Illinois Prison Workers Will Have Training on Transgender Issues

Prison is a place that most people would like to avoid but some do end up incarcerated. The prison experience is especially difficult for transgender inmates as they are frequently placed in prisons that correspond to their biological sex rather than gender identity. However, thanks to the results of a recent lawsuit, Illinois prison workers will now be required to be trained on transgender issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit involved a transgender inmate, Deon "Strawberry" Hampton, who is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections because she feels that she has been mistreated in the multiple men's prisons she has been incarcerated in. She has repeatedly asked to be transferred to a women's prison as she thinks that she would be safer there, but such a request is very infrequently granted.

In the men's prisons she's been in, she said that she was sexually abused multiple times. Some instances of the abuse include a prison guard pulling down her pants and asking her what genitals she has, was forced to have sex with another inmate for the enjoyment of the guards, and was forced to have sex with a member of the prison staff. She and her cellmate were threatened with death if they spoke out against the abuse. She has also been sexually abused by other inmates.

Strawberry has identified as female since the age of five and has been on hormones since 2016 to shrink her muscles and male anatomy to appear more female. Doctors have said that her testosterone levels closely resembles that of a surgically castrated male's. 

By now we have all probably heard about Trump's redefinition of gender, in which one's gender is determined by birth genitalia. In conjunction with the potential redefining, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender inmates in May, the result being that transgender inmates are assigned to prisons that match their biological sex.

Now that the lawsuits that Strawberry filed have been solved, prison workers in Illinois will be trained in dealing with transgender inmates and the unique issues that transgender people face in general. By having this training, I hope that other states will follow suit and require this for all prisons across the nation, as nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted. 

h/t: Chicago Tribune 

Massachusetts Votes Yes on Question 3

The midterm elections occurred yesterday and was a success for many Democrats. As many know, on the ballots for the midterms, there are public questions about local issues that people vote on, and most noticeably in Massachusetts, Question 3 promised to keep transgender protections that were put in place in 2016. Many people were urged to vote no on Question 3, reversing the protections. Luckily, the residents of Massachusetts voted yes on question three, securing the existing laws, according to WBUR.

The 2016 state law that was put in place ensured that transgender people could use restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex. By voting yes on Question 3, the people of Massachusetts showed their support for equality and made sure that transgender people are treated fairly. Before the election, polls consistently showed support for keeping the protections over repealing the existing laws by a wide margin. 

Massachusetts has a great track record in regards to civil rights, as MA was the front runner for marriage equality when the Massachusetts government legalized same-sex marriage in the early 2000s and is one of the twenty states that has full protections in employment for LGBTQ people. Those two facts, in conjunction with the enforcing of the transgender accommodation laws, makes Massachusetts a state that I hope many others will follow in the fight for equality.

Opponents of the law ran fear campaigns in which they claim that if the protections remain in place, it will open the door for predatory behavior by men dressed as women to enter the women's restroom. To counter that, Callum Borchers, a reporter for WBUR, reported that since 2003 there has only been 14 instances in which men entered the women's room for criminal purposes, none of which occurred in Massachusetts. Fourteen cases in fifteen years definitely does not support the opponents' claims.  

This decision is great not only in the context of Massachusetts, but nationwide as well. In this time of the Trump administration trying to invalidate the identities of transgender people by conflating sex and gender, Massachusetts voting on the side of equality hopefully shows that LGBTQ rights are here to stay and potentially closes the door for discrimination.

h/t: WBUR, Boston.com

Police Launch Wave Of Harsh Treatment Of LGBTQ People In Indonesia

Even though it is not explicitly illegal to be homosexual in Indonesia, police and local vigilantes have recently taken severe actions against LGBTQ people.

Last Friday, police conducted a beach raid in the town of Lampung reports Gay Star News. The raid, conducted in an effort to ‘provide safety and maintain public order,’ resulted in the arrest of three women suspected of being transgender.

In a statement, Indonesian police said, “The growing issue of [LGBT] behavior has troubled the public. Almost every day we get reports from the public regarding this LGBT issue.”

