In ‘nasty parting shot,’ HHS finalizes rule axing LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections


Under the new Health Department rule, taxpayer-funded adoption agencies can refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages and turn away qualified LGBTQ parents.

By Dan Avery
Jan. 12, 2021

With little more than a week left to the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services has finalized a rule permitting social-service providers that receive government funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Critics claim the new guidance could have wide-ranging implications for agencies that address adoption and foster-parenting, as well as homelessness, HIV prevention, elder care and other public services.

“Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help,” Sasha Buchert, senior attorney for the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, said.

According to the 77-page release, published Tuesday in the Federal Register, Obama-era requirements that agencies refrain from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity and recognize same-sex marriages as legally valid violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Given the careful balancing of rights, obligations, and goals in the public-private partnerships in federal grant programs, the Department believes it appropriate to impose only those nondiscrimination requirements required by the Constitution and federal statutes,” the rule states.

Slated to take effect on Feb. 11, the rule change is targeted at child welfare organizations, according to Julie Kruse, director of federal policy for LGBTQ advocacy group Family Equality. Whether private adoption agencies receiving taxpayer money can deny services to same-sex potential parents is at the heart of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, now before the Supreme Court.

Kruse said both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made allowing discrimination in adoption and foster care a priority over the last four years.

At the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2019, Trump bemoaned that St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Michigan was facing legal action “for living by the values of its Catholic faith” and turning away same-sex prospective parents. The president vowed that his administration was “working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families, while following their deeply held beliefs.

(For what it is worth: I left the Catholic church over 55 years ago because of its bigotry.)

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Songs from the Civil Rights Movement

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Detransition as Conversion Therapy: A Survivor Speaks Out

From The Medium:

Ky Schevers
Dec 21, 2020

For seven years I lived as a detransitioned woman. I believed that I had transitioned as a way to cope with trauma and internalized sexism, that I had been trying to escape the stigma of being a butch lesbian in a homophobic society. I thought I had to reclaim womanhood in order to heal and find wholeness. I was part of a larger community of detransitioned women and re-identified women, a community heavily influenced by radical feminist and lesbian separatist theory and culture. Together we worked to support each other in healing from “female disidentification” and reconnecting with being women. Many of us shared our stories online, through blogs, videos and other media.

I blogged and made videos under the name CrashChaosCats, or Crash for short, presented workshops and helped organize in-person gatherings for detransitioned and re-identified women. I was profiled by The Outline and was one of the detrans women interviewed by Katie Herzog for her controversial article on detransitioning that appeared in The Stranger. I believed I was doing important work, educating people that gender dysphoria could be caused by trauma and sexism and healed by using psychological means rather than medical transition.

Now I see my detransition as a kind of anti-trans conversion therapy, grounded in transphobic radical feminist ideology. Like all forms of conversion therapy, it was unsuccessful and deeply damaging. I have indeed been hurt by trauma and living in a sexist, homophobic society but coming to believe that I needed to give up being trans in order to heal those wounds only caused further damage. I can see now that I wasted years of my life trying to fix a part of myself that was never broken and suffering needlessly in the process. Even worse, I fear that I’ve mislead other people into engaging in similar self-destructive practices. I presented myself as a detransition success story but the truth is that detransitioning did not work for me and was an act of self-denial and rejection.

I followed the radical feminist prescription for “curing” transmasculinity. I tried living as a butch woman who was completely woman and female-identified. I worked to expand my definition of womanhood and examine the effects of living in a misogynistic and homophobic society. I did “consciousness raising” with other detrans women, where we processed our experiences through a radical feminist lens. I challenged any internal sense of gender that wasn’t female, learning how to reinterpret, disconnect from and/or suppress my feelings. I learned to emphasis any commonalities I shared with women since one of the central problems of “female disidentifcation” was feeling different from them. I sought out strong gender nonconforming women as friends, mentors and role models. I read a ton of books on radical feminism and radical lesbian culture and attended lesbian feminist gatherings. At one point, most of the people I hung out with on the regular basis were radical feminist lesbians.

At first it seemed to work, though it helped that my sense of gender had already shifted in a more female direction on its own before I ever considered myself detransitioned. I had long felt like a blend of transmasculine and butch but had spent most of my young adulthood living as a trans man, largely because I worried people would not understand my gender complexity. In my mid-twenties, I started feeling more like a dyke and wishing I could be seen as a genderqueer female person. I had never lived as a adult butch woman and was curious about exploring that possibility. I didn’t think of myself as detransitioning, more as exploring and experimenting with my gender.

