Don’t Leave Behind Equality for Transgender Americans

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines what he says is the next American civil rights crusade. BY GOV. ANDREW CUOMO JANUARY 12 2016 5:14 AM EST
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines what he says is the next American civil rights crusade. BY GOV. ANDREW CUOMO
JANUARY 12 2016 5:14 AM EST

I believe that one of government’s most important responsibilities is to fulfill the promise of fairness, equality and opportunity for the people we serve. When I became governor of New York in 2011, I vowed to uphold that legacy — and the passage of marriage equality that year is still one of my proudest moments. I watched as other states followed our lead, and the message gathered steam until the Supreme Court joined us on the right side of history and ruled last June that marriage for all Americans, including same-sex couples, is a constitutional right.

Time and time again, New York has been a progressive leader. We have been a launching point for social movements that have reverberated across the nation and beyond. We started the women’s rights movement in Seneca Falls in 1848. The NAACP was founded here in 1909. We championed the fight for human rights when we became the first state in the nation to enact a human rights law in 1945. And we sparked the gay rights and LGBT movements at Stonewall in 1969.

But for years one segment of the LGBT population was shamefully left behind.

Despite all we’ve accomplished, for too long transgender New Yorkers lacked basic protections under New York’s human rights law that other New Yorkers have enjoyed.

In the absence of statewide protection, two-thirds of transgender New Yorkers have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination at work. Nearly 30 percent have faced a serious physical or sexual assault. And one out of three has been homeless at least once in their lives.

It’s time to finally put the T back in LGBT. The next civil rights crusade must be for transgender Americans.

Efforts to protect the rights of transgender New Yorkers through legislation have so far been blocked in the state legislature. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, was passed by the state Assembly eight years in a row, but failed to come to a vote in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, about 60 percent of New York’s municipalities enacted nondiscrimination laws to protect transgender residents, leaving transgender New Yorkers in 40 percent of the state vulnerable to harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. I believe these protections should be in effect across our entire state, and they should be consistent.

That’s why I took the unprecedented step of using my executive authority to put an end to discrimination against transgender New Yorkers. In October I directed the New York State Division of Human Rights to issue regulations that unequivocally prohibit harassment and discrimination against transgender people in every corner of this state.

I simply could not stand by any longer and wait for the state legislature to do the right thing. I refused to accept that transgender people in New York State were still without the protections afforded by our human rights law.

This regulatory action puts all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, and creditors on notice that discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender identity, transgender status, or gender dysphoria is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the state of New York.

We now have the strongest and most comprehensive protections from discrimination for transgender people in the country.

By issuing these new regulations in the absence of legislation, we are setting an example and sending a powerful message to the rest of the nation, just as we did when we enacted the Marriage Equality Act. New York moved the good fight forward then, and I am proud to say that we have raised the bar once again.

In the words of my father: “There are only two rules for being successful; one, figure out exactly what you want to do, and two, do it.” After leading the fight for equality we saw what needed to be done and we corrected an injustice that had gone on for far too long. We refused to allow the fear and ignorance of some to justify the discrimination of many.

While it is unfathomable that we still have to fight this battle, I want to assure every New Yorker and every American that New York State will always be there to stand for what is right and just. On the issue of transgender rights, New York will not look away the way many Americans tried to ignore AIDS a generation ago. We will not rest until every New Yorker enjoys the same rights given to us as part of our American heritage.

I hope that other governors and lawmakers in this nation take a look at what we did here in New York and implement similar changes across the nation. New York put the T back in LGBT; now it’s time for the rest of the United States to do the same.

ANDREW CUOMO is governor of New York. Follow him on Twitter @NYGovCuomo.

‘Tangerine’s Transgender Breakout Signs With ICM Partners


Mya Taylor is the first-ever transgender Oscar supporting actress hopeful.

by Rebecca Sun 1/6/2016 1:00pm PST

ICM Partners has signed Tangerine’s Mya Taylor, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The agency already represents the critically acclaimed indie’s writer-director, Sean Baker, and its executive producers, Jay and Mark Duplass.

