A Black trans woman named Disaya Monaee was shot to death in Chicago, Illinois, marking the 36th violent death of a trans person in the US in 2021.
Disaya Monaee was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at around 4am on 6 September. She was discovered outside the Prestige Inn and Suites along 1355 East Sibley Boulevard in the leafy suburb of Dolton.
The 32-year-old was later pronounced dead just after 5am at Franciscan Health hospital in Hammon. Dolton Police detectives are investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made at the time of writing.
Family members told 5Chicago that the crime scene was “gruesome”.
“At the hotel room door you can tell the struggle was at the door it was not inside the hotel room,” Latrina Banks, Monaee’s mother, said.
“There’s blood, there’s like a trail of blood at the entranceway right there from the hallway area.”
Banks’ daughter transitioned shortly after graduating high school in 2014, she said. Her family welcomed her, making it all the harder that her life was so tragically cut short.
“Whoever knows anything about my baby’s murder please tell,” Banks added. “Y’all took the best thing ever from me.”
Activists decry ‘appalling’ killing of Disaya Monaee
Monaee was described by family and community leaders as a “sweet individual” who was outgoing and sociable. “She loved to take care of people, Banks said, “she’s been like that ever since she was little.”
She is, at the very least, the 36th trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person to have been murdered in the US this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which has been monitoring the killings. Across the whole of 2020, that figure was 44.
“At least”, the HRC say, because with deadnaming and misgendering remaining rife in police and press reports, the real figure can be impossible to grasp.
In the death of Natasha Keianna, investigators have not ruled out homicide, but details remain sparse at the time of writing. Haven Bailey was also fatally shot by police in May.
“The epidemic of violence plaguing the transgender community, particularly Black transgender women, is appalling,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the group’s Transgender Justice Initiative told PinkNews.
“It is often the result of a toxic combination of transphobia, racism and misogyny.
“We must do more to protect trans lives and provide resources to support the trans community.”
The Madrid prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on Monday after a crowd of about 200 people sporting Nazi paraphernalia marched in the Spanish capital’s gay-friendly neighbourhood of Chueca on Saturday shouting offensive anti-LGBT slogans.
The protesters shouted “Out of our neighbourhood” and “Get out of Madrid” prefaced by derogatory words for gay people, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Homophobic hate crimes have been in the headlines in Spain since a man was beaten to death in July over his sexual orientation. The government said this month it would create specialised groups within the Interior Ministry and the police force to prevent hate crimes and support victims.
Around 200 people gathered on Saturday in the gay-friendly neighborhood of Chueca, known as the center of Spain’s annual Pride celebrations, where they shouted insults such as “get fags out of our neighborhood” and “get those sidosos [AIDS-ridden people] out of Madrid,” as they marched toward the city’s landmark Puerta del Sol square.
During the two-hour demonstration, the group set off flares, carried signs with far-right symbols and expressed their contempt for unaccompanied migrant minors and migrants more broadly. As well as the homophobic chants, demonstrators yelled “Here are the nationalists,” a reference to those who supported dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The participants – who were escorted by riot police and several National Police vans – also waved Spanish flags and symbols of Juventud Nacional (National Youth), an organization linked to the far-right party España 2000 (Spain 2000).
More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.
The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.
“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.
“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.
The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.
“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.
Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.
“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said.
DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.
The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.
“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.
He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.
Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.
Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”
The US Department of Justice is to review Trump-era policies on housing trans inmates in federal prisons.
After the Donald Trump administration, like it sought to across housing, health and education, rolled back trans rights when it comes to the prison system, the Biden administration might just change that.
The federal Bureau of Prisons, the agency that cares for incarcerated Americans, saw its policies pulled into the spotlight when the leader of an anti-government militia, who is trans, was sentenced to 52 years for helming the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque.
Emily Hari, sentenced Monday (13 September), will now see which of the 122 federal prisons she will carry out her jail time decided by the Bureau of Prisons Transgender Executive Council.
The council consists of psychologists, prison experts and correctional officials, but they are currently using a Trump-era manual when it comes to housing trans inmates – meaning that Hari may be forced to serve her prison sentence in a men’s prison.
