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Finalist for TIME’s ‘Kid of the Year’ is 11-year-old Texas Trans activist

“It makes me sad that some politicians use Trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist”

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Kai Shappley protesting at Texas Capitol in Austin last April (Photo Credit: Equality Texas)

AUSTIN – The petite fourth grader calmly sat at the witness table in her pretty yellow dress, reading her notes from her iPhone and without a hint of nervousness she began testifying before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs.

“I love ballet, math, science, and geology,” she told the committee by way of introduction. “I spend my free time with my cats, chickens, FaceTiming my friends, and dreaming of when I finally get to meet Dolly Parton. I do not like spending my free time asking adults to make good choices.”

“It makes me sad that some politicians use Trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist,” she went on. “God made me. God loves me for who I am. And God does not make mistakes.”

For 11-year-old Kai Shappley of Austin, facing down the Senators gathered, many of whom literally wanted to legislate her and other Trans youth out of existence, was an exercise she’s intimately familiar with as in her short life she has become an experienced advocate in Trans youth issues in Texas.

In fact it is her experience that has landed her in the prestigious position of being a finalist for TIME magazine’s Kid of the Year. In an interview with TIME’s Madeleine Carlisle, Shappley says she felt furious. Lawmakers were avoiding her gaze, she said, glancing at their watches, scrolling on their phones or doodling on papers. When the opportunity came to ask her questions, no one spoke up.

“Seriously? None of y’all want to know more about me?” she quipped.

Video of Shappley’s testimony quickly went viral. It wasn’t the first time she’s garnered attention. The now-5th grader has been publicly telling her story and calling for Trans equality for years.

She’s traveled the country with her mother, speaking at rallies for LGBTQ+ rights. She’s worked with the ACLU on pro-Trans projects. She’s met with national lawmakers to urge them to pass the Equality Act, which would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

But April was the first time she’d ever testified on her own. Her reasoning was simple. “I wanted to show them that all these lies people have been spreading [about Trans kids] are not true,” she says.

In an email, fellow Texas Trans youth activist and Gender Cool Project advocate Landon Richie noted:

“Last year, we saw an unprecedented, nationwide, legislative assault on trans youths’ access to sports, gender affirming care, and unfettered existence in public life, with Texas accounting for the highest number of anti-Trans bills filed in any state legislative session, ever. And, just this week — on top of states like Arizona, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky, and more beginning to file harmful bills targeting Trans youth — HB 25, a Texas bill that prohibits trans and gender expansive youth from playing on the school sports teams that align with their gender identity, went into effect,” Richie said.

“Kai’s nomination is a reminder of the impact of these egregious bills and the stakes of this fight; she, at just eleven years old, has been forced by the so-called “leaders” of our state to debate her very existence and right to dignity and respect, year, after year, after year. And she is not alone. Trans youth across the country — and the world — deserve not to be pawns in a political chess game, nor fearful that who they are will be constant ground for discourse: they deserve to be celebrated, to be adored, to be cared for — they deserve childhoods where they are free to just be kids,” he added.

“Shappley is a force of nature,” TIME reported. “At only 11 years old, the Trans rights activist has built a following online; children and adults have written to her saying she’s inspired them to come out.”

“It makes me want to keep on going, knowing that there are so many people who rely on me,” she told TIME .

She was only 5 when she first watched her mother, Kimberly, testify against anti-Trans legislation in Texas, and the two soon began appearing together. By 2020, Kai decided she was ready to go solo.

She also spoke at the funeral of Trans journalist and activist Monica Roberts, who’d been a mentor to her.

“Mom was like, ‘I’ll go up there with you,’” Kai Shappley told TIME. “But I said, ‘I think I’m strong enough to talk for myself now.’”

Testifying before the Texas Senate:

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Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith named to Time’s Top 100 list for 2022

“In the fight for equality in Florida, there has perhaps been no greater advocate for LGBTQ people than Nadine Smith”

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Courtesy of Equality Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – Time magazine released its annual 100 most influential people list and this year one of the honorees was Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith. In the biographical sketch accompanying Smith’s listing, Time writer Kristen Arnett noted “in the fight for equality in Florida, there has perhaps been no greater advocate for LGBTQ people than Nadine Smith.”

