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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:55 pm 
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Trump says transgender people should be barred from military
By CATHERINE LUCEY and ROBERT BURNS
July 26, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity," citing "tremendous medical costs and disruption."

Trump's announcement on Twitter would reverse the effort under President Barack Obama to open the armed services to transgender people. He did not say what would happen to transgender troops already in the military. The president tweeted that he was making his announcement after consulting with "generals and military experts," but he did not name any. He said the military "must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered little clarity about the policy at a press briefing. Asked what will happen to transgender troops currently serving, she said the Department of Defense and the White House will work together "as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully." She did not provide a timeline. Sanders described the move as a "military decision." She said Trump was concerned the current policy is "expensive and disruptive" and "erodes military readiness and military cohesion." She said the secretary of defense was notified yesterday after Trump made the decision.

At the Pentagon, members of the staff of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to have been caught unaware by Trump's tweets. A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, referred questions to the White House. In a brief written statement, Davis said the Pentagon is working with the White House to "address" what he called "the new guidance" from the president. He said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials "in the near future."

Members of Congress also seemed caught by surprise. Asked if he was notified in advance about the announcement, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said, "No. I read about it when you reported it."

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since last Oct. 1, they have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system. Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military. Mattis announced earlier this month that he was giving military chiefs another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would affect the "readiness or lethality" of the force.

Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon's personnel system, according to several defense officials. The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A Rand Corp. study last year estimated about 2,450 transgender people in active military, out of about 1.3 million troops. On cost, the study said only a subset would seek gender transition related treatment, estimating that health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, or a 0.04 percent to 0.13 percent increase in spending on active military.

The American Medical Association says there is no "medically valid reason" to bar transgender individuals from military service. The national organization that represents physicians and medical students says financial cost is a rounding error in the U.S. defense budget and shouldn't be used to deny anyone the opportunity to serve. Trump cited "tremendous medical costs and disruption" as the basis for the ban he announced Wednesday morning on Twitter. The association says it supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria. It adds that transgender individuals currently serving the country should be allowed to continue doing so.

The issue of transgender troops was debated recently in the GOP-led House, which narrowly rejected a measure that would have forbidden the Pentagon from paying for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy. Supporters saw the measure as an opportunity to roll back what they called Obama's social engineering of the armed forces. But Democrats criticized the proposal as bigoted and unconstitutional, and they won enough Republican support to block it.

Trump's decision drew swift outrage from LGBT groups and from lawmakers from both parties. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, said that when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, she didn't care "if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind." The Illinois senator said anyone willing to risk their lives for their country should be able to serve no matter gender or sexual orientation or race. She said, "Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security."

Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, which represents the LGBT population in the military, said thousands have been serving in the U.S. armed forces without causing any issues. "It's an absolute absurdity and another overstep," Thorn said. He threatened legal action if Wednesday's decision is not reversed.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the tweet was "another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter." McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, said "any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military -- regardless of their gender identity." He said there should be no policy changes until the current review is completed and assessed by the secretary of defense, military leaders and Congress. And Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, said that "transgender people are people and deserve the best we can do for them."

Some conservative organizations and lawmakers hailed the decision. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded Trump for "keeping his promise to return to military priorities - and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation's military." Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said "we don't need to be experimenting with the military. Plus there's no reason to take on that kind of financial burden."

During his election campaign, Trump occasionally presented himself as a potential ally of gays and lesbians, promising to be a "real friend" of their community. However, LGBT activists have been angered by many of his administration's actions, including the rollback of federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. Many top members of the administration are long-time foes of LGBT-rights policy changes, including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Vivian Salama contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:56 pm 
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Trump's military transgender ban prompts LGBT outrage
By DAVID CRARY
July 26, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) -- Most LGBT-rights activists never believed Donald Trump's campaign promises to be their friend. But with his move Wednesday to ban transgender people from military service, on top of other actions and appointments, they now see him as openly hostile.

