Eight-year old transgender activist wants to purchase house across from Westboro


How could you deny Avery Jackson her vision to create a Transgender House across from Westboro Baptist Church?

Avery Jackson, an eight-year-old transgender child, wants to help a LGBT nonprofit do something bold: purchase a house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.

Planting Peace, which wants to buy the property, already manages the neighboring Equality House. The house, painted the colors of the rainbow, was founded in 2012 to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s angry message with love and compassion and serve as a symbol to the LGBT community that they are not alone.

With another house now available next to the church, Avery and Planting Peace need to raise $70,000 via the fundraising website CrowdRise platform. The goal for the transgender house is to continue the organization’s LGBT equality efforts. It will be painted blue, pink, and white – the colors of the transgender flag.

Avery was the inspiration for establishing the house, Planting Peace President Aaron Jackson said in a statement.

Avery first visited the Equality House when it was painted with the colors of the transgender flag. After hearing Avery describe how the house made her feel proud to be transgender, Aaron realized the need for a transgender house.

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Avery and Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace.

“I was deeply touched when Avery visited us and said it brought her joy and gave her confidence. She inspired us to partner with her to create a symbol of support for the transgender community by expanding the Equality House and permanently painting our neighboring house the colors of the transgender flag,” Aaron said.

“The Equality House has always been a positive, iconic landmark for LGBT people to visit,” said Debi Jackson, Avery’s mother. “I would love to see a Transgender House embraced the same way – with enthusiasm, love and pride.”

“We’ve painted the house the colors of the transgender flag each year to honor the transgender community, and specifically, those who have taken their lives because of violence and bullying,” Aaron said.

Having a house next door painted blue, pink, and white would make the annual tradition instead a daily one.

—  James Russell

Dear Gov. McCrory ….

Tammye NashAn open letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory;

Dear Gov. McCrory,

So yesterday, you told NBC News that the nation-wide uproar and backlash over legislation you signed into law last week is just a bunch of “political theater,” a “calculated smear campaign” concocted by the big, bad gay people who are throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way.

North Carolina’s new law — the one that prohibits transgender people from using appropriate public restrooms and prohibits forward-thinking, equality-leaning local governing entities from enacting ordinances to protect some of their most vulnerable residents — doesn’t discriminate against anyone, you said. It’s just codifying the “norms and etiquette” that have existed for generations, you said.

All these objections, you said, are just “political correctness run amok.”

Well Gov. McCrory, let me tell you something. You are wrong. Plain and simple.

You want to know what’s really run amok there in North Carolina? Bigotry and ignorance.

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

Of course your damn law discriminates against people! It discriminates against that gay teenager being bullied who had hoped the ordinance recently passed in the city of Charlotte might have offered some protection, or at least, some legal recourse. It discriminates against the lesbian couple were refused an apartment lease because they are lesbians. It discriminates against the gay man refused service in a restaurant because he’s gay.

It discriminates against those people because it tells city governments, county governments that they can’t pass laws to specifically protect those people. It tells the LGBT people in your state they aren’t worthy of equal rights, that they don’t deserve protection.

And as for that bathroom thing …. Seriously Governor, I am surprised bolts of lightning didn’t strike you when you tried to claim that part isn’t discriminatory. And ignorant. That whole “men in women’s bathrooms/men in girls’ locker room showers” argument is such total bullshit.

Your whole argument is based on a bullshit lie. Because we aren’t talking about men in women’s restrooms. We are talking about transgender women — WOMEN, Governor — using women’s restrooms. Oh, and by the way, we’re talking about transgender MEN using men’s restrooms, too. And all your bullshit about protecting women and children from predatory men who dress in women’s clothing just to get into the women’s restrooms is just that — BULLSHIT.

And just so you know, your stupid law won’t stop predators — rapists and pedophiles — from going after women and girls or after men and boys in restrooms. Because people like that DON’T OBEY THE LAW in the first damn place! All your stupid law does do is make criminals out of law-abiding citizens who just need to pee.