“I am deeply honored to be included in the TIME100,” said Smith, a Black, queer woman. “This recognizes decades of work not only by me, but by the dedicated team of volunteers, staff and supporters I’ve had the privilege to work with at Equality Florida.  Our work is far from done as Florida, once again, stands at the center of the fight against extremism and hate.  We are bearing the brunt of a governor willing to sacrifice the safety of children and destroy our most basic liberties in his desperate bid to be President. But this is not simply Florida’s fight. The wave of anti-LGBTQ, racist, freedom-destroying bills sweeping the country calls each of us to fight for our rights and, indeed, our democracy.”

The list, now in its nineteenth year, recognizes the impact, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. 

Smith comes from a long line of activists and barrier breakers. Her grandparents helped form the Southern Tenant Farmers Union to fight for the rights of sharecroppers. While in college, Smith co-founded IGLYO, the world’s largest LGBTQ youth and student organization. She co-chaired the 1993 March on Washington that drew a million marchers and she was part of the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting President and LGBTQ leaders. In the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Smith and her team coordinated a national response including raising millions in direct resources for survivors and families of the 49 killed. 

Smith’s recognition comes as Florida has taken center stage in the right wing, anti-freedom agenda aimed at erasing LGBTQ people from classrooms, propagandizing curriculum, censoring history, banning books, and putting politicians in control of personal medical decisions.

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential ambitions have fueled bills like Don’t Say Gay, the Stop WOKE Act, a 15-week abortion ban, and dangerous national rhetoric that seeks to dehumanize LGBTQ people in service to the most extreme segment of his base,” Equality Florida stated in a press release Monday.

The 2022 TIME100, and its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, with related tributes appear in the June 6/June 13 double issue of TIME, available on newsstands on Friday, May 27, and online now at time.com/time100.

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Legendary attorney, LGBTQ+ activist, & author Urvashi Vaid has died

“The sheer intellectual and strategic hole in our movement’s drive towards liberation and freedom, left by Urv’s death, is hard to grasp”

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Lorri L. Jean, Rea Carey, Urvashi Vaid, & Matt Foreman/National LGBTQ Task Force

NEW YORK – A powerful longtime influential attorney and LGBTQ activist whose career spanned from the early days of the AIDS pandemic to the contemporary battles over equality and equity for the LGBTQ+ community died today at her home after a bout with cancer in New York City.

Urvashi Vaid, 63, known for her extensive career as an advocate for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, anti-war efforts, immigration justice and many other social causes, had served as the Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force from 1989- 1992  and served prior to that as the organization’s Media Director.

“We are devastated at the loss of one of the most influential progressive activists of our time,” said Kierra Johnson, current Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “Urvashi Vaid was a leader, a warrior and a force to be reckoned with,” continued Johnson, “She was also a beloved colleague, friend, partner and someone we all looked up to – a brilliant, outspoken and deeply committed activist who wanted full justice and equality for all people.”

“Her leadership, vision and writing helped shape not only the Task Force’s values and work but our entire queer movement and the larger progressive movement. We will strive every day to live up to her ideals and model the courage she  demonstrated every day as an activist and a person. She will be deeply I missed. I miss her already.” concluded Johnson.

National LGBTQ Task Force

Vaid ‘s impact on the politics of the the AIDS crisis and the battles over full equality was considerable. During former U.S. President At George H.W. Bush’s 1990 address on AIDS, Vaid, then the Executive Director of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, made a statement with her sign: “Talk Is Cheap, AIDS Funding is Not”. Her critique made waves, disrupting the press conference, and shedding light on the failures of the Bush administration.

Another former Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Rea Carey noted in her post on Facebook:

I am deeply sad that Urvashi Vaid has died. My heart is with Kate and all of Urv’s beloveds who have been with her these last years, months and days as she dealt with cancer.My activism has been greatly shaped by the fact that Urv took me seriously as a young leader in our movement. She seemed endlessly excited about the ideas and passion for justice that young activists held. She was one of our movement’s motivators and north stars.