Leaders of major advocacy groups depicted Trump's Twitter pronouncement as an appeal to the portion of his conservative base that opposes the recent civil-rights gains by the LGBT community. "His administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government - even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBT-rights group GLAAD.

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly since last year, after a move by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Trump's vow to end that policy was the latest, and perhaps the most stinging, of a string of actions since his election that have dismayed supporters of LGBT rights.

Some examples:

- The administration rescinded federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. It said state and local officials should decide the issue.

- Several of Trump's high-level appointees have solid records as opponents of LGBT-rights advances, including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

- At Trump's direction, Sessions is developing new guidance on religious liberty for federal agencies that is expected to make it easier for people with religious objections to refuse to recognize LGBT rights.

- The Department of Justice on Wednesday filed an amicus brief in a case to which it's not a party, arguing that a federal civil-rights law doesn't cover sexual orientation. The case was filed in 2010, when a skydiving instructor sued his employer, saying he was fired for his sexual orientation in violation of the law.

- Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned, asserting that Trump "simply does not care" about combating HIV and AIDS as it continues to beset the LGBT community.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, depicted the Republican president's tweets Wednesday as a "heinous and disgusting" attack on transgender service members. "It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns," said the group's president, Chad Griffin.

Trump's pronouncement was hailed by some conservatives who have long complained that the military was undermining its effectiveness by allowing gays, lesbians and transgender people to serve openly. Opponents also have contended that the military should not bear the cost of any medical procedures related to gender transition. "Our troops shouldn't be forced to endure hours of transgender sensitivity classes and politically correct distractions like this one," said Tony Perkins, a former Marine who heads the conservative Family Research Council.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, denounced Trump's declaration as "simple bigotry." "This attack has nothing to do with military readiness, reason or science," she said. "It is indefensible."

Among those dismayed by Trump's tweets was Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a transgender man who's served in the Navy for 11 years and received his latest promotion after the policy change last year. "Trans service members are continuing to do our jobs," Dremann said. "People know who we are now and it becomes personal, especially when you've got families that are going to be affected by this."

Another active-duty transgender soldier, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, said she was concerned how a possible ban would affect her, her family and other transgender service members. "My command has told me in the past the only thing that we should discriminate on is job performance, and I hope that military leadership will handle this issue the same way," Peace said in an email.

Capt. Jacob Eleazer, a transgender man who serves in the Kentucky Army National Guard, said he was stunned by Trump's action. "Fired by tweet. It was honestly pretty shocking," said Eleazer, who took the day off from his job as a therapist in Lexington, Kentucky, to assess the situation. It's unclear whether Eleazer's career will be affected. Eleazer, 31, has been in the military since 2006. In 2014, he told his superior officer he was transgender, and he got full support.

Attorney Sasha Buchert, a transgender woman who works for the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal, recalled feelings of fear and isolation while serving in the Marines in the 1980s, decades before her gender transition. "It's not a question of whether transgender people will serve," she said. "It's a question of whether they'll be serving openly or will be hiding like they did in the old days."

Another transgender veteran, retired Army Col. Sheri Swokowski, said it's important for transgender people and their allies to push back against Trump's decree. Swokowski, 67, of Windsor, Wisconsin, transitioned to female after retiring from the military in 2004. "The military has taught us to fight and this administration shouldn't be surprised when we do," she said. "We need to impress upon the administration that we're not living in the dark ages."

Associated Press writers Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, and Tatiana Flowers in Denver contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:57 pm 
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Military scrambles for transgender policy after Trump tweets
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
August 3, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's tweets declaring transgender people unwelcome in the armed forces have plunged the Pentagon into a legal and moral quagmire, sparking a flurry of meetings to devise a new policy that could lead to hundreds of service members being discharged.

