Author Topic: Real male or Real female?  (Read 8290 times)

Offline Battle

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #30 on: June 29, 2021, 12:47:11 pm »
Tuesday, 29th June Twenty One
New Jersey Prisoners Will Be Placed Based On Gender Identity Under A New Policy
by Jaclyn Diaz








For 18 months, Sonia Doe faced humiliating strip searches in front of male guards. Male prisoners exposed themselves to her.

She faced sexual harassment, discrimination and physical threats from corrections officers and inmates alike.

Doe, who is transgender, has lived her life publicly as a woman since 2003.

Yet, Doe — a pseudonym used for her lawsuit — was transported to four different men's prisons across New Jersey from March 2018 to August 2019.

It took a lawsuit filed that August for Doe to finally be transported to a woman's prison weeks later.

As part of the settlement for that lawsuit Tuesday, the New Jersey Department of Corrections will now make it customary for prisoners who identify as transgender, intersex or nonbinary to be assigned a prison stay in line with their gender identity — not with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Tuesday's news marks a major policy shift for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Research has shown that transgender inmates face particular danger while in prison, but few states offer them protections like these.

Connecticut and California passed laws in 2018 and 2020, respectively, that require transgender inmates to be assigned prisons based on their gender identity. ⚧️

Rhode Island, New York City and Massachusetts also have housed inmates based on their gender identity. ⚧️

"When I was forced to live in men's prisons, I was terrified I wouldn't make it out alive. Those memories still haunt me," Doe said in a statement announcing the settlement.

"Though I still have nightmares about that time, it's a relief to know that as a result of my experience the NJDOC has adopted substantial policy changes so no person should be subjected to the horrors I survived."

According to court documents reviewed by NPR, Doe was placed in men's prisons in spite of the state's Department of Corrections knowing she was a transgender woman. ⚧️

Clear documentation, including her driver's license, showed her gender identity, but Doe was still forced to remain in men's prisons.

In addition to facing physical assaults and verbal and sexual harassment in prison, she was also forced to remain in solitary confinement for long stretches.

Corrections staff would refer to her as a man and address her using male pronouns, according to her complaint. ⚧️
 
She also was denied gender-appropriate clothing items and had difficulty receiving her hormone therapy regularly and on time.

The new policy will require staff to use appropriate pronouns, and prohibits harassment and discrimination based on gender identity.


As part of the settlement in the Doe case, all New Jersey state corrections officers, regardless of rank or facility, will have to sign an acknowledgement that they have read the policy.

The agency also will provide targeted training on the changes. ⚧️

The Department of Corrections also said it would guarantee gender-affirming undergarments, clothing, and other property for the inmates.

Medical and mental health treatment, including gender-affirming care, also will be provided "as medically appropriate." ⚧️

Inmates who are transgender also will be given the opportunity to shower separately and won't have to go through a strip searches or pat downs by an officer of the opposite sex.

"The settlement of this lawsuit puts in place systemic, far-reaching policy changes to recognize and respect the gender identity of people in prison," said Tess Borden, ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney. ACLU New Jersey represented Doe along with Robyn Gigl of Gluck Walrath LLP.

As part of the settlement, the New Jersey Department of Corrections have agreed to pay Doe $125,000 in damages and $45,000 in separate attorney's fees. ⚧️

Doe was not the only transgender inmate who has faced frightening treatment in New Jersey prisons.

Rae Rollins, a transgender woman, filed a lawsuit in March saying she was one of several inmates attacked by corrections officers earlier this year at the scandal-plagued Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. ⚧️

In January, several women were severely beaten by corrections officers at that facility.

Ten correctional police officers have been charged in connection to the alleged beatings of prisoners.

Rollins sought a transfer to a different women's prison after the incident, but was moved to a men's prison instead.

Rollins has since been moved to an out-of-state prison, according to the state's records.

Earlier this month, New Jersey's embattled corrections commissioner announced his resignation from his post — a day after Governor Phil Murphy said the state would close the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.


























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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2021, 08:43:17 pm »
Friday, 23rd July  Twenty One
Senate Confirms 2 LGBTQ Veterans To Top Pentagon Positions
by Shawna Chen








(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Shawn Skelly as assistant secretary of defense for readiness by unanimous consent.


Shawn Skelly, a retired Navy commander, is the second openly transgender person to be confirmed as a federal official. ⚧️

With Thursday's vote, she becomes the highest-ranking openly trans official at the Department of Defense, per the White House.


Gina Ortiz Jones, an out lesbian and Iraq War veteran who ran for Congress twice, became the first woman of color to serve as the Under Secretary of the Air Force. ⚧️






















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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2021, 03:31:53 am »
Monday, 26th July  Twenty One
Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue Has A Trans Model On The Cover For The 1st Time
by Becky Sullivan






Model and actress Leyna Bloom has become the first trans person to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, the magazine's most famous and perennially bestselling edition. ⚧️

"I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present and future," Bloom wrote on Instagram. ⚧️

"Many girls like us don't have the chance to live our dreams, or to live long at all. I hope my cover empowers those, who are struggling to be seen, feel valued."⚧️

The 27-year-old's star turn on the Sports Illustrated cover is just the latest on a growing list of barriers she's broken since she came out in 2014: one of the first trans women to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week, the first trans woman of color to star in a film at the Cannes Film Festival, and the first trans woman to grace the pages of Vogue India.⚧️

"This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder," ⚧️ Bloom tweeted.

Osaka and Megan Thee Stallion are making history as well: Osaka as the first Black athlete, and Megan Thee Stallion as the first rapper, to appear in the issue. ⚧️

Sports Illustrated has worked in recent years to make its swimsuit issues more inclusive.

First published in 1964, the magazine didn't feature a Black cover model until Tyra Banks won a spot in 1996.

Last year, the magazine featured a trans model, Valentina Sampaio, inside the issue for the first time.

In 2019, Sports Illustrated featured Halima Aden, a Muslim model who wore a hijab and burkini, alongside soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who was the first openly gay woman to appear in the issue.

"I have dreamt a million beautiful dreams, but for girls like me, most dreams are just fanciful hopes in a world that often erases and omits our history and even existence," ⚧️ Bloom wrote on Instagram in March when Sports Illustrated announced her inclusion in the swimsuit issue.

