Picking Up the Pieces When the Courts Fail UsÂ
This has been a very bad week for transgender kids. On Wednesday the US Supreme Court issued an â€œemergencyâ€ stay to stop a 17-year Gavin Grimm from using the boyâ€™s restroom at his school. Joshua Block, his lawyer, described Gavin this week in a blog post on the ACLUâ€™s website:
Gavin has facial hair, a deep voice, and a state ID that identifies him as male. In every aspect of his life outside school, he is recognized as the boy that he is. But when Gavin goes back to school for his senior year of high school, he will be singled out from every other student and forced to use a separate single-stall restroom that no one else is required to use. Â
According to his school board, Gavinâ€™s mere presence in the boysâ€™ restroom is a violation of other boysâ€™ privacy. No one, including the school board, thinks it would be appropriate for a boy like Gavin to use the girlsâ€™ restroom. So the school board converted a couple of old utility closets into single-user restrooms that Gavin must now use to â€œprotectâ€ other students from his mere presence. He has been shamefully forced to use a separate restroom or the restroom in the nurseâ€™s office for the past two school years.
Later in the week, as a direct response to the Supreme Courtâ€™s intervention, other school systems in the 4th Circuit (the circuit where Gavinâ€™s case was initially decided) retreated from plans they had to treat transgender kids with respect and dignity. So while school systems are debating back and forth whether or not to let trans kids use the bathroom like other students or whether separate really can be equal, weâ€™ve got a crisis on our hands, and the courts arenâ€™t coming to save us any time soon. Â
This is where the rest of us come in. This is one of those times where, if you call yourself an ally, youâ€™ve got to step up. We all do.
If you own a business, make sure your restrooms are inclusive. If you have single-stall restrooms, make sure theyâ€™re labeledÂ just as â€œrestroom.â€ Thereâ€™s absolutely no reason to have gendered, single-stall restrooms whatsoever. If you have multi-stall restrooms, be sure theyâ€™re inclusive, too. Â
Go out of your way to talk to your cis (non-trans) friends, family, and co-workers about the issues trans people face. For better or worse, people are influenced most by people who are like them. Youâ€™re more likely to make progress with the people you interact with on a daily basis than someone standing on a street corner with a clipboard.Â
Stop letting micro-aggressions go unchecked. Yeah, sometimes itâ€™s easier to ignore someoneâ€™s comments instead of getting involved. We donâ€™t want the conflict so we stay quiet, instead letting someone else pick up the slack, or worse, the hurt. That has to stop. Correcting a friend or a co-worker when they misgender someone takes all of ten seconds. Stopping an inappropriate comment is as simple as saying, â€œIâ€™m sure you didnâ€™t mean it like this, but that word/joke/phrase is really hurtful to me and many others.â€
For many of us, we use phrases we think are inclusive but really arenâ€™t. Instead of saying â€œtrans brothers and sisters,â€ say â€œtrans friends and family.â€ â€œBrothers and sistersâ€ is a binary phrase, and there are many, many trans folks who are not binary. Using a binary phrase to describe them is erasure and leaves them out entirely. (Plus, using â€œfamily and friendsâ€ keeps the same syllable count and cadence, so rhythmically youâ€™re good.)Â
Average folks like us canâ€™t change the courts. We canâ€™t petition the Supreme Court or convince judges and justices to rule the way we think they should. But we can pick up the slack and we can make sure that in every area where we have even a little bit of influence, we go out of our way to make the world just a little bit safer for trans kids.Â
I know that the biggest barrier for most of us is the fear that weâ€™re going to accidentally screw up and say something terrible. Thereâ€™s a really good chance thatâ€™s going to happen, and thatâ€™s ok. When it does happen, apologize, fix it, and move on. Donâ€™t dwell on it. Listen carefully to the critique, internalize it, and commit to changing your behavior. You donâ€™t have to be perfect to be a good ally â€“Â you just have to want to see our world become a safer and more inclusive place.Â
There are some incredible people fighting in the court system. Theyâ€™re doing powerful, important work. In the meantime, itâ€™s up to the rest of us to fill in the gaps to keep our kids safe. I like to think of being an ally as the bulldozer that clears a construction site before construction begins. Itâ€™s our job to clear out the trees and obstacles and move them to the side so the experts can come in and start construction. Itâ€™s not our job to tell other folks how to do the work â€“Â itâ€™s our job to make sure the land is cleared and ready for them to build what they need.Â
Finally, check in with your trans friends and family. Be a good friend, sibling, parent, teacher, or neighbor to them. Ask how theyâ€™re doing. Go out to dinner with them. Hang out together. Ask if you can do anything specific to support them more than you already are. Really, one of the best things you can do is just being a good friend. And couldnâ€™t we all us more good friends?
Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBT activist and educator. His column appears here weekly. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed
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Mike Pence Quietly Took a Huge Christmas Ski Vacation as Coronavirus Cases Soared – Costing Taxpayers Over $750,000
More details continue to emerge about the Trump-Pence administration.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said new documents show then-VP Mike Pence showed “bad judgment” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“While coronavirus cases surged to record levels late last December, Vice President Mike Pence went on a ski vacation in Vail, Colorado. The trip came with a massive bill to taxpayers, with Secret Service protection alone costing $757,527.85, according to documents obtained by CREW. At the time of his holiday travel, Pence was the head of the White House coronavirus task force, which put out dire warnings after Thanksgiving as the CDC recommended that Americans stay home over the holidays in order to limit the spread of the virus. Clearly, Pence did not follow the government’s advice, and in the process put dozens of Secret Service agents at heightened risk of infection,” the group said on Thursday.
“Pence’s trip extended from December 23rd to January 1st, and reportedly included a Secret Service entourage of at least 48 agents, contributing to both the high cost and the risk of infection.The agents stayed at several different hotels in the Vail area and rented 77 cars for the trip. The charges included more than $270,000 at the Marriott Vail Mountain and more than $80,000 at the Ritz Carlton,” the group reported.
“This also is not the first time Mike Pence stuck taxpayers with huge bills for his travel. Back in 2019, he traveled to Ireland for government business in Dublin, but stayed overnight at Donald Trump’s resort on the other side of the country in Doonbeg. Travel costs for that were more than half a million dollars, and also resulted in the Secret Service spending more than $15,000 at Trump’s resort,” the group noted. “While Pence’s December trip to Vail was less nakedly corrupt than his trip to Doonbeg, it showed another kind of bad judgment, by putting many government workers tasked with keeping him safe at risk in the midst of a raging pandemic. We would hope that the head of the coronavirus task force would know better.”
NEW: Then-VP Mike Pence went on a ski trip in late December, when COVID rates were surging and the CDC recommended people stay home for the holidays. Documents obtained by @CREWcrew show the trip cost taxpayers more than $750,000 in Secret Service costs.https://t.co/pYm6bX3GCB
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) April 22, 2021
Image: Official White House photo by Myles D. Cullen via Flickr
Andrew Yang Tried to Get an LGBTQ Group’s Endorsement So He Talked About Wanting to Visit a Lesbian Bar: NYT
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who was a surprising breakout success but suffered criticisms about “tone,” and continues to, is running to become New York City’s next mayor. He’s currently the frontrunner in the very early race but once again, as The New York Times reports, his inability to build support among minority groups is hurting him.
Yang spoke to the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a top LGBTQ organization, on Wednesday.
“It did not go particularly well,” the Times reports.
Yang’s approach and the way he treated LGBTQ people was seen as “outdated,” according to Stonewall’s president, Rose Christ.
“Yang cited gay members of his staff as apparent evidence of his openness to the club’s concerns, and expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of visiting Cubbyhole, a storied New York lesbian bar, participants said,” the Times reveals.
“He proactively talked about resurrecting the city’s Pride March, but failed to pay sufficient heed to more substantive issues they were actually concerned about, including homelessness and affordable housing, they said.”
“When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff,” said Alejandra Caraballo, a member of the organization, referring to the character played by Steve Carell on “The Office.” “Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York.”
Yang also repeatedly referred to LGBTQ people as a “community,” telling members of the Stonewall Democratic Club how much he cares about “your community.”
“I genuinely do love you and your community,” Yang told members. “You’re so human and beautiful. You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party.”
Filmmaker and Stonewall member Harris Doran said Yang “kept calling us ‘Your community,’ like we were aliens.”
“We have, like, this incredible secret weapon,” Yang also said. “It’s not even secret. It’s like, we should win everything because we have you all.”
“Gay, gay, gay. Wow,” one person wrote in the chat accompanying the forum, which was later shared with The New York Times. “More to us than just that.”
Trump Loving Lawmaker Schooled for Claim Founders Oppose DC Statehood: They ‘Never Intended’ for GOP to ‘Commit Sedition’ Either
Just before the U.S. House of Representatives voted 216-208 on Thursday to make Washington, D.C. a state, Ohio Republican state representative Mike Loychik posted a tweet insisting the “founders never intended for Washington DC to become a state.”
He’s not wrong, technically, but – as many corrected him – given that the founders never intended for many things, including for women and Black people to be allowed to vote, for people who did not own property to vote, and, as some noted, for Republicans to “commit sedition,” what difference does it make?
The founders also did not originally intend for Washington, D.C. to be the seat of government. First it was New York City, then Philadelphia.
