Jamie Alexander is the epitome of a supportive parent. Since his daughter Ruby came out as trans as a young child, he has done everything in his power to ensure she is loved and affirmed and can lead a happy life as her authentic self.
And that includes launching an entire company so that Ruby would have something to wear to the beach.
Tanius Posey said some negative comments have come from trans people who think he’s making them “look bad.”
Ruby had been having trouble finding a bikini that fit her well. For her own safety, her parents had insisted she wear board shorts to the beach. But Ruby eventually grew frustrated and just wanted to wear a bikini like her friends.
There wasn’t much on the market to meet Ruby’s needs, so Alexander decided to change that. Three years ago, he launched Rubies, which sells form-fitting bras, underwear, and swimwear for trans girls. It’s slogan: “Every girl deserves to shine.”
“One of the design points for Rubies was creating underwear and swimwear that feels the same as clothing cis people are wearing,” Alexander told LGBTQ Nation. “If you’re not physically comfortable, that gets in the way of you feeling comfortable overall.”
Over the past three years, Alexander has sent out more than 10,000 packages to trans girls in over 40 countries. He has spoken on panels, guided employee resource groups, and Zoomed directly with parents seeking advice on supporting their own trans children.
Alexander has also done several collaborations with LGBTQ+ groups, most recently partnering with Alexander Switzer’s Affirming Wardrobe, a program (through Switzer’s nonprofit Valid USA) that works with schools to supply gender-affirming clothing and undergarments to middle, high school, and college students.
In addition to running an Affirming Wardrobe in Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona Lutheran Campus Ministries, Alexander has largely worked with schools in Northern California, namely with the Oakland Unified School District.
He met Alexander when Rubies donated some merchandise to the organization, and the pair quickly knew they wanted to continue working together.
“I really liked what he was doing,” Alexander said, adding that working with Switzer has allowed Rubies products to reach a different cohort of young people – those without supportive parents that must seek out gender-affirming attire themselves.
Last month, in honor of the Transgender Day of Visibility, Alexander donated a slew of merchandise to Switzer.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to expand even further [and reach] older youth and be able to do some good, help these people in another critical time in their journey,” he said.
Both Switzer and Alexander praised the immensely positive effects their work has had on the kids they serve.
“A lot of kids have withdrawn from doing activities they love,” Alexander said. “And I don’t know about you, but for myself, you know, being able to go swimming at the beach, go to camp and feel comfortable, it’s kind of an essential part of growing up. So people say it’s life-changing for them and their kids.”
“Right away when a kid tries on their first bikini… They get that, you know, that twirl, like ‘Hey, I feel like myself.’”
Switzer, a trans man himself, told LGBTQ Nation that based on feedback he has received from the Oakland Unified School District, trans students who have access to the Affirming Wardrobe have had better attendance and even improved grades.
“They’re more interactive with their peers, they’re happier. They’re showing up for school every day. They’re showing up for club meetings, for events in the community… It’s really brought a lot of people, a lot of students, a lot of kids just so much joy.”
Both companies hope to continue expanding their reach as much as possible. Switzer is hoping to do so through college campus ministries.
“I grew up in the Christian church and was loved and welcomed, and then I was queer and I was a sin… So I strayed away from being with any kind of religious groups for 11 years and then [found] this very welcoming group of young people… They were super excited and welcoming of the idea of the Affirming Wardrobe. So with the partnership of the other church that we work with, they were able to give me space there.”
“Now we’re looking to connect with additional campus ministries at additional colleges to try to open space at their church or their college. I connected with my pastor, and we’re going to reach out to the over 100 different groups throughout the different universities.”
And now that Ruby is 15, Alexander has been expanding the company’s product line to grow with his daughter. He introduced a bra last year, for example, and he is working on creating other, more teen-centered undergarments as an increasing number of older kids also show interest in the brand.
“There’s always more to do,” he said. “Much more to grow Rubies into for sure.”
While both founders have experienced the inevitable backlash that accompanies supporting a marginalized group, they said they do their best to focus on the positive.
“The backlash, it just sort of falls off me,” said Alexander. “I knew going into this that there are some people that hate on the trans movement. They’re going to be there irrespective of what I’m doing. I really don’t focus on them at all. Rubies is really about celebrating these great people, the great community, the kids, it’s all positive…. What Rubies and I personally try to do is really just bring some joy to this community.”
“We don’t want you to be shocked,” Switzer added. “We want this to be normal. We’re just giving our kids what they need to succeed.”
He recalls a special Affirming Wardrobe program in San Francisco that paired 18 trans and gender nonconforming kids with 18 drag artists for a shopping spree at the LGBTQ+ thrift store, Out of the Closet.
“Just helping them shop and find what really makes them feel comfortable. We had a shy, shy youth come in that at first was very hesitant. And after, they had just the biggest smile on their face. They just broke out of their shell. And it was just… it drives the work.”
As someone who regularly witnesses the positive impact trans kids experience when their gender is affirmed, Switzer has a message for the GOP legislators seeking to limit trans kids’ freedom: “Just leave us be. Let us do what’s going to make us happy. We’re not hurting anybody. We are doing things within our lives to fulfill what we need to be to be happy.”
A transgender woman is suing the state of Maryland, saying she was sexually assaulted, denied medical treatment, and otherwise abused while incarcerated.
Chelsea Gilliam filed the suit Tuesday in federal court, The Baltimore Sun reports. The suit alleges that while in jails run by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, she was “housed with men, left unprotected from assault, harassed, held in solitary confinement, and denied necessary medical treatment.”
