Trans people who are routinely barraged with anti-transgender media coverage are more likely to experience depression and negative mental health outcomes, a study has found.
Researchers from the The Fenway Institute and Brown University asked 545 participants about their experiences of anti-trans messaging and their mental health.
The study, published in the LGBT Health journal, found that 97.6 per cent of participants reported seeing negative depictions of transgender people in the media in the past 12 months – 93.9 per cent seeing anti-trans coverage in print, 93.8 per cent on television and 83.1 per cent in advertising.
Exposure to anti-transgender messaging was found to correlate strongly with reports of depression, anxiety and psychological distress.
People who are frequently exposed to transphobic media were found to be 18 per cent more likely to be depressed and 28 per cent more likely to experience psychological distress, even when adjusted for other factors.
Anti-trans media coverage is fuelling negative mental health impacts.
Jaclyn White Hughto, assistant professor at Brown University School of Public Health, said: “Nearly all of our study participants reported having seen negative depictions of transgender people in media over the past 12 months.
“But those who reported greater frequency of exposure to these messages were significantly more likely to exhibit clinical symptoms of depression, anxiety, global psychological distress and PTSD.
“The association held even after adjustments were made for variables such as age, race, income and reported experiences of childhood and/or adult sexual or physical abuse, which suggests that negative media messages may have an independent impact on the mental health of transgender populations exposed to such messages.”
Hughto added: “Given the prevalence of systemic discrimination against transgender people in employment, health care settings, schools, and housing, we have long known that structural interventions are required to target stigma at its source.
“Campaigns designed to encourage accurate, non-stigmatizing depictions of transgender people across all media could serve to mitigate the harms of negative media messages to transgender people.
“In the meantime, clinical interventions can also help transgender people cope with the stress of being exposed to negative transgender-related media.”
The US-based study affirms anecdotal reports from the UK, where a years-long blitz of anti-transgender stories in the media has led to rising demand for mental health and support services for trans people.
Earlier this month, a report from LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop found that as a result of transphobia, more than half of transgender people in the UK feel less able to go outside and two-thirds say they avoid using public bathrooms.
One respondent said: “The fear is particularly prevalent when public figures – politicians, high profile newspaper columnists etc – demonise trans people in print or on air; it makes the fear more pronounced because you worry someone’s going to act on it.”
Leni Morris, CEO of Galop, said that the report showed the reality of life for British trans people amid increasingly hostile debate about trans rights and toxic, transphobic commentary in the media.
“As the whole LGBT+ community knows from our history, there are real-world consequences to public debates,” Morris said. “Our new report shows how the safety and dignity of trans people is currently at risk.”
A transgender woman who was a well-known activist and performer in Miami was murdered on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the Miami Police Department told the Washington Blade that 28-year-old Ygor Arrudasouza had placed a 911 call at around 4:25 a.m. on Tuesday, stating that he had stabbed his girlfriend, 39-year-old Yunieski Carey Herrera also known Yuni Carey, in their downtown Miami high-rise apartment near the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.
Responding officers found Carey covered in blood suffering from stab wounds and unresponsive. The police report noted that Arrudasouza had uttered a spontaneous confession admitting to the crime and that methamphetamine had influenced the events. She was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Miami police the two had been involved in an argument that became physical.
Arrudasouza on Wednesday during his first court appearance confessed he was under the influence of methamphetamines when he used a fork and a knife to stab Carey in a fit of rage.
Arrudasouza, a local dancer of Brazilian origin, has been charged with second-degree murder. Arrudasouza in an emotional confession claimed he “deserves the punishment that comes to him.”
Arrudasouza, according to the arrest report, told a detective that Carey said during an argument that “she had a better man.” This confession triggered Arrudasouza, who has a recent history of violence, to attack Carey.
Court records indicate Arrudasouza in January was charged with three counts of battery.
That case remains open and is scheduled to go to trial on March 8. Arrudasouza was out on bail when he allegedly killed Carey. He is currently being held without bail at a Miami jail.
Arianna Lint, executive director of Arianna’s Center, a South Florida-based group that works with members of the trans community, told the Blade on Wednesday that she knew Carey and Arrudasouza well. Lint said she is still in shock over Carey’s murder.
