White House Advisor: Discrimination against trans kids is ‘against the law’

In a panel to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility, Reggie Greer also spoke about expanding gender markers on federal documents.

Kate Sosin

Originally published by The 19th

In the clearest sign that the Biden administration will fight against anti-trans athletic bans flooding statehouses, Reggie Greer, senior White House advisor on LGBTQ+ issues to the White House, told a panel on Monday that discrimination against trans kids is “against the law.”

Greer joined a panel hosted by the ACLU in anticipation of Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual celebration recognized on March 31. In a nearly hour-long discussion with actors Angelica Ross and Ian Alexander, and ACLU Trans Justice Project Manager Lala Zannell, Greer said the Biden administration is working on updating its policy to give nonbinary people more options on gender markers than just “M” or “F” on federal documents. He also said that the administration’s policies actively aim to curb discriminatory bills pending in states.

Greer noted that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki often reiterates President Joe Biden’s stance that “Trans rights are human rights.”

“Any attempt to discriminate against trans kids or trans people is actually against the law and against nondiscrimination laws already on the books,” Greer said. Greer added that he sees the While House’s role as shaping the public narrative around trans rights nationally.

“And I think we want to be an active part of that,” he added.

Greer’s comments mark the first time that the White House has directly addressed an onslaught of anti-trans legislation piling up in legislatures. Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas have passed bills that bars transgender girls from competing with other girls on sports teams. South Dakota also passed a sports bill but Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed the bill, citing fears that the NCAA would sue the state and win.

The ACLU has also vowed to sue states on behalf of transgender children barred from sports. In his first day in office, Biden issued an executive order enforcing the Supreme Court’s 2020 landmark employment ruling, which found that civil rights protections against sex discrimination protected LGBTQ+ people, too. Biden’s order specifically stated that transgender youth playing sports were protected from discrimination.

Greer added that the president’s creation of the General Policy Council on his first day in office is intended as a forum to strategize around some of the most pressing issues facing queer Americans.

Among those have been a push to roll out more gender options for nonbinary people on federal documents, including passports and social security cards. In February, the administration confirmed to The 19th that it was assessing adding gender marker “X” designations to federal documents, a campaign promise that Biden made along the trail. Many trans activists have pushed for the removal of gender markers altogether.

“What are the real reasons that gender is still even on IDs?” Ross asked Greer.

“Gender has always sort of been on different identification documents, but we’re all discovering that there are so many agencies, so many issuing agencies on documentation that will have to weigh in here,” Greer said.

Arli Christian, campaign strategist at the ACLU, has previously stated that international law governs passports.

For U.S. documents, however, Greer said the White House had been working with the organization for months and wants to strategize with LGBTQ+ advocates to figure out the best path forward on IDs.

“I am excited that in looking at all of these issues, including gender markers, we’re going to have a whole government approach where we’re going to bring people together and figure out the right way forward here until it’s done right,” he said.

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Transgender Asian American wins Student Council election At UVA

For the first time ever a transgender Asian American candidate has won an election to become the student president at a major east coast university. Abel Liu made his hometown of San Anselmo in Marin County proud as he won with 80% of the vote to become the University of Virginia student council President.

Liu said that while he didn’t make his gender identity or Asian heritage central to the race there were some who tried to turn it into a wedge issue.  It’s about Social Data Equality with Asian Americans.

“It was used to mobilize portions of the student body against me, but I was heartened to see that so many other students really rejected that narrative and rallied around a message of acceptance and inclusivity,” said Liu from the Charlottesville campus.

Least we forget how our liberation began when on a 2017 night torch-carrying white supremacists marched on the University of Virginia Campus to Unite the Reich.

Abel Liu’s victory comes on the heels of a February 15th student council zoom meeting that was disrupted by hate messages from ‘unaffiliated’ attendies that attacked the minorities present.

“There has always been at least one conservative voice in Student Council since I’ve been a first-year at U.Va.,” Liu said two days later at a student forum. “What’s changed is the unacceptable conduct by certain members that alienate members who are more marginalized than them [who] are really just trying to share their lived experience but now cannot because they fear death threats or national organizations with millions of dollars targeting them online.”

Student Council’s 2020-2021 representative body was the first majority-minority body in the organization’s history. Liu said that this was accomplished through focusing on diverse recruitment channels, and he hopes to continue advocating for marginalized students — a core part of his platform.

“We will be ensuring accountability for any instigators of instances of biased and targeted harassment as well as threats,” Liu said. “We will be implementing anti-racism training, and then furthermore, we’ll actually be trying to remove traditional barriers to officer-level positions in Student Council by paying first-generation low-income students, hopefully in the future, to take on those roles.”

