GLAAD to Media: Tell the Story of Anti-Transgender Violence Correctly


by Ross Murray,
Friday, April 5, 2013

Two instances of anti-transgender murders occurred in Orlando, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland over the last 24 hours. Both were transgender women of color. And when the media doesn’t tell their story correctly, it perpetuates misleading stereotypes about transgender people.

In Baltimore, Kelly Young was shot by an unknown assailant. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died. Baltimore police are investigating the murder. They have not yet ruled the shooting a hate crime, but have not yet ruled it out.

In Orlando, Ashley Sinclair was shot four times after a black sedan pulled up near where she was walking. Witnesses who heard the shots called the police, who found Ashely’s body.

News13 in Orlando initially identified Ashley as a “transgender man,” even after showing a photo of Ashley presenting as a women. Monica Roberts of TransGriot, quickly called the station on their misgendering.

Talk a look at the photo the family provided of Ashley.  She is not a ‘transgender man’ as you reported, Amanda.  A transgender man is someone who was born in a female body like yours and whose gender identity and gender presentation to the world is male.

Ashley is a transgender female.

And I’m pissed off not only because once again another one of my trans sisters is gone from this Earth too soon, I’m pissed off because she was misgendered in this report.    I’m also angry because I’ve seen this crap happen with African-American (and Latina) girls like us far too often in the media.

News13 has corrected the gender references in their blog post.

Even in Baltimore, ABC2News changed Kelly’s name and gender midway through the story, which draws significant attention to her transgender status. However, all the family and friends who were interviewed consistently referred to Kelly with female pronouns and by her correct name. Such details can become exploitative, drawing attention away from the horrific crime and focusing on the “otherness” of the victim.

Roberts makes a vitally important point addressing the bigger issue with reporting anti-trans violence. Transgender people, and particularly transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by hate violence in our communities. The tragedy of these incidents is often compounded by reporting that does not respect (or, sometimes, even exploits) the victim’s gender identity.

Often, reporters telling the stories of transgender victims of violent crimes will be given incorrect or incomplete information from police, from witnesses, or even from family/friends of the victim. The media also has a long history of sensationalizing stories that involve transgender people.

Janet Mock, a prominent transgender advocate, recently appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry to talk about visibility and acceptance of transgender women of color, as well as their portrayal as victims.

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Trans American

From The Dallas Voice:

Army assistant Amanda Simpson, nation’s 1st transgender presidential appointee, quietly fights for equality in the halls of the Pentagon

05 Apr 2013

When “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, gays, lesbians and bisexuals became eligible to serve openly in the military. Transgender people still cannot. But since 2011, trans woman Amanda Simpson has served as special assistant to the assistant secretary of the Army.

In 2009, when President Barack Obama named Simpson to a position in the Commerce Department, she became the first trans presidential appointee.

While some accused Obama of filling quotas, those Simpson had worked with during her career at Raytheon touted her experience as a test pilot, an engineer and as deputy director in the company’s advanced missiles and unmanned systems product line.

But it’s Simpson’s work on trans issues and her care for the LGBT community that endeared her to her Raytheon co-workers.

Louise Young, who founded Raytheon’s LGBT employee resource group, credited Simpson with getting gender identity and expression added to the company’s equal opportunity policy.

“It’s a delightful irony she’s working with the Army,” Young said. “Amanda is a real trailblazer in many ways.”

Young said Simpson broke barriers by courageously sharing her story with upper management at the company. For that work, she won the company’s Louise Young Award.

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Dropping the “T”: Trans Rights in the Marriage Era

From The New Yorker:

by April 5, 2013

Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton announced her support for gay marriage. Placid and well-coiffed, she looked at the camera with Clintonian firmness, and said, “L.G.B.T. Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones, and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage.”

That Monday, she joined the ranks of prominent Democrats—and even a share of prominent Republicans—in the righteous chorus seeking to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which her husband signed in 1996. (Not known for his penitence, Bill Clinton published an op-ed asserting that the law “is itself discriminatory” and “should be overturned.”) Whether the law is struck down now, as DOMA is challenged before the Supreme Court, or years later—when the seventy per cent of under-thirty voters who support marriage equality rise up in age and power—there is no doubt, as Jeffrey Toobin wrote last week in the magazine, that nothing now “can reverse the march toward equality.”