Months after officially allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military, the department may be forced to throw out those who willingly came forward after being promised they'd be protected. A team of military lawyers has been pulled together to deal with the matter, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard commandant, revealed at the Center For Strategic and International Studies this week. These lawyers are working with the White House to flesh out some of the issues, and they're bolstered by a Pentagon working group that had initially been set up to advance the implementation of the Obama administration's year-old repeal of a transgender ban.

Now, they must deal with whatever new post-tweet policy emerges, according to the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity. Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that talks between the White House and the Pentagon to work out the details of a new transgender policy have begun. Although it's unclear what the result will be, the discussions illustrate that Trump's aides aren't writing off his three-tweet salvo last week as an isolated outburst but as guidance for an upheaval in one of the military's most sensitive equal rights questions.

Whatever the final policy, court challenges are likely. And the personnel, health care and fairness issues sure to ensue may compel some soldiers, sailors and others to hide their identities and live a lie to remain in the military. It's a scenario that raises the specter of the now-defunct "don't ask, don't tell" policy that once governed gays in the military. While the 1993 compromise banned gay men and women from serving, it essentially safeguarded their places in the ranks as long as they kept their homosexuality hidden. More than 13,000 were discharged after the policy was enacted. While many others remained, they were forced to keep their sexuality in the closet. Now, asks Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, "Are they going to go on a witch hunt?"

The Pentagon working group had been studying health care questions and how and when transgender people might be allowed to enlist. Now its members and the military's legal experts must contemplate forcing out transgender troops, including many who have served multiple combat tours. If Trump stands by his tweet and the Pentagon is told to begin discharging transgender service members, officials must address several questions: Who would be thrown out? What type of discharge would they receive? How long of a grace period would they have before leaving?

There also is no uniform method of tracking transgender troops across the services. That raises another challenge. Will the Pentagon target service members who have already asked to have their sex changed in the personnel system? Or would the crackdown expand to anyone who simply sought counseling on the issue? Warbelow questioned where the effort would end. People could be scrutinized for how they look or dress. For example, she suggested, could female troops be suspect for wearing clothing considered "too masculine?"

Trump's tweets last week were direct. He said the government won't accept or allow transgender individuals to serve "in any capacity" in the military. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," he wrote.

Estimates of the number of transgender troops in the service vary widely. A Rand Corp. study said roughly 2,500 transgender personnel may be serving in the active duty military, and 1,500 in the reserves. It estimated only 30 to 130 active duty troops out of a force of 1.3 million would seek transition-related health care each year. Costs could be $2.4 million to $8.4 million, it estimated. The study found 18 other countries allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. "In no case was there any evidence of an effect on the operational effectiveness, operational readiness, or cohesion of the force," Rand said.

After Trump's tweets, Zukunft the commandant said, "the first thing we did is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out." But any reassurance Pentagon officials offered may prove hollow under a new policy.

Since last year, transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military, receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system. About five weeks ago, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave military chiefs more time to determine if allowing transgender people to enlist would affect force readiness or effectiveness.

Trump's pronouncement triggered bipartisan denunciations. Military and other officials described it as the latest example of Trump's administration struggling to translate the commander-in-chief's Twitter proclamations into actual policy. Until the Pentagon gets a new policy directive in writing, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and other military leaders have said nothing will change.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:07 am 
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Transgender camp teaches kids they're 'normal, not alone'
By JOCELYN GECKER
August 7, 2017

EL CERRITO, Calif. (AP) -- In some ways, Rainbow Day Camp is very ordinary. Kids arrive with a packed lunch, make friendship bracelets, play basketball, sing songs and get silly. But it is also unique, from the moment campers arrive each morning.

