Colonial Williamsburg adds gay and transgender reenactments

Colonial Williamsburg is bringing a slice of gay and transgender history to life this Fall.

Starting in October, a new musical called Ladies of Llangollen will be featured, based on diary entries, letters, and poetry of two women who ran away from Ireland and eloped in Wales during the 18th century.

The Colonial Williamsburg foundation created a Gender and Sexuality Diversity Committee in 2019 with the purpose of researching gay and transgender issues in the colonies. The result of the committee found multiple instances of lesbian and transgender people in the early years of America’s founding.

The question in front of the researchers that framed the committee was: “What is the Western population’s view on sexuality and gender and how did they determine who was a man and who was a woman?”

The goal was to piece together a more complete history of gay and transgender people in colonial times, according to the Virginia Gazette.


According to researcher Ron Tolson, more gay and transgender men and women were accepted than expected in Williamsburg.

Tolson gave multiple examples of transgender and lesbian couples in the colonies and Europe. In one case, a woman who requested a marriage license to another woman was rejected and was told marriage was only between a man and a woman. She came back the next day with a haircut and dressed in men’s clothing, and the license was approved.

“It’s not that the information isn’t there, it’s that it hasn’t been properly researched and a lot of other groups are overrepresented in the historic record,” Tolson said. “We just assumed that people had similar ideas as current day and moved on but that’s not entirely the case.”

Another example was of an indentured servant named Thomas Hall, who was born Thomasine in England. At the age of 22, Hall joined the British Army and moved to Virginia under the name of Thomas. Hall wore both men’s and women’s clothing, and when suspicion arose from neighbors, there was a

court case. The verdict of the case was that Hall was both a man and a woman.

The research was not without its challenges. Because this was not the dominant narrative, reports were buried, and alternative language was used. This meant researchers had to decode the language and learn a whole new set of terminology. Additionally, there were many fires at courthouses in the 17th and 18th century which destroyed a lot of court cases.

The research is still ongoing, and Williamsburg said they have plans to introduce other gay and transgender programs to their itinerary.

The post appeared first on Washington Examiner.

Court Backs A Teacher Who Refused To Use Transgender Students’ Pronouns

RICHMOND, Va. — The Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld a lower court ruling that ordered the reinstatement of a northern Virginia gym teacher who said he won’t refer to transgender students by their pronouns.

Loudoun County Public Schools appealed to the state Supreme Court after a judge ruled that the school system violated the free speech rights of teacher Tanner Cross by suspending him after he spoke up at a school board meeting.

Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary, cited his religious convictions at a May board meeting in which the school board debated proposed changes to its policies in treatment of transgender students. Cross said he would not use transgender students’ pronouns.

School boards across the state have been revising their policies to be more inclusive of transgender students in accordance with a new state law. But Loudoun County, outside the nation’s capital, has been a particular flashpoint in the debate over not just transgender students but also how students learn about racism and race relations.

The school system said it suspended Cross in part because his comments caused a disruption at the school. But the lower court judge, James Plowman, and the state Supreme Court agreed that the handful of calls fielded by school administrators did not cause the type of disruption that warranted a suspension.

Tuesday’s ruling leaves in place a temporary injunction that bars the school system from suspending Cross. A trial is scheduled for next week in Loudoun County to settle the issue permanently.

Since Cross filed his lawsuit in May, two additional teachers in Loudoun County have joined him as plaintiffs.

The post appeared first on NPR.

Transgender student bullied in bathroom may be punished before boys who harassed him

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Murfreesboro mother is upset her transgender son could be punished after boys apparently harassed him in a school bathroom.

“I don’t understand why my son would be punished when he’s the victim of what to me is a hate crime,” said Sherri Yandle.

Tennessee’s new bathroom law for public schools makes it punishable for transgender students to be in a bathroom when others are present.

Sherri Yandle’s son used a boys restroom at Siegel High School on Monday. The transgender student has special permission to use the male faculty bathroom, but it was locked when he needed to use it.

