Trans woman murdered in Philadelphia, brings 2015 trans murder tally to 21

Keisha Jenkins

Keisha Jenkins

Twenty-two-year-old Keisha Jenkins was shot to death on a Philadelphia street early Tuesday morning, Oct. 6, becoming the second trans woman murdered in the City of Brotherly Love and the 21st trans woman murdered in the U.S. this year.

Philadelphia Gay News reports that police said Jenkins got out of a car in a park at 13th and Wingohocking streets around 2:30 a.m., and was attacked a few minutes later by a group of five or six men. One of the men pulled a gun and shot Jenkins twice in the back. She was transported to Einstein Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

PGN reports that police say it appears Jenkins was deliberately targeted, but there are no suspects yet, and no motive has been established. The investigation is ongoing.

Another Philadelphia trans woman, Londyn Chanel, was stabbed and killed by her roommate in Philadelphia earlier this year, and at least 18 other trans women — including two in Texas — have been murdered this year.

Here is a list of the other trans women killed this year — or whose bodies were found this year. For more information on each, visit

Papi Edwards, 20, murdered Jan. 9 in Louisville, Ky.

Lamia Beard, 30, murdered Jan. 17 in Norfolk, Va.

Ty “Nunee” Underwood, ,murdered Jan. 26. in Tyler, Texas

Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, murdered Jan. 31 in Los Angeles

Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, 36. murdered Feb. 1 in San Francisco

Penny Proud, 22, murdered Feb. 10 in New Orleans

Bri Golec, 22, murdered Feb. 13 in Akron, Ohio

Kristina Gomex Reinwald, 46, murdered Feb. 15 in Miami-Dade, Fla.

Keyshia Blige, 33, murdered March 7 in Aurora, Ill.

Mya Shawatza Hall, 27, killed March 30 in Fort Meade, Md.

London Kiki Chanel, 21, murdered May 18 in Philadelphia

Mercedes Williamson, 17, murdered between May 30 and June 1 in George County, Mississippi

Ashton O’Hara, 25, murdered July 14 in Detroit

India Clarke, 25, murdered July 21 in Tampa, Fla.

K.C. Haggard, 66, murdered July 23 in Fresno, Calif.

Shade Schuler, 22, murdered and her body found July 29 in Dallas

Amber MonRoe, 20, murdered Aug. 8 in Detroit

Kandis Capri, 35, murdered Aug. 11 in Phoenix

Elisha Walker, 20, missing since Oct. 23, 2014, remains found Aug. 15 in Johnston County, N.C.

Tamara Dominguez, 36, murdered Aug. 15 in Kansas City, Missouri

—  Tammye Nash

Time is running out to participate in U.S. Trans Survey

Keisling Mara

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling

If you haven’t already participated in the U.S. Trans Survey — billed as the largest survey ever undertaken on trans lives in America — you’d better get with it. There are only six days left.

The survey closes to participants at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21.

This survey is a follow up to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted in 2011, and is intended to create a more comprehensive picture of the lives and experiences of transgender Americans.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that trans people in this country area at a “critical moment,” and yet they face that moment lacking a “basic, fundamental knowledge” about transgender lives.

“While we’re aware that trans people face extraordinary challenges, we cannot discern how frequent or widespread they are without up-to-date data,” Keisling said. “The survey will provide us with robust, fresh data, which will translate into significant knowledge about the trans community.

“This is,” she added, “a survey for all trans, genderqueer and non-binary people. It is for us, about us, and by us.”

Keisling said the 2015 survey will “inform life-saving laws and policies that meet the needs of our community,” and that will “develop the information we need to understand the realities of our lives.”

Results, she said, will be available to community members, organizations and researchers “for years to come.”

The survey is designed to assess transgender people’s experiences in employment, housing, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, immigration, sex work and police interactions. Results are projected to be released next spring.

Take the survey here.

—  Tammye Nash

Today from San Francisco: What happens next in LGBT civil rights?


Scott Shader

Hi there. It’s me again, checking in from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association conference in San Francisco. I just wanted to share a little bit of what was talked about in today’s morning plenary session, titled: Life After Marriage: What’s Next.