“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other trans woman in the state of Maryland,” Gilliam said at a news conference Wednesday, according to the Sun. “I want the state of Maryland to be held accountable for what happened and what occurred and the things that they let go on, day after day.”
Gilliam was housed at the Baltimore City Correctional Center and then the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center between December 17, 2021, and May 13, 2022. She had been arrested on an assault charge, for which she is now on probation after agreeing to a plea deal.
The suit says that while in the Baltimore facility, Gilliam was sexually assaulted by another inmate, and she knows of no action taken by corrections officials to address the matter. It also says she was forced to live and shower with male inmates, which goes against the corrections department’s policy and put her at risk of assault. Some guards did not allow her to shower alone even after she received official permission to do so, and she was denied hormone treatment there as well, she alleges.
At the other jail, she was placed in solitary confinement no reason, the suit says. She was allowed to leave her cell for only five hours a week, according to the filing.
“The lawsuit alleges cruel and unusual punishment under the 14th Amendment, gross negligence and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, naming gender dysphoria as a protected disability,” the Sun reports. Gilliam seeks punitive and compensatory damages and wants the corrections department to change its policies to assure respectful treatment of trans inmates.
Defendants in the suit are Carolyn Scruggs, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, as well as others in the department, including both jails’ wardens.
A bill has been introduced in the Maryland legislature that would require prisoners to be housed according to their gender identity, but it has not advanced beyond committee, the Sunreports. Maryland currently assigns placement of trans inmates on a case-by-case basis.
Corrections department spokesman Mark Vernarelli, contacted by the Sun, declined to comment on Gilliam’s suit because it’s pending litigation. He said, however, that the department cares about “the protection of every single incarcerated person’s dignity and safety.”
“The department has met with advocacy groups and has tirelessly worked on the complex issues related to the transgender incarcerated population and is committed to updating its policies as necessary based on correctional and medical professionals’ recommendations to ensure the safety of everyone in our facilities,” Vernarelli added.
For decades, legacy outlets like The New York Times have shaped public opinion and driven social change, often after being dragged there themselves. The Times’ difficult history covering the LGBTQ community and the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis has echoed in its current struggles to accurately report on transgender people.
Prominent frontpage coverage has frequently missed the big picture of the trans community, choosing instead to hyper-scrutinize essential and mainstream medical care, undermining its support among readers who know next to nothing about this care, while laundering extremist talking points as legitimate concern. The Times’ coverage has elevated critics without alerting readers to their anti-LGBTQ, anti-trans histories and their coordination and connections to longtime anti-LGBTQ groups like Alliance Defending Freedom.
In its most prominent and inaccurate, biased coverage of transgender people and our essential healthcare, The New York Times has empowered the already powerful to do even more harm. The Times continues to refuse to acknowledge its responsibility in encouraging this harm, including in two pieces last week describing the growing number of states banning healthcare for trans youth and even adults.
The Times is reporting on a wildfire without acknowledging how its biased coverage is an accelerant in the spread.
The Times’ reporting is being weaponized against the trans community, and is therefore actively contributing to an ongoing climate of discrimination and violence. Just last week, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey cited this flawed New York Times article by Emily Bazelon to justify an “emergency” order banning healthcare for transgender people of all ages in the state.
Anti-trans legislators and opponents of trans equality are now openly trumpeting the newspaper’s coverage as they push agendas against trans people and families. This care is safe, essential and supported by every major medical association, yet the Times’ coverage repeatedly and inaccurately treats the widely-held consensus in the medical and science communities as a “side” to be debated with anti-LGBTQ politicians like Bailey.
This false and inaccurate framing was spelled out to Times leadership in an open letter in February addressed to Philip B. Corbett, Associate Managing Editor for Standards, signed by more than 1,000 Times contributors. The Times contributors cited “serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people,” including “publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.” The contributors note prominent articles that failed to report sources’ connections to longtime anti-trans groups: “Grace Lidinksy-Smith, was identified as an individual person speaking about a personal choice to detransition, rather than the President of GCCAN, an activist organization that pushes junk science and partners with explicitly anti-trans hate groups,” the contributors accurately flagged to the Times’ editor of Standards, also about Bazelon’s inaccurate piece.
(The contributors’ letter is wholly separate from a letter delivered the same day from more than 100 LGBTQ groups including GLAAD and notable names, also calling for the Times to address its biased reporting, meet with trans leaders, and hire more trans staff, calls which have gone unanswered.)
The contributors accurately noted how opponents of transgender people have seized on the Times’ biased coverage in court documents and legislative hearings.
“The natural destination of poor editorial judgment is the court of law,” the Times’ own contributors wrote. Here is what that looks like:
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s baseless emergency order cites Emily Bazelon’s piece to justify extreme waiting periods for essential healthcare.
Texas lawmakers quoted Bazelon’s report to target families of trans youth over their private, evidence-based healthcare decisions.
The Times’ front page piece on puberty blockers was cited in a lawsuit to require schools to out LGBTQ students.
The Times’ reporting on trans youth and its reputation as the “paper of record” was used to justify a bill pending in the Nebraska legislature to criminalize healthcare for trans youth. The legislature has advanced the bill banning this essential care, over the objections and real life experience of its own out LGBTQ colleagues.
“I can’t stop thinking about the parents,” State Sen. John Fredrickson tearfully said, reading a letter from a constituent who said her son would have taken his own life if he did not have access to affirming care when he was a teen. Sen. Fredrickson is the first out gay man elected to the Nebraska legislature.