After embracing radical feminism, I rejected my gender complexity in favor of declaring myself a woman who’d been so badly hurt by sexism that I’d developed a sense of having multiple genders in order to cope. I saw my butch womanhood as being my one true gender and treated any sense of being male or genderqueer as a symptom of trauma and dissociation. My sense of being other genders never entirely went away but my sense of being a woman was strong and reinforced by other detransitioned women and radical feminists. For years I managed to convince myself that I’d finally figured myself out and was on the path to healing.

Eventually though, my transmasculinity and genderqueerness came back with a vengeance. At first I interpreted this an as episode of gender dysphoria, brought on by stress in my life. In the detrans women’s community, gender dysphoria is separated from trans identity and treated like a symptom to be managed much like ex-gays draw a distinction from experiencing same-sex attraction and identifying as gay. We rejected the whole concept of gender identity. Biological sex was real but gender identity was false consciousness stemming from gender roles and sex stereotypes. We weren’t trying to change gender identity as much as we were trying to eradicate it, privileging radical feminist theory over our internal sense of self. So I dutifully treated my re-emerging gender identities as delusions to work through. Living as a woman felt increasingly wrong but I was terrified of giving up the life I had built as a detransitioned lesbian with a prominent role in the detrans women’s community. I struggled with these feelings, doing my best to keep them in check, for three years.

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Lesbians Aren’t Going Extinct- But Transphobes are Coming out of the Closet

From The LA Blade:

by Brynn Tannehill
December 28, 2020

There has been a spate of articles in conservative publications by transphobic authors like Andrew Sullivan alleging that transgender people are making lesbians go extinct. This isn’t just wrong, it exposes some of the anti-trans hatred, and fearmongering strategies, of conservatives who never really cared about LGBT people in the first place.

First off, lesbians aren’t going extinct. Neither are butch lesbians, unless every single one of them decides they’re trans men. When I asked my wife, who identifies as a cis butch lesbian, if she’d ever wanted to be a guy or transition, her response was a visceral, “Eww. No. Why would I want to be covered in hair?” The number of people who identify as trans remains tiny compared to rest of the LGBT community (1.4 million out of a community of 9.4 million adults). Indeed, that data shows that the number of people identifying as LGB has been growing for decades, and it has been driven by bisexual women.

The people who fear monger about this like to cite the “rising number of young trans men.” They leave out the crucial part where the number of young trans men seeking treatment levelled off years ago in the UK. It’s like that moment in the Simpsons where Disco Stu is trying to get Homer to invest in his academies by telling him, “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue… A-y-y-y!” It’s also worth pointing out that less than 1% of people were left handed in the 19th century, which rose to 10% and stayed there after the beatings stopped.

This line of thinking is intensely disrespectful of trans people as well. It treats most of them as if they are not members of the LGB community, and signals that the authors are revolted by trans bodies. Two-thirds of trans men and women do not identify as straight, which means that the majority of trans men didn’t start off considering themselves as lesbians.  So, where is Andrew Sullivan celebrating that the gay community is adding trans men to its diversity? Or that for every trans man who leaves the lesbian community, there’s roughly one trans woman who enters?

The answer is, of course, that he doesn’t, because he doesn’t consider trans men to be real gay men, or trans women to be real lesbians. At some fundamental level, he finds transgender people repulsive, and refuses to even grant them honorary status within the LGB community. Indeed, he would likely accuse trans women of being interlopers, and warn trans men that they need to disclose their genitals to him immediately. 

The outlets publishing these sorts of articles aren’t friends to the LGB community either. For years they published articles urging society to hold gay men responsible for AIDS, supporting “no promo homo” laws, and opposing same sex marriage. This is merely part of the ongoing right-wing effort to divide and conquer by separating the trans population from the rest of the community, destroying them, then coming back to finish off the LGB community later using the laws they just created. Supposedly “moderate” conservative commentators like David French have lamented not crushing lesbians and gays when they had the chance, and urged fellow conservatives to do the same to trans people while they can.

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Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe urge court to overturn Idaho anti-trans sports law

From Washington Blade:

by Chris Johnson
December 21, 2020

Lesbian athletes, including tennis legend Billie Jean King and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, were among the 176 women who signed a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court Monday calling on judges to overturn an Idaho law barring transgender girls from participating in school sports.