The magazine's decision to feature Bloom comes as republican-led state legislatures have moved to ban trans girls and women from competing on girls' and women's sports teams.

At least nine states have enacted such bans, though they face legal challenges.

"It's so much going on in sports alone with gender identity and trans women trying to be in sports. But to have a trans woman as a symbol of beauty in swimsuits on a beach in comparison to other icons, like Tyra Banks and Giselle and Heidi Klum, it's a testament of what's happening right now in the world and what's going to happen in the future,"⚧️ Bloom said in an interview with Variety.


























« Last Edit: July 26, 2021, 06:18:43 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2021, 06:34:53 am »
Tuesday, 27th July  Twenty One
In Louisiana, House of Tulip Provides Housing to Trans People of Color
by WNYCstudios








Black and Latinx LGBTQ Southerners are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. ⚧️

Data from the U.S. Trans Survey show that 1 in 3 trans Louisianans report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.

The House of Tulip is a New Orleans-based non-profit organization dedicated to addressing this crisis.

They are buying and restoring homes to provide zero-barrier housing to trans and gender nonconforming people of color who need safe places to stay. ⚧️

Interim host host of The Takeaway,  Melissa Harris-Perry traveled to New Orleans and spent time with Mariah Moore, executive director of the House of Tulip and current candidate for the New Orleans City Council. ⚧️























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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2021, 01:52:22 am »
Thursday, 29th  July  Twenty One (originally published Thursday, 2nd April 2o2o)
Transgender woman reveals how she met and married her husband in prison
by DAILYMAIL






A man who married his transgender wife in prison after they met while both serving as inmates in a male facility before her transition say that meeting under those circumstances has helped their relationship to go the distance. ⚧️

When asked, 'How did you meet?' Adriel, 53, and Monae, 29, Alvarado's story is like no other.⚧️

The couple met at SCI (State Correctional Institution) Chester, a medium security male prison in Pennsylvania - where they were both inmates, and in spite of the considerable opposition they faced, the couple believe meeting in prison is the reason they have been able to overcome so much.⚧️

Adriel told Truly: 'I think being inside was the foundation that made our relationship.⚧️

'I seen Monae at her lowest, Monae seen me at my lowest. I see her at her happiest, she's seen me at my happiest.'

Monae added: 'So we had that you know unique bond I guess in prison, so I guess what makes us stronger.'⚧️

She was incarcerated for burglary, while Adriel was serving time for illegal gun possession after breaking parole on a previous third degree murder conviction, the sentencing of which was again tied up in his illegal possession of a firearm.⚧️

When she was incarcerated, Monae had already started to take hormone replacements but she hadn't yet had surgery.⚧️

At the time of her sentencing, it was policy to incarcerate pre-surgery transgender based on their gender at birth.⚧️

Monae said: 'There wasn't a policy for giving options for trans women who want to be sent to a female prison or a male prison, so there wasn't that option when I was sentenced.'⚧️

Given her own private cell for safety, Monae continued to take hormone replacements throughout her incarceration.⚧️

She would use a biro to draw in her eyebrows and rub juice packets on her lips to give the effect of lipstick.⚧️

Monae first caught Adriel's attention in the laundry room where he was working.⚧️

Adriel said: 'We was on the same block together, I worked in the laundry room and Monae walks in and she's talking to one of the guys I work with asking him something about some clothes or something or laundry.⚧️

'So I'm looking at her but she keeps cutting her eyes at me. I'm holding the bucket, she starts to walk away.⚧️

'So I walk up, and I'm like, "You could say hi to me, stop acting like a diva."⚧️

She turned around and she started laughing, giggling.'⚧️

Noticing 'a spark', Monae realized that 'he had a thing' for her.⚧️

The couple had to find ways to spend time with each other in a place where being in control of your own time is a luxury not often afforded.⚧️

Monae said: 'I just started finding ways to see him, and every time I see him in the hallway or in yard, I would go out of my way to say hi, hello.'⚧️

It didn't take long for the two to start dating officially, meeting in the library, gym or for movie nights to be together.⚧️

Monae said: 'I remember the movie nights, they was giving out pretzels and ice cream and soda, and we sat next to each other watching the movie together in the gym, in the front row, behind the projector.'⚧️

In the early days of their relationship, it wasn't just finding ways to meet up that was a struggle, they also faced hostility from fellow inmates and prison staff alike.⚧️

Most significantly, Adriel who was a prominent gang leader when first incarcerated, also found himself physically threatened – and attacked for embarking on a relationship with a transgender woman.⚧️

Adriel said: 'I was a gang leader, so for me to be with Monae, a lot of people didn't like that, a lot of my former gang friends didn't like that, officers didn't like it, nobody liked it, nobody. Nobody have really nothing good to say.⚧️

'I got jumped twice by members of my gang, I got stabbed, I got into a whole bunch of fights.⚧️

'People that I grew up with in the prison system, people that I knew since childhood, gang members, they didn't expect me to start dating a transgender, they didn't expect that at all.'⚧️

Word quickly got out from the prison that Adriel was dating a trans woman and when it reached his family, not everyone was willing to believe – let alone accept the news.⚧️

He said: 'I have friends and family that didn't believe it was true that I was messing with a transgender woman, messing with Monae. A lot of them thought it was a phase. A lot of them, thought I was joking around.⚧️

'But when they found out it wasn't a phase some stopped talking to me like for instance, I haven't spoken with my brother in two years. I got a couple cousins that still are weird about it.'⚧️

But in spite of the opposition the couple faced either side of the prison bars, they took their relationship to the next level with Adriel proposing to Monae.⚧️

Adriel said: 'I proposed to Monae in the yard where all the inmates were playing basketball. I got down on one knee in the middle of the yard.'⚧️

The couple exchanged makeshift rings made from cloth twisted together and dyed orange from drinks packets.⚧️

Although they had hoped to marry while they were both still inmates, ultimately they had to wait until Monae was released – or 'maxed out'.⚧️

Adriel said: 'We wanted to get married as inmates in the prison but there was no policy in place to marry two inmates at the time.⚧️

