viewed thread soliciting patients experiences, and the practice of delaying transition through the associated practice of “watchful waiting” is is explicitly condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Because of widespread harm caused by this kind of therapy, the practice has been recognized as unethical in medical ethics journals.

Collectively, these new guidelines were put in place after the passage of LB547, the “Let Them grow Act.” Fittingly with the comparisons to the way these kinds of practices are levied at those seeking abortions, the bill was a combination bill banning abortion up to 12 weeks as well while also containing the provisions allowing for these kinds of restrictions on trans youth. It passed the Nebraska legislature by a narrow supermajority after Democrats filibustered the law for three months.

These new policies were developed under the guidance of the state chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, an appointee by Governor Jim Pillen, who called gender affirming care “Lucifer at its finest.” These policies were released on an emergency basis pending the adoption of permanent regulations and will go into effect immediately. A hearing is planned on November 28th on the permanent rules for gender affirming care under the new law.

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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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U.S. Federal Courts

Lesbian mother from El Salvador released from ICE custody in La.

Jessica Barahona-Martinez arrested on June 26, 2017

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An ICE Detentions facility (Photo Credit: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo division)

LAFAYETTE, La. — A federal judge last week ordered the release of a lesbian mother from El Salvador who had been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since June 2017.

Jessica Patricia Barahona-Martinez and her three children entered the U.S. on May 31, 2016. A court filing notes she fled “persecution she faced in El Salvador as a lesbian, and because the government had falsely identified her as a gang member.”

Barahona-Martinez lived with her sister and other relatives in Woodbridge, Va., until ICE arrested and detained her on June 26, 2017. She was housed at two ICE detention centers in Virginia until her transfer to the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center, a privately-run facility the GEO Group, a Florida-based company, operates in Basile, La., in October 2020. 

An immigration judge in November 2019 granted Barahona-Martinez asylum for the second time. The government appealed the decision and the Board of Immigration Appeals, which the Justice Department oversees, ruled in their favor.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana last month filed a writ for habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s Lafayette Division that asked for Barahona-Martinez’s release. U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty on Sept. 27 ruled in her favor.  

“Petitioner (Barahona-Martinez) ultimately argues that her prolonged detention violates due process; she moves that this court issues a temporary restraining order, requests release, a bond hearing, an expedited hearing and costs and attorney fees,” wrote Doughty.

“This court finds that petitioner has plausibly alleged her prolonged detention violates due process,” added Doughty.

An ACLU spokesperson on Monday told the Blade that ICE has released Barahona-Martinez and she is once again in Virginia with her children and sister. 

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California Politics

Newsom appoints Laphonza Butler to Feinstein seat

Newsom’s office confirmed that he has picked Butler, an Out Black lesbian Democratic strategist who rose to prominence in the labor movement

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EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler speaking at EMILYs List's annual We Are EMILY National Gala, May 16, 2023. (Photo Credit: EMILY’s List/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On Sunday evening, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he is appointing Black openly lesbian EMILY’s List President, Laphonza Butler, to the vacant seat of the late U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein who died Friday at age 90.

Butler’s wife is Neneki Lee, the Washington D.C.-based Director for labor union SEIU’s Public Services Division.

News of Butler’s selection by Newsom was first reported by POLITICO’s California Bureau Chief Christopher Cadelago.  A source knowledgeable on the governor’s team told POLITICO there were no preconditions about whether she could run in 2024.

Newsom’s office confirmed that he has picked Butler, a Democratic strategist who rose to prominence in the labor movement, to fill Feinstein’s seat.

In an emailed statement, Governor Newsom said:

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate. As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.” 

Equality California tweeted a statement praising Newsom’s action:

Democrat Alex Padilla, now serving as California’s senior U.S. Senator, released the following statement after Newsom appointed Butler to fill the vacancy created by the late Senator Feinstein: 

“Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights, and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics. I’m honored to welcome her to the United States Senate.

“Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California.” 

Butler is a longtime leader in Democratic politics in California and beyond. She has been involved in campaign strategy, and the labor movement for two decades, and according to her official biography she has dedicated her life to empowering women and supporting them in finding their voice, and using it to make meaningful change.

Newsom’s office noted in its statement:

“Butler, a longtime senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, labor leader, and advocate for women and working people, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She will also be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.”