Under the Trump administration, the Bureau can only assign trans people to the correct prison “in rare cases”, according to the Associated Press.
This was an about-turn from the Obama era, where the council was advised to “house by gender identity when appropriate”.
Justice Department officials told the news agency that they are looking into reviewing these policies, “including providing gender-affirming housing where appropriate”.
“[The Bureau of Prisons] is in the process of reviewing the current version of its policy regarding transgender inmates,” they added.
The council will now decide where Hari is housed, where factors such as her health and safety, history of disciplinary action and the security level of the prison itself are considered.
Of the 156,000 federal prisoners in the US, only 1,200 are trans – a number, while small, is a damning indictment of the higher incarceration figures for trans Americans.
According to Lambda Legal, an LGBT+ advocacy group that provides legal advice, nearly one in six trans Americans – and one in two Black trans people – have been in prison.
Inside, they face disproportionate levels of violence and abuse, both at the hands of fellow inmates and, at times, prison staffers, the group added.
Officials with Gay Games Hong Kong 2022, the committee organizing the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports event scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in November 2022, announced on Sept. 15 that the Gay Games will be postponed for one year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After much internal deliberation and in consultation with the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) leadership and board, it has been decided that Gay Games 11, originally scheduled for November 2022, will be postponed to November 2023 in Hong Kong,” a statement released by the organizing committee says.
“This decision has been made primarily due to the unpredictable progression of COVID variants and the corresponding travel restrictions that continue to make it challenging for participants from around the world to make plans to travel to Hong Kong,” the statement says.
“With many parts of the world, including many across Asia, still struggling to contain the virus and facing uneven access to vaccines, we felt that delaying the Games until November 2023 will enhance the likelihood of delivering on our promise to have the Hong Kong Games serve as a beacon of hope for the wider community across the region,” it says.
In 2017, when the U.S.-based Federation of Gay Games selected Hong Kong to host the Games it predicted at least 12,000 athletes would participate in 36 sports at the Hong Kong Games. It also predicted that at least 75,000 spectators from throughout the world would turn out in Hong Kong to watch the games and participate in at least 20 accompanying arts and cultural events.
In its statement this week announcing the one-year postponement, the Gay Games Hong Kong committee also referred to opposition to the event expressed by some officials with the local Hong Kong government who are said to be aligned with China.
The Washington Post reported last month that one pro-Beijing lawmaker called the Gay Games “disgraceful” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that could violate a strict security law imposed on Hong Kong by China that has led to the arrest and imprisonment of many pro-democracy protesters over the past year. Some have expressed concern that Gay Games spectators from Europe, North America or elsewhere could be subjected to arrest if they make statements critical of China during the Gay Games cultural events.
“Anti-inclusion objections to Gay Games Hong Kong from a small but vocal minority have galvanized the resolve of our 300 volunteers, and brought overwhelming support from the general public, business community and establishment legislators,” the Gay Games Hong Kong statement says. “Mrs. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Chief Executive, has also expressed her support for the spirit of inclusion and diversity of the games,” according to the statement.
“We would like to thank everyone for their early support and will ride this wave of positivity to the most successful hosting of Gay Games 11 Hong Kong in 2023,” the statement concludes.
D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico were the two finalist cities competing with Hong Kong to host the 2022 Gay Games. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser traveled to Paris in 2017 to join officials with Team DC, the local LGBTQ sports organization that helped prepare D.C.’s bid to host the Games, to deliver D.C.’s final but unsuccessful presentation before the FGG in support of its bid to host the Games.
Under FGG rules and past practice, the finalist city or cities that competed to host the Gay Games are given an opportunity to reinstate their bid in the unlikely event that the city selected to host the Games can no longer serve as the host city.
Brent Minor, executive director of Team D.C., who served as chair of D.C.’s Gay Games Bid Committee in 2017, did not respond to a request from the Blade for comment on whether Team D.C. would consider renewing its effort to push for D.C. to host the Gay Games if Hong Kong were unable to remain as the host city.
The Supreme Court allowed a Texas law to go into effect this month that bans abortions after six weeks of gestation.