The friend-of-the-court brief, coordinated by the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal, urges the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against the law, HB 500, arguing school athletic participation “provides unparalleled opportunities to forge a sense of belonging, connectedness, and contribution.”

“The benefits of sports extend to all aspects of school and throughout life. But these benefits are diminished when some athletes are excluded because of who they are,” the brief says. “Amici’s experiences in sports and in life are a testament to the value of inclusion in building powerful teams and social, societal, and business institutions.”

The attention to the experiences of women athletes is key to the context of the 38-page brief, which is filed amid debate on whether transgender girls should be allowed in school sports.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who had apologized for her anti-gay past during her presidential run, has introduced in her remaining days in Congress legislation that would amend Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 essentially to prohibit transgender girls from school athletics. In a subsequent video, Gabbard justified this legislation by saying biological males have inherent physical advantages over women and would compromise paths to victory and scholarships for non-trans girls.

King, who won the “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs in 1973 and was ranked the world’s number one ranked tennis player six times, said in a statement “there is no place in any sport for discrimination of any kind.” (King was ostracized after coming out as a lesbian in 1981 and lost an estimated $2 million in sponsorships.)

“I’m proud to support all transgender athletes who simply want the access and opportunity to compete in the sport they love,” King said. “The global athletic community grows stronger when we welcome and champion all athletes – including LGBTQI+ athletes.”

Other women athletes who signed the brief in the case, Hecox v. Little, are Candace Parker, who was trailblazer in women’s basketball; Phaidra Knight; a former rugby player who was a member of the United States National Team from 1999 to 2017; and Esther Lofgren is an American rower and an Olympic gold medalist. Athlete Ally and the Women’s Sports Foundation also roles in coordinating the brief.

Many of the same athletes also co-signed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association in June urging the organization to nix all sporting events in Idaho in the wake of the anti-trans law. The NCAA, however, has yet to act in response publicly.

The case comes to the Ninth Circuit upon appeal after U.S. District Judge David Nye, appointed by President Trump in 2017, ruled in August against the Idaho law, conceding his order “is likely to be controversial.”

The Trump administration has participated in the case and filed its own friend-of-the-court brief before the Ninth Circuit in November urging the court to uphold the law. The efforts got a boost from President Trump himself, who retweeted a Brietbart on the U.S. Justice Department filings from his Twitter account.

Carl Charles, staff attorney for Lambda Legal said, in a statement the dozens of athletes who signed the brief “a deep understanding and appreciation of the life-long benefits that come from participation in sports.”

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They The People: The Biden Administration Must go Beyond Repealing Trump’s Attacks on Trans Rights

From The ACLU:

Access to accurate IDs reduces violence and discrimination faced by trans and non-binary people.

Arli Christian 
December 17, 2020

The federal government has not been kind to transgender people over the last four years. Trans students were put at risk when the Department of Education withdrew critical guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students. Trans people facing housing instability were left in the cold when the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled back rules protecting trans and gender non-conforming people from discrimination at homeless shelters and other housing services receiving federal funds. Trans military members were devastated by a single tweet from the president that put their careers and livelihoods at stake. And the list of attacks goes on.

The government is supposed to support and serve all of us, but trans folks have been intentionally and cruelly cut out these last four years, along with so many other communities. Of course, we are still here, and will continue to take care of each other no matter who is in the White House. We’ve heard Biden and Harris pledge to repeal the trans military ban and pass the Equality Act, and assure us that their administration will work to undo the harms of the last four years. Now we must must hold this administration accountable and ensure that they make a meaningful difference in the day-to-day lives of trans and non-binary people around the country.

There’s one important action this administration can take right away to show transgender people that they respect and support us: give us identification that reflects who we are. That’s why one of the ACLU’s top priorities for the Biden-Harris administration is an executive order updating the process by which federal agencies change gender markers on IDs.  s order will ensure that all transgender people have access to an accurate ID. Currently,  to update a gender marker in the social security system, on a passport, on immigration documents, or on any other federal ID or record, an applicant must submit a letter from a medical doctor attesting to appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This executive order would remove those burdensome medical documentation requirements so that everyone has access to the appropriate gender marker, and add an “X” option so that non-binary, intersex, and other folks have an accurate designation.

