The 34-year-old was studying and enjoying a quiet night in with her two goddaughters, aged 12 and 16, when she heard a fight breaking out outside her house in South Philadelphia.
When the group refused to disperse, she called emergency services, but one of the women turned on her and punched her in the face. The attacked and her friends then forced their way into Stephens’s house to continue the assault.
Recalling the attack in an interview with Human Rights Campaign, Stephens said: “I ended up in my dining room getting attacked by four women at all sides of me, and then suddenly one of the women picked up a wooden decorative planter and began hitting me about my head and face with it, causing me to become concussed and black out momentarily.
“Throughout the attack the woman referred to me as a ‘man’ and ‘tranny’.
“The assault did not end there. Several men stormed into the home as well and pulled the women away, but did not pull them away before getting a few hits in as well and calling me the N word and a ‘f**king tranny’.”
Police refused to arrest trans woman’s attacker.
Stephens was left with her nose broken in two places, bruised ribs, swelling on her face, a head contusion, “a busted lip” and damaged gum vessels that caused two of her teeth to become necrotic.
When the police arrived, however, they had little sympathy for the trans woman who had been brutally beaten.
“The responding police officers were very unhelpful,” said Stephens.
“They were belligerent and unsympathetic and refused to arrest one of my attackers, who I had ID’d to them (she was a few doors down continuing to hurl transphobic slurs while they were there).
“Furthermore, they said that by looking at my injuries, they regarded the incident as a simple assault, and as such, I had to make a private criminal complaint.”
While this was happening, her husband arrived home, and they both begged with police to take action. They left without confirming the attackers’ identities or making any arrests.
Ivon Garcia, 26, grew up two exits from the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego. Garcia was so steeped in Mexican-American culture and Spanish that Garcia “didn’t really conceptualize someone not knowing Spanish.”
At a young age, Garcia identified as nonbinary. But this got consistently swept under the rug by Garcia’s extended family, who was often hostile to anyone different.
“To me, Spanish and Mexican, Chicano, Xicano, Mexican-American culture has consisted of being a matter of ‘one or the other, otherwise not acknowledged,’” Garcia said. “There is so much unsaid, but still judged, because it simply doesn’t fit.”
It didn’t take long into Garcia’s teen years to realize that the pronoun “ella”—which means “her” or “she” in Spanish, did not describe Garcia.
“‘Ella’ communicated something to others that seemed so profoundly wrong,” Garcia said. “‘Ella’ was for my tías (aunts) and mother who I could resonate with but still felt a departure from. ‘Ella’ encompassed so much that I wasn’t, that I rejected it.”
So Garcia began to search for an alternative in Spanish, the way that “they/them” is used in English instead of “he/him” or “she/hers.” Garcia settled on “elle,” a still-emerging pronoun not used by many Spanish speakers.
As an alternative to “él” (he) and “ella” (she), Garcia says “elle,” which is pronounced EH’-jeh, gives them more agency in conversations with other Spanish speakers.
“‘Elle’ is a tool to me, a way to communicate something that I want, a way to test the waters and see if I can be me,” Garcia said.
Not mainstream—at least not yet
In recent years, activists and academics in the U.S. and Latin America have opened a dialogue about inclusivity in Spanish, a gender-defined language in which most nouns are assigned either a masculine -o ending or a feminine -a ending. The -e ending has become common as other gender-inclusive terms like “Latinx” and “Latine” grow in prominence.
As pronoun options for trans and nonbinary individuals become more recognized in the United States, linguists say a similar push can be seen in Spanish-speaking countries.
Mexican-American lexicographer and Amherst University professor Ilan Stavans told NBC Latino that he’s heard the “elle” pronoun used in progressive and academic spaces, but not so much in the mainstream yet.
“They resemble the efforts done in the United States to give that type of linguistic neutrality,” Stavans said. “They seem to me to be scattered.”
