JONESPORT, Maine — CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the facility as Sunrise Care Facility. In 2018, Downeast Community Hospital closed Sunrise Care Facility and donated the building to the town of Jonesport. It then reopened under the ownership of Adult Family Care Homes of Maine and was renamed Sunrise Assisted Living.
A downeast nursing facility is getting national scrutiny for allegedly discriminating against a transgender woman.
The discrimination complaint was filed by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders on behalf of a 78-year-old woman claiming she was denied a room at Sunrise Assisted Living because she is transgender.
According to the organization, it is the first such legal claim of discrimination brought in the U.S. against a senior long-term care facility.
Sunrise’s administrator called the allegations “untrue” and refused to give any further comment to NEWS CENTER Maine.
The newly released Nubia & The Amazons #1 by DC Comics has broken new ground, marking the first time Wonder Woman’s Amazons welcome a transgender woman into their society in a touching and unforgettable moment.
Nubia’s time as Queen of the Amazons is showcased in the new DC series from Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Emilio Lopez, and Becca Carey. Beginning with a flashback to Nubia’s own arrival on Themiscyra, readers are reminded of the Amazons’ mystical Well of Souls: a portal through which women who have died as a result of the terror of ‘Man’s World’ are reborn, given new life among the immortal women. The five new sisters born of the Well (who represent the first group of women to come through the well in some time) wake up without knowing who they were, where they are, or what’s to come next. And for one, it is a rebirth they have spent their entire life waiting for.
Daniel’s birth certificate is marked “female.” But Daniel does not identify as exclusively male nor female. Daniel is nonbinary. “I’m masculine leaning,” the 18-year-old says.
Daniel knew they were not a girl by about age 4. But the disconnect between Daniel’s body and gender identity became unbearable during puberty. “I hated showers because I didn’t like looking at my body,” Daniel says. “I just felt really uncomfortable with the idea of being female.” At age 13, Daniel came out to their mother as transgender. Someone who is transgender has a gender identity that does not match the sex assigned to them at birth.
After coming out, Daniel started seeing a therapist who specialized in gender. The next year, they were referred to a doctor who prescribed testosterone. This hormone caused Daniel to develop more masculine features. For Daniel, the most important effect was a deeper voice. “My biggest problem with getting [seen as a girl] was that my voice was really high,” Daniel says. (Daniel’s last name is not being used to protect their privacy.)
Before starting hormone therapy, Daniel considered suicide. With testosterone, they’re happier with life. “I definitely feel more like myself. Like I was just existing before, but now I’m living — now that I’m open to everyone about who I am, and … I’m open to myself,” says Daniel. “Starting testosterone, for me, saved my life.”
Hormone therapy is just one method of gender-affirming health care. The term includes treatments that help people express their gender identity. This care looks different for people of different ages. In young kids, it involves letting them use a name and pronouns that match their gender. Adolescents may take drugs to delay puberty, followed by hormones. Some later undergo surgery.
Gender-affirming treatment is the standard of care for transgender people in the United States. About 1.8 percent of American high schoolers are transgender. That’s according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some U.S. lawmakers have recently tried to make these treatments illegal.
In April, Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Similar bills have cropped up in more than a dozen other states. Several of the proposals have failed. Still, experts warn, this legislation may harm the mental health of trans youth.
Recent U.S. state legislation seeks to bar transgender people from using bathrooms or competing on sports teams that match their gender identities. Other bills curb access to gender-affirming health care for minors.
Number of anti-transgender bills introduced in state legislatures, 2015–2021
SOURCE: HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN, AS OF JULY 27, 2021
“Even if the bills don’t pass … the damage is being done,” says Jason Klein. He’s an endocrinologist in New York City. That’s a doctor who specializes in hormones. Klein works at New York University Langone Health. “Many people across this country are already going to be hurt just by the ideas being put out by these bills.”
Those who support health-care restrictions say they want to protect children from procedures they may later regret. They also want to protect kids from any risks such medical treatments may pose. Those risks might include impacts on bone health and fertility. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses gender-affirming care. So do other medical associations. These groups say that restricting access to gender-affirming care could harm the mental health of trans youth. This population is already at severe risk of depression and self-harm. Transgender youth are three to four times as likely as their peers to have depression or anxiety. And they’re at much higher risk of suicide.
Gender-affirming care offers hope, says Jack Turban. He’s a child and adolescent psychiatry researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. “All existing research suggests that gender-affirming medical interventions improve the mental health of transgender youth.”
The change, which goes into effect in 2023, requires carriers to cover care like hormone therapy, facial feminization, and top surgery.
Colorado to require private health insurance carriers to cover gender-affirming care for transgender patients
COLORADO, USA — At ONE Colorado, Nadine Bridges works to change the lives of LGBTQ Coloradans.
“We just want folks to live their lives and thrive and survive in this world,” the executive director said.
In 2023, Bridges said living will get a little easier for some because of a change in Colorado’s Essential Health Benefits that will require insurance carriers to cover gender affirming care and surgeries for transgender patients.
It’s the first time the federal government has approved a requirement like this in individual and small group health plans, and the decision means specific treatments must be covered if a doctor deems them medically necessary.
