Two Self-Described “Boogaloo Bois” Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to Hamas

US Department of Justice:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, September 4, 2020

Two Self-Described “Boogaloo Bois” Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to Hamas

The Justice Department today announced a federal criminal complaint charging Michael Robert Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas).

Solomon and Teeter, who were taken into custody yesterday evening, made their initial appearances earlier today before Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The defendants were ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,’” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division.  “As alleged in the complaint, these defendants sought to use violence against the police, other government officials and government property as part of their desire to overthrow the government.  While planning these activities, the defendants met individuals whom they believed to be members of the foreign terrorist group Hamas.  Thinking that they shared the same desire to harm the United States, they sought to join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas.  They failed.  No matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations inspire those who seek to engage in terrorist activity and harm our country and our fellow citizens, the National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding them accountable.  I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case and ensuring that these defendants could not carry out their deadly plans.”

“Michael Solomon and Benjamin Teeter proclaim themselves to be members of the Boogaloo Bois, a group that espouses a violent ideology and an objective to overthrow the government.  The defendants believed their anti-U.S. government views aligned with those of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, and actively developed plans to carry out violence in Minnesota and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald.  “Whenever extremist ideologies, regardless of their roots, move into the realm of violence, the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Force stands at the ready to prevent potentially deadly and destructive plots.”

“The FBI is committed to stopping acts of violence against law enforcement officers or anyone else in our communities. According to the criminal complaint, the defendants in this case were willing to work with Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, in order to get money for potential acts of violence here in the U.S.,” said Jill Sanborn, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.  “The FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office demonstrated that we will continue working with our law enforcement partners to detect and stop such activity and protect public safety.”

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in late May of 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and Teeter, two members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.”  The Boogaloo Bois are a loosely- connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments.  The term “Boogaloo” itself references a supposedly impending second civil war in the United States and is associated with violent uprisings against the government.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, during the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd, according to a witness, Solomon was openly carrying firearms in a residential neighborhood in Minneapolis.  Solomon and Teeter interacted with the witness over the course of several days.  The witness told FBI agents that Solomon and Teeter possessed firearms and substantial quantities of ammunition and that Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen discussed committing acts of violence against police officers and other targets in furtherance of the Boojahideen’s stated goal of overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in early June, the FBI received information about Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and the Boojahideen through a confidential human source (“CHS”), whom the defendants believed to be a member of Hamas.  In audio-recorded conversations, Solomon and Teeter expressed that Hamas shares anti-U.S. government views that align with their own views.  Solomon and Teeter also expressed their desire to employ themselves as “mercenaries” for Hamas as a means to generate cash for the Boogaloo Bois/Boojahideen movement, including funding for recruitment and purchasing land for a training compound.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, Solomon and Teeter shared with the CHS, and another individual whom they believed to be a more senior member of Hamas (and who was actually an undercover employee of the FBI), their ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media.

Solomon and Teeter also expressed their ability to manufacture unmarked parts for guns and create unregistered and untraceable weapons, including suppressors.  On July 30, Solomon and Teeter delivered to the individual they believed to be a senior member of Hamas five suppressors and expressed their desire to manufacture additional suppressors and fully-automatic weapons for Hamas.  Solomon and Teeter later negotiated with the individual a price of $1,800 for five additional suppressors.  Solomon and Teeter also delivered to the individual a “drop in auto sear” (“DIAS”), a part designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically.  Solomon and Teeter believed the suppressors and the DIAS would be used by Hamas overseas to attack Israeli and U.S soldiers.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter, and Trial Attorneys George Kraehe and Phil Viti of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

This case falls with the purview of the Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism. Launched in June 2020, the Task Force is dedicated to supporting the investigation and prosecution of any person or group who commits violence in the name of an anarchist ideology.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant Information:

Michael Robert Solomon, 30

New Brighton, Minn.


  • Conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas)

Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22

Hampstead, N.C.


  • Conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas)
National Security
Press Release Number:
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Conservative group releases anti-transgender political ads in Michigan

From NBC News:

American Principles Project announced that it will spend millions in battleground states to expose Democrats’ “transgender radicalism.”