The Times did not cover the testimony or acknowledge its reporting had been cited by anti-trans activists in the state to push bans on essential healthcare.
15 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in defense of Alabama’s discriminatory, harmful and misnamed bill which would make providing essential healthcare to trans youth a felony, including puberty blockers, which have been prescribed safely for years to cisgender patients. The brief cited three New York Times articles to validate its support of the law and included the Times articles’ “just asking questions” and “both sides” language.
The brief, posted by disinformation spreader Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has a documented history of advocating against transgender and all LGBTQ people with lies and falsehoods, repeats the Times’ inaccurate and harmful framing:
“Most recently the New York Times Magazine published an article titled, “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” which recognized that “[m]ore teenagers than ever are seeking transitions, but the medical community that treats them is deeply divided about why—and what to do to help them.” Factcheck: The medical community is not “deeply divided” – every major medical association and world health authority supports transgender medical care, statements here.
Paxton and fellow extremist attorneys general also cited the Times’ Azeen Ghorayshi and her piece and inaccurate claim about “a fraught debate” over hormone therapy. Factcheck: research shows demonstrable benefits of hormone therapy and “fraught” is a term most frequently used by cisgender writers the Times has hired and who repeat fearmongering and lies about transgender people.
The brief cites the Times’ frequent LGBTQ equality critic Ross Douthat and his baseless claim that there is “increasingly vigorous debate around adolescent medical interventions.” Factcheck, again, every major medical association has issued statements of support for transgender health care, at least 29 associations and counting.
In February, ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, who fought and won the first case for transgender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court, described the Times’ coverage of transgender healthcare as “incredibly harmful.”
“Just because something can be debated doesn’t mean it should be,” Strangio wrote. “And when something as essential to survival as whether health care for a group of people is legitimate becomes the subject of widespread debate, those so-called debates have very significant material consequences.”
How has the Times responded to its contributors’ critiques, such as its reporting failures cozily quoted in briefs promoted by anti-LGBTQ extremists like Attorneys General Bailey and Paxton?
The Times has yet to respond to its own colleagues’ specific critiques and justifiable alarm about the storytelling failures and the harms it is clearly causing. The Times has yet to acknowledge how its reporting has been weaponized by anti-trans activists. Times leadership did falsely charge that colleagues were in cahoots with LGBTQ organizations, conflating both the contributors’ and the coalition letters as “activism” it can apparently ignore. Factcheck, there were two letters to the Times critiquing its coverage, and the only coordination was the letters were delivered on the same day, separately and to different Times leaders.
The Times is seemingly ok with anti-trans activists quoting its stories to codify harm against trans people. The Times has not acknowledged that its problematic stories omit the anti-trans history and anti-trans groups’ connections to key sources, creating massively misleading narratives. But colleagues critiquing the same stories were called into meetings and threatened with “letters in their files.” The Times appears far more vigorous in pushing both sides baloney storytelling and crushing internal dissent than about honest criticism, or the pursuit of accurate, curious, compassionate reporting on a community that direly needs media to try to understand.
Recently, The Washington Post published a series of stories that every reporter, editor and leader of the New York Times should read, and learn from.
The Post’s reporting reflects what trans leaders and writers have been calling on the Times to do: focus more on the lives of trans people, highlighting their unique perspectives and barriers. Hear from this little-known group in their own words, rather than 15,000 words questioning and undermining nuanced and private healthcare with falsehoods from anti-trans politicians, while hiding the documented animus of other sources. At The Washington Post, trans voices and experiences are elevated instead, in stories about their lives.
The Post’s accurate storytelling counteracts harmful stereotypes perpetuated by extremist politicians and pundits, and contributes to a greater understanding of the full diversity of the trans community. The Post’s reporting on its joint survey of 515 transgender people, notes how the overwhelming majority of trans people are happier having transitioned, how many knew they were trans from an early age, and how older trans Americans have been living, surviving and thriving, literally for decades, with the healthcare that so many states are now so hellbent on banning, even for transgender adults.
Journalists have a responsibility to report on issues that affect marginalized communities, and to do so in a way that is accurate to the facts and to the preponderance of research and consensus, and above all, reflective of the community’s expressed realities.
Moreover, it is important for us as a society to recognize the harm perpetrated by extremist lawmakers and media that let them get away with it. The Times’ misinformed coverage highlights the need for greater education about the trans community and basic storytelling practices that demand clarity when sources have agendas. There is a deep need for a more nuanced and compassionate public discourse around gender.
The New York Times can learn from its competitors and from trans leaders to more accurately shine a light on the struggles and triumphs of marginalized communities, rather than contributing to a climate of discrimination and violence. They can start by owning responsibility for its failures and listening to the community they harmed. It is up to all of us to create a society that is more inclusive and accepting for everyone.
The federal government is seeking to invalidate the statute because “no person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. The DOJ said the law violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause by discriminating on the basis of both sex and transgender status.
“The right to consider your health and medically-approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety and suicide,” Clarke added.
The federal lawsuit comes after Clarke sent a letter to all state attorneys general last month warning them that federal law protects transgender youth against discrimination. The Justice Department also intervened last year in a lawsuit challenging a similar ban on transgender medical care for young people. That lawsuit is ongoing.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed off on prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors earlier this year. The bill was the first proposal filed in this year’s legislative session. Republican leaders did so in response to video surfacing on social media last year of a Nashville doctor touting that gender-affirming procedures are “huge money makers” for hospitals. That hospital has since paused its transgender services for young people.