According to a Health and Human Services press release, those treatments will include “eye and lid modifications, face tightening, facial bone remodeling for facial feminization, breast/chest construction and reductions, and laser hair removal.”
“I think what people don’t realize is some of these surgeries, like top surgery and electrolysis and facial feminization, some folks feel like that is more cosmetic and there are many in our community who really need that,” said Bridges.
Blair Sagan knows that need.
Three years ago, the 33-year-old paid $10,000 out of pocket to get top surgery, a procedure to remove breast tissue and reshape the chest.
“I was in a very deep depression, and I knew that it had to happen and it changed my life,” Sagan said. “And the feeling after, I want every trans person to have. You know, gender euphoria.”
Sagan said even within trans health care coverage, there are disparities, and to know that many Colorado insurance carriers will no longer be able to call certain care elective or cosmetic is a win for transgender rights.
“There are so many other surgeries that, especially cis-gendered men can get, that are covered,” said Sagan. “And it’s such a fight, it’s such a battle to be able to just have the basics for trans folx.”
Colorado Medicaid does currently cover gender affirming care but it is not a federal requirement for state’s Medicaid programs to do so.
Netflix employees are staging a walkout today in protest of the internal handling of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, The Closer. The special, which was released on the streaming service on October 5th, has drawn intense criticism for Chapelle’s transphobic comments.
As reported by Bloomberg, Netflix staff expressed concerns over the content of The Closer prior to its release, sharing “dismay that the company continues to release programming with transphobic sentiments” and that “a series of jokes about gender-neutral pronouns and the genitalia of transgender people was potentially inflammatory and damaging.”
Last week, Netflix suspended and then reinstated Terra Field, a trans software engineer who tweeted a viral thread about the potential harm of the special, and two other employees for attempting to join a director-level meeting they did not have access to. Netflix quickly released a statement to The Verge after issuing the suspensions, clarifying that their employees were not penalized for being openly critical about the special. “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.” (All three employees have since been reinstated.)
However, Netflix fired B. Pagels-Minor, a Black trans program manager and former leader of the trans employee resource group at the company, for allegedly leaking confidential metrics about the special to the media — a claim Pagels-Minor “categorically denies.”
“The tone of the message was basically like: You employees can’t possibly understand the nuance of comedy, and that’s why you’re upset,” Pagels-Minor said in an interview with the New York Times. “That’s not the point. It’s not that we don’t understand comedy. It’s that this comedy has tones of hatred. And what are we going to do to mitigate that?”
“I don’t have any ill will toward Netflix,” they added. “I want them to be successful, but the only way to succeed is to hold themselves to the values they expound.”
Netflix executives have shown continued and explicit support of Dave Chappelle over the past few weeks, defending the special and its content even after employees began asking questions about Netflix’s stance against transphobia on social media and internal forums. In a memo sent to staff, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos doubled down on his belief that Chappelle’s pointed humor does not have real-life consequences.
“With The Closer, we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.),” Sarandos wrote. “Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos went on to rationalize Chappelle’s transphobic jokes as part of “his style.”
“Stand-up comedians often expose issues that are uncomfortable because the art by nature is highly provocative,” he wrote. “As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone (per our Sensitive Content guidelines).”
Under a groundbreaking decision by state and federal officials, many private health plans sold in Colorado will soon be required to cover hormone therapy, genital reconstructive services and other procedures sought by transgender patients.
The change, which would take effecton Jan. 1, 2023, would mark the first time the federal government has approved a requirement for transition-related coverage in individual and small-group health plans. More than a dozenstates, including Colorado, already cover such services in their Medicaid plans.
Biden officials cited discrimination facing transgender patients and predicted the Colorado decision would serve as a road map for other states seeking to broaden such coverage. They also said the approval helps fulfill the president’s campaign pledge to expand access to coverage for LGBTQ Americans, including requiring insurers to cover care related to transitions.
“Colorado’s taking a very important step,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an interview. “Transgender [people] face discrimination on a constant basis. And it is, to some degree, intensified by the inability for transgender Americans to get the health-care services they need.”
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of Biden administration decisions to codify policies sought by LGBTQ Americans, including a May 2021 announcement to broaden anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients. The Trump administration narrowed access to those protections.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and other officials announced the policy in Denver on Tuesday. The new coverage for transition-related procedures, which was authorized under a Trump-era policy that allows states to request modifications to their health insurance markets governed by the Affordable Care Act, would require Colorado health plans to provide “gender-affirming care” among the essential benefits guaranteed to their customers.
“We hope this marks a historic beginning, and that other states look to Colorado as a model,” Brooks-LaSure said. “We invite other states to follow suit.”
The decision was cheered by patient advocates, but panned by some conservatives, who challenged the evidence supporting it, andarguedthe administration’s move is inappropriate.
“This is a liberal administration and governor colluding to mandate coverage for a lifetime of cross-sex hormones and removal of healthy organs, including for minors,” said Roger Severino, a former Trump appointee who served as the health department’s civil rights chief. “Their end game is clear, to push these dangerous experimental treatments on kids and unwilling families as a national insurance mandate.”
Some transgender patients have detailed the challenges they face obtaining costly services like hormone therapy, saying that interruptions or delays in care can lead to long-lasting setbacks in their transitions. A November 2020 study by Out2Enroll, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community obtain health insurance, found that most plans sold through the government’s health insurance website, HealthCare.gov, failed to specify whether they covered care for transgender patients. In 7 percent of cases, health plans explicitly excluded procedures for transgender patients, Out2Enroll found.
