IT’S COOKIE TIME!

Girl Scout CookiesGuess who got a great big box full of different kinds of Girl Scout Cookies today?!

Yep, that’s right! I did!

Do you know what that means? That means it’s COOKIE TIME!

The 2016 Girl Scout Cookie Program begins with door-to-door and booth sales on Jan. 15. On Jan. 29, Council-hosted booth sales begin. The last day of the program will be March 1.

That means you will have just about a month-and-a-half to stock up on all those yummy Girl Scout Cookies you can’t do without. So write those dates down and make sure you get your cookies while you can.

Just so you can plan ahead, here are the Girl Scout Cookie flavors for 2016: Thin Mints (my personal favorite), Tagalongs, Samoas (Stephen Mobley stole the Samoas that were sent to me), Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Savannah Smiths and Rah-Rah Raisons, all for $4 a box, and Toffee-tastic, the gluten-free Girl Scout Cookie option, which are $5 a box.

Here’s what the press kit had to say about the Girl Scout Cookie Program: “When the girls participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, they develop important life skills — goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics — that will set them up for success beyond anything they can imagine! The cookie program is an integral part of the Girl Scouts’ Business and Financial Literacy initiative for girls in grades K-12.”

Why should the LGBT community support the Girl Scouts of America and their Cookie Program? Because they support our community. As The Advocate pointed out in 2012, GSA posted a statement on it’s blog declaring the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness: “Girl Scouts of the USA and its local councils and troops value diversity and inclusiveness and do not discriminate or recruit on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, or physical or developmental disability.”

The Girls Scouts also have written policy declaring that transgender girls will be welcome.

So help the girls out and get ready to buy some cookies. You can always add a few minutes to your exercise routine to work those cookies off!

—  Tammye Nash

Congress forms new Transgender Equality Task Force

Honda.Rodriguez-Roldan

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus announced the creation of the Transgender Equality Task Force, which will be chaired by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Silicon Valley, today (Tuesday, Nov. 17), just three days before the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The new task force will focus on developing legislation and other initiatives to ensure that trans people have equal access and equal treatment under the law, according to a statement from The National LGBTQ Task Force. Members include Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton from the District of Columbia, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.

Task Force Chair Mike Honda said, “This week, as we seek to raise awareness of the issues facing the trans community, it is important to renew our commitment to help trans individuals be free of the fear of violence or bullying just for being who they are. It is my hope that by launching this workforce and holding a first-ever forum, we will reach some of my colleagues and encourage them to stand with the trans community.

“It is only through social change that we can truly elevate the conversation in this country and reach a place of true understanding and embrace all people for who they are,” Honda said.

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, National LGBTQ Task Force’s newly-appointed director of the Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project, said, “To this day, transgender people face formidable barriers in employment, housing, health, education and other areas. And to end the ongoing violence and discrimination that transgender people experience, we need everyone’s help and support.”

She added, “We’re elated to see the formation [of the congressional task force]. We thank the LGBTQ Equality conference for their ongoing efforts to advance legislation that extends critical protections to LGBTQ people.”

Rodriguez-Roldan, who’s appointment was announced Monday,  Nov. 16, is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who started her advocacy work as a staffer for the Commonweath’s Senate campaign. While she was a student at the University of Puerto Rico, she became the first openly transgender member of student government there and pushed the school’s administration for transgender accessible student ID policies.

Rodriguez-Roldan was named a Truman Scholar in 2011 in recognition of her passion for public service, and in 2013, she was named a Holley Law Fellow by the National LGBTQ Task Force. She led a successful campaign lobbying for trans-inclusive driver’s licenses and state ID documents in Puerto Rico. Most recently she worked as an equal opportunity specialist for the U.S. Labor Department’s Civil Rights Center.

Rodriguez-Roldan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with honors from the University of Puerto Rico, and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Resource Center’s Cox calls Huffines on anti-trans statements, invites him to visit center

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Cece Cox

Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center, today sent an open letter to Texas Sen. Don Huffines, taking the Republican to task for Tweets he sent out Tuesday, Nov. 10, condemning Dallas City Council’s vote to clarify language in the city’s equal rights ordinance regarding protections based on gender identity and gender expression.

The ordinance, first approved by the council in 2002, originally included gender identity and gender expression under the protected class of “sexual orientation,” although sexual orientation is not generally considered to include gender identity and expression. Tuesday’s vote was intended to clear up any confusion.