Upon their arrest, the three women were hosed down in public using a fire truck. Officials called this a ‘mandatory bath’ or ghusl, which is used to cleanse the body after sex or at the end of a menstrual cycle.

Police officials took photos of the women during the public humiliation and posted them to social media.



Local and international human rights organizations denounced the hideous treatment.

Amnesty International’s Executive Director, Usman Hamid, issued a statement which read, in part, “The humiliation of these three transgender women is appalling and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which is absolutely prohibited under international law.”

“Raiding people and using a fire truck to hose them down in public are totally unacceptable, as is any other act of violence and discrimination against transgender women or other LGBTI people,” he continued.

According to Gay Star News, authorities began a crackdown on LGBTQ people in 2006 as conservative Islamic groups have gained more and more influence.

In addition to the arrest of the three women, the next day police arrested 10 more women suspected of being lesbian due to a photo posted on social media of two women hugging and kissing.

On October 19, a gay couple was arrested for launching a gay-themed Facebook page titled, Gay Bandung. The men were charged with “distributing electronic information which contain violation decency.”

And on October 31, two women were arrested for being in a lesbian relationship by police in West Pasaman, West Sumatra.

The same police arrested six people suspected of being transgender earlier that month.

Authorities reportedly said the police actions were  “to ensure that the city is clean from LGBT.”

(h/t Gay Star News)

Trans Activists Booted from Pence Rally

At a Mike Pence rally that took place in Savannah, Georgia that took place on November 1, four transgender activists were told by a state trooper that they had to leave the public event that they had registered to attend because they were trespassing, according to LGBTQ Nation.

Rainé Eliza, who is the person who recorded the video below, and three other transgender activists recently attended a rally held for Representative Buddy Carter, who has a history of being anti-LGBTQ and also wants transgender people to be prohibited from serving in the military. Mike Pence was scheduled to speak at the event. 

Buddy Carter recognized the activists from a campaign barbecue that they attended. Upon recognizing them, Carter spoke jovially to them and asked them if they enjoyed the barbecue and said that he enjoyed having them there. Rainé asked him how he felt about trans people and Carter said that he had no comment and then walked away. In my (albeit anecdotal) experience, many political candidates simply don't care about LGBTQ rights. 

Moments later a state trooper appeared in front of them to escort the activists out of the premises or they would face arrest for trespassing. At a public event. That they registered for. I can't see how they were trespassing... something tells me their escort was much more sinister... How ridiculous. 

As they were leaving, Rainé chanted "You cannot erase trans people!" While leaving, a man wearing a "Gays for Trump" shirt said, "I'd love to, though." Now I am not going to go into the infighting regarding transgender people within the LGBTQ community right now because this would be a much longer post. What I can say is that people aren't shy about their transphobia and now actively display it to the world. It's a sad state of affairs when the literal President of the United States is attempting to erase trans identities and someone from the group that transgender people belong to agrees with him. What a shame.




h/t: LGBTQ Nation, Facebook

A Difficult Journey From Neo-Nazi to Coming Out as a Trans Woman, Caught Between Two Worlds.

I've bled my Facebook friends list dry of Trump supporters except for one person, a former work wife.  I know I've been removed from others' lists because of my political as well as LGBT posts since I don't see several people anymore on some of my game lists and that is fine, too.  Trump has been one of the more polarizing political figures in American History.  The people that blindly support him on anything he says will never be ones I care to associate with ever. Now if they want to talk about specific policies and not their orange leader, I will do that. 

Would you ever reconnect with someone you have discarded because of Trump's rule over our nation? Would you give them a chance to come back into your life?

I would have to see that a drastic change had occurred in their belief system, their mentality, their humanity. 

Vice.com recently shared a story about Dajana Pospiš, a Neo-Nazi coming to terms with himself and realizing that he was a she, a trans woman.