This year, she is running the half-marathon as a transgender woman. In previous years, she ran either the full 26.2-mile marathon or the half when she still identified as a man.
Fay, 63, who started hormone treatment in 2017 and last year underwent sex reassignment surgery, said she notices a big difference in how her body now responds to running and race training as compared to before.
The changes definitely slowed her down, she said, and way more than one expects from simply getting older.
“My stamina and strength have been impacted — I feel that every time I go out for a run,” she said. “So it takes me longer to get to my goal than it would be before. Some of it is certainly due to age, but I think the majority of it is the transition.”
On Sunday, Fay will join thousands in downtown Detroit for the 7 a.m. start of both the half and the full marathon. Because of COVID-19 border restrictions, neither race this year crosses into Canada and instead follow all-new routes in Detroit. Race organizers hope to bring back the international courses in 2022.
“That is unfortunate, but I understand,” Fay said. “Running across the bridge was always a highlight for me.”
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) — formerly the National Women’s Hockley League — announced on Friday an updated policy governing participation for transgender and non-binary athletes. The new policy will be in effect immediately for the 2021-2022 season.
“Transgender and non-binary athletes deserve equal opportunity to compete in the Premier Hockey Federation,” PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a statement. “And we embrace our power and responsibility as leaders to make progressive change.”
The policy itself provides guidance for the participation of transgender and non-binary athletes. In a departure from other policies applying to transgender athletes at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels, the PHF policy does not use hormone therapy as the primary basis for eligibility.
Transgender men are eligible to compete in the PHF, and they are not immediately ineligible if taking testosterone for medical transition purposes. They must consult with the PHF for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). This is a change from the previous policy, which made no allowance for transgender men to medically transition while remaining part of the PHF. Transgender women are eligible to compete in the PHF after living in their transgender identity for at least two years.
This policy is also one of the first to specifically address non-binary athletes. The process is similar to that which governs transgender women and transgender men. Athletes assigned female at birth are eligible to participate in the PHF, but if they wish to take testosterone for transition-related purposes, they must apply for a TUE. For athletes assigned male at birth, they are eligible to compete in the PHF after living in their non-binary identity for at least two years.
“The PHF leads by example in prioritizing the inclusion, health and safety of all athletes in the league. Fairness in hockey and the inclusion of transgender and non-binary athletes are not at odds with one another,” Athlete Ally Director of Policy & Programs Anne Lieberman said in a statement.
The updated policy was crafted in consultation with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit advocacy group working at the intersection of LGBTQ issues and sports, and Chris Mosier, a transgender elite athlete and six-time member of Team USA, as well as the founder of TransAthete.com.
The organization first adopted its transgender inclusion policy in 2016, following Harrison Browne sharing that he is transgender and would continue playing hockey in the PHF (then the NWHL). Few professional sports leagues in the United States have adopted any policy considering the inclusion of transgender athletes.
“I am so proud to play for a league that is leading the way to ensure all athletes feel safe, welcomed and respected in hockey,” Boston Pride player Mallory Souliotis said.
CONCORD, N.H. —Lawmakers in Concord agreed on Thursday to reject legislation aimed at restricting the participation of transgender athletes in inter-scholastic sports.
House Bill 198 would have allowed transgender girls, who were born biologically male, to be banned from participation in all-female athletics. The House Education Committee voted unanimously to declare the bill “inexpedient to legislate.”
Democrats opposed the bill as an affront to civil rights, while the Republican sponsor of the bill said legislation was “not ready for primetime” but concerns over protecting girls’ sports remain.
“We’ve made a lot of gains in the last 20, 30 years with Title IX. I would really caution folks in moving in a direction that could stop that movement,” Rep. Rick Ladd said, R-Haverhill.
On an 11-9 party-line vote, the committee also rejected legislation that would have required schools to update documents and software to include the option of identifying a student as non-binary.
“AIDS Diva” was a title Norman, a transgender woman and ex-sex worker who overcame addiction and abuse to become a leader in ACT UP L.A. in the late 1980s, gave herself. It was a hint at the warm, humorous woman behind the forceful activist who got arrested, went on hunger strikes and carried a bullhorn like it was an extension of her hand.
“We’re not doing enough!” Norman can be seen shouting at fellow demonstrators in one clip from the film. “You’re not doing enough, I’m not doing enough. And AIDS is not going away!”
Director Dante Alencastre has documented the experiences of other transgender women, including youth activist Zoey Luna, TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo and the trans community in Lima, Peru. He was looking for his next subject when a friend suggested Norman.
“I had heard of her, but I knew very little,” said Alencastre, who moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago. “Almost like she was a ghost from the past.”
Around the time he started his research, someone put up an alumni page on Facebook for members of the L.A. chapter of ACT UP, or the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. They used Norman’s picture for the cover photo.
“I immediately reached out and said, ‘I want to talk to anyone who knew her,’” Alencastre said. “It was like opening up Pandora’s box.”
He was put in touch with Peter Cashman, a journalist and founding ACT UP L.A. member, who appears in “AIDS Diva.” Cashman filmed Norman extensively and had boxes full of VHS tapes.