“They came to the center for exams and for emotional support,” said Lint. “I received calls from her (Carey) on several occasions seeking advice when she had a fight with her husband. They, as a couple, were facing problems.”
Carey performed at Azúcar, a gay nightclub near Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Alexis Fernández, a drag queen known as Marytrini who is the establishment’s artistic producer, told the Blade that Arrudasouza was kicked out three times because of violence.
“Her boyfriend was aggressive, violent,” said Fernández. “He got hysterical out of jealously and he was always hitting people. I advised her to leave him on several occasions, but she was afraid. I even think she wanted to rehabilitate him for his violence.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/TnXYwUq6clc?wmode=transparent&modestbranding=1&autohide=1&showinfo=0&rel=0
Carey born, raised in Cuba
Carey was born in Santa Clara, the capital of Cuba’s Villa Clara province that is in the center of the country, and spent her childhood there. She lived with her grandmother in Miami, while the rest of her family remains in Cuba.
Carey previously won the Miss Trans Cuba beauty pageant. She was later crowned Miss Trans Global 2019 in Barcelona. Carey was preparing to return to the stage for the first time in eight months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Next Sunday would have been her great return to Azúcar,” said Fernández. “I was ready for the show.”
Fernández, as an artist, defined Carey as a person who knew how to seduce her audience. Fernández added the community loved her.
“She was the typical jovial and cheerful Cuban,” added Lint. “She loved parties. She was very Cuban, very beautiful.”
Bamby Salcedo, president of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition, told the Blade she had known Carey since she was a teenager. Salcedo described Carey as a highly motivated person and a role model for young trans women who took care of her grandmother.
“This is a crazy world, so sad,” said Salcedo. “She [Carey] was admired by so many in the trans communities, her work in pageantry, her work as a service provider, she was the most resilient person. She was a good person.”
Carey was killed days before the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which pays tribute to trans people who were murdered. Carey is the 37th trans person reported killed in the U.S. in 2020.
Azúcar on Friday and Sunday plan to honor Carey’s life with a tribute. Marytrini, Valeria Coutier and Mónica Simpson are among those who are expected to perform.
The International Transgender Day Of Remembrance will be held on Nov. 20th, 2020.
Trans Day Of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day which remembers those trans and gender-diverse people who have been victims of homicide.
Though the event began in the US, TDoR now happens in many parts of the world.
Vigils are usually held in person all around the world, but due to the pandemic and varying levels of lockdowns and restrictions, the community is expected to take to social media to join together in grief and remembrance.
The City of West Hollywood will host an online Transgender Day of Remembrance Ceremony on Friday, November 20, 2020 at 6 p.m. featuring speakers and a reading of names to memorialize people who have been murdered as a result of anti-transgender violence.
The event will feature the traditional Reading of the Names wherein community members will recite the name of at least one person and brief biographical details of the person being memorialized. The reading is pre-recorded and has been made part of a video presentation, which will be played during the virtual event. The City encourages community members to take part and to honor these lives and memories as well as to take the opportunity to reflect on the work that remains to be done.
350 transgender people were killed this year around the world, a figure that has risen since last year’s total of 331. In the United States alone at least 33 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. A disproportionately high number of these victims are black and latinx transgender women.
The annual list, released for Transgender Day of Remembrance, found the average age of those killed was 31, with the youngest just 15.
The Pride LA mourns those we have lost in the transgender community and works toward justice and equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
A list of the transgender lives that have been lost in the United States has been listed in memoriam:
Dustin Parker, 25
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz
Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19
Monika Diamond, 34
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32
Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21
Penélope Díaz Ramírez
Helle Jae O’Regan, 20
Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells
Riah Milton, 25
Jayne Thompson, 33
Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37
Brian “Egypt’ Powers, 43
Brayla Stone, 17
Merci Mack, 22
Shaki Peters, 32
Bree Black, 27
Dior H Ova (aka Tiffany Harris)
Queasha D Hardy, 22
Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears (aka Rocky Rhone) Kee Sam,
Dr Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, has been tipped for a high-ranking position in the Joe Biden administration.
Levine is one of the highest-ranking transgender officials in the US, and has spent this year leading Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic in the face of shameless transphobia.