In the recent legislative session, Texas lawmakers introduced a slew of bills that sought to limit transgender people’s bathroom access and prohibit changes to birth certificates. Many of the bills take aim at young trans people’s access to health care and participation in high school sports. Similar bills have been introduced in at least 19 other states.
Though seemingly unrelated, some LGBTQ rights advocates and abortion rights advocates see parallels.
“The barrage of policy attacks on transgender youth flows from the same hateful, coercive ideology spurring on attacks against abortion rights and voting rights. These attacks on personal liberties are not — and have never been — happening in a vacuum, but rather each as part of a conservative campaign of control,” Ruth Dawson, principal policy associate for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research group, told NBC News in an email. “LGBTQ justice and sexual and reproductive health care are inextricably linked, because they both involve individuals’ autonomy in their most intimate decisions.”
‘A coordinated attack’
Abortion rights advocates and LGBTQ advocates pointed out similarities among recently introduced bills.
“The bills themselves share the same kind of idea. They are really restrictive infringements on bodily autonomy, on individual rights and the state taking an aggressive, moralizing police role,” Jules Gill-Peterson, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, said.
The bills misinterpret or misrepresent medical data, she added, and “claim to do things they don’t, like protect women and children.”
For example, Arkansas passed a law in March that bans access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors, including reversible puberty blockers and hormones. However, puberty blockers have been used for a variety of medical purposes in cisgender young people for decades, said Kara Mailman, senior research analyst at abortion-rights organization Reproaction.
Proponents of the law argued that transition care for minors is “experimental” and that trans minors often change their minds about their genders and detransition later in life. Medical experts say neither of those claims are backed by scientific evidence.
Major medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society and the American Psychological Association — support gender-affirming care for trans minors and oppose efforts to restrict access. And research has found that access to gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers reduces the risk of suicide among trans youths.
“So much of what they claim is dangerous is heavily tested and extremely safe,” Mailman said.
The same groups pushing for limitations on abortion are also advocating for new laws that limit transgender people’s access to health care, Sasha Buchert, senior attorney at the LGBTQ rights group Lambda Legal, said. “It’s a coordinated attack.”
Gill-Peterson agreed. “Anti-trans and anti-abortion legislation are often very similar in terms of the literal bills that come to state legislative floors. They are part of the same political strategy, and they are being funded and ghost-written by the same kinds of groups.”
This year, the conservative organizations Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Policy Alliance partnered in an initiative, Promise to America’s Children, that opposes the Equality Act and provides lawmakers with socially conservative model legislation.
The site invites visitors to sign a “promise” that includes “protecting” children’s minds, bodies and relationships to parents: “We believe that America’s children are the nation’s greatest resource. While a culture — and sadly, a government — around us seek to sexualize children for the sake of a political agenda, we seek to protect children and nurture their minds, bodies, and relationships,” the website states.
Among signatories to the promise are Republican lawmakers from over a dozen states.
The Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Policy Alliance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Proponents of laws restricting abortion and transgender rights present them to the public in a similar manner, according to Gill-Peterson. She said anti-trans bills employ the same “political grammar” tried and tested in anti-abortion politics, which is defense of “an imaginary child in danger.”
“We have seen this since the Reagan revolution,” she continued, “that the unborn child becomes the rallying cry to restrict rights.”
Texas’ new law, for example, refers to “protecting the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child” in its justification.
Gill-Peterson said the groups and politicians advocating for the bills find them to be politically expedient. “Is this a good bill for fundraising? Is it good for the base? Does it turn out the vote? Does it distract people from other issues?”
She described the manipulation of the image of the child in the anti-trans laws as “particularly cruel.”
“This rhetoric of child protection is being used to support politics that target children for severe harm,” she said.
For example, a bill in Texas would classify any gender-affirming care as child abuse, and a Tennessee bill would prohibit several kinds of gender-affirming care for minors, including simply talk therapy.
Nine states — eight this year — have banned trans athletes from participating on the sports teams that align with their gender identity.
The final version of Florida’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed in June, omitted requirements that transgender athletes in high schools and colleges undergo testosterone or genetic testing and submit to having their genitalia examined.
While such legislation purports to be about child protection, Gill-Peterson said, those who are most affected by the law are the most marginalized, with already precarious access to resources.
