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NCAA LGBTQ+ group and other sports groups condemn anti-trans laws

We applaud the legion of sports and business leaders for standing on the right side of history — on the side of transgender young people



INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam, a group of facilitators for a national training program that fosters LGBTQ+ inclusion in NCAA Division III athletics on Monday published a letter condemning the actions taken by Republican lawmakers in 28 states across the nation to introduce, pass, and have Republican Governor’s sign anti-transgender legislation.

2021 has been a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with 93 anti-transgender bills introduced across the country, the vast majority of which attempt to ban transgender women and girls’ participation in girls sports or ban transgender youth from accessing medically necessary, gender-affirming health care. 

Laws have been signed banning transgender women and girls’ participation in girls sports in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, with Executive Orders being signed to the same effect in South Dakota.  LGBTQ Advocates and allies point out that those legislators have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. 

“Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports,” the Human Rights Campaign pointed out in a media statement.

Aligned with the action taken by the NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam, the Miami Heat and the eSport giant Misfits Gaming have joined the growing list of sports leaders and business organizations condemning bans that would prevent transgender children from playing sports in school. 

The National Women’s Soccer League, the NCAA and women’s sports legends in basketball, soccer and wrestling are publicly opposing blanket bans targeting trans youth.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the team said: “The Miami HEAT champions diversity and inclusion both on and off the court. We believe sports are at their best when they bring people together to work, to play and to create a sense of belonging for all. Every young person deserves the opportunity to participate in athletics and experience the critical life lessons that sports offer such as wellness, dedication, problem-solving, and leadership. Sports should be welcoming for all.”

Cheryl Reeve, head coach of the WNBA Minnesota Lynx, denounced similar legislation being considered in St. Paul, calling out bill sponsors for using women’s sports as an excuse for harmful anti-transgender legislation. “Transgender exclusion pits woman athletes against one another, reinforces the harmful notion that there is only one right way to be a woman and distracts us from the real threats to women’s sports,” she explains.

Earlier this year, Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and team president Jim Olson met with bill sponsors in Salt Lake City to express concern that a ban on transgender kids participating in sports would not only negatively impact a community of young people that already face exponentially higher hurdles than their peers, but that such legislation could jeopardize the state’s relationship with the NBA and cost it the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game in 2023. Smith’s opposition ultimately helped defeat the bill.

Professional and collegiate sports are huge revenue sources for states. The Miami Heat generated $266M in the 2019-2020 season and the growth of the eSports industry has been explosive, with revenue topping $1B globally in 2020. The legislation, if passed, could force the hand of sporting associations that have fairness and inclusion governance guidelines, leaving them no choice but to host events elsewhere.

Pressure is also coming from players. Last month, 545 collegiate athletes sent a letter to NCAA leadership calling on the organization to “ensure that the NCAA lives up to the guidelines and standards that they claim to uphold by making a firm statement that you will uphold the NCAA Anti-Discrimination Policy and only operate championships and events in states that promote an inclusive atmosphere”.

NCAA President Mark Emmert delivered a warning to lawmakers last week, penning a letter decrying the bills as “conflicting with the NCAA’s core values” and affirming NCAA board policy mandating that championship events take place in locations “free of discrimination”. Should a trans sports ban become law in Florida, the state’s 50 NCAA championship events scheduled through 2026 would be in jeopardy.

Dozens of major corporations have spoken out as well, with Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Hilton, IHG Hotels, Instacart, Lyft, Microsoft, SunLife, Uber and others arguing that the business community has “consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws have a negative effect on our employees, our customers, our competitiveness, and state and national economies” and calling for “public leaders to abandon or oppose efforts to enact this type of discriminatory legislation and ensure fairness for all Americans”.

“We applaud the Heat and Misfits and the legion of sports and business leaders for standing on the right side of history — on the side of transgender young people,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director. “Just like their peers, transgender kids participate in sports to find a place to belong. Major sports teams in Florida and the country have long understood this and sought to provide pathways into sports for young people of all identities. It is beyond time for the Florida legislature to stop these bills that are driven by election posturing not the needs of young people in our state. Lawmakers should heed the overwhelming calls for inclusion and put a stop to these bills.”



