Straus: No more compromise on bathroom bill

Speaker of the House Joe Straus

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus said today (Friday, May 26) that he and the House members have compromised enough when it comes to anti-transgender bathroom bills, referring to the amendment to Sen. Larry Taylor’s SB 2078 that the House approved last Sunday. Straus said that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his right-wing minions in the state Senate can take it or leave, because the Legislature has already spent way too much time wrangling over where people can pee.

Instead, Straus said, lawmakers should be paying attention to funding public schools and bolstering mental health services.

According to Quorum Report, Straus said today he WILL NOT appoint conferees on the latest bathroom bill.

Gov. Greg Abbott has urged lawmakers to reach a compromise, and Patrick has threatened to force a special session if he doesn’t get his way.

According to a Dallas Voice source in Austin, “Patrick is unraveling. He can only grandstand so much. The Senate has played its last cards. This is in Abbott’s hands and he is, of course, going to fuck up.

“This is unreal,” the source said.

The House passed the SB 2078 amendment, offered by Rep. Chris Paddie and which would require schools to have single-stall restrooms available for trans students who do not want to use multi-stall bathrooms, and Straus said today that schools had approved the amendment, saying it would allow trans students to use the facilities matching their gender identity. But Taylor said the amendment didn’t go far enough and when the amended bill ended up back in the Senate, he said he wouldn’t allow it to go through with the amendment.

Instead, the Senate tacked Sen. Lois Kolkhurt’s SB 6 — which would restrict bathroom use in schools and government buildings and rescind local nondiscrimination ordinances — onto a “catchall” bill by Rep. Garnet Coleman. Coleman has, in turn, said he will pull his bill rather than allow it thru with SB 6 attached.

Patrick is slated to speak to the press at 7:30. Stay tuned for updates.

—  Tammye Nash

Equality Texas offering legislative update at Cedar Grove; Patrick threatens special session over bathroom bill

Steve Rudner

About 10 days before the scheduled end of the 85th Texas Legislature, Equality Texas, the statewide LGBT lobbying organization based in Austin, will give a legislative update on Thursday, May 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Cedar Grove, 4123 Cedar Springs Road, #110.

The event begins at 6 p.m., with remarks starting at 6:45 p.m. Equality Texas Board President Steve Rudner will talk about the status of LGBT-related bills and issues in the legislature, and then take questions from the audience.

The event is free, sponsored by Alan H. Levi, CPA, Jones Day Law Firm and Littler Mendelson, PC. and each attendee’s first drink is complimentary. (A cash bar will be available.)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — titty baby supreme of Texas (Trump holds the national title) — has threatened to force the Legislature into a special session unless Speaker of the House Joe Strauss falls into goose-step line and gets both an anti-transgender bathroom bill (Patrick’s special interest issue) and a specific tax bill passed out of the house.

Texas Tribune reports: “Patrick deemed Senate Bill 2, a property tax bill from state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, and either Senate Bill 6, the “bathroom bill” from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, or similar language amended to another bill, as must-pass measures to avoid a special session. Both bills have passed the Senate and are currently in the House.

—  Tammye Nash

Trans coach finds acceptance in small Rhode Island town

 

Stephen Alexander was a typical boy. He loved Transformers and Gobots (but did not find out until later that they were a product of Hasbro in Providence, R.I., just a few miles from his home in Chepachet). He spent hours with the neighborhood kids, playing basketball, baseball and Wiffle ball. “I never wanted to go home,” he recalls.

There was one problem: His parents treated him like a girl. That’s what they saw when they looked at his genitals.

And that’s why Alexander competed on girls teams at Ponaganset High School. He was a superb athlete — one of the best in the school’s history, male or female. He scored more than 1,000 points for the Chieftains’ girls basketball team, winning four consecutive state championships and earning All-State first team honors. He was offered a full scholarship for the basketball team at Stonehill College, a Division II Jesuit school in Massachusetts. But he gave it up, because being in the women’s locker room finally became too unbearable.

Majoring in religious studies, psychology and philosophy, Alexander sought to discover who he really was. His journey of self-discovery took him about as far away from Rhode Island as he could go: Tasmania. There he studied Buddhism. Studying further, through a Semester at Sea program, he finally understood himself as a transgender man.

