SCOTUS Rules Trump Anti-Transgender Military Policy Can Take Effect Immediately


The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down orders that allow Donald Trump’s ban of transgender military service members to go into effect immediately while appeals work their way through the lower courts, according to The New York Times.

The high court issued a brief, unsigned order this morning saying SCOTUS had lifted the injunctions that, until now, blocked the anti-trans policy.

The vote was 5-4 with Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen dissenting.

This morning’s orders stay the injunctions initially issued by Federal District Court judges in Washington State (Trump v. Karnoski) and California (Trump v Stockman), both in the Ninth Circuit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had previously vacated a third injunction on January 4.

For the time being, current trans soldiers will not be booted out immediately.

The policy, as tweaked by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, allows transgender service members who are already serving openly to continue to do so and to receive transition-related care.



In July of 2017, President Trump surprised American military leaders and the world when he announced his plan to ban trans military service members after “consultation with my Generals and military experts” due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members. 

At the time of Trump's announcement, Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland (pictured above) told Air Force News, “I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military.”

“You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life," he added.

The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement saying there is ‘no medically valid reason’ for banning transgender people from serving in the United States military, but all four service chiefs (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) have testified they’ve seen no negative effects from transgender military personnel serving the country they love.

According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty.

From The New York Times:

The policy, announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”


Lambda Legal, which along with OutServe-SLDN, filed the lawsuit Trump v. Karnoski, issued this statement:


“The Supreme Court’s decisions today are perplexing to say the least: on the one hand denying the Trump administration’s premature request for review of lower court rulings before appellate courts have ruled and rebuffing the administration’s attempt to skirt established rules; and yet on the other allowing the administration to begin to discriminate, at least for now, as the litigation plays out,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said.

“For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again. We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap of history where it belongs.”

(h/t The New York Times)

Transgender Patron Wins In Washington DC Bathroom Complaint

During a visit last summer to Cuba Libre, a popular Washington DC bar and restaurant, Charlotte Clymer was stopped as she attempted to use the women restroom by an employee.

The employee demanded to see the transgender woman’s ID claiming the restaurant ‘required’ her to show legal identification to prove she was female.

Clymer, who was at the venue celebrating a friend’s bachelorette party, dismissed the employee and entered the ladies room. According to the Washington Blade, the employee didn’t ask anyone else for identification.

After entering a stall to do her business, Clymer heard the man walk into the bathroom in an attempt to search for her.

“I go into a stall to do my business and I hear him walk in and search for me in this busy restroom full of women,” Clymer shared on her Facebook. “He is doing everything but opening the stall doors. I ignore him, and after a few minutes, he leaves. I do my business, wash my hands, and walk out.”

“On the other side of the door are the attendant and the manager, who says it’s D.C. law that you must have ‘female’ on your ID to use the women’s restroom,” added Clymer. “I tell him he’s wrong and there’s no chance I’m showing him my ID.”

This is where it’s important to note that Clymer works with the Human Rights Campaign, and if anyone knows the law on transgender protections, it’s Clymer. 

In fact, she pulled up the DC Human Rights Act on her phone and showed the manager the ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression in regard to housing, employment and (ahem) public accommodations.

After the manager, who Clymer described as “condescending and dismissive,”  threatened to call the police, she was eventually ejected from the restaurant.

Standing outside the restaurant, an angry Clymer called the police herself. According to the Washington Post, the officers showed up and reassured her the law was on her side.

Eventually, Clymer filed a complaint with the Office of Human Rights, and the DC Attorney General's office launched an investigation as well.

As a result of her complaint, the owner of Cuba Libre has apologized and been ordered to pay a $7,000 fine for violating the Human Rights Act. Additionally, the settlement with the Attorney General calls for the restaurant to “institute policies on civil rights compliance and training.”

Plus, signage is now required in the establishment that states the local ordinance that “all individuals are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression.”

For her part, Clymer Clymer told the Washington Blade that she’s pleased with the outcome.

“I am quite grateful for the work of Attorney General Racine and his staff to ensure that discrimination has no place in D.C., and I am thankful that Cuba Libre and CEO Barry Gutin have worked in good faith since the fall to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Clymer said.