“What matters most is solidarity across racial lines, class lines, gender lines in a fight against a common enemy of white supremacy,” he said.

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South Dakota Gov Noem proposes a coalition of States to Ban the NCAA

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference Monday afternoon to defend her decision not to sign HB 1217, a bill to exclude transgender girls from intermural and interscholastic sports.

Nome sent the legislation back on a ‘style and form’ veto with revisions required for her signature. The bill’s author nearly lost it when asked about it saying Nome had ‘gutted’ his bill. Lawmakers have until March 28 to act.

Noem says among the Coalition’s supporters are athletes and political officeholders . She says, “Once we have enough states on board– a coalition large enough where the NCAA could not possibly punish us all– then we will be able to guarantee fairness at the collegiate level.”

The fact that Noem didn’t have any other Governors present in support of her so-called defend title IX campaign didn’t escape the notice of the reporters at the briefing. When queried as to the states that joined Noem indicated that Missippi was “on board”.

She empathically stated that the bill if made into law would be legally indefensible and made sure to point out the state hadn’t spent a dime on it to date.

The website has a video endorsement of two former professional athletes but does not list any other states. This should be very encouraging to states considering Trans sports Bills as Missippi will more than likely have to foot the bill defending the indefensabile.

Noem couldn’t name a single trans athlete in Noth Dakota because quite frankly there are none.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBT hate group that mass-produced the anti-trans boiler-plate legislation circulated to republicans in 20 states reacted angrily. Calling her presser “lip service” and “political theater in a statement Friday, the ADF described her decision not to sign the bill as a betrayal to “woke” corporate agendas.”

The South Dakota ACLU fired back at the governor calling her new coalition saying it does little to ensure fairness in women’s sports, and that it was simply an attempt to erase transgender people from society.

The organization says Noems’ proposed style and form recommendations to HB1217  do not address the bill’s unlawful discrimination and still leave South Dakota open to litigation and economic fallout.

If Gov. Noem was the slightest bit interested in the disparities caused by men in women’s sports they would listen to retired NCAA Coach Muffett McGraw.

Retired NCAA Coach Muffett McGraw joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss the fight for gender equality and how to implement changes in national and collegiate sports.

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Fred Deutsch revived HB 1026 to keep Perci from gender marker change

They hoped no one would notice as Perci and their mother Dianne Ereth drove to the newspaper office in Whitefish SD. Perci, a non-binary trans person was excited as they paid the newspaper to publish notification of their name gender marker change. In South Dakota, it is required before the public court date that a person publishes their intent to change their Birth certificate gender for four weeks.

They just hoped their father wouldn’t notice. He lived out of state and strongly objects to Perci’s gender identity. So Perci had to wait until they were 18 to file the paperwork.

“‘I think these are ridiculous,’ Dianne said the newspaper staffer told them. “I can see if you’re a 40-year-old person and you’re running away? But you’re 18,” the staffer continued. “What are you running from?”

Perci, who lives in Lead, S.D., identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. Having been bullied at school, they weren’t thrilled with taking out an ad.

But the question stuck with Perci’s mom, Mitchell Republic reports.

“What are you running from?” asked Dianne. “Perci was running for safety. We were hoping it’d kind of get overlooked.”

Republican Fred Deutsch noticed. The Swordfish republican used Perci’s gender marker change, without acknowledging their name as the reason to ‘smoke out the bill.

House Bill 1076 Section 1. Line 3: “In at least one pending case, a circuit court has been asked to change the sex designation on the petitioner’s birth certificate from female to nonbinary..”

Despite this Fred Deutsch has repeatedly denied that this bill targets the transgender community.

Since 2015 have been 14 birth certificate gender marker changes in South Dakota, according to South Dakota Public Radio. But there was only one at that moment as far as Perci and their mom knew that was their’s pending and non-binary.

Fred Dutch brought the entire weight of the great state of the South Dakota legislature down on Perci to crush their dream of living a full and rich life authentically.

The Senate version of Deutsch’s bill did not make it out of the Committee it too was consigned to the 41st day. If it isn’t revived by March 29th it will die an inglorious death in the annals of South Dakotan transphobic history.

Deutsch who has filed perennially filled trans discriminatory bills is also the sponsor of the vile transgender sports bill. It was sent back to the legislature by Governor Noem with a style and form veto.

A spokesman for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem criticized “conservative cancel culture” on Wednesday after Noem received pushback from conservatives for refusing to immediately sign a bill that would bar transgender girls from participating in women’s sports, reports the right-wing National Review.

“In the past year, [Noem] was the only governor in the entire nation to never order a single business or church in her state to close. The left bullied her incessantly, but she didn’t cave,” spokesman Ian Fury said in a statement.”