For her debut performance as transgender prostitute Alexandra in the Magnolia-distributed film, Taylor already has won the Gotham Award for breakthrough actor and is nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for best supporting actress. She’s now the subject of the first-ever Oscar campaign for a trans actress, with Caitlyn Jenner prominently lending her support.

Taylor is next starring in the title roles of two short films, Diane and the Moon and Happy Birthday, Marsha, a biopic directed by Reina Gossett and Sasha P. Wortzel about trans activist Marsha P. Johnson. Taylor also is developing a semi-autobiographical television series about her coming-out and transition story.

She continues to be managed by Framework Entertainment.

Goodbye, ‘Anomaly’ – TSA’s New Word for Trans Bodies is ‘Alarm’

Three months after a transgender traveler's horrifying experience being screened at an airport, the agency reveals the change it promised in October. BY DAWN ENNIS DECEMBER 23 2015 7:20 PM EST UPDATED DECEMBER 24 2015 2:37 PM EST
Three months after a transgender traveler’s horrifying experience being screened at an airport, the agency reveals the change it promised in October. BY DAWN ENNIS

On the eve of the Christmas getaway, the Transportation Security Administration tells The Advocate it has chosen a new word for its airport screening agents to use whenever their imaging machines encounter a transgender traveler whose anatomy doesn’t match the standard binary.

The TSA reveals the new word is “alarm,” and it now appears on the TSA’s website. A spokesperson says it is already in use by agents at all U.S. airports.

“TSA has implemented this change in terminology and we have communicated it through various methods to the frontline workforce.”
Until recently the TSA used the term “anomaly,” which would require agents more closely examine the passenger as a potential security risk. That’s what happened to TV comedy producer and trans woman Shadi Petosky @shadipetosky of Los Angeles in September when she was live-tweeted her experience.

Petosky’s plight made national headlines, and the crying selfie she snapped was seen and shared all around the world. Activists subsequently created a hashtag for trans folks to document their experiences #TravelingWhileTrans.

Click here to continue reading.

US Marine Convicted of Killing Transgender Filipino Appeals

By JIM GOMEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS MANILA, Philippines — Jan 6, 2016, 6:11 AM ET
By JIM GOMEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS MANILA, Philippines — Jan 6, 2016, 6:11 AM ET

A U.S. Marine has asked a Philippine court to reverse his conviction in the killing of a transgender Filipino and sought a bail and a reduction of his six to 12-year jail term, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores said she would insist that her client, Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, did not kill Jennifer Laude in a motel room after they met in a disco bar in October 2014 and that his sentence should be eased because he surrendered to authorities.

In December a judge convicted Pemberton of homicide, not the more serious charge of murder as prosecutors sought — and sentenced him to a lighter jail term than what the victim’s family sought.

The regional trial court judge in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila, said she downgraded the charge because conditions such as cruelty and treachery had not been proven.

The court will start to hear Pemberton’s appeal on Thursday.

“We’re going for an acquittal,” Flores said by telephone. “He defended himself because he felt he was being conned but he did not kill Laude.”

In case the court upholds the conviction, Flores said she and other defense lawyers asked the court to consider easing Pemberton’s sentence because he surrendered to authorities and that he had “no intention to commit so grave a wrong.”

The killing sparked anger in the Philippines and reignited calls by left-wing groups and nationalists for an end to America’s military presence in the country at a time when the U.S. is reasserting its dominance in Asia and Manila has turned to Washington for support amid an escalating territorial dispute with China.

Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who participated in joint exercises in the country in 2014. He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercises and met Laude and her friends at a bar in Olongapo, a city known for its nightlife located outside Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base. At least two witnesses testified that Laude was a sex worker.

Pemberton, 21, has been detained at a compound guarded by Philippine and American security personnel, at the main military camp in metropolitan Manila, and not in an ordinary jail as demanded by Laude’s family.

The emotional case has sparked concerns about special treatment for visiting American forces, and left-wing activists have called on the government to fight Pemberton’s appeal.

Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on charges of raping a Filipino woman in 2005. He was held at the U.S. Embassy in Manila until a Philippine appeals court overturned his conviction in 2009, allowing him to leave the country amid anti-U.S. protests.

“If we allow Pemberton’s conviction to be reversed or reduce his sentence, this will send a wrong message to U.S. soldiers: That they can commit crimes and get away with it,” left-wing activist Renato Reyes said.