Pro trans boxer Patricio Manuel is the new face of Everlast (video)



The culture wars are being fought on many fronts. To boost his faux “tough guy” image with his cultish evangelical base, President Donald Trump – whose father secured him four fake privileged-base deferments to get out of going into the Vietnam War – re-imposed the ban on open transgender military service, despite being days away from full equal integration.

The majority of fair-minded American people and the businesses that wish to serve them, however, are continuing in the progressive direction of diverse inclusion. Recently, Everlast, the renowned manufacturer of boxing, MMA, and fitness equipment, became the latest to take a stand against the forces of regression, announcing that Patricio Manuel, the world’s first professional transgender boxer, is the new face of the iconic 109-year old company.

And by embracing Manuel, Everlast knew it was embracing the fight outside the ring the boxer deals with daily.

“I’ve been boxing competitively since I was 17 and throughout my career, I’ve always thought of Everlast as the most iconic boxing brand out there,” Manuel tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Everlast has sponsored so many legendary Black boxers – Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Robinson, to name a few. So, it’s an honor to now be in their company as a Black transgender man, especially at a time when our humanity is under attack by the federal government and our rights are being debated by the Supreme Court. It’s an honor to fight for my community, as did those boxing greats who came before me.”

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West Hollywood Aquatics presents $40,000 to City of West Hollywood



West Hollywood City Councilmembers John Heilman, John D’Amico, Lauren Meister, John Duran, and Lindsey Horvath with WH20’s James Ballard and Colin Dueweke. (Photo courtesy WH20)

Stop for a minute. Set aside the latest Trump tweets and the gush of media reaction. How many times can your mouth gape open at the latest scandal? Let your gaze rest instead on this photo of happy people presenting and accepting a check. Why does this matter? Because some people are thinking of others, not just themselves in this era of selfies and flimsy affectations.

James Ballard and Colin Dueweke, members of the West Hollywood Aquatics — the world’s first LGBTQ swim team born out of the 1982 Gay Games and known affectionately as WH20 – presented a check for $40,000.00 to the City at the March 18 city council meeting. The donation is intended to cover the costs of a timing system/scoreboard and disability lifts for the new pool in West Hollywood Park, scheduled to be open in 2020, Craig Sinel, President of the West Hollywood Aquatics, told the Los Angeles Blade.

Let that sink in: a non-profit donates money to a rich city accustomed to being the grant-giver – for, in part – a disability lift. WH20 models decency, welcoming everyone, regardless of age or skill or disability. (See last year’s Los Angeles Blade story on the Logo documentary, “Light in the Water,” about the team’s history.)

“West Hollywood Aquatics is committed to giving back to the community that we call home and we are thrilled to partner with the City of West Hollywood to ensure that the state-of-the-art facility is fully equipped on the day it opens,” Sinel said.

“West Hollywood Aquatics has been participating in the process to build the new pool for many years, and this donation from the team shows the Council and City of West Hollywood residents how excited we are to be moving to our new home,” Sinel added. “This is a project for the entire community and is a win for youth programs, seniors, lap swimmers, masters, and everyone else who loves the water. This is about swimming, water polo, and the entire aquatics community, and we couldn’t be more excited.”



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Al Roker blasts Jillian Michaels for criticizing Keto diet

The fitness trainer says the ‘personal attacks’ were ‘bizarre’



Jillian Michaels (Photo by Don Flood; courtesy True PR)

Jillian Michaels revealed she “hates” the increasingly popular Keto diet but “Today” show weatherman Al Roker slammed the fitness trainer for dissing the high-fat, low-carb diet.

Speaking with Prevention, Michaels says she doesn’t like the diet because “There’s no calorie restriction;” “You may miss out on important nutrients;” and “It could shave years off your life.”

In response, Roker, who is a fan of the diet, called out Michaels for her aggressive reputation as a fitness trainer on “The Biggest Loser” on Twitter.

“So @JillianMichaels says #Keto is a bad idea. This from a woman who promoted on camera bullying , deprivation, manipulation and more weekly in the name of weight loss. Now those sound like bad ideas,” Roker tweeted.

Roker further defended the Keto diet, which he says he has been on since Sept. 1, on “The Today Show.”

