Ponce, who lives in the Spanish city of Seville, wrote on Instagram after her win: “My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but also for the entire world.”
The previous guidance, drawn up under President Barack Obama, instructed federal agencies to “review their anti-discrimination policies to ensure that they afford a non-discriminatory working environment to employees irrespective of their gender identity or perceived gender non-conformity.”A revision apparently made in the last week removed all mention of the words “transgender” and “gender non-conforming” while inserting language to effectively reverse several of the inclusive policies.
The new guidance states that employees in gender-specific roles should be treated “in accordance with the individual’s biological sex,” where the previous materials said they should be treated as their preferred gender.
Guidance that directed employers to move away from “gender-specific dress and appearance rules” have also been changed to now state that agencies are “encouraged” to enact “policies [that] require employees to follow dress and appearance rules consistent with the professional standards of their occupation.”
The webpage also erases sections on the “core concepts” of gender identity and gender non-conforming identities.
The OPM webpage now states that agencies should update their diversity and inclusion policies “with the plain meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The reference to the “plain meaning” of the Civil Rights Act contradicts the widely-held Obama administration stance that civil rights laws banning discrimination based on sex also outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Trump administration has previously argued in court that the section should only be applied to direct gender discrimination.
The transgender community is still one of the most targeted minorities in the United States. Not only are gender-nonconforming individuals being harassed and attacked on the streets, but the government is attempting to erase their entire identity out of existence.
With National Transgender Day of Remembrance coming up on November 20, the City of West Hollywood is planning a ceremony for the trans lives lost this year at Jeremy Hotel from 6 – 9 p.m. In total, there were 29 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. in 2017. So far, there has been a total of 22 deaths due to fatal violence.
• Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, was found dead in her home on January 5, in North Adams, Massachusetts. Steele-Knudslien organized and produced the Miss Trans New England and other pageants, and was loved and known by many in both the local and national trans community.
• Viccky Gutierrez, 33, a transgender woman from Honduras was stabbed and had her body set ablaze inside her Los Angeles home on January 10. Friends described her as “a young trans Latina immigrant woman whose warm smile would give anyone comfort.”
• Celine Walker, 36, was fatally shot in a hotel room on on February 4 in Jacksonville, Florida. It was not known for several days that Walker was trans because local police claimed to not refer to victims as transgender. Investigators are still looking for a suspect in her death.
• Tonya Harvey, 35, was fatally shot on February 6 in Buffalo, New York. A friend of Harvey’s expressed her condolences on Facebook, writing: “I knew her since I started transitioning, she was so sweet and loving.” Police have confirmed they are looking into the incident as a possible hate crime.
• Zakaria Fry, 28, went missing in New Mexico in mid-January. Her body was later found 40 miles outside of Albuquerque on February 19. Albuquerque Police arrested and charged Charles Spiess with two open counts of murder. Fry’s loved ones shared comondolences on Facebook with one friend saying: “You were my older sister. You took care of me and loved me like family. I’ll forever love you. I’m sorry.”
• Phylicia Mitchell, 45, was shot and killed outside her home on February 23 in Cleveland, Ohio. On April 10, Cleveland.com reported that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Gary Sanders. Sanders was charged with aggravated murder in Mitchell’s death. Her longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, described her as “funny and kind” and that “everyone loved her.”
• Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28, was fatally shot at a local motel on March 26 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Few details are known about the crime, and police report they have no suspects or persons of interest at this time.
• Sasha Wall, 29, a transgender woman of color, was fatally shot on April 1 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. The FBI is assisting with local investigators, and are analyzing phone records and collecting DNA evidence. Donovan Dunlap, a friend of Wall’s, expressed condolences on Facebook, writing, “I will miss you my beautiful sister. I cannot sleep, I hope they find who did this.”
• Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón, 26, was found choked to death in her apartment in Dallas, Texas, on May 9. Dallas Police arrested 24-year-old Jimmy Eugene Johnson III on May 17, charging him with Flores-Pavón’s murder. “It hurts a lot, you were a good-hearted person. Sister, fly high. We will remember you with love. Your beautiful smile will stay with us,” a friend posted on her Facebook page.
