It’s supposed to be Pride season in Los Angeles, but you wouldn’t know it.
It’s supposed to be a time you’d normally expect a thousand and one events at dozens of locations celebrating every color of the rainbow, glittering events replete with deep-pocketed corporate sponsors and breathless expectations for the celebratory Pride Parade.
It’s supposed to be time for a Proud people to honor an heroic generation who, exhausted by institutionalized oppression and violence, donned their best drag and Birkenstocks, stood up and fought back, saying ‘fuck you’ to the closet of invisibility and second-class subjugation.
Tragically, Pride events seem almost nonexistent this year, but Pride is bursting out all over.
It has been hobbled by the unexpectedly erratic nature of public health restrictions during a pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people worldwide, 62,000 in California and 25,000 in Los Angeles County.
For more than a year, we have sacrificed much of our local economy to make sure the disease could be contained and that lives were spared.
And now, things have changed.
Thanks to science, miracles in medicine, measures taken by thousands of heroic workers and our difficult sacrifices, we stand before the dawn of a brighter day. COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are, to quote a New York Times headline, “Dropping Like a Rock.”
But Pride Month should be kicking into high gear by now, adjusting to and dealing with the ‘known unknowns’ that have made any kind of a traditional organized event impractical and nearly impossible.
Unfortunately sponsors require liquidity and lead time to support organized events and many have been devastated financially by the COVID economy. Additionally, they have a heightened concern for liability in 2021 without an ‘all clear’ from the LA County Department of Health.
But we are supposed to be a community that knows how to navigate these dark choppy waters.
The 1969 Stonewall rebellion in New York was a spontaneous event. It lasted for days and has resonated for more than 50 years. Our response to the AIDS crisis was a spontaneous coming together as a diverse community that humanized our plight and moved science, politics, the arts and pockets of society to take action. We fought ignorance and wave after wave of significant attacks and violence against our people by creating grassroots infrastructures to serve our needs. The LA LGBT Center, GLAAD, even more recently, the launching of the Los Angeles Blade were all responses to our need to take care of our own.
So, where are LA’s LGBT leaders now, when you need them? Are there any?
Why isn’t anyone demanding a Pride celebration, even impromptu?
We don’t need permission.
We don’t need a budget.
We don’t need any City to say we can take the streets and march in peaceful assembly.
It’s our first amendment right, afterall.
How is it possible that with less than a month to go, Christopher Street West — an organization that has hosted LA Pride in Los Angeles since 1970 — is silent on whether there will be any live events or even a march?
After breaking up with the City of West Hollywood last year, the best CSW seems to be able to execute is a KABC broadcast. While that was great during the worst of COVID and I loved last year’s show, a virtual-only approach to a life with Pride is not enough.
LGBTQ people are 12% of the population in Greater Los Angeles County – but are the haven cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood even doing anything? They don’t seem to know much.
During a mid-April West Hollywood City Council meeting, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed some ideas that would have utilized the services of Jeff Consoletti’s JJLA to create a series of interactive events and highlight WeHo businesses. But there were too many perceived unknowns — the status of LA County’s COVID restrictions being the biggest hurdle — to fully embrace it.
It was decided at that meeting that West Hollywood will host WeHo Pride during the weekend of June 25, 26 and 27. In addition to the City’s yearly One City One Pride programming (so far virtual), the Chamber of Commerce was tasked to work with businesses to have them develop Pride themes in their establishments and Out on Robertson will feature LGBTQ Non-profit booths.
Councilmember Sepi Shyne, noted the lack of a march component, saying that a large gathering event should be expected. Councilmember John D’Amico agreed and called for funding of a trans-focused aspect of whatever event comes together.
The LA City Council has yet to discuss Pride specifics.
Yet, there are models for how to do Pride in uncertain times.
Last year, a group of Black LGBT activists called for a solidarity march that replaced Pride. It was held in solidarity with Black Lives Matters, highlighting the murders of Black transgender people nationwide. It was called the ‘All Black Lives Matter March.’
That march was a nearly spontaneous event. It was an entirely trouble-free celebration march of inclusion and diversity — and it was among the most spectacular and most joyous Pride days of my nearly 40 years attending Pride marches and events around the world.