Scott Shafer, host of “The California Report” on KQED Public Radio, moderated the discussion that included as panelists National Center for Lesbian Rights ExecutiveDirector Kate Kendall, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrrera and Isa Noyola, program manager with the Transgender Law Center.

Unfortunately, the plenary — scheduled to be an hour and 15 minutes long — got off to a late start and so lasted less than an hour. That meant that a lot of relevant topics were left undiscussed. The fact that the first several minutes were taken up talking about a marriage equality issue — Kim Davis in Rowen County, Ky. — also cut short the time spent on what comes next.

But the discussion that did take place on where we, as an LGBT rights movement, go from here was informative, to say the least.


Isa Noyola

The most important discussion, I think, centered on the T in our LGBT community: The LGB parts of our community cannot get so flush with excitement and satisfaction over winning the marriage equality battle — not counting, of course, holdouts like Kim Davis and the inevitable rash of “religious freedom” bills we are likely to see in state legislatures and probably Congress, too — cannot just walk away and leave our transgender brothers and sisters in the dust of our success.

Noyola began her remarks by reading the names of the 18 trans women murdered so far this year in the U.S., helping drive home her point that while society may be changing when it comes to sexual orientation, the inequalities and injustices are still strong, violent and deadly when it comes to issues of gender identity.

Reading those names, Noyola said, :helps me ground myself and brings us to the heart of the situation our trans communities are facing. … The trans communities have had to swallow a bitter pill for years around our rights and our place in [LGBT] communities.”

Noyola, Kendall andHerrera all warned that trans people remain the most marginalized and endangered segment of our LGBT communities as a whole. And something I read in the “Street Sheet” newspaper, a publication of the Coalition on Homelessness, served to underscore even more strongly that transgender people are lagging far behind the rest of the community in terms of rights and protections.


Kate Kendall

According to the newspaper, which based some of its article on results of a recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey, trans people are homeless at a higher right, especially trans women of color, and trans people are about 4 times more likely to have a household income below $10,000 annually. And a separte study showed that one in five California transgender people experienced homelessness after identifying as transgender.

Trans people have a harder time finding jobs because of anti-trans bias. They are targeted more often for violence. And they are an easy target for politicians pandering to right-wing conservatives who want somebody to blame for whatever is bothering them at the moment.

As a result, so called “bathroom bills” have become all the rage. We saw more than a few of them in Texas during the last legislative session, and now opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance are breaking out the “men in the women’s restrooms” boogey-man to try and defeat HERO at the polls in November.

Even here in oh-so-liberal California, the threat of a bathroom bill is raising its ugly head.

The key to victory, Kendall said, is education, and, all three panelists agreed, not leaving our transgender brothers and sisters behind. We as LGB people have got to fight as hard for the rights of transgender people as we fought for marriage equality.


Dennis Herrera

The other main “what’s next” topic was the revamped version of the old “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” Now known as The Equality Act, this piece of legislation would ban anti-LGBT discrimination not just in employment, but also in public accommodations, housing, credit and other areas.

Kendall said that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents California’s 12th District in Congress, recently told supports of the Equality Act that the bill’s chances in the Republican-dominated Congress, as it stands now, are slim. But just introducing and pushing the measure now will help build the framework necessary to get protections enacted at the state level in the more than 30 states where anti-LGBT discrimination is still legal (including Texas).

Kendall stressed that the Equality Act definitely does include protections based on gender identity and gender expression, unlike ENDA, which at times in its history has been notorious for excluding transgender protections.

There are other issues that will be moving to the frontburner now that marriage equality is the law of the land. Things like LGBT families, adoption, immigration, LGBT prisoners, and more. But perhaps the best place to start is with the Equality Act and definitely by remembering to never leave the T behind.

—  Tammye Nash

HERO opponents air first ad, citing trans bathroom panic

Anti-HERO groups anti trans ad

A campaign image released by opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance reveals the group’s strategy for successful repeal.

Opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance aired their first radio ad yesterday, the first of what they promise to be a barrage of ads ahead of the Nov. 3 ballot referendum that will decide the ordinance’s fate.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Campaign for Houston‘s one-minute ad features a young woman concerned for her safety. She wants to get pregnant, she says, but is afraid because the ordinance “will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.

“That is filthy, that is disgusting and that is unsafe,” she states.

The nondiscrimination ordinance, which passed city council last year and has been mired in legal battles initiated by opponents since, includes protections for LGBT people, as well as other federally protected classes including sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family, marital or military status. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

Opponents, including conservative Christian leaders, immediately gathered signatures for a ballot referendum. The city ultimately threw the petitions out, but opponents scored a victory earlier this month when the Texas Supreme Court forced the council to either repeal the ordinance or put it before voters on the Nov. 3 ballot.

City council members voted to put it before the voters on 12-5 vote.

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Houston Unites, which supports the ordinance, blasted the ad in a statement.

“The ad is grossly inaccurate. Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is — and always will be — illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people. The ad leaves out the fact that the law protects tens of thousands of Houstonians from job discrimination based upon their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability,” he said.

Houston Unites also plans to also broadcast media in support of the ordinance. But the campaign has not made any media buys yet, he told the Chronicle.

—  James Russell

NCTE launches survey of trans Americans

Keisling Mara

Mara Keisling

The National Center for Transgender Equality today (Wednesday, Aug. 19) opened the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey in an effort to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the lives of trans men and women in the U.S., NCTE officials said.

The new survey is a follow-up to NCTE’s National Transgender Discrimination Survey, and is, officials said, the largest, most extensive survey  of transgender Americans ever undertaken. It will cover a wide range of topics to assess transgender people’s experiences in employment, housing, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, immigration, sex work and police interactions.

Participants will have at least one month to complete the survey, and results are expected to be released in the spring of 2016.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said that the trans community in the U.S. is a “a critical moment,” but that “there is basic fundamental knowledge that we do not have. While we’re aware that trans people face extraordinary challenges, we cannot discern how frequent or widespread they are without up-to-date data. The survey will provide us with robust, fresh data, which will translate into significant knowledge about the trans community.”

Keisling continued, “This is a survey for all trans, genderqueer and non-binary people. It is for us, about us and by us. Just like the the first survey, the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey will help expand our understanding … and inform life-saving laws and policies that meet the needs of our communities. It will help us develop the information we need to understand the realities of our lives.

“Because this is the community’s study, the results will be available to community members, organizations and researchers for years to come,” she concluded.

Click here to participate in the survey.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Pentagon preparing to lift transgender military ban

AMPASenior U.S. officials at the Pentagon told the Associated Press today (Monday, July 13) they are finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender military service. An announcement is expected this week “with the goal of formally ending one of the last gender or sexually-based barriers to military service,” according to the American Military Partner Association.

According to the AP report, the services “would have six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details.”

“We are thrilled the Department of Defense will finally be taking the necessary steps to allow our transgender service members to serve openly and honestly,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We look forward in anticipation to the announcement this week and being able to review the process and implementation.”

“Today’s Department of Defense announcement is a positive sign that they understand that open trans military service is desirable and inevitable,” National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said. “The Pentagon’s rickety system of discrimination against us is falling apart.  It is in everyone’s interest that the 15,000 or so currently serving trans people be allowed to serve openly and honorably. The Pentagon knows, as we do, how this review is going to end. The National Center for Transgender Equality urges the Department of Defense to quickly end the discriminatory policy and allow trans people to serve openly and with dignity.”

—  David Taffet

ICE issues Transgender Care Memorandum

Screen shot 2015-06-29 at 4.26.17 PMU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations has issued the “Transgender Care Memorandum to “reaffirm ICE’s commitment to prove a safe, secure and respectful environment for all those in our custody, including those individuals who identify as transgender,” according Thomas Homan, executive assistance director of the ERO.

“We want to make sure our employees have the tools and resources available to learn more about how to interact with transgender individuals and ensure effective standards exist to house and care for them throughout the custody cycle,” Homan said.