Access to accurate IDs is personally meaningful for trans folks but also practical, ensuring we can travel, apply for jobs, and enter public establishments with less risk of harassment or harm. But this update is not just about us, it’s a sensible solution for the federal government. IDs are intended to identify people, and are useless when they don’t match the applicant. Requiring trans folks to jump through hoops with doctor’s visits and medical letters to obtain updated IDs is costly, complicated, an invasion of privacy, and entirely unnecessary — and prevents many people from getting an updated ID to move through the world.

Accurate IDs are not possible without appropriate options for non-binary folks, intersex people, and anyone else for whom an “M” or “F” is not suitable. An “X” designation is used throughout the world to indicate a sex or gender other than male or female, and must be available on our federal documents. Nearly 20 states already have self-attestation and an “X” designation on driver’s licenses and state IDs, so this update is also important to ensure that people can have consistent state and federal documents.

The ACLU is excited to encourage this important step forward. In 2021, we’ll be sharing stories from trans and non-binary folks about the importance of accurate IDs, meeting with White House officials, and pushing the administration to follow through on their promises to the trans community. With one stroke of the pen, President-elect Biden can issue this order to not only provide a common-sense solution to access accurate IDs, but send a critical message to transgender people across the country: Our government sees you as exactly who you say you are, and we want you to be supported and included in this country.

Building trust between the government and trans communities is a long and hard process, but it starts with recognition. 

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Transgender Brits Struggle Against a Toxic Tide: ‘I Don’t Feel Safe Anywhere’

From Yahoo News:

Katherine O’Donnell
Wed, December 9, 2020

Almost every trans person I know tells me the same things: “I can’t read or watch the news any more” … “I’ve had to go onto meds just to function” … “I don’t feel safe anywhere” … “I’m afraid every time I leave the house” … “I’m thinking about moving” … “We’re going to live abroad.”

Opinions differ as to the exact moment that the world lurched and the lives of trans people in the U.K. began rapidly to slide into an unbearable daily onslaught of lies, hatred, discrimination and violence, yet as we come to the end of 2020 that’s where we are.

Around the time that Trump and Brexit arrived in our nightmares a culture war was ignited over the human rights of trans people, a war that trans people didn’t want and where the forces ranged against them included not just the usual ranks of the religious right, the far right and antediluvian social conservatives, but U.K. Government ministers and an astonishingly transphobic mainstream media.

British Court Ruling on Puberty Blockers Stinks of Anti-Trans Cruelty

Since 2015 the UK has slipped from being the most progressive LGBTQ nation in Europe and occupying the top spot on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Europe’s (ILGA) annual 49 country Rainbow Map to 10th place and falling.

The report’s section on the UK highlighted the steep rise in hate crimes and evidence of a slowing down of public acceptance of advancing LGBTQ equalities as factors in the decline—a depressing trend given the roster of equality victories, from the equalizing of the age of consent through to marriage equality that had predated it.

Now, it’s an anti-trans blitz out there, and the bombs keep falling. A week ago, judges in the High Court took away the right of families of trans children to access lifesaving puberty delaying medication.

The decision, which has been widely condemned for its medical ignorance and cruelty, hinges on children’s competence to understand and give informed consent. It has huge ramifications beyond trans lives and opens the way to a rolling back of women’s and children’s rights of bodily autonomy around contraception and abortion.

What the world beyond may not have noticed is the glee with which this was celebrated by anti-trans campaigners, the far right and newspaper columnists and editors. Katy Montgomerie, a trans woman who monitors and patiently interacts with Twitter and Facebook’s anti-trans ‘gender critical’ legions in the hope of combatting disinformation, told me that not one of her correspondents had shown any care or compassion for the trans children and their families whose lives were now devastated.

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Happy Joyous Hanukkah, Nefesh Mountain

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: 1960s Folk Music

When I started converting to Judaism in 2019, some one said to me, “Oh no, you won’t like it, you are too independent and too much of a non-conformist.” I said: “I’m converting Reform.” He said: “oh campfires and folk music, that’s different.

The people I’ve met at Temple tend to be the sort who listen to NPR and watch PBS, which is currently running a Beg-a-thon. Which brings me to Folk Music and one of their staples. The Folk Music Revival.

Here’s my version:

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Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Anti-Transgender Bill After Claiming To Be LGBTQ-Friendly

From Huffington Post:

The Hawaii Democrat has drafted a bill to bar schools from receiving federal funds if they allow transgender girls and women to compete in women’s sports.