Stavans referred to a recent study by the Pew Research Center that concluded only 23 percent of Spanish-speakers in the U.S. have heard of “Latinx” and only 3 percent use the term to describe themselves. Stavans says he supports the move toward gender-inclusive language, but hasn’t seen evidence that it’s catching on on a large scale.
“The Spanish language is so gender specific,” he said. “There are 450 million speakers of Spanish throughout the Americas. It’s a very diverse and heterogeneous population.”
In her 16-student Spanish class, NYU associate professor Laura Torres-Rodriguez makes sure to give everyone the chance to share their pronouns. On the first day of school this semester, she asked everyone to put their pronouns in their screen-names — “él”, “ella”, or “elle”. Students in her advanced-level class told her it’s the first time a Spanish teacher has ever offered that to them.
“Teaching the use of the nonbinary pronoun in Spanish is I think crucial if you want all your students to feel safe and included,” she said. “I’m learning all the time and changing my teaching and speaking practices to better achieve this.”
Torres-Rodriguez says the problem of the “elle” pronoun catching on is more of a political one than a linguistic one, as with the -e ending, “you can easily have concordance between the noun and the adjective.”
“The use of the “elle” pronoun is to me an essential step in recognizing and including the experience of trans and nonbinary persons and to start exiting the gender binarism that generates so much social and political violence,” Torres-Rodriguez said.
Even for Garcia, the “elle” pronoun takes some getting used to for someone who has spoken and heard Spanish their whole life.
“Even to me, elle/elles is new, is a bit off-tune when spoken, and a splash of curiosity when heard,” Garcia said. “It’s a work in progress where I’m learning how Spanish, how my culture, how my identity, how my family will receive me, all of me, all the different aspects that encompass me.”
A 33-year-old Georgia woman has become at least the 31st transgender or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year, according to LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.
Felycya Harris was shot and killed Saturday in Meadowbrook Park in Augusta, Georgia. On Monday, the Richmond County coroner classified her death as a homicide.
Human Rights Campaign, which has been tracking transgender deaths since2013, said it has never seen such a high number of deaths at this point in the year, with more additional deaths likely unreported or misreported.
“More accurate reporting may be a factor in the high number of deaths that we have tracked,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, told NBC News. “But we are also at an extremely vitriolic period, where hate is fueled even from our nation’s highest office.”
The figure is all the more disturbing given the global lockdowns during the pandemic. Trans and gender-nonconforming people experience higher levels of violence from people they know, Cooper added, and may not be able to find refuge.https://dataviz.nbcnews.com/projects/20200714-trans-homicide-annual-barchart/index.html?initialWidth=560&childId=embed-20200714-trans-homicide-annual-barchart&parentTitle=Killings%20of%20transgender%20Americans%20reach%20all-time%20high%2C%20rights%20group%20says&parentUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Ffeature%2Fnbc-out%2Fkillings-transgender-americans-reach-all-time-high-rights-group-says-n1242417
“These are especially dangerous times and resources for help are limited at best,” she said. “We need to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people have equal and safe access to any resources they may need to thrive — at all times, but especially during this pandemic.”‘Everybody’s going to remember Felycya’
Harris, an interior decorator, worked in a furniture store and taught dance.
“To know Felycya is to love her smile, her giving spirit,” said friend Sandra Taylor, who launched an online fundraiser to help cover funeral expenses.
“Everybody’s going to remember Felycya,” another friend, Ricola Collier, told local NBC affiliate WRDW-TV. “That laugh. The smile — the smiles. The talks. The arguments. The attitudes. Everybody is going to remember who Felycya Harris is. Nobody would ever forget who that is.”
On Tuesday, HRC President Alphonso David said Harris’ passing marked a “grim milestone” in a year already full of tragedy. It put 2020 on par with 2017’s count for the highest number of transgender killings, with nearly three months still left to go.
Six transgender women were killed in July alone, as was nonbinary activist Summer Taylor, making it the deadliest month to date.
