Look Beyond Caitlyn Jenner: Transgender Women of Color Are Fighting for Their Lives

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/lgbtq/look-beyond-caitlyn-jenner-transgender-women-color-are-fighting-their-lives

From murder to poverty to housing discrimination, these communities face staggering violence.

By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet
April 6, 2017

Last Thursday marked the eighth annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, an occasion aimed at pushing back against the exclusion and isolation this community has been forced to endure.

Indeed there are signs that transgender people—particularly those who are wealthy and white—are gaining visibility in 2017, as illustrated by the global prominence of television personality and Donald Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner. But this visibility does not, in itself, improve material conditions for the vast majority of transgender people, who are far more likely to face housing discrimination, deep poverty, incarceration and murder, especially if they are people of color. At least seven transgender women have been killed this year already, putting it on track to be the deadliest year ever for the community. Of the women who were slain, six were black and one was Lakota two-spirit.

Meanwhile the Trump administration and state-level lawmakers have advanced a spate of initiatives that directly threaten the public safety and wellness of transgender people, including so-called bathroom bills.

In light of these realities, organizers across the country are calling for social movements to address the conditions that transgender people face, particularly those who are targeted by multiple forms of oppression, from poverty to police violence.

“In this time we are seeing more and more that what it means to fight for transgender people is to do the things that communities, including transgender communities, have long been fighting for,” said Micky Bradford, an Atlanta-based organizer with Southerners on New Ground and the Transgender Law Center. “We need safety and the power to shift material conditions and break the isolation between all of us. We need to be talking about what it takes to stop the killing of Black transgender women and dismantle patriarchy.”

‘Safety is a big deal to transgender communities’

The structural violence faced by transgender communities is staggering. According to the news outlet Mic, which is building a database to track murders of transgender people, young, black transgender women have a far greater chance of being murdered, with one in 2,600 killed. This compares to one in 19,000 for the general population.

Violence also takes the form of systematic discrimination. The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that, “One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/lgbtq/look-beyond-caitlyn-jenner-transgender-women-color-are-fighting-their-lives

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What People Who Want To Exclude Trans Women From ‘Real’ Womanhood Should Know

From Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-people-who-want-to-exclude-trans-women-from-real-womanhood-should-know_us_58e644fce4b0fe4ce088b646?section=us_queer-voices

Because we aren’t considered “real” women we don’t have the same access to resources as cis women do – and that’s dangerous.

Katelyn Burns, Contributor

A series of liberal newspapers have printed op-eds by prominent feminists declaring cisgender womanhood to be the real womanhood. What they all miss is how the language declaring “real womanhood” has been a racial and patriarchal oppressive dehumanizing tactic for centuries. It leads me to wonder, why is there a need to declare one thing, one experience, one human life to be “real” at the detriment to all others?

‘Real womanhood’ has been a racial and patriarchal oppressive dehumanizing tactic for centuries.

The great advertising age of the late fifties and early sixties, featured prominently in AMC’s show Mad Men brought into the mainstream the concept of what a “real woman” is. Real women wore the right pantyhose, real women cooked the right food, real women had a certain shape. Male advertising executives took an idealized version of femininity and repurposed it on behalf of capitalism before blasting it out into newspapers, and radio and TV ads. The patriarchy shifted into hyperdrive. Anyone studying ads from that time period couldn’t help but notice how often the “real women” in the ads were married, straight, cisgender, and… very white.

“Real women” back then were described with an impossible set of expectations that very few women could accurately be said to meet. Capitalism thrived on the rat race, the keeping up with the Joneses of womanhood. Capitalism has always been set up to manipulate systemic oppressive systems against the bodies of “others” in search of profits.

It makes me stop and ask, what’s the real benefit of being a “real woman”?

What’s really being said when someone comes out and declares one woman to be real and another woman to be fake is set the one considered “real” as superior and a goal to be strived for by those who are “fake.” This is a false binary that ignores the very real differences between all women.

