Dads for Transgender Equality.

While the Republican National Convention is busy demonizing LGBT people in Cleveland, the Human Rights Campaign is trying to change the conversation.

The latest volley in that effort hit the web Wednesday, when the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group released a new educational video featuring the fathers of four transgender children — including Wayne Maines, whose daughter Nicole won a landmark legal victory in 2014 after a years-long battle to have her Maine school district recognize her as the girl she is.

In the video, dads of a diverse group of trans youth discuss their experiences in raising and supporting their children, and get candid about the unique challenges presented by parenting a transgender child.

I’m all sniffy now. Great dads all! Via The Advocate.

Jim Obergefell Takes On Religious Liberty Bigotry.


In a disgusting move by the House, they decided to open hearings on anti-LGBT legislation on the Anniversary of the Orlando Massacre. Well done, U.S. Government! That’s the way to show us you really, truly care, and that all lives matter isn’t just a knee-jerk privileged response. For the sarcasm impaired, sarcasm. Jim Obergefell testified, and it is a very moving and emotional testimony. Here’s a bit:

Here’s what I said to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Tuesday.

Chairman [Jason] Chaffetz and Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings:

Thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Jim Obergefell, and I was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

June 2015 was a joyous time for me and LGBT people across the country. The Supreme Court decision extending the freedom to marry to all loving couples was a landmark achievement in the long and ongoing struggle for equality under the law. I was deeply honored to have played a role in helping same-sex couples win this victory.

June 2016 was a time of heartbreak for millions around the world, including myself. The murder of 49 people and wounding of 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12 was a devastating tragedy and the worst attack on the LGBT community in our nation’s history.

Today, exactly one month after this horrifying event, I am appearing before this congressional committee to discuss a bill that would authorize sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people. I think that is profoundly sad. With all due respect to you, Chairman Chaffetz, and the members of this committee, this hearing is deeply hurtful to a still-grieving LGBT community.

It is my opinion that a hearing like we’re having today would have been much better spent in looking at how best to ensure that no one in this country is subjected to violence or discrimination based on who they are or whom they love.

Sadly, that is not the focus of today’s hearing. I will explain why I am so strongly opposed to the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, but I first would like to share a bit more about myself.

Mr. Obergefell’s full article can be read here.

RNC Transgender Ad


The National Center for Transgender Equality is part of Fairness USA, a partnership that includes the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, the Movement Advancement Project, the Equality Federation, the Equality Ohio Education Fund, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Today we are launching a major public education campaign — the first of its kind — to raise awareness of the need for protections for transgender people across the United States.

The centerpiece of the campaign is an ad that will be aired during the Republican National Convention. The ad depicts mistreatment and harassment that many transgender people across the country have faced and continue to face when they need to use the restroom.

Newly released survey data from NCTE shows that 59 percent of transgender people have avoided bathrooms in the last year because they were afraid of problems like being confronted by others. A shocking one in 10 (12 percent of) transgender people report they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the last year, and one-third of transgender people have avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom. In the majority of states, restaurant and store managers can legally stop transgender people from using bathrooms that match the gender they live as every day — or kick them out of their restaurant or store just for being transgender.

This is appalling, but we are no longer fighting this battle alone. Much like the state-by-state marriage equality battles, we have seen that when people get to know their LGBT colleagues, neighbors, and friends for who they are, their opposition weakens and their support grows. Today, as more transgender men and women step forward to tell their stories, and parents advocate for their transgender or questioning children, negative attitudes are challenged and hearts and minds open up. In truth, we’re a mishmash community like everyone else — some of us are raising children, most of us are regular working folks, and some of us are serving in the military.

Those who support us see us for who we are – people. And in the same way that they’ve opened their hearts and minds, so too have voters across the country. Just last month, Quinnipiac University released findings from three swing states in the presidential race — Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — showing that support for transgender people is on the rise.

I think that’s a great ad, and it shows all people what we need to do – to view and treat all people as people. When we see someone’s rights being blocked, we need to step in and stand up.

Full story here.

Trans Guidelines: 10 More States Sue.



