Complaint by trans professor against former employer may proceed, court rules

DENIED  |  Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, believes she was denied tenure because of school administrators’ bigotry against her identity as a transgender woman.A transgender woman’s complaint alleging her former employer subjected her to a hostile work environment may proceed in court, a federal judge ruled Friday, July 10.

Judge Robin Cauthron of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma denied an attempt by Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma to dismiss Dr. Rachel Tudor’s hostile work environment claim.

Tudor was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor of English by the university in 2004 before transitioning. She was denied tenure in 2011 after some university administrators said her gender identity violated their religious beliefs. Despite her academic qualifications and recommendation for tenure, the university’s dean and interim vice president for academic affairs denied the request.

She filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, which found sufficient evidence for the claim to advance. After mediation between both parties failed, the EEOC sent the case to the Justice Department.

The department filed a lawsuit against the university and regents alleging the university fired Tudor based on her gender, gender identity and gender expression, as well as in retaliation for making complaints of discrimination.

In December 2014, the department announced Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting sex discrimination, includes gender identity and expression.

“Freedom from gender discrimination is everyone’s right, including transgender people, and the Court correctly recognized this. Merit should be the measure, not irrelevant personal matters that someone in the workplace happens to dislike,” Jillian Weiss, Tudor’s attorney, said in a statement.

—  James Russell

DMN highlights continuing LGBT discrimination in Texas

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Pam Curry

Dallas Morning News ran a story about discrimination in housing, employment and accommodation in Texas that is legal outside of Dallas, Fort Worth and sometimes Plano featuring trans activist Pam Curry.

In the story, Curry didn’t talk about the resolution of her case.

She was in her apartment complex’s office and heard the manager use the words “transvesti” and “SIDA,” Spanish for transvestite and AIDS.

She filed a complaint with the Dallas Fair Housing office that handles discrimination cases in the city, but the article doesn’t explain the resolution.

Curry moved from the Cedar Point apartments on Cedar Springs Road at the Tollway (where the new Echo now stands), where she had lived for eight years.

“About about a month after I moved, the VP of the company called me to apologize for everything that happened,” Curry said. “Apparently they did an audit and found that everything I claimed and more was true. The manager dripped lies from her tongue and was terminated.”

Curry said she was satisfied with that resolution.

While opponents of the anti-discrimination ordinance like to pretend there’s a high cost to small business in defending these complaints, often a simple apology is all anyone wants.

—  David Taffet

Bill to lift trans military service ban to be introduced

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Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill to lift the ban on service by transgender military members, according to the American Military Partner Association.

“It’s far past time for this unjust ban that harms our transgender service members and their families to end,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said. “While the Department of Defense could easily do this without action from Congress by updating the military’s outdated regulations, we applaud Rep. Speier for her strong leadership in working to end the ban.

The Department of Defense recently added non-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian service members by updating the military equal opportunity program to include sexual orientation as a protected category. Gender identity was not included in the updated policy.

—  David Taffet

ILGA-Europe praises Malta’s new education policy for trans, intersex students

Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 4.03.16 PMThe Maltese government launched a new comprehensive education policy today (Tuesday, June 16) focusing on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children, according to a press release from the International Gay and Lesbian Association-Europe.

The policy, the first of its kind in Europe, identifies several particular needs that have to be addressed, including confidentiality, adequate facilities, support, inclusive policies, the possibility to amend documentation and access to information. It was inspire by the landmark Gender Expression, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics Act passed earlier this year, ILGA-Europe notes.

The policy is accompanied by a procedure outlining how provisions should be implemented uniformly in all schools. Both the policy and the procedure focus on issues faced by trans and intersex students in schools and how to accommodate their needs, and the policy highlights the fundamental obligation on schools to provide all students with a safe and inclusive educational environment.

Sophie Aujean, senior policy and and programmes officer for ILGA-Europe, said the exciting thing about the Maltese policy is that it can pave the way for similar policies in other countries. She noted that  the countries don’t need to have something like the GEGISC Act in place to adopt a similar education policy.