Her hard work and decades of medical experience could soon be rewarded, with her name now attached to two key White House roles.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political action committee (PAC) that helped elect hundreds of queer politicians in the 2020 election, has suggested Biden should appoint Levine either secretary of health and human services or US surgeon general.
Ruben Gonzalez, vice president of the PAC, said the organisation has already had “informal conversations” with the Biden transition team regarding LGBT+ appointments, and is “feeling very confident and very hopeful that we will see trans people serve in high-level roles in this administration”.
“Dr Rachel Levine has served Pennsylvania incredibly well as their secretary of health for a number of years, leading their response on COVID, and leading their response on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” Gonzalez said, via the American Independent.
“I think someone like her is well-poised to serve at a high-level in a Biden administration.”
The LGBQT Victory Fund has made a number of other suggestions, includingPete Buttigieg for UN ambassador; Maura Healey, the first openly gay state attorney general, for US attorney general; Tammy Baldwin, the first out lesbian in Congress, for the Department of Health and Human Services; and Raphael Bostic, the first out gay man and first Black man to lead a regional bank for the Federal Reserve, as secretary of the treasury.
With more than 4,100 roles available in the incoming administration, the LGBTQ Victory Fund says that there should be at least 185 queer appointees in order for the new White House to be properly representative.
As Joe Biden prepares to take office in January, he has already begun naming staff to his presidential transition team.
Among them is Shawn Skelly, who was the first transgender veteran to get a presidential appointment when Barack Obama named her director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat at the Department of Transportation.
The former Navy commander will help Biden evaluate the Department of Defense, understanding how it operates and helping ensure a smooth transfer of power.
Trans youth are twice as likely to be depressed and seven times as likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours, a new study has found.
A Minnesota study of 411 teenagers who went to the emergency department at a hospital found that rates of cis and trans teenagers having sex was not significantly different – 20.8 per cent and 23.3 per cent, respectively – but that trans youth were more likely to use drugs or alcohol before sex.
The study found that 35.7 per cent of trans youth reported that they’d drunk alcohol or used substances before sex, compared with only 4.6 per cent of cis youth. Sexually active trans youth were also more likely not to have discussed STIs before sex than cis youth – 21 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent – and 78.5 per cent of trans youth didn’t discuss pregnancy prevention before having sex, compared to 50 per cent of cis youth.
Brianna S McMichael, of Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis, led the study and reported the findings at a virtual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
McMichael told the meeting that gender-diverse youth are also more likely to say they have been depressed for at least half of the days in the fortnight prior, with a quarter of trans youth compared with 12.6 per cent of cis youth, and trans youth are three times as likely to have tried smoking as cis youth.
“With risky sexual behaviours, smoking, and depression, the next step in our process is to figure out how we safely identify youth and provide appropriate resources around these topics,” McMichael told MedPage Today. “That is a challenge to figure out how we are going to bring it up in clinical care, how often, and in ways that are safe.”
“Gender identity and sexual orientation are still considered sensitive or taboo topics in certain communities,” McMichael said. “Because we’re a pediatric institution, parents come with their children and, depending on the reason they’re visiting the ED, parents may or may not be able to step out.”
The survey asked children about the sex they were assigned at birth and whether they were genderqueer, gender fluid or trans, which all came under the “gender diverse” category used by the researchers. If youth told the survey they were trans, they were then asked if they were trans masc or trans femme.
While most estimates put trans people at around one per cent of the population, the Minnesota study found that 15.4 per cent of youth were gender-diverse.
This could be due to the fact that the hospital where the research took place recently opened a gender clinic for trans youth, as well as being recognised as being supportive of LGBT+ patients.
“Angel was free-spirited and wasn’t afraid to be no-one but herself,” the fundraiser reads.
The friend described Haynes as “caring, determined, funny, smart and giving” and added: “Unfortunately, our time with her was cut very very short. She was MURDERED!! She was taken away from her mom, grandmother, uncle… she was taken away from all of us unexpectedly.”
Friends and family gathered on Friday (October 30) where they held a candlelit vigil to remember Haynes.
The US airforce has finally granted an honourable discharge to a trans veteran whose life was marred by mental illness, homelessness, unemployment and drug use.