Whenever Urv called, I’d clear my schedule for the next hour (at least!), pull out a pen and pad of paper and prepare to feverishly write down what were likely to be 10-20 rapid fire ideas of things she thought I should be doing, or doing much better… tomorrow!

Urv pushed me to see connections, dig deeper, and I was a better activist and leader for it. Her impact within the National LGBTQ Task Force carried on long after she left its staff. The sheer intellectual and strategic hole in our movement’s drive towards liberation and freedom, left by Urv’s death, is hard to grasp.

Up until her last months she was creating projects, mentoring others, pushing for liberation, gathering data through the National LGBTQ+ Women’s Community Survey. The only thing I ever saw Urv be more passionate about than her pursuit of freedom and liberation, was her love for Kate, their family, and her energy for her friends.

The best way we can honor Urv is to continue to fight for justice and the full liberation of all people,” Carey said.

Her time at The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in which she held multiple positions for over ten years, notably Media Director, then Executive Director, saw her bring all aspects of queer life and struggle into the public eye. While at the Task Force, she co-founded the annual Creating Change conference, now in its 33rd year. 

I first met Urv in the early 1980’s when we were both young attorneys and lesbian activists in Washington, D.C. As we became friends and, eventually, colleagues, I admired her leadership and all that she accomplished, both within and outside of our movement—for queer people, for women, for people of color and against poverty.  She continued her work to advance equity and justice until the very end.  

I’ll always be grateful to Urv for being one of the people who encouraged me, back in 1992, to accept the job running the Los Angeles LGBT Center.  And when the National LGBTQ Task Force faced severe financial challenges in 2001, she played the key role in recruiting me to step in and help turn things around, lending her support every step of the way.  

Over the years, we spent many an hour laughing and scheming about ways to advance the causes we cared so deeply about.  Urvashi was a visionary.  But she was so much more:  brilliant, hilarious, charismatic, loving, determined and, above all, courageous.  She made life better for all of us.  Our community and our nation owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.  Our hearts go out to Urvashi’s wife, Kate Clinton, and to everyone who loves her.  If there’s a heaven, Urv is already organizing the angels,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.

Troy Masters, the founder of Gay City News in New York City, longtime LGBTQ+ advocate and currently the publisher of the Los Angeles Blade noted upon hearing the news; “On a day when millions march to protect our rights and stand up to a right wing SCOTUS, we celebrate the life of one of our greatest social justice LGBTQ and AIDS warriors – keep shining on Urvashi Vaid.”

In 1995, after resigning from her position at the Task Force three years prior, she published her first book, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation, in which she criticized the idea of “mainstreaming” what was and is, in fact, a civil rights movement. Rather than tolerance, she argued, the objective for the movement should be fundamental, actionable change. It was not an immediately popular notion, as media representation for queer people was just beginning to take shape, though it was, for her, of great moral importance. In 1996 Virtual Equality won the Stonewall Book Award. 

“Urv was a mentor, a friend, and a pain in the ass always telling me how I should do more, better, and more aggressively. I loved her.”

Matt Foreman, executive director National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (2003-2008)

In her position as President of the Vaid Group, Vaid advised, mentored, and supported the LGBTQ+ movement. 

In 2012, Urvashi Vaid launched LPAC, the first lesbian Super PAC, and it has since invested millions of dollars in candidates who are committed to social justice through legislation. 

Prior to that, Vaid held positions on the boards at the Ford Foundation, The Arcus Foundation (where she served as Executive Director from 2005 to 2010), and the Gill Foundation.  

She was a leader in the development of the currently on-going National LGBTQ women’s community survey.

“Urvashi had a vision for what our world and our lives should be – free, proud and full of joy and love. She wasn’t afraid to demand the change that is required and she has inspired generations of rising activists to lead with generosity and integrity. We met 42 years ago on our first day of law school in Boston. She has inspired me every day.”