It was cathartic for the hundreds of thousands of COVID-masked people who gathered that day, a day that gave hundreds of thousands of Angelenos who had felt bereft of a way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of one of the world’s largest and most important parades.
The rage that built up after the May 25, 2020 police killing of George Floyd and the earlier fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor finally awoke a nation to the thousands of similar murders exposing the cancer of systemic racism institutionalized in our society and culture.
Our LGBTQ+ community woke up, spoke up and acted up, too.
We’ve been on edge since the election of Donald Trump, which promised a near total erasure of all political and social progress we had made over decades of fighting. Trans people, in particular, were targeted by Trump.
LA responded with the Resist March with thousands of people taking over Hollywood Boulevard and marching to a rally in West Hollywood. We wanted to put the Trump Administration on notice that ‘we weren’t going to take it,’ we are not going back and we will not be erased!
And then there was that morning of LA Pride’s Parade in 2016 when we all woke up to the horrifying news that 49 members of our community had been murdered by a madman at the Pulse dance club in Orlando, Fla. We soon discovered that another lone-wolf anti-LGBTQ attack had been planned for the parade in WeHo. One man from Ohio was arrested with guns in his car; we feared others had escaped detection. But we resolved to courageously march anyway, turning the Pride celebration into a remembrance of the lives lost in Orlando.
We were so resolved in large part to our many years of experience celebrating Pride during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis. Those were remarkable year when we fought for our lives against another pandemic. And we fought in impromptu ways with anger and pride and always with overflowing joy.
Now, after more than 14 months of COVID lockdown, we want to break free.
Bouncing off the June 25, 26 and 27 WeHo Pride weekend announcement, I propose a covid-safe, socially distant and impromptu celebratory march from Fairfax to Robertson along Santa Monica Boulevard on the morning of Sunday June 27.
We have so much to celebrate. We have climbed out of a Covid-19 disaster. Our community has embraced vaccinations. We have a new President and there is renewed hope that many of us have never experience before. It’s a liberation.
Pride is bigger than any one of us. We must refer to the past lessons of Pride and celebrate together in 2021.
But will we?
Farewell to a Genius: a tribute to Sondheim
The genius of Sondheim is that he used the brilliant flame of his imagination to lead the way into a new world
PALM SPRINGS – When I learned of the passing of Stephen Sondheim, I was playing a game.
Like so many of us nowadays, I spend more of my downtime than I care to admit mindlessly distracting myself by manipulating pixels on a handheld screen, so although I wish I could say it was the kind of brain-challenging, devilishly clever game of which of Sondheim himself was famously a fan, it most definitely was not.
Brainless as it may have been, this was what I was doing when the notification banner suddenly popped up. Short and to the point, it was a breaking news alert: “Stephen Sondheim, master craftsman who reinvented the musical, dies aged 91.”
At first, I went through the reflexive mental process of acknowledging that, although I felt a pang of sorrow, there was comfort in knowing he had lived a phenomenally lengthy life of success and accomplishment surely beyond his wildest dreams.
It was true that I loved Stephen Sondheim as much as it was possible to love any human being I had never actually met, but this was an inevitable event for which I had stoically prepared in advance. I couldn’t find it within myself to be sad.
It was shortly thereafter that I realized this was a loss I was going to feel for the rest of my life.
Like many little gay boys of my generation, I grew up being exposed to musical theatre through the old cast albums my parents owned. “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot,” “Cabaret” – the songs from these and so many more classic shows made up a big portion of the soundtrack to my childhood, fanning the flames of a lifelong love that continues to this day.
I was aware of Sondheim at the time – but I wasn’t impressed. Naturally, I loved “West Side Story” – already a movie buff, it was one of my favorite Hollywood classics – but I had no interest for shows like “Company,” “Follies,” or “A Little Night Music,” which were about boring grown-ups going through boring grown-up things and taking it all far too seriously.
It wasn’t until later, when I discovered “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” as a teen, that I was hooked. Here was all the over-the-top, period-costumed spectacle I adored about musical theatre wrapped up into a deliciously gruesome tale of people being slaughtered and served up as meat pies, and Angela Lansbury was the star. I couldn’t resist it, and as I listened for the first time to its dizzyingly complex songs, I finally “got” Sondheim.