In 1984 Kelly Katherine Roser’s exemplary military career was upended by a one-time positive drug test for marijuana, which she used as a form of self-medication for the distress of her gender dysphoria.
For years she battled with the shame of her discharge, until now. At 59 years old, Roser has finally received the full honours she earned.
“Soldiers don’t fight for the flag or the Constitution – they fight for other soldiers. When you let them down, it is the worst feeling in the world,” she told the Daily News.
“Even with an honourable discharge, I may have failed at life but I am worthy to stand in their ranks.”
Roser struggled with her gender identity from the age of 13, but was unable to articulate her feelings. “I wanted to scream that I was a woman,” she said, “but the only answer I had was that I wanted to join the Air Force to make me a man. That didn’t quite turn out as expected.”
In her search for a sense of belonging Roser enlisted in the military in 1977. She was quickly promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, but still couldn’t shake the feeling there was something wrong inside.
As her emotional problems began to surface she was belittled by lower ranks and disrespected by her peers. She became prone to mental outbursts, which were met with “confusion and laughter” by her fellow airmen.
A psychiatric evaluation determined no problems and made no mention of gender dysphoria, which wasn’t commonly diagnosed at the time. Roser was unable to reach her full potential because the Air Force entirely missed the reason for her deteriorating mental state, her attorneys say.
“It is no surprise that Ms Roser’s mental health problems continued until they reached a breaking point,” they said in their legal brief, as seen by the Daily News. “This happened time and time again, and the end result was always the same.”
To cope, trans veteran Roser self-medicated with alcohol and, in her private quarters on base, cross-dressed and smoked marijuana.
“When I got my general discharge my life was over,” said Roser, who now struggles with vivid nightmares, bipolar depression and PTSD. “I wish I could have had a military career but, if I couldn’t have been a female, it would have been destructive.”
Her trauma only continued after she left the Air Force. Her emotional outbursts caused her to be fired from more than two dozen jobs, and she attempted suicide three times.
The pressure only eased when she transitioned in 2012. Now after decades of struggle, the final burden of her military discharge has also been lifted.
In a highly competitive race for an open congressional seat in Texas, the National Republican Congressional Campaign’s anti-trans attacks on lesbian candidate Gina Ortiz Jones continue, now with a TV ad citing a 2018 quote from her in the Washington Blade in support of gender reassignment surgery for transgender service members.
The new ad that went online Tuesday criticizes Jones — a first-generation Filipino-American who served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force during the Iraq war — for supporting closure of military bases in Texas to save costs, raising the question of where she would rather have that money spent.
“For what?” a male narrator asks in a voiceover. “Jones wants the Defense Department to pay for transgender reassignment surgeries, reassigning the military a new mission, helping Jones use our money to radicalize our country.”
The ad ends with a lock and chain clicking into place superimposed over a black-and-white image of Jones and a scrolling image behind her of blood-red tinted money within an outline of the continental United States.
The sources attributed for Jones’ comments are an August 2017 article in the San Antonio Express as well as an October 2018 interview in the Washington Blade. At the time, Jones criticized her then-opponent, incumbent Rep. Will Hurd, for voting for an amendment that would have barred the use of military funds to pay for transition-related care for transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.
(The amendment ended up being defeated on the House floor, but President Trump later banned transgender military service altogether with an announcement on Twitter.)
Jones at the time criticized Hurd for voting for the anti-trans amendment, citing it as hypocrisy on the basis he claims to support national security “and then takes votes like that that undermine military readiness.”
“As someone that’s served in the military and under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I know that if one person on that team is not 100 percent, that unit is not 100 percent and the mission is at risk, so this is now an issue of military readiness,” Jones said.
It’s not the first time the NRCC has made an anti-LGBTQ attack on Jones. The NRCC has previously run an ad that says Jones “doesn’t care about Texas” and slams her for wanting to “divert military money for transgender re-assignment surgeries.”
The NRCC also put on a website for potential lines of attack against Democrats a picture of Jones and her partner holding champagne glasses, an attempt to paint her as a Washington political insider. Initially, the post included an explicit reference to Jones having a same-sex partner, but that has since been removed.
Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have concluded gender reassignment surgery can be medically needed care for transgender people and have backed transgender military service.
The NRCC didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on why the Republican political action committee thought the attack line in the ad was appropriate.
The race between Jones and her Republican opponent, Tony Gonzales, is incredibly tight in the days leading up to Election Day. An Oct. 7 poll from Public Opinion Strategies found Jones has a 1-point lead in the race, which is well within the margin of error.
Rebecca Marques, Texas state director for the Human Rights Campaign, condemned the ad in a statement as “desperate, cheap, and beneath even them,” citing a poll showing 88 percent of Texas likely voters support transgender people having equal access to medical care.
“Their closing argument in Texas appears to be not just attacking LGBTQ people but our nation’s veterans and military,” Marques said. “This isn’t just ineffective, it’s counter to the 88 percent of Texas voters who believe transgender people should have equal access to medical care as any other Texan. If the NRCC were smart, they would realize that even Texas Republicans are turned off by their disgusting strategy.”
State Rep. Brianna Titone, who made history in 2018 when she became the first transgender lawmaker in Colorado, is now running for her second term. But while her platform focuses on the bread-and-butter issues of transportation, education and jobs, her opponents have targeted her gender identity.
The group Take Back Colorado released a Facebook ad this month that misgenders Titone and refers to her by her “deadname,” the name she used before her transition. The ad also claims Titone has “always supported violence” and sexualizes children.
“It’s just a nasty, transphobic ad that’s blatantly full of lies,” Titone told NBC News.
Take Back Colorado is registered to Joe Neville, the brother of Patrick Neville, the Republican state House minority leader. When questioned by The Denver Post, Patrick Neville denied the ad was transphobic, saying it simply showed “the facts.”
Titone said the strategy backfired. She raised $11,000 in the 36 hours after the ad ran —about 20 percent of all online contributions to her campaign this cycle — and said she now had contributions from 43 out of 50 states.
“I’m getting support from places all over the country now,” she said. “People recognized that there was a group of people trying to beat up someone who is doing a really good job.”
Titone is not the only target of anti-LGBTQ political ads. Many LGBTQ candidates this cycle have been subjected to such attacks, prompting advocates to worry that it has become a trend.
“The homophobic and transphobic attacks on LGBTQ candidates are more frequent and more direct than we have seen in at least a decade,” said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who now runs the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization that trains and promotes LGBTQ political candidates.
“The dog whistles of the last few cycles are still prominent, but they are secondary to more direct and blatant uses of anti-LGBTQ stereotypes that weaponize our sexualities in an effort to derail campaigns,” Parker added. “LGBTQ candidates are being falsely called ‘pedophiles,’ ‘sexual predators’ and ‘drug users.’ They are being told they are ‘deplorable’ and should ‘go to church.’ They are being misgendered. And their dating histories — including their use of dating apps — have become the targets of opponents.”
Many of the attacks are happening in close races in competitive districts, like Titone’s.
“My race was one of the hardest races to win in 2018, and I’m a top targeted seat in the House right now,” Titone said of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Gabriele Magni, an assistant professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said homophobic and transphobic attack ads “can be especially powerful and especially hurtful in districts that are not very progressive to start with.”
“They can bring out fear in the electorate,” Magni said. “It’s from an old playbook … trying to create fear about what can happen if transgender people are in office, or if people who are allies with transgender people are in office.”
Magni added that anti-LGBTQ attack ads are actually “validation of the strength and competitiveness of LGBTQ candidates.”
Gina Ortiz Jones, who’s running in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, has been the subject of attacks funded by the National Republican Campaign Committee. The committee ran an ad last week implying that Jones, a U.S. Air Force veteran, would put military “patriots out of work” so she could “divert military money for transgender reassignment surgeries.”
In August, HuffPost reported that the committee had been encouraging outside groups to remind Texas voters in Jones’ swing district about her sexual orientation.
“The national fundraising arm of the Republican Party has declared war on LGBTQ candidates this election cycle — and homophobia and transphobia are their weapon of choice,” Parker said. “It is despicable that Republicans would attack a military veteran simply because she believes the trans soldiers who risked their lives beside her deserve fair treatment when they return home.”