“He told me he never looked at them, but we were welcome to use whatever we wanted,” Alencastre said. As he digitized hours of Norman’s interviews and speeches, he said he could tell how ahead of her time she was.
“I was kind of surprised by the frank and explicit way she would talk about herself,” he said. “Back then, I imagine people were taken aback. But she was bold enough to make an audience look beyond her appearance. There was no consciousness of trans back then. There was no ‘T’ in LGBT.”
Michael Weinstein, president of the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, recalls working alongside Norman and credits her willingness to engage with friends and foes alike.
“She’d speak to people I would ignore, who I didn’t think were worth the time of day,” Weinstein said.
One of those people was Wally George, a conservative Southern California talk show host whose stage she appeared on. (In “AIDS Diva,” we see Norman stand up to taunts from George’s audience.)
“She believed that through the force of her personality and her words she could get people to think and feel,” Weinstein added. “And she succeeded a lot more often than I thought possible.”
Being a professional activist requires a thick skin and a loud voice. And Norman had both.
“She had a mouth on her. Thankfully it was connected to a mind,” David Reid, producer of XEK-AM’s short-lived “The Connie Norman Show” radio show, told The Pride in 2016. “And she was a she; on many occasions, I heard her say, ‘I paid $50,000 to be who I am, and I get to pick my pronouns.’”
Torie Osborn, director from 1987 to 1993 of what was then known as the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, said it was sometimes shocking to see the anger Norman could summon with a megaphone.
“She’d say, ‘Oh, I’m just a Midwestern girl.’ But I don’t think she ever forgot her struggles or where she came from,” Osborn said.
That ferocity was tempered with a genuine sweetness, Osborn added. “I think it’s a gift of the LGBT community to be both tough and soft, if we allow ourselves to access those parts. And Connie did, absolutely.”
Longtime transgender activist Valerie Spencer, who was mentored by Norman, jokingly called her “a fake and a fraud.”
“Publicly she was this bombastic warrior. People thought ‘Oh here she comes!’ And, yeah, she could shake the building with her vibrato,” Spencer said. “But inside, she was so tender. She gave me jewelry — a beautiful garnet necklace. … At the heart of who she was, she was a tender pussycat.”
“AIDS Diva” co-producer John Johnston remembered Norman lending him her jacket to keep warm during a vigil at the University of Southern California in 1989.
“In the height of everything, even as she was battling for her own life, she’d ask if you were OK,” Weinstein said.
Born in small-town Texas, Norman ran away from home at 14 and lived on the streets of Hollywood before getting off drugs and transitioning in the mid-1970s. She was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and soon became active with local AIDS groups.
“I often tell people that I am an ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current postoperative transsexual woman who is HIV-positive,” Norman told The Los Angeles Times shortly before her death in 1996. “I have everything I ever wanted, including a husband of 10 years, a home and five adorable longhaired cats. … I do, however, regret the presence of this virus.”
She didn’t have the education or polish of other activists, but she had the survival skills she learned on the streets, Spencer said. And more important, “she was a person confronting her own mortality and the lack of compassion in our society. When you’re in that situation it can just fuel you with a powerful rage.”
Among other roles, Norman was director of public policy for the All Saints AIDS Service Center in Pasadena, California, and sat on the L.A. County Commission on HIV. She wrote a bimonthly column, “Tribal Writes,” for the San Diego gay magazine Update and co-hosted “The Gay and Lesbian News Magazine,” a cable-access show out of Long Beach, California.
On all those fronts Norman called out those she felt had allowed the epidemic to continue, either through action or inaction, including the Reagan and Bush administrations, the FDA and the state of California. When Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited discrimination against workers because of sexual orientation, Norman helped lead a march on the state capital in Sacramento.
“It boils down to how much you want to live,” she wrote of her advocacy in POZ magazine in 1995.
“I want to be here on this planet every minute that I can and I’m willing to do whatever I can do — comfortably — to stay here,” she said. “Sue me, but I believe that all of the medicines and all of the prophylactics are eventually going to come up against this virus and lose. You can either sit and wait for that to happen or you can go ahead and live your life.”
Norman threw herself into her activism until the end, likely at the expense of her own well-being.
On Monday, in celebration of National Coming Out Day, the R&B singer revealed that he will be starting hormone therapy as he opened up about his transgender journey.
Writing that he was “afraid” of sharing the news and accepting his identity, he explained that he previously would “pray my thoughts would lessen” and would ask God if they would ever stop. However, today he has come to terms with his identity and shared that he’s excited to share it with the world.
“I would talk to myself in public just to calm my anxiety, have to run to the restroom and check in with the version of me I felt no one else could see… even though I never felt like I wasn’t myself, engaging with ppl, I just knew nobody knew what I thought of myself when I looked in the mirror,” the 20-year-old wrote. “And why I was so sad. I saw a boy. In a girl’s body who was hiding and doing a good job at it…”
“There would also be times I just felt like everyone around me knew my secret,” he added. “I created a version of myself that was toxic, I demonized myself, and convinced myself I’d never be able to love. After moving away from home and just experiencing the world and how my dysphoria (before I even knew what that was) worsened, I finally did what I was dreading … I looked up the word ‘transgender.'”