There is a question, however, in the language Clinton used, the particular lip service she chose to pay. The United States moves inexorably toward granting equality to the L.G.B., but in the process—while still pronouncing that satisfying final consonant—we often, in practice, drop the “T.”

In New York, where in 1969 the riots at the Stonewall Inn launched the movement, the privileging of only L.G.B. rights is telling. In 2002, in order to get a hard-fought non-discrimination bill passed, gay and lesbian activists in New York stopped fighting for provisions related to their transgender allies. The bill, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (“SONDA”), made it illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights. Meanwhile, State Senator Tom Duane, the leading sponsor of the original draft, which had extended rights to the transgendered, decried the “terrible, horrible discrimination” that transgender people face: “They risk public exposure and loss of jobs, and sometimes violence, loss of homes.” Over ten years later, a Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA”) is still not law.

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Family Research Council Defends Republican’s Outdated Propaganda Against LGBT Community

From Huffington Post:


Reposted with permission

As if it’s a surprise to anyone, the Family Research Council is rushing to support Dave Agema, the Michigan Republican leader who is facing a firestorm for putting outdated anti-gay propaganda on his Facebook page.

Last week, Agema posted on his Facebook page something called Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuality, a vicious anti-gay litany of lies, including:

Many homosexual sexual encounters occur while drunk, high on drugs, or in an orgy setting.Homosexuals live unhealthy lifestyles, and have historically accounted for the bulk of syphilis, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, the “gay bowel syndrome” (which attacks the intestinal tract), tuberculosis and cytomegalovirus.

25-33% of homosexuals and lesbians are alcoholics .

Homosexuals are 100 times more likely to be murdered (usually by another homosexual) than the average person, 25 times more likely to commit suicide, and 19 times more likely to die in a traffic accident.

Since that post, Agema has been catching a lot of flack, including from members of his own party demanding that he resign.

The Family Research Council has just backed Agema. In an email recently sent out, the organization said the following:

When leaders like Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema so much as raise questions about the harms of homosexuality, the RNC throws them under the bus faster than you can say “political correctness.” Agema, a staunch Michigan conservative, is taking fire from his own party for a Facebook post that detailed the harms of homosexuality. And while people may not agree with everything in his column, they should agree on his freedom to call for a discussion. But under this new “inclusive” and “welcoming” RNC, simply raising awareness on certain social issues is off-limits. A group of GOP officials is calling on Agema to resign — including state party chairman Bobby Schostak, who claimed that statistics about the consequences of homosexual behavior (consequences which even the Left acknowledges!) are a “form of hate.”While Agema’s research may be somewhat outdated, FRC’s “Top 10 Myths about Homosexuality” highlights a summary of recent data, which all point to the high rates of physical and mental illness associated with homosexuality. Several of these hazards are echoed by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, which makes a point of posting the risks so that people can discuss them with their doctors. To his credit, Agema isn’t backing down. He insists that we shouldn’t cut off debate about a lifestyle with direct public policy implications.

While FRC rightfully calls Agema’s information outdated, it replaces the information with some distortions of its own. The post it highlighted,  “Top 10 Myths about Homosexuality,” has several problems with accuracy.  For one thing it repeats the same lies as Agema, but backed with cherry-picked studies.

A perfect example of this is FRC’s claim about the work taken from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. FRC cherry-picked the GLMA’s work to give it a totally different meaning.

While FRC lists the health problems that may affect gays and lesbians, the organization is careful to omit the  information from the GLMA that points to how homophobia and societal rejection plays a part in creating these health problems and hindering LGBTs from receiving adequate care. By omitting this information, FRC incorrectly makes it seem that the sexual orientation itself is a factor when it comes to gay and lesbian health problems.

For the record, Agema was not debating. He was spreading lies and distortions derived from bad sources. One source listed as a citation on the post Agema cited,  Paul Cameron, has been either censured or dismissed from several medical associations for his bad research methodologies and outrageously homophobic claims, including the claim that gays stuff gerbils up their rectums. The problem here with Agema is that he is so wrapped up in his own self-righteousness that he fails to realize no one is persecuting him or trying to hinder his right to free speech.