“So he ducked into the boys room and went into the first stall he saw available. Then he said some boys started chanted trans-phobic slurs, and then it got louder and louder… they started hitting and kicking at the stall door, so Tobi had to use his back to brace it and then put his foot on the toilet to keep the door shut,” Yandle said.

An assistant principal intervened, but the boys were not immediately punished.

Yandle said she talked on the phone with that school official.

“She stated because of Governor Lee’s laws that the other students could sue the school if they didn’t like it that a transgender child [was] in the bathroom,” Yandle said.

Rutherford County Schools with Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office shared the following statement with NewsChannel5.

Although the school district has not been contacted directly by this parent, an assistant principal at the school has spoken with the student and the student’s mother concerning an alleged incident in the bathroom, although there are some variances in the story.

Rutherford County Schools does have a policy in place that allows students or employees to use private, single stall bathrooms if needed and requested. The state of Tennessee also has enacted a new law concerning transgender students and bathroom use, and the school district is required to follow this law.

However, the school district will investigate any allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination under the federal Title IX act.

Yandle believes the school is letting the law get in the way of their responsibility.

“They are not supposed to let any child be bullied, and all children are supposed to be safe when they go to school and in that instance, I feel like this school failed,” she said.

Currently, there is a federal lawsuit open on behalf of two other transgender Tennessee students. It claims the new law violates Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational settings.

The post appeared first on Newschannel5.

Pediatricians sue Biden over transgender mandate for children

WASHINGTON (WTVO) — Over 3,000 pediatricians have filed suit against the Biden administration for a health care mandate that would require medical professionals to provide gender-related services despite medical objections.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which broadened the definition of sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, objections to treating children with gender-related therapies would be considered discrimination.

President Biden signed an Executive Order that required Section 1157 and Title IX be interpreted to include gender identity as a protected trait.

“The American College of Pediatricians, the Catholic Medical Association, and an OB-GYN doctor who specializes in caring for adolescents filed suit in federal court to challenge a Biden administration mandate requiring doctors to perform gender transition procedures on any patient, including a child, if the procedure violates a doctor’s medical judgment or religious beliefs,” the Alliance Defending Freedom said in a press release.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reinterpreted non-discrimination on the basis of sex in the Affordable Care Act to include gender identity and thus require gender transition interventions, services, surgeries, and drugs on demand, even for children, no matter a doctor’s medical judgment, religious beliefs, or conscientious objection,” the release continued.

“Forcing doctors to prescribe transition hormones for 13-year-olds or perform life-altering surgeries on adolescents is unlawful, unethical, and dangerous,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert.

“Doctors should never be forced to perform a controversial and often medically dangerous procedure that goes against their best judgment, their conscience, or their religion, especially when it involves vulnerable children experiencing mental and emotional confusion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake.

The post appeared first on Mystateline

Virginia school board to pay $1.3 million in transgender student’s suit

A school district in Virginia has agreed to hand over $1.3 million after fighting a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender student for more than five years ago.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday that the Gloucester County School Board has been ordered to pay the money to cover attorneys’ fees and costs in the case involving onetime student Gavin Grimm, whom it represented.

The board said in a terse statement that its insurance provider has “addressed” the order. The board and the superintendent did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

The ACLU said in a statement that the board, in a court filing, has agreed to pay.

Grimm sued the district in 2015 in federal court, alleging that its policy of prohibiting him from using the boys’ bathrooms violated a federal law, known as Title IX, that bans sex discrimination in school programs.

Grimm was assigned female at birth but legally changed his name and began hormone therapy as a freshman in high school. His school principal allowed him to use the boys’ bathrooms, but the board overruled the decision and prohibited it.

Federal courts twice sided with Grimm, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in June.

The lack of action by the high court disappointed some conservatives, including Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who said it should have heard the case. The conclusion came as conservative states and districts have focused on transgender bathroom rules as a base-rousing political issue.