By Dominique Mosbergen

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation in the House on Thursday that would bar schools from receiving federal funding if they allow transgender girls and women and non-binary people to compete on sports teams consistent with their gender identities.

The bill — co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma — was met with immediate outrage from transgender activists and allies who labeled the legislation “blatantly transphobic.”

The “Protect Women’s Sports Act” seeks to clarify that Title IX protections for female athletes are “based on biological sex,” Gabbard and Mullin said in a statement.

Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance. The new bill would bar schools from receiving such funds if they permit “a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and other Republicans. Loeffler is one of two Republican senators facing competitive runoff elections in Georgia in January.  

Explaining her support for the bill, Gabbard ― who’d previously claimed she supported LGBTQ rights ― said she wants to protect “Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.”

“Title IX was a historic provision … to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports. It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before,” she said.

“However,” she added, “Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.” 

Gabbard faced immediate backlash for the legislation.

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What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?

From The Atlantic:

“Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1. Our worlds are backward.”

by Rhaina Cohen
October 20, 2020

Kami West had been dating her current boyfriend for a few weeks when she told him that he was outranked by her best friend. West knew her boyfriend had caught snatches of her daily calls with Kate Tillotson, which she often placed on speaker mode. But she figured that he, like the men she’d dated before, didn’t quite grasp the nature of their friendship. West explained to him, “I need you to know that she’s not going anywhere. She is my No. 1.” Tillotson was there before him, and, West told him, “she will be there after you. And if you think at any point that this isn’t going to be my No. 1, you’re wrong.”

If West’s comments sound blunt, it’s because she was determined not to repeat a distressing experience from her mid-20s. Her boyfriend at that time had sensed that he wasn’t her top priority. In what West saw as an attempt to keep her away from her friend, he disparaged Tillotson, calling her a slut and a bad influence. After the relationship ended, West, 31, vowed to never let another man strain her friendship. She decided that any future romantic partners would have to adapt to her friendship with Tillotson, rather than the other way around.

West and Tillotson know what convention dictates. “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1,” West told me. “Our worlds are backward.”

In the past few decades, Americans have broadened their image of what constitutes a legitimate romantic relationship: Courthouses now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Americans are getting married later in life than ever before, and more and more young adults are opting to share a home rather than a marriage license with a partner. Despite these transformations, what hasn’t shifted much is the expectation that a monogamous romantic relationship is the planet around which all other relationships should orbit.

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Friday Night Fun And Culture: Bob Dylan

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Conservatives outraged that Joe Biden promised to “flat out change” anti-transgender laws

From LGBTQ Nation:

Biden said there should be “zero discrimination” against transgender kids. Cue the outrage.

An anti-LGBTQ hate group is attacking Joe Biden for supporting transgender people’s rights.

“Joe Biden is wrong to encourage gender transitions for eight-year-old children,” said Peter Sprigg of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council.

prigg was reacting to comments Biden made at an ABC News town hall event this past Thursday, where Mieke Haeck, the mother of an eight-year-old transgender girl, asked Biden what he would do to reverse the Trump administration’s onslaught of anti-transgender policy. She specifically cited the transgender military ban and the Trump administration’s rollbacks of the Obama era protections for transgender people in schools, homeless shelters, and other areas.

“I will flat out change the law,” Biden said, explaining that he’ll “eliminate those executive orders.”

“There should be zero discrimination,” he continued, saying that Haeck’s transgender daughter should have all the same rights as her cisgender daughter.

Christian conservatives have been outraged over Biden’s response.

“No, no, no. If you have a child with gender conflicted feelings, you aren’t helping them by encouraging them to embrace body-denying propaganda,” tweeted Kenwood Baptist Church Associate Pastor Denny Burke. “Their body isn’t lying to them about maleness/femaleness. Don’t lie and tell them that it is.”

Over the weekend, Biden wrote a statement where he discussed the “unacceptable” number of Black and brown transgender women of color who have been murdered this year.

“These deaths don’t exist within a vacuum,” he wrote. “Dehumanizing government actions and rhetoric as well as a failure to address risk factors like domestic and intimate partner violence, underemployment and unemployment and poverty, housing insecurity and health disparities, put this community at risk.”