“But if any number of conservative pundits are to be believed, that same governor who refused to cave is now caving to the NCAA and Amazon on the issue of fairness in women’s sports,” Fury added. “What? Apparently, uninformed cancel culture is fine when the right is eating their own.”

This may be a delish victory but until the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is enforced by the Federal Government it will remain a temporary reprieve at best.

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HRC places TV ad to air during Arkansas’ sweet 16 playoff game Saturday

Friday, the Human Rights Campaign announced it has purchased airtime for an ad denouncing the actions of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, among others, for passing anti-transgender legislation.

The ad will air during the University of Arkansas-Oral Roberts University March Madness Sweet 16 game this weekend.

Thursday, Gov. Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 354, an anti-transgender bill that bans transgender women and girls from participating in sports (including extracurricular and school sports at the elementary, middle, high school and collegiate level) consistent with their gender identity.

Watch the ad here

The ad has been purchased to air locally across Arkansas (Little Rock and Ft. Smith markets) as hundreds of thousands of Arkansans watch the University of Arkansas and underdog Oral Roberts University duke it out for a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said, “Hutchinson’s shameful decision to attack transgender children to score a few political points is absolutely abhorrent, and rooted in nothing but his animus towards LGBTQ people. Despite numerous opportunities, not once were they able to name a single transgender athlete in the state of Arkansas. These bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and the Human Rights Campaign will be here to make sure Governor Hutchinson and any elected officials pushing for these discriminatory laws are held accountable.”

Arkansas will be playing in its first NCAA Sweet 16 since 1996 when the 10th-ranked and 3rd-seeded Razorbacks face 15th-seeded Oral Roberts on Saturday (Mar. 27) in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament. Game time is set for 7:25 pm (ET) / 6:25 pm (CT) and the contest will be televised on TBS.

The Arkansas law promulgates that transgender girls are men based on biology and have an inherent competitive advantage and should be excluded from girl’s sports.

The Supreme court ruled last year that Trans and gay people are protected from discrimination in the workplace by the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Biden issued an executive order directing the Education Department and the Attorney General to identify states and public institutions that violate Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by June 16, 2021. President Biden has put those entities on notice that they risk defunding if they refuse to comply with the law.

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Senate Confirms Transgender Woman Rachel Levine As Assistant Health Secretary

Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed today as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services by the US Senate in a historic 52-48 vote.

The vote was 52-48. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats in voting yes.

Levine, a pediatrician, previously served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health and as physician general, reports CNN was the state’s top health official and top doctor.

“The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.”

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Transgender student awarded $300,000 in Locker room Lawsuit

Transgender student Nick Himley has been awarded $300,000 in a discrimination lawsuit and a guarantee of meaningful reforms by the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

In 2016, the school board initially barred Nick from using the boys’ locker room, after he had been welcomed by and participated on the boys’ swim team for much of the season. Nick was singled out and forced to use segregated changing facilities that no other students were required to use. This discrimination led to bullying and threats against his family, causing Nick emotional distress and harm.

“I never want any student to experience the discrimination and cruelty I experienced from the adults at my school,” Nick said in a statement published by the ACLU.
It means a lot to see the courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s settlement agreement makes it very clear that segregating transgender students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”

The settlement comes after a ruling by the state Court of Appeals finding that it’s a violation of both the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution for school districts to segregate transgender students from their peers in locker room facilities.

The school district agreed to take several steps including:

    1. Reaffirming its commitment to comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act and not discriminate against or segregate transgender students.
    2. Developing a policy to allow every student to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity that includes a complaint procedure and a prohibition on reprisals.
    3. Training all school board members, staff and students on these policies.
    4. Affirming that students of all gender identities are valued and welcome.

ACLU Minnesota zoom press conference

In 2016, more than 55 percent of Minnesota students who identified as transgender reported having attempted suicide within the prior two years, according to a Minnesota Department of Education survey. Health risks like this are largely eliminated when transgender students are supported in their efforts to live in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District came out with the following statement:

“The Minnesota Court of Appeals has established clarity for transgender student access to locker rooms. Since the decision, Anoka-Hennepin has modified its policy and procedures as well as training of staff and students regarding student right of access to any and all facilities consistent with their gender identity. All legal issues have been resolved. The district is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and families including transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The Court of Appeals notes the district’s approach in the majority opinion by stating, “We are sympathetic to all parties involved and readily acknowledge the task the school district faced as it sought to balance the privacy interests of all of its students while addressing issues that are of first impression in Minnesota.”

This the second lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin School District over discriminatory policies regarding LGBTQ students. The first lawsuit alleged the district allowed uncontrolled bullying and created unequal access to education. Nine students committed suicide in just two years.