Click here to continue reading.

The top stories of 2016 – Transgender murder toll mounts

Here we go again, people. This article has a plugin so you can comment directly if you’re on Facebook. I’m hoping the spammer Penelope J gets her account disabled.


Posted on 01 Jan 2016 at 6:45am

At least 23 transgender/gender-nonconforming people were murdered over the last 12 months in the United States, making 2015 one of the worst in recent years in terms of anti-trans violence.

Worldwide, at least 81 trans people were murdered in 2015. And those are just the victims who are reported and acknowledged as trans women and men. Many trans people are mis-gendered by police, media and by family members who have refused to accept their identities.

The year started with four trans women being murdered, including 24-year-old Ty Underwood in Tyler. Underwood was shot to death in her car as she tried to drive away from her ex, Carlton Ray Champion. Champion was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison during a December trial.

Six months later, on July 29, the body of Dallas trans woman “Miss Shade” Schuler, 22, was found in a field near Dallas’ Medical District. So far, Dallas police say they have no information and no suspects in her murder.

The trans murders this year intersected with the very public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, the former patriarch of the Kardashian clan who celebrated her transition by being photographed in lingerie for the cover of Vanity Fair. While Jenner’s story certainly put transgender people and issues in the public eye in an unprecedented way, there were many longtime trans activists who felt that her right-wing, conservative tendencies, fame and more than healthy bank accounts, proved that she was more than a little out of touch with the plight of most transgender people and not in a position to speak for the community.

There were also some who felt that the frenzy of publicity surrounding Jenner and her numerous reality TV shows may have contributed to the anti-transgender violence, considering the vitriol aimed at Jenner amidst all the publicity.

It is important to note that the majority of those killed this year were transgender women of color, prompting activist to take up the mantra of “Black Trans Lives Matter.” It is also important to point out that many activists include a number of trans people who committed suicide this year in the roll of those lost to anti-trans hatred.
Transgender murder victims reported in 2015 included:

JANUARY: Papi Edwards, 20; Lamia Beard, 30; Ty Underwood, 24; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33. FEBRUARY: Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36; Penny Proud, 21; Bri Golec, 22; Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46. MARCH: Keyshia Blige, 33; Maya Hall, 27. MAY: London Chanel, 21; Mercedes Williamson, 17. JUNE: Jasmine Collins, 32. JULY: Ashton O’Hara, 25; India Clarke, 22; K.C. Haggard, 66; Shade Schuler, 22. AUGUST: Amber Monroe, 20; Kandis Capri, 35; Elisha Walker, 20; Tamara Dominguez, 36. OCTOBER: Kiesha Jenkins, 22; Zella Ziona, 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016. Click here to continue reading.

Happy New Year 2016!


I exhausted myself with more information than I’ve ever shared last night. Check out my alias Katherine Perkins on Facebook if you’d like to read what I was blabbing about. What I’d like to do here as we progress into an increasingly more dangerous era is to suggest safer online dating tips:

Find out who your date really is as. Ask for your date’s first and last name, where they work and live, and what they like and don’t like.

Schedule a Skype session with them so you won’t be fooled when you actually meet.

Ask around to see if anyone knows the person.

Introduce your date to others (e.g., your friends, the bartender.)

Tell a friend where you’re going, or call your own answering machine as if you were calling a friend.

Make sure your date knows you spread the word about them.

Choose public places, such as malls or restaurants, for first meetings.

Get / mix your own drinks: There may be a reason a person insists on getting or mixing you a drink. Getting you drunk or giving you “knockout drops” is an easy way to cloud your judgement.

Protect your valuables. Don’t carry extra cash.

If you bring someone home, don’t leave your wallet, cash, or valuables in sight. Your possessions – and the person you brought home – could all be gone while you’re in the shower or asleep.

Have a safe and wonderful 2016!



Chris Christie Talks Terrorism When Asked About Trans People

The New Jersey governor claims his anti-trans policies have kept life simple for children in his state. By Lucas Grindley December 22, 2015 1:20 PM EST
The New Jersey governor claims his anti-trans policies have kept life simple for children in his state.
By Lucas Grindley
December 22, 2015 1:20 PM EST

Chris Christie worries children are confused these days by terrorism — and by transgender people using the restroom.