“This epidemic of violence, which is particularly impacting transgender women of color, must and can be stopped,” David said in a statement. “We must work to address the factors that underpin this culture of violence and openly discuss how the intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia work to deprive transgender and gender-nonconforming people of equal access to opportunity and necessities like employment, housing and health care.”
Collier said she just wants justice for Harris’ death. Georgia passed a hate-crime law in June, but it does not expressly include gender identity.
“The only thing we got left now is just the memories and the pictures, and the videos,” she told WRDW-TV, which reported that police are still searching for a suspect. “Since the day I found out what happened, I go back and watch the videos every day,”
Harris is the fourth trans person to die by violence in the U.S. in just the past three weeks, according to HRC. Her murder comes just four days after the shooting death of Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman in Puerto Rico.
Ramos, a nursing school student, was found the morning of Sept. 30 along an isolated road near a farm in San German, a town of about 35,000 on the southwestern part of the island.
Ramos’ death was the latest in a string of brutal killings of transgender people in Puerto Rico. So far, six have been reported this year, though there may be more.
“Transgender women in Puerto Rico are very scared,” said Arianna Lint, CEO of Arianna’s Center, which works to uplift trans women of color on the island. “We’ve never seen so many deaths happen so fast.”
On April 11, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a 31-year-old transgender woman, was beaten and hanged at a men’s prison in Bayamon.
A little more than a week later, on April 22, the charred bodies of two other trans women — Layla Peláez, 21, and Serena Angelique Velázquez, 32 — were found in Humacao inside the remains of a car that had been set on fire.
After seeing images of them with the victims on social media, the U.S. Justice Department arrested two men, Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla, 21, and Sean Díaz de León, 19. Bonilla confessed to the killings, El Nuevo Dia reported, and the two men have become the first people in Puerto Rico to face federal hate crime charges.
In March, Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old transgender man, was shot and killed in Moca, just hours after being assaulted by an unknown woman. Arocho’s mother reportedly called the police about the assault, but it’s not clear if there was an investigation.
Transgender people in Puerto Rico have become more visible in the past year or two, making them more of a target, according to Lint. Trans women tend to avoid the police, she added, going to each other for help instead. She said the government isn’t particularly supportive and neither are gay groups.
“They created an LGBT committee to advise the government, but there’s no one transgender on it. The life of a lesbian in Puerto Rico is very different of a transgender woman of color,” Lint explained.
Pedro Julio Serrano, an LGBTQ activist in Puerto Rico, said not enough is being done to stop anti-transgender violence on the island.
“A state of emergency for gender violence has not been decreed — there is nothing,” he said in a statement on his website.
Puerto Ricans are voting for a new governor on Nov. 3, but Serrano said most of the candidates just use LGBTQ people “as a political ball to get votes from people who hate us.” Only one candidate, Alexandra Lúgaro, has said she would support LGBTQ individuals if elected, according to Serrano.
“She’s also been the only one to speak about sex workers, which is very important,” Lint says. “Because, in Puerto Rico, one of the primary financial outlets for transgender women is sex work.”
Half of trans and non-binary people want to abolish legal gender categories altogether, new research has found.
A University of Exeter study into potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, which comes after the long-delayed results of a 2018 public consultation on gender recognition were finally published on 22 September, found that half of trans and non-binary respondents wanted to abolish legal gender categories by ending the practice of recording sex at birth.×
Introducing an additional third option was particularly popular with non-binary people, with zero non-binary people opposed to this proposal.
The 2018 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) consultation attracted more than 108,000 responses, with 80 per cent of respondents in favour of de-medicalising the process of obtaining a GRC, and three-quarters in favour of dropping a requirement for trans people to provide “evidence” of living in their chosen gender.ADVERTISING
In a ministerial statement published alongside the consultation, equalities minister Liz Truss said that she would digitise the GRA process and reduce the fee to a “nominal” amount but signalled that broader reforms to the GRA will not go ahead.