Jon Hoadley, an openly gay congressional candidate in Michigan, has been the subject of an attack ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to Congress, that has been criticized as homophobic. The ad makes reference to Hoadley’s sexual history and calls his judgment “disturbing.” Hoadley is running against an incumbent Republican, Fred Upton, who has not denounced the advertisement.
The ad drew from Hoadley’s personal blog that he kept in his early 20s. On the now-deleted blog, Hoadley wrote about going to a gay bar and mentioned “a four year old wearing a thong” in a post about a friend’s wedding. Hoadley has apologized in a Facebook video for any misunderstanding stemming from the posts.
Chris Pack, a spokesperson for the National Republican Campaign Committee, defended the ads.
Holding Hoadley accountable for “his disgusting comments about toddlers in thongs has nothing to do with his sexual orientation,” Pack told NBC News, “and the same is true regarding Gina Jones wanting to divert money from the military to foot the bill for transgender reassignment procedures.”
Personal attacks on LGBTQ candidates can also occur in progressive strongholds.
Ritchie Torres, who is a shoo-in to win his seat in New York’s 15th Congressional District and become the first Afro-Latinx LGBTQ person in Congress, was called derogatory names on social media that many interpreted to be homophobic.
Torres was called a “first class whore” in a now deleted tweet by Ed Mullins, an officer with the New York Police Department and president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
The comments came after Torres criticized the NYPD amid an increase in gun violence. Mullins said his comments “had nothing to do” with Torres’ “race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
“My comments had everything to do with his dangerous policies and worldview,” Mullins stated. “The city is burning and Councilman Torres wants to blame the police.”
Magni said attacks like this are not surprising. He said that many of the attacks this cycle are “based on homophobic tropes” that cast gay men as promiscuous or sexual predators.
“American voters are OK with LGBTQ candidates if LGBTQ candidates are sexless,” Magni said.
Despite Torres’ near guaranteed win in November, personal attacks could still have a negative impact.
“The way homophobic attacks work in progressive strongholds … is by hurting candidates in an indirect way,” Magni said. “Some of these attacks isolate LGBTQ candidates and force some allies to distance themselves.”
Like-minded organizations might put endorsements on hold or volunteers and donors may pause contributions, causing LGBTQ candidates to “lose access to resources and allies that are needed at critical moments,” Magni added.
For example, openly gay Illinois state House candidate Ken Mejia-Beal has been subjected to comments from his opponent, Republican Rep. Amy Grant, that target his race and sexuality.
On a recorded fundraising call over the summer, Grant said, “That’s all we need is another person in the Black Caucus.” She went on to say: “I just think that maybe he’s afraid of the reaction that people might give him. Not because he’s Black, but because of the way he talks. He’s all LGBTQ.”
Equality Illinois, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, condemnedthe remarks as “racist and homophobic.”
Grant subsequently apologized, saying she “deeply regret[s] the comments” and added that they “do not reflect my heart or my faith.”
Mejia-Beal, however, does not buy Grant’s apology and said she’s out of touch with the people in his district. “She is not a nice person,” he said, adding that Grant’s comments reflect racist and bigoted beliefs.
Grant’s campaign also circulated a mailer insinuating that Mejia-Beal was connected to a cover-up of a sexual assault over a decade ago.
“Right out of the gate, when she started attacking me, I didn’t understand where it was coming from,” Mejia-Beal said. “When I heard the audio, that’s when I had the a-ha moment.”
Mejia-Beal’s opponents may have perceived his candidacy as more vulnerable to attacks because of his multiple marginalized identities.
Magni recently conducted research exploring voters’ reactions to LGBTQ candidates and found that gay men — particularly Black gay men — were the most likely to be penalized by voters.
“In the U.S., Black candidates are penalized more than white candidates for being gay, in addition to the separate, individual penalties that they face for sexual orientation and race,” he said.
He added that this penalty “does not come from Black voters.” When compared to white voters, he added, “Black voters are now more supportive overall of LGBTQ candidates, since LGBTQ candidates tend to be Democrats.”
Personal attacks can also threaten LGBTQ candidates’ personal safety.