Richard D. Burns, Interim Executive Director, the Johnson Family Foundation

Urvashi Vaid with her longtime partner Kate Clinton/Facebook

Vaid was the aunt of activist and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon.

She is survived by Alok Vaid-Menon as well as her longtime partner, political humorist Kate Clinton. 

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The Los Angeles Blade applauds Dawn Ennis for her GLAAD media award

Ennis is the LA Blade’s Sports Editor & contributing writer as well as a professor at the University of Hartford where she teaches journalism

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Dawn Ennis/GLAAD

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade congratulates our Sports Editor and contributing writer Dawn Ennis on her being awarded a 33rd Annual 2022 GLAAD Media Award in the category of ‘Outstanding Online Journalism Article: “‘No Time For Intolerance:’ Dr. Rachel Levine Has A Job To Do,” written for Forbes magazine online.

Ennis who works as the Sports Editor for the LA Blade is an award-winning journalist for Forbes.com, The Daily Beast, Out Magazine, Senior Executive, CTVoice Magazine, Xtra Magazine and StarTrek.com.

She is additionally an on-air correspondent for “CTVoice Out Loud” on WTNH-TV and hosts the “RiseUP With Dawn Ennis” talk show. In 2013, she was the first Trans journalist in the U.S. to come out in network TV news while working at ABC News.

Ennis who lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, is a parent to three kids and an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford where she teaches journalism, advertising, public relations, podcasting and media literacy for the UH College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Communication.

In addition to Ennis, the Los Angeles Blade congratulates all of the awardees:

AWARD RECIPIENTS

During the New York ceremony, GLAAD announced award recipients for the following categories live onstage:

  • Pose received the award for Outstanding Drama Series [presented by Laverne Cox]
  • “HIV/AIDS: 40 Years Later” TODAY (NBC) received the award for Outstanding TV Journalism Segment [presented by Amber Tamblyn and Nyle DiMarco]
  • Power Rangers received the award for Outstanding Kids & Family Programming [presented by Cynthia Nixon]
  • Sesame Street received the award for Outstanding Children’s Programming [presented by Cynthia Nixon]

Additional award recipients announced in New York City:

Outstanding Broadway Production: (TIE) Company and Thoughts of a Colored Man 

Outstanding Music Artist: Lil Nas X

Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist: Lily Rose, Stronger Than I Am (Big Loud Records/Back Blocks Music/Republic Records)

Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode: “Elliot Page” The Oprah Conversation (Apple TV+)

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “HIV/AIDS: 40 Years Later” TODAY (NBC)

Outstanding TV Journalism – Long-Form: “Pride of The White House” (MSNBC)

Outstanding Print Article: “Lawmakers Can’t Cite Local Examples of Trans Girls in Sports” by David Crary & Lindsay Whitehurst (The Associated Press)

Outstanding Online Journalism Article: “‘No Time For Intolerance:’ Dr. Rachel Levine Has A Job To Do” by Dawn Ennis (Forbes.com)

Outstanding Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “Transnational” [series] by Eva Reign, Alyza Enriquez, Freddy McConnell, Vivek Kemp, Courtney Brooks, Sarah Burke, Hendrik Hinzel, Alyza Enriquez, Dan Ming, Trey Strange, and Daisy Wardell (VICE News)

Outstanding Blog: Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents

Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism Article: (TIE) “Claudia: La Enfermera Trans que Lucha Contra el Covid en Ciudad Juárez” por Louisa Reynolds (Nexos.com) and “Somos Invisibles”: La Discriminación y los Riesgos se Multiplican para los Indígenas LGBTQ+” por Albinson Linares (Telemundo.com) 

Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “Expulsados México: Cómo la Comunidad Transgénero se Unió para Ayudar a los Migrantes” por Patricia Clarembaux, Anna Clare Spelman, y Celemente Sánchez (Univision Noticias)

A full list of all categories and award recipients from the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York and Los Angeles is below. 