Republican lawmakers also advanced legislation designed to severely limit where drag shows can take place, making Tennessee the first state to do so. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the statute from being implemented.
Nationally, Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of laws aimed at transgender people, with at least 14 states restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Under Tennessee’s law — set to take effect July 1 — doctors will be prohibited from prescribing puberty blockers or hormones, or providing other gender-affirming care to anyone under 18. The law spells out a handful exceptions, including allowing doctors to perform such medical services if the patient’s care begins before the law goes into effect. In those cases, care must end by March 31, 2024.
Health care providers who violate the ban would be subject to regulatory discipline and could be sued by the state attorney general or private parties. Violations carry a $25,000 penalty.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond for comment.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit is the second complaint challenging the new Tennessee law. Last week, three transgender children and their parents sued the state, claiming the law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because it excludes treatment for gender dysphoria while allowing the same treatments to be used for other conditions.
Residents have been left stunned after antisemitic and anti-trans flyers were recently distributed across multiple Atlanta neighborhoods.
According to Fox 5, the flyers appear to have come from a group called the Goyim Defense League, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as “a loose network of individuals connected by their virulent antisemitism” whose “goal is to cast aspersions on Jews and spread antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories.”
Doctors could get up to 10 years in prison under the new law.
One of the flyers said Jews are behind “the rise in transgenderism” and included photos of trans leaders superimposed with Jewish stars. The flyer also warned of a “4000% explosion in kids identifying as transgender” and said kids are being “forced to unlearn boy-girl differences.”
Other flyers declared “every single aspect of feminism is Jewish” and “every single aspect of the Jewish Talmud is Satanic.”
“We just need to be more open and kind,” one resident, Caroline Joe, told Atlanta News First. “It’s kind of cowardly actually to just come into a neighborhood and distribute information like that.”
“I think the best places for those messages are in the trash can,” said another resident, Brian Davis. “I think we need to start treating people better, and I encourage whoever did this to go out there and find a Jewish person or a Black person or a gay person and befriend them.”
The FBI told the news agency that while they are of the situation, the distributors of the flyers do not appear to have broken federal law and are exercising their first amendment rights.
“I will continue to extend myself – and my platform – as a resource to any person targeted on the basis of exclusion,” they said.
A statement from the Atlanta Police Department said it is “not aware of any criminal acts related to the flyers. However, their distribution has led to a heightened level of awareness throughout our department, and we have increased patrols around where the flyers were found.”
Georgia state Rep. Saira Draper (D) told Rough Draft Atlanta she is “appalled and disgusted” and that “this is not an isolated incident of hate.”
“As a state legislator, I can’t help but view this incident and our legislative policy choices as related. During the 2023 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass proposed legislation to curb rising rates of antisemitism.”
“Concurrently, the General Assembly prioritized the passage of legislation that discriminates against and harms transgender children and their families. There is a direct line between these policy decisions and creating an environment that emboldens hate groups and normalizes discriminatory rhetoric. It’s not enough for leaders to say they don’t tolerate hate; our policy agenda must do the same.”
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens (D) also condemned the flyers, saying he is “deeply disturbed.”
When Kyle Freels got off work Tuesday, he and his wife, Rene, drove from their home in Missouri across the Mississippi River to look at neighborhoods in Illinois. They also picked up three months’ worth of estrogen for their daughter, Chelsea, who is transgender.
The Freels are preparing to potentially leave St. Louis, where they moved 17 years ago just before Chelsea was born, due to the state’s repeated efforts to restrict the rights of trans people.
“I never thought we’d have to be refugees in the United States, but now we’re being forced out,” Kyle Freels said.
So far this year, Missouri lawmakers have introduced 48 bills targeting LGBTQ rights — the second highest number in the nation behind Texas — with nearly half of those restricting trans rights, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
In February, just as the state’s legislative session was starting and Missouri Republicans were filing bills to bar gender-affirming care for minors, Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced that he had started an investigation into the Transgender Center at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the state’s only multidisciplinary clinic for trans adolescents. The probe followed claims by Jamie Reed, a former case worker at the center, who alleged the facility was harming children by not conducting thorough mental health assessments before providing patients puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.
Reed’s allegations — outlined in an affidavit and an op-ed, both published on Feb. 9 — have become a flashpoint in the debate over transition-related care for minors, both in Missouri and nationwide. The week after Reed’s op-ed was published, state Sen. Mike Moon, a Republican, introduced a trio of bills to restrict such care and cited Reed’s allegations.Earlier this month, the Republican-led House passed a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.
“Sex changes and little kids are two things that should never go together,” Rep. Brad Hudson, the Republican who introduced the recently passed bill, said on the House floor earlier this month, as reported by the Kansas City Star.
“I never thought we’d have to be refugees in the United States, but now we’re being forced out.”
KYLE FREELS, PARENT OF A TRANS TEEN
Though Bailey’s investigation into the Transgender Center is ongoing, he issued a rule on April 13 to significantly restrict transition-related care for all trans people in the state by requiring them to meet a list of criteria before treatment, including attending 15 hourly therapy sessions over at least 18 months and having any mental health issues “treated and resolved.” The rule was scheduled to take effect Thursday, but a judge issued a temporary stay Wednesday night, after civil rights groups and local attorneys filed a petition seeking a temporary restraining order against it. The rule is now slated to take effect Monday, pending the outcome of a hearing.