As a transgender woman, my womanhood is constantly questioned. Not only in newspapers, but in comedy specials, by my government, by my elected officials, even by my family. I guess I don’t see the fuss. My womanhood is only one part of me. I’m a parent, a writer, I fall in love too easily and cry at the drop of a hat. I like paperbacks because I like the way the pages feel. I spend way too much time on Twitter. I’d like to go on hikes this summer. My love life sucks like every other single person out there. Being a woman is just a small part of who I am.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-people-who-want-to-exclude-trans-women-from-real-womanhood-should-know_us_58e644fce4b0fe4ce088b646?section=us_queer-voices

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It’s Time to Ignore Caitlyn Jenner

I started ignoring Caitlyn the moment she became the the Transgender Advocate du Jour.  I found all the fawning over her to be really repulsive just as I find her as a person. Sort of how I find Ann Coulter.  Wrong to pick on them for being transgender but okay to loathe as really nasty douches when it comes to being human beings.

She is completely over, not even her latest move, as announced in the Washington Blade, is going to cause me to give a shit about anything she does.  Washington Blade: Caitlyn Jenner reveals she underwent gender reassignment surgery

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/media/its-time-ignore-caitlyn-jenner

She was a culturally significant figure in the tidal wave of trans visibility, but taking up space is not a radical act.

By Sam Riedel / The Establishment
April 7, 2017

At home in her gleaming estate mere days after the Trump administration rescinded guidelines on protecting transgender youth, Caitlyn Jenner donned a pastel-pink blouse and addressed thousands of threatened children who feared for their safety. Her message? “You’re winning.”

No, seriously.

Jenner went on to chide Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions by calling him insecure and intimating he was a bully, and closed with a request for the President of the United States to personally call her, “one Republican to another.” It was a terrifically lukewarm bit of armchair advocacy from the woman Glamour heralded as a “Trans Champion” less than two years ago — but even this anemic, self-aggrandizing speech was more than her community had come to expect.

To put it bluntly: It’s time to start ignoring Caitlyn Jenner instead of treating her like a trans icon.

While it’s true that Jenner was a culturally significant figure in the recent tidal wave of trans visibility, simply taking up space is not — in and of itself — an especially radical act when you’re a white woman with an eight- or nine-figure net worth. The amount of influence which Jenner wields is staggering, but she has yet to use it in any meaningful way, while trans activists and community builders living far below her level of privilege toil every day, doing the real work.

What has Jenner done since coming out? Well, she won a Teen Choice Award for Social Media Queen in 2015 and nabbed a gig as the face of H&M Sport last March. She was one of last year’s Time 100, and in June 2016 she became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Sports IllustratedShe also posted a video on behalf of Donald Trump during the Republican primaries, noting that she used the women’s bathroom in Trump Tower and “nobody got molested.” We’ll come back to that.

Jenner also began her own reality TV franchise that shed light on her transition, though the show was canceled after its second season. Looking back on I Am Cait charitably, its largest contributions to the general discourse may have been the segments in which other trans women called Jenner out on her privileged bullshit. This became apparent in season 2, when Jenner embarked on a prolonged bus trip with “friends” such as Jennifer Boylan and Kate Bornstein.

While her companions may have been controversial figures in the trans community, Jenner was another beast entirely. In one infamous clip, Jenner asserted that then-candidate Trump “would be very good for women’s issues…I don’t think he’s out there to destroy women or take things away or any of that kind of stuff.” Boylan put it best when she exclaimed, “Kill me now,” and left the room.