Simultaneously, the old-fashioned favorites from my youth began to lose a little bit of their luster for me. Compared to this darkly beautiful masterpiece, in which somehow even the most reprehensible actions and characters were imbued with a comprehensible humanity, they seemed suddenly quaint and unsophisticated, relics of a world that was quickly fading away.
This was true, of course, for an entire generation. The genius of Sondheim is that he used the brilliant flame of his imagination to lead the way into a new world where musicals didn’t have to be brain candy, where they could make the kind of observations and revelations about the fathomless depths of human experience that had previously been the sole province of the so-called “legitimate” theatre.
But you don’t need me to tell you that: if you’ve read any of the countless obituaries and tributes published in the wake of his passing, you already know it, if you didn’t already.
In writing this tribute, it was suggested I might offer up a “thoroughly LA” take on the life of this icon – and since I normally write mostly about film and television, that certainly is fitting. I could point out that the boundary-pushing genius which helped Sondheim transform the Broadway musical was the very thing that made him a hard sell in Hollywood. His work was inherently theatrical, a delicate balance of razor-sharp reality and high concept conceit, and, to be fair, even the greatest of filmmakers would likely be challenged to capture the right blend on a screen.
“West Side” was a multi-Oscar-winning hit on film, but it was already a cultural sensation by the time it was made, and other early adaptations of his work (“Gypsy,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “A Little Night Music”) failed to make quite as big a splash. Later, high-profile screen versions were made of “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods” – but for devotees, despite their relative financial success, these were pale shadows of the master’s originals. Still, Sondheim made an impact on Hollywood in other ways; most memorably, he won an Oscar for writing “Sooner or Later” for Madonna to sing in “Dick Tracy.” He also contributed songs for movies like Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” and even co-wrote (with longtime friend Anthony Perkins) the twisted screenplay for “The Last of Sheila,” a wickedly inventive comedy-mystery from 1973 that has achieved cult status even outside the Sondheim fanbase.
But really, Sondheim was not of Hollywood, or of LA, or even of New York, though his sensibilities were a considerably better fit there. The truth, the insight, the intelligence, and the boundless curiosity about life that permeated all his works prove that he was beyond belonging to a particular place or time.
Of course, die-hard Sondheim fans – and trust me, there are more of us than you think – need no proof that his was a universal voice. That’s why we are all so eager to talk about him, to drop quotes from his lyrics into as many conversations possible, and to tell you which Sondheim song is their favorite and why they think it’s the best of all.
And which is mine? I tend to fluctuate, depending on where I am at in my life at the time. It’s often tempting to count the devastating “Ladies Who Lunch,” an existential crisis set to music, at the top of the list. At other times it’s “Finishing the Hat,” a confessional lament about the emotional isolation of being an artist, or “I’m Still Here,” an oft-recorded celebration of show-biz survivors that’s been embraced by other kinds of survivors as well. Like a lot of us who were around in the 80s and 90s, I also feel a deep connection to “No One Is Alone,” the heartfelt ballad of comfort adopted as an anthem during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis.
Yet there’s one song I keep coming back to, over and over. “Someone in a Tree” was composed for “Pacific Overtures,” a show about the opening of Japan to Western commerce in the 19th century. In the song, concealed observers watch a treaty being negotiated behind closed doors, yet they can report no relevant information about what takes place in the meeting because they only see it from their limited viewpoints.
In lesser hands, the situation might be nothing more than fodder for an extended comedy of errors, but for Sondheim it becomes a springboard into a Zen-like meditation – “It’s the ripple, not the sea, that is happening” – about the importance of perspective. It’s a breathtaking achievement, and at one point in his career the composer himself once cited it as his favorite among all his works. If I had to pick one, it would be mine, too.
That’s because perspective is probably the greatest gift of the many that Sondheim gave me: he opened my eyes to a world of infinite viewpoints, where even the most mundane or ridiculous or horrific or devastating moments can be seen as beautiful, and where every single human experience has meaning, if only you can find the right angle from which to look at it.
John Paul King is the Los Angeles Blade’s Arts & Entertainment editor and featured A&E columnist
Evangelical Christian groups flout the law – again
Christian Right groups promoting anti-LGBT practices in the US and abroad, despite bans, is nothing new: they’ve been doing it for decades
By Chrissy Stroop | PORTLAND – In recent years, 40% of American states, along with more than 100 municipalities, have begun banning mental health professionals from providing so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to minors (defined in the United States as people under the age of 18).