That odd pairing was made Monday by the presidential candidate during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, reports CNN, where he was asked about a California law that requires schools to let trans students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

“Why do we do this to our children? It doesn’t make any sense,” said Christie. “So I don’t know. I’m the common sense guy from New Jersey, you know, I don’t think life needs to be this complicated. I think it needs to be a lot more straightforward.”

“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” he added, suddenly bringing up the school closings in Los Angeles after a threat there. Then he went into a long aside about the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, summing them both up with a proclamation that “children learn better, grow up better, mature better when they live in a safe and secure and loving environment.”

The 70-year-old voter who asked the question told CNN she worries that if the same law ever passes at the federal level, then her grandchildren could be tormented by boys who try to get into the girls locker room. It’s the same kind of provably false rumor about these laws that was spread in Houston, where an equal rights ordinance was defeated earlier this year after a campaign built on fearmongering about bathroom and locker room use by trans people.

Christie implied they don’t have this issue in New Jersey.

“Men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms,” he said of his home state. “And there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion about that — public accommodations. And I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”

Moreover, Christie told the voter he worries kids can’t decide which bathroom to use.

“The fact though is that we want our kids not to have to decide which bathroom they get to go in,” he said, according to CNN. “And not to be subject to peer pressure about which one to go in. And not to be subject to the embarrassment that could come with going in a bathroom where somebody maybe doesn’t agree that they should be in there or not.”

Earlier this year, Christie vetoed — for the second consecutive year — legislation that would have made it easier for transgender residents of New Jersey to obtain accurate legal identification, citing unsubstantiated concerns about “fraud.” Current law only allows identification to be updated to reflect gender identity if a person has had gender-confirming surgery. When asked later on a conservative radio show whether he has compassion for trans people, Christie could be heard laughing about the veto.

“I have to tell the truth, Michael, there are certain things that just go beyond the pale, and that’s not what I wanted the law to be in New Jersey,” he said on the The Michael Medved Show in August. “It doesn’t make any sense to me, and that’s why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again, I will veto it again.”

Click here to continue reading.

Alicia Vikander ‘totally able to relate’ to character’s fears in The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander attending the premiere of The Danish Girl Press Association 2014 / Monday 28 December 2015 / National News
Alicia Vikander attending the premiere of The Danish Girl
Press Association 2014 / Monday 28 December 2015 / National News

Alicia Vikander said she was “totally able to relate” to the fears of her character in The Danish Girl, whose husband becomes the world’s first sex reassignment patient.

The Swedish actress stars as real-life artist Gerda Wegener who supports her husband Einar – played by Eddie Redmayne – as he comes to accept he is transgender and eventually undergoes the groundbreaking surgery that allows him to live as Lili Elbe.

She said she was able to empathise with “the fear of thinking that a change will mean you lose the person that you love”.

“It feels like I was totally able to relate to this marriage and relationship in a way of going on a big journey,” she said.

“When a big change is happening, they kind of have to find new feet and new ground and how this consolation between them is going to work and it’s the fear of thinking that a change will mean you lose the person that you love. But what’s extraordinary is the fundamental love and support between them in this film.”

The 27-year-old said that it became a “big deal” to her to play Gerda as she researched the life of the Danish painter.

Click here to continue reading.

How Anti-Gay Talking Points Are Being Recycled For The Transgender Community


December 28, 2015 8:49 am Rachel Percelay on Media Matters

For over a decade, gay rights opponents peddled a set of myths and fear mongering tactics to try to sway voters against marriage equality and basic rights for gay people. Now that marriage equality is the law of the land, anti-LGBT organizations have started recycling the same bogus scare tactics to target the new bogeyman of the LGBT rights movement — the transgender community.

The Slippery Slope

The “slippery slope” argument has been one of the most popular arguments used by opponents of LGBT equality, aimed at making even basic protections for LGBT people appear dangerous.

Click here to continue reading.