The singer explained that he read many stories from trans people and “cried so much I could feel so much more than I ever had.” It was then that he realized, “I had to come to terms with myself.”
“I thought if I just came out to my immediate circle it would be fine it would be cool maybe even eventually it would go away… I was in love and that’s another story but… 3 years later I’ve broke down….got up.. after intense therapy, I have joined communities, I have been more and more vocal with my friends and family…I’ve survived… and now… I’m LIVING 😌✨,” he wrote.
“In two days I’ll be beginning hormone therapy,” he added. “It feels like I’m saying goodbye but I’m saying hello. I’m Nevaeh. The mf playa”
Several artists left comments on his post supporting the decision to come out.
“WE LOVE YOU!!!!!” wrote Tommy Genesis. “You are powerful.”
“yesssss LIVE ur BEST LIFE,” wrote Bria Myles. “live for uuuuu.”
“I’m crying rn,” wrote Mallory Merk. “Love you so much.”
Signed by DefJam, the singer has already released songs such as “Screwed Up” featuring A Boogie wit da Hoodie, “Sorry I’m High” and “Too Much.”
HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) – A month after school divisions around Virginia were to adopt changes to their policies involving transgender and non-binary students, Hanover County Public Schools will be discussing it Tuesday night.
The changes were to be made after bills passed in the General Assembly in 2020, which protect transgender students from discrimination.
School divisions were meant to change their policies for things like bathroom and lockerroom use based on model policies put out by the Virginia Department of Education.
Ola Hawkins, chair of the Hanover County School Board, said the board realized how complicated the changes were and took time at the board’s retreat at the end of September to go more in-depth.
Shannon McKay, with the organization He, She, Ze, and We, says she works with families in the county who have transgender students and says not having the policy implemented puts them at risk.
“They really can’t feel safe, or just healthy, in their school when they’re worried about what someone might say or how they’re going to be treated,” McKay said. “Especially being misgendered using the wrong name or pronouns – that is really just a part of who they are.”
Some Hanover parents like Todd Gathje, who is part of the Family Foundation Action, disagree with the change in policy.
“Well, as a father of young girls, my concern is that these policies could open the door for their bodily privacy and their safety to be jeopardized when they’re in the locker room for example,” Gathje said.
Gathje says he hopes the division takes even more time when discussing the policy changes because of how it not only impacts students but also families.
A spokesperson for the school division says Tuesday night’s meeting will only have the changes up for discussion; a vote could happen at the next meeting in November.
Odd numbered years are relatively quiet for elections, but there’s one race this year that is saying a lot about the future of the Republican Party. The race for governor in Virginia has become a template for the GOP’s plan to secure victory across the country by promising to trample the rights of LGBTQ people in general, and transgender people in particular.
The most recent proof is Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin’s appearance this month at a gala hosted by the Family Foundation of Virginia. The Family Foundation has a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism.
In 2012, it pressured legislators to block the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland as a prosecutor in Richmond because he had come out as gay while he served as a fighter pilot in the Navy. “It’s about a pattern of behavior that is just notorious for homosexual advocacy,” one Republican representative said at the time.
Since then, the Family Foundation has been deeply involved in all kinds of far-right activism. It opposes nondiscrimination protections because it insists “no evidence of discrimination exists.” The group has been a driving force in the state in the attacks on trans youth, calling transgenderism “a false ideology.”
This is the type of extremist group that Youngkin has aligned himself with in order to win votes. Among the supporters listed on the gala program was Alliance Defending Freedom, another group which has made attacking LGBTQ rights its mission. The keynote speaker at the event was Trump’s former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who once proclaimed that the man who banned trans military personnel had “a great record when it comes to LGBT issues.”
Youngkin fit right in with the group. He has himself maligned trans female students, calling them “biological males.” Indeed, he has thrown over his earlier persona as a business-focused Republican to go all in on the culture wars waging in Virginia.
Youngkin has been quick to capitalize on this opportunity by portraying himself as the savior of parents attacked by LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter advocates. He’s launched an effort called “Parents Matter” to fuel the anger already seething in the state.
Youngkim’s whole campaign now is based around the concept that conservative parents have the right to tell schools to teach only the version of reality they like to tell themselves.
Youngkim’s Democratic opponent, former governor Terry McAuliffe, previously looked like a shoo-in in the race, but recent polls show that Youngkin’s assault on LGBTQ people is paying off. McAuliffe is still in the lead, but it’s been shrinking to single digits.
Virginia has been increasingly safe for Democrats over the past several elections, but Youngkin’s campaign shows that hatred still resonates. Even if Youngkin loses, he will have proven that attacking LGBTQ people motivates voters.
That’s a message that other Republicans will hear loud and clear for future elections.
Dozens in Sacramento gathered this weekend for the National Transgender Visibility March.
Participants met at Crocker Park on Saturday, as Sacramento was the host city this year. There were a number of speakers who talked about their experiences coming out.
Organizers argue events like this are important because visibility can be life-saving for many struggling with their identity. Sashie Yates, 19, was in attendance this year. She recalled when she first came out to her family two years ago, describing it as a crucial turning point in her life.
“I feel confused about my gender, and I don’t feel like I’m in the right body. Just going through a rough time and decided to tell them because I was feeling hopeless and them supporting me has made it so much better,” Yates said.