• Nino Fortson, 36, was fatally shot in Atlanta on May 13. City police were nearby executing a traffic stop and rushed to the scene, but Forston later died at the hospital, said transgender advocate Monica Roberts.
• Gigi Pierce, 28, was fatally shot on May 21 in Portland, Oregon. When officers arrived they tried to administer aid, but Pierce died at the scene. Police investigators say they believe that Pierce was shot during an altercation with Sophia Adler, who has been charged with Pierce’s murder, according to KGW-TV.
• Antash’a English, 38, was fatally injured in drive-by shooting in Jacksonville, Florida on June 1. On her Facebook page, English described herself as an “independent” transgender woman who “thrives on being the best person” she can be. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has declared an active murder investigation and asks anyone with information to contact their office.
• Diamond Stephens, 39, was found shot to death on June 18 in Meridian, Mississippi. In interviews with a local television station, family members said that Stephens had an “incredible personality.” As is too often the case in the reporting of anti-transgender violence, Stephens was originally misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which delayed our awareness of this deadly incident.
• Cathalina Christina James, 24, was fatally shot in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 24. In an interview with First Coast News, James’ mother described her daughter as having a “big and bold” personality, saying she loved to dance and travel. James is the third transgender woman murdered and the fourth shot in the Florida city this year.
• Keisha Wells, 54, was found dead with a gunshot wound to her abdomen in the parking lot of an apartment complex on June 24, according to Cleveland.com. A longtime friend of Wells described her as “the nicest person ever” but also a “tough cookie.”
• Sasha Garden, 27, was found dead with signs of trauma in Orlando, Florida, early July 19. Originally from Wisconsin, Garden is remembered by loved ones as a “firecracker” who “didn’t hold anything back.” Friend and local transgender activist Mulan Montrese Williams recalls that Garden was a talented and aspiring hair stylist and had been saving money to fund her transition.
• Vontashia Bell, 18, was fatally shot on August 30 in a neighborhood of Shreveport, Lousiana. The Louisiana Trans Advocates organization released a statement condemning the shooting and calling on the city’s leaders to help curb the violence against the trans community.
• Dejanay Stanton, 24, was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head on August 30, according to media reports. After an autopsy, her death was ruled a homicide and the investigation is ongoing. “Every time you saw her she had a smile on her face,” said LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance. “She was just trying to live her best life as a young girl.”
• Shantee Tucker, 30, was found with a fatal gunshot wound in the back in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 5. Friends and family honored her life and mourned her death on Facebook, recalling that she was like “another big sister” to them and remembering her “beautiful spirit and fun aura.”
• Londonn Moore, 20, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in a remote area of North Port, Florida on Sept. 8. Moore is remembered by her family and other loved ones, who described her as “hilarious” and someone who “made everyone laugh all the time.”
• Nikki Enriquez, 28, was one of four women killed in Sept. in what local officials describe as a “serial killing spree” allegedly carried out by an intel supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol. Enriquez, who also went by the name Janelle, is survived by numerous loved ones that were “sad and in disbelief” at her death. Cousin Veronica Castillo described her as a “very outgoing” person who loved to party and was beloved by the local LGBTQ community.
• Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, 31, was fatally stabbed and her body left behind an abandoned building by a man with whom she was arguing on October 3 in Chicago. As reported in the Sun Times, Chicago police declared Frazier’s death a homicide after appearing on the scene. She is remembered by friends and loved ones, who said that she will “always be missed.”
Brazil still has the most reported trans murders in the world
The Trans Day of Remembrance update has seen an increase of 43 cases compared to last year’s update, and 73 cases compared to 2016.
Brazil (167 murders) and Mexico (71), once again, lead the list of the most reported killings of trans women and men.
The United States has seen 28 trans people killed, an increase from last year’s 25.
Other killings have been reported in Pakistan, Colombia, France, the UK, and elsewhere around the world.
But these horrifying numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.
Beheaded, gunned down, and shot to death
Media organizations – including normally reputable names – are often guilty of misgendering the victims when they are trans, making it even more difficult to get a real sense of the problem.
