By Chase Strangio for Medium. Our greatest wish for Chelsea Manning on her birthday and every day is that she is pardoned and released from prison. Join us in wishing her a happy birthday by urging President Obama to pardon her. Chelsea has shown herself to be an amazing person who sees injustice and works to change it. In her time since her arrest she has evolved and grown. Now she has become a leading voice for the trans movement. There is so much progress in that area and some of the credit for ameliorating discrimination against trans people goes to Chelsea who has stood up for her rights, and by doing so, the rights of others, under very difficult circumstances. We are confident that Chelsea will continue to evolve and grow; and continue to show leadership in her coming years. Happy birthday to Chelsea.
By Sue Sturgis for Facing South – In the upcoming election, number of states that will have in place strict voter ID laws requiring citizens to present government-issued photo ID at the polls: 8* Of those eight strict ID states, number in the South: 5. Number of transgender citizens whose voting rights are at risk because of those laws, with students, people of color and those with low incomes and disabilities likely overrepresented: over 34,000
By Zack Ford for Think Progress – When a school is playing up the fact that a fifth grader’s suicide risk has been downgraded from high to moderate to justify its ongoing discrimination, it’s not a particularly convincing argument. A federal judge in Ohio ruled Monday that she must immediately be allowed to go the bathroom with the other girls. Jane Doe is a student at Highland Elementary School. Just before first grade, she socially transitioned, changing her clothing and even obtaining a legal name change
By Mark Joseph Stern for Slate – Ash Whitaker is a high-school student who gets good grades, plays in the orchestra, and hangs out with his friends. He is also a bad-ass. After Whitaker came out as transgender, his school in Kenosha, Wisconsin, launched a campaign of discrimination against him. The school forced him to use the girl’s bathroom, addressed him with female pronouns, and referred to him by his (female) birth name.
By Chelsea Manning for Medium – After weeks of emotion and thought, I’ve decided I need to tell you something: I am tired of being defined by the world through the narrow lens of a single event that happened in my life several years ago. Although I have dedicated the vast majority of my life to the principles of transparency, social equality, individual protections, free speech, human rights, and justice, the world usually chooses to define me with this description:
By Ed Pilkington for the Guardian. Chelsea Manning has made an impassioned critique against the US military’s new rules allowing transgender people openly to serve in the armed forces, arguing that the reforms fall short of true equality. As the highest-profile transgender individual in the armed services today, Manning’s criticisms carry particular weight within the debate around opening up the military. The army soldier said she responded to the defense secretary Ash Carter’s announcement of the rule change on Thursday with initial relief, followed by a dawning concern. Writing for the Guardian from her prison cell in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US state secrets to WikiLeaks, Manning raised two main objections to the revised policies. Since 2014 she has been suing the US government in federal court to be allowed to live fully as a woman while in custody. So far, her wishes have only been partially granted. She has been given access to hormone treatment, cosmetics and speech therapy. But the military is continuing to hold her in a male lock-up within Fort Leavenworth, and insists that she must wear her hair at regulation length for male personnel.
By Gina Petry for Freedom Socialist Party – Transgender rights are taking center stage. Today’s trans leaders confront job and housing discrimination, police abuse and brutal prison conditions. Bold militants are challenging and changing the status quo. One result: on May 13, the White House sent out a directive stating public schools must allow transgender people the right to access the bathroom of their choice. It may appear a small victory but it’s not. Self-appointed “potty police” have harassed, intimidated and attacked trans people.
By Dennis Trainor, Jr. for Acronym Journal – This week, Dennis interviews Shaleece Haas, Director of the new documentary REAL BOY (www.RealBoymovie.com). It is a film about “the coming-of-age story of Bennett Wallace, a transgender teenager on a journey to find his voice—as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man. As he navigates the ups and downs of young adulthood, he works to gain the love and support of his mother, who has deep misgivings about her child’s transition. Along the way, Bennett forges a powerful friendship with his idol, Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician with his own demons to fight.”