Those segments highlighted one broad truth: how woefully out of touch Jenner was with regards to intersectional feminism in general and transgender rights in particular. I Am Cait professed to share the story of how Jenner would conquer the steep learning curve: After a lifetime spent steeping in different kinds of privilege, Jenner would be confronted with reality. The only problem is that nothing ever really got through to Jenner, even after witnessing the deeply personal and nuanced discussions Boylan and Bornstein had with one another and meeting with myriad community activists to confront complicated and often painful lives Jenner never had to live.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/media/its-time-ignore-caitlyn-jenner

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Remember when men and women could be friends? Republicans don’t

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/06/male-female-friendships-mike-pence-republicans

The fallout from Mike Pence’s comments about his dinner companions has been predictable, sad, and yet another galling rollback under this administration

Thursday 6 April 2017

There’s a line in the 1989 hit movie When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal’s character insists: “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” Thus begins the push-pull of one of the most famous romcoms of all time; a film that ends, of course, with the title characters getting married.

Platonic relationships between men and women may be ripe fodder for romantic storylines, but it’s a shame that in real life we’re somehow back in a place where male-female friendships are seen as unrealistic. Or, even worse, a danger.

In the wake of Mike Pence’s no-dinner-with-women-alone rule – a mandate that conservatives defended as good sense for honoring a marriage – a conversation has re-emerged on the right about proper roles for men and women. The short version seems to be that those of us who believe people of the opposite sex are capable of being in the same room without immediately engaging in intercourse are just fooling ourselves.

The most talked-about (and mocked) argument in this vein this week comes to us from Federalist writer and Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene, who insists that women don’t actually have any male friends – just men who want to sleep with them that they’ve “friend zoned”.

“Every year, countless young men find themselves trapped in the Friend Zone, a prison where women place any man they deem worthy of their time but not their hearts, men they’d love to have dinner with but, for whatever reason, don’t want to kiss goodnight.”

Setting aside the contention that a friendship without sex is a prison (perhaps referring to relationships as such is why women aren’t eager to kiss?), the important piece of this strange article is Fiene’s worry that male-female friendships are “an inarguable drag on fertility rates”.

“[A] man who spends several years pledging his heart to a woman who will never have his children is also a man who most likely won’t procreate with anyone else during that time of incarceration,” he writes.

And that’s the rub. To some conservatives, still, relationships are not about joy or friendship, mutual admiration or common interests – they’re about creating new citizens. “Get pregnant a bunch of times and give birth to a bunch of beautiful little future taxpayers,” Fiene instructs women.

That’s why I can’t feel too badly for men like this, who are missing out on rich friendships and connections with women. Because the reason they refuse to see us as friends is that they don’t really see us as people – just potential wives or objects or desire, virgins or whores.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/06/male-female-friendships-mike-pence-republicans

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This Law Firm Is Linked to Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills Across the Country

From NBC News:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/law-firm-linked-anti-transgender-bathroom-bills-across-country-n741106

by Mary Emily O’Hara
April 8 2017

Bills have been introduced in 15 states nationwide this year that aim to restrict transgender people’s access to sex-segregated facilities. From Minnesota to New York, many of the legislative bills awaiting votes focus specifically on schools as kids and teens find themselves at the center of a battle over bathrooms.

But many of the so-called “bathroom bills” filed across multiple states closely resemble each other. That’s because many used language strongly similar to the model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act drafted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a powerful conservative Christian law firm with a decades-long track record of litigating against LGBT rights. It’s also been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The firm’s model legislation is mirrored in — sometimes identical to — proposed state bills around the country. Minnesota’s 2017 Student Physical Privacy Act is a word-for-word copy of the ADF legislation. A 2016 Kansas bill to create a student privacy act was an ADF twin as well. While the Kansas bill died after public outcry over a provision allowing students to sue their schools every time they encountered a trans classmate in a restroom, the Minnesota bill is currently awaiting a hearing. NBC News examined a handful of similar bills in Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Nevada that all appeared to be influenced by the model legislation. Dozens of such bills were proposed in early 2017.

In February 2016, the Washington Post quoted ADF attorney Matt Sharp saying that “lawmakers in at least five states” had used the model legislation. Sharp also told the Post that ADF had mailed its Student Physical Privacy Act to “thousands” of school districts.

Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, travels the country testifying at legislative hearings and meeting with local advocates. She told NBC News that Alliance Defending Freedom is nearly always involved in some way.

“Sometimes legislators tell us. Sometimes the ADF lawyers are there. Sometimes you can tell if you know that’s who did the bill in X state, and you see it again in Y state,” said Keisling.

Alliance Against LGBT rights?

Alliance Defending Freedom is a nonprofit law firm founded in 1994 by six notable conservative Christian men: James Dobson of Focus on the Family; Bill Bright and Larry Burkett of Campus Crusade for Christ; Marlin Maddoux of International Christian Media; D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries; and Alan Sears, former director of the anti-pornography Meese Commission and author of the 2003 book “The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/law-firm-linked-anti-transgender-bathroom-bills-across-country-n741106

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Trump Aide Endorsed Group That Harasses Roma And Gays, Pushes Anti-Semitism

From Right Wing Watch:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/trump-aide-endorsed-group-that-harasses-roma-and-gays-pushes-anti-semitism/

By Brian Tashman
April 4, 2017

Yesterday, the Forward revealed that White House aide Sebastian Gorka endorsed a Hungarian paramilitary group, The Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard), that was created by Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary), a neofascist political party that Gorka has worked with in the past.

Gorka, who is also reportedly a member of a Hungarian group that worked with Nazi Germany during World War II, is a senior adviser to President Trump on security issues.

As noted in the Forward, the militant group is notorious for promulgating anti-Semitism and instigating violence against Roma people:

The Guard was well known for its members’ anti-Semitism. Members often attended memorial ceremonies for World War II-era Hungarian fascists. In a 2008 speech, István Dósa, who served in the Guard as a high-ranking captain, referred to Jews as “Zionist rats” and as “locusts” while also discussing “Zionist-Bolshevik genocide” and calling Hungarian Jews “nation-destroyers.”

The Guard was formally banned in 2009, with the country’s highest court ruling that its anti-Roma marches violated the rights of the Hungarian Roma community. In 2013, two of its members were found guilty in a string of racially motivated murders of Hungarian Roma, including the killing of a 5-year-old, committed in 2008 and 2009.

In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Hungary’s unusual blanket ban on the group was legal. “The movement’s activities and manifestations were based on the racial conflict between Hungarian majority and Roma minority,” the court ruled.

One Jobbik politician called for “the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a ‘national security risk,’” and the party has especially targeted Roma people for harassment, frequently railing against “Gypsy crime.”

Along with attacking Jewish and Roma people, Jobbik and the Guard are also virulently homophobic.

Jobbik tried to make the “promotion” of homosexuality a crime punishable with hefty prison terms and called on the government to ban pride parades, many of which have been beleaguered by right-wing violence. The party even “proposed criminalizing public expression of homosexuality” and tried to have “the right of assembly to be denied to those” who support same-sex relationships, with one of its lawmakers railing against “anti-human, deviant homosexuals.”

Trump, who pledged to “protect” the LGBTQ community from “a hateful foreign ideology,” seems to have no problem hiring a far-right extremist to be one of his top advisers.

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Court: Civil Rights Act covers LGBT workplace bias

From The Chicago Tribune:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-law-covers-lgbt-workplace-bias-20170404-story.html

Tony Briscoe
April 4, 2017

A federal court in Chicago on Tuesday became the first U.S. appellate court in the nation to rule that LGBT employees are protected from workplace discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sends the case involving Kim Hively, a former Indiana community college teacher who claims she was denied promotions and let go from her job because she is a lesbian, back to a federal district court in Indiana.

“It’s really good to know that it’s making some headway,” said Hively, who now works as a high school math teacher in Indiana. “I always thought there was a big disconnect when they legalized gay marriage but didn’t extend any protections against workplace or housing discrimination. What they’re doing is allowing people to lose jobs and homes just because they fell in love.”

Eight judges on the Chicago appellate court agreed that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Three judges wrote dissenting opinions.

