Say It Louder
Ari Jones is a Staff Attorney at Oasis Legal Services and a former ChangeLawyers Fellow.
Daily Inspiration 12 awe-inspiring photos of the March for Black Trans Lives
An estimated 15,000 people gathered at the Brooklyn Museum on Sunday afternoon to rally and march for Black trans lives at an action called Brooklyn Liberation. The attendees all wore white, as a nod to a 1917 NAACP protest against anti-Black violence where thousands of people gathered wearing all white. It marks what is thought to be the largest trans-based protest in history, according to one of the action’s organizers, Fran Tirado.
Read the story on Them
More of This A glimpse of a Trans future we all deserve
Back in October, the evening before oral arguments in her Supreme Court case, I met Aimee Stephens and her wife at a Hyatt not far from the court. She wasn’t unprepared when her boss, Thomas Rost, fired her, she said. At meetings of the trans community group she was part of, people talked about their own experiences with their bosses, including some who went through what she would later go through herself. What happened to her “had probably happened to thousands of other people.” Finding that group, she said, was the first time she learned that “there were people delivering our message. And even then I had no idea that that would be me at one point.”
Stephens, who died in May, was right, about both the scope of the workplace discrimination experienced by trans people and her place among those “delivering our message.” On Monday, in a 6–3 opinion, the high court ruled in favor of Stephens and two gay men, affirming that their employers had violated federal anti-discrimination law by firing them and, by extension, that LGBTQ people were included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Writing, improbably, for the majority, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch explained the justices’ interpretation of that federal anti-discrimination law:
There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.
Gorsuch’s fellow conservatives on the court, Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas, all disagreed (while Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority). Alito wrote in his dissent that the answer to the question of discrimination was just as clear to him: As written, Title VII didn’t explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity. And while Gorsuch and the majority didn’t dispute this, their opinion states, “Because discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex, an employer who intentionally penalizes an employee for being homosexual or transgender also violates Title VII.”
Read the story on The New Republic
Stay Vigilant I’m Black. I’m gay. I don’t trust the Supreme Court.
Erika D. Smith is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times writing about the diversity of people and places across California.
I’m Black. I’m gay. And I’m just going to say it: Monday was a wash for equal rights.
On the one hand, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” does indeed protect gay and transgender Americans.
“The answer is clear,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the 6-3 majority. “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undistinguishable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Far from the stunning decision some have made it out to be, we’re talking about basic rights. Rights that, for the most part, have ceased to be seen as controversial or as making some sort of political statement. And this is true not just in California, but in states all over the country.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court declined to hear — count ‘em — eight separate cases that would have opened the door to challenging “qualified immunity,” the doctrine that protects police officers from civil lawsuits alleging brutality and other civil rights violations.
So ridiculous was this turn of events that even Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only Black and most obtusely conservative member, issued an unusual dissent.
At a time when protests are still popping up daily to denounce injustice at the hands — and sometimes knees — of police, it’s hard not to compare the pace of change and acceptance for the LGBTQ community and the Black community.
Being Black and demanding equal rights is still very much a controversial and a political statement. But being gay or lesbian or bisexual and demanding the same? Not as much. Not anymore.
Think about it.
Read the story on LA Times
Speaking Of… Our government wants a world where trans people don’t exist
Chase Strangio is a trans activist and lawyer, and Deputy Director of the ACLU Transgender Justice Project.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the uprisings against ongoing police brutality toward Black people in the United States, the federal government has decided now is the time to continue prioritizing and escalating its attacks on transgender people. Cruelly, many of the current attacks are focused on transgender youth who already face staggering rates of discrimination, stigma, and suicidality. As someone who regularly challenges these attacks in court and legislatures through my work with the ACLU, I’ve seen how these insidious forces operate and the devastating impact they have on young trans people.
Most recently, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a 338-page rule full of anti-trans rhetoric that practically encourages discrimination against LGBTQ people in health care. The rule goes so far as to gaslight trans people by framing discrimination against us as “unsubstantiated hypothetical scenarios” (despite many of us living through them ourselves) while also suggesting that repeated misgendering of trans patients in a health care setting isn't even discriminatory. It is cruel and just the latest example of many in the Trump administration using the power of the United States government to attack trans people.
Attorney General Bill Barr and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have collaborated with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – an anti-LGBTQ organization – in court filings and administrative documents to claim (without any legal basis) that women and girls who are transgender are a threat to the rights and legal protections of non-transgender people. The latest Trump administration actions are part of a coordinated effort from groups like ADF and leading government officials to situate trans people and our bodies as a threat to the social and legal order, something that’s played out in state legislatures for years.