Prior to joining EMILYs List, Butler served as Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb. She also was a partner at SCRB Strategies, a political consulting firm where she was a strategist for candidates running up and down the ballot and a senior advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign.

With nearly 20 years in the labor movement, Butler has served as the president of the biggest union in California, and the nation’s largest homecare workers union, SEIU Local 2015. She was elected to this position at just 30 years old, one of the youngest to take on this role. As president, Butler was the leading voice, strategist, and architect of efforts to address pay inequity for women in California and a top advocate for raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour – the first state in the nation to do so, benefiting millions of working women in low wage jobs. That effort also gave hundreds of thousands of home workers access to paid time off. She also served as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council.

Throughout her career, Butler has been highly regarded as a strategist working to elect Democratic women candidates in political offices across California and nationally. A long-time supporter of Kamala Harris in her California runs, Butler was a key leader in Vice President Harris’s presidential campaign. She served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in California during the primary and general elections. Most recently, Butler was a campaign operative behind the campaign to make the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors all-women for the first time in its history with the election of Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

She has been a member of the University of California Board of Regents and a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Defense Fund and BLACK PAC.

Laphonza grew up in Magnolia, MS, and attended one of the country’s premier HBCUs, Jackson State University. She lives in Maryland with her wife, Neneki, and together they have a daughter, Nylah.

EMILY’s List is an American political action committee that aims to help elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights to office. It was founded by Ellen Malcolm in 1985. The group’s name is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”. Malcolm commented that “it makes the dough rise”.

Governor Gavin Newsom Appoints Laphonza Butler to the U.S. Senate:

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Missouri

‘Trans is beautiful’ Missouri high school senior says, defies haters

Young told the Kansas City Star newspaper that the hatred would not deter her from living her life authentically

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17-year-old Tristan Young described the joy she felt when two weeks ago her peers at suburban Oak Park High School had chosen her for their 2023 homecoming queen. (Screenshot/Kansas City Star video)

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In a recent interview with the Kansas City Star newspaper, 17-year-old Tristan Young described the joy she felt when two weeks ago her peers at suburban Oak Park High School had chosen her for their 2023 homecoming queen.

Tristan Young, center, crowned homecoming queen standing alongside other candidates.
(Photo Credit: Oak Park High School North Kansas City School District/Facebook)

As the Young approached midfield at half-time in the game, along with the four other nominees, she told the Star she heard the roar of her classmates cheering and applauding at the sound of her name. She was chosen queen and for the transgender senior it was ‘the’ moment.

“I was so overwhelmed,” Young told the Star. “I thought I was never going to be in this position. And, in that moment, I had tears welling in my eyes because I just felt so supported. And I just felt like, this school wants me to be who I am, and not who other people want me to be.”

However, the next day Young was caught up in an explosion of transphobic hate speech and threats from across the United States.

The transphobic hate and threats was spread on Facebook, Instagram, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, where the notorious Libs of TikTok, a handle for the far-right anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech social-media accounts operated by Chaya Raichik- a former Brooklyn, New York real estate agent, spread the anti-trans messaging directed at Young.

Libs of TikTok has millions of followers and the account’s vitriol and hate speech has in the past fomented and instigated threats against the LGBTQ+ community and allies.

The Star also reported that with the deluge of hatred directed at the teenager, family members including a sister attending university in Boston became alarmed and called home.

“She was worried about Tristan being safe,” said Chari Young, the senior’s mother told the Star.

Responding to the threats Young told the paper,

“The comment that has stuck with me,” Young said, “was that I should have been dragged off the field by my hair and beaten up.”

While no one is certain how the news spread nationally, although once Raichik posted about young, the inevitable tsunami of hate followed. Ironically the Star reported that Young was in fact the second transwoman crowned homecoming queen at Oak Park High.

Nearly 8 years to the day on September 15, 2015, Landon Patterson, 18, was named homecoming queen.

Landon Patterson in September of 2015 after being named homecoming queen at Oak Park High School. (Screenshot/KMBC ABC 9)

Young told the paper that the hatred would not deter her from living her life authentically.

“I’m just not one of those people,” Young said. “I like to stay strong. I don’t really buckle unless something is really wrong. Right now, what’s happening is people are trying to turn a joyous thing into something that I should regret. But it’s going to stay a joyous thing.” She added that ‘Trans is beautiful.”

Local advocacy groups and others including former trans homecoming queen Patterson have rallied to the teen’s side.