Governor, all the calls for boycotts against North Carolina — from individuals, businesses, organizations and even governing entities like the city of San Francisco — that’s not political theater. That’s the rising tide of common sense and fair-mindedness as people stand up for their own rights and the rights of others.

The Rev. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s been a long time coming, but the universe truly is bending toward justice for LGBT people. People like you and the other bigots in the North Carolina legislature are fighting against that justice, but we won’t let you win. The “political theater” over your new law is proof of that.

—  Tammye Nash


Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 10.58.34 AMToday on Facebook I found this link on a relative’s page, and I wanted to share it here.

I don’t know how my relative identifies when it comes to gender; I have never asked. Perhaps I should. I know that Anh was born biologically male. I also know that Anh is quite beautiful physically, whether presenting as male or female or neither or both. Perhaps the best term is gender queer.

I also know that children in Anh’s neighborhood have shouted insults at him. I know that people who meet Anh/see Anh in person are often confused as to his gender. I know it’s too bad that people can’t just see Anhn as a beautiful, funny, talented, creative person and instead feel they must see either Anh the man or Anh the woman. I know it’s too bad people can’t just see Anh.

The same goes for so many other transgender and gender-queer people. In fact, the same goes for all of us. Why can’t we just see each other?

Until that day comes — that day when we can all just see each other — I want my transgender and gender-queer friends and family to know, I stand with you. As long as the forces of ignorance and bigotry keep attacking you, I stand with you. As long as your own government keeps trying to turn you into a criminal and keeps putting your safety at risk simply because you need to go to the bathroom, I stand with you.

As long as #WeJustNeedToPee, #I’llGoWithYou.

—  Tammye Nash

NC governor signs anti-LGBT bill into law


Gov. Pat McCrory

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed an anti-LGBT bill into law that goes farther than Indiana’s reviled so-called religious freedom law. The Indiana law has already cost the state millions in business.

The new N.C. law invalidates Charlotte’s recently pass equal rights ordinance. It also requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth. That means men with beards will be using ladies rooms, if they obey this law.

According to the Charlotte Observer, private businesses across the state may now deny service or fire anyone who LGBT. The law also prevents cities from enacting local minimum wage laws.

North Carolina’s Democratic attorney general, Roy Cooper, has called the law discriminatory and shameful.

The bill’s Republican sponsor said Charlotte’s new ordinance prompted the statewide legislation. He said some cities have created a variety of new classes that have become burdensome on business. But cities like Dallas, that has protections now written into the city charter, have had few discrimination complaints.

The NCAA said it’s taking the law into consideration as it schedules events and may move scheduled 2017 and 2018 basketball tournaments elsewhere. American Airlines’ second largest hub is in Charlotte and representatives of the company spoke out against the law. PayPal was scheduled to announce 400 new jobs in Charlotte but that’s now on hold.

Georgia has a similar bill sitting on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. He hasn’t decided whether to sign or veto. In that state, the NFL has threatened to withhold consideration of a Super Bowl in Atlanta if it becomes law, and Walt Disney Company threatened to stop film production in the state if the governor signs the bill.

—  David Taffet

White House appoints first trans person as LGBT liaison

AP_raffi_freedman_gurspan_jef_150818_16x9_992The White House has appointed Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as its new LGBT liaison. Freedman-Gurspan is the first transgender person to hold the role, according to BuzzFeed.

“Raffi is a great choice,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “President Obama has said he wants his administration to look like America, and they have moved to include trans Americans. Raffi’s skills and personality make her the exact right person for this important job.”

In her new role Freedman-Gurspan will serve as the national point person for LGBT groups.

Freedman-Gurspan joined the White House last year as the outreach and recruitment director in the presidential personnel office. She made history as its first transgender official. She previously worked for the National Center for Transgender Equality, as legislative director to out gay state Rep. Carl M. Sciortino of Massachusetts and as the LGBT liaison for Somerville, Mass., according to her LinkedIn profile.