At check-in each day, campers make a nametag with their pronoun of choice. Some opt for "she" or "he." Or a combination of "she/he." Or "they," or no pronoun at all. Some change their name or pronouns daily, to see what feels right. The camp in the San Francisco Bay Area city of El Cerrito caters to transgender and "gender fluid" children ages 4 to 12, making it one of the only camps of its kind in the world open to preschoolers, experts say. Enrollment has tripled to about 60 young campers since it opened three summers ago, with kids coming from as far as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. - even Africa. Plans are underway to open a branch next summer in Colorado, and the camp has been contacted by parents and organizations in Atlanta, Seattle, Louisiana and elsewhere interested in setting up similar programs.

On a sunny July morning at camp, the theme was "Crazy Hair Day," and 6-year-old Gracie Maxwell was dancing in the sunshine as a Miley Cyrus song blasted from outdoor speakers. The freckled, blue-eyed blonde wore her hair in a braid on one side, a pigtail on the other and snacked on cereal as she twirled and skipped. "Once she could talk, I don't remember a time when she didn't say, 'I'm a girl,'" said her mother, Molly Maxwell, who still trips over pronouns but tries to stick to "she." "Then it grew in intensity: 'I'm a sister. I'm a daughter. I'm a princess,'" Maxwell said. "We would argue with her. She was confused. We were confused."

Living in the liberal-minded Bay Area made it easier. The Maxwells found a transgender play group, sought specialists, and at 4 years old, let Gracie grow her hair, dress as a girl and eventually change her name. "I see her now, compared to before. I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself. If she was forced to be someone else," the mother trails off. "I don't even want to think about that."

Gender specialists say the camp's growth reflects what they are seeing in gender clinics nationwide: increasing numbers of children coming out as transgender at young ages. They credit the rise to greater openness and awareness of LGBT issues and parents tuning in earlier when a child shows signs of gender dysphoria, or distress about their gender. "A decade ago, this camp wouldn't have existed. Eventually, I do believe, it won't be so innovative," camp founder Sandra Collins said. "I didn't know you could be transgender at a very young age. But my daughter knew for sure at 2."

Collins' experience as the mother of a transgender girl, now 9, inspired her to start the camp, and another for 13- to 17-year-olds called Camp Kickin' It. "A lot of these kids have been bullied and had trauma at school. This is a world where none of that exists, and they're in the majority," Collins said. "That's a new experience for kids who are used to hiding and feeling small." Fourth-grader Scarlett Reinhold, Collins' daughter who was born a boy, says at camp she can be herself. "I feel comfortable for being who I am and who I want to be," says Scarlett, a confident 9-year-old in a frilly skirt who wears her dark hair long and wavy.

There is little comprehensive data on young children who identify as transgender, but experts say as the number of young people coming to their clinics increases, the prevailing medical guidance has shifted. The favored protocol today is known as the "gender affirmative" approach, which focuses on identifying and helping transgender children to "socially transition" - to live as the gender they identify with rather than the one they were born with until they're old enough to decide on medical options like puberty blockers and later, hormone treatments.

The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, started a decade ago with about 40 patients, now has over 900 people, ages 3 to 25, enrolled in its program, with 150 on its waiting list, said Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the clinic's medical director. "I just think there's a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids," Olson-Kennedy said. "When people say, 'Isn't this too young?' my question back to them is, 'Too young for what? How young do people know their gender?' The answer to that is some people know it at 3, and some people know it at 30."

Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at the University of California, San Francisco's Child and Adolescent Gender Center, says enrollment there has tripled over the past few years with a "sea change - maybe we can even call it a tsunami - in the number of little kids showing up with their families." She fields a growing number of calls from families overseas, including South Africa, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Belgium, England and other countries that lack resources.

Studies show transgender adults have higher rates of suicide and depression than the general population. A 2016 study by the University of Washington's TransYouth Project, published in the journal Pediatrics, found trans children who live as their preferred gender and are supported by their parents have the same mental health outcomes as other kids their age.

At Rainbow Day Camp, a therapist is on hand to talk if kids want. Therapy sessions are extended to parents at a support group after morning drop-off. Many counselors are transgender, which offers campers upbeat role models. "I want to show these kids what a confident, happy, successful trans person looks like," said camp director Andrew Kramer, 30, who goes by AK and came out as a transgender man at 26. "We teach them they are normal, deserving of love, and not alone."