Her mother, Dana Yates, said acceptance and tolerance is an important message to send to those who have yet to come out.
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center was at the event, providing COVID-19 and HIV testing.
A Texas bill prohibiting transgender student athletes from joining school sports teams aligned with their gender identity is heading to the full Texas House, where it is likely to pass, following a House committee’s approval Wednesday.
After more than eight hours of emotional testimony, the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies voted 8-4 along party lines to advance House Bill 25. The legislation, authored by state Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would restrict student athletes at public schools to playing on sports teams that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate at or near their time of birth.
Lawmakers’ attempts to enshrine such restrictions into law have failed three previous times this year. But Wednesday’s committee vote helped the legislation clear a key hurdle that increases its likelihood of becoming law this time.
Republican lawmakers have portrayed the legislation as a way to protect cisgender women’s rights under Title IX, a federal law that restricts discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings. Proponents of HB 25 have claimed that transgender girls’ participation on teams made up of mostly cisgender girls would present safety hazards for cisgender girls and prevent them from obtaining athletic scholarships. Medical professionals have largely debunked arguments that transgender athletes who are taking hormones have an advantage, with one study showing people taking hormones did not have a significant performance edge in distance running.
“Our constituents expect us to see problems that are coming, and not wait till there’s a disaster till everything falls apart and try to fix it,” Swanson said. “We don’t have to wait till it’s a big problem in Texas.”
Democrats and other opponents of the legislation questioned what problem lawmakers are trying to solve and pointed out how bills targeting transgender children hurt the mental health of already vulnerable kids. Numerous parents of transgender youth testified before the House committee Wednesday, including Amber Briggle, the mother of a 13-year-old transgender boy. Briggle said she was “mad as hell” for having to show up to the legislature again to combat a bill that targets her child.
“He’s 13, he shouldn’t have to deal with that,” Briggle said. “I want him to go to gymnastics. I want to go to taekwondo. I want him to do well in school, and I don’t want to have him worry about this because I saw how much it harmed him in April and May.”
Aaron Richie, father of two transgender teenagers, said his kids have dreaded the start of legislative sessions “in anticipation of the bills that are going to debate what rights and opportunities they should have.”
The University Interscholastic League, which governs public school sports in Texas, already requires that an athlete’s gender be determined by their birth certificate. (Two private schools are also part of UIL, according to UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison.) However, UIL also accepts legally modified birth certificates, on which students may have had their gender officially changed to align with their gender identity.
“We’re just strictly codifying UIL rules,” Swanson said while presenting HB 25 to House committee members.
But if HB 25 should become law, it would no longer allow for the acceptance of legally modified birth certificates. In a statement, UIL spokesperson Julia Atkins said the process for checking student birth certificates is left up to schools, not the UIL.
Leal Anderson, the athletic director for the Austin Independent School District, said in an interview he doesn’t have any information on instances in his district of a transgender student playing on a team corresponding with their gender identity.
“I would say that normally [birth certificates are] checked but then it’d be double checked if there’s a question, but in most cases there’s not a question of the identity of the gender of the person,” Anderson said.
Opponents of the bill have said it addresses a problem that does not currently exist.
CHRISTIANSBURG — The Montgomery County School Board is looking at an adjustment to its new policy on the treatment of transgender students, a move that would offer stronger protections for children who have fears about disclosing their status to their parents.
The measure, which the school board could take a vote on in December, involves the addition of a line in the policy that will direct school staff to explain to a student the procedure to be followed once the student discloses their gender identities and begins to issue a request in relation to their status.
Several school board members on Tuesday voiced concerns about a process that calls for the schools to ultimately tell parents about requests such as their children asking to be referred to by the pronouns they identify with. The change would clarify to students that they can hold off on the request if they’re still unsure about whether they want their parents to know.
“As soon as there’s any inkling that this maybe a conversation related to [being transgender] in any kind of way, that they stop the conversation and help the child understand this is the next step if we have this conversation,” school board member Penny Franklin said, summarizing the proposed policy change.
Several school board members pushed for a further look at the transgender policy due, in large part, to concerns about whether some students would be safe upon disclosing their status to their parents.
Members of the division’s administration, however, described the issue as a tricky one due to the long-standing rights of parents to know about issues related to their children in the schools.
Deputy Superintendent Annie Whitaker told board members that a student requesting a teacher to refer to them by certain pronouns must generally be passed to a counselor, formally creating a counseling session that must be disclosed to parents.
“We’re interpreting something I don’t think really is the intention of the law,” said board member Sue Kass. “I think we really need to clarify what it is.”
The recent talk over the adjustment of the MCPS policy also raised some legal questions due to what the school board attorney said is the rights of parents to contribute to the upbringing of their children.
Superintendent Mark Miear said at one point during the lengthy discussion Tuesday night that the district can, on a case by case basis, limit disclosures of certain issues if it’s clear there is a strong safety concern.
“But that’s a hard thing,” he said. “ What we’re saying [is] we have to be really sure that they’re not going to be safe. I mean, we have kids who ask us to not report their grades to their parents. Well, we have an obligation to report grades to their parents.”
A transgender woman agreed to be the 10th male in a synagogue minyan after the rabbi ruled it was acceptable as she was born a man.