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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Molly Tuttle

It’s been a while since I put up something other than death notices. Over the High Holidays I decided that in the next year I needed to recapture hope and optimism. I need to revitalize this blog and find more joy in life. Early last Sunday morning I stumbled on a radio station playing Molly Tuttle. She is one hell of a guitar player.

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Feminist icon Roxane Gay thinks JK Rowling was ‘rightly vilified’ after ‘painting herself as a victim’

From Pink News:

Roxane Gay thinks Harry Potter author JK Rowling was “rightly vilified” when she tried to turn her explosive views on trans people into a “grand statement on gender”.

Patrick Kelleher
October 13, 2020

The queer author of Bad Feminist lambasted Rowling in an interview with The Irish Times.

“She’s been rightly vilified,” Gay said, when asked about the public backlash Rowling has faced since she publicised her trans views in a lengthy essay in June.

She is painting herself as a victim, but she’s not. She’s a billionaire who has decided to pick on one of the most marginalised groups of people in the world.

“And she has done so by making her fears into some sort of grand statement about gender. It’s absurd. And it’s shocking, that she doesn’t get called out on it more by other writers.”

Gay’s comments come just days after she signed an open letter from the American and Canadian literary community pledging support to trans and non-binary people.

The powerful letter was signed by more than 1,800 high-profile literary figures, including Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman.


The letter, while not directly addressing Rowling’s comments, was initiated by author Maureen Johnson over “transphobia in the publishing discourse and community” .

“When JK got involved in [trans rights] it gave a lot of legitimacy to something that before seemed fringe. It became more accepted, because people know JK from Harry Potter,” Johnson told Publishers Weekly on Thursday.

“Sometimes you need to put your name on the line and say: ‘I don’t agree with what’s going on.’”

Gay has been a vocal advocate for trans rights for some time. Speaking to the New Statesman in 2019, the writer and commentator hit out at anti-trans feminists, saying they should “know better, having been marginalised as women throughout history and today”.

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Monica Roberts Has Passed Away

Monica Roberts was a billion watt voice for the often overlooked Black Trans-Community.  Always there to point out how many of the murdered tranwomen we remember each November were Black and at an intersection of oppressions.

She was unique as are all trans-activists.  We all sing out against our oppression with our own voices coming from our own life experiences. Now her voice is silent, others may step up and keep speaking out against the same forces of oppression but they will never have the same power of anger and outrage as Monica.

She wasn’t an easy person for me to get along with, even when we agreed 100% on issues.  But when it came to speaking truth to power Monica was second to none.

She needs to be remembered whenever future trans-activists are setting policies and may not have considered the needs of people of color in setting those policies.

From LGBTQ Nation:


Monica Roberts has passed away and TBLG media will not be the same.

Roberts, 58, was best known on the internet for her award-winning blog, TransGriot, a website that covered transgender news before there was much trams representation in major TBLG (her preferred order for the letters) publications. Even up to this today, several writers and editors at LGBTQ Nation checked her website daily to see what she had to tell the world.

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Another transgender woman fatally shot in Puerto Rico – the 6th killing of a trans person this year in the U.S. territory

From The New York Daily News:

Human rights activists are mourning the loss of another transgender woman in Puerto Rico.

The body of 33-year-old Michelle Ramos Vargas was found Wednesday morning alongside an isolated road near a farm in the southwest town of San German, according to The Associated Press.

Local newspaper Noticel reported that police haven’t ruled out her killing as a hate crime.

Police officer Manuel Cruz told the AP that the victim was shot several times in the head. She apparently worked as a bartender and was studying to become a nurse.

Human rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano condemned the killing and denounced the negligence and inaction of the local government on violence against the island’s LGBTQ community.

“They are violating us, they are hunting us and they are murdering us while [Puerto Rico governor] Wanda Vázquez and her government chooses to look away,” Serrano said in a statement, noting that there have been six transgender people murdered in Puerto Rico this year.

“Enough of so much hatred. Trans people are as human beings as others and they deserve to live in peace, equity and freedom,” he added.

Earlier this year, the bodies of Layla Peláez, 21, and Serena Angelique Velázquez, 32, were found inside a charred Hyundai Elantra on April 22 in the city of Humacao, on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.

Their deaths came just days after 31-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez, was killed at the Bayamon correctional complex.