Mollie Gascoigne, a PhD Candidate at Exeter Law School who is leading the research, said: “The government’s proposals to reduce the application fee is welcome as the current cost has posed a significant barrier to many people hoping to access legal gender recognition.
“However, to substantively increase the number of people applying for legal gender recognition and to make the system more accessible particularly for non-binary people, these findings suggest that further reform is still needed to address the current lack of non-binary gender recognition and the requirement of gender dysphoria.”
A total of 276 transgender and non-binary people completed a survey about the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and 21 non-binary people were also interviewed for the research, which is part of the Gender Recognition and Reform (GRR) Project at the University of Exeter Law School.
The research found that trans and non-binary people would be more likely to use the GRA if the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria was removed.
Half of trans people who took part in a survey opposed the gender dysphoria requirement, as did 80.7 per cent of non-binary people. Non-binary participants were more than two times more likely to report that removing the gender dysphoria requirement would make them more likely to apply for a GRC.
Respondents to the survey also said they had had poor experiences with medical professionals, found the need for a mental diagnosis stigmatising and didn’t agree that legal gender should be defined according to a medical model.
Officers found Mia Green, a Philadelphia resident, shot in the neck in the passenger’s seat of a car driven by Abdullah lbn El-Amin Jaamia when he was stopped Monday morning for running a stop sign, a police statement said.
During the traffic stop, Jaamia, 28, “exited the front driver’s door and approached Police stating that his passenger was shot.”
Officers then provided a police escort as Jaamia drove Green to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m.
Upon further investigation, Jaamia was charged with murder and related offenses on Tuesday, police said.
Authorities did not provide details surrounding the investigation, possible motive and arrest, or specify the relationship between the suspect and victim. It was not immediately clear if Jaamia has a lawyer.
“We know that the loss of yet another trans community member of color is especially painful, no matter the circumstances,” the city said. “This latest act of violence against a member of our community is a somber reminder of the epidemic of violence against trans individuals.”
Green’s death shows “there is much work to be done in the pursuit of full equality, respect, and justice for us all,” the statement said.
Across the U.S., there has been “surge of violence against transgender people,” according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“In just seven months, the number of transgender people suspected of being murdered in 2020 has surpassed the total for all of 2019,” the center wrote in an August blog post, prior to Green’s death.
There have been at least 29 instances of fatal violence against trans and gender nonconforming people in the U.S. this year, with most of the victims being Black and Latinx transgender women, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
A federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration in litigation challenging the transgender military ban, ordering the Defense Department to turn over documents it had previously on the policy withheld on the basis they were predecisional and deliberative before the restriction went into effect.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington State, a Clinton appointee, issued an order Friday requiring the Trump administration to hand over documents requested as part of the discovery process for the lawsuit by October 5.
“This matter comes before the court upon defendants’ recent submission of documents for in camera review, filed in response to the court’s recent orders on defendants’ assertion of the deliberative process privilege,” Pechman writes. “After careful examination of each document submitted for in camera review, the court finds that the documents do not fall within the proper scope of the deliberative process privilege and orders defendants to produce the documents by October 5.”
The lawsuit, Karnowski v. Trump, was filed in 2017 by the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal and the group now known as the Modern Military Association of America on behalf of various plaintiffs, including transgender military service members and the Human Rights Campaign, against the ban.
Peter Perkowski, legal and policy director for the Modern Military Association of America, said via email to the Washington Blade the order is a victory in the ongoing lawsuit.
“The Trump-Pence administration has once again lost to legal scrutiny and can no longer hide critical documents related to Trump’s unconstitutional transgender military ban,” Perkowski said. “From the moment Trump recklessly tweeted his ban to the day the Department of Defense implemented it, it has always been crystal clear that this transgender military ban is based on nothing more than blatant discrimination.”
The lawsuit before Pechman in Washington State was filed after President Trump tweeted in 2017 he’d ban transgender people from the military “in any capacity,” but before the Pentagon under former Defense Secretary James Mattis completed his six-month policy and implemented restrictions based on his recommendations.