The American Psychiatric Association, which first expressed its “strong opposition” to this harmful practice in 1998, reiterated its position in 2018 – at a time when anti-LGBTQ sentiments were flaring up amid a general right-wing backlash against democratic norms and civil rights gains. The American Psychological Association has also provided a helpful list of talking points in support of legislative efforts to ban ‘conversion therapy’.
Whether such bans are observed or enforced, however, is another matter.
A new investigation by openDemocracy has revealed that one of the US’s most prominent anti-LGBTQ organisations, the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, has continued to promote ‘conversion therapy’ to minors – even in areas where bans are in place. An undercover reporter posing as a 17-year-old “struggling with same-sex attraction” found Focus-affiliated therapists who were willing to “help” her “change” her sexual orientation in Virginia and Colorado, both states that ban ‘conversion therapy’ for minors.
In addition, openDemocracy discovered that Focus on the Family’s list of approved counsellors includes “dozens” of “licensed professionals who offer specific treatment for ‘homosexuality issues’, ‘gender identity issues’ or both” and “have children and adolescents as clients, including in states where ‘conversion therapy’ is banned”.
Practitioners seeking Focus’s imprimatur must have a “state mental health credential”, which means that the group is not only flouting state and local ‘conversion therapy’ bans, but also demanding that licensed therapists flout the established standards of their fields in favour of fundamentalist Christian ideology that treats queerness as “sin”.
Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 by Dr James Dobson, who believed corporal punishment was required of Christian parents, and who was far more influenced by eugenicist thinking than most evangelicals would prefer to admit. He soon established himself as a public figure, first as the conservative Christian disciplinarian answer to the nurturing style of parenting promoted by the likes of Dr Benjamin Spock, and then as a power broker in the increasingly authoritarian Republican Party.
The group has some unpleasant friends. The Family Research Council (FRC) – designated an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – was integrated into Focus on the Family in 1988, as its advocacy arm. They officially split into separate organisations again in 1992 (in a move to protect Focus’s tax-exempt status as a religious non-profit), but Dobson remained on the FRC’s board.
Disregard for legal norms
Focus on the Family’s extreme anti-LGBTQ animus is, of course, not unique on the Christian Right – and neither is its disregard for legal norms. For example, Liberty University, a hardline evangelical institution founded by culture warrior extraordinaire Jerry Falwell, Sr., once penalised law students who argued in an exam that an “ex-lesbian” mother should obey court orders requiring parental visiting rights for her ex-wife. The reason the mother – who was, in fact, not so hypothetical – was supposed to engage in “civil disobedience” was to “protect” her child from exposure to “the homosexual lifestyle”.
As documented by an FBI affidavit, the real-life mother behind the exam question had actually kidnapped her child and fled the US for Nicaragua, where she was staying in the beach house of a Christian Right activist. Which leads to the issue of the US Christian Right’s international reach.
Evangelical missionaries have contributed to the rise of reactionary politics in Latin America, and they are also well known for disregarding laws put in place to protect uncontacted Indigenous peoples. So we should not be surprised that – on top of the new revelations about Focus’s disregard for ‘conversion therapy’ bans in the US, openDemocracy has identified mental health practitioners with links to Focus and Exodus Global Alliance (another US Christian conservative group) accused of providing ‘conversion therapy’ in Costa Rica.
Although ‘conversion therapy’ is not yet banned in Costa Rica, it does represent a pernicious export from the US Christian Right, whose influence in Latin America is both longstanding and harmful. Focus’s presence in the region, via its Enfoque a la Familia offices, dates back to 1985.
American evangelicals – white evangelicals, in particular – pursue an ends-justify-the-means approach to their faith
Having grown up in this type of dominionist Christianity, I can’t say I’m surprised by openDemocracy’s findings. At the same time, it is immensely important to document the ways in which American evangelicals – white evangelicals, in particular – pursue an ends-justify-the-means approach to their faith.
They exploit bad-faith ‘religious freedom’ arguments to push a theocratic (and de facto white supremacist) agenda, and evade the law (whether local, national or international) when it doesn’t give them free rein to dominate others. If there’s one thing that should be very clear after the 6 January insurrection against the US government – which was undoubtedly driven by the religious right – it’s that right-wing Christians are willing to give up even a plausible veneer of support for democracy in order to hold on to power.