Huffines, however, pointed to a Nov. 3 referendum in which Houston voters defeated that city’s equal rights ordinance following a vitriolic campaign in which opponents mislabeled the ordinance as a “bathroom bill” and focused on scare tactics claiming it would allow sexually predatory men to dress in women’s clothing to harass and attack women and girls in public restrooms. He called the Dallas council’s vote a “sneak attack” taken without giving the public a chance to comment on the change, although the amendment has been in discussion and open to public comment for a year or more.

Huffines called for the ordinance to be repealed, telling Dallas Voice in a written statement that “Civic participation and public scrutiny have been lacking in this process.”

Huffines represents Senate District 16, which includes parts of Oak Lawn, Cox points out. Although Huffines’ district includes parts of Dallas, the senator himself actually lives in Highland Park, according to records Dallas Voice reporter James Russell found online.

Huffines.Don

Sen. Don Huffines

Here is Cox’s letter in its entirety:

Dear Senator Huffines:

I am Cece Cox, the chief executive officer of Resource Center. For over 32 years, the Center has served the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as all people affected by HIV/AIDS. Parts of the Senator’s district include the Oak Lawn neighborhood, the historic home of Dallas’ LGBT community.

I am writing your office regarding your recent comments about the revision of the city of Dallas’ nondiscrimination ordinance, which was slightly modified this week by the Dallas City Council. The Center is a member of Mayor Rawlings’ LGBT Task Force, and several Center employees serve on that body.

Many of your comments lack a factual basis, which is disturbing given that you are making them in public to a large audience.

Here are some statistics about the transgender community you may not be aware of, according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Study, conducted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality:

1. 90% of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.

2. 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.

3. 26% reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming; and,

4. A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.

With that in mind, I would like to invite you to come to the Center and visit with me, as well as members of the transgender community. Words have meaning, and I think it is important that you have a chance to speak with community members affected by discrimination, and positively impacted by Tuesday’s City Council vote. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards
Cece Cox, JD
Chief Executive Officer, Resource Center

—  Tammye Nash

A Veterans Day message: Repeal the ban on transgenders in the military

Trans Awareness Logo. INSET sizeA message from Barbara Satin, assistant faith work director with the National LGBTQ Task Force, trans woman and former U.S. Air Force officer, to the U.S. Defense Department:

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Barbara Satin

“On Veterans Day, as we honor those who’ve served in the military, let us also lift up the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer service members. For decades courageous and dedicated LGBTQ people served in the U.S. military while hiding their true identity out of fear of being discharged. Today, while we have made significant strides with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, transgender people are still denied the opportunity to serve openly in the military.

“That is why we’re again calling on the Defense Department to expedite their repeal of the ban on transgender people in the military.”

The U.S. Congress voted in December 2010 to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That repeal was implemented by the Defense Department in September 2011. According to a May, 2014 report issued by The Williams Institute, there are about 15,500 transgender individuals serving on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve forces, and an estimated 134,300 transgender individuals who are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service.

The exclusion of transgender individuals from military service is based on medical policies that lay out exclusions for what are deemed to be “psychosexual disorders,” including transsexualism, cross-dressing or a history of gender transition. If closeted transgender men and women serving in the military are outed, they face the possibility of a medical discharge.

In March 2014, the Palm Center released the “Report of the Transgender Military Service Commission,” which was co-chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joceyln Elders and Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, M.D. That commission found “no compelling medical rationale for banning transgender military service.” The commission report also said that eliminating the ban would “advance a number of military interests, including enabling commanders to better care for their service members.

In addition, the report noted, “Medical regulations requiring the discharge of all transgender personnel are inconsistent with how the military regulates medical and psychological conditions, and arbitrary in that medical conditions related to transgender identity appear to be the only gender-related conditions requiring discharge irrespective of fitness for duty.”

The report ended with three recommendations: 1. Lift the ban on transgender military service. 2. Do not write new medical regulations. 3. Base new administrative guidance on foreign military and US government precedents.

A Pentagon working group tasked with dismantling the ban began meeting in July, just days after Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter issued a memo outlining how the ban will fall and instructing top military officials to prepare to integrate transgender service members within six months.

The Pentagon has just under two months to end the ban to meet Carter’s timeline.

—  Tammye Nash

DOT offers clarification on nondiscrimination policy

Trans Awareness Logo. INSET sizeExisting nondiscrimination policies covering public transportation already include protections for transgender people, according to a statement issued Monday, Nov. 9, by the federal Department of Public Transportation, at the request of Dallas’ Trans Pride Initiative.

The policy “including a prohibition against discrimination based on sex can be interpreted as being inclusive of gender-identity discrimination,” the statement from the DOT’s Office of Civil Rights noted.