—  James Russell

Caitlyn Jenner: Hillary Clinton only cares about herself

Screen shot 2016-03-09 at 1.16.20 PMAnd here’s today’s news post from Caitlyn Jenner’s Fantasyland: The woman who just days ago was blathering on about how Ted Cruz is an intelligent, articulate man and a great constitutionalist, and she wants to be Cruz’s “ambassador” to the transgender community — is now making headlines for making sure we all know that Hillary Clinton doesn’t care about women.

According to MSNBC, Jenner got into a “heated argument” with “one of her peers” during the season premiere of her “reality show,” I Am Cait, and in that argument Jenner declared: “If we’re unfortunate enough to get Hillary as our next president, we need her on our side, [but] she won’t be. She couldn’t care less about women, she only cares about herself.”

I am pretty sure Hillary Clinton’s record on women’s issues speaks for itself. Democrats may be arguing amongst themselves about whether Sanders or Clinton is better on civil rights issues — including equality for women and for LGBT people — and about which one of them has the best policies on the economy, terrorism, world affairs, etc. But Caitlyn Jenner may very well be the ONLY person in the country who would say that Cruz is better than either Democratic on civil rights for anybody.

Let me just speak plainly: Before she transitioned, Caitlyn Jenner lived as a white man swaddled in wealth and privilege, famous for long-ago being an outstanding athlete and for currently being a part of that train wreck known as the Kardashian family. Nobody was chasing Bruce Jenner down to seek his political wisdom. Since her transition, Jenner is a white woman swaddled in wealth and privilege, famous for being a part of that train wreck known as the Kardashian family, for transitioning publicly and, now, for saying absolutely asinine things about politics and presidential candidates.

Everyone, including Caitlyn Jenner, is entitled to their opinion. But maybe if you are gonna put yourself out there as some sort of representative for a particular community or as a political pundit, you should educate yourself a little better. And I am talking about “real-world education,” not “privileged white Republican living in a bubble” education.

—  Tammye Nash

LGBT groups blast TSA for rule adversely targeting transgender travelers

TSA-logo-lr1The Transportation Security Administration’s decision to codify its use of full body scanners this week will adversely impact transgender travelers, according to a statement released by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

NCTE and other organizations blasted the agency after hearing from hundreds of transgender travelers who were asked to lift or remove clothing to reveal undergarments or prosthetics, required to undergo multiple pat-downs and questions about their bodies, and even prevented from boarding flights because of a “groin alarm.”

“It is completely unacceptable to require Americans to discuss their genitals with uniformed government officials in order to travel by air,” said NCTE executive director Mara Keisling. “But that’s exactly what the body scanner program means for many transgender people. TSA has ignored the public’s very real concerns about the efficacy and the real harms of this technology. TSA is spending billions on security theater that seems to do little but erode all travelers’ privacy and dignity.”

The program will continue despite recent controversy related to the full body scanners.

The agency head was recently ousted following an audit in which scanners and pat-downs failed to catch weapons or mock explosives in 95 percent of “secret shopper” tests.

Agency officials additionally admitted that the scanners routinely trigger alarms based solely on transgender people’s body parts, leading to widely-publicized incidents where travelers were forced to discuss their genitalia with officers.

In 2011 a federal appeals court declared the agency’s use of the machines unlawful because the agency acted without formal rules or public comment. The court allowed the program to continue in part because the agency promised travelers could always opt for a thorough pat-down instead – a position the agency reversed in December.

Despite numerous court petitions by organizations including NCTE, and comments from thousands of air travelers, TSA took five more years to adopt this court-ordered rule, which makes no changes in the current program.

“We urge President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to take action to finally restore balance to airport security,” said NCTE policy director Harper Jean Tobin. “Today’s system exacts a high cost in dollars and personal privacy, with no proof that it is working. These scanners can’t even tell the difference between a bomb and a traveler’s own body. The American people deserve better.”