“My point is, what works for you, works for you,” Roker explains. “There’s science on both sides that says it’s not a great idea and science that says it is a good idea.”

Michaels responded by posting a video on Twitter saying she didn’t appreciate Roker’s “personal attacks”

“It’s bizarre, it’s unnecessary, it’s beneath both of us,” Michaels said. “Read my book, ‘The 6 Keys.’ I’ve extensively researched everything in that, and nutrition is about way more than weight loss.”

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a&e features

Out, proud and, yes, fat

Love your body and shake your big booty



Dancing proud and loud with Bevin Branlandingham. (Photo courtesy Fat Kids Dance Class)

Bevin Branlandingham does not teach your average aerobics class. First off, she’s fat, and secondly she’s queer. And she feels perfectly at ease with you referring to her that way. The name of her class is “Fat Kid Dance Party,” and truly everyone is welcome.

“I use those terms because they’re used to oppress me, but I find a lot of liberation in embracing them. I want to be that example to other people, that you can love yourself no matter what,” Branlandingham, 39, told the Los Angeles Blade before her weekly class at Everybody Gym in the Glassell Park neighborhood of L.A.

Branlandingham’s journey to self-proclaimed fat acceptance started when she was only 22-years-old and she says she learned she could be “both fat and a babe.”

“I fell in with the right crowd. I met people who said all bodies were good bodies. I felt a paradigm shift after a childhood of bullying and depression and hating myself for my weight and a million failed diets,” she says. She adds, “I finally felt like I could be at home in my body and love it as it was, instead of needing it to change. That shifted my perspective on life… I became a body liberation activist.”

Her shift happened around the time she was finishing college and attending law school. She is an attorney. She lives with her girlfriend, a consultant who creates programs for schools and nonprofits about changing their culture around empathy – something Branlandingham focuses deeply on in her aerobic classes and on her website.

Her classes start with her burning sage to clear the energy and include traditional choreography for exercise, dance breaks, high-fives for water breaks aka self-love, and even Branlandingham quoting James Baldwin.

“It’s not just for fat people, but all people, because all bodies are affected by fat phobia. When there’s a type of body that’s seen as bad, then there’s this fear that either they’re going to get fat or disabled or old, but there’s a lot of freedom and joy in accepting all bodies as they are and all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are,” Branlandingham says about her work.

She came out to her family at 19. She had a girlfriend.

“For me it was harder being fat than queer. Because being queer was a mutable identity, so, it was easier for me to ignore the queer stuff and to focus on self-loathing around fat because that was more visible… I wasn’t raised particularly religious and I wasn’t taught that being gay was wrong, but coming out was a challenge.

“I came out before I found fat liberation so it was interesting because I knew I was queer, but I didn’t come out because I didn’t think anyone would find me attractive, so what was the point. It was rooted in fat-phobia and not being able to own my sexuality,” she says.

In addition to the classes she teaches in LA and the videos she’s raising money on Indiegogo to produce, Brandlandingham has lived several chapters. She started as a performer doing “Drag King” work. She says being fat on stage gave her audience permission to be themselves. She launched a podcast called a “Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life,” about her life, friends, fat fashion, sex, and style, and it became a blog called In New York City, she produced body positive dance parties – all in an effort for people to come out dance, be themselves, and eradicate judgment and self-consciousness.

Branlandingham opposes the term overweight. She prefers to use the word fat. She believes that the idea of medical obesity is an untruth.

“There are so many different ways to be fat. There are so many studies that show you can be fat and healthy and even be healthier than a thin person. Fat people are healthy and fat people are diseased. Adipose tissue, the tissue that causes fat, can be caused by genes, lifestyle, disease, side-effects from medicines, hormones, and the effects of trauma,” she says.

She believes that pathologizing fat people doesn’t lead to health, but it creates shame, and she says, shame has been shown to cause weight gain not weight loss.

“If you support people in loving themselves no matter what, you’ll support them in opening up to movement. Because a lot of people feel kept small and like they don’t get to try. We need spaces where it’s okay to screw up in class. In my class when I make a mistake, I love it, I say, ‘there’s no wrong way to do Fat Kids Dance Party,’ I’m modeling mistakes and making it safe for people. It gives them the freedom to bust a move and not worry about screwing up,” she says.

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