The district was still under a five-year federal consent decree to address anti-LGBTQ harassment when they discriminated against Nick.

The ACLU-MN is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to defend the civil liberties of all Minnesotans through litigation, community engagement and advocacy. Learn more at www.aclu-mn.org.

Gender Justice is a nonprofit legal and policy advocacy organization dedicated to advancing gender equity through the law by dismantling barriers and expanding protections so that all people can thrive regardless of their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Learn more at www.genderjustice.us.

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Tell your Senator to Confirm Dr. Rachel Levine

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as the very first transgender person ever considered for such a high-level government position. That means that in almost 250 years, no president has appointed an openly trans person for any high-level position in the federal government that requires consent and approval from the Senate. This is truly historic.

Her confirmation process is a chance for us to gauge how much things have changed for trans people. Will she be treated fairly and respectfully by all senators, or will she be slandered by the tropes and a political hit job that we all know too well?

Join with the National Center For Transgender Equality and Tell your senators to support Dr. Levine’s nomination.

HRC Press Release:

Dr. Levine was previously the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Levine joined Governor Tom Wolf’s administration in January 2015 as the Physician General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served from 2015 to 2017. She was named Acting Secretary of Health in July 2017 and confirmed as Secretary of Health in March 2018.

In addition to her recent positions, Dr. Levine is an accomplished regional and international speaker, and author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ medicine. Dr. Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Join with the National Center For Transgender Equality and Tell your senators to support Dr. Levine’s nomination.

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Transgender community Protests Arkansas’s soul-crushing legislation

Transgender activists and allies gathered in Little Rock Arkansas Thursday to protest the half dozen anti-transgender bills winding through the legislature.

Willow Breshears was there to protest HB 1570 a bill that prohibits trans youth from accessing transitional medical care even with parental consent.

Breshears transitioned when she was in school. She says the messages behind the proposed bills create division.

“This really sends a clear message to trans children that we don’t want you in Arkansas. We don’t see you as valid,” said Breshears.

American Academy of Pediatrics Excoriates Bills Harming Transgender Youth

“There is no group of people too marginalized, too bullied, too forgotten that the #arleg won’t punch down on and demagogue.” attorney Jesse Gibson said in a tweet. “This is the worst, most damaging, and most hateful session in my lifetime. Today was only another sad #arpx chapter in the race to the bottom.”

Fear and loathing at the Arkansas legislature: The anti-LGBT laws

  1. Existing law allows people to use religion as a pretext to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public services.
  2. A proposal from the governor to remove Arkansas from the list of four states without hate crime laws is stymied because opponents don’t want to add penalties to people who commit crimes inspired by hatred rooted in sexual orientation or gender identity
  3. A pending proposal requires advance notice to parents and curriculum review of any school course material that mentions sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. A pending proposal allows any medical provider or insurance company to refuse service if they have moral objections to LGBT people.
  5. A pending proposal prohibits transgender girls from participating in girls’ athletics, kindergarten through college.
  6. A pending proposal prohibits transgender students, boys and girls, from participating in athletics other than in sports designated for the gender on their birth certificate.
  7. A pending proposal prohibits medical services — including desperately needed counseling — for transgender minors. The father of a transgender child was arrested for speaking past his two-minute limit in a committee hearing on this bill.
  8. HB 1749, from Rep. Mary Bentley, with Sen. Gary Stubblefield as Senate sponsor, takes the devotion to this cause to a new level of cruelty. It says: A public school employee shall address a public school student by only the name and sex designated on the public school student’s original certificate of birth.

These 31 major medical associations approve of the gender-affirming procedures that HB 1570 would do away with.

American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of PAs
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Psychiatry and The Law
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American College Health Association
American College of Physicians
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Nurses Association
American Pediatric Surgical Association

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Doctors for America
Endocrine Society
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
HIV Medicine Association
LBGT Physician Assistant Caucus
National Association of Social Workers
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society of General Internal Medicine
Society of Physician Assistants in Pediatrics
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
United States Professional Association for Transgender Health
World Professional Association for Transgender Health

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South Carolina Committee Axes Transgender sports Bill

A committee in the South Carolina House has rejected a bill that would have prevented transgender students from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle and high school, reports the A.P.

The House Judiciary Committee tabled the bill Tuesday without a recorded vote, likely dooming any chance it has of passing in 2021.

South Carolina Trans sports
South Carolina Republican Rep. Micah Caskey of West Columbia

South Carolina Republican Rep. Micah Caskey of West Columbia made the motion to table the bill, saying supporters failed to show it was a problem that lawmakers needed to solve.

Earlier this month South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said the bill would not protect transgender students in a very sensitive personal situation.

The superintendent said she thinks the South Carolina High School League can handle any situations on an individual basis.

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