By Brooke Sopelsa
Sept. 4, 2020

“All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition,” a young woman can be heard saying over a video of several athletes preparing to run a race. “But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy?”

That controversial digital ad — which then shows a teen boy outrunning his female competitors and shrugging at them with indifference afterwards — is one of three released this week by the American Principles Project, a Virginia-based conservative think tank, and its PAC. The group issued a statement Thursday saying the political ads are part of a $4 million effort to “target persuadable Democrats and independent voters in key swing states.”

Half of the campaign budget will be spent in Michigan, a state Trump won in 2016 but now lags in the polls, and the American Principles Project confirmed it will release ads in Wisconsin “in the coming weeks.” The group said it hopes the Michigan ads draw attention to the support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., “for policies which would allow biological males to compete in women’s sports and push children into dangerous, life-altering sex-change” procedures.

The two other ads feature Kevin Whitt, a man who says he lived as a woman for 17 years before deciding to detransition. Whitt warns viewers that “treatments to change the gender of a minor are very dangerous and irreversible.”

The Biden and Peters campaigns did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.

National LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, were quick to denounce the campaign.

“These ads perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, traffic in misinformation, and put the lives of transgender people at risk,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Sites and social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook should decline to run them and send a message loud and clear that those who would use their platforms to peddle hate and lies will not be tolerated or validated.”

The Human Rights Campaign also called for social media companies to take down the digital ads, saying they are blatant lies from an “outdated playbook.”

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Femicide Is a Growing Issue in the United States

The murder of transwomen doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  Transwomen are just among the most vulnerable of women in a growing climate of violence perpetrated by men who have come to realize they are not the masters of the universe the way they fantasize they are.

From Teen Vogue

The killings of Vanessa Guillén, Oluwatoyin Salau, Nina Pop, and many more are part of a global problem.

August 28, 2020

The killing of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén, a Mexican-American Army specialist who disappeared from Fort Hood, Texas on April 22, whose remains were found more than two months later on June 30, has spurred conversations about violence against women in the military. Hundreds of women, in what has been called the “military’s #MeToo moment,” have shared stories about sexual harassment and assault, illustrating a culture of violence within the ranks of the U.S. military.

Before her disappearance, Guillén told her family that she had been sexually harassed. News of her experience with sexual harassment spurred other women service members to share their own stories under the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen. After her remains were found, a criminal complaint released by the Department of Justice alleges that fellow soldier Aaron Robinson murdered Guillén at Fort Hood, dismembering and burying her body with the help of his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar. On July 1, Robinson died by suicide. Aguilar has been charged with tampering with documents or proceedings and has pleaded not guilty.

As Vanessa Guillen’s murder, horrific in its own right, has helped uncover a pattern of violence within the military, it also reveals a larger global epidemic of violence against cis and transgender women. Femicide, generally understood to mean the murder of women for being women, a term often applied abroad, is a global issue that significantly impacts Black, Indigenous, poor, and migrant women. It’s oftentimes thought of as violence relegated to peripheries, border cities like Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, or endemic to regions like Latin America or Africa. The truth is that femicide is an ever-present and growing crisis in the United States.

There are various types of femicide, and it can be hard to collect data on these killings because some countries don’t collect information that could categorize them as so, according to the World Health Organization. Compounding that difficulty is that various places define the word differently — for some, femicide means the killing of women because they are a woman, while for others it’s any murder of a woman. Some countries, like Mexico, have passed laws against femicide, giving a legal meaning to the term: the murder of a woman can be classified as a femicide if her killing was motivated by gender. The U.S. hasn’t adopted a standardized definition for the term but the federal government tracks domestic violence killings. The Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994 recognizes domestic violence as a national crime.

While there’s no consensus on what qualifies as femicide, this kind of violence has been on the rise globally. In Latin America, El Salvador and Honduras are consistently among the countries with the highest femicide rates globally, while Mexico saw a 145% jump in femicide cases between 2015 and 2019. Last year, South Africa declared femicide a national crisis when nearly 3,000 women were murdered between 2018 and 2019.

These numbers are shocking, but often ignored are the rising rates of femicide in the United States.