With free speech comes responsibilities and the main responsibility is the hope that one doesn’t use his or her free speech to spread lies and deceptions. Caught up in his own phony martyrdom, Agema doesn’t want to realize that in bearing false witness against the LGBT community, he has betrayed those Christian values which he is seeking to defend.

The Family Research Council, on the other hand, is another case entirely. It wasn’t that long ago when the group peddled the same lies in the same unabashed form as Agema. However, knowing fully well that the information was propaganda, FRC dialed back the rhetoric and is now attempting to portray a more “kinder, gentler” image of homophobia.

And a central part of this false image is portraying every ugly offense it lodges against the LGBT community as merely a way of “starting a debate.”  What FRC does to the LGBT community is no different than a reporter asking a politician, “so when did you stop beating your wife,” and then whining about being silenced when the politician objects to the offensive nature of the question.

This is not debating.  It’s called demonizing. It’s called lying. And it has no place in the public square.  The question is how long will it be before the media stops being fooled by FRC’s shuck-and-jive?

It wouldn’t be allowed if Agema and FRC were talking about African-Americans. It wouldn’t be allowed if Agema and FRC were talking about people of the Jewish faith. And it certainly wouldn’t be allowed if Agema and FRC were talking about women.

What is about the LGBT community which makes it permissible to treat us any different?

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Robert Reich on Chained CPI (the proposal to cut Social Security benefits)

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Obama seeks deal, proposes cuts to Social Security

From Yahoo News:–finance.html

By Jim Kuhnhenn and Andrew Taylor
Fri, Apr 5, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking an elusive middle ground, President Barack Obama is proposing a 2014 budget that embraces tax increases abhorred by Republicans as well as reductions, loathed by liberals, in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.

The plan, if ever enacted, could touch almost all Americans. The rich would see tax increases, the poor and the elderly would get smaller annual increases in their benefits, and middle income taxpayers would slip into higher tax brackets despite Obama’s repeated vows not to add to the tax burden of the middle class. His proposed changes, once phased in, would mean a cut in Social Security benefits of nearly $1,000 a year for an average 85-year-old, smaller cuts for younger retirees.

Obama proposed much the same without success to House Speaker John Boehner in December. The response Friday was dismissive from Republicans and hostile from liberals, labor and advocates for the elderly.

But the proposal aims to tackle worrisome deficits that are adding to the national debt and placing a long-term burden on the nation, prompting praise from independent deficit hawks. Obama’s budget also proposes new spending for public works projects, pre-school education and for job and benefit assistance for veterans.

“It’s not the president’s ideal approach to our budget challenges, but it is a serious compromise proposition that demonstrates that he wants to get things done,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

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See Also Raw Story:  Liberals fuming over Social Security cuts in Obama’s budget proposal

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Tyranny of the Reasonable: Popular Complacency in an Era of Economic Exploitation and Perpetual War

From Common Dreams:

by Phil Rockstroh
Published on Friday, April 5, 2013 by Common Dreams

Throughout the course of human affairs, scheming elitists — let’s call them the Plundering Class — have devoted their days conceiving strategies and executing agendas that serve to enrich the fortunes of a ruthless few (namely themselves) by an exploitation of the harried and hapless multitudes. They scheme, hire silver tongued flacks and muster soldiers to do their biding, while, all too often, the rest of us squander the fleeting days of our finite lives in their service. They plot while we hope. They hoard the bounty of the world while we hoard resentments (generally misplaced upon those equally as power-bereft as we are).

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” — Ernest Hemingway

Yet we vulnerable nobodies are free to lie the truth, while self-impressed schemers merely lie. We can live artfully, while they have enclosed themselves in prisons of artifice.

They wage wars of choice to gain power, acquire plunder, and leave a wasteland of rubble and ashes in their wake. They pursue economic agendas that exploit the things of the world (and that includes rendering the inner landscapes of all concerned a psychical wasteland…and, yes, that includes their own). This is the meaning of the overused (yet terrifying in its implications) term…losing one’s soul i.e., the dismal state of affairs of having a soulless agenda — but not a life. The soul — being an ever persisting, always dying multiverse of living images — cannot be reduced to a PowerPoint presentation. You cannot conceive and execute a scheme that will suffuse the hours of your life with resonance, depth and meaning, but you can scheme (as is the mode of mind and the modus operandi of the Plundering Class) your way into creating a hell on earth. In this way, the elites of our soul-decimated age have been successful beyond their most self-deceiving expectations.

