Developments in N.C., Miss. cases; the urgency of protecting Black trans women

 

The LGBT South is a weekly email newsletter, compiling national, regional, and local news important to LGBT Southerners. Subscribe to get the latest edition to your inbox every Friday morning and keep up with what the Campaign for Southern Equality is up to!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I am an accomplished, beautiful black trans woman. Your willful ignorance will not stop me from being exactly who I am. My sisters and I are here and we exist, and you will not diminish our light and our brilliance.”

Janet Mock, responding to anti-trans rhetoric on a radio talk show where she was recently a guest

Here’s your breakdown of what’s happening this week in the #LGBTsouth:

ROLLING BACK OUR RIGHTS

Last week was a whirlwind, bringing an onslaught of attacks against the LGBTQ community from the federal government and solidifying the fact that Trump’s claims to LGBTQ allyship are just that – claims. Despite the social consequences of these targeted actions against our community, no legal changes have come of them. The Pentagon has not made any changes to the Obama-era policy that removed the ban on openly trans service members, and the head of the Coast Guard said he would not “break faith” with transgender troops. The effect of the DOJ’s moves to argue that sexual orientation is not covered by discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act is also murky, with some claiming that the decision really falls to the EEOC to argue.

At the state level, developments in cases in N.C., Mississippi, and Arkansas have come up this week. In Arkansas, the state has asked a judge to block a non-discrimination ordinance from being enforced in Fayetteville. The city’s residents voted to pass the ordinance in 2015, but state officials have been fighting it, claiming it violates parts of the state Constitution.

North Carolina’s HB 142, the HB 2 “compromise repeal” bill passed back in March, is being challenged by Lambda Legal and the ACLU. The repeal has been widely criticized and prevent municipalities from passing non-discrimination ordinances until 2020. The lawsuit argues that the new bill is unconstitutional, and now Gov. Cooper and stat AG Josh Stein must decide whether they will defend the law.

In Mississippi, the case against the state’s discriminatory HB 1523 continues as judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals consider whether to hear an en banc appeal in their ruling from last month, when a panel of judges from the Court decided that the plaintiffs in the case did not have sufficient standing. While the judges have not made a decision about a rehearing the case, this week they requested a response from the state’s legal defense, signaling that they are not dismissing the appeal outright. The response must be received by August 10th, then we will see what the Court decides.

SUPPORTING OUR SISTERS

Controversy kicked off this week after comments were made on the popular New-York based radio show, The Breakfast Club, promoting violence against trans women. Just days prior, the show had hosted Janet Mock, the author, media personality, activist, and one of the most visible trans people in the mainstream, who was there to promote her new memoir. In the incident, which took place over the weekend, the hosts asked their guest, a comedian named Lil Duval, how he would react to finding out a woman he was dating was trans; he said she would have to die for “manipulating” him and went on to misgender and disrespect Mock.

The idea that trans women are attempting to “trick” people in regards to their gender is at the heart of so much transphobia, transmisogyny, and violence against trans women. The so-called “trans panic” defense is still widely used – and successful – in court, and despite decades of violence against trans women and the passing of new hate crimes legislation in 2009, the first prosecution of the murder of a trans woman as a hate crime came only three months ago. Just last week, Dee Whigham of Shubuta, Mississippi became the 16th reported trans person killed in 2017; that comes out to a trans person murdered every other week this year, and that only includes cases that are reported and victims who are not misgendered in their death.

If anything positive can come out of such an ugly incident, it has triggered conversation about transphobia, sexuality, and masculinity, particularly within Black and Latinx communities. In an eloquent piece for Allure, Janet Mock responded to being used as a prop for this kind of vitriol and how toxic masculinity and heteronormativity are killing trans women. While she points out that she is used to such treatment and that trans women continue to find ways to support and protect each other, she asks – even challenges – readers to ask ourselves, “How will you show up for our sisters who are watching, listening, and experiencing this violence daily?” This list, also from Allure, offers six concrete ways to support trans and non-binary folks right now.

WHAT ELSE?

Gay men are going missing under mysterious circumstances in Toronto’s Gay Village.

A couple in South Carolina won a landmark case against a hospital for performing surgery on their son, who is intersex, when he was an infant.

New research from Pew shows that Muslims in the U.S. are more accepting of LGBTQ identity than evangelical Christians.

Also, a poll from Quinnipiac University finds that 68% of Americans support trans people serving in the military.

The New York Times is collecting stories about people’s experiences of being LGBTQ in the U.S. – click here to contribute yours.

Trystan Reese, a trans dad from Portland, talks about his experience as a trans man carrying his and his husband’s first child.

The second annual Trans Liberation Tuesday rally took place this week in New York.

Feel-good Fridaythis animated short film about a young boy’s crush is warming the internet’s heart.

 

WHAT THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY IS UP TO

Building political power for the LGBTQ community is vitally important as we work to overturn laws that target our community. That’s why we’re excited to announce #QueertheVote, a new round of Southern Equality Fund grants.

We’ll be making grants of up to $500 to support grassroots efforts to get folks registered to vote and to the polls. And anyone in North Carolina who receives a grant is eligible to receive training from Democracy NC.

The grant cycle opens right now and will run through September 1. You can apply as an individual or a group and 501c(3) status is not required to receive a grant. Click here to apply for a #QueerTheVote grant!


Fighting HB 142: From the Courts to the Streets
On Tuesday, August 22 in Asheville, NC, the ACLU of NC’s Legal Director Chris Brook will provide updates about their new federal lawsuit challenging HB 142, the anti-LGBTQ law that replaced HB 2. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality will host a community conversation about how to push for LGBTQ protections and equality at the local level in our current landscape.

This event is co-sponsored by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the ACLU of North Carolina and its Western NC chapter. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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