UPDATE: Trans actor and activist Alexis Arquette has died

UPDATE: People Magazine has reported that a source close to the family says Arquette died of AIDS-related complications.


Aalexislexis Arquette, one of the famed Arquette acting family whose siblings include Academy Award-winner Patricia and Scream star David, has died at age 47, her brother Richmond confirmed this morning. Alexis was surrounded by family after “battling an illness,” although no specific cause of death was given. The death, Richmond reported, was “fast and painless.”

Alexis, born Robert, came to prominence first as an actor, most notably in the Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer. She was one of the most prominent and earliest entertainment celebrities to identify as trans. Alexis officially came out as transgender and documented her transition in the 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In addition, Alexis was a singer and activist on GLBT issues.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Trans woman murdered in Mississippi


Dee Whigham

A Navy seaman in training has been arrested and charged with robbing and murdering Dee Whigham, 25, a transgender woman from Shubuta, Miss., who was found dead in a motel room in Ocean Springs, Miss., near Biloxi on July 23.

According to a count kept by The Advocate, Whigham is the 16th trans person to be murdered in the U.S. this year.

Whigham was found stabbed, according to the South Mississippi SunHerald based in Gulfport. She was staying at the Best Western Plus Cypress Creek hotel off Interstate 10 in Biloxi with several people after traveling to Biloxi to attend the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Dwanya Hickerson, 20, of New Orleans, was arrested Monday morning, July 25, and charged with capital murder in Whigham’s death, according to the SunHerald. Jackson County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Stratton said Hickerson was shown on surveillance video leaving the hotel , and investigators obtained a warrant to search the Hickerson’s residence at Keesler, where he had been in training since April.

Sheriff Mike Ezell has said his department is investigating and “If this turns out to be a hate crime, we will pursue this to the fullest in court.”

A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses. The photo of Whigham with this post was taken from that page.

—  David Taffet

Texas sues federal government because protecting all children is unconstitutional


Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas today joined 10 other states in a lawsuit against the federal government to stop an Obama administration directive that requires all students — including transgender students — be protected and treated equally.

Not to be outdone by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who got all the attention a couple of weeks ago for defending public bathrooms everywhere, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in a press conference announcing that Texas is joining the plaintiffs in the suit, called the order from the administration “outside the bounds of the Constitution.”

“Our schools are now in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration, which maintains it will punish those schools who do not comply with its orders,” Paxton said in a written statement. “These schools are facing the potential loss of school funding simply for following common sense policies that protect their students.

“This represents just the latest example of the current administration’s attempts to accomplish by executive fiat what they couldn’t accomplish through the democratic process in Congress,” Paxton added. “By forcing his policies by executive action, President Obama excluded the voice of the people. We stand today to ensure those voices are heard.”

Paxton, who is facing federal civil charges and state criminal charges related to securities fraud, between the time he took office in January 2015 and November 2015, sued the federal government six times at a cost of nearly a quarter of a million (taxpayer) dollars. The first time he sued the feds was over the administration’s policy of extending spousal benefits to married same-sex federal employees.

And by the way, since President Obama was first elected in 2008, Paxton and his predecessor — now-Gov. Greg Abbott — have spent more than $5 million suing the federal government more than 39 times.

Resource Center issued this response to Texas participating in the lawsuit against the federal government:

Today’s lawsuit from Attorney General Paxton is a failure of Texas leadership on multiple levels. Rather than deal with the real problems the state faces and his ongoing legal woes, the attorney general is choosing to score political points by attacking and bullying the transgender children of Texas with the full backing of Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick.

The U.S.Department of Education guidelines — based in sound legal precedent — are meant to protect all students across the nation, including those who are transgender, and to provide clarity for thousands of school districts who are seeking guidance. The Center worked with Dallas ISD to develop similar effective transgender protections approved by the DISD board in 2011.