One family traveled from Africa to enroll their son in the camp for its full three-week summer session. The 9-year-old goes by the name Nao at Rainbow but has not publicly come out as a transgender girl. The family asked that their last name and the country where they live be kept confidential, fearing repercussions there. Nao's mother, Miriam, said she watched her child blossom at camp. Nao was happier and less prone to outbursts, made friends, opened up about school bullying, and wants to return next summer. "I think for the first time, (Nao) feels like just a normal kid," Miriam said. Before flying home, she said, Nao wrote a note to the camp's counselors. It read: "Thank you, for making me feel so happy."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:42 pm 
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Transgender troops call ban step backward for civil rights
By JULIE WATSON and JENNIFER McDERMOTT
August 25, 2017

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Active-duty transgender troops say a policy change that puts them at risk of being removed and indefinitely bars transgender people from enlisting in the military is a step backward for civil rights that will promote inequality in the armed forces.

President Donald Trump on Friday directed the Pentagon to extend a ban on transgender individuals joining the military but gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority to decide the future of openly transgender people already serving. This comes only days after Trump praised the military for its tolerance.

Trump says the military shouldn't pay for medical care for transgender troops. He says the process means they cannot be deployed, harming military readiness. Transgender troops say many health reasons, including pregnancy and knee surgery, can also delay deployments.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:09 am 
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Gunmen kill transgender person in Pakistan
30 August 2017

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani police say gunmen opened fire on a group of transgender people, killing one of them, in an upscale neighborhood in the southern port city of Karachi.

Police officer Aurangzeb Khattak said the shooting took place overnight Wednesday. He said passengers in an SUV first harassed the group by throwing rotten eggs at them and then opened fire before fleeing. He said one bullet struck a person who went by the name Chanda in the head, killing him on the spot.

Khattak said shell casings from a 9 mm pistol were found at the scene and that investigators were using surveillance camera footage to trace the SUV and arrest the culprits. Transgender people are known as Khusra or Heejra in Pakistan.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:40 am 
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'A Fantastic Woman' could lead to trans history at Oscars
By JAKE COYLE
September 14, 2017

TORONTO (AP) -- A transgender Chilean actress has turned in one of the most buzzed-about performances of the year and some are hoping she could be the first trans actor to land an Oscar nomination.

Daniela Vega, 28, stars in Sebastian Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman." She plays Marina, a transgender woman whose partner (Francisco Reyes) dies, after which Marina is subjected to harsh treatment by the family of her deceased lover and by police investing the death.

Chile has selected the film as its Academy Awards submission this year. But the bigger spotlight may be on whether Vega's breakout performance - one of stirring strength and compassion - could make Oscar history. Reviewing the movie at its Berlin Film Festival premiere, Variety called her performance "a multi-layered, emotionally polymorphous feat of acting," that deserves "so much more than political praise."

While several transgender musicians have been Oscar-nominated, no trans performer has ever earned an acting nod. "It's too early to talk about that, to think about it. I have lots of festivals to attend, lots of dresses to wear," Vega said with a grin in an interview. "The Oscars are a little bit beyond the timeline I'm thinking about right now. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Vega and "A Fantastic Woman" will not have an easy road to the Oscars. Performances in foreign-language films rarely break into the acting categories, and this year, like most, the field of potential contenders boasts plenty of heavyweight, bigger-name performers like Meryl Streep ("The Post") and Jessica Chastain ("Molly's Game").

But Vega has two things going for her: the depth of her performance and the possibility of a long-awaited Oscar landmark. Such a result could have great meaning for a trans community that President Donald Trump recently banned from entering the military. "If we broaden our gaze, it will be more interesting, more beautiful. If we can make more diverse colors, people, stories, it will be interesting," said Vega. "Uniforms are for the military and the police, not for our thinking."