More than a dozen parents with trans children in the state described the resulting climate as hostile, with one parent calling it a “a dystopian nightmare” and another saying they’ve been “living with harassment every day.” When the Freels talk about it, they call it a “battle” — one that they said will eventually push them out of the state, even though they want to stay and support families with younger kids.
“We kind of feel battle-tested, so we don’t want to leave, but yet we also want our child to be safe,” Rene Freels said. “With the legislation, I know if it goes through, I don’t want to be in the state.”
Allegations made public
Reed, who was a case worker at the Transgender Center from 2018 to November 2022, alleged in a 23-page affidavit that children were being harmed at the center as a result of being routinely prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy too quickly and without “appropriate or accurate” mental health assessments.
She also said patients were provided medication “without informed parental consent,” alleging that parents were not given enough information about the side effects of hormone therapy, which can include infertility. The center, she alleged in her affidavit, also did not obtain custody agreements from divorced parents to ensure all parties consented to treatment.
Shortly after Reed went public with her allegations in an op-ed published in The Free Press, a news website started by Bari Weiss, a former op-ed writer and editor at The New York Times, the Missouri attorney general’s office announced its investigation and made Reed’s affidavit public. Reed, who has a master’s degree in clinical research management, concluded her op-ed by calling for a “moratorium on the hormonal and surgical treatment of young people with gender dysphoria.”
NBC News contacted Reed’s legal team via phone and email, and Reed via mail, but after multiple requests, she declined an interview.
Washington University in St. Louis, the parent institution of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, released the findings of an internal investigation into the Transgender Center on Friday. It found that “allegations of substandard care causing adverse outcomes for patients at the Center are unsubstantiated.”
Reed’s attorneys, Vernadette Broyles and Ernest Trakas, said in a statement on Reed’s behalf that the university did not interview their client for its internal investigation. They also said the university “acknowledges the validity of several of Ms. Reed’s allegations,” including that the center didn’t obtain written informed consent from parents or custody agreements.
In a summary of its investigation findings, the university said the center’s existing policy includes obtaining verbal parental consent for treatment and documenting that consent in the patient’s medical record, as well as requesting custody agreements “before medical intervention in cases where decision-making authority was in question.” Going forward, the university said, the center will require written consent from parents prior to prescribing medications, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, and families to provide custody agreements before an initial visit at the center if the patient is a minor.
The university did not answer NBC News’ question about whether Reed was interviewed as part of the investigation.
“WPATH is an advocacy organization whose publications rely very little on the emerging international evidence and much more on the idea that trans health care is about the right to embodiment of cosmetic goals on demand,” the attorneys said in their statement. “The newest WPATH publication even contains a chapter on the rights of those of the eunuch gender. It seems clear that reasonable people would have caution in providing unquestioning affirmation to children and teens, but neither WPATH nor the Center clinic does this.”
Over the last two months, NBC News has requested interviews with nearly 40 people currently or formerly associated with the Transgender Center — including parents of children treated at the center, current and former patients and former employees — as well as local mental health providers and providers at other gender clinics. NBC News has also reached out to local and national groups that both support and oppose transition-related care for minors.
The more than two dozen people who agreed to interviews said Reed’s allegations don’t reflect their experiences at the center.
Sixteen parents, two current patients and two former patients of the center said the care they received was thorough and slow. The shortest amount of time that a parent said their child waited between their first appointment at the center and when their child started a puberty blocker was about six months. Five parents said their children waited more than a year between their first appointments at the center and their children beginning medical transition.
The Freels are among those five parents. Chelsea, now 17, waited about 15 months between her first appointment at the clinic in August 2021and when she started hormone therapy in November 2022. They waited a year between their first appointmentand their second in August 2022, in part because they had to receive a letter of support from a therapist in order for Chelsea to start hormone therapy. They also alleged that Reed was responsible for some of the delay.
“Medicine is stashed around town at friends’ homes that we’ve stockpiled already in advance of legislation passing.”
DANIELLE, PARENT OF A TRANS TEEN
When they first called the center in the summer of 2021 and asked to make an appointment, Rene Freels said, Reed repeatedly asked them, “What do you want?”
“We were just very dumbfounded, because we didn’t know,” Rene Freels said. “At this point, we were so new to everything that we didn’t know what we wanted.”
Rene Freels said Reed allegedly told them she could email them some information but couldn’t do anything else for them.
“We were in tears,” Rene Freels said. “We hung up the phone. We thought we were supposed to call this place, and they’re supposed to help us.”
Reed’s attorneys did not return a request for comment regarding the Freels’ allegations.
Not knowing where to turn next, they found a therapist for Chelsea who told them to call the center again and tell the center that Chelsea was under the therapist’s care. So they did, and they scheduled their first appointment in August 2021 with Dr. Christopher Lewis, the center’s endocrinologist.
Kyle Freels said the first appointment took more than an hour and a half. Lewis drew on the paper roll on the exam room table to illustrate how various medications interact with different body parts. He then said that, before Chelsea could start hormone therapy, she would need to provide him with a letter of support from a psychologist, and he would run a blood test to check her bone density.
Now that she’s been on hormone therapy since November, Chelsea said, she feels much happier. She’s a junior in high school and the business lead of the robotics team.
“The Missouri legislature is doing its thing, restricting trans rights for political gain and all that stuff,” she said. “But overall, I still feel better now than I did back then, and I think not all of it, but definitely a good part of it, has been being on HRT and transitioning. And that has led to other good things, like more social involvement, getting in a group of my peers that support me for me.”
