Nearly three months after revealing that her youngest child is transgender, Jamie Lee Curtis sat down for an interview with her daughter Ruby about the 25-year-old’s transition and journey to self-acceptance.
The “Halloween” star, 62, admitted on Wednesday that “learning new terminology and words” has been a challenge at times, but she is determined to put in the work for Ruby.
“It’s speaking a new language,” she told People. “I am new at it. I am not someone who is pretending to know much about it. And I’m going to blow it, I’m going to make mistakes. I would like to try to avoid making big mistakes.”
Curtis said she’s become more thoughtful over time, explaining, “You slow your speech down a little. You become a little more mindful about what you’re saying, how you’re saying it. You still mess up; I’ve messed up today twice. We’re human. But if one person reads this, sees a picture of Ruby and me and says, ‘I feel free to say this is who I am,’ then it’s worth it.”
Ruby, for her part, told the magazine that she was “intimidated” by the idea of coming out to Curtis and her father, director Christopher Guest, but she ultimately did not have to worry about their reactions.
“It was scary — just the sheer fact of telling them something about me they didn’t know,” Ruby, who works as a video editor, explained. “It was intimidating — but I wasn’t worried. They had been so accepting of me my entire life.”
Ruby shared that she was “about 16” when she began to think about her gender identity.
“A friend of mine who is trans asked me what my gender was. I told them, ‘Well, I’m male.’ After, I’d dwell on the thought. I knew I was — maybe not Ruby per se, but I knew I was different,” she recalled. “But I had a negative experience in therapy, so I didn’t come out immediately when I probably should have. Then, seven years later, still being Tom at the time, I told the person who is now my fiancé that I am probably trans. And they said, ‘I love you for who you are.’”
Curtis was surprised that Ruby “said her dead name” during their interview, adding, “I haven’t ever heard her say that name. It so doesn’t fit anymore. That was, of course, the hardest thing — just the regularity of the word, the name that you’d given a child, that you’ve been saying their whole life.”
The actress then confessed that she and Guest, 73, “still slip occasionally” and forget to use the correct pronouns for their daughter.
“I don’t get mad at them for that,” Ruby said, however.
Curtis and Ruby’s bond is so tight, in fact, that the “Freaky Friday” star plans to officiate her daughter’s wedding next year.
“This is our family’s experience,” Curtis said. “I am here to support Ruby. That is my job, just as it is to care and love and support her older sister, Annie, in her journeys. I’m a grateful student. I’m learning so much from Ruby. The conversation is ongoing. But I want to know: How can I do this better?”
Ruby replied, “You’ve done the most you can, and that’s all I want. Helping others is something everyone should do. I don’t think it’s only our household thing. It should be a human thing.”
Rachel Gonzales has been to the Texas Capitol at least a dozen times since 2017, when she advocated against a bill that would’ve banned her then-6-year-old transgender daughter, Libby, from using the girls’ bathroom.
That bill died in 2017,but the fight hasn’t stopped. Since January, Texas has considered 52bills that target trans people, particularly youth, according to Equality Texas, an LGBTQ advocacy group in the state.
Parents like Gonzales and advocates have defeated all of the bills so far. But last week, during a third special legislative session, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would ban transgender student athletes in public schools from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, as opposed to their sex assigned at birth.
State Sens. Bob Halland Charles Perry, both Republicans, also refiled bills last week that would ban health care providers from providing trans children with gender-affirming health care — including therapy — and that could charge parents and doctors with child abuse if they provide such care for trans children.
Gonzales said she will continue to fight the bills, but she added that she is so burnt out by the last nine months that she doesn’t feel like an effective advocate.
“I joke, but it’s not really a joke, that I have definitely lost years off my life from this battle — the amount of stress, the physical manifestation of that stress and the mental anguish,” she said. “It’s so much of negotiating my own feelings in order to assure my kid that she’s going to be OK. But it’s terrifying that I don’t know if it’s going to be OK, and not just for her, but for other kids across the state, kids who cannot safely be out.”
It’s taken a mental and physical toll on her, she said, and other parents and advocates in the state say the same. They say they won’t stop, because they’re doing it for their kids, but they need more help.
‘It takes me hours to fall asleep’
Supporters of trans athlete bans in Texas say they are trying to protect fairness in women’s sports, though — like most supporters of similar bills — they haven’t been able to provide any examples in their state of trans girls jeopardizing fairness, according to LGBTQ advocates.
Parents like Gonzales have been fighting the bills so relentlessly because they say the proposals, whether they pass or not, have a devastating effect on trans youth in the state — especially youth who help advocate against them.