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Transgender Woman Found Dead At the Bronx’s Orchard Beach

From Gay City News:

September 1, 2020

A 23-year-old woman that police say was found dead at Orchard Beach in the Bronx on the morning on August 31 was transgender, according to news reports as well as to the confused manner in which the NYPD described its discovery of the death.

Police found the woman unconscious and unresponsive in the sand near Orchard Beach Road and Park Drive at approximately 6:09 a.m. EMS responders arrived shortly thereafter and pronounced the individual dead.

There are very few additional details surrounding the circumstances of the victim’s death. An investigation is underway and the NYPD is awaiting a cause of death from the medical examiner.

Investigation underway as officials await cause of death from medical examiner

Police identified the individual as a woman but appeared to deadname her with a male first name in an email. However, a spokesperson representing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner subsequently told Gay City News that the individual was known as Ellie Williams. In a GoFundMe apparently posted by the victim in July, they identified as Elie Che and described themselves as a “Black trans woman.” An individual who said they were a friend of the victim contacted Gay City News to say they victim used the pronoun they/ them.

The victim resided in Manhattan, according to the NYPD. The police did not immediately respond to an email seeking clarification about the individual’s gender identity, but NBC New York reported that the person was a transgender woman.

Out gay Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, who is well on his way to Congress after winning his Democratic primary in June, responded to the news with a call to action to stand up for trans individuals.

“We continue to live in a society that brutally devalues trans lives, often with murderous consequences,” Torres said in a tweet. “All of us must do our part in fighting institutional transphobia.”

The case marks yet another violent death of a transgender woman just over a month after Tiffany Harris, a Black trans woman, was fatally stabbed inside an apartment building at 2575 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. In another case stemming from March, a 33-year-old trans woman named Lexi was stabbed to death in East Harlem. Two transgender women from New York City were killed in April when they were visiting Puerto Rico.

At least 26 known transgender, gender non-conforming or non-binary individuals have suffered violent deaths so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. There were 27 such deaths in all of last year.

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American, Military Hopeful, Transgender

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JK Rowling returns human rights award to group that denounces her trans views

I hate it when artists who produce work I enjoy turn out to be really scummy bigots.  I can excuse some who were writing, painting etc long ago as just being a product of their times.  But when you are current and people are calling on you to try and change your bigotry it is a different story.

From The Guardian UK:

Author ‘follows my conscience’ after head of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights group says her views are transphobic

Fri 28 Aug 2020

JK Rowling is returning the Ripple of Hope award given to her last year by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organisation after its president, Kennedy’s daughter, criticised her views on transgender issues.

The award, which is for people who have shown a “commitment to social change”, was presented to Rowling in December for her work with her children’s charity, Lumos. On receiving the award, Rowling called it “one of the highest honours I’ve ever been given” and said “Robert Kennedy embodied everything I most admire in a human being”. Previous winners include Barack Obama, archbishop Desmond Tutu and Joe Biden.

But earlier this month, Kerry Kennedy, a lawyer and president of RFKHR, put out a statement describing her “dismay” over what “deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements” made by the Harry Potter author.

In early June, the author wrote a series of comments on Twitter laying out her views on gender identity, including one that said: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.” These comments were condemned by LGBT charities, as well as several actors who have worked in the Harry Potter franchise. Rowling then wrote a highly personal essay revealing her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, in which she argued that trans women who have not undergone hormone therapy or surgical transition should not have access to single-sex spaces.

In her statement Kennedy said that Rowling’s comments “had the effect of degrading trans people’s lived experiences”, and that her “attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFKHR and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision”.

“The science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary,” wrote Kennedy, adding that she had spoken with the author to express her “profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community”.

On Thursday, Rowling announced on her website that she would be returning the award.

“Because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope award bestowed upon me last year,” Rowling wrote. “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”

Rowling said that Kennedy’s statement “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people”.

The author said she had received “thousands of private emails of support … from people affected by these issues, both within and without the trans community” and that she “absolutely refute[s] the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community”.

“RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women,” said Rowling. “The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.”

