Christine Hallquist worries about future of transgender rights after Vermont election

From The Burlington Free Press:

Nov. 7, 2018

Christine Hallquist, the first transgender person to run as a major-party candidate for governor conceded to incumbent Gov. Phil Scott just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I am very proud of the campaign we have run,” Hallquist told the Democratic gathering at the Hilton in Burlington.

Hallquist won 110,277 votes to Scott’s 151,176. The Republican incumbent swept the state with an almost 15 percent margin. But it was national politics that weighed on her following her loss.

“I’m more concerned about the future of America,” Hallquist said following her concession speech.

“I didn’t like what I was seeing in the numbers in the rest of the country tonight,” Hallquist continued at about 10:30 p.m. as numbers were still coming in across the country. “And if we still have a Republican majority in the House and the Senate nationally, I think people like me are in trouble.”

The Democrats regained a majority in the U.S. House on Tuesday, while Republicans added to their Senate majority.

Hallquist said she had no plans at the moment to become a national advocate for transgender rights, but didn’t rule anything out.

“I’m afraid for the future of my community,” Hallquist said regarding the Trump administration proposal to legally define gender only as a person’s presentation of genitalia at birth with no changes allowed.

“I do feel groundbreaking, but what good does it do if we don’t change things,” Hallquist said of national rather than state laws. “We have safe policies (in Vermont), but if I get my passport revoked because I’m transgender, what are you going to do?”

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Trans politicians didn’t fare as well as 2017, but still gained key victories

From LGBTQ Nation:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 has not shaped up to be a repeat of the large gains in transgender candidates as 2017, but two state level wins and the victory in Massachusetts makes this a solid growth year regardless.

The biggest wins are in New Hampshire, where Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker picked up seats in the state House. They join Danica Roem as the only transgender people currently serving in a state legislature in the United States.

Cannon, last year, won a seat on the Somersworth School Board, while Bunker is new to politics.

The two trans men in the state level races, Finnigan Jones, candidate for Texas House District 94, and Everett Maroon, who ran for the Washington House of Representatives in District 16, both lost.

Two other candidates for state positions remain undecided at this time: Amelia Marquez’s bid for the Montana House of Representatives, to represent District 52, is still uncalled, while Brianna Titone is losing by just 200 votes in her run for Colorado house district 27.

The biggest trans race this year was that of Christine Hallquist, who ran for Governor of Vermont. Hallquist, a former energy executive lost her race against incumbent Phil Scott. She would have been the highest-ranking transgender politician.

Other trans candidates did not fare well, Lis Regula, candidate for Portage county, Ohio, auditor, as did Mia Satya and Martin Rawlings-Fein, both candidates for the San Francisco School Board.

Bigger than any of these races, however, was the victory in Massachusetts for Question 3. The voters rejected referendum on a law barring discrimination against transgender people in public spaces. The law also allows the use of restrooms and other sex-segregated spaces by transgender people.

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Alyssa Milano Won’t Speak At Next Women’s March Till Leaders Denounce Anti-Semitism

From The Forward:

By Jenny Singer
November 7, 2018

Alyssa Milano won’t speak at the next Women’s March if leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour continue to support Louis Farrakhan, she told Advocate.

Milano, an actress who has become one of the most public faces of the #MeToo movement, censured those Women’s March leaders for their continued refusal to publicly distance themselves from Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has called Jews “the synagogue of Satan” and most recently seemed to compare them to termites, among other anti-Semitic slurs.

Milano’s move to divorce herself from peer activists over Jewish issues is yet another fissure in the progressive movement that has some Jews citing anti-Semitism on the left.

The criticism stems from Mallory’s frequent attendance at Farrakhan’s events, including a speech earlier this year in which Farrakhan stated, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” and accused Jews in Hollywood of “turning men into women and women into men.”

In the face of public pressure — including from many leaders of local Women’s March chapters around the county — Mallory refused to denounce Farrakhan. Sarsour, a Palestinian-American who was already a tremendously divisive figure in the Jewish community, strongly backed Mallory in a Facebook post, lashing out at critics for “trashing a strong black woman and holding her accountable for the words of a man.”