Other families have similarly said their children’s treatment has been very slow and thorough. Becky Hormuth said Dr. Sarah Garwood, one of the Transgender Center’s providers, said she didn’t want Hormuth’s son to move forward with treatment until he had seen a dietician, because she was concerned he had an eating disorder. Another parent, Kelly, who asked that her last name not be published to protect her family’s privacy, said she and her transgender son, Logan, were well informed about the potential effects of testosterone on fertility, and Logan chose to have eggs harvested at 15 before he started testosterone. And another mom, Christine Hyman, said her son saw a therapist more than 80 times before he received a letter of consent to start testosterone.
While no one who could validate Reed’s claims agreed to an interview with NBC News, one parent shared their negative experience with The Free Press in an interview published earlier this month.
A parent who went only by her first name, Caroline, said she felt “bullied” into agreeing to allow her teenager, Casey, to receive puberty blockers. She said Casey’s mental health has severely declined and that she revoked consent for the blocker in June, but that it still hasn’t been removed. Casey, who uses they/them pronouns, lives primarily with their father, who hasn’t consented to have the blocker removed, according to the article.
The day after the article was published, Casey, whose real name is Alex, criticized the story in a series of Twitter posts. NBC News has independently verified that the account does belong to Alex and that Alex is Caroline’s child, but Alex declined an interview. Neither Caroline nor Alex’s father returned requests for comment.
Dr. Angela Goepferd, the chief education officer and medical director of the gender health program at Children’s Minnesota, said she was disappointed when she read Reed’s allegations. She said she is connected online with doctors who provide care to trans youths nationwide, but she doesn’t know any of the providers at the Transgender Center and hasn’t heard anything negative about the clinic.
“Whether the allegations are true or not,” she said, “it doesn’t really matter, because this is going to be something that is going to make it harder for all of us to provide the care that we know that kids and families need.”
Jeff Dewald, the parent of a trans teen who has been a patient at St. Louis’ Transgender Center for two years, said Reed’s allegations don’t reflect the experience of his family. And while he said he wants to give Reed the benefit of the doubt, he questioned the timing of her claims.
“We’re in the middle of the legislative session, so right when this was issued, not even a week later, they took to hearing three bills on banning health care for trans kids,” he said. “And of course, that was the only talking point in the hearing.”
Dewald said Reed’s affidavit was the last straw for him as a parent. Before this, he said, he had never gone to the Capitol to advocate or spoken to reporters.
“Until that moment, I wanted to protect my kid and our family and just that was good enough,” he said.
But, he added, things changed after Reed’s affidavit came out and, shortly after, his child turned 18.
“I really feel for those that are in the heat of this health care battle,” he said. “Kids that have years to go and genuinely wondering where they’re gonna go if this health care stuff passes. So since then, I’ve actually started stepping up my activism.”
‘Safety versus engagement’
Like the Freels, many Missouri parents of trans kids are making plans in anticipation of the attorney general’s rule taking effect and potential laws restricting trans care loom.
Danielle, the parent of a trans teen who asked not to have her last name published to protect her family’s privacy, said her family has had a plan in place for a while.
“Medicine is stashed around town at friends’ homes that we’ve stockpiled already in advance of legislation passing,” she said. “I feel like we’re living in a dystopian nightmare.”
Chelsea Freels has signed up for text updates on the legal challenge to Bailey’s rule.
She joked that it’s “not doing wonders” for her mental health, but, “Hey, Missouri’s keeping its therapists employed.”
She joked a lot while talking about the attorney general and the Legislature’s attempts to restrict her health care. Her parents said she is generally a very happy kid, but they recently noticed she was struggling.
“My energy bank for hiding everything kind of ran out,” Chelsea said. “It’s back.”
She turns 18 in November, but if she has to leave the state and change high schools before she graduates, she said she’ll be sad to leave behind the robotics team and her friends. Part of her wants to stay, she said, but the other part thinks the state might not be safe anymore.
“If you leave, to some extent, they gain, because you’re not going to be as politically engaged,” she said. “It feels like you’re losing your voice by moving. Safety versus engagement.”
A new study has shown that less than half of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people are out at work.
The research, published by myGwork, indicates that high rates of discrimination towards LGBTQ+ and non-binary professionals are preventing many from coming out in a professional environment, with just 44 per cent of LGBTQ+ women reporting that they are out at work.
The number of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people who are out at work includes the 23 per cent who reported being out and proud in all aspects of their professional and personal lives, and the 21 per cent who say they are only out in the workplace.
The results of the survey of more than 2000 LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people has been published to coincide with Lesbian Visibility Week – a time to reflect on the progress made for LGBTQ+ women and also to acknowledge the need for further visibility for LGBTQ+ women, including in their professional lives.
Within wider society, the report reveals that less than 25 per cent of respondents are completely out and proud, and 46 per cent of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people are only out to their friends and family members.
The report confirms that 70 per cent of respondents still encounter discrimination while they are at work – and for people of colour, marginalised communities and those from ethnic minority groups, the figures are even higher.
Gender non-conforming and queer people experience the highest rate of discrimination at work, followed by cis-gender women, gender fluid, intersex, trans women and non-binary people.
This discrimination at work is playing a factor in many lesbian and queer women believing that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is hindering their career progression.
In fact, nearly 80 per cent of respondents across all age groups say that it’s tougher for LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people to smash through glass ceilings than straight cis-gender women. This figure is much higher for those with intersectional experiences who belong to other marginalised communities.