Hollywood has far from shied away from telling transgender stories, but the industry has come under increasing criticism for not casting them in high-profile parts. Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") and Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") have taken home awards, and movies like 2015's "The Danish Girl," with Eddie Redmayne, and 2005's "Transamerica," with Felicity Huffman, have garnered nominations.

While those films and the Amazon series "Transparent" have been widely applauded, pressure has mounted urging producers to cast trans actors for trans parts. Progress has instead come in smaller, offbeat productions like Sean Baker's "Tangerine," the much-lauded 2015 film Baker shot with iPhones. It starred a pair of transgender performers, Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Taylor last year won an Independent Spirit Award for her performance. "There is very beautiful transgender talent," Taylor said, accepting the supporting actress award. "You better get out there and put it in your movie."

Transgender people have been nominated in other Oscar categories. The composer Angela Morley received two nods, for 1974's "The Little Prince" and 1976's "The Slipper and the Rose." Most recently, singer Anohni, formerly known as Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, became the first transgendered performer ever nominated. She collaborated with J. Ralph on the nominated song "Manta Ray" for the documentary "Racing Extinction."

But when the category's other nominees - Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, the Weeknd - were given performing slots during the 2016 broadcast, Anohni was not, and she opted to boycott the ceremony. In a fiery essay announcing her refusal to attend, Anohni declared: "They are going to try to convince us that they have our best interests at heart by waving flags for identity politics and fake moral issues."

Whether Vega - and Oscar voters - can change history won't be decided for months. Sony Picture Classics, which has guided performers to dozens of Academy Award nominations, will release the film on Nov. 17. For now, Vega is soaking up her moment. "It's like living a dream," said Vega. "It's like a film in a film."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:05 pm 
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Greek clerics ring church bells to protest gender rights law
By DEMETRIS NELLAS
15 October 2017

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Church bells have rung "in mourning" across a western Greek diocese to protest the passing of a law making it easier for people to officially change their gender.

Under the guidance of Metropolitan Amvrosios of Kalavryta, a fiery conservative Orthodox bishop, clerics in his diocese decided that starting Sunday church bells are to ring every day, through Saturday, at noon for three minutes. They also called for the repeal of the "anti-Christian and anti-Greek" law. "It is an outrageous inspiration for someone to change his gender in a few minutes, with a simple declaration, so contrary to what God has gifted people with ... whoever has 'gender dysphoria' is mentally ill," says a statement adopted by the Kalavryta diocese's clerics Saturday.

The statement, which also condemns homosexuality as a "deadly sin" and rails in general against "every kind of bestial deviation," also expressed worries that legislation allowing adoption by same-sex couples will be next. "We do not hate the sinner, but the sin," the statement adds. The clerics also said that they will raise protest banners in the city of Aigion, the largest in the diocese.

The law, passed with 171 votes in favor in the 300-member parliament last week, allows Greeks over the age of 15 to change the gender listed on their identity cards and other official documents following a simplified procedure in court. Until now, they had to prove they had undergone sex-change surgery and psychiatric assessment.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:22 pm 
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Transgender woman makes history in Virginia House seat win
By SARAH RANKIN
November 8, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A transgender candidate defeated an incumbent Virginia lawmaker who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathrooms she could use.

Democrat Danica Roem, a former journalist, is set to make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. She unseated Republican Del. Bob Marshall, one of the state's longest serving and most socially conservative lawmakers. The race was one of the year's most high profile, drawing international attention and big money to the northern Virginia House of Delegates district outside the nation's capital. "It's historic. ... It sends a message to politicians everywhere that the politics of bigotry is over," Democratic House Caucus Chair Charniele Herring said.

Roem will be the first transgender member of the House of Delegates and will become the first out transgender person to win and serve in a state legislature, according to the Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to get openly LGBTQ people elected and has supported Roem. Roem, who couldn't immediately be reached for an interview Tuesday night, openly discussed her gender identity during her campaign, but it was far from her focus. Instead, she focused on jobs, schools and, with particular fervor, northern Virginia's traffic congestion.