'So we basically would have created a new DOC [department of corrections] Pennsylvania policy so I guess they waited for Monae to max out.'⚧️

With Monae able to go directly to the court house to get the right paperwork, the couple were finally able to get married at SCI Chester.⚧️

It also gave her the time to have top and bottom surgery ahead of their wedding day.⚧️

Monae's mother and godfather were the only family that attended and after exchanging vows and taking pictures the couple had to say goodbye again.⚧️

Adriel said: 'I got my hair braided, I got my state browns pressed with starch and all that. It was in the visiting room. Nobody was there, it was just me, Monae, Monae's mother, Monae's Godfather, a couple of councillors, union manager and the lady that officiated the wedding and the reverend.'⚧️

Monae also braided her hair and wore a white dress that she bought online.⚧️

She said: 'It was a happy and sad day, but mainly sad because obviously you want to spend time together. We expected when we got married that we'd be together, but we had to leave each other.'⚧️

When Monae was finally able to not just visit her husband but this time drive back home with him, the couple found themselves in the unique position of being a married couple who were yet to have done the simplest of things together.⚧️

Whether getting a takeout, shopping for groceries or cooking together, everything is new.⚧️

Monae said: 'Our memories was in prison and we never was able to make memories out here. Now it's about to happen it's like it's going to be like the first time for everything for us, it's like starting new again.'⚧️




















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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2021, 09:47:35 am »
Saturday, 7th  August   Twenty One
Is Being Trans A Religion?
by CHRISSY STROOP





Have you noticed how common it is for right-wingers to describe things they oppose in terms of religion?
 
Back in April, for example, Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab (the social media platform of choice for white supremacists and right-wing conspiracy theorists) argued that getting vaccinated against COVID had become a “religious ritual” that Christians had the right to refuse.

(I will not link to Gab, but the blog post remains up and easily searchable.)

And just this week, Wesley J. Smith argued that “trangenderism”—which, he maintains in terms that echo the constant reductionist refrain of Gospel Coalition founder Tim Keller, “is totally subjective and centered in the solipsistic self”—has some things in common with religion.

And why does that matter to Smith, who reprehensibly compares “transgendered” people to “real people” in his hateful National Review article?

(The transgender community and our allies generally do not use the terms “transgenderism” or “transgendered,” as we find them dehumanizing.)

If being transgender is a religion, claims Smith, then gender-affirming healthcare should not be funded with taxpayer dollars any more than a religious institution should.

This is a particularly bad-faith argument coming from a senior fellow of the crypto-creationist Discovery Institute and a zealous, culture-warring convert to Orthodox Christianity whose conservative movement seems determined to funnel as much taxpayer funding to conservative Christian institutions as possible—not least to Christian schools, a matter that is once again headed for the Supreme Court.

And I only entertain the argument because of its manipulative use of the rhetoric of religion and “religious freedom.”

Why take knowledge and practices supported by the medical establishment and cast them as a “religion”?

While this rhetorical tactic might seem absurd on its face, it’s surprisingly effective for the Christian Right’s particular approach to authoritarian politics.

When I was about 9 or 10, thanks to the subscription to Ranger Rick magazine my relatively moderate grandma gave me each Christmas, I declared myself an environmentalist.

I loved reading about ecology, nature, and animals, and, wanting to see nature protected and preserved, I proceeded to annoy my family by frequently reminding everyone to turn off the lights when they left the room and pestering my parents to start recycling (something that, in fairness, was not common or especially easy to do in late-80s and early-90s Indiana).

Naturally, my embrace of the moniker “environmentalist” sparked some bemused pushback in our white evangelical community.

At some point, one of our family friends told me that environmentalism was a “religion” that was incompatible with Christianity.

“Environmentalists are Hindoooos,” he said, derisively overpronouncing the second syllable of the word, evidently to relish the bigoted ignorance and casual racism of his phrasing.

“They worship the creation rather than the creator.”

The casting of a movement to protect the environment for the good of both humanity and the many species with which we share our planet as a “religion” struck me as odd.

I would later come to understand, however, that right-wing Christians describing things they don’t like in terms of “religion” is a common outgrowth of the “presuppositionalist” approach to Christian apologetics (that is, the defense of the faith).

Presuppositionalism itself is a radical epistemology whose adherents believe that only those enlightened by the Holy Spirit can perceive the capital-T Truth as presented in the infallible Bible.

The “unsaved,” bringing their own presuppositions to the evidence, will come to different conclusions—about the Bible, for example, or about the formation of the Grand Canyon, which the “evolutionist” will see in terms of geologic time, while the creationist will see the impact of Noah’s flood.

(Although this is not a humor column and I am not Dave Barry, I feel compelled to state that I am not making this up. I was forced to watch “documentaries” about “flood geology” in AP biology at my Christian high school.)

Based on human observation of the evidence alone, the reasoning goes, there is no way to adjudicate between these two incommensurate “worldviews.”

The “saved” Christian, with his “biblical worldview,” simply “knows” that he—these obnoxious theobros are usually men—is right.

But why is it so important to these apologists to represent something like evolutionary biology or environmentalism as just another “religion” competing with Christianity?

In presuppositionalist thinking, the casting of viewpoints opposed to Christianity (according to right-wing Christian extremists’ definition of the faith) as other religions serves to level the playing field between more objective, empirically derived knowledge on the one hand, and religious dogma on the other.

It would be bad enough if that were this move’s only rhetorical function, but it isn’t.

Even more insidiously, by categorizing everything they oppose under competing “religions,” presuppositionalists are able to argue that there can be no religiously neutral space, no concept of equal accommodation as a way to manage the fact of pluralism in any modern society democratically.

Instead, there can be only a struggle for the domination of your religion or worldview over those held by others.

If you want to prima facie invalidate mid-century liberal philosophy regarding tolerance, decency, and democracy, adopting presuppositionalism is a good way to do it.

A classic illustration of how this works involves Christian Right opposition to public schools, which they base on the spurious claim that, in attempting to fulfill the legal requirement to be religiously neutral, the schools inevitably “indoctrinate” children into the “religion” of secular humanism.