Last year, ADF filed a complaint with the Department of Education (ED) on behalf of several cisgender girls alleging that Connecticut’s long-standing policy of permitting transgender athletes to compete in high school athletics consistent with their gender identity violated the rights of non-transgender women and girls. Shifting the anti-trans rhetoric from restrooms to athletics was the strategic move of anti-trans groups after witnessing the rapid collapse of their movement to exclude trans people from restrooms, often through state-level legislation.
The ED complaint, which progressed into a federal lawsuit, zeroed in on two specific young women, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller. Andraya and Terry are two Black teenage runners who have consistently excelled at track during their high school careers. Their successes, however, were met with complaints by some — mostly white, cisgender — athletes who complained (often on Fox News and in the right-wing blogosphere) that they should not have to compete against or share space with girls who are transgender. And though Terry and Andraya medically transitioned at a young age and are beaten by cisgender athletes in competition, they are spoken about in media and legal documents as “biological males” with superhuman strength that no “biological female” can compete against.
Read the interview on Teen Vogue
Say Their Names Two Black Trans women were murdered in 24 hours
The below article mentions graphic acts of violence against Black trans women.
This week, two Black trans women were reported murdered within a 24 hour period — Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Riah Milton of Liberty Township, Ohio — continuing an epidemic that has seen the violent deaths of at least 14 trans or gender non-conforming people so far this year.
As the nation comes together to fight white supremacy in a series of historic protests, and as the LGBTQ+ community works to highlight and uplift Black trans and queer people during Pride month, trans women are still being disproportionately targeted by queerphobic and transphobic violence. This week’s reported murders only further underscore that disparity, and the urgency with which authorities, politicians, and the LGBTQ+ community must work to address it.
Dominique Fells' remains were discovered near Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia just before 7 p.m. on Monday, June 8. The 27-year-old experienced severe trauma to her head and face, and her legs had been severed.
Her family and sister, Dior Edmonds, expressed their mourning on a GoFundMe fundraiser created Friday. Dior Edmonds, Fells’ oldest sister, wrote that the family “is in utter disbelief that something like this could happen to one of our own.” The funds raised through Edmonds’s GoFundMe will cover Fells’ funeral costs.
In Ohio, Riah Milton was reported murdered after being lured to a park by three suspects — Kaleb Marshall Tooson, Tyree Jeffery Cross, and a 14-year-old girl whose identity has not been revealed due to her age — in an attempted robbery. Ohio investigators say the 25-year-old trans woman died of multiple gunshot wounds after the suspects tried to steal her car. Tooson and the minor have both since been arrested and charged. Police have issued a warrant for Cross’ arrest.
Fells and Minton were initially misgendered by police and local media outlets. Milton’s sister Ariel took to Twitter to express her disdain over the deadnaming and misgendering of Milton in death.
Read the story on Them
Self Care How to unplug and set boundaries during tumultuous times
Taneasha White is a Black, Queer lover of words, inquisition, and community, and has used her role within both literary and organizational spaces to make room for folks who are often cast aside.
As hundreds of thousands gather to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd around the world, you may feel obligated to participate in demonstrations or physical actions — especially if you’re a Black person dedicated to social justice. But it’s important to remember that as people living within intersectional identities, putting your body on the line is not an obligation. What’s non-negotiable is that you value your wellness. We have to remember that caring for ourselves is equivalent to taking care of your community.
2020 has proven to be a traumatic year, especially for folks within the Black community. The steadily shocking death toll due to COVID-19, which affects African American communities in higher numbers than any other demographic, can be partly attributed to structural and institutional inequalities such as barriers to healthcare access and food deserts. This Spring brought back-to-back losses of Black community members like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, who were all murdered at the hands of the police. Uprisings after these deaths have emerged throughout the country and have spread overseas, and police, state, and federal powers have responded with force.
Uprisings are a sign of revolution, and this global pushback is 400 years in the making. Black communities are tired. With all the talk and energy around fighting back that’s circulated over the past couple months, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself first. Yet “self-care” has become a trend, often triggering images of bubble baths and maxed out credit cards. While there is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself, here are ways to focus on both your mental health and general wellness as we rise up against systemic racism and seek justice for those we’ve lost at the hands of police this year.
Read the story on Them