Justice Horn, the chair of the Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, posted on X: “I uplift this against the transphobic comments against this young person.”

“I told her stay strong. You’re gorgeous. You’re beautiful. And no matter what these people say, they can’t take away this crown. They can’t take away this moment from you,” Patterson told The Star, adding, “Everything is amplified as a kid. Choosing yourself over everyone else’s opinion takes a lot of courage and bravery. … All these things that they said about her, that they said about me, what they say about trans people, it’s truly just ignorance. They probably don’t even know a trans person. They’re just saying things to be hateful. “Being trans is a reality. This is our life. It’s not going away.”

Additional reporting by the Kansas City Star and wire service reports.

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Congress

House averts shutdown, clears bipartisan spending bill

Conservative members of GOP caucus warned they would replace the Speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown

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U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) speaks in favor of the stop gap funding measure Saturday. (Screen capture/PBS News)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House on Saturday approved a 45-day continuing resolution that, should the Senate approve the stopgap measure, as expected, will avert a government shutdown.

In a stunning turn of events, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats backed the proposal, H.R. 5860 advanced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was passed with a vote of 335-91.

Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted against the continuing resolution which, in addition to funding U.S. government agencies through mid-November, will provide billions in disaster relief .

(Screenshot C-SPAN)

Democrats agreed to the bill even though it did not contain U.S. aid to Ukraine. Still, the most conservative members of McCarthy’s caucus have warned they would replace their speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown.

In recent weeks, these members advanced far-right anti-LGBTQ amendments to spending packages that stood no chance of becoming law.

The Senate voted 88-9 to pass a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government at current levels through Nov. 17 and gives the Biden administration $16 billion it requested to assist victims of natural disasters.

“Bipartisanship, which has been the trademark of the Senate, has prevailed. And the American people can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

After the Senate voted late Saturday evening to pass the House stop-gap continuing resolution, the White House released the following statement from President Biden:

“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans. This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people.

But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis. For weeks, extreme House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.

While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

Biden is expected to sign the measure once it is delivered to the White House before the midnight deadline.

UPDATED:

On Saturday, September 30, 2023, the President signed into law:
 
H.R. 5860, which provides fiscal year appropriations to Federal agencies through November 17, 2023, for continuing projects of the Federal Government and extends several expiring authorities.

Speaker McCarthy’s Press Conference After House Passage of 45-Day Stop-Gap:

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Virginia

Virginia students walk-out protesting trans Outing policy

Students have been organizing walkouts across Virginia since Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced new guidelines for trans & nonbinary students

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Dozens of Virginia Beach high school students, all dressed in black, addressed the school board on Tuesday in opposition of the 2023 model policies for trans students. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/WAVY-TV Norfolk)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

According to NBC affiliate WAVY 3, the Virginia Beach School Board has delayed a vote on proposed updates on its current non-discrimination policy that in some ways is consistent with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s model policy, and in other ways, is taken verbatim.

A vote is now expected at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting, WAVY reported.

Dozens of LGBTQ+ students came out to the school board’s meeting and spoke out during public comment. The group was dressed in black to symbolize the deaths of their identities if VBCPS aligns the current non-discrimination policies with Youngkin’s model policy.

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Cal Benn, is a journalism major at Emerson College who is in D.C. with the Washington Center, and is a Fall intern at the Washington Blade.

Benn’s work focuses on human rights, climate change and how the two issues intersect. They are also passionate about sustainability, advocacy and writing and enjoy skateboarding and playing with their cats when they are not writing.

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Africa

Eswatini government refuses to allow LGBTQ+ rights group to legally register

Supreme Court previously ruled in favor of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities

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Members of the Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities, an LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group, after the Eswatini Supreme Court on May 5, 2023, heard arguments in their case in support of legally registering in the country. (Photo courtesy of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities)

MANZINI, Eswatini — The Eswatini Commerce, Industry and Trade Ministry this week said it will not allow an LGBTQ+ rights group to register.

The country’s Supreme Court in June ruled the government must allow Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities to register.

The Registrar of Companies in 2019 denied the group’s request. Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities the following year petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case. The Supreme Court initially ruled against the group, but it appealed the decision.

“[The] Minister of Commerce and Trade refuses to register ESGM citing the ‘Roman Dutch Law,'” said Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities on Thursday in a tweet to its X account. “This was after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the refusal to register ESGM by the registrar was unconstitutional.”

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