For years, Dajana Pospiš was a member of the National Front – a far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ movement that waged war on Serbia's queer community. But during a stint in prison for racial and religious discrimination, Pospiš came to accept what no one saw coming: despite being assigned male at birth, she was a woman – and she desperately wanted to transition.

After publicly coming out as trans, Dajana sought acceptance and forgiveness from Serbia's LGBTQ community – but can they make peace with her violent past? In VICE Profiles: The Ex Neo-Nazi Trans Woman, we hear from Dajana about her unique and difficult journey from being a neo-Nazi to coming out as a trans woman, in a move that left her "caught between two worlds".

That was truly a change and we would say for the better. Humanity wins over hate. 

No, my former friends, now Trump supporters would not have to come out as transgender for me to accept them.  But it does go to show that hate may have a home in some people's lives because they are hiding other things.

What would it take for you to allow people that have done you wrong, that have done our community wrong, what would it take to allow them to come back into your life?  Is it a simple apology?  Or has that bridge burned, exploded, never to be repaired?

h/t: Vice.com

Men's Sauna In London Ejects Transgender Man

A transgender man was evicted from a men’s sauna in London for not having a penis.

Gay Star News is reporting on an incident that occurred on October 29 at the Sailor’s Sauna which bills itself as a ‘social club for men interested in other men.’

In less elegant terms - a bath house.

The trans man, who identifies as ‘Jason’ in the Gay Star News report, says he was “A little nervous about being trans as I haven’t had bottom surgery but was reassured (by a friend) there would be no issue.”

Jason even went to the trouble of checking out the Sailor Sauna website which listed no ban on transgender men anywhere.

So, Jason, who says he’s “a very passable trans man” and identifies as bisexual, went to the sauna with his friend this past Monday evening.

Things seemed to go well for about an hour. But when Jason and his friend climbed into the jacuzzi, management approached him and told him he would have to leave.

“A staff member came over and requested I leave,” says Jason. “I was not allowed because of my genitals.”

Jason tried to explain that he is transgender, that there is no language about prohibiting trans men from entering the sauna, and even showed the staffer his government-issued passport that lists a male gender marker.

At that point, the staff member told Jason, “If you had t*ts and a d*ck, it’d be fine.”

During the confrontation Jason pointed out that The Equality Act of 2010 protects transgender people from discrimination, but the staffer wasn’t having it saying the business is licensed as a 'male space' and, as such, could violate the terms of their license.

The evening ended with Jason being refunded his money and ejected from the sauna.

“It was humiliating,” said Jason.

Gay Star News reached out to Sailor’s Sauna, and it was confirmed the incident took place.

And, the spokesman for the sauna repeated the concern about whether the business license could come under fire if they allowed trans men on the premises.

Then, in a statement to Gay Star News, a spokesman said:

“On Monday evening, a customer informed a member of staff that a woman was using the venue. I can only confirm what was said on the reception. The customer was told we did not know how we would stand in regards to our license. We are only licensed for men to use the venue.”

“I understand that the gentleman was male however his physical gender was different and as a customer had already stated that a female was using the venue, I explained that I would need to clarify with the council. The customer was given a full refund and we did apologise.”

“We have had confirmation from the council that if someone has a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate] or ID confirming they are male, we would not be in breach of our licence.”

“I would also like to confirm that transgender men are welcome in our sauna.”

(h/t Gay Star News)

Caitlyn Jenner On Trump: "I Was Wrong"

Caitlyn Jenner, arguably one of the most famous transgender people in the world, has penned an op-ed for The Washington Post saying her “outlook has changed significantly” regarding her support for Donald Trump and his administration.

“These past two years under President Trump have given me the opportunity to reflect on a lot of topics that have come up in the LGBTQ community and in our nation,” writes Jenner. “As I’ve watched and pondered, my outlook has changed significantly from what it was during my highly publicized and glamorized early Caitlyn days, when my life as an out trans woman was just beginning.”

Admitting she’s been on a learning curve since coming out as transgender, the 68-year-old reality celebrity shares she has “reflected on what my unique position of privilege means and how I can best use it to make a positive difference.”