According to the 2013 GLSEN National School Climate Survey of Texas schools, nearly six in ten LGBT students in Texas regularly heard negative remarks about their gender identity and more than one in ten were physically assaulted based on the way they expressed their gender. More than half of the students did not report the incidents to school personnel or family members. Does the leadership of Texas think transgender youth are unworthy of protections? The attorney general went to great lengths in his news conference to not answer that question.

Equality Texas also condemned the lawsuit. The statewide LGBT advocacy organization criticized Paxton and Patrick for having “already wasted millions of taxpayer dollars” and for discriminating “against their fellow Texans with taxpayer money and [depriving] thousands of Texans their dignity and respect in a losing effort opposing the freedom to marry. … Now in another lawsuit the attorney general has determined to waste millions more in an obviously futile attempt to prevent our transgender citizens, and in particular transgender kids, from being the most basic dignity in regard to basic bodily functions, despite the fact that the Fourth Circuit and various government agencies have made the law clear.”

Through this lawsuit, the Equality Texas statement said, “the attorney general will waste precious time and resources and millions of dollars to harm Texans who have done nothing wrong.” The statement also warned that Paxton and Patrick, with this “shameful animus towards the transgender community,” are “putting our economy at risk for personal political gain.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and HIV Project, said the lawsuit is “an attack on transgender Americans, plain and simple. … The Supreme Court has made clear that one cannot sue an agency just because they disagree with the agency’s guidance. If these attorneys general disagree with the agency’s interpretation of what the federal ban on sex discrimination means, they can make that argument to the court when it arises in a real case. This lawsuit is a political stunt.”

Failed president candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also weighed in on the lawsuit, siding — not surprisingly — with Paxton. Decrying the Obama Administration’s “unlawful transgender bathroom agenda,” Cruz said the guidance “has no basis in federal law, and it once again demonstrates that Obama is more devoted to radical social engineering than to the democratic process and the separation of powers.”

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma Legislature wants to ban trans peeing and impeach Obama

Gov. Mary Fallin

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who figured out a way to veto an unconstitutional bill last week, may be faced with more nonsense to veto

Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin found a reason to veto an unconstitutional bill banning abortion in her state. So the legislature reacted by dealing with other pressing issues facing the state.

Oklahoma’s crumbling infrastructure? No, even though the day they passed the abortion bill, the May Street bridge in Oklahoma city collapsed on the highway below, inconveniencing at least some members of the legislature on their commutes home.

No, the Oklahoma Legislature turned from abortion, settled by the U.S. supreme Court 40 years ago, to peeing, this year’s important social issue.

The state Senate passed a resolution instructing its U.S. representatives to draw up articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama, the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Education, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

Their crime? Instructing all school to treat all students equally.

Last week, the Department of Education issued guidance to all school districts about the pressing bathroom issue. If articles of impeachment were drawn up, they would be the first in U.S. history to involve urine.

In addition, the legislature introduced bills to authorize students and parents to request religious accommodation if their school allowed trans students to use restrooms, locker rooms or showers other than for the sex they were designated at birth. Providing a single-occupancy accommodation would not be considered an appropriate accommodation.

In other words, they want the trans student to be banned from peeing in school.

—  David Taffet

New community center opens on Saturday

IMG_8224This is the picture I wanted to use for this week’s cover: Cece jumping for joy over the completion of the new community center.

We chose a different picture because either we lost her jumping or we lost the building. The picture is oblong and the paper is more square. And Cece didn’t want her stomach showing on thousands of copies of the paper distributed across the area.

One thing I didn’t get into the story is the donation wall, just inside the front door. Everyone who contributes to help pay off the remaining $344,000 will get their names on the donation wall. Cox said that they thought of cutting off the list at $100 or $250 or more, but this is a community center, built by the community and every donation is important. So she decided every name of every person (or company or foundation) that contributes belongs there.

Open house is Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-noon. Stonewall Democrats holds a fundraiser and open house on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 p.m. Community groups are encouraged to use the facility. Contact the community center (the number’s the same: 214-528-0144) to reserve space.