By Staff of ACLU – CHICAGO – Despite efforts by the school district to justify their behavior, the United States Department of Education today issued a landmark ruling recognizing that Palatine High School District 211 is discriminating against a female student on the basis of her sex. The Department issued its findings after a lengthy investigation concluding that the District is in violation of federal law for denying a student access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes, simply because the student is transgender. Despite protestations from the District over the past two weeks, the Department today made clear that the school is engaging in harmful discrimination.
By Jennicet Gutiérrez in Washington Blade – Pride celebrations of the LGBTQ community are taking place throughout the nation. The community takes great pride in celebrating our diversity and the progress we have made throughout the years. However, for the immigrant LGBTQ community progress has not been fully realized because of the continuous discrimination and violence we face in our daily lives. I was fortunate to be invited to the White House to listen to President Obama’s speech recognizing the LGBTQ community and the progress being made. But while he spoke of ‘trans women of color being targeted,’ his administration holds LGBTQ and trans immigrants in detention. I spoke out because our issues and struggles can no longer be ignored.
By Princess Harmony Rodriguez in Black Girl Dangerous – On 5/18, I saw heartbreaking news flood my Facebook timeline. Philadelphia’s committed body of trans activists, many of them of color, were talking about a trans woman’s murder. Her name was, and still is, Londyn Chanel. She was 21 years old. There are people with boots on the ground in Philadelphia, and in other major cities throughout the country, who do the most difficult and emotionally draining work in the fight for our community to stay alive. These trans and cis activists reach out to trans women of color and provide services to us, organize rallies when we are murdered, and give us spaces where we can simply be allowed to exist in peace. Not everyone is cut out for the work these people do, because they often have to deal with violence, death, and illness. It’s emotionally draining and requires a level of self-sacrifice that most people can’t get to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; self-care is important and if you know you can’t do something like that it’s best that you find other ways to be helpful. Here are some things that you can do to support this work:
For the past three years, Ashley Diamond has been denied health care as well as protection from recurring violence from the men around her. But she has been fighting back — and her fight has been making headlines and wresting small changes from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Her story starkly illustrates the challenges facing trans women behind bars — from frequent violence and sexual assaults to the denial of hormones and other medical neglect. But Diamond’s experiences are far from unique, or even unusual. Nor is her decision to challenge prison policies around trans health care and safety an exception. Across the country, trans people have individually challenged and collectively organized to be free from physical, sexual and medical violence.
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ordered the military to stop using male pronouns when referring to Chelsea Manning in all legal papers filed in her appeal (see below). This Order comes after the military filed an opposition to requests by Manning’s attorneys to use her legal name and female pronouns when referring to her in court documents. The Order specifies that “future formal papers filed before this court and all future orders and decisions issued by this court shall either be neutral, e.g., Private First Class Manning or appellant, or employ a feminine pronoun.”
Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance when we memorialize those who were killed by anti-trans violence in the past year. Here is this year’s list of those we’ve lost and here is where you can find an eventhappening in your area. As Morgan Collado wrote at Autostraddle, trans women of color dominate the list of lives lost — this year and every year — and simply spending one day honoring them after they’ve been killed is not enough. “The names of trans women of color will be in the mouths of the queer community after they’ve been murdered,” Collado wrote, “but support for us while we are still alive is sporadic at best.” Last year at Jacobin, Samantha Allen echoed that idea that remembering must be paired with “interrogating the present” and imagining a different future. She asked the vital question: “How could we shorten this list of the dead? What kind of politics would that goal require?”
I began researching this story with Laverne Cox when I was the Series Producer of the public television show, In The Life. When In The Life ended, in December 2012, this project stayed with me. It seems each month there is a new headline of a bias crime against a transgender woman of color. I became committed to producing and directing this powerful, feature-length film that confronts transgender bias crime with both rigor and humanity. I wanted to hear the voices of victims who were all too often silenced by brutality; I wanted to produce a useful film that sensitizes the audience and amplifies the authentic voices and lives of trans people.