Carmen Perez, a Women’s March leader whom Milano didn’t mention, has also supported Farrakhan.

Milano, who is credited with helping amplify activist Tarana Burke’s initial #MeToo call for women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, told Advocate that she hopes to refocus on issue of children separated from their parents at the border as she distances herself from the Women’s March leadership.

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Alyssa Milano on Why Cis Women Must Fight for Transgender Rights

I should have put this up earlier but I have been overwhelmed with right wing terrorist attacks plus the election.

From Vice Broadly:

Our struggles are not separate from the struggles of the transgender community—they’re bound up in each other, intertwined.

by Alyssa Milano
Oct 23 2018

In a few short weeks, a critical election looms, and, again, the Trump Administration is engaged in a vile attack on a marginalized community. In a memo made public this weekend, the Department of Health and Human Services pushed to define gender as being restricted to a person’s genitalia at birth in an act of open hostility against transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people (TGNC).

Aligning the legal definition of sex with one’s birth genitalia—complete with DNA testing to confirm—makes it clear that the Trump administration intends to continue to roll back rights and protections for TGNC and intersex people. But they won’t stop there.

The administration is framing its strategy as scientific: a way to define gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable.” But the Trump Administration, which has consistently minimized and denied the impact of climate change, doesn’t care about science: They care about taking civil rights away from people who “should not have them.” In a system that puts cis men above all others, this dangerous policy proposal will create a further caste system, with TGNC people at the bottom.

Title IX was created to ensure that we wouldn’t experience discrimination on the basis of our sex. It’s provided opportunities for women to play sports in schools and universities and protected us from discrimination by organizations that receive federal funding. While never implemented in a way that created true parity for women in sports, it provided a framework and accountability for schools to include girls and women to participate at all levels of their education. I’m grateful for Title IX, and all American women should be, too. It is incredibly important to me that my son and my daughter are growing up at a time when girls and boys can all participate in athletics without fear of discrimination based on their gender.

Title IX has been widely interpreted by courts to include gender identity, and, within that, to be inclusive of transgender people. That’s not just an Obama-era interpretation, either: When the Obama Administration offered policy guidance around fluid interpretations of what constituted gender identity, it was in line with what courts were already ruling.

The changes proposed in the Trump Administration’s cruel memo threaten to undo generations of already-too-slow progress. If gender is defined solely by birth genitalia, non-discrimination protections will vanish for TGNC people—everyone who doesn’t fit neatly into the inadequate boxes of “male” and “female” (as determined under the Trump administration’s unscientific metric).

Students at public schools who are transgender won’t be protected by Title IX in the same way their cisgender peers are. TGNC employees at federally funded organizations won’t have the non discrimination protections that Title IX provides—this is especially concerning, because transgender people already experience higher rates of economic instability and job insecurity, two factors which already create significant vulnerabilities for this community.

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Rise of the Armed Left

From The New York Times:

Threats from the right inspire a new left-wing gun culture.

By Michelle Goldberg
Nov. 2, 2018

ATLANTA — When I met Oso, a trash collector from rural Georgia in his late 30s, he was wearing dark shades and a black T-shirt with a silhouette of an assault rifle and the words “Piece Now.” A tall and burly white man, he had a sleeve of tattoos on one arm, stubble on his shaved head, and a bushy gray beard. He looked, at first glance, like the sort of intimidating figure who’d fit in at a far-right rally.

In fact, you might see him at such a rally — among the counterprotesters. “There shouldn’t be any question in anybody’s mind in this country that fascism is here,” he said. “It’s alive and well and marching us all towards somewhere that we don’t want to be.” That’s part of the reason, he said, that he’s into guns: “I wear a pistol every day because I’m a Jewish person in the South.”

It was the Sunday after the terror-filled week that culminated in the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue. Oso was sitting with a handful of other members of the North Georgia branch of the Socialist Rifle Association, a new, swiftly growing left-wing gun group, in the backyard of an Italian restaurant in a gentrifying Atlanta neighborhood. (None of them wanted their last names used; Oso, Spanish for “bear,” is a nickname.)