Libby, Gonzales’s 11-year-old daughter who is transgender, said the anti-trans bills reintroduced by Republican state senators make her “feel really scared and like they are trying to harm me in very terrible ways.”
She first became an activist at 6 years old, when conservatives in the state tried to pass a bill that would’ve banned her from using the girls’ restroom. Libby said being an advocate is important to her because if she wasn’t, “I would be really hurt, and people wouldn’t hear me.”
“It is very tiring,” she said. “Sometimes it takes me hours to fall asleep just because I’m so scared about these specific bills.”
Rebekah Bryant, who lives in Houston and has been to the Capitol six times this year to advocate against the bills, said they’ve also affected her 8-year-old trans daughter, Sunny.
Sunny has testified against the sports bills twice,in July and August. The first time she testified, she told the Senate committee she likes baseball, soccer, tennis and gymnastics, and that none of her teammates cared that she is trans.
“I’ve been with the same classmates for three years, and none of them knew I was trans until this year,” she said. “When my mom had to speak at the Capitol, they loved me just the same, because kids my age don’t care about that stuff. Kids care about what’s in your heart.”
“Only old people can’t see that,” she added, with a smile. Committee members, including Republicans, laughed, Bryant said.
The second time she testified, Sunny didn’t step up to the podium — which was taller than her — until 1 a.m. Afterward, when she and her mom got back to their hotel room, Sunny sat down on the bed and started crying.
“She said, ‘Why do so many people not like me?’” Bryant said. “And that’s the first time she’s expressed any pain toward this. I was exhausted, and I just said to her, ‘Look, there are way more people there that love you. … There are so many more people in the world that are on your side than aren’t. Those people are the outliers.’”
She said Sunny developed anxiety afterward. Though it’s slowly gone away, Bryant hasn’t brought Sunny to the Capitol again.
Advocates say the rhetoric used in the bills has also had a negative effect on the mental health of transgender — as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer — youth statewide.
For example, between Jan. 1 and Aug. 30, crisis calls from LGBTQ young people in Texas increased 150 percent compared to the same period last year, according to data shared last week by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization. About 4,000, or 36 percent of all contacts from Texas, came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
The Trevor Project added that while the volume of crisis contacts “can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill),” a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that “transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.”
The Trans Lifeline, the country’s first transgender crisis hotline, also saw a 72 percent increase in calls from Texas in May — when state lawmakers first considered about a dozen anti-trans bills — when compared to May 2020, according to data shared with NBC News. In July, when the legislation was reconsidered, Trans Lifeline saw a 19 percent increase in calls from Texas.
Adri Pèrez, policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ equality at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said it’s unclear whether Texas’ trans athlete ban will pass the House and become law and that its passage “shouldn’t be the focal point.”
“The larger issue, I think, is out of the state of Texas there is a lot of misinformation about transgender people and transgender youth, specifically,” Pèrez said. “The work is not necessarily inside of the Texas Legislature; it’s outside of it. And what we’re doing to help humanize trans people and trans youth to those who have never met a transgender person or a transgender kid, that would be the most effective firewall for these bills. It’s not letting that misinformation take hold at all.”
Whether someone knows a transgender person can significantly affect their views on legislation such as trans athlete bans, according a survey released Thursday by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute. A slim majority of Americans who know a transgender person (52 percent), compared to one-third of Americans who do not know anyone who is transgender (33 percent), believe that a transgender girl should be allowed to compete in high school sports with cisgender female students.
PRRI also noted that support for trans people participating in sports has declined since 2018. About one-third, or 36 percent, of Americans believe that trans girls should be allowed to participate in sports with their cisgender classmates, compared to 50 percent in 2018.
Physical, mental and financial strain
Parents who are transgender advocates say Texas’ last few legislative sessions have been particularly difficult for them, too.
Bryant said this is the first year she’s become more active, and it has taken an emotional and financial toll on her family. She said she has to take off work to travel to the Capitol, which is about a 3 1/2-hour drive away, and she often has to book a hotel room. All told, she said she’s spent close to $3,000 going back and forth to the Capitol just this year.
“It’s just so draining, because it’s not only just sitting there and waiting, but it’s sitting there and listening to people lie about you and your family — people that have never met a person who’s trans in their life and really haven’t walked the walk that all of us have,” she said.
Recently, many parents and advocates have been hitting “a wall,” said Linzy Foster, who is from Austin and has been to the Capitol about a dozen times this year to advocate on behalf of her 7-year-old trans daughter.