Hopefully it’s clear by this point that one need not be a self-defined presuppositionalist in order to use these presuppositionalist rhetorical tactics, just as one need not be a self-defined Christian Reconstructionist to be influenced by the mainstreaming of Christian Reconstructionist ideas through Christian schooling and homeschooling as documented by religious studies professor Julie Ingersoll.

What we’re seeing in much of contemporary conservative rhetoric is a sort of popular presuppositionalism run amok.

If you’re a fair-minded reader who spends much time exploring conservative arguments about social policy—or, really, much of anything—you’ll undoubtedly have noticed a strong predilection for false equivalence.

Presuppositionalist arguments can be a powerful way to make such false equivalence seem reasonable.

republican economic and social policies are objectively harmful to the vast majority of Americans, especially to members of marginalized groups like the LGBTQ community, and they’re perennially unpopular.

republicans succeed largely because of unfair advantages, de jure and de facto, baked into our political system—equal Senate representation for all states regardless of population (and the refusal to consider DC’s case for statehood), combined with gop abuse of the filibuster; state-level voter suppression; gerrymandering; dark money in politics; and an illegitimately stacked Supreme Court that will only continue to gut transparency, election integrity, voting rights, and church-state separation.

In other words, the American Right is wrong.

Being anti-democratic, its leaders are happy to hold on to power by unfair, illegitimate means.

At the same time, many of them still crave “respectability” and plausible deniability of their malfeasance, and that’s where rhetorical sleight-of-hand and pseudo-intellectualism come in.

Post-truth politics is a powerful tool for authoritarians, because it renders winning arguments less important than simply wearing down your interlocutors.

In so doing, authoritarians confuse as many onlookers as possible to the point that they give up on determining the truth altogether—which is the point of flooding the zone with bad-faith arguments.

For its part, false equivalence is the bread and butter of the post-truth approach, and the upshot, thanks to misguided media insistence on giving “both sides” of any “controversy” a hearing, has been the normalization of extremism and the enabling of America’s surging conspiratorial far right—especially the Christian Right.

After all, the Christian Right has had over a century to hone its skills in this regard since the publication of the pamphlets known as The Fundamentals, a reaction against liberal theological “modernism” that gave us the term “fundamentalism.”

And, as Professor Christopher Douglas of the University of Victoria has convincingly argued here on RD, it’s precisely Christian anti-intellectualism and trafficking in “alternative facts” that has contributed mightily to the rise of post-truth America, a problem for which too many elite commentators instead prefer to blame postmodernism, relativism, and the “epic individualism” of hippies and New Age types.

There is a thick layer of irony in the fact that, for their part, the right-wing Christian ideologues using presuppositionalist arguments to uphold “alternative facts” also style themselves enemies of postmodernism, relativism, “hyperindividualism,” and “solipsism”

(that word does not mean what they think it means).

These buzzwords become weapons in their culture war against the civil rights gains made since the 1960s, the racial animus behind which is clearly evident in their current moral panic over critical race theory (or, rather, the bastardized bugbear they’ve made of it).

Irony of ironies, when you get right down to it, there’s nothing more “relativistic” than presuppositionalism. Cutting through the sophistry, presuppositionalist arguments essentially amount to:

“Humans have no ability to grasp the truth; therefore, I’m right.”

Tacking “Because God, that’s why” onto the end of that statement doesn’t make it any more convincing or less essentially nihilistic, since, after all, people who claim a direct channel to the divine disagree with each other and are proven wrong every day.

Like other post-truth rhetoric, presuppositionalism, which is inherently political, is nothing more than a dressed-up power grab.
⚧️



















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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2021, 09:12:24 pm »
Sunday, 8th August  Two Thousand and Twenty One
Gonzo, from Disney Junior’s ‘Muppet Babies,’ comes out as nonbinary
by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson







On a recent episode of the Disney Junior series Muppet Babies, viewers got a big surprise.

In the episode, the beloved character Gonzo, who was introduced to the Muppets franchise all the way back in 1970, comes out as nonbinary.

Gonzo's news comes after the young characters plan a "royal" ball and Miss Piggy and her friend Summer tell Gonzo that they can't wear a dress.

Gonzo is disappointed, but decides to do their own thing anyway and shows up to the ball as "Gonzo-rella," though they don't reveal their identity to the rest of the Muppets until the event is over.

The message is undoubtedly a statement of love and support for gender-nonconforming kids who watch the show.
⚧️
















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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2021, 12:44:04 pm »
Thursday, 19th August  Twenty One
Hobby Lobby loses 11-year battle to stop trans woman using the bathroom
by Gino Spocchia






US retailer Hobby Lobby has been fined for blocking a transgender woman employee from using its women’s bathroom for 11 years, following a court ruling that is a first for transgender people in the state.⚧️

The 51-year-old employee, Meggan Sommerville, had worked at the same Hobby Lobby location in Illinois for almost 23 years, but was barred from using the women’s bathroom after transitioning between 2007 and 2010.⚧️

“Sommerville’s sex is unquestionably female,” ruled the Illinois Second District Appellate Court on Friday,

“just like the women who are permitted to use the women’s bathroom.”

With that crucial determination, the judges unanimously concluded that Hobby Lobby Stores Incorporated violated the law in Illinois by denying a transgender woman employee access to its women’s bathroom in the store in which she’s worked for almost 23 years. ⚧️

“They stuck to the law,” Meggan Sommerville, 51, told me in a phone interview.⚧️

“I think that, to me, was as much of a victory as anything else; That the law in Illinois is so clear that even conservative judges couldn't go any other way with it.”

This landmark ruling, as Bloomberg first reported, is one of first impression, meaning it is a case in which a legal issue has never before been decided by that governing jurisdiction.

“This is a precedent setting case in Illinois, because the Human Rights Act has never been tested in this way in Illinois, and actually in the country,” Sommerville said.

According to her lawyer, the decision applies statewide to every transgender individual and every public bathroom, not just the Hobby Lobby store in East Aurora, Illinois.

“It is so broad, sweeping, when you read through it,” said attorney Jacob Meister, who has represented Sommerville for more than nine years of her 11-year battle to use the ladies room at work, working alongside attorney Katie Christy.