The case has been percolating through the Ninth Circuit for years. Although Pechman initially issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the transgender military ban, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that order, allowing the policy to go into effect as litigation proceeds.
At issue in the order Pechman granted Friday are documents related to the discovery process in the lawsuit, which compels the U.S. government to produce material relevant to the transgender military ban. Those documents are expected to demonstrate whether the Defense Department implemented policy against transgender people as result of Trump’s tweet, or whether the military determined it needed to exclude them as result of an independent review former Defense Secretary James Mattis was conducting at the time.
Republican senator Kelly Loeffler has submitted a bill that attempts to rewrite a key civil rights law to legally erase transgender kids and bar them from taking part in school sports.
The Georgia senator on Tuesday (22 September) submitted a bill in the US Senate that would rewrite parts of Title IX, a civil rights law passed in 1972 that protects people from sex-based discrimination in education programs.×
Republican senator Kelly Loeffler files anti-trans bill.
Loeffler’s planned amendment seeks to define sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” for the purposes of athletics, and bar trans people from taking part in sporting events in their true gender.
It states that any recipient of federal funds “who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities… [must not] permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls”.
Per a release, the bill is intended to “make sure schools keep girls’ sports for girls” – although, by defining gender as based solely on reproductive biology and genetics, it would logically compel cisgender teenage girls to compete against transgender boys and non-binary people.
In addition to Loeffler, the bill is co-sponsored by four notoriously anti-LGBT+ Republican senators – ‘freedom to discriminate’ backer Mike Lee, anti-trans JK Rowling megafan James Lankford, Taylor Swift foe Marsha Blackburn and Tom Cotton, whose interns like to rant about “f****ts”.
In a release, Loeffler said: “Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception.
“As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities. This common sense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and levelling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”
The bill is backed by a swathe of anti-LGBT+ hate groups including the Family Research Council, run by Trump ally Tony Perkins.
Perkins, whose group has long fought to deny women access to healthcare, claimed the bill would “help ensure that girls are afforded the opportunity to play on a level playing field”.https://lockerdome.com/lad/13296932562903654?pubid=ld-5883-3439&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinknews.co.uk&rid=www.pinknews.co.uk&width=572
Soraya Santiago, a trans activist, queer icon and the first person in Puerto Rico to receive gender confirmation surgery, has passed away at the age of 73.
According to the Associated Press, Santiago had been battling cancer, and died Tuesday (September 22) at her home in the city of Carolina.
She was a trailblazer in a multitude of ways. Not only was she the first known person in Puerto Rico to have had gender confirmation surgery, she was also the first on the island to successfully change her name and sex on her birth certificate, and the first openly trans person to run for office in the US territory.
In 2019, she told United Explanations: “Those were doors I opened, and I hope to keep opening more doors so that the community can keep establishing itself where it should be and not where people want it to be.”
Soraya Santiago remembered as a ‘heroine’ in the fight for trans rights.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city, paid tribute to Santiago on Twitter, writing: “Soraya, our heroine in the fight for the dignity of our compatriots in the trans community, died after a battle against cancer.
“We love you, we owe you a lot and we will never forget you.Read Morex
“Rest my dear, but keep giving us strength from there. I will miss you.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=lilylwakefield&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308397128323076098&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinknews.co.uk%2F2020%2F09%2F23%2Fsoraya-santiago-died-dead-trans-puerto-rico-gender-confirmation-surgery-carmen-yulin-cruz%2F&siteScreenName=PinkNews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=500px
When Santiago was asked if she had a message for young trans people, she added in the United Explanations interview: “Although much progress has been made on all these issues of acceptance, rights and equality, there is still a long way to go.