And there are multiple countries, many in Africa, where we have little knowledge of the violence happening against trans people. The highest numbers have been found in countries with strong trans movements that carry out professional monitoring.
‘We cannot estimate a number, but indeed what we can register is just a small fraction,’ Lukas Berredo, from Transrespect vs Transphobia Worldwide, told Gay Star News.
The majority of the people killed, 62%, were sex workers.
A new report has shed light on the horrific epidemic of violence against transgender people in the US, ahead of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation report, released on November 19, looks at the high levels of violence against America’s transgender community, who are disproportionately more likely to face violent attacks than the general population.
The report, titled “Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018,” found that at least 22 transgender people have been murdered in the US so far this year.
The actual number may be higher, as there is no official data collection on crimes against trans people, and monitors frequently have to rely on LGBT+ community sources.
“We must address the root causes of violence to make our communities safer for everyone. It is unacceptable that transgender and gender-expansive people are killed simply because of who they are.”
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
The report included some shocking statistics about the murder victims.
82 percent of the identified victims were transgender women of colour, while 55 percent of the deaths occurred in Southern states.
Research also found that 74 percent of identified transgender murder victims were misgendered (referred to using their birth gender) or deadnamed (referred to using their birth name) in initial police or media reports surrounding their deaths.
Many police forces across the US still insist on using the name or gender listed on the victim’s ID in reports, even when it is several years out of date, while local news organisations are frequently both reliant on official police channels for information, and lacking in expertise on transgender issues.
Experts say the practice can cause significant harm to police investigations during the most critical phase, because people with information may only know the victim by their chosen name, and because misgendering fosters mistrust of police within the transgender community.
HRC calls for action On Transgender Day of Remembrance
The report states that in addition to direct hate-motivated violence, the systemic discrimination faced by transgender people in education, employment and family life can push them into circumstances such as as sex work where they are more likely to face violence.
It notes: “Transgender people face devastating levels of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
“These barriers are even higher for Black transgender people, who have double the unemployment rate of all transgender people, and four times that of the US general population.
“With limited access to workplaces that are affirming and inclusive, transgender and gender-expansive people are put at greater risk for poverty, homelessness and involvement with criminalised work.
“Together, these factors put transgender people at an increased risk of violence and danger.”
HRC called to address the root causes of violence make communities safer. “It is unacceptable that transgender and gender-expansive people are killed simply because of who they are,” the report stated.
It added: “For far too long in our society, transgender people—and especially transgender women of color—have faced blatant discrimination and severe violence simply for being who they are. In order for this to change, we must all take action to dismantle the barriers that dehumanize, delegitimize and endanger transgender lives.”
What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?
The report comes ahead of the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, an annual day of remembrance for trans murder victims across the world.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was first held on November 20, 1998, following the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender African-American woman in Massachusetts. Organised by volunteers from the transgender community, it has since grown into an international commemoration.
Vigils are held across the world to mark the day, at events where the full list of victims is read.
A list of transgender murder victims published by the Remembering Our Dead Project includes 310 known victims in the past year.
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we join together to mourn the lives lost to hate and violence this past year and rededicate ourselves to the urgent action that this epidemic requires.
“From anti-trans employment and housing discrimination to systemic racism, we must recognize the intersecting factors that influence, motivate and embolden the violence that plagues so many within the transgender community — particularly Black and Latina transgender women.
Griffin added: “White, cisgender men like me have a unique responsibility to support our transgender siblings in combating this violence, and join fully in the work to achieve equality for every person in the LGBTQ community.”
Jay Brown of HRC Foundation said: “At least 128 transgender people—the vast majority transgender women of colour—have been killed [in the US] in the last five years.
“But most people can’t even name one victim—one human being who left behind family, friends and a future. We must do better.
“Solidarity means showing up, speaking out, saying their names and steadfastly working to change the realities that conspire to put transgender people at risk of violence. We can do better.”
A trans woman has won a court victory after being kept as a ‘sex slave’ in a men’s prison.
Strawberry Hampton, over the past two years, has been housed in four different facilities for men.