A second lawsuit has been filed by states objecting to the Obama administration’s call for schools to avoid discriminating against transgender students, including the recommendation that trans students be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

Ten states led by Nebraska filed the suit in federal court in that state, the Associated Press reports. The other states in the suit are Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Eleven other states, led by Texas and joined by some school districts and public officials, filed a similar suit in May. Both name the U.S. departments of Education, Justice, and Labor as defendants, plus the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The new suit uses much of the same language as the previous one and contends that federal government departments and agencies do not have the right to interpret the law as they did, declaring that a prohibition on sex discrimination in education also bans discrimination based on gender identity. The sex discrimination clause is in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

I knew this was coming, but it really hurts to see ND in that list.

The federal guidance document on treatment of trans students, issued in May, is not legally binding, but it does advise schools on how to comply with their legal obligations to students. Schools that do not comply may lose federal funding.

The new filing means that nearly half the U.S. states are challenging the Obama administration’s guidance, and doing so based on a “1972 understanding of sex,” notes Zach Ford at ThinkProgress.

They can’t go home to the 1950s, but they’ll take it as close as they can get.

Full story here.

Trump Supports NC HB 2.

donald-trump-now-supports-nations-worst-anti-lgbt-lawx750Yet another flip-flop from the premier con man, who will say anything at any time.

Donald Trump has flip-flopped on his stance on House Bill 2, the controversial law that forces transgender people in North Carolina to use public restrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity.

Trump appeared at a rally in Raleigh on Tuesday, where he spoke with The News and Observer about HB 2, which was forced through the state legislature in an emergency session on March 23. “I’m going with the state,” Trump said. “The state, they know what’s going on, they see what’s happening and generally speaking I’m with the state on things like this. I’ve spoken with your governor, I’ve spoken with a lot of people and I’m going with the state.”

These statements are a complete reversal from his earlier views on the bill.


Trump was applauded for his moderate stance on LGBT issues, with former GOProud president Chris Barron calling the presumptive Republican candidate “the most pro-gay Republican nominee ever.” The CEO has also claimed that he would be a champion for LGBT equality if elected to office, reiterating that point at Tuesday’s rally.

“I am better for the gay community,” he said. “I am better for women than Hillary will be on her best day.”


But in reality, he’s been backtracking on his purported LGBT allyship since his initial statements on HB 2 in April. Shortly after speaking out against the bill, Trump amended his condemnation in an interview with ABC, in which he claimed that he would “leave it up to the states” to decide what’s best for transgender people.

“Well, I believe it should be states’ rights, and I think the state should make the decision,” Trump said.

According to Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality North Carolina, Trump’s flip-flop on LGBT rights shows that he would be dangerous for the LGBT community. “Over and over, he has shown himself to be unqualified as a presidential candidate, and no friend to gay and transgender people,” he said in a statement. “We must resoundingly reject his ill-informed discrimination in November.”


Trump’s about face on LGBT rights, though, may just be the start.

According to reports, he’s considering Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for the Vice Presidential spot on his campaign ticket. Last year, Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which made it legal for businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That law was “fixed” after Indiana faced widespread boycotts in response to the bill’s passage, which reportedly cost the state $60 million in potential revenue.

“The Republican Party has a deep bench of qualified vice presidential candidates,” former Trump adviser Michael Caputo told the Indianapolis Star. “Some of them ring certain bells, and others ring other bells. I think Mike Pence rings the most bells of all.”

Once again, I’ll point to Trump’s volatility. He’s a con, and as a con, he will say anything, do anything, offer anything, promise anything, then turn around and do something else. There are a lot of people so anti-Clinton that they will vote for this monumental asshole out of spite. Please, I beg of you, think. Think hard. A vote for this man is to condemn this country into utter chaos, a place where the lives of people like myself will be forfeit, along with a whole lot of others. The States is hardly a shining beacon of humanism right now, but we all need to remember that it can get worse. Much worse.

In related news: Department of Justice Asks Federal Court to Block N.C. Law’s Anti-Trans Provisions.

California: Vaccine Mandate.



With California’s strict vaccine mandate now in place, opponents are fighting to overturn the law in court.

The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.

A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suit Friday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.

“SB 277 has made second-class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated according to the CDC schedule,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said in a statement. “We are hoping the court will grant us an injunction while the judicial process takes place to see if this law is constitutional, which it most certainly does not seem to be.”