Is not the relentless shallowness of the corporate/consumer culture a type of a lie — and a pernicious one at that? Not even taking into account the effects of being plied and pummeled by the relentless legerdemain of a nearly all-enveloping commercial media, a stultifying social milieu has evolved in which the individual is coerced, by means, both overt and subliminal, to construct a false self, a cipher persona, in order to adapt to the demeaning demands of corporate authoritarianism.

A tyranny of the reasonable is in place under corporate hegemony, in which the unique and unruly nature of human character is deemed inappropriate to a workplace environment — an outright affront to the “team player” esprit de corps of the corporate state. Thus, those adapted to embodying the lie inherent to living a superficial life are considered a company asset (until, of course, perennial rounds of downsizing begin) while truth-tellers carry qualities of the chronically unemployable, and whistleblowers become objects for federal prosecution.

Yet, there is a place, an indomitable domain within you that allows you to live with truth…that allows you to live so deeply within your authentic nature that you can live beyond yourself. Finding this place is crucial: For if you cannot bear what is true (often uncomfortably so) about yourself, it is impossible to discern the true nature of others.

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NYC fast-food workers fight back against super-sized corporations

From Waging Non-Violence:

April 4, 2013

Tianna Smalls had planned on working Thursday, but her colleagues convinced her otherwise. “‘You’re either with us, or you’re for Wendy’s,’” Smalls remembers her co-workers telling her. Her mother also weighed in Thursday morning as Smalls was heading to work at the franchise in downtown Brooklyn. “She said, ‘If one person stands up, nothing happens. You have to stand together.’”

So Tina Smalls joined approximately 400 other fast food workers across New York City in Thursday’s day-long strike — the latest action in the ongoing campaign that is demanding a raise of $15 an hour and attempting to form a cross-franchise union. Twice as many workers participated in Thursday’s walkout than in the previous strike, which launched the union campaign in November.

The ongoing effort has highlighted the highly exploitative conditions faced by those at the deep fryers and cash registers of America’s most profitable fast food outlets, which include Burger King, McDonald’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut and KFC. The actions and considerable media attention has also begun to chip away at the conventional image of a fast-food worker as someone who bears her servitude with a youthful grin.

While it’s true that some workers arrive fresh from high school, the average age of these employees is 28. Many are middle-aged or even elderly. The majority are immigrants. And all face the reality of working, often for years, at a salary that is at or just above the legally allowed minimum of $7.25.

State lawmakers in Albany recently agreed to raise New York’s minimum to $9 an hour. But the change will take three years to come into effect, and workers Thursday said $9 an hour isn’t much better than what they earn now. “It’s not easy to join something like this,” said Smalls. “But it’s for a change. We want $15 and a union. We want to be paid so that we can live better.”

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Judicial Amendments and the Attack on Worker Rights

From Truth Out:

By Ellen Dannin and Ann Hodges
Thursday, 04 April 2013

Labor activists regularly bemoan the weak state of the NLRA – the National Labor Relations Act. Many of them think that Congress enacted the NLRA with remedies and rights that, from the beginning, were too weak to protect employees who tried to organize unions and bargain collectively. However, that is not the case.

Take remedies, for example. Today, the standard remedy for an employee who has been fired for union organizing is reinstatement, back pay (minus interim earnings from finding another job) and a notice posted on the employer’s premises that lists NLRA rights along with statements that the employer pledges not to violate the law in the future. The employee whose rights have been violated must also “mitigate damages” by diligently searching for a new job.

In other words, the NLRA board’s standard remedy for illegally firing an employee includes two things that burden the employee whose rights have been violated:

(1) deducting any earnings the employee earned after being illegally fired from the back pay the wrongdoing employer must pay to the employee and

(2) requiring the employee to “mitigate” the damages caused by the employer’s illegal firing by making a satisfactory job search.