On Feb. 24, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, another trans woman, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, in northern Puerto Rico. About a week later, Yampi Méndez Arocho, a transgender man, was killed after being assaulted in Moca, some 50 miles east of Toa Baja.

“There is no plan to stop these hate crimes, a state of emergency for gender violence has not been issued, there is nothing,” Serrano tweeted.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been at least 29 violent deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. this year — nearly all of them are trans women of color.

Ramos became the 30th known transgender person to be murdered in the U.S. in 2020.


From HRC:

by Madeleine Roberts
October 2, 2020

HRC lamenta la pérdida de Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, identificada como Michelle Ramos Vargas o Michellyn Ramos Vargas, una mujer transgénero asesinada en San Germán, Puerto Rico, de acuerdo con algunos informes.

Vargas fue encontrada muerta por múltiples heridas de bala en la madrugada del 30 de septiembre. Se cree que su muerte corresponde al a la numerosa e inexacta lista de asesinatos violentos de personas transgénero o de género no conforme en lo que va del año en los EE.UU. Decimos “inexacta” porque con frecuencia estas muertes no son reportadas o lo son de manera errónea. El número de muertes de personas transgéneros o de género no conforme, de acuerdo con el registro de HRC durante todo este año, ha superado el número total de asesinatos del registro de 2019.

“Por lo menos tres mujeres transgénero fueron asesinadas en menos de dos semanas. Este nivel de violencia o cualquier nivel de violencia, es inaceptable,” dijo Tori Cooper, directora de Participación Comunitaria y la Iniciativa de Justicia Transgénero de HRC. “El racismo, la transfobia y misoginia desempeñan un papel clave en las muertes de personas transgénero y de género no conforme, en particular a mujeres transgénero de color. Mientras lamentamos la muerte de Michelle, debemos tomar iniciativa contra la violencia hacia la comunidad transgénero. Una de las acciones que debemos tomar es colaborar con legisladores para establecer y asegurar las políticas que protegen los derechos de las personas transgénero. Debemos trabajar juntos para apoyar a nuestro familiares y comunidad transgénero”.

Vargas, de más de treinta años aproximadamente, estaba estudiando enfermería en Ponce Paramedical College.

En 2020, seis de las 30 muertes de personas transgénero y de género no conforme ocurrieron en Puerto Rico. A principios de este año, otras cinco personas transgénero: Neulisa Lucian Ruiz (también conocida como Alexa), Yampi Méndez Arocho, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez y Penélope Díaz Ramírez fueron asesinadas en la isla.

Más de 10,000 crímenes de odio en los EE. UU. involucran un arma de fuego cada año, lo que equivale a más de 28 por día, según un informe de HRC, Everyone for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center e Equality Florida titulado “Recordando y honrando Pulse: Los prejuicios anti-LGBTQ y las armas están acabando con la vida de innumerables personas LGBTQ”. El informe también señala un marcado aumento en los delitos de odio contra las personas LGBTQ, especialmente contra personas trangénero. Tres cuartas partes de los homicidios de las personas transgénero han involucrado un arma, y casí ocho de cada 10 homicidios de mujeres transgénero negras involucran un arma. Además, los defensores de derechos vieron un aumento del 43% en la formación de grupos de odio anti-LGBTQ en 2019.

Debemos exigir el bienestar de esta comuniad a nuestros funcionarios electos y rechazar la legislación anti-transgénero dañina a nivel local, estatal y federal. Este tipo de violencia mortal afecta de manera desproporcionada a las mujeres transgénero de color. El conjunto interseccional de racismo, transfobia, sexismo, bifobia y homofobia conspiran para privarlas de condiciones básicas para vivir y prosperar.

Esta epidemia de violencia dirigida desproporcionadamente a personas transgénero de color, en particular las mujeres transgénero negras, debe cesar.

Para obtener más información sobre el trabajo de justicia transgénero de HRC, visite

HRC Mourns Aerrion Burnett, Black Trans Woman Killed in Missouri

From HRC:

By  Madeleine Roberts

The Human Rights Campaign is horrified to learn of the death of Aerrion Burnett, 37, in Independence, Missouri. Burnett, who was from Kansas City, was found dead of a gunshot wound early on September 19. Her death is believed to be at least the 28th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. The number of transgender or gender non-conforming people whom HRC has tracked as being killed so far this year has now surpassed the total number of deaths that HRC tracked in all of 2019.