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Trans Pride Initiative President Nell Gaither

The statement points out that the nondiscrimination policy is referenced in the Federal Transit Authority “Master Agreement,” and that, “We will clarify that gender-identity discrimination is included in the ban on sex discrimination in our fiscal year 2016 Master Agreement.”

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said DOT issued the statement after her organization and Resource Center submitted a joint inquiry seeking clarification in June, as part of their efforts to help a Dallas trans woman who had encountered discrimination from employees in the Dallas public transportation system.

The woman “had been harassed, being called ‘sir’ and ‘mister’ in order to publicly out her” after she showed her state identification, Gaither said. “That’s not only harassment, it can her safety and her life in danger.”

Gaither said that although the woman had tried to resolve the situation by talking with transit staff, but had been unable to have the problem resolved.

“On the contrary, staff were victim blaming,” Gaither said. “At one point, a manager reviewing the issue stated that the trans woman was ‘confusing [the person who harassed her] by not getting her ID changed.’ That’s not an appropriate response.”

Gaither said that in the process of researching options to get the matter resolved, she learned about the DOT’s nationwide Master Agreement. Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, was at the same time looking into an incident in which a gay man had been harassed by public transit staff, and McDonnell suggested TPI and the Resource Center submit a joint request to FTA officials asking for clarification.

The joint request, submitted June 12, also asked that the Federal Transit Authority modify the Master Agreement to include specific protections based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity.

The statement issued Monday only addresses gender identity, possibly because case law around sex discrimination as it applies to sexual orientation is less clear, Gaither said. Federal policy makers may see tying these to well-established sex discrimination coverage as a better solution than adding enumerated protected classes to the policy.

“We will continue to advocate for sexual orientation protections to be specifically added, but we certainly think [the] announcement is worth celebrating,” she said.

Gaither said that anti-trans discrimination has long been a problem in public transportation, and that such discrimination has a disproportionately large impact on low-income people who often depend on public transportation to get where they need to go.

“We are certainly happy to see this clarification, and we call on our communities and advocates around the nation to make sure public transit systems are held accountable for similar discriminatory actions moving forward,” she said.

—  Tammye Nash

Appeals court reaffirms decision in Araguz case

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Nikki Araguz Loyd, pictured here during her wedding to her first husband, firefighter Thomas Araguz

A state appeals court has reaffirmed its earlier decision to validate the marriage of a transgender widow seeking the estate of her firefighter husband who died battling a blaze, sending a mandate back down to the Wharton County judge who presided at trial to issue a new ruling validating the marriage.

The ruling Friday, Oct. 23, by the 13th Texas Court of Appeals sent the case of Nikki Araguz Loyd back to a Wharton County judge who originally voided the marriage because Texas did not recognize same-sex marriage. Kent Rutter, an attorney for Loyd, said the appeals court had ruled early last year in Loyd’s favor — determining she was a woman at the time of her marriage — but had to issue another ruling this month after an appeal sent to the Texas Supreme Court was not heard.

Loyd — who has since remarried — told ABC 13 in Houston, “It’s the most beautiful twist of karma. The judge to so viciously ruled against me now has to reverse his own ruling. It’s never been about money. It was not about money when I married my husband. It certainly was not about money when I buried him.”

She added, “It’s bittersweet finally having the victory now, when I don’t necessarily need it. But it allows me to do amazing things with it. I’m just going to go on about my life helping other people do the same, but really taking a step out of the political movement and really focusing more on spiritual aspects.”

The Houston TV station notes, “According a 2014 appeals court opinion, Araguz Loyd’s marriage was valid due to a change in the Family Law code that states that a person who has had a sex change is eligible to marry a person of the opposite sex. Aragon Loyd said she has a sex change months after she got married to Thomas and that he knew she was transgender at the time they married. Araguz Loyd now stands to collect more than half a million dollars in the death benefits.”

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June affirming the constitutional right to marriage equality would have settled the issue as well, since that ruling made Araguz Loyd’s gender at the time of her marriage irrelevant.

The Appeals Court’s ruling also overturns Littleton v. Prange, the 1999 lawsuit in which Texas courts ruled that trans woman Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton could not sue Dr. Mark Prange for malpractice in the death of her husband, Jonathan Mark Littleton because Christie Lee was was a biological male, despite her gender reassignment surgery, and Texas did not recognize same-sex marriage. While the ruling caused problems for trans women trying to marry men, transgender lesbians were able to use it to their advantage in marrying their female partners.

Christie Lee later married a second time, to Pierre Van De Putte. She died March 15, 2014, at age 61.