“The youngest are already doing it, they are already walking that path. The youth of today is more open.https://lockerdome.com/lad/13296932562903654?pubid=ld-5883-3439&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinknews.co.uk&rid=www.pinknews.co.uk&width=572
“But it occurs to me to tell them to follow their dreams, not to stop dreaming, that if they believe that this is their reality and the truth of their life, they should run after it and not after what society, wrongly, wants to impose on them.”
Transgender and gender-diverse people have higher rates of autism than cisgender people, a landmark study has confirmed.
The research, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications, also found that trans people are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, learning difficulties or OCD than cis people.x
The authors, led by Varun Warrier from Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, used five large existing datasets to closely examine whether people who have autism are more likely to be trans, and vice versa — something that’s been posited by previous research, but only by studies using small sample sizes.
Their findings, the authors concluded, show that “transgender and gender-diverse individuals have elevated rates of autism diagnosis, related neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, and autistic traits compared to cisgender individuals”.
“This study has clinical implications by highlighting that we need to improve access to care and tailored support for this under-served population,” they wrote.
Roughly one to two per cent of the population is estimated to be autistic while 0.4 to 1.3 per cent is estimated to be trans or gender-diverse.
Previous research into the links between autism and gender identity mostly used data from trans people who had been referred to a gender clinic, and had a typical sample size of “in [the] few hundreds”, the authors noted.
This created bias in terms of the type of trans person included — favouring those who have gender dysphoria, the resources to access a gender clinic and some support from family or friends in doing so — which would be exacerbated by the small sample size.
“It is important to understand what the odds are of being diagnosed as autistic in transgender and gender-diverse individuals at large, not solely in those recruited through GD [gender dysphoria] clinics,” the researchers said.
Trans people up to six times more likely to be autistic than cis people.
The scientist’s findings can be broken down into four key points.
First, across all five datasets used, trans and gender-diverse people are 3.03 to 6.36 times more likely to be autistic than cis people. This is after the researchers controlled for age and educational attainment.
Second, trans and gender-diverse people were significantly more likely to self-report autistics traits, systemising and sensory sensitivity, and scored lower on empathy traits than cis individuals.
Third, in two of the datasets, trans people were significantly more likely to have higher rates of other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, including OCD, schizophrenia, ADHD, learning difficulties, depression and bipolar disorder.
And finally, an “exploratory analysis” carried out by the researchers found that trans people were more likely to say that they suspected they had undiagnosed autism.
Explaining the overlap between an autism diagnosis and being transgender.
Making it clear that, for several reasons, their results are unlikely to be false positives, the researchers also stressed the importance of their finding that “this association with gender identity is not specific to autism”.
They also emphasised that more research into this area is needed — specifically, a more comprehensive investigation into the relative rates of each of the neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions in trans people compared to cis people.
In discussing why there might be this overlap between an autism diagnosis and being trans, the researchers considered that “autistic individuals may conform less to societal norms compared to non-autistic individuals, which may partly explain why a greater number of autistic individuals identify outside the stereotypical gender binary”.
Then, there is the role of “prenatal mechanisms” — like hormones that impact sex – which shape brain development and have been shown to contribute to both autism and gender role behaviour. But, the scientists said clearly, it is unclear if prenatal mechanisms also affect gender identity, and this needs further investigation.
“Finally, an alternative but not mutually exclusive explanation,” the researchers said, “is that transgender and gender-diverse individuals have elevated vulnerabilities for multiple psychiatric challenges related to stressful life experiences in the contexts of unfriendly environments, discrimination, abuse and victimisation, explaining the elevated rates of mental health diagnoses.”
Some caveats applied to their conclusions, the researchers said: in two of the datasets, intersex individuals were excluded, but this was not possible in the other three; in one dataset it was possible that non-binary people who don’t use the word “transgender” to describe themselves were excluded; and it is also possible that “gender-aware” individuals provided their sex, rather than gender.
“It is difficult to disentangle this,” the study concludes. “However, the magnitude of the sample size suggests that the effects of such misclassification will have a minimal effect on the analyses and findings.”