However, neither requirement can be found in the NLRA. In fact both violate the spirit and the plain language of the NLRA. The standard for NLRA remedies in section 10(c) requires that remedies promote the NLRA’s policies. Those policies in section 1 and 7 require restoring equality of bargaining power between employers and employees, encouraging collective bargaining, protecting workers’ full freedom of association, self-organization, and choice of representatives and other forms of mutual aid or protection. Mitigation of the employer’s damages and interim earnings requirements do not promote any of those policies.

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Peaceful Environmental Protests Turn Violent In NorCal As Tree Sitters Clash With Police And Caltrans

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Environmental activist re-jailed after writing blog post about prison conditions

From Raw Story:

By Kay Steiger
Friday, April 5, 2013

Environmental activist Daniel McGowan was taken back to prison on Thursday after he wrote a Huffington Post op-ed post while in a halfway house asserting that his fellow inmates were imprisoned for their religious or political beliefs, according to the Huffington Post.

McGowan wrote in an April 1 blog post that he was confined to an “experimental” segregated unit called the a “Communication Management Unit” (CMU), which he said was established during the Bush administration, before he was serving out his sentence at a halfway house in Brooklyn.

“The units are designed to isolate prisoners from the rest of the prisoner population, and more importantly, from the rest of the world. They impose strict limitations on your phone calls home and visits from family and friends — you have far less access to calls and visits than in general population,” McGowan wrote. “All interactions where conducted over a telephone, with Plexiglas and bars between us. Until they were threatened with legal action, CMU prisoners were only allowed one single 15-minute phone call per week.”

“What’s also notable about the CMUs is who is sent there. It became quickly obvious to me that many CMU prisoners were there because of their religion or in retaliation for their speech,” McGowan continued. “By my count, around two-thirds of the men are Muslim, many of whom have been caught up in the so-called ‘war on terror,’ others who just spoke out for their rights or allegedly took leadership positions in the Muslim community at other facilities. Some, like me, were prisoners who have political views and perspectives that are not shared by the Department of Justice.”

After publishing his op-ed, McGowan was then sent back to a high-security prison facility Thursday morning. His wife, Jenny Synan, told the Huffington Post, “If this is indeed a case of retaliation for writing an article about the BOP retaliating against his free speech while he was in prison, it is more than ironic, it is an outrage.”

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See Also: Green is the new Red:  Daniel McGowan Back in Jail Days After Writing About His Secretive Prison Unit for Huffington Post

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In Sign of Warming, 1,600 Years of Ice in Andes Melted in 25 Years

From The New York Times:

Published: April 4, 2013

Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance.

The evidence comes from a remarkable find at the margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet. Rapid melting there in the modern era is uncovering plants that were locked in a deep freeze when the glacier advanced many thousands of years ago.

Dating of those plants, using a radioactive form of carbon in the plant tissues that decays at a known rate, has given scientists an unusually precise method of determining the history of the ice sheet’s margins.

Lonnie G. Thompson, the Ohio State University glaciologist whose team has worked intermittently on the Quelccaya ice cap for decades, reported the findings in a paper released online Thursday by the journal Science.

The paper includes a long-awaited analysis of chemical tracers in ice cylinders the team recovered by drilling deep into Quelccaya, a record that will aid scientists worldwide in reconstructing past climatic variations.

Such analyses will take time, but Dr. Thompson said preliminary evidence shows, for example, that the earth probably went through a period of anomalous weather at around the time of the French Revolution, which began in 1789. The weather presumably contributed to the food shortages that exacerbated that upheaval.

“When there’s a disruption of food, this is bad news for any government,” Dr. Thompson said in an interview.

Of greater immediate interest, Dr. Thompson and his team have expanded on previous research involving long-dead plants emerging from the melting ice at the edge of Quelccaya, a huge, flat ice cap sitting on a volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level.

Several years ago, the team reported on plants that had been exposed near a meltwater lake. Chemical analysis showed them to be about 4,700 years old, proving that the ice cap had reached its smallest extent in nearly five millenniums.

In the new research, a thousand feet of additional melting has exposed plants that laboratory analysis shows to be about 6,300 years old. The simplest interpretation, Dr. Thompson said, is that ice that accumulated over approximately 1,600 years melted back in no more than 25 years.

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