She started pursuing therapy to begin her gender transition when she was 28, and said in an interview with the Associated Press during the campaign that politics should be inclusive of all. "No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you're qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table," she said.

She also argued that Marshall, who has served in the House since 1992, has spent too much time on social policy. A lightning rod for controversy, Marshall often drew the ire of even his own party. In addition to this year's bathroom bill, Marshall was also the author of a now-void constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and sponsored a bill banning gay people from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard.

On the campaign trail, Marshall and other Republicans repeatedly misidentified Roem's gender. In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Marshall said: "For 26 years I've been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future. Though we all wish tonight would have turned out differently, I am deeply grateful for your support and effort over the years."

Roem, who sings in a metal band in her spare time, said she learned to listen to different perspectives and digest complicated policy as a reporter for the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times, skills she would bring to bear as a delegate.

Roem wasn't the only transgender candidate elected Tuesday. Minneapolis elected Andrea Jenkins, a black transgender woman to its city council. Victory Fund said she was the first openly transgender woman elected to a city council of a major U.S. city. Tyler Titus, who is openly transgender, won a seat on a western Pennsylvania school board, The Erie Times-News reported. "2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate - and Danica's heroic run for office the centerpiece of that national movement," Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president & CEO of Victory Fund, said in a statement.

Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in Fairfax contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:28 pm 
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Minneapolis transgender politicians: Wins show hatred won't stand
November 9, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Two newly elected transgender members of the Minneapolis City Council hugged, shared a high-five and enjoyed cheers from onlookers as they met at City Hall.

Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham take office in January. They say their historic wins are a victory for equality in the U.S. Jenkins and Cunningham know their way around City Hall. Jenkins, a 56-year-old transgender woman, spent years as a policy aide to two previous council members. Cunningham, a 29-year-old transgender man, worked in the mayor's office.

Cunningham says when voters found out he was transgender and black - and that his husband also is transgender - they said, "That's who I want to represent my neighborhood." Jenkins says their election is a signal that "hatred and bigotry in this country will not stand."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:27 pm 
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Transgender service member gets gender reassignment surgery
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
November 14, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An active-duty service member has received gender-reassignment surgery, the Pentagon said Tuesday, amid ongoing debate over whether transgender troops should be allowed to continue to serve in the military.

Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White said the surgery was done Tuesday in a private hospital and was paid for by the military's health coverage because the doctor deemed it was medically necessary. "Military hospitals do not have the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery, therefore it was conducted in a private hospital," White said, adding that because this service member "had already begun a sex-reassignment course of treatment, and the treating doctor deemed this surgery medically necessary, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency."

Army Maj. Dave Eastburn said that waivers are required and routinely approved for medical procedures that military facilities don't have the expertise to perform. The surgery was first reported by NBC News.

The Obama administration last year eliminated the longstanding ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. But President Donald Trump tweeted in July that the federal government "will not accept or allow" transgender troops to serve "in any capacity" in the military. He followed that a month later with a formal order telling the Pentagon to extend the ban. He gave the department six months to determine what to do about those currently serving.

Trump also directed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to halt the use of federal funds to pay for sexual reassignment surgeries and medications, except in cases where it is deemed necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun the transition. In September, Mattis sent out a memo making clear that transgender service members can continue to enlist, as the Pentagon grapples with how to implement Trump's ban. A high-level panel is studying the issue, and Trump's order was quickly condemned by key members of Congress and has been challenged in court. A federal judge last month barred the Trump administration from proceeding with the plan.

Because the ban on transgender service members was only removed last year, gender reassignment surgeries have so far been relatively rare. The Pentagon did not provide additional details on Tuesday's surgery, due to privacy restrictions.

Source: AP

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