She has sued the Illinois Department of Corrections several times to get transferred to a women’s prison.
She claims she was the victim of sexual assault, both by other inmates and by guards.
Court documents show Hampton claims an officer pulled down her pants. She also says she was forced to have phone sex with an officer, and other officers made her have sex with her cellmate while they watched.
She says she was also told if she complained, she would ‘disappear’.
US District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel issued an order requiring the Illinois Department of Corrections to reevaluate Hampton’s request to transfer to a women’s facility.
‘A review of Hampton’s full mental health and disciplinary history in the context of her substantiated… complaints and grievances may lead the [Department’s Transgender Care Review Committee] itself to conclude that Hampton is safest in a woman’s prison,’ Rosenstengel wrote.
‘If not, the Court can revisit the issue after the Constitutional issues have been decided at trial.’
The judge also ruled Hampton must be allowed to attend a transgender support group at the prison. She is currently not allowed to.
She mandated the Illinois Department of Corrections develop training for staff on transgender issues.
‘This is also an important step, not only for Strawberry but, in general, for transgender women imprisoned across the nation,’ said Vanessa del Valle, Hampton’s lawyer.
‘The Illinois Department of Corrections maintains a strict zero-tolerance policy toward all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment,’ said a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.
Hampton is serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.
A professor at the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health who is credited with bringing millions of dollars in federal research funds to the university for projects he initiated has accused university officials of removing him as a department chair because of his status as a non-binary male who identifies as transgender.
In a nine-page statement provided to the Washington Blade, Richard A. Crosby, an endowed professor with a doctorate degree in health behavior, accuses university officials of “fabricating” a series of charges against him as an excuse to oust him as chair of the Department of Health Behavior.
In its decision in July 2015 to remove him as department chair while allowing him to retain his position as a tenured professor, the university cited complaints by colleagues that he exhibited “volatile and explosive behavior” and that junior faculty members working under him were “terrified of his behavior.”
University officials also said Crosby “demeaned a female colleague’s promotion claiming it was not based on her merit but instead because ‘she is a woman, genitalia.’”
Crosby vehemently disputes those allegations, saying they were “all lies” attributed to people that the university has refused to identify.
His allegations of anti-transgender discrimination follow a two-and-a-half-year legal battle he waged against the university in a lawsuit alleging a denial of his constitutional due process rights in his dismissal as department chair. But the lawsuit made no mention of allegations of transgender related discrimination.
Crosby’s decision to contact the Washington Blade last month about the transgender allegations surprised university officials, who strongly deny his dismissal as chair was based on discrimination. In court filings in response to Crosby’s lawsuit university officials said the dismissal of him as department chair was based solely on his alleged improper behavior toward colleagues.
In several court briefs, the university’s attorney asserted that under a longstanding policy all department chairs serve “at will” and can be removed for any reason as part of an administrative action that’s not protected by the normal due process procedures that come into play for firing someone from the position of a tenured professor.
“Dr. Crosby’s tenure was not in question nor was it impacted,” said University of Kentucky spokesperson Jonathan Blanton. “This was solely about – and has always been solely about – his position as department chair,” Blanton said.
Blanton points to the university’s strongly worded nondiscrimination policy that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Blanton also points out that the university in recent years opened an Office of LGBTQ Resources with a full-time director.
Crosby acknowledges the university has adopted LGBT supportive policies but says those policies mostly were put in place after he filed his lawsuit.
“This is one university professor’s account of how a large Southern university (the University of Kentucky) clandestinely removed me as department chair, and simultaneously initiated extreme fabrications designed to remove tenure from me as an endowed full professor,” Crosby says in his statement to the Blade.
“To be clear, it is now evident that two reasons for this were operating: 1) my research agenda is highly focused on HIV prevention for black gay males…and 2) I am a non-binary white male, which greatly threatens the cisgender white male culture of privilege at this very conservative university,” Crosby says in his statement.
“This hatred of my research and gender expression prompted actions to remove me despite being a strong ‘breadwinner’ for the university,” he said, pointing to many federal research grants he obtained on behalf of the university for his research on black gay men and AIDS prevention efforts.