“Viewed through the lens of the gender non-conformity line of cases, Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype,” chief judge Diane P. Wood wrote for the majority. “Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing.”

The ruling comes just three weeks after a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled that employers aren’t prohibited from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation.

The Hively case stems from an incident in 2009, when someone reported seeing the adjunct teacher at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in South Bend kiss her girlfriend goodbye in a car in the campus parking lot. The next day, Hively said, an administrator reprimanded her for “sucking face” and chastised her unprofessional behavior.

In the following five years, Hively was not granted full-time status despite multiple applications and was let go in 2014. She sued the community college herself in 2013, claiming she was “blocked from fulltime employment without just cause,” specifically her sexual preference.

Hively was represented by lawyers with LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal in her appeals. Gregory Nevins, Lambda’s counsel and employment fairness project director, who has argued prejudice against gender and sexual orientation are the same thing, called Tuesday’s ruling a “game changer” for the LGBT community.

“Now that we see this in the right light, I think we’ll see a domino effect (court by court),” Nevins said. “All of those cases ruled in the last 15 or 30 years, that’s a moot point. It’s a new day.”

Tuesday’s ruling creates a precedent for lower courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to follow. Hively’s case, Nevins said, will return to the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Indiana, which previously had sided with Ivy Tech and dismissed Hively’s case with prejudice.

Continue reading at:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-law-covers-lgbt-workplace-bias-20170404-story.html

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Texas Bill Would Allow Clerks to Refuse to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

From The Houston Press:  http://www.houstonpress.com/news/texas-legislators-file-sb-522-other-bills-to-undermine-us-supreme-courts-gay-marriage-ruling-9311303

By Dianna Wray
Monday, April 3, 2017

This June will mark two years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, but even now Texas lawmakers are still trying to chip away the rights brought to same-sex couples by that landmark decision.

When the 85th Biennial Texas Legislative Session opened in January a pair of Republican state senators, Charles Perry of Lubbock and Brian Birdwell of Granbury, filed Senate Bill 522, which would allow county clerks to opt out of signing marriage licenses for gay couples if the clerk in question finds that doing so would violate “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The bill has been moving along through the works of the Legislature. Last Thursday the Senate Affairs Committee heard testimony on SB 522. That alone was enough to stir the ire of the Texas Freedom Network which issued a release condemning the proposed legislation, which the group maintains is so broad it would allow public officials to discriminate against virtually anyone.

“Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion he penned in Obergefell.

Detractors say SB 522 is particularly troubling, since it digs at the most basic legal process of getting hitched married and obtaining a marriage license from the county clerk. Instead of having to perform their sworn duties as clerks, if SB 522 becomes law clerks woudl be able to delegate that role to deputy clerks, judges or magistrates.

If none of those people feel up to providing homosexual couples with their Constitutional right to legally wed, county commissioners will also have the option of appointing a “certifying official,” which can be a regular employee or a contractor. And if they can’t find a certifying official in the county, couples will have to go to another county to find an official who will sign their license.

Proponents of the bill say that this measure will simply guarantee government employees are not forced to do things that violate their own religious beliefs. “Everyone should be free to peacefully live and work according to their convictions without fear of being punished by the government,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values said when he was promoting SB 522 and the slew of other bills filed this legislative session, back in February.

Of course, SB 522 isn’t the only bill of this sort filed in the Legislature. In fact, SB 522 is only one of 17 bills filed this legislative session that are being celebrated by conservatives as methods of protecting religious liberty. Other bills propose to allow all kinds of religious outs to avoid serving LGBT customers, including HB 2876 which would allow wedding industry workers to discriminate against same-sex couples, and HB 3571 which would allow just about any business to refuse to serve gay people if the business couches the refusal in “religious reasons.” And there are other similar bills knocking around Austin.

Continue reading at:  http://www.houstonpress.com/news/texas-legislators-file-sb-522-other-bills-to-undermine-us-supreme-courts-gay-marriage-ruling-9311303

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