Malta is currently ranked third overall in IGLA-Europe’s 2015 Rainbow Europe list, up from 11th place last year.  Check out the Rainbow Europe web module here.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Call me Caitlyn’ — TMZ leaks Vanity Fair cover with Jenner photo

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The Vanity Fair cover featuring the photo of the former Bruce Jenner as a woman has been leaked on TMZ.com, with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”

The photo is by Annie Liebovitz and the story is by Buzz Bisinger.

TMZ says: “In theDiane Sawyer interview Bruce made it clear he was saying farewell to his male persona. This pic is a full reveal of the transformation. Caitlyn just opened a Twitter account, saying, ‘I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.’

There is also a video — see below — “where Caitlyn models several outfits and seductively poses.”

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Longview man arrested in Ty Underwood murder

Ray Champion Jr.

Carlton Ray Champion Jr.

Carlton Ray Champion Jr., 21, of Longview has been charged with murder in the Jan. 26 death of Tyler trans woman Ty Underwood, according to KLTV television station in Tyler.

Champion was already being held without bond in the Gregg County Jail, after being arrested by Tyler police on Jan. 29 on a probation violation charge. Tyler police informed the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office that Champion was also wanted on first degree murder charges, after which a warrant was signed and bond on the murder charge was set at $1 million.

KLTV TV station reports that Tyler police investigating Underwood’s shooting death that she and Champion had been in a brief relationship. Electronic and video evidence uncovered by investigators indicate that Champion was supposed to have met Underwood on the date and time when she was murdered.

Police responding to a call about an automobile accident on Jan. 26 found Underwood’s body in her vehicle, which had hit a telephone pole. She had been shot, and police believe that she got in her car to escape her attacker, and then crashed into the telephone pole.

Underwood was one of several trans women who have been murdered since the first of this year. Her death made national headlines, and a memorial vigil was held last Wednesday, Feb. 4, in her honor at Bergfeld Park in Tyler. Police said at that time they were following up on leads in the case and hoped to announce an arrest sometime this week.

—  Tammye Nash

U.S. Marine charged with murder of transwoman in Philippines

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Prosecutors in the Phillipine Islands today (Monday, Dec. 15) charged a U.S. Marine in the October murder of a transwoman.

According to the Associated Press, Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos found “probable cause” that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton attacked Jennifer Laude after learning she was trans. He has been in custody since shortly after the October incident.

“It’s murder,” de los Santos said after filing the charge against the 19-year-old Pemberton. “It was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

Pemberton will not be allowed to post bail, she said. Murder is punishable by up to 40 years in jail, reported The Guardian.

“This is not an ordinary murder. This is heinous because she was beaten up,” the Laude family lawyer, Harry Roque, told reporters.

Pemberton and friends met Laude and other woman the night of the murder. According to witnesses, Pemberton and Laude checked into a motel, and Pemberton fled after he killed Laude.

Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose was among those with Pemberton that night. He told prosecutors Pemberton admitted to the murder back at their ship.

“I think I killed a he/she,” Pemberton said, according to Rose.

The incident reignited a debate between the Philippines and the United States regarding custody of U.S. military personnel accused of crimes in the Phillipines. U.S. officials evenutally agreed to move Pemberton from custody aboard a U.S. Navy vessel into the custody of Phillipino officials.

The case is a haunting reminder to transgender activists of the case of  U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was sentenced to 40 years in jail in 2006 after being found guilty of raping a transwoman. He was, however, acquitted in 2009 after his accuser recanted her statement.

—  James Russell

Texas Voter ID law ruled unconstitutional. Here’s a breakdown on its impact.

vote-buttonA federal district judge on Friday, Oct. 10, struck down Texas’ voter photo identification law, just 10 days before early voting in the state is to begin.

In her 140-plus-page decision, federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the law “a poll tax” and “discriminatory”  against African-Americans and Hispanics.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately appealed the decision, urging the Fifth Circuit to “resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election,” said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office.