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Trans women pose no threat to cis women, but we pose a threat to them if we make them outcasts

From The Guardian UK:

Growing up in San Francisco, the loudest, proudest queer town around, made it clear to me that gender was what you made of it

Mon 10 Aug 2020

Dear ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women,

That I grew up and spent most of my life in San Francisco I consider one of my greatest strokes of luck, because it was in its heyday the loudest, proudest queer town around. Even as a straight girl, maybe especially as a straight girl, I benefited endlessly from that. I went to my first gay bar here when I was about 14, with a gay man who was the kindest person in my adolescence. The drag queens who were his friends were also kind, and fortysomething years later my life in and around the queer community has been largely an experience of kindness. Of kindness and liberation, because all these people made it clear to me that gender was what you made of it, and biology is not destiny, and that was really helpful.

As I’ve watched transphobia explode in the American right and the British whatever, I’ve thought over my own experience. San Francisco has been for a century or so a sanctuary city for dissident, rebel and queer people, so I suspect I have lived my whole adult life in a place with more trans people per capita than almost anyplace else. Transphobes are always warning us that if trans people live in peace and legal recognition and even have rights, there will be terrible consequences, but I assume that we here have long realized, at least to some extent, that dreaded future, and we’re all fine.

Despite this, people – many of whom are supposed to be feminists – keep coming up with lurid “what ifs”. My response to them is: trans women do not pose a threat to cis-gender women, and feminism is a subcategory of human rights advocacy, which means, sorry, you can’t be a feminist if you’re not for everyone’s human rights, notably other women’s rights.

Second wave feminism produced the classic 1972 children’s album Free to Be You and Me, which I’d like to point out was not titled Free to Be Me But I Get to Define You. Back then we thought gender really was kind of binary and defined by genitals; science has gotten smarter in the decades since and we now know it’s a complex interplay of chromosomes, hormones, primary and secondary sexual characteristics and other stuff, some of which is in the brain, not the pants, and also that quite a significant number of people are born intersex, and some are misgendered at birth, and male and female never were airtight categories anyway. Cultures from Native America to India have long recognized that there are other ways to be gendered. This complexity and fluidity can be a blessing and it’s something feminism embraced when it demanded that “woman” not be a category be so tightly defined by roles, relationships, appearances and limits set upon our options.

At this point in my life I have trans friends and nonbinary friends, bisexual, gay and lesbian friends who are poets and photographers, doctors and nurses, climate organizers and professors and historians and one gay Buddhist priest who’s also a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, speaking of San Francisco things I’m proud of. I’m not speaking for any of them; so many queer and trans people have already spoken up eloquently, but perhaps there’s something useful for a cis-gender straight woman to say to other cis-gender women, which I’m gonna say as someone who is also a hardcore feminist: the major threat to women, straight or not, cis- or not, always was and still is straight men and patriarchy.

Every category is leaky and there are exceptions to every rule, but that’s where the lion’s share of violence against women comes from, as rape and domestic violence and harassment and murder. One of the really weird fears about trans women is that they’re men pretending to be women to do nefarious things to other women, but that’s either a fear of straight cis-gender men who do horrific things to women incessantly all over the world, in which case the problem is still straight men, or a deep misunderstanding of what trans women are. And yes, men who want to harm women could dress up as women, but they could also pretend to be repairmen or emergency workers to get into our homes, and actually have, and we haven’t banned repairmen and emergency workers yet.

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Joe Biden formally accepts Democratic nomination for president

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Kamala Harris’ full speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention

Wow, Just Wow.  And She Too cited “The Beloved Community”

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President Barack Obama speech at the Democratic Convention | Joe Biden For President 2020

I remember in the 1960s when we marched for Peace and for Civil Rights how we spoke of a “Beloved Community”

Brothers, sisters, people I fear for my country and how four years ago we allowed the election of an immoral, unethical monster.

America depends upon our getting out there and electing Biden and Harris for the sake of all that is good and decent.

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Michelle Obama’s full speech at the Democratic National Convention | 2020 DNC Night 1

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AMERICA WAKE UP – George Carlin – American Dream 2020

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President Barack Obama eulogy at John Lewis funeral

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Linking Trans Rights to Gay Rights Wasn’t an Easy Sell in the ’90s

Stonewall wasn’t about “Trans-Rights”.  It wasn’t in a particularly hip part of the Village like MacDougal Street or St. Marks Place.  It was next to the Sheridan Square Subway Station, across from a small park where older men went to pick up young male hustlers.