“It’s no question that a lot of these clinics, especially Planned Parenthood, are also offering gender-affirming care services,” said D. Ojeda, a policy advocate at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “I think that is why the opposition have targeted these two issues.”
Gill-Peterson also sees the spate of anti-trans bills as part of a more widespread political scapegoating of transgender people.
“There is a lot more social stigma and violence directed at trans people right now,” she said.
“Anti-trans politics is a major plank of ethnonational, authoritarian political movements around the world,” she said, citing examples from Brazil, Poland and Hungary.
In June, for instance, Hungary’s Parliament passed legislationbanning content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and transgender issues.
‘War of attrition’
Alex Petrovnia, director of the TransFormations Project, said his trans rights organization is tracking at least 77 anti-trans bills, including over two dozen bills in Texas.
“We expect to see a lot more bills in 2022,” he said.
“They are playing a war of attrition; they are unrelenting. The goal of this is to outlast people. Unless we continue to fight these, the bills will slip through, and we won’t notice,” Petrovnia said. “It’s not about one fight; it’s about 77 this year.”
In the face of an overwhelming number of bills, some advocates and progressive academics are calling for LGBTQ rights and abortion rights groups to work together.
“We cannot address these injustices as if they are siloed; it is crucial that we see and fight these attacks for what they are — part of a broader pattern of coercive, conservative ideology,” Guttmacher’s Dawson said.
One way to do this is to ensure the language used to describe issues is as inclusive as possible, according to Reproaction’s Mailman.
“We’ve used women-centered language for so long,” Mailman said. “Trans people are also part of the community that has abortions. It has kept a lot of trans people from feeling at home in these abortion spaces.”
Ojeda said passage of the Equality Act would help both the trans rights and abortion rights movements.
The Equality Act is a piece of federal legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in numerous arenas, including employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit and jury service.
Ojeda said it would be “vital in combating these terrible bills at the state level,” adding that the Equality Act “would be an ultimate line of defense.”
In fact, on Wednesday, a coalition of 47 women’s rights and abortion rights groups — including NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center and Time’s Up Now — announced “unequivocal support for the federal Equality Act” with a statement of solidarity. The groups also pushed back on “false claims that women’s rights groups are divided” over the legislation.
“As women and girls continue to face discrimination and harassment that interferes with their ability to live safely and securely, and as states mount unprecedented attacks on women’s rights and the rights of transgender students, federal legislation protecting people of all genders could not be more important than it is right now. That is why we, the undersigned, express our unequivocal support for the Equality Act,” a statement issued by the groups said in part.
Gill-Peterson said that the impending legal fight over Texas’ abortion bill is an opportunity to rethink strategy around abortion and trans rights and to think more expansively about how to ensure everyone has access to the health care they need.
“Even if we restore the previous norm around abortion access, it will not have solved the prior problems of income inequality and racial discrimination in health care” that prevent many people from accessing abortion services, Gill-Peterson said. “What would it look like for people in favor of abortion rights and in favor of trans rights to combine their visions for reproductive freedom, health care justice and racial justice?”
German authorities have compensated nearly 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality that continued to be enforced enthusiastically after World War II.
The Federal Office of Justice said Monday that, up to the end of August, 317 people had applied for compensation and it had been paid out in 249 cases. So far, it has paid out nearly 860,000 euros (just over $1 million).
Fourteen applications are still being processed, 18 were rejected and 36 were withdrawn, the office said. The deadline for applications is July 21 next year.
German lawmakers in 2017 approved the annulment of thousands of convictions under the Paragraph 175 law, which remained in force in West Germany in its Nazi-era form until homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969. They cleared the way for payments of 3,000 euros per conviction, plus 1,500 euros for every year of jail time those convicted started.
In 2019, the government extended compensation to people who were put under investigation or taken into investigative custody but not convicted. It offered payments of 500 euros per investigation opened, 1,500 euros for each year of time in pre-trial custody started, and 1,500 euros for other professional, financial or health disadvantages related to the law.
The law criminalizing male homosexuality was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form by democratic West Germany, which convicted some 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 but the legislation wasn’t taken off the books entirely until 1994.