About 80,000 California students claim personal belief exemptions for vaccines annually.

First, good for you, California! It’s about damn time this ‘religious belief / personal belief’ crap was tossed out. No surprise that anti-vaxxers are fighting this mandate, but on the basis of violating a child’s right to an education? How does that work, when it is a parent’s refusal to vaccinate which bars a child from a public school? Your child doesn’t go to school in a vacuum, there are a whole lot of other children and their health at stake, and no, you don’t get to count on all the other kids being vaccinated as an okay for your little snowflake to run about in a possibly contagious state. I’m not all that comfortable with home-schooled kids not being vaccinated, because again, those kids aren’t in a magic bubble, never coming into contact with others. I was vaccinated, but I got nailed by chickenpox anyway. It was much milder and shorter lived than it would have been minus the vaccination, and it was not at all fun. I just don’t understand how any parent would be willing to see their child with such an illness.

I was also gobsmacked by the 80,000 personal belief exemption claims. Seriously? I know, in the scheme of the total population it’s not all that much, but in terms of a potential epidemic, it’s a huge number. I don’t have any personal reason to be concerned about these diseases anymore, but I am glad I’m not in SoCal anymore, either.

Via Raw Story.

Anal Sex Ignorance.

12517960641912882309Man-and-woman-icon-alt.svg.medIgnorance isn’t good, and in this case, it’s spreading.

A recent study on heterosexual anal intercourse suggests that couples feel that it is a safe way to avoid HIV and other STIs. The study was  presented at the 2016 American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynocologists (ACOG) annual meeting by a team of physicians from the University of Washington in Seatle. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Lyndsey Benson, talked with Plus about the study, its results, and what it means.

The study, named Survey of Motivations for Anal Sex among Heterosexuals (SMASH), surveyed 5,000 American men and women aged 15-50 years old. The study began after a previous study by Benson highlighted “many knowledge gaps” in regards to what Americans knew about anal sex, including information about condom use, frequency of engaging in anal versus penis into vagina (PIV) sexual practices, and knowledge of HIV risks. Benson, the lead researcher, explained that this study was particularly important, as the majority (84 perccent) of new HIV cases in women can be “attributed to heterosexual contact.”


The researchers also discovered that a disconcerting number of Americans were engaging in hetero anal sex as a way to avoid sexually transmitted infections including HIV. More than 70 percent of adults in the study incorrectly believe that vaginal intercourse is higher risk than receptive anal intercourse. Among those that had anal sex, 10 percent reported they had done so as a form of contraception at least once.

The Advocate has the full story. This goes right back to Siobhan’s recent post about Canadian Blood Service’s new policies. Heterosexuals continue to be seen as low risk when it comes to blood donation, but gay men and transgender women are still being restricted and banned.

A Bloody Mess.

t9Following on the heels of the not-so-progressive Canadian update on gay blood donation (gay men are allowed to give blood only if they have abstained from sex for a year. There’s incentive. :eyeroll:), Canadian Blood Services has now targeted trans women from donating if they are pre-op and sexually active with men.

But many activists are upset with the policy because it focuses on whether or not a trans person has undergone gender confirming surgery.

Goldman says the criteria will create a countrywide, streamlined mandate for all trans blood donors.

According to Canadian Blood Services, there has been an increase in potential trans donors and this prompted the organization to implement criteria for those individuals.

The policy specifically targets trans women and is similar to Canadian Blood Services’ updated guidelines for gay blood donors. On June 20, Health Canada announced that gay men would be allowed to donate blood if they had abstained from sex for at least one year.

Trans women who undergo gender confirming surgery will have to wait one year before they can donate blood. After the wait period, Canadian Blood services will also identify them by their reconfirmed gender. “If a trans woman has not had [gender confirming surgery], that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male,” Goldman said.

Canadian Blood Services says there are regulations specific to trans women because that demographic is at high risk for HIV.

According to the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, an estimated 27.7 per cent of trans women in Canada are living with HIV.

“There is a very high HIV prevalence rate in trans women,” Goldman said. “So we are obliged to treat (them) as a high risk group.”