Thank You For My 2016 TEA Nomination


I am so humbled for my nomination for the 2016 TEA for Best Internet Personality. Thank you to everyone who made it possible to be nominated. It’s a great honor to be included with all the other nominees in this category. Words cannot express how much I appreciate the votes and everyone who has supported for me throughout the years. I’m looking forward to seeing friends and peers know and have yet to meet in March at the the Transgender Erotica Awards at Avalon in Hollywood, California!

TGEroticaAwards on Facebook

@TGEroticaAwards on Twitter


First Black Trans Model Was On A Clairol Box

Left to right: Beauty shot for her portfolio, 1993; In Miami Beach; modeling for Black Elegance magazine, 1980. Photographs: Preston Phillips (Left), Courtesy of Tracey Norman (Remaining)

“… But she was riding that wave. It was more than she could have ever hoped for when she was a kid in New Jersey. Back when she was a boy who knew that, inside, he was a girl.” As a black trans woman raised primarily in the Garden State, this excerpt from the story of Tracey “Africa” Norman really hits home for me.

This article appears in the December 14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

The First Black Trans Model Had Her Face on a Box of Clairol. No one knew her secret. Until they did.

December 15, 2015 Article by Jada Yuan and Aaaron Wong for

Tracey “Africa” Norman always knew that the question wasn’t if she’d be found out, but how long she could go undetected.

To be black and from Newark in the mid-1970s and get plucked from a model casting call for Italian Vogue by Irving Penn — it was the kind of success story that was unheard of, especially for someone like her. She was signed by a top agency, photographed multiple times for the pages of Essence magazine. She landed an exclusive contract for Avon skin care, and another for Clairol’s Born Beautiful hair color boxes: No. 512, Dark Auburn, please. She went to Paris and became a house model in the Balenciaga showroom, wearing couture and walking the runway twice a day. Norman was never as big as Iman, Beverly Johnson, Pat Cleveland, or the other models of color breaking barriers on international runways or on the cover of Vogue. But she was riding that wave. It was more than she could have ever hoped for when she was a kid in New Jersey. Back when she was a boy who knew that, inside, he was a girl.

Norman still turns heads — passersby, shop clerks, waiters at the diner where we have lunch. At 63, she is strikingly beautiful, with buttery deep-brown skin that reads decades younger, and straight black hair that hangs to her ribs. That regal posture, those strong cheekbones demand attention, even as she hides her slender frame under a long black skirt and a navy shearling-lined peacoat that I later learn is from H&M. She’s open and warm but seems nervous. “It’s not easy for me to talk,” she says. She’s practiced so long the art of being both beautiful and invisible, of letting people look at her but not really see her. It’s how she managed to build a career in an industry where her job was to be gazed upon, in an era when the truth would mean certain, and possibly violent, persecution.

We’re living in a time when trans models like Lea T and Andreja Pejic have been the faces of Redken and Make Up For Ever, and Caitlyn Jenner has been celebrated on the cover of Vanity Fair. This kind of cultural acceptance makes it easy to lose sight of how dangerous it was 40 years ago — and still can be today — for women like Norman to just walk down a street. Fear of harassment from both police and civilians was constant. To live one’s life openly as a transgender woman, let alone one as a black trans woman, simply wasn’t done. The only option, really, was to “pass” in straight society.

Click here to continue reading.

Facebook relaxes ‘real name policy’


Posted: Dec 16, 2015 9:27 AM EST
Updated: Dec 16, 2015 9:35 AM EST

(CNN) – Facebook said it will relax its controversial policy of having its user go by their real names on the social media site.

Transgender users and domestic violence victims criticized the policy, saying it puts them at risk for physical harm and discriminates against their identity.

In a statement, Facebook said that while it remains committed to having users go by their real names, it will implement new tools to allow users to explain the “special” circumstances surrounding their name.

Other changes include reducing the number of people who are asked to verify a user’s name.

Previously, the social media giant generally banned accounts of users who go by something other than their legal name.

Copyright 2015 FACEBOOK via CNN. All rights reserved.

Read more at KSLA-TV Shreveport.

The Future of LGBT Leadership: Allyship

Leadership Arrow
Leadership Arrow

I’m often asked by cisgender friends how they can put their support into action. Personal Finance Enthusiast, Silicon Valley Tech Optimist, and “Next Generation” LGBT Leader Michael Ruderman wrote an article on allyship I found informative and helpful.