“The general population who usually are all on board and showing up and fighting for these things, they’re getting fatigued, and there’s also so many things to fight now,” she said. “We’re beginning to feel more and more lonely.”
Many of the advocates described being at the Capitol as traumatic. Annaleise Cothron, whose 8-year-old is nonbinary, said one day she went to the Capitol and the supporters of anti-trans bills called her child “a freak” and “disgusting.”
“While I would never tell my child that, just hearing that from somebody else is really emotionally taxing, and my child doesn’t deserve that,” she said. “People need to understand that’s the level of vitriol that we’re facing just going to the Capitol to say, ‘Please leave us alone. Please leave our community alone.’ This isn’t about politics; this is about human beings.”
More than just sports
Though the parents and advocates believe that trans kids have a right to play on the sports teams that match their gender identity, they said their advocacy is about more than just sports.
“Just the conversation of whether or not my child should exist in public school sports and whether or not other kids should bully them for who they are — that’s the conversation that this legislative body is inviting by entertaining these bills,” Cothron said.
She said the other bills that Republicans have reintroduced or plan to reintroduce that could charge her with child abuse for providing her child with access to gender-affirming care prove that the conversation is about more than fairness in sports.
“This is about the broader conversation of saying whether or not a transgender child should exist in Texas and access public services,” she said.
For now, the parents say they are leaning on each other for support.
“The only reason I’m doing OK, to be honest with you, is because in all of this I have met these amazing people in this community who show up, and we support one another,” Foster said. “We have moments of levity even in the trauma that we’re dealing with when we’re in the Capitol, being able to make each other laugh, knowing that you’re loved, knowing that you’re supported. That is the only thing that’s keeping me going.”
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.”
“Access to accurate identity documents is critical for trans people to fully participate in society,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality. “We’re so grateful to our partners at Hunnell and McCarter & English for their support of New Jersey’s trans community. Removing the financial barrier to updating identity documents ensures that all in our community can benefit from some equality we’ve fought for.”
Transgender New Jerseyans can fill out an online form to get assistance from Garden State Equality and its pro bono legal partners.
Identity documents that can be updated include a driver’s license, state identification card and birth certificate. People who are transgender and are seeking a name change must first get a court order, too.
There are fees associated with getting a name change in the courts. Some cost hundreds of dollars.
“We’re very proud to partner with Garden State Equality to ensure that New Jersey’s trans community has access to obtain accurate identity documents no matter their financial circumstances,” said Stephanie Hunnell, of the Hunnell Law Group in Asbury Park. “Cost should not be a barrier to obtaining legal recognition of one’s gender identity.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality conducted a national survey of 27,715 people in 2015 that found about one-third of respondents had a negative experience when they showed an identity document that didn’t match with their gender presentation. A third said they were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave or assaulted.
Natalie Watson, a partner at McCarter & English, said the Newark-based law firm has already served as pro bono counsel to transgender people seeking name changes and national organizations that advocate for transgender rights.
“We are delighted to expand the work we have done with Garden State Equality into a broader partnership to help ensure trans individuals have meaningful access to the name and gender marker change process,” Watson said in a statement.
Garden State Equality encourages other law firms to reach out if they are interested in providing pro-bono assistance.
Oxfam has withdrawn a bingo game that features “inspirational women” after concerns were raised by transgender and non-binary colleagues.
Oxfam would not confirm what specific concerns employees had raised with the charity.
However, the game – which was first published in August last year – refers to actor Elliot Page by his birth name. Page, known for his roles in hit films Juno and Inception, came out as transgender in December of 2020.
Oxfam said in a statement: “We took the decision to remove the game from sale following concerns raised by trans and non-binary colleagues who told us that it didn’t live up to our commitment to respect people of all genders. “The product had been recently added to our range to address supply difficulties.”
Wonder Woman Bingo contains illustrated cards of 48 women from around the world – including Greta Thunberg, Amelia Earheart, and Serena Williams.
It also features writers JK Rowling and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who have both been criticised for comments on transgender people.
Last year the Harry Potter author posted a series of tweets that described hormones and surgery for transgender people as a “new kind of conversion therapy”.
“The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man,” he said.
On Saturday, the tweet was taken down, with the following message: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”
Twitter’s rules includes protection for transgender people in their “Hateful conduct policy.”
“We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” Twitter states. “This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
Banks stood by his comments and criticized the social media platform in a statement to IndyStar.
“My tweet was a statement of fact,” he stated. “Big Tech doesn’t have to agree with me, but they shouldn’t be able to cancel me. If they silence me, they will silence you. We can’t allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth. When Republicans take back the House next year, we must restore honesty to our public forums and hold Big Tech accountable.”