No one wants to end up with a disease because they needed blood, but the CBS is raising the old spectre of the ‘gay plague’, and they’ve based policy on some shoddy research. [In the comments, Siobhan points out it’s considerably worse than shoddy reasearch: “Actually they did something even more impressively incorrect. They based their policy off research that directly contradicts their logic.”]  Siobhan at Against the Grain has an intensive breakdown of this new policy, and what it means. As for this nasty clod dropped in the pool:

“If a trans woman has not had [gender confirming surgery], that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male,” Goldman said.

I highly recommend Siobhan’s What trans people mean when we say “misgendering is violence”.

McCrory: Dying on Bigotry Hill.

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) (, Screengrab)

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) (, Screengrab)

he North Carolina state legislature is poised to transfer $500,000 from the state’s disaster relief fund to aid in the legal defense of HB2, the heavily-criticized law restricting restroom access, WRAL-TV reported.

“The governor asked for it,” said state Senate Budget Chair Harry Brown (R).

The funding was provided as part of a “technical corrections” bill added to another measure, House Bill 805, on Thursday, following the passage of the $22.34 billion state budget.

This, in the wake of a public statement by The Charlotte Hornets, who are not in favour of HB 2, but it seems there is simply no length to which McCrory is not willing to go to defend his bigotry. What happens if there’s a flood? Those have been happening in the area. What if there’s a fire or other disaster? The people of NC can simply go screw themselves, it seems. Full story here.

Also, North Carolina lawmakers adjourned for the year on Friday night after leaving mostly intact a law restricting transgender bathroom access that has drawn condemnation and jeopardized the state’s efforts to host the NBA All-Star Game, officials said. Full story here.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

The NBA and the Charlotte Hornets announced Thursday night that they will not support the proposed fix by North Carolina lawmakers to House Bill 2, the controversial law that forces transgender people to use public restrooms (in government buildings) that do not correspond with their gender identity.

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the organizations stated in a press release. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward.”

The legislation, forced through during an emergency session of the state’s Congress, was introduced, debated, and passed in a single day. Signed into law March 23, HB 2 has been widely criticized — with over 160 businesses threatening to boycott the state if the bill is not repealed.

North Carolina Republicans had hoped that a compromise bill would quell the backlash. The version of the bill obtained by Charlotte TV station WBTV allows transgender residents to use the public restroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity as long as they are able to “prove” their gender. Trans people can do so, according to the bill, by furnishing a “certificate of sex reassignment,” one notarized by the physician who performed the surgery. Many transgender people, however, do not have or desire surgery.

In addition, the draft of the bill sent to legislators Wednesday clarified the penalties for using the opposite-sex facilities. “Language in the latest draft of the bill would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor — one level higher than the normal penalty for trespassing — to trespass in a multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility,” reports WBTV.

This goes on, as McCrory and his fellow bigots insist on finding some way to legislate open bigotry. What is the final cost of this going to be for the people of North Carolina?

Full story here.



Sunday’s NYC Pride parade will include an important new contingent of marchers. Hundreds of people will march in a group called Gays Against Guns (GAG), formed in the wake of the June 12 Orlando massacre. The parade begins this Sunday at noon starting at 36th street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

From organizers:

About 150 people showed up for GAG’s first organizational meeting at the LGBT Community Center on Friday, June 17, to organize the group’s presence at the March. In attendance was openly gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who invited GAG to join his March contingent. “Gays Against Guns is taking this fight to the NRA’s front door,” said Johnson. “Our community has been fighting for gun control as part of other organizations for many years, now we’re starting our own. The LGBT community has vanquished bigger enemies than the NRA.”

Said Kevin Hertzog, who started the group with Brian Worth, “We know that several groups have been fighting gun violence in the U.S. for decades now. We’ll be meeting after Pride to hash out positions and a strategy approaching the November 2 elections. But for now, we want to present as large a crowd as possible on Sunday, to show New York and the U.S. that LGBTQ people are outraged. The current situation with guns in America makes us gag in disgust!”


Follow them on Facebook at “Gays Against Guns NY” or @GAGnoguns on Twitter.

(Staging area is 35th street between Fifth and Madison, Section 0, Group 33, from about 11am.)

Full Story is at Towle Road.

Bees Gain Congressional Allies.



