Laverne Cox: Love for trans community will end injustices she, others face

Trans actress Laverne Cox addresses the crowd at Creating Change Thursday evening in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Trans actress Laverne Cox addresses the crowd at Creating Change 2014 Thursday evening in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice) 

HOUSTON — Transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox has learned to love herself and is pleased to see the rest of the country learning to love trans people.

Cox gave the keynote address Thursday evening at this year’s national Creating Change conference at the Hilton Americas–Houston.

She walked onstage to a standing ovation and loud cheers from the 4,000 people in the audience. But she admitted to them  she was “not used to receiving this kind of love.”

“I have to say that a black transgender woman from a working-class background raised by a single mother getting all this love tonight; this feels like the change I need to see more of in the country,” Cox said.

—  Anna Waugh

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

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The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Anna Waugh

S. Texas school says it will allow trans teen’s tuxedo photo to run in yearbook

Jeydon Loredo

Jeydon Loredo

Trans student Jeydon Loredo will now be remembered in his senior yearbook for the way he wants to be remembered after his school district consented late last week to allow his photo to run in the book.

The La Feria Independent School District  previously told Loredo his photo wouldn’t run because he needed to be pictured wearing feminine clothing. He appealed the decision to the school board last Monday. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined by the Human Rights Campaign, intervened on his behalf, threatening legal action if the district didn’t run the photo.

The decision was reversed on Friday when attorneys with the district and SPLC met to ensure Loredo would be included in the yearbook. In addition to agreeing to run the picture, the district will have the superintendent apologize to Loredo for the treatment he received and have the school board discuss adding gender expression to its nondiscrimination policies.

“We are very pleased that the school district has recognized Jeydon for who he is and will allow his photo in the yearbook along with all his classmates,” SPLC staff attorney Alesdair Ittelson said in a statement. “This is as a signal to other school districts that transgender students should be recognized as important members of their communities rather than ostracized and subjected to discrimination. We applaud Jeydon’s courage in standing up for his rights.”

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded the decision.

“We’re thrilled Jeydon will be getting the justice he deserves,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s a shame that it took a threat of legal action for the school board to make the right decision, but we’re grateful that, in the end, Jeydon’s photo will be included in the yearbook. Discrimination has no place in our society — especially our schools.”

—  Anna Waugh

New Orleans police looking for Dallas drag queen Armani Nicole Davenport

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Armani Nicole Davenport

New Orleans police are trying to reach Armani Nicole Davenport as a person of interest in a case involving negligent injuring of a person and accusations of practicing medicine without a license.

Davenport, who is from Louisiana but lives in Dallas, according to Facebook, is “said to administer ‘silicone’ injections to clients as travel is undertaken throughout the southern United States,” police said in a statement.

She’s participated in the Miss Gay Texas 2014 and the Miss Gay Dallas Metroplex contest in 2013.

Anyone with information on Davenport’s location should call New Orleans police Detective Ed Johnson at 504-658-6060.

—  Anna Waugh

After 2 months, no suspects but some details in Denton trans murder

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Artegus Madden

Some details of the Artegus Madden murder have been revealed to The Dallas Morning News while the Denton County’s Sheriff’s Department continues to refuse to speak to Dallas Voice or the LGBT community about the case.

The Morning News ran a salacious story about the Madden murder over the weekend. While Denton County investigators have refused to return calls from Dallas Voice, Dallas Morning News apparently saw our story because two months after the murder, they’re suddenly interested. To their credit, the newspaper was able to get certain facts and even an appeal for information.

Madden met someone on the Internet the night of her death. There was no sign of breaking and entering and unnamed items were missing from her home.

So the main suspect is likely the person she met online. But investigators apparently don’t know who that person is.

“The problem with this case is that there are so many unknowns,” Denton County Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry Kish told the Morning News. “We’re just going back and redoing everything to make sure we didn’t miss anything.”

One of the unknowns is why the sheriff’s department refused to talk to the LGBT community to ask for help in solving the case.

“It’s a very complicated case, and the transgender part is a very important part of this case because it is what it is,” the Morning News quotes Kish awkwardly saying.

Or maybe not so awkward. It’s a murder. If she picked up someone online, there’s history in her computer or phone. Trace it.

Two months after the murder, we have a new contact for anyone with information. People can contact investigator Donn Britt in the Denton County Sheriff’s Office at 940-349-1667.

—  David Taffet

TENT seeks trans military veterans for Texas Outserve-SLDN conference

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Oliver Blumer

The Transgender Education Network of Texas is looking for trans veterans to serve on a panel at the 2013 Outserve -SLDN leadership conference.

TENT needs those who can attend the Oct. 25–27 conference in San Antonio and are comfortable telling their stories but is also looking for people who are not comfortable speaking in public to privately share their stories to collect for a “public narrative.”

Although “don’t ask, don’t tell” ended for gay and lesbian service members, trans personnel may still be thrown out of the military.