“Whether Jim knows it or not, he has served next to countless LGBTQ military members who risk everything for our country, and with hundreds of LGBTQ appointees who work tirelessly for the American people,” Ruben Gonzales, executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in an statement. “For him to go out of his way to denigrate Admiral Levine and those LGBTQ public servants tells us much more about him than it does about them.”
“Calling yourself a Christian while you live the life of a bigot doesn’t make you Christian,” Congressional candidate John Stephens tweeted. “Weren’t you taught to respect officers when you served?”
Stephens is a Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional district seat, currently held by Banks.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Transgender athletes participating in competitive sports has been the topic of conversation throughout several states in 2020 and 2021.
This past week, Texas legislators passed a bill that would bar transgender high school athletes from competing against and with the gender they identify with. The state’s governor, Greg Abbott has said he will sign that bill into law.
Wisconsin lawmakers passed similar legislation in June. However, Gov. Tony Evers said he would veto the twobills. Online records show Evers likely did that this past week.
“If you’re an athlete, you don’t want to lose that,” a Madison-area high school soccer player said.
He wishes to remain anonymous but tells NBC15 news he’s seen a lot of support from his teammates who know he’s transgender.
“If you’re dedicated to a sport and there’s a bill preventing you from playing it if you transition that’s really hard,” he said.
This athlete currently plays with the gender he identifies with but has his own concerns over what he’s seeing around the country and in Wisconsin.
“I don’t know what I would do, if there was one passed here, what do you do? Do you move? Do you quit your sport?” He asked.
Those in favor of these bills say allowing trans athletes to compete with their gender ID is not fair to women. They argue that a male transitioning to female has an unfair advantage over other female athletes through strength, speed and agility.
“We don’t have a vote,” Madison-area high school senior, Amira Pierotti said. “We don’t have a voice, so we don’t get to say no, we don’t get to stand up.”
The 17-year-old activist is not an athlete, but they’re concerned about the kind of precedent these bills are setting for future discussions involving trans youth, like themself.
“This increases the chance that bills attacking trans youths’ rights in other areas will be introduced as well,” Pierotti said.
Whether it’s sports or social life, these teens say they’re striving for equality.
“It’s scary and it’s frustrating,” the anonymous soccer player said. “I just want trans youth to be treated like any other youth; trans youth are just kids.”
More than a dozen states have proposed similar legislation related to athletics or gender-related health care.
NBC15 also touched base with Madison’s LGBTQ outreach center. The Exec. Director, Steve Starkey, mentioned that the number of transgender high school athletes who chose to compete in sports is low across the country.
“There are few transgender people who would want to be participating in sports in schools, so it seems like the legislature was trying to fix a problem that really doesn’t exist,” Starkey said.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In 2014, South Shore mom Karyn Bello and her family began navigating uncharted territory when her daughter, Lily, came out as transgender.
Seven years later, Bello, 51, created her own fashion line of lingerie designed for transgender women and hopes to be an example for parents of transgender people.
Her clothing line, named Zhe in reference to the gender-neutral pronoun, includes technology meant to fit transgender women’s bodies and help them feel comfortable in their own skin.
“They’re meant to help trans women navigate through the world and through their clothes comfortably without having to worry,” Bello told the Advance/SILive.com. “They’re much more accessible and safe for them to be wearing.”
Bello’s underwear line is designed to help transgender women stray away from harmful do-it-yourself methods of tucking.
Tucking is a way to disguise the genitalia and create a more feminine appearance underneath clothing or in underwear. At times, it is achieved using duct tape or other adhesives, which can be harmful to the body.
“[These methods] are bad for your urethra; you get UTIs easily,” Bello explained. They’re just bad for your health. I was coming at it from a mom’s perspective. I want you to be healthy and take care of yourself, too.”
The Zhe underwear is made with technology to help achieve a similar outcome in a much safer way. Key features of the underwear include a wider gusset, multi-layered front panel, and spandex support.
A PASSION FOR DESIGNMAKES A MARK
Creating her own lingerie line was always a dream of Bello’s, but she never imagined it would come to fruition in the way that it did.
Bello was a stay-at-home mom for 25 years as her children grew up and attended school. Once her youngest reached middle school, she started to pursue her passion and took adult education classes for fashion design at Parson’s School of Design at The New School.
Lily, now 27, came out while Bello was taking classes.
“When I was shopping with Lily, I realized that there was a definite need in the market for women like her,” Bello explained.
She first started designing the prototypes two years after her daughter came out, she explained to the Advance/SILive.com.
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.