“I tell people I’ve crossed the equator, the prime meridian and the gender spectrum,” he quips. He says the process took him from gender identity disorder, to gender identity difference, and finally to gender identity feelings.

He returned to his home town, and finally came out to his parents. But Chepachet is a very small place. Soon, he headed to the biggest city in the U.S.: New York.

Everyone knew him in Chepachet. In NYC, nobody did. That’s where he began his career as a teacher. It’s also where he had gender reassignment surgery. His parents, who had taken their own path to understanding their son, were there. Doctors told them that most parents seldom are.

But the pull of home was strong. His sister has two children, and Alexander wanted to watch them grow up. He returned to Rhode Island, and tried to figure out what to do next.

A female friend told him the boys middle school soccer team needed a coach. Alexander stepped in. Soon he was coaching their basketball and baseball teams. Tennis and volleyball followed. He coached boys and girls teams. He loved what he was doing. There were challenges — managing young adolescents is not easy, and their parents can be a handful, too — but that’s part of the joy of coaching.

Though he was in a small town, and most people there had known him as a champion female athlete, he says that being a trans man was never an issue. No one said anything to his face; no one complained to the school board. There may have been whispers, he admits, and perhaps one or two youngsters did not try out for his teams because of the coach. But if that happened, he says, “I never heard about it.”

He worked with coaches he’d gone to school with. He coached boys and girls whose parents he’d played sports with, or been taught by. Some of those adults still call him by the name they remember. They try to call him “Stephen,” but old habits die hard.

Perhaps they’re reminded by the banner hanging in the Ponaganset High School gym. It honors the few players who scored more than 1,000 points in their basketball careers. Alexander’s is there, with his girl’s name. There is one place his name does not appear: the Ponaganset Athletic Hall of Fame. His sister nominated him, but he has not been selected.

Alexander was surprised … but then again, he wasn’t. What people say behind closed doors is not always what they say to his face.

Alexander has a lot to say. He’s created a website called Transition Games (www.transitiongames.com), in part to highlight his public speaking career. “Stephen’s story brought me to tears, and to a new understanding of diversity in sports,” praises a college student who heard him talk.

“It’s so important to have conversations about transforming sports,” Alexander says. “We need to help kids recognize early what happens when we separate the sexes. There’s this notion that boys are better, faster and stronger than girls. Sports is really about finding out who you are, whoever you are, then working together to heighten competitiveness and honor your opponents. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

And Stephen Alexander — a trans man, and boys and girls sports coach in rural Rhode Island — is doing it.

— Dan Woog

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

NY woman is 10th trans woman murdered this year

Brenda Bostick was found unconscious near the intersection of 7th and 29th in Chelsea on April 28. She died at Bellevue Hospital on May 4.

Brenda Bostick, 59, died  Thursday, May 4, after being found unconscious on a street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. She is the 10th transgender person murdered this year — nine have been black trans women and the 10th was a Native American woman.

The New York Post reports that Bostick, believed to be homeless, was found, unconscious, about 10:30 p.m. April 25 on 7th Avenue at 29th Street, about a half hour after someone called 911 to report an assault in progress in the area. She was taken to Bellevue Hospital and died there on May 4.

According to GLAAD, other trans women murdered this year are:

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, murdered Jan. 1 in Sioux Fall, S.D.

Mesha Caldwell, 41, murdered Jan. 4 in Canton, Miss.

JoJo Striker, 23, murdered Feb. 8 in Toledo, Ohio.

Kiki Collier, 24, murdered Feb. 21 in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.

• Chyna Gibson, 31, murdered Feb,. 25 in New Orleans, La.

• Ciara McElveen, 21, murdered Feb. 27 in New Orleans, La.

• Jaquarrius Holland, 18, murdered Feb. 19, in Monroe, La. (Identified as transgender on Feb. 28.

• Alphonza Watson, 38, murdered March 22 in Baltimore, Md.

ª Chay Reed, 28, murdered April 21 in Miami, Fla.

—  Tammye Nash

Heineken offers a whole new kind of beer ad — and it’s kind of amazing

Well, I don’t drink beer. But I definitely think that this ad proves a point: When we are open and honest about who we are, and when we are willing to talk without rancor we can change the world.