Posted: 12/14/2015 6:23 pm EST Updated: 12/14/2015 6:59 pm EST

2015 has been a whirlwind of a year for LGBT people. An emotional rollercoaster whose high was surely the Supreme Court’s June decision making marriage equality the law of the land (capping a decade of rapid mainstreaming and enhanced visibility for gay and lesbian people), and whose low was of course the defeat of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance this past November (a cutting loss made more painful by the way it played out: a vicious, slanderous, ultimately successful campaign to scapegoat and demonize the transgender community).

As the year draws to a close — as we celebrate our successes and learn the lessons of our setbacks — where should the LGBT movement turn its attention next?

In my opinion, LGBT organizations should seize on the conditions of the moment to advance progress for those who remain most marginalized among us. We should acknowledge the historic comfort many of us now feel in our lives as out people; we should capitalize on that comfort — on the privilege that now characterizes so many of our lives; and we should mobilize as a community to offer support and allyship where it remains needed — starting with transgender and genderqueer people.

Click here to continue reading.

Follow Michael Ruderman on Twitter: @MichaelRuderman


911 Call Suggests Meagan Taylor Was Arrested at Iowa Hotel for Being Trans


Source: ACLU
Source: ACLU

‘No, seeing a transgender person is not a reason to call the police,’ writes the American Civil Liberties Union when releasing audio of the Drury Inn & Suites manager’s 911 call after two black trans women checked in.

By Sunnivie Brydum
December 9, 2015 8:47 pm est

New audio released by the American Civil Liberties Union appears to indicate that police were called to a Drury Inn & Suites in West Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this year because the manager was suspicious that pair of trans women of color might be “hookers.”

Attorneys representing Meagan Taylor, the black trans woman who was arrested and held for eight days in July based on that manager’s false suspicion of prostitution, released a copy of the 911 call Tuesday, less than a month after filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission against the Drury Inn & Suites in November.

In the less than two-minute exchange, the manager, who identifies herself as “Kim,” describes the two women as “a little unusual,” asking the emergency services operator to “run their name or information through the database,” because “they’re dressed as a woman, but it’s a man’s driver’s license.”

When the operator offers to send a police officer to the location, Kim notes that “I’d want it to be discreet, though,” before asking that officers arrive quietly and “park in the parking lot, instead of right out front.”

The operator pauses, then chuckles, explaining that she cannot run someone’s information based on a phone call, because “it’s against the law.” Kim reiterates that “there’s two males, but they’re dressed as females,” noting that the women have Illinois license driver’s licenses — of which she took pictures.

The operator then asks Kim if she is concerned “just because they’re dressed as females,” prompting the manager to explain that “they’re dressed a little bit over-the-top, too; I just want to make sure they’re not hookers, either.”

In the ACLU blog post accompanying the audio, attorney Chase Strangio cuts to the chase about the motivation for the manager’s suspicion about Taylor:

“There was no emergency. Just two young women stopping for the evening at a hotel. … Meagan and her friend were not men dressed as women. They are women who triggered a set of racialized and gendered assumptions about who is appropriate and welcome in public space — still not transgender people of color in far too many places.”
Statewide LGBT organization One Iowa also issued a statement condemning Taylor’s arrest and incarceration, laying bare the underlying prejudice that led to Taylor’s ordeal.

“It is my opinion that Meagan Taylor, an African American transgender woman, was targeted by the general manager of Drury Inn & Suites in West Des Moines because of ignorance, bias and stereotype,” said Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa. “Given the remarks made on the 911 call, perhaps the chain should institute a hiring process that weeds out anyone so racist and so transphobic that they would jump to the conclusion that a trans woman with brown skin must be a ‘hooker’.”

Taylor’s ordeal began July 13, when she and a friend were traveling from Kansas City, Mo., to Illinois for a funeral of that friend’s brother. Taylor and her friend, a fellow black trans woman, stopped for the night at the West Des Moines Drury Inn on that date. In a November blog post for the ACLU, Taylor noted that she frequently stayed at the chain’s numerous locations, and was a preferred member and “Gold Key” cardholder. She and her friend felt uneasy about the manager’s reception when they checked in but proceeded to their room anyway. Shortly thereafter, police knocked on Taylor’s door and searched the women and the room for evidence of prostitution.