Crosby said some of his more recent research has focused on transgender women of color “in the context of condom use for any sex to avert HIV infections.”
Although he identifies as non-binary and transgender Crosby told the Blade that he prefers to be addressed by the pronouns “he” and “him.”
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Hood of the Eastern District of Kentucky dismissed Crosby’s lawsuit on Sept. 30, 2016, just over one year after court records show Crosby first filed the lawsuit on Sept. 16, 2015.
In a 22-page opinion Hood ruled that the university’s policy of treating department chairs as “at will” administrative positions was not in violation of constitutional protections as argued by Crosby. Hood held that the university and its top officials had full legal authority to dismiss Crosby as department chair without offering a hearing for him to contest the dismissal as long as the university did not attempt to remove him as a tenured professor.
Richard Crosby, Ph.D., accuses the University of Kentucky of anti-trans discrimination. (Photo courtesy UK College of Public Health)
Crosby appealed the dismissal to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s ruling in a 2-1 decision in July 2017. He appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in turn declined to hear the case and by so doing upheld the appeals court ruling against Crosby.
Crosby told the Blade that although he always believed the underlying motive to remove him as department chair was a bias against his gender identity he chose not to make those allegations in his lawsuit at the advice of his attorney.
He also points out that while the lawsuit makes no mention of gender identity discrimination it points out that up until the time university officials first accused him of improper behavior toward colleagues at the department in June 2015, no complaint against him had ever been lodged since he was first hired as a professor at the University of Kentucky in March 2004 and promoted to the position of chair of the Department of Health Behavior in 2006.
The lawsuit also notes that up until the time of the June 2015 accusations against him, he had received the highest possible performance ratings during every rating period from the time he was first hired as a professor in 2004.
According to Crosby and two former colleagues at the university who are supportive of him, the accusations against him by unnamed colleagues in June of 2015 took place about six months after he began to transition into what he now says is his identity as a non-binary male and transgender person.
Among other things, his appearance took on characteristics of a female in dress and hairstyle, Crosby said. It’s for that reason, he now says, that he believes the motive behind the accusations was a bias against his gender identity.
“Senior university administrators were unaware of any change in Professor Crosby’s dress. Period,” said university spokesperson Blanton in a written statement. “Our board and President have repeatedly made it clear that the university does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity. Period,” he said.
Richard Clayton, Emeritus Professor at the University of Kentucky who’s now retired, told the Blade that he hired Crosby as a professor and later named him chair of the Department of Health Behavior. He said the entire time he has known Crosby and observed his work as professor and department chair up until the time Clayton retired in 2013 he had never observed Crosby exhibit the type of inappropriate behavior he was accused of engaging in.
Tom Collins, an adjunct professor at the Department of Health Behavior who serves a coordinator of Crosby’s research project, said he, too, has never observed alleged improper behavior university officials claim Crosby engaged in during the many years that Collins says he has worked for Crosby.
“None of the things he is accused of doing are characteristic of what I observed of him,” Collins told the Blade.
However, both Collins and Clayton said they also never observed others who had dealings with Crosby appear to treat him in a negative or disparaging way based on Crosby’s gender identity. The two said they were aware that some of Crosby’s colleagues asked question about his change in appearance when he began transitioning his gender identity in 2014.
“But I don’t feel those questions were asked out of malice,” said Collins.
Although they say they don’t have definitive proof, Collins and Clayton said they believe at least one motive for the accusations made against Crosby related to his alleged improper behavior that led to his dismissal as department chair was resentment and fear of the high work related standards Crosby put in place when he became department chair.
“I hired him because he was an outstanding researcher and he won numerous teaching awards,” Clayton said. “I think part of the problem that these junior faculty members may have had – he expected them to perform and to meet the criteria for promotion, which includes getting grants and publishing articles in peer reviewed literature and being good teachers,” said Clayton.
“He had high expectations and those expectations were spelled out,” Clayton said. “And if you are not performing well on those expectations you should not expect to get a good evaluation.”
Thus Clayton and Collins speculated that disgruntled faculty members working under Crosby at the department might have concocted a plan to exaggerate their grievances against him as a means of having him ousted as department chair.