“All parties worked together to make sure a terrible night was turned into a great teaching moment, which was built on the history of advocacy by trans folks in D.C., particularly trans women of color,” she added.

(h/t Washington Blade)

Former Soldier from Texas Accused of Murdering Trans Woman

Anthony Michael Bowden, a former Fort Bliss soldier, was tried and convicted of murder of a transgender woman, according to El Paso Times.

Bowden, who was recently found guilty of murder, stabbed 36-year-old trans woman Erykah Tijerina twenty-four times at the Rio Grande Government Apartment Complex in Texas with a chisel in 2016. He claims that this was done in self defense because he says that she raped him and was planning on blackmailing him. Erykah did in fact have a history of blackmailing her clients, but that is hardly any reason to kill her.

Erykah Tijerina, born Eric Tijerina, worked as a prostitute and identified as a transgender woman. The prosecutor referred to her as Erykah, while the defense team referred to her as Eric.

According to the defense, Erykah threatened to tell military personnel that Bowden had slept with a transgender woman and that he was her pimp. 

One of the defense lawyers, William Ahee, said “On Aug. 8, 2016, Eric threatened Anthony Michael Bowden,” Ahee said in his closing arguments. “She blackmailed him. He went to the apartment, and Eric started undressing him (Bowden). He (Tijerina) threatened him. He (Bowden) feared he was going to be raped again. He went to his car, got the chisel. Eric threatened him, and he (Bowden) had the right to defend himself.” 

That's a lot of misgendering.

Anyway, the prosecutors told the court that Bowden repeatedly lied during the trial and went to Tijerina's apartment with then intent to kill her and that he was never raped. Additionally, it was found that Bowden used Craigslist to solicit sex from Tijerina and after meeting with her in August 8th, he said that he was going to his car to get money to pay her but instead returned with a chisel and stabbed her to death.

Denise Butterworth, a state prosecutor, told the court that in order for the self defense claim to hold any water, there needed to be an imminent threat. The fact that Bowden left the apartment to go to his car to get the chisel shows that he could have left at any time and, as such, proves that he was not in any danger.

After hearing the verdict Bowden had no reaction, while his family wept. 

Blackmail is never a good thing but it's also not a good reason to murder someone and his claim of self defense was clearly a lie. I don't know if it was shock or apathy, but him not having a reaction to his verdict does not sit well with me. Now, did he kill Erykah because she was transgender or because he was embarrassed by wanting to have sex with a transgender woman? Either way, he shouldn't have done it.

h/t: El Paso Times.

Women's Shelter In Alaska Is Suing To Turn Away Homeless Trans Women In Freezing Weather

Virulently anti-LGBTQ legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing a ‘Christian’ women’s shelter that is suing to deny transgender women shelter from the freezing winter cold.

The conservative law firm, which represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips in his fight to deny services to gay people, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ironically named Downtown Hope Center against the city of Anchorage, Alaska, to deny services to transgender women.

The issue arises from an incident that occurred in January 2018, when a transgender woman was turned away from the shelter, according to local news station KTUU.

Downtown Hope Center says the woman, identified in court papers as “Jessie Doe,” was denied shelter because she was allegedly inebriated. The shelter claims she was put into a taxi and sent to a hospital for treatment for a cut on her forehead.

But the same woman showed up the next day and again was turned away.

The average temperature in Anchorage at night during January is 9 degrees.

In September 2015, the Anchorage Assembly passed AO-09, a city ordinance which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The ordinance added protections to Anchorage’s equal rights laws for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people in housing, employment and public accommodations and includes exemptions for religious groups and those with ministerial duties.

In a press release, ADF asserts the ordinance exempts homeless shelters like the Hope Center. ADF attorney Ryan Tucker told U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason that the homeless women in the shelter would “rather sleep in the woods” than spend a night in a shelter with a transgender woman.

In a further slap to trans women, the ADF also says that because many of the women at the shelter have been battered or sexually abused by men, they shouldn’t have to sleep in proximity to ‘men.’ ADF calls the idea of trans women sleeping in the shelter ‘dangerous.’

But the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees.

“There is simply no evidence that transgender people are more of a threat to anyone whether that be in bathrooms, locker rooms or homeless shelters,” David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told KTUU. “In fact we know transgender people are among the most, if not the most likely to be targeted for abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse."