According to a statement released by ICE, the memorandum addresses elements of custody relating to treatment of trans people, including:

• Ensuring appropriate data systems are updated to record each person’s gender identity, “assisting the agency in data collection and informed decision-making.”

• Comprehensive officer training and tools to ensure each person’s gender identity is determined “early in the custodial life cycle to ensure care.”

• A voluntary ICE detention facility contract modification calling for the formation of a facility-based multidisciplinary Transgender Care Classification Committee responsible for making decisions related to searches, clothing options, housing assignments, medical care and housing reassessments for transgender individuals.

The press release says the new guidance resulted from a six-month agency working group that “examined these issues with subject matter experts, sought input from transgender individuals and visited various non-federal facilities across the country to observe best practices.”

ICE also announced plans for a new national ERO LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex) coordinator and LGBTI field liaisons at each of the 24 ERO Field Offices.

See the full guidance here.

—  Tammye Nash

Bill to lift trans military service ban to be introduced


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

2 active duty trans servicemembers among those invited to White House LGBT Pride Month reception


Sr. Airman Logan Ireland

U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Logan Ireland, a trans man from North Texas, and his fiancee, Army Cpl. Laila Villanueva, are among the six members of SPARTA, an advocacy organization of LGBT people who are currently serving in the U.S. military or are military veterans, who will be attending the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month Reception on Wednesday, June 24.

Ireland, who joined the Air Force in 2010 as a woman, began his transition to male in 2012. He told Air Force Times earlier this month that he chose to wait until after enlisting to transition because he would not have been able to enlist as a transgender person. Ireland, who recently returned from Afghanistan, serves openly and has the support of his chain of command and the soldiers with whom he serves. He told Air Force Times that he is sharing his own story publicly in hopes of helping the 15,000 transgender troops who must remain closeted to maintain their military careers — including his fiancee.

New York Times recently posted this op-doc video, “Transgender at War and in Love,” about Ireland and Villanueva.

While Air Force policy still allows for the involuntary separation from service of transgender servicemen and women, the Air Force recently elevated the decision authority for such separations to the director of the Air Force Review Boards Agency. The Army instituted a similar change in March.

Because he identified as female when he enlisted in the Air Force, current regulations require Ireland to abide by female uniform and grooming standards. After he was invited to the reception, however, Ireland notified his command who authorized a policy exemption allowing him to attend the reception in male dress uniform. Villanueva will attend in civilian attire.

Other SPARTA members attending are Arm Col. (Retired) Sheri Swokowski, Navt Lt. Cdr. (USNR) Brynn Tannehill, former Marine Sgt. Devon Allen and former Army National Guard Spc. Bryce Jordan Celotto.

—  Tammye Nash

Defense Department extends nondiscrimination ordinance to GLB – but not T – troops


Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced today that the department has extended its nondiscrimination ordinance to include gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers.

“[We’re] ensuring that the department, like the rest of the federal government, treats sexual orientation-based discrimination the same way it treats discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, age and national origin,” Carter said in a statement.

While the ordinance amends the military’s equal opportunity policy to prevent LGB soldiers from discrimination and harassment, it, however, does not include gender identity or expression. Currently transgender service members are unable to openly serve, despite the 2010 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which barred lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from serving openly. The repeal additionally did not include nondiscrimination protections for trans soldiers.

“We appreciate the leadership of Secretary Carter in advancing this unfinished business of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal which is an important step to ensure LGB service members are treated equally,” said Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “To reach our goal of full LGBT equality in the military, it’s also crucially important that the ban on transgender service members be lifted by updating outdated regulations that prevent them from serving openly and honestly.”

In a statement, the American Military Partners Association also praised the announcement while urging further protections for the estimated 15,500-transgender service members who are still unable to serve openly.

“This long overdue and critical change to the military equality opportunity program will help ensure that LGB service members are treated fairly with the dignity and respect they deserve, ” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “But it’s incredibly important to note that we absolutely cannot leave our transgender service members behind.”

—  James Russell