Marginalised groups aren’t climbing the corporate ladder
Those in ethnic minority groups say that they find it much harder to progress higher up the career ladder than their white colleagues. For example, those with Latinx (86 per cent), South Asian (85 per cent) and Middle Eastern (85 per cent) backgrounds found it the most difficult, followed by East Asian (83 per cent) and Black/African communities (81 per cent).
This is in comparison to 76 per cent of their white colleagues. These staggering data points are in despite of high rates of allyship from both men and cis-gender straight women and even more visible LGBTQ+ role models at work.
While there are a handful of notable queer women in the boardroom, the research also confirms that very few LGBTQ+ women and non-binary professionals occupy top C-suite leadership roles. Only nine per cent hold leadership roles, and only three per cent are CEOs or founders.
The report from myGwork also uncovers insights such as how the community perceives the term ‘lesbian,’ with 61 per cent of women happy to be called a lesbian, but 20 per cent saying that they are uncomfortable with that label. Additionally, an overwhelming 78 per cent would like their employers to provide menstrual leave.
Business leaders need to embrace diversity and champion inclusivity
The research also provides advice on the steps organisations need to take to make the workplace more inclusive and stamp out discrimination.
Over 65 per cent say that LGBTQ+ education and training are needed within work so LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people feel safe enough to come out, stay out and work with pride.
“To create a workplace that is truly inclusive and supportive, businesses need to actively listen to and learn from their employees,” says Michelle ‘Michi’ Raymond, business development director at myGwork. “By embracing diversity and championing inclusivity, we can create a work environment that not only accepts but celebrates all identities.”
Given the fact that over 50 per cent of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary professionals are currently job hunting, the report shares tips on how to attract and retain this highly talented group of people.
73 per cent say that they would leave an employer for not providing an inclusive working environment or not doing enough to achieve proper gender equality. Offering training, being transparent about the gender pay gap and offering up employee resource groups are all ways to keep LGBTQ+ women in their current roles.
Organisations that have more visible allies and improved inclusion policies will retain and support their valuable LGBTQ+ women and non-binary employees. These employees will be more likely to rise up the corporate ladder and be visible, out, and proud role models.
To celebrate Lesbian Visibility Week, the PinkNews Business Community will be hosting a special one-hour virtual chat with Raga D’Silva on Wednesday 26 April at 8:30am BST. Raga will talk about the importance of intersectionality, representation and the freedom to be yourself. Registration for this virtual breakfast session is open to everyone and is free. Sign up here!
On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) vetoed a slate of anti-trans bills passed by the Republican-dominated legislature.
One bill seeks to ban trans people from using bathrooms and other public facilities that align with their gender identity, and another attempts to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth. A third would ban trans students from rooming with cis students on overnight school trips, and a fourth would require trans prisoners to be housed based on their sex assigned at birth.
She was accused of using “inappropriate and uncalled-for language” while defending trans youth.
In a statement on her vetoes, Kelly blasted the bills for taking away trans people’s rights and for their potential to hurt the Kansas economy.
“Companies have made it clear that they are not interested in doing business with states that discriminate against workers and their families. By stripping away rights from Kansans and opening the state up to expensive and unnecessary lawsuits, these bills would hurt our ability to continue breaking economic records and landing new business deals. I’m focused on the economy. Anyone care to join me?”
For at least three of the four bills, the legislature appears to have enough votes to override Kelly’s vetoes. The bill on gender-affirming care is the only one that may not, as 14 House Republicans voted against S.B. 26, which would ban all forms of gender-affirming care – including reversible puberty blockers – for those under 18.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) praised Kelly for vetoing the legislation.
“Today, Governor Kelly did the right thing,” said HRC state legislative director and senior counsel Cathryn Oakley. “By vetoing a series of bills designed solely to discriminate against LGBTQ+ – particularly transgender – Kansans, she rejected the politics of hate and division being perpetrated by the state legislature, all while keeping her focus on the issues that really matter. She’s right that discrimination is bad for business, bad for Kansas, and bad for this nation.”
Earlier this month, the Kansas GOP succeeded in passing an anti-trans sports ban that many worry will lead to invasive and traumatic genital examinations of student-athletes.
Lawmakers overrode Kelly’s third veto of the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which bans transgender girls and women in kindergarten through college from participating in girls’ and women’s school sports.
“It breaks my heart,” Kelly said in the wake of the bill’s passage. “I’m sorry that they distracted themselves with this really awful bill.”
“It won’t increase test scores. It won’t help any kids read or write,” she wrote in her veto message. “It won’t help any teachers prepare our kids for the real world. Here’s what this bill would actually do: harm the mental health of our students.”
Kelly has long championed LGBTQ+ rights. When she first became governor in 2019, her first official act in office was to sign an executive order to restore protections for LGBTQ+ state employees.
“Discrimination of any kind has no place in Kansas,” Kelly said on her official Twitter account. “It will not be tolerated.”
In early March, Tennessee became the first U.S. state to pass a law aimed at banning drag performances in public spaces when Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed the state’s Senate Bill 3 into law. The law would ban “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” from appearing “on public property” or “in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.”
A federal judge in Nashville temporarily blocked the law on March 31, ruling that the law “is likely both vague and overly-broad” and that it would bar businesses that host drag performances “from engaging in protected First Amendment expression” under threat of criminal penalties.
The law has received widespread condemnation from LGBTQ+ advocates and allies. During her Friday night show in Knoxville, Lizzo explained her decision to perform in Tennessee despite calls to boycott the state.