Crosby, meanwhile, says he remains convinced that the motive behind his ouster as department chair was bias against him for his gender identity and bias against his research projects that focused on gay sex and HIV prevention and trans women of color.
“Although the ‘safe road’ would be to remain silent, I have an obligation to any professional colleagues through the U.S. to break this silence in service of protecting the ‘rights and privileges of the academy and upholding LGBT rights for professors,” he said in his statement to the Blade.
University spokesperson Blanton says the university remains firm in its assertion that its action against Crosby had nothing to do with his gender identity.
“Dr. Crosby was removed as chair by his Dean for his behavior following a number of complaints from his colleagues that resulted in an extensive investigation by our Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity – nothing more; nothing less,” he told the Blade in a statement.
“Dr. Crosby brought a legal challenge to the University’s decision to remove him,” Blanton said “At no time in his legal challenge did he reference, suggest or make any argument about his gender identity,” he said. “It is unfortunate that in the face of multiple courts rejecting his specious claims that he now seeks to use important identity categories – like gender identity and expression – in this way.”
More than 1,600 scientists released an open letter Thursday opposing the Trump administration’s memo erasing legal protections for trans people.
The letter, signed by over 700 biologists, 100 geneticists, and nine Nobel laureates, pushed back on the administration’s claim that defining sex according to observed genitals at birth or a genetic test is grounded in science. “This proposal is fundamentally inconsistent not only with science, but also with ethical practices, human rights, and basic dignity,” read the letter. “The proposal is in no way ‘grounded in science’ as the administration claims. The relationship between sex chromosomes, genitalia, and gender identity is complex, and not fully understood.”
For the scientists behind the letter, it was important to step forward and oppose a policy that they felt was misinterpreting the scientific understanding of sex and gender. “It appears the Trump administration is trying to eliminate the entire concept of gender as a thing separate from sex, in the sense that they believe that they can stop allowing transgender people to self-identify as transgender by requiring everybody to be defined as a binary sex from birth,” said Rachael French, a biology professor at San Jose State University.
“They’ve suggested at least two things: what your genitalia look like when you’re born or whether you have a Y chromosome,” she said in an interview with Rewire.News. “You can’t even test for what sex a person is, let alone be able to define what gender a person is based on their chromosomes. The entire idea from a biological standpoint is ridiculous.”
French said trans people won’t be the only ones negatively affected by the sex definition proposed by the administration. She worried that intersex people could be forced into painful and unnecessary surgeries as children in order to make their genitals conform to the legal definitions of sex being pushed by the Trump administration. Even cisgender people with natural genetic variations could be legally forced into another sex thanks to an invasive government genetics test.
The open letter wasn’t the only response to the anti-trans memo from the scientific community since it was first reported by the New York Times. Science journal Naturepushed back on the administration’s scientific justification for discrimination in an editorial, saying the memo “has no basis in science” and calling for the move to be “abandoned.” A piece in Scientific American called the proposed policy “scientifically absurd.” And Trump’s Centers for Disease Control director, Robert Redfield, said the stigma against the trans community stemming from the policy is “not in the interest of public health.”
For trans women like Tessa Fisher, a third year PhD student at Arizona State University studying astrobiology, coverage of Trump’s anti-trans memo made her feel “scared but also furious.”
The response from her scientific peers has been heartening. “It’s been really amazing,” she told Rewire.News. “Partially because these people are my peers for the most part, and it’s a really nice thing, [it’s] sort of affirming that a lot of the people out there that I work with and I read their papers and I’m sort of doing the same things they are respect who I am. Which is really, really encouraging. It’s a great show [of] genuine allyship.”
With everyone in her life perceiving her as female, Fisher pointed to the sheer impracticality of the plan to erase trans people from existence. “From like a day-to-day point of view [it] makes absolutely no goddamn sense whatsoever. It would literally be pointless for me to call myself male, even if I wanted to, because no one would see me as that.”