Rep. Loychik, who just filed a bill to make Ohio taxpayers spend $300,000 to rename Mosquito Lake State Park in Donald Trump’s honor, did not respond to any of the people educating him, but hours later he posted a tweet attacking Democrats:
The founders are looking down on America and they’re DISGUSTED by what the Democrat party is trying to do to this country.
— Representative Mike Loychik (@MikeLoychik) April 22, 2021
Loychik is clearly ignoring the fact that “the Republican Party has historically taken far more effective advantage of the addition of new states,” as The Atlantic reported in 2019.
In 1889 and 1890, Congress added North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming—the largest admission of states since the original 13. This addition of 12 new senators and 18 new electors to the Electoral College was a deliberate strategy of late-19th-century Republicans to stay in power after their swing toward Big Business cost them a popular majority. The strategy paid dividends deep into the future; indeed, the admission of so many rural states back then helps to explain GOP control of the Senate today, 130 years later.
Washington, D.C. could become the 51st state, if Democrats in the Senate can convince six of their Democratic colleagues currently opposed to the measure, and another ten Senate Republicans to support it, or kill the filibuster, which would allow passage with 50 Senate votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
Here’s how some are schooling the Ohio Republican lawmaker:
You're only 3/5 right.
— Ed Bott (@edbott) April 22, 2021
The founders never intended for women to vote or people of color to be considered more than 3/5 of a human being. The founders never intended for @HouseGOP and @SenateGOP to commit sedition and overturn a free and fair election. Based on your logic, there should only be 13 states
— James (@JamesSNYC) April 22, 2021
The founders owned people like cattle.
— Review & Resist (@ReviewResist) April 22, 2021
The founders never intended for one of two political parties to flirt with fascist autocracy while attempting to implement minority rule either. But here we are. https://t.co/2DPIm5AfCK
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) April 22, 2021
They never intended to extend voting rights to anyone other than property-owning white men, but here we are.
— Steve M. (@nomoremister) April 22, 2021
The Founders also believed that African-Americans were only 3/5ths of a person.
— Andrew C Laufer, Esq (@lauferlaw) April 22, 2021
They didn’t intend persons of color to vote, women to vote, or anyone who wasn’t a white guy with land for that matter.
DC has more people living there than WY or VT. It has more residents than 77 congressional districts.
So, no. You don’t get to deny DC their rights.
— lawhawk #maskingforafriend (@lawhawk) April 22, 2021
Founders never planned to ride a train either, hoss
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 22, 2021
The founders never intended 2a to mean every moron can own an AR-15, either.
No one lived in DC then, they do now. Taxation without representation is illegal.
— 𝕸𝖆𝖗𝖎𝖕𝖔𝖔𝖕𝖔𝖔𝖕𝖔𝖔 (@maripoopoopoo) April 22, 2021
That’s inaccurate. Article IV Section 3 of our US Constitution laid out the pathway to statehood. Article I Section 8 lays out the purpose of our nation’s capital which is not to be a state.
— Rep. Ron Ferguson (@ronfergusonohio) April 22, 2021
Remind me which of the original 13 states Ohio was again? https://t.co/K8zZyycF5e
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 22, 2021
Founders never intended for there to be a standing army.
Founders never intended for popular election of Senators. https://t.co/hTatnAW3eY
— Mesopelagic Mike (@nyambol) April 22, 2021
They never intended a not well regulated militia with AK’s either.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) April 22, 2021
The founders intended Ohio to be part of Connecticut & Virginia, but here we are (also they did not intend blacks or women to vote, but we evolved).
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) April 22, 2021
I think we can safely stop using “the founders never intended” for a lot of ideas. It’s been almost 250 years. A few things have changed.
— Anthony (@anthonytx42) April 22, 2021
Yup. And HR-51 does this specially. pic.twitter.com/GEF3Z77Mx2
— sunni ♥︎ (@sunnivaskeleton) April 22, 2021
A Strict Constructionist reading (or any reading for that matter) of Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution does not exclude ANY area that is not already part of a State, @MikeLoychik.
Read the WHOLE Constitution, Mike, not just the 2nd Amendment. https://t.co/XilZo4NtKU
— Sgt Joker (@TheSGTJoker) April 22, 2021
The Founders thought bloodletting cured fevers. Go play.
— BettyFastCat (@BettyFastCat1) April 22, 2021
The founders never intended for the Air Force to become a military branch but here we are.
— National Security Counselors (@NatlSecCnslrs) April 22, 2021
I dare say they would start a revolution to fight against taxation without representation.
— Nick Done 🇺🇸 (@NickDone8) April 22, 2021
Image: screenshot via Facebook
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