The mission of the S.R.A. is “to arm and train the working class for self-defense.”

It launched in its current form this spring — before that there was a Facebook group of the same name — and now has several hundred dues-paying members and over 30 chapters. This Monday, 28 new people joined, the group said.

Brad, a 36-year-old math professor, is a founder of the S.R.A.’s North Georgia chapter and a member of the S.R.A.’s central committee. “Some people are scared with what’s going on in the country right now,” he told me. He only recently started carrying a gun, after getting death threats for the socialist organizing he was doing in his small town. “People want to be able to protect themselves,” he said.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, parts of the radical left fetishized firearms. Back then, some conservatives supported gun control as a way to disarm African-American militants; Ronald Reagan signed a bill banning open carry of loaded weapons when he was governor of California. “The Black Panthers and other extremists of the 1960s inspired some of the strictest gun control laws in American history,” the U.C.L.A. law professor Adam Winkler wrote in his book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

Since then, however, gun culture has become virtually synonymous with American conservatism. The National Rifle Association is now perhaps the most powerful Republican lobby in the country, and its rhetoric increasingly echoes that of the apocalyptic far right. Over the last 20 or 30 years, Winkler told me, “not only has the N.R.A. become more and more associated with the right, but there’s an increasingly militaristic, rebellious tone to the N.R.A. and the gun rights movement.” It’s become, he said, “all about arming up to fight the tyranny that’s coming.”

Meanwhile, most of the left has embraced gun control, something that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. But it was probably inevitable that, as our politics have become more polarized and violent, a nascent left-wing gun culture would emerge.

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No One At Work Had Any Idea I’m Trans. Here’s Why I Decided To Tell Them.

From Huffington Post:

Damien Montoya

I was born on July 10, 1992, as Demicia Ann Montoya, a healthy baby girl weighing in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces.

I can’t pinpoint the exact age I became aware something was wrong with my body. Maybe that’s because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like something was wrong. As a kid, I did not like skirts and dresses, pink or Barbie dolls. I wanted to wear blue basketball shorts and T-shirts. I wanted to participate in sports, build with Legos and play dinosaurs.

It’s not that I was a little girl who just wanted to be a boy. Every single cell in my body was telling me that I was a boy. I would have vivid dreams that this were true, only to wake up and stare in the mirror in disbelief. It made me want to crawl out of my skin and cry. But I felt like I had no options, that no one would ever take me seriously. So, I repressed these feelings for a long time.

A year before high school, I came out to my family and friends as a lesbian. I got my first buzz cut and dressed very masculine. I was sometimes mistaken for a boy, which made me light up every time I heard it. But the truth is: I was still in denial. I did not know anything about the transition process, and the thought of it scared me. I wish I had resources back then, or someone to look up to; then maybe I would have started the process sooner.

After graduating high school, I was dead-set on attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue an undergraduate degree in pre-veterinary studies. There was an LGBTQIA/Ally inclusive floor that I wanted to live on to make myself more comfortable. On the first day of attendance, I met so many different members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and among the crowd were a couple of transgender men who were in different stages of transitioning. One of them was very open about his transition, and I admired him immediately, bombarding him with questions about the process.

In 2011, by the fall of my sophomore year, I knew what I had to do: I had to come out, again.

At first, I just told my friends at school. Most of them didn’t even bat an eye. I changed my name and pronouns on Facebook, which my mom then saw and called me right away. I told her about my intentions to transition to male, and although she used words like “out of the blue” and “never saw this coming,” she came around pretty quickly. My dad, on the other hand, took a couple of years to come to terms with my transition. Eventually, though, he proudly accepted me as his son.

There was an awkward period at the beginning of my transition when I would get misgendered a lot; people would use my old name or “she/her” pronouns. Every time that happened it was like a stab in the chest. I just wanted to leave my old life behind and live as “Damien.” But I started hormone replacement therapy in early 2012. As the hormones set in, my voice deepened, I put on more muscle mass, and I started to grow facial hair. Within a year or two, I was no longer misgendered and I began to truly feel like who I was supposed to be: a man.

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