Thanks Heineken.

—  Tammye Nash

An unexpected moment on ‘Survivor’ sets the transphere ablaze

Truth be told, I haven’t watched Survivor in years, though I did see the season with Jeff Varner. Varner is back for this season of repeat contestants, apparently, and last night — spoiler alert! — he was voted off by acclamation (no secret vote) when he asked a fellow contestant, Zeke Smith, “Why haven’t you told people you’re transgender?” It was something nobody seemed to know … certainly not the 8 million people who do still watch Survivor.

Varner, who is gay, initially defended himself by saying being in the closet that way was proof of deception and he was just trying to save himself — hey, all’s fair right? But the castaways turned on him like a collective snake, chastising Varner for the low blow of outing someone who was not himself ready to come out. During the closing confessional, he tearfully apologized, and Zeke has even written about the experience (remember, the show was filmed months ago in private). Sadly, it wasn’t much more of a teaching moment, as the moral outrage was quickly replaced by game play. Maybe the thoughtful reflection will come next week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DVtv in Spayse

This week, Israel Luna, Brandi Amara Skyy and I talk about TGRA’s Texas Gay, about transgender visibility, about Brandi’s column on asking her evangelical Christian parents for their blessing before her wedding, about PrEP and the new format and new website for Dallas Pride.

Check us out! And don’t forget you can watch DVtv in Spayse live each Friday on the Spayse Station YouTube channel, and then catch the reruns right here every on DallasVoice.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Sara Ramirez speaking at the All In for Equality Advocacy Day rally

Sara Ramirez

Gray’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez— who played a bisexual character on the show and recently came out as bisexual herself — was one of the speakers on Monday, May 20, in Austin as part of All In for Equality rally on Advocacy Day.

Read the story here.

See photos here.

Here is a brief video clip of part of her remarks:

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Trans woman murdered in Baltimore identified

Guilford Street in Baltimore, where a transgender woman was murdered this morning.

UPDATE: The murdered woman has been identified as Alphonza Watson.

Police in Baltimore are investigating the murder of a transgender woman shot to death early this morning (Wednesday, March 22) in Baltimore. The woman was identified as Alphonza Watson, and her mother, who said she had come out as transgender during her teens, said Watson went by the nickname “Peaches.”

According to The Washington Blade, police responded to reports of shots fired in the 2400 block of Guilford Avenue at about 4:15 a.m. and found the 38-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the stomach. She was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

The Blade notes that witnesses reported hearing someone yelling for help and then hearing gunshots. Immediately after the shots, witnesses said they saw black men getting into a dark-colored vehicle and speeding away.

This marks the eighth transgender women murdered since the first of the year.

—  Tammye Nash

SB 6 voted out of committee

Dan Patrick came to North Texas last year about this time to shake his finger at trans people who simply wanted to use the appropriate public restrooms at Fort Worth ISD.

To no one’s real surprise, Senate Bill 6 — aka Dan Patrick’s hateful bathroom bill — passed out of the Senate’s Republican-controlled State Affairs Committee on a 7-1 vote, despite the fact that testimony against the bill — which began about 8 a.m. yesterday (Tuesday, March 7) and finally ended just before 5 a.m. today (Wednesday, March 8) — was overwhelmingly against the measure.

Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools and colleges and government buildings that correspond to their “biological sex” as listed on their birth certificate. It also would prohibit local jurisdictions, like cities and counties, from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances permitting transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The lone “no” vote came from Sen Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, one of the committee’s two Democrats, according to the Houston Chronicle. The second Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, voted in favor of SB 6, as he said Monday that he would.

The Houston Chronicle notes that it was Lucio’s support that gave Patrick the 19 votes he needed to bring it to the floor of the Senate for a vote, something that could happen as early as this week.

The Chronicle also noted that Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston borrowed a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, calling a report — touted by the Texas Association of Business and indicating that passage of SB 6 would hurt the state’s economy — “fake news.” Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Texas Republicans have ignored warnings regarding the negative economic impact of passing SB 6, just as they — and North Carolina Republicans — continue to ignore the clear evidence of HB 2’s negative impact in North Carolina.

 

—  Tammye Nash