Explaining his appeal, Abbott said he believed the sudden ruling could confuse voters and burden election administrators. “Voters need certainty when they go to the polls and having this decision come out just 10 days before early voting begins injects uncertainty so I’m asking a court of appeals to decide this before early voting begins a week from Monday,” he told KXAN.

In the meantime, the law’s opponents praised the decision.

“Now we must redouble our efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act and to ensure that every LGBTQ voter gets the opportunity to vote at the upcoming election,” said the Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of National LGBTQ Task Force.

Texas state. Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running against Abbott for governor, blasted Abbott’s appeal. “This is great news for democracy. I call on Attorney General Greg Abbott to drop his defense of a law that a court has now called a ‘poll tax’ and ‘discriminatory’ against African-Americans and Hispanics.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, agreed. “Abbott should do what’s best for all Texans instead of pushing his discriminatory political agenda that would disenfranchise eligible voters.”

While the judge believes the law discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics, the ruling impacts the transgender community as well.

According to the Williams Institute, a LGBT policy think tank, of the 25,000 eligible transgender voters in Texas, around 6,800, or 27%, do not have updated voter ID records.

Should the ruling be upheld, said Nell Gaither of the Trans Pride Initiative, “It makes it easier for transpeople to vote.” But she added that the transgender community still faces barriers most other voters do not.

Texas does not have a statewide law accommodating people who have transitioned from one gender to another; voters or would-be voters must rely on their county laws.

Chad Dunn, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the Lone Star Project he believes Abbott will appeal to the Fifth Circuit and likely ask for the U.S. Supreme Court’s final say.

“To my knowledge, a law found to be intentionally discriminatory, after a full trial on the merits, has never been allowed to remain in effect,” Dunn said.

—  James Russell

All female California college changes policy to allow trans students

Mills_Hall_(Oakland,_CA)Mills College, a women’s liberal arts college in Oakland, Calif., recently amended its undergraduate admissions policy to allow transgender students to enroll. Following a unanimous vote in favor of the policy by the school’s trustees in May, the undergraduate admissions policy went into effect today, the school’s first day of classes.

The historically progressive women’s college is the only of the country’s 119 single-sex colleges to have a codified policy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The policy amendments only impact applicants and students in the undergraduate program. Its graduate programs are co-educational.

Under the new policy applicants may now include self-identified females as well as those who identify as gender-fluid but were born female. Applicants who were assigned female at birth but have legally become male are not allowed to apply to the undergraduate program. The amendments also now allow current students who transitioned after enrolling to graduate.

“Of the roughly 1,000 undergraduates at Mills, three to five each year are transgender or identify as something other than the gender they were assigned at birth,” Brian O’Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions, told the Chronicle.

Incoming student body president Skylar Crownover, who identifies as male, said it was always understood at Mills, but not codified. “Mills has the most open policy with regards to trans students” he said.

 

 

—  James Russell

BREAKING NEWS: HERO petition rejected but city will delay implementation

Parker.AnniseThe Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will not appear on the November ballot, Mayor Annise Parker announced at a press conference today.

“The petition is simply invalid,” said David Feldman, the city’s attorney.

Officials said there were too many irregularities in the petition. Some of the pages weren’t notarized, and too many of the signatures were not registered voters, they said. Feldman said, essentially, that there were so many problems with the petition as it was submitted that the city couldn’t accept it.

Mayor Annise Parker predicted that opponents will take legal action. Because of expected legal action, she will then delay implementation of the ordinance.

The petition was submitted by opponents of the ordinance, which added protections for the LGBT and other communities.

The decision came as proponents of the ordinance questioned the legitimacy and tactics of the petition drive lead by opponents, putting in to doubt whether or not the drive would succeed.

Late last week, an anonymous group published the names of the signatories, calling for transparency and independent reviews of each signature. Among the names found by this reporter are State Rep. Dwayne Bohac and Ryan Patrick, the son of Republican lieutenant governor nominee and state Senator Dan Patrick.

Under state law, petitions submitted to government agencies are public record.

—  James Russell