Here are some more pictures of the new center:

—  David Taffet

Obama marks IDAHOT with statement


The DFW Sisters at IDAHOT in 2011

Today (May 17) is IDAHOT, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The last IDAHOT event in Dallas took place in 2011 at the JFK Memorial in downtown Dallas. This year, no events are planned in the U.S., according to the organization’s website, however events are planned around the world and President Barack Obama issued a statement:

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

“On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

“Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.

“At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.‎ In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.”

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Equality Texas board chair speaks outside FWISD


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Speaking in a press conference outside the Fort Worth ISD building shortly after 4 p.m., Equality Texas board chair Steve Rudner took Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to task for his attacks on Transgender issues.

Noting that the policy itself was approved in 2011, Rudner said, “The only news here is that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has chosen to pick on a group of already bullied kids. It’s shameful and despicable.”

Patrick is set to hold a press conference at FWISD offices at 5 p.m. just before the FWISD board meeting.

Dallas Voice will be at the meeting. Look for additional coverage.

—  David Taffet

Black Trans Advocacy Conference in Addison continues through weekend

Diamond Stylz

Diamond Stylz

The Black Trans Advocacy Conference continues through the weekend at the Marriott in Addison on the North Dallas Tollway. The conference is staged by Black Transmen and Black Transwomen, national organizations based in Dallas.

I’ll have a slideshow up next week.

I caught one workshop this morning led by Diamond Stylz. She’s a great storyteller. She has more than 10,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel. Here’s what she had to say about the conference:

—  David Taffet

Non-trans former Speaker of the House sentenced for case related to child molestation

150528174433-01-hastert-1999-super-169Dennis Hastert, 74, the non-transgender, heterosexual former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison on bank fraud charges stemming from hush money he paid to cover up child molestation claims. The claims date back more than 30 years, to the time before Hastert was elected to Congress, when he was a high school wrestling coach.

Hastert pleaded guilty to violating banking regulations by withdrawing just under $10,000 each time he made a hush-money payment to one of his victims and then lying to investigators as he tried to cover up his criminal activity.

After his release, Hastert will serve two years on probation and he was fined $250,000.

Federal Judge Thomas Durkin called Hastert — who  finally admitted, just before the sentence was handed down, that he sexually abused students while he was wrestling coach at Yorkville High School — a “serial child molester.”

“Nothing is more disturbing than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” Durkin said.

Referring to the fact that the statute of limitations has run out on the actual molestation cases, Durkin also told Hastert, “I can’t sentence you as a child molester. Your sentence today will do what you would have faced in state court.” He said that the sentence he imposed was relatively light because of Hastert’s advanced age and poor health.

Hastert, for his part, apologized for having “mistreated” his former students. “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was a coach,” he said. “They looked [up] at me and I took advantage of them.

—  David Taffet

Alabama town passes anti-Target bathroom ordinance

Oxford Alabama

Welcome, unless you’re transgender

The Anniston [Alabama] Star reports that the Oxford City Council has passed an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to use a public bathroom other than one that corresponds to their sex assigned at birth. Violators could be fined $500 or sentenced to six months in jail.

The reason for the ordinance? Oxford, population 21,232, has a Target and, apparently, a rapidly growing, quite visible and militant transgender population of approximately — well, we’re not sure if there are any trans people in town. Oxford is located along I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta, so it would be quite easy for trans citizens to get the hell out traveling either east or west.

After passing the law, a spokesman for the council read a statement saying the law wasn’t meant to be discriminatory, but “to protect our women and children.”

Target’s unchanged-for-years-but-recently-restated policy that’s causing hysterics says: “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

It’s unclear how Oxford will enforce its new ordinance inside Target. Will they post police officers at the restrooms in the stores? Will those officers be doing strip searches of anyone going into a Target restroom?

Will Target just decide its store in a small town — that provides a large portion of that town’s sales tax revenue — isn’t worth keeping open? We’ll find out on the next episode of As the Toilet Flushes.

—  David Taffet