Jenna Wadsworth, an openly bisexual candidate for North Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture, received rape and death threats after posting a TikTok video criticizing President Donald Trump, according to the Advocate.
Todd Gloria, a member of the California State Assembly and candidate for mayor in San Diego, also received threats of physical violence that his campaign said were incited by his opponent, fellow Democrat Barbara Bry.
Gloria came under criticism after he voted for SB 145, a bill that addresses anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the application of the sex offender registry.
“We have reported the threats to the San Diego Police Department, and they are currently investigating,” Gloria said in a statement. “While I refuse to let this paralyze our campaign, voters deserve to know that this is what Barbara Bry’s campaign is inspiring. Her campaign is bringing out the worst of who we are. We are so much better than this, and San Diegans should hold her and her campaign accountable this November.”
Bry’s campaign disputed Gloria’s claims and stressed that Bry is a “long-time supporter of LGBTQ rights.”
“While she disagrees with Todd Gloria on the issue of requiring those convicted of sexual assault on children to be placed on the state’s sex offender registry, regardless of sexual orientation, her campaign has never raised this issue in campaign advertising,” Tom Shepard, Bry’s campaign consultant, told NBC News in an email. “This controversy is a result of verbal attacks on Gloria by a rival leader in San Diego’s LGBTQ community, who criticized Gloria’s vote on this issue.”
Targets of homophobic or transphobic ads may not even be LGBTQ. For example, the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank and PAC, released an ad targeting presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., alleging that they support “policies which would allow biological males to compete in women’s sports and push children into dangerous, life-altering sex-change” procedures.
Magni said such ads are designed to “galvanize the most conservative base,” so these voters turn out on Election Day. The idea is to depict Biden and Peters “as out-of-touch liberals who threaten ‘traditions,’” Magni said.
While a record number of LGBTQ candidates are running for office this year, some advocates fear anti-LGBTQ attacks could derail this progress.
“The last few election cycles we have seen the number of LGBTQ candidates increase dramatically, but this trend is not inevitable,” Parker said. “Already we are hearing from LGBTQ elected officials that they may not seek higher office because they don’t want to expose their loved ones and families to these deeply personal attacks.”
Magni said these attacks could have a long-lasting impact.
“The damage that is done is not only to candidates right now but the potential chilling effects among younger LGBTQ people who are thinking about running,” he said. “It’s not only about scrutiny. Their personal lives are going to be distorted. Their dating lives are going to be weaponized … It makes them think twice.”
For her part, Titone is determined to keep campaigning and support the presence of other transgender women in office.
“When you are only 1 of 4 transgender legislators in the whole county, representation matters,” Titone said. “We cannot take a step back in trans representation at this point.”
Another transgender American has died by violence, bringing this year’s total of trans or gender-nonconforming homicide victims in the nation to 33.
Sara Blackwood, 29, was shot around 10 p.m. Sunday in Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Starreports. She died shortly afterward at a local hospital.
Police said she was apparently walking home from work when she was shot, Indianapolis TV station WXIN reports. She had worked at a Kroger grocery store for several years, but she was on her way home from a different job, according to the station.
“She was very sweet and a very good person,” her friend Jimmy Johnson, a Kroger coworker, told the station. She provided excellent service to customers, he said. “She was very quick, so if they had a problem at the self-checkout, she would be right there,” he noted.
“The world at large is missing a very kind, responsible person,” Johnson added.
Activists mourned her death as well. “Six transgender women have been killed over the last 23 days — which is just over three weeks — in this country. This violence is heartbreaking and horrifying. It must end,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release.
“We have already seen more trans and gender-nonconforming people killed this year since we began tracking these deaths in 2013, and the numbers continue to climb, even during a pandemic. We must all ask ourselves what each of us is doing to work to bring this violence to an end. We are mourning Sara’s loss along with her friends and family, including her domestic partner Avery, who are all in our thoughts. As we take time to remember Sara, we’ll keep fighting for the lives for all trans and gender-nonconforming people.”
With 33 homicides of trans people reported in the U.S., 2020 is the deadliest year since activists and media outlets began keeping records. The previous high was 31 in 2017. The number for any given year is likely higher, given that many victims are misgendered in death (as Blackwood initially was) or their deaths not reported at all.