“After a year in which state legislatures have introduced an unprecedented number of bills targeting trans youth, we hope that the fee award will give other school boards and lawmakers pause before they use discrimination to score political points,” Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in the organization’s statement.

Grimm faulted the district for spending so much time and taxpayer money on the case.

“Rather than allow a child equal access to a safe school environment, the Gloucester School Board decided to fight this child for five years in a costly legal battle that they lost,” he said in the ACLU’s statement.

The civil liberties group urged Virginia districts to adopt the guidance of the state Department of Education, which states that students have “a right to learn free from discrimination and harassment.”

Last year Grimm, now 22, announced he had been elected to the ACLU Board of Directors.

The post appeared first on NBCnews

Mother sues TSA over request to strip search her transgender teen

A North Carolina mother is suing the Transportation Security Administration and an agency supervisor for a May 2019 incident involving her transgender teenager who was asked to undergo a strip search at an airport.

According to a complaint filed Monday, Kimberly Erway and her 15-year-old daughter, Jamii Erway, were flying out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in May 2019. When Jamii went through the TSA body scanner, it indicated a “false positive,” according to the complaint.
TSA’s transgender passenger webpage states “the TSA officer presses a button designating a gender (male/female) based on how you present yourself” when entering the scanner.
“This lets the body scanner know what to expect,” said the complaint.
The TSA webpage says “the machine has software that looks at the anatomy of men and women differently. The equipment conducts a scan and indicates areas on the body warranting further inspection if necessary.”
According to the lawsuit, “Jamii frequently has to deal with false positives when she flies” and the agency “receives complaints from transgender individuals regarding” the issue regularly.
“False-positives on body scanners are a common occurrence; upon information and belief, at least 20% of TSA body scans indicate an anomaly even though the traveler is not secreting any items on their person,” said the complaint.
The teen told the body scanner operator she was transgender and asked for a re-scan with “other button” pressed, but the employee refused and called a supervisor, according to the complaint.
The supervisor, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, told Jamii she needed to be strip searched in a nearby private room and wouldn’t be allowed to leave the checkpoint area until she complied, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint says “TSA procedure for resolving such anomalies is to conduct a brief pat-down search.”
The TSA supervisor directed “Kimberly to force Jamii to submit to the strip-search” and when she declined, “Doe (then) summoned a police officer,” the complaint alleges.
According to the lawsuit, the police officer said he would not assist in detaining the teen and the two were then allowed to leave the checkpoint. The Erways rented a car and drove 600 miles to their home, the complaint said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages due to intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of Jamii’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.
A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.
TSA’s website says the agency “recognizes the concerns that some members of the transgender community may have with certain security screening procedures at the nation’s security checkpoints. TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. Screening is conducted without regard to a person’s race, color, sex, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.”

The post appeared first on CNN.

Transgender youth who have socially transitioned fare as well psychologically as their cisgender peers, study suggests

According to new research published in JAMA Network Open, socially transitioned transgender youth experience similar levels of anxiety and depression to their siblings or same-age peers.

The term transgender refers to people whose gender identity does not match the sex/gender they were assigned at birth. A number of psychology studies have shed light on the mental health challenges faced by transgender youth. These studies have uncovered rates of anxiety and depression among transgender children that exceed those of their cisgender peers. Cisgender is a term that describes individuals whose gender identity is aligned with their assigned sex/gender.

But study authors Dominic J. Gibson and his team note that findings from more recent, small-scale studies suggest that transgender youth who have socially transitioned show similar mental health scores to their peers. Social transitioning is when a person changes the way they present themselves publicly, in order to better express their gender identity. These changes can include adopting a different name, new pronouns, and new clothing choices.

To add to this research, Gibson and his colleagues conducted their own study using a large sample of transgender youth. The researchers recruited three groups of children between the ages of 8 and 14 — 148 socially transitioned transgender children, 88 cisgender siblings of transgender youth, and 139 age-matched cisgender children (controls). The children completed self-report measures of depression and anxiety, and in some cases, parents additionally reported on children’s anxiety and depression.