“The court basically says this was not just transgender discrimination, it was sex discrimination, which is what federal courts have found. What this court said is, as a matter of Illinois law, Meggan’s sex is female. She not only has a female gender identity, but as a matter of Illinois law, her sex is female.” —Jacob Meister ⚧️

Efforts to prevent transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity are nothing new, of course. ⚧️

North Carolina’s infamous HB2 law, which restricted the use of public bathrooms to the sex on birth certificates, flushed away $600 million in lost revenue in 2016, resulting from boycotts of state businesses and events.

A repeal that didn’t remedy all of the contentious issues was enacted the following year.

As The Atlantic reported, an anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston, Texas was soundly defeated in 2015 mostly because of a successful fear-mongering campaign, perpetuating the myth that allowing trans women into ladies rooms would put cisgender women and girls at risk of male predators.⚧️

It was built around the slogan:

“No Men in Women’s Bathrooms.”

In July 2021, a federal judge blocked Tennessee from enforcing a law requiring businesses to post a signs, warning customers that transgender patrons may use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.⚧️

In its arguments, Hobby Lobby unsuccessfully claimed Sommerville, who came out to family in 2009 and transitioned at work in 2010, could simply use the unisex bathroom it installed in 2013. ⚧️

The company also argued that she could use the ladies room if she underwent gender affirming surgery and if she changed her birth certificate; Lawyers for Hobby Lobby claimed that by blocking her access to the ladies room, the store was protecting women.⚧️

The appellate court rejected all of these claims Hobby Lobby made in its argument for the so-called right to discriminate against Sommerville.⚧️

Here are the four key findings by Appellate Court Justice Mary Seminara-Schostok, who was joined unanimously by fellow Appellate Court Justices Kathryn E. Zenoff and Ann B. Jorgensen—three white, cisgender, heterosexual, conservative women in their 60s and 70s:

1. “The only reason that Sommerville is barred from using the women’s bathroom is that she is a transgender woman, unlike the other women (at least, as far as Hobby Lobby knows).” ⚧️


2. “Hobby Lobby argues that it was simply acting as a reasonable employer and enforcing its rules about separate bathrooms by keeping a male out of the women’s bathroom, but Hobby Lobby itself recognizes that Sommerville is female. Hobby Lobby’s unlawful discrimination was not designating bathrooms by sex, but denying Sommerville access to the bathroom that matched her sex.” ⚧️


3. “The existence of the unisex bathroom is irrelevant to the main issue in this case, which is whether Hobby Lobby violated Sommerville’s civil rights in denying her, but not other women, access to the women’s bathroom. Hobby Lobby’s provision of a unisex bathroom available to all employees and customers cannot cure its unequal treatment of Sommerville with respect to the women’s bathroom.”  ⚧️


4. “The final argument raised by Hobby Lobby regarding its bathroom ban—that it was necessary to protect other women from Sommerville—lacks support in either the record or logic... There is simply no evidence that Sommerville’s use of the women’s bathroom would pose a safety risk to other women... The presence of a transgender person in a bathroom poses no greater inherent risk to privacy or safety than that posed by anyone else who uses the bathroom.”  ⚧️


Sommerville explained what it’s been like since she was first written up for using the ladies room in February 2011.

She developed a medical condition, fibromyalgia, which impacts her thyroid and results in a more frequent need to empty her bladder.

“Every time you go to the bathroom, sometimes it's four or five times a day, I have to use the unisex bathroom,” she said.⚧️

What if somebody else is using it?

“I wait, but I don't want to feel like a creeper and be waiting outside the bathroom. All the bathrooms are at the front of the store. So, I walk back to my shop at the back of the store and wait until I have another opportunity, and then go back up and hopefully somebody is not there.”

The justices also denied Hobby Lobby’s attempt to avoid paying $220,000 in damages awarded by the Human Rights Commission, and opened the door to more:

“We remand this case to the Commission for a determination of any additional damages and attorney fees that may be due.” ⚧️


The ruling lifts a stay ordered by the appellate court in 2019, and enforcement of its order now moves back to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which originally denied Sommerville’s claim in 2012, then reversed itself.

In 2015, an administrative law judge ruled Hobby Lobby violated the state’s Human Rights Act, as Daily Kos reported. ⚧️

So what took so long to get this decided?

Meister said when Illinois elected Republican Bruce Rauner governor in 2014, his Republican appointees to the commission were less than interested in pursuing her claim. ⚧️

“They took this case and somebody put it in a file drawer and locked it up for four years. So, it didn't move for quite a long time, and that was part of the delay of 10 years to get to the appellate court.”

“When the judge who ruled on this case some years ago, there was all this media coverage that I had won the case. But, no, I didn't, because nothing was concrete yet, because you knew they were going to appeal everything,” Sommerville said.

“This is one where I can literally look at the order and say, ‘I won.’” ⚧️

“Hobby Lobby has been fighting this case tooth and nail for years,” Meister said.

The national chain of home crafts stores won a landmark ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2014, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, that decided for-profit corporations have the same protection for religious beliefs as churches and individuals.

Although Hobby Lobby has not responded publicly to the ruling or vowed to appeal, both Sommerville and Meister said they are prepared to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court.

Although it was not a part of the appellate case, that potential next round could feature a religious objection to Sommerville’s claim.

Christian groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom have already gone to court to fight transgender inclusion in school sports and access to affirming healthcare.

Hobby Lobby’s website is full of Christian messaging and commitments to religious expression.

“Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,” is the corporation’s mission statement.

“We believe it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future,” said founder David Green.

While acknowledging scripture appears to reference gender expression, the LGBTQ advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, argues those opposed to transgender identity are ignoring the most revered lessons from the Bible about love, acceptance and judgment of others.⚧️

Also important is that the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that transgender Americans are protected from workplace discrimination in Bostock v. Clayton County.

And in June 2021, the high court declined to hear yet another appeal of Gavin Grimm’s case, allowing the victories he won in lower courts, to use the bathroom matching his gender identity, to stand.

When Hobby Lobby’s lawyers cited precedence in a 20-year-old case in Minnesota, Goins v. West Group, the appellate justices pointed to how that lone decision doesn’t befuddle the clarity of Illinois law, and cited case after case in which transgender rights have been affirmed, including by the Supreme Court.