Until the second half of the 1970s what has now become a string of initials was the “Gay Liberation Movement’.  We had our own movements and they weren’t all Kumbaya, “We are all Transgender”  No…  Transsexuals had their movements and queens had theirs as did cross dressers.

On the West Coast in the early days when I went to leadership conferences I was generally the only trans-person there.

Riki is right.  I remember the 1990s.  I was there too.

From The Advocate:

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Why I’m Supporting Joe

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Harry Potter and the Scales of Justice

I’ve gone through life knowing there are a good many people who think it would be perfectly fine to exterminate me.

Transphobia is a misnomer it is hatred pure and simple, whether from Evangelicals or JK Rowling or certain radical feminists.

Bigotry destroys the lives and souls of those targeted with that bigotry. It doesn’t matter what robe or uniform or label that bigotry hides behind nor does it matter what group bigots target for dehumanization.

I’ve listened to people defend JK Rowling and other TERFs, defend the hatred and abuse of transfolks while those same people are quick to condemn racism and other forms of bigotry. How can they look in the mirror and not see they are the same sort of bigots as those they decry?

I’m old, I survived, I am tougher than most of you can imagine being. I came out before Stonewall when it was still a crime for me to express even the smallest elements of my being and I survived.

Do somehow think I haven’t earned the right to speak truth to power and denounce the anti-trans bigotry of JK Rowling and other TERFs?

Never Again!

From The New York Times:

A little bit of good news, in a dire month for L.G.B.T.Q. people.

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
June 16, 2020

“I used to think people like you should be, you know, exterminated,” the nice young man said to me. “But after listening to you speak, I’ve really changed my mind!”

This was after a lecture I’d given a few years ago at a college in Ohio. He looked at me proudly, clearly hoping that I’d be cheered that my words had opened his heart.

But that word, “exterminated,” tempered my happiness somewhat.

Sometimes I forget that there are people who want to wipe me off the face of the earth.

I forget, even though the Trump administration does its best to remind me, every day. For the last three and a half years, this administration has done all it can to make the lives of queer people more miserable. I suppose it’s trying to push back on our “gay agenda.” You know, the one in which people like me keep asking for “special rights.”

What are these special rights I want? The same ones everybody else has. What is my gay agenda? It is the hope to live my life in peace.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court finally issued its ruling on Bostock v. Clayton County, a long-awaited decision that would determine whether it was legal to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. It was with happy surprise that I saw that the court had ruled in favor of the L.G.B.T.Q. plaintiff, 6-to-3. Remarkably, the majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the man whom Senator Mitch McConnell had wrangled onto the court after refusing to even consider President Barack Obama’s more liberal nominee, Merrick Garland.

Even in his dissent, Justice Brett Kavanaugh gave us a little rainbow shout-out, admitting that gay men and lesbians have “worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit, battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives.”

That was nice of him, although it’d have been nicer if his words hadn’t erased bisexual and trans Americans. It’d also have been nice if he’d, you know, voted yes.

But a win is a win. Until then, it had been a thoroughly miserable June for transgender people and our allies — and that’s not even counting the pandemic, the national economic collapse and the curse of police violence.

Last week, the author J.K. Rowling felt it necessary to unveil a screed against trans folks that ran to nearly 4,000 words, and read like a greatest-hits list of false statements and groundless fears.

She stated that trans men transition because being a woman is hard; they do not. She stated that trans women pose a threat to others in the ladies’ room; we do not. In fact, more Republican congressmen have been busted for causing trouble in public lavatories than trans women. But no one wants to throw them out of the Coast Guard.

The effect of Ms. Rowling’s manifesto was immediate and passionate — I heard from many young L.G.B.T.Q. people who’d grown up reading her books who responded to her words with sadness and fury. Surely Ms. Rowling was familiar with a series of books about a group of outcasts who were treated differently simply because of who they were?

It was nice that Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint all have released eloquent and unambiguous statements in support of trans people. I was especially cheered to see Mr. Grint join the fray — surely, Ms. Rowling, when you’ve lost Ron Weasley, you’ve lost everybody.