“In light of recent and tragic events and current events, I was told by people on the internet, ‘Cancel your shows in Tennessee,’ ‘Don’t go to Tennessee,’” she told the crowd.
“Their reason was valid,” she added, telling the crowd not to boo the request. “But why would I not come to the people who need to hear this message the most? The people who need to feel this release the most. Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences and celebrate fat Black women?”https://www.instagram.com/reel/CrWHQziuqMc/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=14&wp=1080&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lgbtqnation.com&rp=%2F2023%2F04%2Flizzo-brought-an-army-of-queens-to-protest-tennessees-anti-drag-law%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A726%2C%22ls%22%3A120%2C%22le%22%3A580%7D
“Thank you so much for standing up for your rights, protecting each other, and holding the people accountable who should be protecting us,” she concluded.
Over the weekend, Lizzo posted several video clips and backstage photos from the Knoxville show, thanking all the drag performers who joined her onstage.https://www.instagram.com/p/CrWC2dpsuGl/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=14&wp=1080&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lgbtqnation.com&rp=%2F2023%2F04%2Flizzo-brought-an-army-of-queens-to-protest-tennessees-anti-drag-law%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A2%2C%22os%22%3A728%2C%22ls%22%3A120%2C%22le%22%3A580%7D
“Thank you so much for the platform for me and the Drag Race girls and especially for uplifting the queens on Tennessee!” Aquaria commented on one post. “Those ladies are all so strong and brave and I know tonight was definitely the best of a tricky situation for everyone. Thanks for shedding light for our friends who definitely need our hand these days. We appreciate it.”
On Twitter, Daily Wire host and professional transphobe Matt Walsh reposted video from the concert.
Lizzo isn’t the first high-profile musician to protest the Tennessee law. In March, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan and James McNew appeared in drag onstage at a show at Nashville venue The Basement East. Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, and Hozier were among the line-up at the March 20 “Love Rising” concert benefiting Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, Out Memphis, and the Tennesee Pride Chamber in Partnership with the Looking Out Foundation at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Meanwhile, Madonna recently added a Nashville stop on her upcoming “Celebration” tour with opener Bob the Drag Queen specifically calling out the state’s anti-drag law and pledging a portion of the proceeds from the show to organizations advocating for transgender rights.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana Legislature, held her microphone in the air during a House session Monday as her supporters chanted “Let her speak!” from the gallery.
For the third day in a row, Zephyr’s House colleagues refused to allow her to speak on bills that would restrict the rights of transgender people. The refusal followed a comment she made last week during a hearing on a bill that seeks to ban gender-affirming care for minors.
“I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” Zephyr, a Democrat, said while debating the bill on April 18.
That evening, the Montana Freedom Caucus, a group of 21 Montana Republicans, called for the House to censure Zephyr and misgendered her, using the incorrect pronouns to refer to her in a statement and social media post.
“This kind of hateful rhetoric from an elected official is exactly why tragedies such as the Covenant Christian School shooting in Nashville occurred,” they also said in the statement.
Though the House did not hold a vote to censure Zephyr, two days later House Speaker Rep. Matt Regier refused to recognize Zephyr and allow her to speak on a bill that would define sex under state law as only male or female, and determined only by biology and genetics “without regard to an individual’s psychological, behavioral, social, chosen, or subjective experience of gender.”
Both the House rules committee and the full House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 2 to 1, voted to uphold Regier’s decision despite repeated protests from Democrats.
“It’s about everybody having equal access to this floor to be able to discuss and to be able to represent their community,” state Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy, a Democrat, said Thursday, the Montana Standard reported. “And I believe that where we’re at is we are being discriminatory.”
In a statement shared on social media after Thursday’s House session, Zephyr said, “No amount of silencing tactics will deter me from standing up for the rights of the transgender community.”
“This year, I have lost friends to suicide, and I have listened to the heart-wrenching stories of families dealing with suicide attempts, trans youth fleeing the state, and people being attacked on the side of road — all due to legislation like this,” she said in the statement.
Republicans have called on her to apologize for her remarks last week, but Zephyr said she has no intentions of doing so.
“Montana Republicans say they want an apology, but what they really want is silence as they take away the rights of queer and trans Montanans,” she said in her statement Thursday.
Republicans continued to block Zephyr from speaking Friday, including on bills unrelated to LGBTQ people. On Monday, some of her supporters delivered a petition with more than 3,000 signatures to Regier’s office, according to KTVH-TV, an NBC affiliate in Helena.
Republicans voted again Monday afternoon to continue to block Zephyr from speaking and, after they did, protesters in the gallery shouted “Let her speak!” until they forced the House to halt proceedings. Zephyr held her microphone in the air.
Seven people were arrested for criminal trespass, the sheriff said. Regier’s office shared a statement Monday night describing the events as a “riot.”
“House Republicans condemn violence and will always stand for civil debate and respect for our processes of government,” Regier said in a joint statement with Rep. Sue Vinton, House majority leader, and Rep. Rhonda Knudsen, speaker pro tempore. “Today’s riot by far-left agitators damages our discourse and endangered legislators and staff.”
The Montana Freedom Caucus called for immediate disciplinary action against Zephyr in a statement Monday, saying she stood on the House floor and encouraged “an insurrection.”
Zephyr said in a statement that she raised her microphone to stand in solidarity with those who “protested on behalf of their democratic right to be heard.”
“As an elected representative, I am devoted to supporting those who speak in defense of democracy, as it is my duty to ensure their voices are heard and respected,” she said.