Pointing to Trump’s declaration at the Republican National Convention in 2016 where he promised he would do everything in his power to “protect LGBTQ citizens from violence and oppression,” Jenner says she “saw fertile ground for change within the Republican Party on LGBTQ issues.”

With American views on LGBTQ citizens improving, even in the GOP voter base, Jenner felt “optimistic that this was how I could leverage my privilege for change.”

After “many trips to Washington” which produced what she described as “positive” and “encouraging” conversations, Jenner felt hopeful for “positive change.”

“Sadly, I was wrong,” admits the former Olympian. “The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community.”

“He has ignored our humanity,” continued Jenner. “He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to “protect the country.”

“This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me.”

Jenner now feels her belief that she could work with the Trump administration to improve transgender lives was “a mistake.”

She calls the recently leaked Department of Health and Human Services memo, that reveals a plan to redefine gender in a very narrow manner that could virtually erase 1.4 million trans people in the United States, “just one more example in a pattern of political attacks” on trans people.

“I do not support Trump,” she shares. “I must learn from my mistakes and move forward.”

“I need to listen more to the members of the LGBTQ community and to learn more. I need to better use my voice, my privilege and my foundation to advocate and support our community.”

Jenner concludes with the statement: “The world needs to hear us. The world needs to know us. We will not be erased.”

While it's laudable that Jenner can admit her "mistake," some in the Twitterverse felt the admission was a case of 'too little, too late.'









What do you think, readers? Is it 'forgive and forget' time regarding Jenner's Trump support?

(h/t The Washington Post)

Trump's Trans Erasure is Worse Than We Thought

Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced that he wants gender to be defined as something that matches one's birth genitalia, effectively erasing trans, nonbinary, and intersex identity at the federal level. Many people are rightfully protesting this as it is a clear violation of LGBT rights and is also scientifically inaccurate and misleading. According to The Guardian, Trump's administration wants to take this erasure a step further an extend it globally.

In meetings with the UN's Third Committee, a branch of the UN that focuses on "social, humanitarian, and cultural" rights, US officials have pushed to rewrite general assembly policy statements in a way that would remove "vague" terminology that supposedly supports an "ideology" that treats gender is a choice (although I doubt that that's what the documents imply) rather than something that's fixed from birth and an unchangeable fact. An example of this would be removing the term "gender-based violence" and replacing it with "violence against women." This, of course, ignores the fact that sex≠gender.

A UN diplomat noted that the US policy regarding gender has not been consistent, which may indicate an inconsistency within the members of the US mission as to their understanding of sex and gender. Many countries that do separate sex and gender are generally left-leaning, so if the US mission wants this change in documents to succeed, they would need to ask for the support of more conservative countries, such as Russia and Islamic states and counter the United State's western European allies. This is hardly surprising.

Recently, the state department changed the gender designation page when applying or renewing passports to "change of sex marker" which means that if a transgender person wishes to alter their passport to fit their gender identity, they have to have already transitioned from male to female and vice versa or be in the process of transitioning. There are huge problems with this. One: the state department conflates sex and gender, and two: not every trans person wants or can afford to transition, so their passports will be incorrect because the Trump administration thinks that sex is the same as gender. 

This administration seems determined to erase trans and nonbinary identities, but hopefully the scientific community will prevail and say that sex and gender are not in fact the same thing and should be separate and that gender is not determined by what someone has between their legs. If Trump's administration gets their way, a Pandora's box of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ discrimination may open, causing the advances of LGBTQ rights to regress.

h/t: The Guardian, Travel.State.Gov

New Jersey Activists Attack Trump's Plan to Erase Trans Identities

LGBT activists in New Jersey are speaking out against Donald Trump's plan to redefine gender as matching one's birth genitalia, according to NorthJersey.com. Randy Slovacek has written more about this issue here.

By Trump attempting to redefine gender as strictly binary and the same as someone's birth sex, him and his administration are displaying a tenuous understanding of the concept of gender and would completely erase the identities of transgender and nonbinary people on a federal level. Since the United States is a constitutional republic and not an authoritarian state, I, and many other people, have a problem with the federal government trying to police identities.

