Four Transgender Murders in a Week “Alarming Trend”

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:

In the past week, four transgender black women have been murdered in the United States — a trend that’s alarming civil rights and anti-violence advocates.

Bill Morlin
March 01, 2017

The New York City Anti-Violence Project, which tracks transgender crimes, says there have been seven murders of transgender people so far this year, well above the corresponding number last year.

The Anti-Violence Project documented the homicides of 23 transgender and gender nonconforming people in 2016, the highest ever recorded by the coalition.

“As we face an administration which devalues the safety and rights of transgender people and people of color, we must work tirelessly to support transgender friends, family, and community members,” NCAVP manager Emily Waters said in a statement.

Three of the most-recent homicides occurred in Louisiana, two in New Orleans.

Ciara McElveen, was found stabbed to death on Monday in New Orleans 7th Ward. That homicide came only two days after another black transgender woman, Chyna Gibson, was shot and killed in New Orleans on Feb. 25, the Anti-Violence Project reports.

In Monroe, Lousiana Jaquarrius Holland was found murdered on Feb. 19, the Anti-Violence Project reports.

In Chicago, Keke Collier, also known to friends as Tiara Richmond, was shot to death on Feb. 22 while walking near her home in Chicago.

Earlier homicides involving transgender victims occurred Jan. 4, with the death of Mesha Caldwell, in Canton, Mississippi; the Jan. 6 death of Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the Feb. 8 death of Jojo Striker, in Toledo, Ohio, according to data provided to Hatewatch by the Anti-Violence Project.

McElveen’s murder brings transgender killings up to the numbers reported at the same time last year, with transgender women targeted at a slightly higher rate than in previous years.

Because Ciara McElveen and Chyna Doll Dupree were killed in Louisiana, a state with hate crime laws that do not offer protections for gender identity, it is unlikely the charge will be pursued without federal support for the investigation. Keke Collier’s murder is the only one of the six carried out in a state with hate crime laws that protect transgender people.

In previous years, those not covered by state hate crimes laws could have placed some hope in the federal government under the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Developed in the wake of the brutal 1998 murders of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man from Wyoming, and James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old African-African man, the act was used to prosecute an anti-transgender hate crime for the first time in 2016.

However, given the Trump administration’s most recent rescinding of President Barack Obama’s guidance on protections for transgender school children, along with the withdrawal from a court challenge related to this guidance by Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice, there is concern that these murders will go overlooked by the Trump administration.

Lisa Gilmore, of the Illinois Accountability Initiative, said the Chicago murder is “yet another violent attack leading to the death of a young transgender woman of color in our beloved community.”

“The humanity and personhood of transgender women need to be recognized,” Gilmore said. “As trans-women of color are among the most vulnerable in our communities and our nation, we all must be accountable for their safety and access to opportunities.”

In New Orleans, local transgender activist Syria Sinclaire expressed sadness about the trend. “We should have the right to live our lives open and free and not be taunted and traumatized by the general public if they don’t approve,” Sinclaire said in a statement released by the Anti-Violence Project.

Shelby Chestnut, director of community organizing and public advocacy for the organization, said the record-pace number of transgender homicides comes at a time when “the Trump administration is rolling back protections for transgender youth. This is totally unacceptable.”

“We need to protect transgender lives at all stages, but especially in youth where they experience bullying, family rejection and violence that affects them throughout their lives,” Chestnut said.

Additional reporting provided by Rose Falvey.

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Bernie Sanders’ BRILLIANT Response To Trump’s Speech To Congress

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The Other Right-Wing Tidal Wave Sweeping America: Federal and State Preemption of Local Progressive Laws

From Alternet:

Preemption allows corporations to boost their profits by suppressing local government power, community groups and citizens.

By Don Hazen, Steven Rosenfeld
February 25, 2017

Last week, the National League of Cities released a report tracking an outbreak of state laws stepping on and nullifying local progressive laws and policies across the country. The picture it paints in seven key areas is shocking to anyone who believes in local democracy.