When the researchers compared the three groups of children, they found that child-reported depression and child-reported anxiety did not differ significantly between the three groups. In other words, according to the child reports, the transgender children experienced similar levels of depression and anxiety compared to their cisgender peers and siblings.

The post appeared first on PSYPOST.

Transgender man sues Virginia Corrections Department over surgery denial

An incarcerated transgender man filed a complaint Wednesday against the Virginia Department of Corrections, or VADOC, for denying him surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria, according to court documents shared with NBC News.

The lawsuit, brought by Lambda Legal, a legal organization that focuses on LGBTQ rights, is among the first filed by an incarcerated transgender man for denial of treatment for gender dysphoria. A number of lawsuits have been filed — and some won — by trans women inmates in recent years.

The plaintiff, Jason Yoakam, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004 and has since been incarcerated at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Troy, Virginia. In 2017, VADOC medical providers diagnosed Yoakam with gender dysphoria, which refers to the psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity, according to the American Psychiatric Association

Despite that diagnosis, medical providers have refused to provide Yoakam with treatment, including mental health services from qualified providers and a bilateral double mastectomy, or surgical removal of the breasts, according to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Yoakam’s doctors and a transgender health care specialist requested the treatment, the complaint states. 

“The only thing I am asking is to be treated fairly and have access to the same standard of healthcare that other incarcerated people receive,” Yoakam said in a statement. “It has been traumatizing, isolating, and stigmatizing to be denied health care services to treat the gender dysphoria that VDOC’s own providers have diagnosed.”

Lambda Legal argues that denying Yoakam surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 

Yoakam is also making statutory claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act, due to his gender dysphoria diagnosis; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which forbids organizations and employers from denying benefits and services to people with disabilities; and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in federally funded health care facilities.

The complaint lists 10 defendants, including Harold Clarke, director of the Corrections Department; Mariea LeFevers, warden of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women; and other mental health providers for the department.

The defendants didn’t immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. 

Yoakam’s complaint says that from an early age, he “saw himself as a boy and could not understand why people would see him as a girl.” He also lived as a man and was out to his family, friends and co-workers before his incarceration. 

In 2017, after he was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by VADOC medical providers, staff at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women provided him with a chest binder so he could compress his chest as treatment for his gender dysphoria, and he began hormone therapy, according to the complaint. 

“Since he was issued a binder in FCCW, Mr. Yoakam keeps his binder on throughout all hours of the day, except when he must shower,” the complaint states. “He sleeps in his binder. As noted in his medical records, the binder sometimes is so tight that it cuts into Mr. Yoakam’s skin and causes him to bleed. He has also developed scars, rashes, and acne from the binder. These injuries have also led to infections from the binder. Unless he receives chest surgery, Mr. Yoakam will have to continue to use the binder and suffer the resulting injuries.”

This post was from NBC

Teachers against Loudoun Co. schools’ transgender policy want to halt enforcement during litigation

Lawyers for teachers who have filed a lawsuit against the Loudoun County, Virginia, school board over its new policies regarding transgender students want enforcement of the policy to be suspended while the suit moves forward.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a motion Friday for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction so the teachers won’t be subject to the policy while the case is being litigated.

Loudoun County High School teacher Monica Gill and Smart’s Mill Middle School teacher Kim Wright are looking to join Leesburg Elementary School teacher Byron “Tanner” Cross, who was put on paid administrative leave after criticizing the then-proposed policy.

Cross has since been reinstated after a judge ruled the suspension as likely unconstitutional. School officials have appealed the judge’s ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court, which has not yet made a decision.

The school board voted earlier this month to pass the measure that would expand the rights of transgender students in the county’s schools.

It requires students and teachers to address students by their chosen pronoun, regardless of the students’ biological gender. It also allows transgender student athletes to participate on teams based on their gender identity.

Transgender students would use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. Critics say the policy forces students and teachers to violate their beliefs.

The post appeared first on wtop .

‘Never say never’: Transgender woman shares story

The post appeared first on THEDAY.