In 2000, the German parliament approved a resolution regretting the fact that Paragraph 175 was retained after the war. Two years later, it annulled the convictions of gay men under Nazi rule but not the post-war convictions.
The compensation also applies to men convicted in communist East Germany, which had a milder version of Paragraph 175 and decriminalized homosexuality in 1968.
In all, some 68,300 people were convicted under various forms of Paragraph 175 in both German states.
In the early hours of Friday, June 11, three men were assaulted and subjected to homophobic abuse near a pub in Liverpool, England, by a group of teenagers, one of whom had a knife, according to police.
“Due to the abhorrent verbal abuse the victims were subjected to, we’re treating this as a hate crime,” Detective Inspector Chris Hawitt said in a statement at the time, calling the attack “despicable” and saying the Merseyside Police would not “tolerate people being targeted in this manner because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
A few weeks after the incident, the Merseyside Police released a report saying that the “increase in incidents involving LGBT+ victims has, sadly, mirrored an increase in crime experienced as lockdown restrictions were eased.”
In response, the local LGBTQ community organized a protest rally. People who work in nearby bars and several organizations helped put it together, according to the Liverpool-based LGBTQ organization LCR Pride Foundation.
“Hate crime is still a shock,” said Andi Herring, the foundation’s CEO and co-founder. “For me it’s determination that these people won’t win, and we’ll carry on doing what we said and tackle it.”
The Liverpool assault is one in a string of anti-gay hate crimes that happened over the summer in the United Kingdom.
West Midlands Police arrested three men last month after a same-sex couple was attacked in the Gay Village of Birmingham, England. Police said two men, both in their 30s, were attacked Aug. 15 with bottles after being subjected to homophobic abuse. One was left unconscious and the other suffered “nasty cuts,” according to a police report.
Crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity have increased almost every year since at least 2015, according to government data from England, Wales and Scotland. In England and Wales, sexual orientation hate crimes rose by 19 percent and anti-transgender crimes by 16 percent from March 2019 to March 2020. In Scotland, the number of hate crimes related to sexual orientation rose by 5 percent from April 1, 2020, to March 31.
The U.K. government, in a statement last year, attributed the uptick to better crime recording by law enforcement and improved identification of what is considered a hate crime. The police also report spikes in hate crimes after major political or terrorist events.
While some British LGBTQ activists agreed that queer people are more comfortable reporting hate crimes to police than they were in the past, they said the isolation from the pandemic and the increase in political hate speech and violence are energizing people with anti-gay feelings.
“If there are people in power who are bigoted … that legitimizes people to be hateful in their everyday life,” said Rebecca Crowther, policy coordinator at the Equality Network in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Crowther said that in addition to the mental health toll the pandemic-related lockdown had taken on people, she has witnessed a rise in hate crimes in Scotland, adding that mistrust between the community and the police still exists.
After an attack involving two men in Edinburgh in July, three men were arrested and charged in connection with the alleged assaults and homophobic crime, according to Police Scotland.
“It’s become the ‘Twilight Zone’ up here,” Crowther said.
Herring said he also attributes the increased hate-crime numbers to more survivors understanding what a hate crime is and a growing confidence that they will get the support they need after reporting.
In the same month, the U.K. government scrapped plans to allow transgender people to self-identify and announced that a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria was required to legally transition. The government also said it planned to open three gender clinics in 2020.
Eighty-five percent of British people surveyed said they would be supportive if their child, sibling or close relative came out as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and 71 percent said they would feel the same about a family member coming out as transgender or nonbinary, accordingto an August YouGov survey. Seven percent of people in Britain identify as LGBTQ, the survey reported.
Crowther said visibility and allyship affects a community’s friendliness toward LGBTQ people. When Edinburgh bars and public spaces shut down because of the pandemic, residents saw less LGBTQ markers like rainbow flags, according to Crowther.
“It sends a message to the wider public that you are a welcoming space and won’t tolerate hate,” Crowther said of LGBTQ equality symbols.
As the countries reopen, Herring said combating anti-gay sentiments should happen all year around. He said everyone has a responsibility to report hate crimes they witness.