They will wield that power to harm marginalised people, however and wherever they can, and it is well past time for us to begin holding them accountable.
A prominent ex-evangelical writer, speaker, and advocate, Chrissy Stroop is (with Lauren O’Neal) coeditor of the essay anthology Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church. A senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches, her work has appeared in Dame Magazine, Foreign Policy, Playboy, Political Research Associates, and other outlets, including peer-reviewed academic journals.
Holding a Ph.D. in modern Russian history from Stanford University, Stroop is a Senior Research Associate with the University of Innsbruck’s Postsecular Conflicts project. In 2019 Chrissy came out as a transgender woman and began her journey of medical transition. She resides in Portland, Oregon.
The preceding article was first published at openDemocracy and is republished by permission.
Impact of Transgender Day of Remembrance must be felt year-round
“We mourn the disproportionately-targeted Trans lives stolen from us by hate & prejudice. There’s a long road ahead to equality and justice”
LOS ANGELES – One of the most difficult days in the calendar for Trans, non-binary and queer identified people is every November 20. Primarily because it marks a day to honour and remember those human beings who have lost their lives due to violence, hate and extremism.
This year is no different as it has marked yet another deadly year for the Trans community, especially for Trans women of colour.
Globally of the 375 trans people murdered worldwide in the last year, nine out of 10 (96%) were trans women or transfeminine people, and more than half (58%) were sex workers. The average age of those murdered is 30 years old; the youngest being 13.
Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Los Angeles-based [email protected] Coalition wrote in an email, “We mourn the disproportionately-targeted Trans lives stolen from us by hate and entrenched prejudice. There is a long road ahead to true, lived equality and justice for our Trans community.”
She continued; “In Los Angeles County, and our country as a whole, diversity is our strength. It is what sets America apart from most other countries in the whole of human history, and it has inspired millions of dreams at home and abroad.
Our immigrant Trans siblings and their well-being are essential to the integrity of the American Dream. We must do everything in our power to ensure that their rights and dreams are equally protected.”
Salcedo was also advocating for the critical point of who we as the LGBTQ+ community, elects to public office and their commitment to the Trans community matters. “We need leaders who understand and empathize with the unique, intersectional challenges we face,” she wrote.
The purpose of her email was to endorse and then advocate that the community back a particular candidate running in a local race. Yet the issues and points she raised bears repeating.
In Washington today, the White House reviewed the actions of the Biden-Harris Administration and released a report highlighting over 45 key, early actions the Administration is taking to address the root causes of anti-transgender violence, discrimination, and denial of economic opportunity, including:
- Taking steps to expand the availability of accurate Federal IDs for transgender and gender diverse Americans. Building on the State Department’s announcement that it will offer a third gender marker on U.S. passports, the White House is convening an interagency policy committee to advance a coordinated federal approach to expanding access to accurate and inclusive federal identity documents for transgender and gender diverse people.
- Expanding access to gender-affirming care as an essential health benefit. In 2021, the Biden-Harris administration approved the first ever application from a state to add additional gender-affirming care benefits to a state’s essential health benefit benchmark plan.
- Advancing health equity research on gender-affirming care. NIH will increase funding for research on gender-affirming procedures to further develop the evidence base for improved standards of care. Research priorities include a more thorough investigation and characterization of the short- and long-term outcomes on physical and mental health associated with gender-affirming care.
- Ending the HIV crisis among transgender and gender diverse communities. The White House Office of National AIDS Policy will identity transgender and gender diverse communities as a priority population in the revised National HIV AIDS Strategy which will be released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2021.
- Expanding resources for transgender and gender diverse youth in care. The Children’s Bureau at HHS will highlight the needs of LGBTQI+ children and youth in announcements for mandatory and discretionary funding that supports youth in or transitioning from foster care.
- Advancing research to address the harms of so-called conversion therapy. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will update its 2015 publication Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth to reflect the latest research and state of the field.
- Advancing safety and justice for transgender and Two Spirit missing and murdered Indigenous people. President Biden signed an Executive Order on Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People. The Executive Order acknowledges that LGBTQI+ Native Americans and people who identify as Two-Spirit people are frequent targets of violence. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to work hand in hand with Tribal Nations and Tribal partners to build safe and healthy Tribal communities and to support comprehensive law enforcement, prevention, intervention, and support services to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, including for transgender, gender diverse, and Two-Spirit Native Americans.