Meister said what these courts are saying is that transgender people are entitled to the same civil rights protections as everyone else, and that is not “special rights,” as opponents claim.

“The right to human dignity is a civil right. It's not a special right to have your dignity. To use the bathroom at work, without being humiliated and frightened and segregated, is a fundamental right,” he said. ⚧️

“And that's what we work every day to protect, these people's right, to just feel safe, secure and welcome in all aspects of life.” ⚧️















Offline Battle

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2021, 04:12:17 pm »
Thursday, 19th  August  Two Thousand & Twenty One
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Declares LGBTQ People Must Be Protected from Discrimination in Jury Selection

*** Press Release ***

(BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS) – In a novel ruling with important implications for addressing discrimination on the basis of both race and LGBTQ status in jury selection, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) today said explicitly that peremptory challenges based on a prospective juror’s sexual orientation are prohibited by both the Massachusetts and federal constitutions.⚧️

In its opinion, the SJC also strongly reaffirmed that having some members of a protected class seated on a jury does not alter a trial court’s obligation to require neutral justification for strikes of other members of that class which are challenged as discriminatory.

Black and Pink MA, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court arguing that by failing to examine the prosecution’s peremptory strikes – exclusion of prospective jurors without reason – of four Black jurors and two jurors perceived to be LGBTQ, the trial court denied the defendant access to an impartial jury of his peers and subjected those individual jurors to impermissible discrimination.⚧️

While the SJC found that the record did not present sufficient evidence of anti-gay bias in jury selection, both the majority and a concurring opinion asserted firmly that peremptory jury strikes based on the presumed sexual orientation of a juror are prohibited under both the Massachusetts and Federal constitutions.

“This ruling is a win for Black and queer people who too often have the deck stacked against them when interacting with the criminal legal system,” said Michael Cox, executive director at Black and Pink Massachusetts.  ⚧️

“Racial- and LGBTQ-status discrimination have no place in jury service or selection.” ⚧️

“We welcome the SJC’s clear articulation that sexual orientation is protected for the purpose of jury selection for the first time in this opinion, which affirms that LGBTQ people are constitutionally entitled to equal protection under the law,” said Chris Erchull, Staff Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“Discrimination in jury service against members of any historically marginalized group, including LGBTQ people, is contrary to the very idea of equal citizenship. Today’s ruling is an important step toward the aim of ensuring that prosecutors cannot use bias to exclude LGBTQ jurors or to improperly shape a jury to deny defendants in criminal cases their right to a fair trial.”
⚧️








« Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 07:40:23 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2021, 08:46:05 am »
Friday, 10th  September  Twenty One
Young Transgender Athletes Caught in Middle of States' Debates
by Katie Barnes





Becky Pepper-Jackson slides her toes into her running shoes as the sun sets behind the Appalachian Mountains. ⚧️

She likes to run at the end of the day, when the summer heat has broken and she's done with her chores. ⚧️

The 11-year-old and her family live on three acres of land outside Bridgeport, West Virginia, a town with fewer than 10,000 people about halfway between Charleston, the state's capital, and Pittsburgh.

Every morning, Becky has to let the chickens out and fill up the water bucket.

"Which half the time ends in a hose fight, by the way," Becky's mother, Heather, says.

On this particular July evening, Becky climbs into the family car with her mom, her dad and an older brother to drive to their favorite running spot.

The road they live on is too busy, so they drive to a cross street where the cows far outnumber the cars.

"The cars that do come, they can see you from a mile away," Heather says.

"Literally."

Becky has been logging miles with her mom since Heather pushed her around in a stroller.

Now they run a mile through the rolling hills most every evening.

Sometimes when they run, they also count.

Math is Becky's favorite subject, so Heather incorporates it where she can.

"We do counts while we're running," Heather says.

Sometimes they count the number of breaths between foot falls.

And then to make it interesting, Heather turns it into a story problem.

"Like if we take 47 more steps, how many breaths do we need to take in order to stay on our program?"

All of this running has put Becky in position to make the cross country team at her middle school.

As a sixth-grader, this is her first chance to run competitively for her school.

"It's the first chance to do any organized sports other than cheer," Heather says.

Cross country was the obvious choice.

"The reason why I love it so much is because my whole family has always done it," Becky says.

But the path for Becky to run competitively was almost blocked in the spring of 2021 when West Virginia passed HB 3293 -- a law that prevents transgender girls from competing in girls' and women's sports.

West Virginia is one of seven states that, during the 2021 legislative session, passed a law that restricts transgender athletes' access to sports; nearly three dozen states in all introduced bills seeking to do the same.

As a new school year begins and youth sports regain a foothold after pandemic precautions, transgender kids in the United States are stuck in the middle of the ongoing and often ugly battle over science and assumption, sex and gender identity, politics and policy.

Stephanie is a 9-year-old soccer player.

Kris Wilka is a 13-year-old football player.

They're not Olympians or NCAA stars.

They're not even high school students.

They are kids who just want to play.

"Becky is just like every other 11-year-old girl," Heather says.

"Transgender people are just like everybody else. They're all normal."

So, Heather sued.

TITLE IX BARS discrimination "on the basis of sex" in educational programs receiving federal funds, including athletics, and it is at the heart of this debate.

The interpretation of how Title IX either applies, or doesn't, to transgender athletes' participation in sports has been the focus of a partisan tug-of-war during the past three presidential administrations.

When the Obama administration issued formal guidance in the spring of 2016 through the departments of Justice and Education that mandated transgender inclusion in schools, 23 states sued.

And when individual-1 took over in 2017, that guidance was formally rescinded and the lawsuits were dropped.

As the Biden administration has made its picks for leadership in the Department of Education, inclusion of transgender students has been front and center.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has made the federal position clear.

"Transgender athletes are students first and foremost, and they deserve every right that every other student gets," he said in an interview with ESPN's Paula Lavigne in June.

"That means access to extracurricular activities, be it theater, sports. It doesn't matter."

Without formal federal policy, opportunities for children like Becky Pepper-Jackson are often determined by where they live.

While nine states have laws that restrict transgender athletes' participation, athletic eligibility for transgender youth typically is determined by the policy of each state's high school association, creating patchwork policies across the country.

Not to mention confusion.