Fisher is particularly frustrated about the way those who oppose trans rights have tried to co-opt science for their own means. “There’s the presumption that they know more about the scientific research than I do, even though I’m the one working on a PhD in that,” she said. “In a lot of cases, it’s at the same time kind of shocking how shallow their understanding of science is. The best example I’ve ever had of that is that some Twitter troll who had been picking a fight with me earlier actually tweeted at my advisor and the profile for my program to complain that they had not taught me taxonomy correctly. Which was creepy and also kind of pathetic.”
The public seems to hold overly simplistic ideas about the science of sex and gender, according to scientists. “There is zero scientific evidence for anybody to feel that people, children or anybody else, should have to choose one particular gender,” Mollie Manier, a biology professor at George Washington University, told Rewire.News. Manier’s research focuses on the evolutionary genetics of reproduction.
“If you look across multiple cultures, and apparently even within the history of the U.S., there’s a lot of gender fluidity .… When people are allowed to be more gender-fluid culturally, they often are, and that’s reflecting more of a biological reality that gender is not a binary always,” she said.
Manier, who helped draft the letter, reiterated that there is no genetic test that could conclusively determine a person’s sex or gender. “Even if there were, it is totally inappropriate to use that in order to override an individual’s lived experience of what they think in their heart of hearts they are.”
The leaked Department of Health and Human Services’ memo published in the New York Times on October 21 propose defining a person’s sex as unchangeably male or female from birth, barring official recognition of trans people. Trump later confirmed that the White House was “looking at” imposing a new transgender policy,
“This is bad news, but it isn’t new news,” Ames added.
“Playing politics with civil rights of a vulnerable population has consequences. But moments like this are exactly why Trans Lifeline exists.
“Our hotline intervenes at the moment of crisis,” continued Ames, encouraging cisgender people—those who identify with the sex assigned at birth—to speak up to other cisgender people about the issues affecting transgender people’s lives, as well as donating to trans-led organisations to express support for the community.
The leaked memo led trans activists to hold “We Will Not Be Erased” protests outside the White House and in New York and Washington State, among other locations, and around 1,500 parents of trans children to write an open letter to “bullies” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
They said that the proposal was “the latest cruel attempt in a long line of attacks to diminish the existence and humanity of our children and to dismantle their basic human and civil rights.
“We want to make this very clear—when our children are under attack, we will fight like hell to protect them,” they added.
Parents of trans children from all of America’s 50 states signed the message, which continued: “We fear every day that our children will encounter bullies but we never imagined that the most threatening bullies would be in the White House.
“These children—all children—deserve to be treated with love, respect and acceptance.
“Our children cannot be reduced to a deeply flawed, debunked understanding of what makes us the people we are. Our children know who they are, and we know what they need.”
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 or the Trans Lifeline on 877-565-8860.
Luc Bensimon, one of the plaintiffs | Photo: Facebook/Luc Malik Bensimon
15 October 2018
Four transgender plaintiffs in Kansas — two men and two women — are suing the state, saying the state’s policy on birth certificates violates their rights.
While the state allows changes to driver’s licenses and state ID cards, they refused to change the sex on four people’s birth certificates.
Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit, Foster v. Andersen, with the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. They are representing Luc Bensimon, Nyla Foster, Jessica Hicklin, and a final client identified by his initials, C.K.
‘By not allowing transgender people like me to correct our birth certificates, the state complicates every aspect of our lives,’ Bensimon said.
‘Having to present a birth certificate that incorrectly identifies me as female makes it easier for people to discriminate against me based on my gender identity, on top of the discrimination I already confront based on my disability.’
Bensimon also has a mild form of cerebral palsy.
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal, described the state’s policy as ‘archaic and discriminatory’.
He added that 47 states in total, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, give people access so they can change their government-issued identity documents to reflect their gender identity.
‘It is about time Kansas joins them,’ Gonzalez-Padan concluded.
The lawsuit states that plaintiff Foster once had to present her birth certificate for a job application.
By doing so, she was essentially outed and ‘subsequently treated suspiciously and disrespectfully by prospective employers’.
A 2015 survey about transgender experiences in the United States revealed a third of trans people with identity documents not matching their gender identity experienced discrimination, harassment, and in some cases assault.