The report, “City Rights in an Era of Preemption,” says 24 states have preempted local minimum wage increases; 17 have stopped paid sick or family leave; three have voided anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals; three have stopped laws aimed at home sharing (like AirBnB that has tightened affordable housing options); 37 have blocked local regulation of ride sharing (that compete with the more heavily licensed taxis); 17 have blocked municipal broadband (challenging telecom monopolies); and 42 have limited local taxation and spending.

Preemption is the legal term that describes this legal assault, which extends to many more areas, among them firearms, factory farms, pesticide regulation, fracking, nutrition labeling, and e-cigarettes. In almost all instances, preemption is a deliberate state government-sanctioned corporate takeover to boost private profiteering by suppressing local government power, community groups and citizens. The big exception outside profiterting are anti-LGBT measures, which reflect another far-right agenda.

AlterNet’s Don Hazen and Steven Rosenfeld recently spoke to Mark Pertschuk, director of Grassroots Change and Preemption Watch about this insidious trend. Pertschuk discusses its growth in recent years, its explosion in 2016 and 2017 as Donald Trump has diverted media attention, and how grassroots protests have been effective in exposing, slowing and stopping some brazen corporate power grabs.

Pertschuk’s message is harrowing and hopeful. On the one hand, there is huge momentum behind preemption that often protects corporate interests, but sometimes is simply a stand in for right-wing ideology. There is hope, however, because there are key cases where community activists have been able to marshall broad public support and legislatures have backed down. And increasingly, elected officials like Tallahassee, Florida, Mayor Andrew Gillum, have beaten the GOP and gun lobby in court, and are creating coalitions with other elected officials to defend local democracy.

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Robert Reich Resistance Report 2/23/2017

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Ct. Gov. Malloy Signs Executive Order Protecting Transgender Students in Connecticut Schools


Feb. 23, 2017

Also Provides Guidance to Superintendents Outlining State’s Anti-Discrimination Laws

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that – in light of an action yesterday by the Trump Administration to roll back federal guidelines that protected transgender students in public schools – he has signed an executive order ensuring that the rights of transgender students receiving an education continue uninterrupted.

“Discrimination, harassment, and bullying have no place in our classrooms or at our schools. Despite the actions taken by the federal government yesterday, the State of Connecticut remains committed to ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education in a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment,” Governor Malloy said. “Every child, no matter their gender identity or expression, should be treated equally and fairly in a safe, supportive environment. Connecticut will remain a state of inclusiveness because we strongly believe that diversity makes us stronger.”

In 2011, Governor Malloy sponsored and signed into law legislation that incorporated gender identity and expression into the state’s anti-discrimination statutes (Public Act 11-55).

Governor Malloy’s Executive Order No. 56 clarifies that bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools and institutions of higher education are places of public accommodation under existing state anti-discrimination laws. It also directs the State Department of Education (SDE) to develop and present to the State Board of Education guidance to Connecticut school districts on policies that allow students access to school facilities in a manner consistent with a student’s gender identity or expression. Likewise, the Board of Regents and the University of Connecticut, in consultation with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, are directed to develop and present to their respective Board of Trustees policies consistent with Connecticut law that allow students’ access to school facilities in a manner consistent with a student’s gender identity or expression.

“Connecticut will proudly continue to protect civil liberties and the rights of transgender residents,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “President Trump is wrong to open the door to discrimination. His action only serves to destabilize our schools and our communities, causing anxiety among vulnerable youth and emboldening those looking for an excuse to victimize others. Governor Malloy’s executive order reinforces Connecticut’s absolute commitment to equal protection.”

In addition to the executive order, Governor Malloy and SDE Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell today delivered a memo to every public school superintendent in the state, outlining Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws and explaining that SDE will soon be issuing more formal guidance pertaining to these protections afforded to students and staff members. Pending issuance of further guidance, superintendents are being referred to the May 2016 federal guidance on the matter.