It’s worth noting that the Hope Center receives some of its operating funds from public tax payer monies via a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The ADF, which has represented so-called ‘religious freedoms’ lawsuits in more than a dozen states, has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group which works to push trans people “back into the shadows.”


(h/t KTUU, FriendlyAtheist - Image by Eric Ward via Unsplash)

EXCLUSIVE! Gia Gunn Talks Transitioning, All Stars 4 and Finding Love

I am a firm believer that season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race remains their best yet (outside of All Stars).  Chicago’s very own Gia Gunn was a big part in making her season so much fun to watch, even though she didn’t make it too far as the season went on.

Regardless, she became one of the most talked about queens that year due to her catchphrases like “ABSOLUTELYYYYYY” and “let me feel my oats,” not to mention her bold and brash personality that was seen during the episodes and on Untucked.

Gia became known for so much more after season 6 was over with, as she proved to be more than just a GIF or meme-worthy queen with her brave admission that she herself is trans. It’s something that some other queens have been able to discuss after their initial season, and Gia opening about her transition and how it changed her life has only opened yet another door for inclusivity and acceptance when it comes to the T in LGBTQ.

She re-emerged in the Drag Race scene at the end of 2018 on All Stars 4, where she made it to 8th place amid a very competitive group of queens. Gia also became the first openly trans queen to compete on The Emmy-winning show, which broke ground with how millions of people typically view drag and all that goes with it.

I spoke with Gia about her AS4 experience, transitioning, finding love and so much more. Take a look.

INSTINCT: How did it feel to be the first openly trans queen competing on RuPaul's Drag Race?

GIA GUNN: It first and foremost is an honor to be the first openly trans woman on Drag Race.  But with that sense of reward also comes a great amount of pressure.  I have gained responsibility to not only make sure I am representing my community as a whole and being mindful that everyone's journey is completely different but also staying true to myself.  I can only hope that my participation can lead to greater things for other trans individuals and open doors for more opportunities to arise.

Do you think that your appearance will inspire other trans women to audition for future seasons?

Absolutely!  Honestly the only reason that I even agreed to go on the show was to hopefully provide a sense of faith for others to encourage them to never give up and stay inspired.  Keep creating and know their craft/talent is just as worthy as any other drag queen in the world.  Whether WOW continues to make this possible for others, that I have no control over and can only hope for the best!

At what point did you realize that you were trans and what was the process like when you not only started transitioning but telling your loved ones about this in real life?

I saw my very first drag performer at the age of 18 and they happened to be a beautiful trans woman.  At that moment I remember my mind sparking and seeing something in her that I knew I had in me.  However, I decided to continue living as I was and continuing to educate myself on what trans life was really like beyond the stage.  My mother had asked me to wait until I was 25 to make a decision and she suggested that this is when one's brain is fully developed.  Sure enough at 25 I started my hormone replacement therapy and it has been pretty much uphill since then.  I am blessed to have friends and family who decided to not only support my transition but also go through this process with me.  My parents took it upon them to educate themselves on what this meant for them as parents and how they could be better parents to their child who was going through this. 

Did you lose friends and family members as a result? What was the most challenging this in this experience for you?

I fortunately didn't lose anyone due to my decision and if anything I feel like it brought me closer to my loved ones. However, I realize for some people the decision to transition can distance them and that is why I continue to be public about my journey to help shed some light!  The most challenging part of coming out was the fact that some people felt like they were losing me or in my parent's mind that they were losing their "son."  This was difficult for me to accept but putting myself in their shoes gave me a better perspective.  That's why with anything in life communication is key and educating those around you about things they are ignorant to is a very healthy motive!

Can you tell us about your mini-doc and what fans can expect from it?

My mini documentary on my YouTube channel, GiaGunnEntertainment, is basically showcasing the 6-month process leading up to my surgery.  From the very first consultations to the morning of the surgery, the process of the actual surgery and the aftercare as well.  I choose to document this to show other trans individuals the proper options we have in terms of changing our bodies and to help educate people on what happens during surgery and gain a better idea what the actual physical process is like.

Outside of all of that, are you dating anyone right now? If not, what do you look for in your significant other?