The unnamed woman was included in the 10-person minyan (the minimum number of males required to comprise a Jewish congregation) at Liverpool’s Princes Road synagogue Tuesday 21 September, the first full day of Succot, the Jewish Telegraph reported.
The synagogue’s Rev Yigal Wachmann told the newspaper: “According to Jewish law, she can be counted in a minyan and we were one person short. We took into account her sensitivities. I asked her permission so as not to offend her. She was fine with it.”
The newspaper said she sat in the synagogue’s ladies section for the entirety of the service and quoted Dayan Gavriel Krausz, former head of the Manchester Beth Din, who said she could be included in an all-male minyan provided she adheres to the tenets of the religion. However, he is quoted as stating: “A man cannot become a woman just by an operation. If you are born a man, you are a man.”
Krausz also called cross-dressing “despicable” and added that “he” could be included, but “should not get an aliya (a invitation to stand at the bimah, the holiest place in the synagogue where the Torah is kept).”
Princes Road synagogue is independent and not affiliated to any movement.
Dalia Fleming, Executive Director of Keshet UK, a charity supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) Jews, said: “It’s always good to see Jewish communities such as Princes Road welcoming and including their trans members. KeshetUK is supporting UK Jewish communities to do this well, making sure that the needs of Jewish LGBT+ people are met. There’s no one model that works for every community or Jewish trans person, and many communities are just starting to work this through. In the meanwhile, KeshetUK really wants to see these conversations are reported sensitively and kindly, to avoid causing hurt to LGBT+ people, and to give communities and their LGBT+ members time and space to create an authentic approach that works for them.”
Josh Levy, lead rabbi at Alyth Reform Synagogue, said: “In Reform Judaism, gender is not a factor in whether someone can be included in a minyan. Any Jewish adult coming into one of our synagogues will be welcomed as a full part of our praying community.”
Philadelphia unveiled its first mural celebrating transgender and gender-nonconforming people last week.
The mural, “We Are Universal,” was created by the artist Kah Yangni in collaboration with the residents of Morris Home, the only residential recovery program in the country that offers services specifically for trans people, according to its website.
The 2,200-square-foot mural features bright colors, flowers, a butterfly and the faces of two Morris Home residents.
Some of the residents’ quotes are included on the mural, which reads, “we’re trans,” “we’re survivors,” “we are joyful,” “we feel rage” and “we are universal!”
“I picked the words that describe people at Morris Home, but also the broader community of trans folks and folks in recovery,” Yangni said. “I tried to pick things I felt like a lot of people could connect with.”
Yangni said they also wanted to create something positive that instilled a sense of warmth and comfort in trans people.
“I think it’s really awesome to be trans,” they said. “I’m really proud of what I am, but I know that we live in this world where not everybody thinks that, and people in our community go through a lot. So I wanted to make something that would feel like a huge hug and acknowledges some of the things that are hard about our lives, but ultimately is really loving and really warm and says, ‘We’re here, and we exist.’”
They said that during the design process, someone suggested taking inspiration from a well-known quotation from the novelist and activist James Baldwin and using the phrase “To be Black and trans is to be in a constant state of rage” on the mural.
But Yangni said they wanted to balance the hard parts about being trans with joy.
“It’s really hard to see death and destruction all the time and we’re about more than that,” Yangni said. “I wanted there also to be a story out there about how great we are.”
The dedication for the mural, which took place last week, also kicked off Mural Arts Month, which will take place in Philadelphia throughout October and includes mural dedications, panel discussions, artist spotlights and walking mural tours, among other activities. The theme of this year’s Mural Arts Month is resilience.
Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden said during the dedication for “We Are Universal” that murals, in addition to being beautiful, are meant to address social issues.
“I think that the mural obscures the power behind it,” she said, according to WHYY, a public radio station in Philadelphia. “For every project that people see, like the one we’re standing in front of, that’s two years of work with Morris. It is workshops, it’s programs, it’s very deep, meaningful, hard conversations that were really both sorrowful and incredibly triumphant.”
Yangni said that they hope there will be a wave of queer murals in other cities to help queer and trans people feel seen.
Trans people are often “in the background” they said, “or maybe on the internet, and it’d be nice if we were in real life, too.”
GUNNISON — For the past eight years, my wife, Ky Hamilton, has undergone gender-affirming hormone therapy. As a transgender woman, she injects Depo-Estradiol liquid estrogen into her thigh once a week. This drug has allowed her to physically transition as a woman, and each vial, which lasts around five weeks, was completely covered by insurance.
That was until she lost her job in April 2020 and we switched to a subsidized private health insurance plan in Colorado’s Affordable Care Act marketplace. We discovered that our new insurance from Anthem doesn’t cover Depo-Estradiol and it would cost $125 out-of-pocket per vial. With both of us — and our four pets — depending heavily on Ky’s weekly $649 unemployment check, such medical expenses proved difficult. And as of Sept. 6, those unemployment checks ran out.
“I’m absolutely stressed. I don’t know what to do,” Ky said in August as we tried to find a solution.