—  James Russell

GALLERY: Photos from Monica Loera vigil in Austin

The Revolutionary Alliance of Trans People Against Capitalism held a rally and vigil honoring murdered trans woman Monica Loera last night, Feb. 12, at Alamo Park, 2100 Alamo St. in Austin.

Loera was shot to death Jan. 22 outside her North Austin home by a man she had been arguing with, according to police reports. JonCasey William Rowell, 29, was arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with her death.

Loera is the first transgender person murdered since the start of 2016.

News of Loera’s murder was not publicized in the LGBT community for several days because police and Austin media initially misgendered Loera, referring to her by her pre-transition name, and circulating a driver’s license photo of her also taken before she transitioned.

Drew Stanley of Austin was on the scene for the Dallas Voice. Stanley’s photos are below.

—  James Russell

Missing: Police ask for help in locating Nino Jackson

Nino Jackson

Nino Jackson

Rowlett Police have asked for the community’s help in locating Nino Jackson, 26, who has been missing since Jan. 19.

According to police, Jackson was last seen the morning of Friday, Jan. 19, in the area of 911 W. Wheatland Road, in the southwest part of Dallas. His vehicle, a cream-colored Pontiac Firebird, was found by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, abandoned on the southbound side of the President George Bush Turnpike — aka Hwy. 190/George Bush Tollway — at the westbound I-30 ramp over Lake Ray Hubbard.

Jackson is about 5-feet, 8-inches tall and weighs about 198 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue button-down shirt and khaki pants.

Anyone with information regarding Jackson or his whereabouts is asked to call 9-11 or to call the Rowlett Police Department at 972-412-6200.

Oliver Blumer, a friend of Jackson’s, said that people from the LGBT community and from the North Texas River Rafters organization have stepped forward to help in searching the area where Jackson’s vehicle was found. He said the Rowlett PD is small with limited resources, so volunteer searchers are appreciated.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Creating drama’

Longtime trans activist angry over interrupted panel discussion at Creating Change


Monica Roberts

DAVID TAFFET    |  Senior Staff Writer

A panel discussion featuring trans-attracted men was shut down by protesters at the Jan. 20-23 Creating Change conference in Chicago, the same conference at which protesters shouting anti-Semitic slurs and chants disrupted a reception for Jerusalem Open House.

Monica Roberts, a longtime trans activist from Houston, was at the panel discussion when a group of about 20 people entered the room and disrupted the event. She said this year’s conference should have been called ‘Creating drama.’

Roberts said a group of younger transgender attendees at this year’s conference — and at other recent conferences she’s attended — “think direct action protest is the only way to go,” and that they’ve forgotten Martin Luther King’s model. While protests were going on in the civil rights movement, Roberts pointed out, so was discussion and behind-the-scenes work needed to pass laws.

The panel discussion, put together by the National Black Justice Coalition, featured men discussing pressures and difficulties they face because they are attracted to trans women.

Roberts noted that if you look on Craigslist, one of the most popular categories is men looking for pre-operative trans women.

Because many of the murders of trans women have been a result of intimate partner violence, Roberts said, she hoped to hear a discussion about how to remain safe during the panel. “But we didn’t get to have that conversation,” she said.

She also said she had hoped to learn “what goes on in the mind of folks who claim to love us” and that it would be nice to hear men say publicly, “I love trans women.”

The protest was instigated by a trans woman who claimed one of the panelists was an abuser. That man doesn’t have any such charges pending against him, and he is about to file a suit for defamation.

Roberts said the divide was not just between older and younger trans activists. Many hoping to attend the panel live in cities without protections in place based on gender identity and expression. Protesters, she said, came from places with laws protecting the trans community from discrimination.

While Creating Change is about diverse LGBT groups coming together to discuss how to work together, Roberts said one protester summed it up: When the executive director of NBJC tried to say something, a protester simply demanded, “Sit down and shut up.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 29, 2016.

—  David Taffet