“All students have a right to go to school in a setting that is safe and that supports their learning and personal growth,” State Education Commissioner Wentzell said. “All students deserve to be respected, valued and treated fairly. Connecticut has a history of standing up for the rights of all our children and families and today’s action says that we remain committed to protecting every student, regardless of their gender identity, from discrimination and harassment.”
**Download: Governor Malloy’s Executive Order No. 56
**Download: Memo from Governor Malloy and Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell to superintendents with guidance for school districts regarding transgender students

Twitter: @GovMalloyOffice
Facebook: Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy
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Texas Supreme Court to take up same-sex marriage case

From Texas Tribune:

Same-sex marriage has been legal for almost two years, but opponents are looking to fight a U.S. Supreme Court ruling through a lawsuit challenging Houston’s benefits for same-sex couples.

Almost two years after same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, Texas Republicans are still fighting the ruling — and they’re getting another day in court.

The Texas Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a Houston case challenging the city’s benefits policy for married same-sex couples. Though such policies have been in place since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Texas conservatives are betting the Houston case opens up a path to relitigate the high court’s decision.

“This particular opinion will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and is a potential vehicle for overturning Obergefell given the changing composition of the court,” said Jared Woodfill, one of the lawyers leading the lawsuit filed against Houston on behalf of two taxpayers, and a prominent conservative activist in the city. “Ultimately, I would like to see Obergefell overturned.”

At the center of the Houston case is whether Obergefell, which legalized same-sex marriage across the country, requires the city and other governmental agencies to extend taxpayer-subsidized benefits to same-sex spouses of government employees.

In Obergefell, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that bans on marriages between couples of the same sex are unconstitutional and that states must recognize same-sex marriage as legal. Following that ruling, public employers in the state quickly extended benefits for same-sex spouses of public employees.

But opponents argue that interpretation was far too broad.

“Obergefell may require states to license and recognize same-sex marriages, but that does not require states to give taxpayer subsidies to same-sex couples — any more than Roe v. Wade requires states to subsidize abortions or abortion providers,” lawyers challenging the Houston policy wrote in a filing with the Texas Supreme Court.

They argue that the right to marry does not “entail any particular package of tax benefits, employee fringe benefits or testimonial privileges.” (In a separate case against the state’s now-defunct ban on same-sex marriage, the Texas Attorney General’s office actually argued that marriage is a right that comes with benefits the state is entitled to control.)

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Trans model Isis King slams Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender advocacy

From The Washington Blade:

by Mariah Cooper
February 28, 2017

Transgender model Isis King is calling out Caitlyn Jenner for not grasping the intersectionality that comes along with advocating for transgender issues.

Jenner released a video addressing President Donald Trump about his decision to revoke federal guidelines protecting transgender students. At the end of the video, Jenner urges Trump to call her to discuss LGBT issues.

King, 31, penned an open letter to Jenner after the video was released and says she’s not convinced Jenner is the one for the job.

“I just saw the clip of Caitlyn calling out Donald Trump and it reminded me that internal issues of color and class within the trans community have to be dealt with,” King writes. “I believe it clouds Caitlyn’s ability to actually relate to this community — our community — that she advocates for.”

“Caitlyn: I have, like so many women of color, helped blazed trails for our sisters, brothers and siblings, and I have seen how you treated me. We do not need you to save us,” King continued.

Back in October, King says the two were both at the TransNation Queen USA Pageant in Los Angeles. While King says she was “looking forward” to meeting Jenner because they were both doing service for the community, an incident at the elevator changed her views on the former Olympian.

“Caitlyn and her handler walked in front of me as if I had not been waiting and straight into the empty elevator,” King writes.

The woman ushering King then allegedly joined Jenner and her assistant telling King, “I’m sorry. Can you wait until the next one comes?”

“I was completely stunned because the elevator could clearly hold at least eight people,” King continued. “I could not believe this happened to me, and immediately felt as if I had just been told to move to the back of the bus. It was as if I was not good enough, not worthy enough, not rich enough, not famous enough to ride with these three white women. Wasn’t I also there as a special guest?”

King, a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, competed on Cycle 17 of “America’s Next Top Model.” She also appears on “Strut,” a reality show that follows transgender models working in the industry.

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