Because of Ky’s physical transition as a transgender woman, her body doesn’t make the testosterone it once did. So, without the medication, she would essentially go through menopause. A decline in estrogen levels can also cause transgender women to lose the physical transitions they’ve achieved, resulting in gender dysphoria, which is psychological distress from the mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
Unfortunately, Ky’s experience is shared by many other transgender Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of people to lose their jobs and private health insurance, particularly LGBTQ adults, who reported at higher rates than non-LGBTQ adults that they lost their jobs during the crisis. Consequently, enrollment surged in ACA plans and Medicaid, the state-federal health program for low-income people. Yet many of those plans don’t fully cover gender-affirming care, partly because of conservative policies and lack of scientific research on how crucial this care is for transgender patients.
According to a survey by Out2Enroll, a national initiative to connect LGBTQ people with ACA coverage, 46% of the 1,386 silver marketplace plans polled cover all or some medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria. However, 7% have trans-specific exclusions, 14% have some exclusions, and 33% don’t specify.
“It’s this whack-a-mole situation where plans, for the most part, do not have blanket exclusions, but where people are still having difficulty getting specific procedures, medications, etc., covered,” said Kellan Baker, executive director of the Whitman-Walker Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on LGBTQ research, policy and education.
Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., include gender-affirming care in their Medicaid plans. But 10 states exclude such coverage entirely. In 2019, an estimated 152,000 transgender adults were enrolled in Medicaid, a number that has likely grown during the pandemic.
Yet even in states such as California that require their Medicaid programs to cover gender-affirming care, patients still struggle to get injectable estrogen, said Dr. Amy Weimer, an internist who founded the UCLA Gender Health Program. While California Medicaid, or Medi-Cal, covers Depo-Estradiol, doctors must request treatment authorizations to prove their patients need the drug. Weimer said those are rarely approved.
Such “prior authorizations” are an issue across Medicaid and ACA plans for medications including injectable estrogen and testosterone, which is used by transgender men, Baker said.
The lack of easy coverage may reflect the fact that injectable estrogen, which provides the high doses of the hormone needed for transgender women to physically transition, isn’t commonly used by non-trans women undergoing hormone therapy to treat menopause or other issues, Weimer said.
It also may be because cheaper options, including daily estrogen pills, exist, but these increase the risk of blood clots. Estrogen patches release the hormone through the skin but can cause skin reactions, and many people struggle to absorb enough estrogen, Weimer said.
Consequently, many of Weimer’s patients wear up to four patches at a time, but Medi-Cal limits the number of patches patients can get monthly.
While such insurance gaps have existed for long before the pandemic, the current crisis seems to have amplified the matter, according to Weimer. The ACA prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex in health programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. The Trump administration significantly narrowed the power of that provision, including eliminating health
insurance protections for transgender people.
However, in June 2020, before the Trump regulations could take effect, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, that employment discrimination based on sex includes sexual orientation and gender identity. This landmark decision has served as a crucial tool to address LGBTQ discrimination in many aspects of life, including health care. As of July, for example, Alaska Medicaid can no longer exclude gender-affirming treatment after Swan Being, a transgender woman, won a class-action lawsuit that relied in part on the Bostock decision.
The Biden administration announced in May that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights will include gender identity and sexual orientation in its enforcement of the ACA’s anti-discrimination provision. The next month, Veterans Affairs health benefits were expanded to include gender confirmation surgery.
But for now, the pressure is still on patients like Ky to fight for their health benefits. Anthem spokesperson Tony Felts said Depo-Estradiol is not on the list of covered drugs for its ACA plans, though many of its private employer-sponsored plans cover it. Because we had one of those ACA plans, Ky had to be persistent. After four months of emails and phone calls — and just before unemployment ran out — Anthem finally authorized her Depo-Estradiol. That brings her out-of-pocket cost to $60 per vial for the next year. It’s still expensive for us right now, but we’ll find a way to make it work.
“The reality is that trans people are more likely to be in poverty and don’t have the time or knowledge to spend four months fighting to get their estradiol like I did,” Ky said.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS) — The U.S. Quidditch Cup organization has cut ties with West Virginia because of the transgender ban on sports.
West Virginia House bill 3293 bans transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams. The ban is now causing a national sports league to pull out of competition in the Mountain State.
“We were advised a couple of months ago that because of the transgender athlete ban in West Virginia and because it goes well beyond the guidelines and regulations of the NCAA, that they’re not going to consider West Virginia for any future tournaments,” Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said.
A national tournament for the popular game from the Harry Potter franchise, Quidditch, was set for Shawnee Sports Complex in 2020 before it was canceled because of the pandemic. Officials reapplied and were expecting to win a bid for 2024 until they got the news that U.S. Quidditch would no longer consider West Virginia, or any other state that supports transgender sports bans, for future events.
“It’s hurting our local businesses,” Salango said. “This would have brought in, depending on which estimate you look at, around $1 million to $2.5 million in economic impact. That’s money directly from our small businesses. That would have gone into our hotels and our restaurants.”
Salango said this is the first sporting event that was negatively impacted by the transgender ban, and he said he doesn’t expect it to be the last.
“The NCAA came out a few months back and said they’re not going to host championship tournaments in any state that has a law like West Virginia,” Salango said. “So, we’ve got to really take a hard look at this, and go back and fix it.”
Earlier this year, a federal judge in Charleston issued an order stopping the bill from taking effect while they review the constitutionality of the law.