“Black transgender women are being killed at horrifying rates in this country,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “The number of violent deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people that HRC has tracked this year has now surpassed the number we saw for all of last year. This level of violence is staggering, and it cannot continue. We need everyone — from community organizers to those in the highest levels of our government — to take action to end this epidemic of violence. I and everyone in the trans community are mourning Aerrion’s death. As we remember her, we continue to call for justice for all trans and gender non-conforming people.”

Burnett’s family and friends held a vigil the day after her death, releasing balloons in her honor and sharing memories of her.

“She was a goddess,” said her friend Korea Kelly. “If you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.” Another friend remembered her as the “life of the party.”

Members of Burnett’s family also called for justice.

“Enough is enough,” said a cousin of Burnett’s. “Stop taking our lives. Lives matter. You can’t get them back, and it hurts so many people.”

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Burnett has been misgendered and misnamed in the media following her death. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.

More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. Three-fourths of homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019.

The Independence Police Department, which is currently investigating Burnett’s killing as a homicide, asks anyone with information about this case to contact the Tips Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS, IPD tips at (816) 325-7777 or email

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Missouri are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces, although Missouri does include gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Nationally, despite some marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.

This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color — particularly Black transgender women — must cease.

For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit

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Hannah Story | Isabel Rose | Central Synagogue Rosh HaShanah 2020

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Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”

From The New Statesman:

The philosopher and gender theorist discusses tensions in the feminist movement over trans rights.

By Alona Ferber
22 September 2020

Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler*, now 64, published a book that revolutionised popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who it is that feminism purports to fight for. Today, it is a foundational text on any gender studies reading list, and its arguments have long crossed over from the academy to popular culture.

In the three decades since Gender Trouble was published, the world has changed beyond recognition. In 2014, TIME declared a “Transgender Tipping Point”. Butler herself has moved on from that earlier work, writing widely on culture and politics. But disagreements over biological essentialism remain, as evidenced by the tensions over trans rights within the feminist movement.

How does Butler, who is Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley, see this debate today? And does she see a way to break the impasse? Butler recently exchanged emails with the New Statesman about this issue. The exchange has been edited.

Alona Ferber: In Gender Trouble, you wrote that “contemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and again to a certain sense of trouble, as if the indeterminacy of gender might eventually culminate in the failure of feminism”. How far do ideas you explored in that book 30 years ago help explain how the trans rights debate has moved into mainstream culture and politics?

Judith Butler: I want to first question whether trans-exclusionary feminists are really the same as mainstream feminists. If you are right to identify the one with the other, then a feminist position opposing transphobia is a marginal position. I think this may be wrong. My wager is that most feminists support trans rights and oppose all forms of transphobia. So I find it worrisome that suddenly the trans-exclusionary radical feminist position is understood as commonly accepted or even mainstream. I think it is actually a fringe movement that is seeking to speak in the name of the mainstream, and that our responsibility is to refuse to let that happen.

AF: One example of mainstream public discourse on this issue in the UK is the argument about allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender. In an open letter she published in June, JK Rowling articulated the concern that this would “throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman”, potentially putting women at risk of violence.

JB: If we look closely at the example that you characterise as “mainstream” we can see that a domain of fantasy is at work, one which reflects more about the feminist who has such a fear than any actually existing situation in trans life. The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that anyone with a penis would identify as a woman for the purposes of entering such changing rooms and posing a threat to the women inside. It assumes that the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise. This is a rich fantasy, and one that comes from powerful fears, but it does not describe a social reality. Trans women are often discriminated against in men’s bathrooms, and their modes of self-identification are ways of describing a lived reality, one that cannot be captured or regulated by the fantasies brought to bear upon them. The fact that such fantasies pass as public argument is itself cause for worry.

AF: I want to challenge you on the term “terf”, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, which some people see as a slur.

JB: I am not aware that terf is used as a slur. I wonder what name self-declared feminists who wish to exclude trans women from women’s spaces would be called? If they do favour exclusion, why not call them exclusionary? If they understand themselves as belonging to that strain of radical feminism that opposes gender reassignment, why not call them radical feminists? My only regret is that there was a movement of radical sexual freedom that once travelled under the name of radical feminism, but it has sadly morphed into a campaign to pathologise trans and gender non-conforming peoples. My sense is that we have to renew the feminist commitment to gender equality and gender freedom in order to affirm the complexity of gendered lives as they are currently being lived.

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