After 28 years of searching for love I have been so fortunate in being able to meet a man that I thought never existed!  For many years I spent so much time looking for someone to love me and validate me as female.  Not realizing that this had to come from within first before expecting someone to come along and do this for me.  Dating as a trans person can be so difficult as we suffer from inner insecurities, the shame society puts on us and our potential partners and simply finding love in general is hard!  However, what I've learned is that love will find you and if your true to yourself, others will be true to you.

Anything else coming up in the year that you want to discuss?

I really look forward to launching my one woman show "This is me" and continuing to write my book and have it published!  I also am focusing on collaborating with more influencers and brands that support what I stand for and creating more content to help in advocating for my community but also sharing my story with the world.

For more information on Gia, take a trip over to her homepage.

Netflix Says 'No' To North Carolina Over Anti-LGBTQ Laws

North Carolina just can’t get its act together regarding anti-LGBTQ laws.

And now, according to StarNewsOnline, the state may have just lost $60 million in revenue thanks to the inaction of state lawmakers to repeal those laws.

Streaming giant, Netflix, was looking to shoot a new series, OBX, in the Tar Heel state but balked thanks to HB 142.

The law, enacted in 2017 was meant to be a ‘fix’ on previous legislation HB 2, which marginalized transgender people by requiring them to use public bathrooms that align with the gender on their birth certificates.

HB 142 partially repealed HB 2, but left in place bans on local communities passing their own anti-discrimination laws through 2020.

Ten episodes of the new project have been ordered by Netflix, and Jonas Pate, who created the show, wanted to shoot in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. But the ban on local municipalities enacting their own legislation is a sticking point for Netflix.

“This tiny law is costing this town 70 good, clean, pension-paying jobs and also sending a message to those people who can bring these jobs and more that North Carolina still doesn’t get it,” Pate said.

Pate added that the production is projected to spend in the neighborhood of $60 million in whatever state the series shoots.

Pate, and his brother Josh, have previously created the NBC series Surface, which was shot in Wilmington.

But this past weekend, Pate found himself scouting sections of Charleston, South Carolina, for the new production.

Freshman state Sen. Harper Peterson, a Democrat from Hanover, hopes to see the issue addressed this week as the state Assembly is in session. 

“That is a decision the legislature has to make and realize that it is one more opportunity we are losing if we don’t,” Peterson told StarNewsOnline. “We have to get back and be competitive with other states. It just hurts to see a production about North Carolina go to South Carolina.”

OBX is described as a coming-of-age story that follows four teens in the Outer Banks whose lives are changed when a hurricane cuts off all power to the islands.

“When these lifelines for teens like phones and Snapchat are gone, it really reorients the generational divisions,” says Pate.

(h/t StarNewsOnline)

Two Women Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Trans Woman In Public Bathroom

Two women have been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony second-degree kidnapping after violently attacking a transgender woman in the ladies room of a downtown Raleigh bar.

According to the NewsObserver, Amber Nicole Harrell, 38, and Jessica Leann Fowler, 31, struck up what began as a ‘friendly conversation’ with the victim at Milk Bar on December 9. 

But the women reportedly became violent and grabbed the trans woman’s genitals asking if she had a penis.

The assault was reported the next day by a friend of the victim who called 911. 

A recording of the call, made public by the Raleigh Police Department, indicates the two women started laughing as they pulled up the victim’s shirt in an attempt to see her breasts. They also grabbed the victim’s buttocks as the victim repeatedly told them to stop.

The assault continued after the three left the ladies room as the women openly groped the victim’s stomach and buttocks. 

The bartender eventually told Fowler and Harrell to stop.

Harrell turned herself in to the police over the weekend and was released on $50,000 bail Monday morning.

Fowler turned herself in on Tuesday and is being held in the Wake County jail under a $30,000 bond.

In 2016, North Carolina state lawmakers passed HB2, an anti-LGBTQ law which prohibited transgender people from using public bathrooms which aligned with their gender identity unless they had changed the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The law was repealed a year later but replaced with HB142, which still did not ensure trans people would have access to public restrooms. Additionally, the new law left prohibitions in place that bans any local communities from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances.

It's a popular trope among anti-transgender activists that trans people are a threat in public bathrooms, but the facts show that trans people are the ones who are attacked in bathrooms, not the other way around. A 2016 study showed 60% of trans people avoid public bathrooms out of fear for personal safety.