In Connecticut, for example, transgender students may compete in accordance with their gender identity without requiring medical steps.

In Kentucky, transgender students may compete in accordance with their gender identity if they never went through puberty associated with their sex assigned at birth -- commonly referred to as endogenous puberty. ⚧️

If they started puberty, they need to have been on hormone therapy for "a sufficient length of time" and have undergone surgery. ⚧️

Otherwise, their birth certificate determines in which category they can participate.

Most of the state associations fall somewhere in between, employing committees to review documentation, or having different rules for transgender boys and transgender girls -- not addressing the fact that some students are nonbinary or more fluid with their gender identities.

Iowa has two associations -- one for boys and one for girls.

In the boys association, transgender boys may participate without restriction.

The girls association suggests inclusion for transgender girls, but ultimately each school makes a determination.

Sometimes the state associations sit on the sideline.

In Georgia, the school decides who can participate where, so if a school says a transgender athlete can play in a category consistent with their gender identity, the association says it would allow that to happen.

In Alaska, policies are set at the school level as well, but if a school has no policy, then a student's birth certificate is used.

But what was once the domain of the state associations has been making its way to statehouses.

In addition to West Virginia, lawmakers in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Montana enacted laws restricting transgender athletes in 2021.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed two executive orders containing similar restrictions for transgender girls in sports at the scholastic and collegiate levels.

Those eight states joined Idaho, which was the first state to pass such a law in 2020.

Idaho's law hasn't yet gone into effect because a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on August 17th, 2020.

Becky and Heather also won a preliminary injunction in West Virginia that allowed Becky to try out for her school's cross country team this fall.

In West Virginia, Judge Joseph Goodwin pointed to the likelihood of Pepper-Jackson and her lawyers' eventual success in arguing that HB 3293 is unconstitutional and violates her rights under Title IX. ⚧️

"At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem," Goodwin wrote in the ruling.

Which raises the question, why are so many of these bills being filed, and, in some cases, becoming law?

WHEN THE REFEREE raised Mack Beggs' right arm in 2017 to signify the new Texas girls' state wrestling champion, eyebrows raised across the country.

Beggs, a transgender boy, was unable to compete in the boys division under Texas policy.  ⚧️

Then, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood finished first and second in Connecticut's 2018 outdoor and 2019 indoor girls' state track championships.  ⚧️

Next came a Title IX complaint and a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of a handful of cisgender girls in Connecticut.

While these teenagers were far from the first transgender athletes to participate in sports -- Renée Richards successfully sued the United States Tennis Association to earn the right to play in the US Open in 1977 and Kye Allums became the first openly transgender person to participate in NCAA Division I athletics in 2010 -- their successes drew national attention to transgender athletes' participation at the youth level. ⚧️

Idaho Representative Barbara Ehardt was watching.

The former women's basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton was concerned that the inclusion of transgender athletes in girls' and women's sports was unfair, so she decided to pursue legislation in Idaho.

She reached out to ADF for guidance as she worked on the bill.

"[ADF] had no legislation," Ehardt says.

"This all started with me."

HB500 was introduced in Idaho on February 13th, 2020, the day after ADF announced a federal lawsuit against the Connecticut high school association on the steps of the state's capitol.

In the 18 months since, bills with names like "Fairness in Women's Sports" and "Save Women's Sports" have popped up across the country.

"What these do is it makes sure that when it comes to the women's category in particular, that it's reserved for biological females while still enabling any student to participate on the men's division and category," says Matt Sharp, senior counsel for the ADF, an organization whose stated mission is to protect religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights and the sanctity of life.

ADF, which is categorized as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, provided guidance on many of the bills filed in 2021. ⚧️

"I don't know that we were involved in all of them, but I know several of those we had been consulted on and reached out to by the sponsor asking for our expertise and legal expertise and guidance," Sharp says.

But Karissa Niehoff, the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), isn't clear on what all the fuss is about.

"They're trying to put legislative momentum behind a problem that really doesn't exist," Niehoff says.

This year, NFHS conducted an informal survey to see how many transgender athletes were competing across the country.

"It was very, very few," she says.

There is no data available that provides an exact number of transgender students in high school, let alone transgender student-athletes. ⚧️

There are approximately 15 million high school students in the United States, and approximately 8 million of them participate in high school sports.

A CDC study published in 2019 estimated that 1.8 percent of high school students are transgender, meaning there are roughly 270,000 transgender students in U.S. high schools. ⚧️

But a report by the Human Rights Campaign found that only 14% of transgender boys and 12% of transgender girls play sports. ⚧️

Given all of those numbers, it's statistically possible that there are some 35,000 transgender student-athletes in high school, which would mean 0.44% of high school athletes are transgender. ⚧️

Even as a fraction of the athlete population, that's still considerably more transgender young people playing sports than have made headlines. ⚧️

That's because the overwhelming majority of them don't win championships.

Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) executive director Glenn Lungarini saw that phenomenon up close in his conversations with parents in the state.

"What was very telling for me was a comment by the parents who said, 'We know that there's other transgender girls running, but we don't care about them because they're not winning,'" Lungarini says. ⚧️

The Associated Press asked lawmakers who sponsored legislation focusing on transgender athletes for local examples, and they were unable to do so.

That could be because no transgender athletes were competing in their states, but it's also plausible that the athletes who were playing sports did so without incident, just like most of their peers.  ⚧️

Some lawmakers, though, did cite the Connecticut case. And in debate after debate on this legislation, Connecticut is named as the reason for needing these bills.

"But in Connecticut, what is perceived to be transgender female domination was not," Lungarini says.

Lungarini analyzed the track performance of transgender girls in Connecticut compared to cisgender boys and cisgender girls for his doctoral research.

According to his findings, Miller and Yearwood took first or second place 35% of the time in state championship-level races.

"The perception that transgender females dominate the sprinting landscape of indoor and outdoor track in Connecticut is grossly misrepresented," Lungarini says.

"And that's also true, in my opinion, throughout the country."

So what's perception and what's real?

Not even science has the answers to that question.