Luckily, certain states such as New Jersey, have full legal protection under the law for LGBTQ people so NJ and others with such protections will not be affected as much as states without the protections. Still though, Trump's potential redefinition may set a dangerous precedent that could create a more hostile environment for trans people. In the past I worked in pediatrics and I knew of a few intersex patients, and by using Trump's definition, intersex people would not exist in a linguistic sense.

People such as Melinda Mangin, an associate professor at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, says that Trump's definition of gender being determined by birth genitalia is not supported by advances within the medical community. Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, addressed the medical aspect of this redefinition, saying that often times, health issues are specific to the identities ghat people hold and that healthcare providers have to be mindful of the gender identities of their clients in order to ensure a healthy environment. 

Not only will identities be erased, but people may also be in danger of losing access to education, healthcare, and employment. However, recently in New Jersey, governor Phil Murphy signed into law that transgender individuals will be able to change their gender on their birth certificate, that teachers do not have to disclose their students' gender identity to parents, and that health insurers can't discriminate against transgender NJ residents.

It's promising to know that transgender and nonbinary people will not be too horribly affected, but seeing as these states are technically united (whether federally or geographically) so it is important that people fight against this harmful potential policy to ensure that we remain united in this polarizing time in America's history.

h/t: NorthJersey.com

Identical Twins Come Out As Transgender And Transition At The Same Time

Jack and Jace Grafe, who live in Georgia, recently shared their amazing journey as identical twins who came out to each other as transgender and transitioned together.

Fox5Atlanta recently reported the story of the twins who were identified as female at birth, but came out to each other at the age of 15. That was just a year after they had even heard the word ‘transgender.’

“It’s like being in prison except it’s in your own body,” Jack told Fox5Atlanta. “And the older I got, the harder it was to swallow. And I was like, can’t do this for the rest of my life, I just can’t do it.”

Both men admit the fear of coming out was huge, but having a twin going through the same experience provided incredible emotional support.

“Fear is like the biggest thing to keep you away from anything,” Jack says. “That’s what kept me in my box.”

“I feel like we’ve saved each other from a lot of really dark and depressing moments,” added Jace. “Sometimes, I wonder if he wasn’t here, if I would have been by myself, if I would have had suicidal thoughts. I’m not saying I would have, but it’s very possible. I would have been most definitely alone.”

Study after study shows that transgender teens are much more likely to struggle with depression and anxiety which, in some cases, can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Even though they came out to each other at 15-years-old, the two continued to present as female until they graduated from high school.

"But as soon as I got out of there, I cut my hair, and I changed my clothes," Jace says.

Both men are in long-term relationships and work as corrections officers in East Georgia. They say their coworkers have been supportive throughout the transition.

Looking to begin careers in law enforcement, Jace has already begun study at the police academy and Jack plans to follow in his footsteps.

It wasn’t until they reached the age of 21 that they began giving each other male hormone injections which deepened their voices and made their appearance more masculine.

And in August of this year, the twins underwent top surgery on the same day which removed excess breast tissue and contoured their chests for a more masculine shape.

The twins turned to Georgia Plastic Surgery's Dr. Sheldon Lincenberg for the final step in their transition.

Dr. Lincenberg told Fox5Atlanta that the surgery helps both Jace and Jack to look the way they feel inside - male.

"Their identity is set inside themselves," Dr. Lincenberg says.  "They're not trying to change that. They just want the world to see them as they are."

Thanks to the gender-confirming survey, the twins were able to obtain new driver’s licenses that identify their gender as male.

"It's real now, it's official," Jack says. “It’s like the biggest relief you could ever feel.”

"It's perfect to me, I'm finally perfect to me," added Jace. "I'm just excited to finally go out there and be exactly what I've been dreaming about for a long time.”

Watch the report from Fox5Atlanta below.



(h/t Fox5Atlanta)