- Advancing data collection and research on the needs of transgender older adults. To advance equity for transgender and gender diverse elders, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) will establish a technical advisory panel to advise on possible questions for the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
To address the crisis of anti-transgender stigma and violence, during Pride Month the White House established the first Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals (Working Group).
The Working Group, which is led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Gender Policy Council, is charged with leading a coordinated federal approach to advance safety, economic opportunity, and inclusion for transgender and gender diverse people in the United States and around the world.
To inform the priorities of the Working Group, throughout the fall of 2021 the White House convened 15 listening sessions with transgender and gender diverse people, advocates, and civil rights leaders from across the country and around the world.
Today’s report shares findings from these listening sessions and uplifts the voices and advocacy of transgender and gender diverse people throughout the United States and around the world.
Today’s actions to honor the lives of transgender and gender diverse people lost to violence build on historic steps by the Biden-Harris Administration to advance LGBTQI+ equality and civil rights for transgender and gender diverse communities. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken critical steps to advance equality for transgender and gender diverse Americans:
- Signing One of the Most Comprehensive Executive Orders in History on LGBTQI+ Rights on His First Day in Office. Within hours of taking the oath of office, President Biden signed an Executive Order Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The Executive Order established that it is the official policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to prevent and combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, and to fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The President directed all federal agencies to implement fully all federal laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This Executive Order is one of the most consequential policies for LGBTQ+ Americans ever signed by a U.S. President. As a result of that Order, agencies have already taken key steps to advance equality for transgender and gender diverse people in housing, healthcare, education, employment, and credit and lending services.
- Fighting for passage of the Equality Act. President Biden continues to call on the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation which will provide long overdue federal civil rights protections to LGBTQI+ Americans and their families, while strengthening some key civil rights laws for people of color, women, people with disabilities, and people of faith. As the White House has said, passing the Equality Act is key to addressing the epidemic levels of violence and discrimination that transgender people face.
- Reversing the discriminatory ban on transgender servicemembers. In his first week in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order reversing the ban on openly transgender servicemembers serving in the Armed Forces, enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform. President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, America’s strength is found in its diversity, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security As a result of his Executive Order, the Department of Defense issued new policies which prohibit discrimination against transgender servicemembers, provide a path for transgender servicemembers to access gender-affirming medical care, and require that all transgender servicemembers are treated with dignity and respect. Patriotic transgender servicemembers are once again able to openly and proudly serve our Nation in uniform.
- Signing and Leading Implementation of a Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World. President Biden directed all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons. His Memorandum establishes that it “shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons around the world.”
- Ensuring Transgender Americans Can Access Emergency Shelter That Dignifies and Respects Their Identity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development restored protections for transgender individuals seeking emergency shelter and homeless services. HUD reaffirmed its commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity.
The cycle of violence against the Trans community must be broken. While the Biden-Harris Administration is working on solutions and policies at the federal level, it is critical to continue the push at the state and local level as Salcedo pointed out.
More-so though there is a need to break the cycle so that less lives are lost to hate and extremism and that begins at the local level. Emphasis needs to be placed on unconditional support and advocacy- not just showing up to a candle-lit vigil to mourn and grieve another Trans life lost.
Advocacy should be to the community supporting sex workers, advocacy should be to show full throated support of Trans youth to be able to play the sports or participate in activities that mesh with their gender identity and not the societal determined “birth gender” construct. Advocacy should be to counter the lies and misconceptions about Trans people and to embrace their existence as human beings.
“Dehumanizing rhetoric has real-life consequences for the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color but especially Black transgender women. As we have seen an unprecedented number of bills introduced in state legislatures attacking transgender youth and trans adults, the moment we are in is clear. They have attacked transgender people’s right to health care, right to exist in public, and right to live openly, with the ultimate goal of dehumanizing and erasing their lives and experiences,” Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said.
The year long impact of the Transgender Day of Remembrance must be to honour those lost and prevent further uncessecary loss of life by taking those measures outlined and to create the awareness that Trans people are just that, people.
Troy Masters is the publisher of the Los Angeles Blade and Brody Levesque is the editor.
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