« Last Edit: September 10, 2021, 09:40:49 am by Battle »

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2021, 05:59:31 am »
Tuesday, 14th  September  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
Transgender Bishop Steps Into Historic Role In The Evangelical Lutheran Church
by The Associated Press





(SAN FRANCISCO, California) — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America installed its first openly transgender bishop in a service held in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral on Saturday. ⚧️

The Rev. Megan Rohrer will lead one of the church's 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.

"My call is ... to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before," Rohrer told worshippers.

"But mostly, if you'll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love." ⚧️

Rohrer was elected in May to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod after its current bishop announced his retirement.

"I step into this role because a diverse community of Lutherans in Northern California and Nevada prayerfully and thoughtfully voted to do a historic thing," Rohrer said in a statement. ⚧️

"My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward."

Rohrer, who uses the pronoun "they," previously served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco and a chaplain coordinator for the city's police department, and also helped minister to the city's homeless and LGTBQ community. ⚧️

They studied religion at Augustana University in their hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before moving to California to pursue master and doctoral degrees at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.

Rohrer became one of seven LGBTQ pastors accepted by the progressive Evangelical Lutheran church in 2010 after it allowed ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships. ⚧️

Rohrer is married and has two children.

The church is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with about 3.3 million members.



















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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2021, 07:10:30 pm »
Thursday, 16th September  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
BNC Set to Launch AMPLIFIED with Aisha Mills on September 20 at 7:00 PM ET




*** PRESS RELEASE ***





(TALLAHASSEE, Florida) /PRNewswire/ -- Black News Channel (BNC), the nation’s fastest growing news network, will premiere an all-new prime time program, AMplified with Aisha Mills, on September 20th.

Political pundit and LGBTQ+ trailblazer Aisha Mills will unmask and examine the nation’s top headlines, shining a spotlight on the personal side of the politics and policies influencing Black America.

From social justice to structural reform, voting rights to corporate accountability, Mills will educate and entertain viewers with insights on the ground game of politics and the inner workings of our legislative process.

“The social and political landscape in America can be treacherous to navigate, and our goal is to ‘AMplify’ the voices and experiences of those on the front lines of today’s most pressing issues and impactful movements,” said Mills.

“As a Black woman and a leader within the LGBTQ+ community, I have a personal connection to BNC’s mission and I am excited to explore, examine and illuminate truths that empower our audience.”

As BNC continues to strengthen and expand its offerings, AMplified will offer unique coverage and viewpoints often missing from prime time news.

Mills will conduct in-depth interviews, inspire dialogue and engage in spirited debates that unpack the fundamentals of our legislative process and amplify the stories of Black and Brown communities.

“Aisha brings an extraordinary amount of experience and perspectives to BNC,” said Vickie Burns, SVP of Content for BNC.

AMplified will create a space for her to connect with thought leaders and policymakers on major issues that unfortunately do not receive the attention they deserve within mainstream media.”

For more than 20 years, Mills has been a nationally respected voice for progressive policy and politics.

She was recently a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics where she hosted a weekly seminar on identity politics and the demographic revolution underway in which people of color will soon be the majority of the population.

Previously, she was the first Black woman to serve as President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national LGBTQ+ organization that has helped elect hundreds of LGBTQ+ leaders to office.

Prior to Victory, she served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, the largest progressive think tank in the country.

Mills has also advised and helped to elect dozens of Members of Congress as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and Regional Finance Director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

AMplified will air weeknights at 7:00 PM ET, in between The World Tonight with Kelly Wright and Nayyera Haq and Black News Tonight with Marc Lamont Hill.

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Re: Real male or Real female?
« Reply #42 on: September 23, 2021, 06:26:40 am »
Thursday, 23rd September  ~Two Thousand & Twenty One
LGBTQ Vets Discharged Have New Chance For Full Benefits
by Jonathan Franklin






Thousands of LGBTQ veterans who were discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy have gained new access to full government benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The announcement, issued Monday on the 10th anniversary of the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, will apply to veterans who were forced from service under the policy and given "other than honorable discharges" due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status.

The guidance was detailed in a blog post on the VA's website by Kayla Williams, assistant secretary for public affairs in the department's Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

It provides LGBTQ veterans the opportunity to receive assistance, ranging from mental health care and disability benefits to college money and home loans.

The announcement clarifies the existing rules in place but does not represent a specific legal change, officials said.

"At VA, we continuously work not only to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans, but also to address ongoing issues that LGBTQ+ Veterans face as a result of the military's decades-long official policy of homophobia and transphobia," Williams wrote.

The VA will begin to review case files and start to reinstate benefits to those eligible unless there were issues such as a criminal record, Williams said.

Don't ask, don't tell, which was put into place by then-President Bill Clinton on February 28th, 1994, prevented openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from serving in the military.

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the policy into law, which went into effect on September 20th, 2011.

Before the repeal, openly gay service members who were given an "other than honorable" discharge from the military were effectively blocked from the many services and benefits provided to veterans in the U.S., including access to medical care, financial compensation, pensions or a debt-free college education.

Additionally, those discharged were not allowed to reenlist in the military.

Williams, who is openly bisexual, said she chose to "present as straight" during the push to repeal don't ask, don't tell.

"It made sense at the time that there was a more pressing need for me as a woman married to a man to say, 'No one in my unit cared if anyone was gay while we were in Iraq,' " she said.

Williams said it took many years for her to let go of the "toxic legacy" of having served under the policy to "come back out of the closet."

Over the last 70 years, an estimated 100,000 military veterans either left or were kicked out of the service for their sexual orientation, and under don't ask, don't tell, many ultimately lost out on the opportunity for full VA benefits.

Lindsay Church, a Navy veteran who co-founded Minority Veterans of America, a nonprofit designed to focus on belonging and equity for underrepresented veterans, was involved when it came to pushing for service members discharged because of their sexuality to receive VA benefits.

"Even to overturn the policy wasn't enough to undo the harm and the damage that was done," Church said in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered.

"And so this moment is life-changing for so many people."

Williams says that while the trauma caused by the military's policy of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community can't be erased, elected officials are taking appropriate steps to begin "addressing the pain" the policies built.

"LGBTQ+ Veterans are not any less worthy of the care and services that all Veterans earn through their service, and VA is committed to making sure that they have equal access to those services," she said.