To date, there is no record of any transgender person attacking a cisgender person in a public bathroom.


(h/t NewsObserver)

NJ Will Have a Gender Neutral Option Coming Next Month

New Jersey Governer Phil Murphy signed the Babs Siperstein Bill, a bill that will allow parents to select a gender-neutral marker on their children's birth certificates, into law last year and will come into effect in February, according to News 12 New Jersey.

Effective February 1st, parents will be able to choose a third, gender-neutral or non-binary option for their children on their birth certificates, as well as allowing adults to change their gender marker on their birth and death certificates (I assume a family member of the deceased will have the right to change the death certificate) without proof of reassignment surgery. 

Gender is separate from sex, as sex is a biological concept, while gender is more a means of expression of one's identity and one's gender is not always consistent with one's biological sex. Some people are also born intersex, so this third option on birth certificates will help them more accurately identify themselves. 

The Bill was created because of Babs Siperstein, a resident of Edison and the first transgender woman to be elected into the Democratic National Committee in 2012. California, Oregon, and Washington are other states with similar legislation. 

As a person who has lived in New Jersey his whole life, I am glad to see that my tiny home state is furthering LGBTQ rights for transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people by validating their identities. 

h/t: News 12 New Jersey

All-Woman College Will Allow Trans Women in 2019

Stephens College, the United State's second oldest all-women's college adopted a policy that will allow trans women to apply, starting in 2019 according to The Hill.

Since Stephens College, located in Columbia, Missouri, is specifically for women, it stands to reason that the admission's office would allow all women, regardless of biological sex. The new policy states "the college’s undergraduate residential women’s program will continue to admit and enroll students who are women and who live as women, just as it always has.” The decision was unanimous. 

The college has also expanded their definition of womanhood to include sex and gender. The new policy will also admit and enroll anyone who identifies and lives as a woman. The applicants will need to provide legal documents to show that they identify as a woman and/or are transitioning from male to female. The policy will go into effect in 2019. 

Many women's colleges across the country are also considering adopting this policy. I think that this is definitely a good thing as transgender people are often ostracized and in need of inclusion. I hope that every all-women's colleges across the United States adopt this policy, as transgender women are women and should be allowed to attend an all-female institution. 

h/t: The Hill

LGBTQ Brazilians Worry Marriage Equality May Be Revoked Under New President

Even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, LGBTQ couples are hurrying their wedding plans before right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro is sworn into office as the country’s new president.

Bolsonaro, often referred to as the “Donald Trump of the Tropics,” has been virulently anti-LGBTQ his entire career and campaigned on a promise to defend “the true meaning of matrimony as a union between man and woman.”

Bolsonaro's campaign already seems to have begun to influence public opinion and actions.

Comparing 2017 to 2016, anti-LGBTQ murders are up 30% (387 in 2017 vs. 327 in 2016) according to local LGBTQ advocacy group Grupo Gay de Bahia.

And openly lesbian city councillor Marielle Franco of Rio de Janeiro was murdered in March of this year.

All of this and Bolsonaro's impending presidency has led to a 66% spike in same-sex weddings in November according to The New York Times.

In Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, 57 same-sex weddings were celebrated during the first ten days of December compared to 113 in all of December 2017.

Aline Foguel set a date for her wedding to her girlfriend Carolina Zannata right after Bolsonaro’s landslide victory. She, like many in the LGBTQ community, worries that the new far-right president’s ascension will give permission to homophobes to openly air their hateful, divisive rhetoric, possibly leading to violence.

“People now have this open homophobic discourse that they were too embarrassed to say before,” Ms. Foguel told the Times. “I’m so afraid of reliving a past that I thought we had already conquered. I’ve had panic attacks.”

The Brazilian Bar Association’s head of sexual diversity, Maria Berenice Dias, urged same-sex couples “who want to get married to hurry up and formalize their union before the end of the year.”

And it’s not just marriage equality Brazilian LGBTQs are concerned about.

Noah Beltramini, a transgender man, not only rushed to marry but also to officially change his name and gender identification after a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year allowed.

“It wasn’t something I was worried about before,” said Beltramini. “But with Bolsonaro I feel completely vulnerable.”

(h/t The New York Times)