“I can see everything moving in the right direction,” Herring said about ongoing education efforts and Liverpool venues that want to become official safe spaces for the LGBTQ community. “It’s not just a reaction to one crime; it’s about the bigger picture.”
A university that fired a professor after she came out as trans must reinstate her with tenure, a US appeals court has ruled.
The trans English professor, Rachel Tudor, won her sex discrimination lawsuit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University, claiming she was denied tenure and ultimately fired after she came out.
The university had argued that the hostility engendered by the six-year legal battle with Tudor, and the school’s concerns about her work, meant it shouldn’t have to reinstate her – but three judges at the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected that argument, according to Reuters.
The court said that because Tudor won her 2015 discrimination lawsuit it was clear that she would have been granted tenure if she wasn’t trans, ruling out the university’s arguments about her academic record.
“A tenured university professor holds an insular position that can effectively operate without the need for extensive collaboration with colleague or schools administrators,” circuit judge David Ebel wrote.
That amount was reduced to $300,000 by a judge in 2018, who cited the caps on damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. The same judge, district judge Robin Cauthron in Oklahoma City, also awarded Tudor $60,000 in “front pay” to reflect her lost future earnings – despite her seeking more than $2 million in front pay.
In 2018, Cauthron denied Tudor’s request to be reinstated to her job with tenure, accepting the school’s claim that many other faculty members opposed her return and that it did not have the funds to pay her salary. Tudor appealed this decision, and the 10th Circuit ruling said her evidence was clearly sufficient for a jury to rule in her favour.
The panel of judges referred to evidence of the school’s dean and vice president making comments about Tudor’s appearance and lifestyle, the fact that a faculty committee had voted to grant her tenure, and testimony from experts affirming that Tudor is more qualified than other, tenured, professors in her department.
And the judges also agreed with Tudor that there was not the kind of “extreme hostility” that would make her reinstatement impossible.
“There are plenty of workarounds and solutions making reinstatement possible in cases where some animosity exists, such as a remote office, a new supervisor, or a clear set of workplace guidelines,” the judges wrote.
Forcing non-binary students to choose “male” or “female” on application forms leaves schools and colleges at “massive risk” of legal action, an expert has warned.
The forms that students pursuing further education must complete force them to choose a binary sex option – and non-binary students to misgender themselves.
This includes on the individualised learner record (ILR) that further education providers must fill in with a student’s information so they can access funding.
This is a policy set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA), an “arms-length” official body sponsored by the Department of Education.
But the practice puts further education institutions at “massive risk” of legal action under the Equality Act 2010, said Emma Lambert of independent provider Dynamic Training.
“The ESFA’s old fashioned attitude to gender identities not only risks damaging the provider reputation, but it will undoubtedly end up in complaints and possibly legal action, which will be left with the provider to deal with,” Lambert told FE Week.
Dynamic Training, which provides apprenticeships for NHS nurses and skills courses for the Greater London Authority, asks its learners which pronouns they use and manually enters these into the documents.
However, Lambert explained, “there’s no way on the ILR system you can put anything other than male or female”.
She said she is “frustrated” by the lack of action from EFSA on this both because of the risk to providers and because she thinks “it’s wrong anyhow” not to allow students to select the correct gender for themselves.
Lambert added that Dyamic Training has raised this with EFSA multiple times, but only received non-committal answers.
Further education is the band describing education for students in the UK who are over the age of 16 but before degree-level, or higher, education.
Non-binary recognition part of ‘societal change’
While the Equality Act 2010 specifically protects those undergoing or proposing to undergo some form of gender reassignment, whether that protection extends to non-binary trans people has been unclear – until recently.
Last year, a landmark case won by a non-binary person against Jaguar Land Rover affirmed that non-binary and genderfluid people are protected from discrimination under the “gender reassignment” provision of the Equality Act 2010.
This progress, 11 years since the Equality Act was introduced, means it “seems timely for those characteristics protected by law to be reviewed and expanded in light of over a decade of societal change”, said Association of Colleges boss David Hughes.
Hughes added that while EFSA and the Department of Education are “working within limitations”, the challenge of including non-binary gender options on forms should not be “insurmountable”.
PinkNews contacted EFSA and the Department of Education for comment.