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You Don’t Have to Publish Both Sides When One Side Is Fascism

From The Nation:

Elite media still hasn’t figured out how to cover the Trump presidency.

The Trump administration and its Republican enablers are fighting a series of wars directed at targets inside the United States. A partial list would include immigrants, African Americans, Jews, poor people, middle-class people, people with student loan debts, the environment, voting rights, fair elections, blue-state taxpayers, the rule of law, honest elections, and all forms of accountability for Donald Trump, his family, and the criminals who helped him get elected. Because these are by and large unpopular causes, and it is the job of the press to let the public know what is going on, journalists are also a necessary, if ancillary, target. That explains Trump’s frequent use of the phrase “enemies of the people,” which had been the go-to charge of dictators and mass murderers, as well as his incessantly parroted mantra “fake news.”

Those running the country’s elite media institutions have no experience with a situation like this and still cannot figure out how to handle it. Historically, media machers have seen themselves as collaborators with government officials to ensure that things run smoothly for whoever is in power. They do this, in part, because they believe in the cause and, in part, to obtain access, quotes, and the public pretense of respect. When James Reston, who was then The New York Times’ most influential columnist, published an op-ed in 1979 titled “By Henry Kissinger With James Reston,” he did so not with shame but pride.

Reston was flacking for a man who directed a secret, unconstitutional war in Cambodia and Laos and illegally wiretapped journalists and the members of his own staff to determine who leaked the news to Reston’s paper. US government officials, especially but not exclusively Republicans, have been lying to the American people about matters of life and death for a long time. The mainstream media eventually righted itself under President Richard Nixon’s assault on our democratic institutions, but its ability to do so today under Trump, an even greater threat to American democracy, is considerably diminished. The reasons for this are complex. Some are economic, others technological. But during the present crisis, the biggest problem is that the leaders of the mainstream media cannot make up their minds about the fundamental question of the Trump presidency: “Which side are you on?”

The top editors of almost all of America’s mainstream media institutions have explicitly rejected the notion of a journalism of opposition. While The New York Times and The Washington Post, for instance, have tallied Trump’s untruths—separate from the articles in which they are repeated verbatim—neither has proved willing to reconsider its commitment to the mindless both-sides style of reporting in which Republican lies and incitements to fascist violence are given equal weight to Democratic attempts to tell the truth and defend democracy.

Thanks to Trump’s response to the protests against police brutality, however, the jig is up. Military leaders past and present and even a few Republicans have had enough. It is not OK for Trump to demand a military attack on our own citizens and then lie about having done so. And yet at this moment, New York Times opinion editors offered American journalism’s most prestigious real estate to Senator Tom Cotton to make the case for Trump’s proposed assault.

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J. K. Rowling and her inaccuracies about trans youth

From Openly:

The “Harry Potter” author has misinterpreted studies about transgender young people, but any opportunity for dialogue is being lost amid understandable anger

by Scott Leibowitz | Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Sunday, 14 June 2020

As a physician who has worked with transgender youth for over a decade, one might imagine the content of my social media feed when one of the most famous authors in the world, J.K. Rowling, published her recent piece about gender identity.

With news of U.S. federal healthcare protections being rolled back for trans people only a few days later, it is not hard to imagine why there is so much anger and hurt from a group that has been stigmatized in so many areas of life.

Full disclosure: I have never read a Harry Potter book, nor have I seen the movies—a slight source of shame for me considering many of my patients are fans.  For me, Dumbledore sounds like the name of a city in a foreign country. So it feels odd to me that the first writings I have read from Rowling are her views on sex, gender, and trans youth.

I must also disclose: I am a cisgender white man. That is, not trans nor a woman in any sense.  So, part of me wonders: who am I to weigh in on the definition of a woman?  Who am I to weigh in on what constitutes transphobia?

However, as a child and adolescent psychiatrist working with trans youth, I have treated many of the people she referred to. I am also trained to view a situation through multiple lenses.

As I read Rowling’s piece, I felt it came more from a place of fear rather than intentional hate. Her open disclosure of past experiences of domestic and sexual violence demonstrated vulnerability. But that was overshadowed by the fact that she did not seem to appreciate the influence of her platform and the potential harmful impacts to the lives of young people I encounter every day.