The Saturday afternoon panel is entitled “Transgender Veterans: Stories to Move the DADT Transgender Service Members Forward.” Those interested in participating should contact Oliver Blumer. Those interested in participating in the public narrative should contact TENT’s Katy Stewart.

Among the other presenters at the conference are the American Military Partner Assocation that has been following the Texas National Guard’s refusal to register same-sex partners of military personnel so they can receive an ID and federal benefits.

The 2013 Outserve-SLDN leadership conference will be held in San Antonio on Oct. 25–27 at the Marriott Rivercenter. Tickets are available online.

—  David Taffet

HUD files lawsuit on behalf of Seven Points trans woman and partner

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Darlina Anthony, left, and Roxanne Joganik

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Roxanne Joganik and Darlina Anthony against George Toone, the owner of an RV park in Athens.

The couple said they were advised not to comment but confirmed that the suit had been filed.

Dallas Voice reported in August about the case that could be a landmark in establishing discrimination based on gender identity, which is already covered under U.S. law as sex discrimination.

HUD gives these reasons as the legal basis for the suit in the court document:

1. It is unlawful to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of sex.

2. It is unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by section 804 of the Act.

HUD alleges a number of housing discrimination charges but some are specific to the transgender community:

• prohibiting someone from dressing as a female in the park violates federal fair housing laws.

• requests that the park rules be amended to include protections against sex discrimination were denied.

• park rules included a rule that “Management reserves the right to refuse entrance to the R.V. park to any person for any reason other than for reasons based on race, religion, handicapped, color or national origin.” This rule should include sex or familial status, protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

• park owner did not want complainant to wear female clothing in the park because there are children around the pool and it is “not the type of atmosphere we want to promote on private property.” Mr. Toone would rather not have transgender persons in the common areas of the park.

—  David Taffet

ILSb board unanimously rescinds trans exclusion in contest participation

Historic-ILSb-MedalAfter heated debate over the last week, the International Leather SIR/boy and International Community Bootblack board of directors announced Friday it would undo the recent rule change that prevented transgender men from competing in the ILSb competition.

The board met in a closed meeting Thursday to discuss the changes announced last week, including the trans exclusion, appointed titleholders not being able to compete and regional producer contracts not being renewed.

The letter released Friday, below, addresses the changes in detail and encourages the leather community to come together for continued understanding and collaboration moving forward.

Historically, the ILSb competition was for gay men and the board felt the need to revert back to that tradition based on opinions to “reclaim our gay identity, our gay events, our gay clubs and our gay pride and how we had become too inclusive in our quest to be politically correct.”

However, “never, never, never was any discussion to purposefully exclude any segment of our community to be perceived as negative, bigoted it harmful,” the letter states in part.

The change was overturned by unanimous vote Thursday night, allowing anyone who identifies as male to compete.

“As it has been stated in the contracts since 2007, contestants for the International LeatehrSIR and International Leatherboy titles “must identify as gay males and be of same-sex orientation,” the letter states.

The board also announced that it will create a history program coordinator to ensure the history in the community is accurate and documented, as much of the tradition was passed down orally. It will also implement an advisory council of community members to gain input. ILSb-ICBB founder Mike Zuhl will serve on the council.

Read the full letter below.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-trans marriage license bill dies, but Krause amendment remains

State Sen. Donna Campbell

State Sen. Donna Campbell

Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell’s anti-transgender marriage license bill is officially dead.

SB 1218 passed the Senate last week, but failed to make it out of a House committee and onto the calendar for a vote this week. The bill would have prohibited anyone from obtaining a marriage license with a document that lacks a photo, including an affidavit of sex change.

Daniel Williams, field organizer with Equality Texas, said the organization worked with transgender activists to slow the bill’s progress throughout the session.

“That is absolutely a victory,” he said.

This is the third and last anti-gay bill that’s died this session. However, Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause turned his failed HB 360 into an amendment and tacked it onto a bill last week that passed. The amendment would allow student organizations at state-funded colleges to discriminate against people for membership.

Williams said the bill’s final version will come for a vote this week and the group will work to kill the amendment if it makes it into the bill.

—  Anna Waugh

UT Southwestern to hold chest wellness day for trans community next week

A Chest & Breast Wellness Day next Saturday at UT Southwestern will provide transgender men and women and masculine women an opportunity to have a comfortable environment for breast cancer screenings.

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said she planned the event so gender non-conforming individuals could have good access to healthcare without feeling uncomfortable or facing discrimination at a doctor’s office.

The event is from 7:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2201 Inwood Road on the third floor.  Screenings will remain open until 5 p.m. if there are enough appointments or people waiting.

Appointments can be made by calling 214-645-2526, but walk-ins will also be accepted. Gaither said people can even call the morning of the event to schedule an appointment.

Screening costs are covered for Dallas and Tarrant County residents if someone’s insurance won’t cover the cost or if someone doesn’t have insurance. Residents of other counties should call first.

We’ll have more information about Trans Pride Initiative and upcoming healthcare plans in next week’s Dallas Voice, but we wanted to get the information about the appointments out early.

—  Anna Waugh