Pollinators are under huge amounts of stress, struggling to survive as habitats are destroyed, systemic pesticides are applied to crops, and climate change throws off once-reliable weather patterns. Now, a new bill hopes to give these essential insects and animals a boost.

The bill, introduced Thursday by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would increase funding and improve cooperation among federal agencies that are working on getting pollinator numbers back up. If signed into law, the bill would set a goal for the USDA and other agencies of conserving, restoring, or enhancing 3 million acres of forage habitat — i.e. fields of flowering plants and shrubs — a step towards the goal of 7 million acres of pollinator habitat set by the White House in 2014. It would also create more financial incentives for farmers to plant bee-friendly plants — including wildflowers, sunflowers, buckwheat, and native grasses — and using natural predators, instead of pesticides, to ward off pests. And it would create grant opportunities to fund programs that monitor pollinator health and numbers.

“It’s easy to forget about the critical role pollinators play in our food systems,” Merkley said in a statement. “But if we’re not careful, we will only realize their importance when it’s too late and our agricultural industry has been decimated by their disappearance. Let’s take action now instead.”

Merkley is right: Pollinators play an essential part in getting food on the plates of Americans — and people around the world. According to a report released earlier this year, 75 percent of global food crops depend on pollination, and $235–$577 billion worth of these crops are affected by pollinators every year. Some crops depend on highly specialized pollinators, and would cease to exist without them: The chocolate midge, for instance, is the only insect that can pollinate the cacao plant.


This week in particular — dubbed National Pollinator Week by the USDA and Department of Interior — has been a major one for pollinator activists. On Wednesday, Minnesota beekeeper James Cook parked a truck full of millions of dead bees outside of the Environmental Protection Agency, a stop that marked the end of the bus’s country-wide tour. He and other activists also delivered a 4-million-signature petition to the EPA, urging the agency to ban neonicotinoids and other bee-harming pesticides.

Protesters rally outside the EPA on Wednesday, June 22, 2016.

Protesters rally outside the EPA on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth.

The Keep the Hives Alive tour truck arrives at the EPA, carrying millions of dead bees. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth

The Keep the Hives Alive tour truck arrives at the EPA, carrying millions of dead bees. CREDIT: courtesy of Friends of the Earth.

“We are, I think, uniquely in the history of the human species blind and deaf to signals that nature is giving us that things are going haywire,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said at a briefing on pollinators Wednesday, where a shortened version of the movie was shown. “We need to learn to pay attention.”

We best stop being blind to this particular problem, or we’re all going to smack right into the “hey, there’s no food!” wall. Full story at Think Progress.

Grateful Dead Tribute Album Could Break HIV Fundraising Records.


Day of the Dead, is a love letter to the Grateful Dead, curated by The National rockers Aaron and Bryce Dessner. A tribute to the eclectic and iconic band from the era of psychedelic music, the album took four years to collect and compile.

Featuring over sixty artists from a variety of musical backgrounds, (including Mumford & Sons, Wilco, Courtney Barnett, and The National) the set reinterprets the songs and sounds of the Dead for a whole new generation.

A project of Red Hot, the international organization dedicated to fighting HIV  through pop culture, Day of the Dead,  is expected to break the organization’s previous fundraising records.

The 5-hour, 59-track album features artists from Mumford & Sons to Wilco, and Courtney Barnett to The National. Full Story Here.

Where to Walk.


Facebook Los Angeles LGBT Center

The deadly attack in Orlando happened just has Pride Month was kicking into high gear across the nation.

In LA, the scare did not deter people from gathering at gay bars such as Akbar in Silverlake, which was filled to capacity on Sunday night, with revelers looking for comfort amongst friends.

Sunday also saw vigils springing up across the nation and several world countries, with more to come today and throughout the week.

If you go to, you will find a list of events which have been scheduled, across the States, and around the world. You’ll find yourself scrolling down, and down, and down. The outpouring of love and strength is immense. Even though no one from ND entered local vigils at the site, there were two vigils in Fargo and Moorehead, and one vigil already observed in SD, with two more planned. If you can make one in your area, please do. Every person who shows makes a difference, demonstrates that we will stand strong, we will continue to fight, that our very existence is resistance.

Via Out.