Outstanding New TV Series: Hacks (HBO Max)

Outstanding Comedy Series: Saved by the Bell (Peacock)

Outstanding Drama Series: POSE (FX)

Outstanding Film – Wide Release: Eternals (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

Outstanding Reality Program: (TIE) RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1) and We’re Here (HBO)

Outstanding Documentary: Changing the Game (Hulu)

Outstanding TV Movie: Single All The Way (Netflix)

Outstanding Film – Limited Release: Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series: It’s A Sin (HBO MAX)

Outstanding Children’s Programming: “Family Day” Sesame Street (HBO Max)

Outstanding Kids & Family Programming: Power Rangers: Dino Fury (Nickelodeon/Netflix)

Outstanding Music Artist: Lil Nas X, MONTERO (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist: Lily Rose, Stronger Than I Am (Big Loud Records/Back Blocks Music/Republic Records)

Outstanding Broadway Production: (TIE) COMPANY and Thoughts of a Colored Man

Outstanding Video Game: Life is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine Games/Square Enix)

Outstanding Comic Book: Crush & Lobo (DC Comics)

Outstanding Original Graphic Novel/Anthology: Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms (Oni Press)

Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate

Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode: “Elliot Page” The Oprah Conversation (Apple TV+)

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “HIV/AIDS: 40 Years Later” TODAY (NBC)

Outstanding TV Journalism – Long-Form: “Pride of The White House” (MSNBC)

Outstanding Print Article: “Lawmakers Can’t Cite Local Examples of Trans Girls in Sports” by David Crary & Lindsay Whitehurst (The Associated Press)

Outstanding Online Journalism Article: “‘No Time For Intolerance:’ Dr. Rachel Levine Has A Job To Do” by Dawn Ennis (Forbes.com)

Outstanding Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “Transnational” [series] by Eva Reign, Alyza Enriquez, Freddy McConnell, Vivek Kemp, Courtney Brooks, Sarah Burke, Hendrik Hinzel, Alyza Enriquez, Dan Ming, Trey Strange, and Daisy Wardell (VICE News)

Outstanding Blog: Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents

Outstanding Spanish-Language Scripted Television Series: Maricón Perdido (HBO Max)

Outstanding Spanish-Language TV Journalism: “Orgullo LGBTQ: 52 Años de Lucha y Evolución” (Telemundo 47)

Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism Article: (TIE) “Claudia: La Enfermera Trans que Lucha Contra el Covid en Ciudad Juárez” por Louisa Reynolds (Nexos.com) and “Somos Invisibles”: La Discriminación y los Riesgos se Multiplican para los Indígenas LGBTQ+” por Albinson Linares (Telemundo.com)
Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “Expulsados México: Cómo la Comunidad Transgénero se Unió para Ayudar a los Migrantes” por Patricia Clarembaux, Anna Clare Spelman, y Celemente Sánchez (Univision Noticias)

Special Recognition: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson [filmed reading + performance]

Special Recognition: “Alok Vaid-Menon” 4D with Demi Lovato (Cadence13/OBB Sound/SB Projects)

Special Recognition: CODED: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker (Paramount+)

Special Recognition: Jeopardy! Champion Amy Schneider

Special Recognition: The Laverne Cox Show (Shondaland Audio/iHeartMedia)

Special Recognition: Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson (ABC News)

Special Recognition: Outsports’ Coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

Special Recognition (Spanish-Language): “Celebrando el Mes del Orgullo” (Telemundo)

The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. Since its inception in 1990, the GLAAD Media Awards have grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ awards show in the world, sending powerful messages of acceptance to audiences globally.

“This year’s GLAAD Media Awards come at a time where LGBTQ visibility and storytelling can be the frontline response to a dangerous rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation around the country,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Our nominees and award recipients, including Pose, Sesame Street, Eternals, Hacks, Lil Nas X,We’re Here and so many journalists and news producers showcase the beautiful diversity of LGBTQ people. At a time when we need it most, these stories, these stories rise against hate, enlighten, entertain, and send an undeniable message: we are not going anywhere.”

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