—  Tammye Nash

Texas offers sledgehammer solution for a thumbtack problem

Leslie McMurrayThere is a vote coming up that you may not have heard about: The University Interscholastic League’s legislative council is asking Texas school superintendents to vote on a new policy that if passed, would make Texas one of the most restrictive and unfriendly places for transgender students.

The U.I.L. sets rules and eligibility requirements for high school music and athletic participation.

The measure being voted on would define “gender” by what is on a student’s birth certificate. Not permitting transgender students to participate in a sport because of their gender is wrong on a whole lot of levels.

First of all, it’s just plain sexist. I’m assuming that the U.I.L. believes male students are better at some sports than girls?

According to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute guidelines for creating policies for Transgender children in recreational sports:

“Gender segregation in sports is based, in part, on a concern about unfair physical advantages. Most existing policies for adult transgender athletes focus on the competitive advantage that male hormones may provide due to their effect on the musculoskeletal system. Those policies require that adult transgender athletes compete in the gender role consistent with their hormonal make-up.

“In pre-adolescent children, however, hormonal levels do not differ significantly between the sexes. Therefore, no hormonally-based advantage or disadvantage between girls and boys exists. Prior to puberty, boys do not have any physical advantages over girls because of their physiology. Gender segregation in children’s sports is purely social. It is not based on any significant physiological differences.

“From a medical and physiological perspective, there is nothing about being transgender that gives any particular child a physical advantage over others. Transgender children display the same individual variation in size, strength and athletic ability as other youth. There is no reason based on considerations of fairness that would justify preventing a young person who is transgender from playing sports in the child’s affirmed gender.”

It’s also unfair because different states have different rules for the correction of information on a birth certificate. Thank goodness I was born in California; that wonderful state has updated my information, and I have an original birth certificate stating that I was born female.

If I was born here in Texas, I would be unable to do that. So, since different states have different rules, I guess transgender students born elsewhere have an advantage in being able to be included and welcomed in ways Texas born students aren’t.

Isn’t that a fine way to treat your native sons and daughters!

Which brings me to my next point: Exactly how many transgender kids even want to play high school sports in Texas? My guess is, not many. Is it really going to be all that disruptive? Exactly what do you think is going to happen?

According to the best guess at the trans population (since the government doesn’t even care about us enough to include us in the census), we make up about .3 percent of the population. So, for a 5A school with 3,500 kids, 10 might be transgender. Is that really going to be a problem?

Are we really that big of a threat to everything sacred in the state of Texas that we need to hold a vote to exclude us from one more thing?

Fifteen states, including my beloved California, have policies that permit transgender kids to participate fully, and I’ve not heard of a single problem associated with that nice bit of inclusion.

The next point is this: Gender doesn’t live on a birth certificate. Sex does.

My birth certificate got it wrong. California, at least, was willing to correct it. Denying anyone their identity is cruel; to do it to a child at their most vulnerable age sends a damaging message: “You are not welcome; you are not accepted. We don’t respect your identity.”

Schools are charged with educating students, and this isn’t the kind of education we should be giving them.

According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, Legislative Council Member Greg Poole of Barbers Hill ISD said his sole interest in the rule was “fair and equitable competition” and not to “cast stones at anyone’s personal choice.”

There’s that word again! Ffor the billionth time, it’s not a freaking choice! It’s who we are!

According to the U.I.L. website, “The initials UIL have come to represent quality educational competition administered by school people on an equitable basis.”

If the upcoming vote supports this initiative, that statement will need to be revised.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Suspect jailed in Philadelphia trans woman’s murder

Keishia Jenkins

Keisha Jenkins

One man is in jail and three others are being sought by police in connection with the murder last week of trans woman Keisha Jenkins in Philadelphia, according to NBC 10 in Philly.

Philly police are saying that Pedro Redding is one part of a neighborhood gang that has been robbing people in the Hunting Park neighborhood, where Jenkins was shot to death. Police say that Jenkins was a victim of convenience and not targeted for being transgender, so they are not investigating her death as a hate crime.

Police said that Jenkins had just been dropped off on Winghocking Street, near 13th Street, at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, when she was attacked by a gang of several men who began beating her. When she fell to the ground, one of the men pulled a gun and shot her twice in the back.

A judge this morning (Monday, Oct. 12) denied bail for Redding, 24, who has a lengthy criminal history, including having pled guilty to aggravated assault and weapons charges in 2014.

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Pedro Redding

Jenkins, 22, is believed to have been the 21st trans woman murdered this year in the U.S. She is the second trans woman murdered this year in Philadelphia; Londyn Chanel was murdered May 18 by her roommate.

Thanks to Houston trans activist Monica Roberts and her TransGriot blog where we find this information.

—  Tammye Nash

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 Fusion.net:

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