Should this excuse Rowling from being insensitive to the way transgender people define themselves?  No. Do we have more insight about her underlying perspective? Yes.  Do I wish that people who aren’t doctors —especially celebrities with millions of followers—spoke to medical providers like me with thousands of hours of direct clinical experience with these families before interpreting research studies? Absolutely.

Often in this field, individuals hone in on research that confirms their original beliefs.  In her piece Rowling said, “60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria.”

But the longitudinal studies Rowling referenced have been widely misinterpreted and have significant methodological flaws. They included only pre-pubertal children, not teens – while Rowling conflated children and adolescents. They also included children who were not necessarily gender dysphoric in the first place. Some of the earlier studies looked at children who were feminine boys or masculine girls, many who never said they were, in fact, a different gender.

Someone of her status needs to understand the inaccuracy of this statement and the harm associated when someone like her makes absolute claims about controversial research. For a trans young person wanting acceptance from family members, a statement like this can give skeptical parents a reason to reject this aspect of them, thinking they will “grow out of it”, because a famous person said so.

Rowling mentioned that she might have been considered a trans man had she grown up in this time. However, clinicians such as myself spend a lot of time with patients and families, comprehensively understanding who they are, in order to ensure that appropriate clinical recommendations are made.

A similar point could be made for another study she cites, related to a survey of skeptical American parents. The study is thought to have been very overreaching in its conclusion that there is a new diagnostic entity entitled “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”. Typically new diagnostic categories are developed over years of replicated research, not from one online survey that did not even assess the experiences of the youths themselves.

Rowling mentions the change in the sex ratio of youth coming to gender clinics, with more females-at-birth attending clinics.  The implication that sexism is causing more young people to identify as male is based in fear that negates other possibilities for young people – such as the visibility of trans people giving meaning to an experience that previously could not be defined. Or perhaps we are living in a time with evolving sociocultural definitions of masculinity and femininity.  The focus on one element of a larger multifaceted conversation is similar to narrowing the complexity of “Harry Potter” into what I would call “Scary Fodder”. That is dangerous.

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Black Trans Women Murdered in Philadelphia, Cincinnati

From Gay City News:

June 12, 2020

Two Black transgender women were murdered in back-to-back killings on June 8 and 9 in Philadelphia and a suburb of Cincinnati, adding to an ongoing rash of deadly violence disproportionately targeting Black trans women nationwide.

Riah Milton, 25, was murdered allegedly by teens seeking to rob her in the Cincinnati suburb of Liberty Township, Ohio, on June 9, while the severed body of Dominique Rem’mie Fells was discovered the previous day in the Schuylkill River in the Bartram Village section of Philadelphia.

According to WLWT5, a local news outlet in the Cincinnati area, Milton was shot early in the morning in the 6600 block of Spruce Creek Drive. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones announced on June 10 that two people had been arrested in connection with Milton’s death. The pair and a third unapprehended suspect allegedly lured Milton to a location where they sought to rob her, but wound up shooting her to death. No details regarding whether the alleged killers knew Milton or how the interaction that led to her death played out have been announced.

One suspect, 18-year-old Kaelb Marshall Tooson, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery. A 14-year-old girl, whose identity remains private, was also arrested and charged with complicity to aggravated battery, complicity to murder, and tampering with evidence, according to WLWT5. Cops are looking for a third suspect, Tyree Jeffrey Cross, for complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

As in many previous murder cases of transgender women, media outlets misgendered Milton, and her sister, Ariel, who is also transgender, said in a Twitter post that Sheriff Jones did the same thing.

“Seeing the news completely dead-name and misgender my sister was like seeing someone just wipe her existence clean away,” Ariel wrote before directing her attention to the sheriff, who, she said, refused to correct himself after he misgendered her late sister.

“Your ignorance is noted,” Ariel said. “I need you, for a second, to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine someone who you loved died in a tragic way and you find out that the very people who are supposed to ‘protect’ and ‘serve’ completely misgender them and call them an entirely different name, how would you feel?”

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Flags and Statues

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