When police found no evidence the women were engaged in sex work, they arrested Taylor for possessing her transition-related medication, spironolactone hydrochloride, without a prescription. Although she wasn’t carrying it at the time, Taylor did have a prescription for the medication, maintains trans pastor Meghan Rohrer, who was instrumental in raising funds to pay Taylor’s legal expenses.

During Taylor’s eight-day stint in Polk County Jail, she says she was repeatedly strip-searched, patted down by a female guard on her “top half” and a male guard on her “bottom half,” then housed in a segregated medical unit because jail staff were unsure whether to house her with men or women.

“When this all happened, I knew exactly what it was,” Taylor wrote in that November ACLU blog post. “The racial profiling, the transgender profiling, the harassment, the solitary confinement. I knew why it was happening, and I knew it wasn’t right. I knew something had to change. To experience so many levels of discrimination makes you feel like less of a person. I want to stand up for myself and other Black and transgender people. And so I did.”

All charges against Taylor have been dismissed.

Ancient Trans Warrior “Discovered” at Siberian Dig


I hope I’m not being overly critical, especially since this is a great article, but I found the comment on the photo caption a bit odd: “A visualization of Jane does well to display her trans-ness, but some say she looks Europeanized and much older than the supposed 16 at death.” I wasn’t aware that “trans-ness” was a term for us. But I don’t find it humorous, but not offensive. Here’s the fascinating New York Times post added by Kelli Busey on December 5, 2015:

In our male dominated world, when a women of authority is recognized, be her alive or centuries gone, the key to her power is unfailingly attributed to men. Trans warrior 3 BC Jane might have been seen on a Saturday night riding the plains with her crew.

Such is the case of our Siberian trans ancestor originally discovered in 1990 in the Altai Republic. Jane’s feminine attire conflicted with the male warrior artifacts with which she was buried. It was assumed at that time that Jane was genetically female and accordingly fetishised and declared a “virgin amazon warrior princess’‘.

New DNA testing shows that she was genetically male, or as we know now, a transgender woman.

Traditional burials of the Pazyryk cultural normally made a clear distinction between genders but not so with our warrior.

For the sake of brevity and honor, we’ll name our predecessor ‘Jane’. She was interred with weapons, male headdress and 9 horses, some bridled all indicating great wealth power and equestrian skill. This was needed to survive as these nomadic people lived in on a mountainous plateau giving them access to and perhaps control of trade routes between what is now modern day Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.

Click here to continue reading.

$20 Million Global Effort to Aid Transgender Activists and Causes


The Arcus Foundation and NoVo Foundation announced a five-year funding project aimed at supporting trans people in the U.S. and in developing nations.

By Dawn Ennis
December 08, 2015 10:47 am est

The Arcus Foundation and NoVo Foundation announced a five-year funding project aimed at supporting trans people in the U.S. and in developing nations.

Nothing like this has ever happened.

The Arcus Foundation — which for 15 years has granted more than $10 million dollars to transgender issues — announced it is launching what it calls the Global Transgender Initiative, in partnership with the NoVo Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the world to support initiatives focused explicitly on girls and women.

Together these philanthropic institutions are pledging at least $20 million over five years to boost organizations and activists who work toward the betterment of transgender people in the United States, as well as in poorer and developing nations.

In its press release, Arcus described its beneficiaries as those doing “work intended to ensure that all transgender people live in a world where they are recognized, valued, and supported by their families and in society.”

Much of that work, according to the press release, is aimed at trans people impacted by violence and discrimination, including trans women of color.

“The epidemic of violence facing transgender women and girls across the globe is a crisis by any measure, and we are determined to partner with others to help address this urgent need,” Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation said in a statement. “Ending violence against girls and women everywhere has always been at the core of the NoVo Foundation’s mission, and our support for the Global Trans Initiative is an important opportunity to deepen our longstanding work.”

“The Global Trans Initiative is a coordinated response to the alarming and pervasive range of disparities found within transgender communities,” Kevin Jennings, Arcus’s Executive Director, echoed in his statement. “Together with our partners, we are committed to delivering increased and necessary resources to those in the field working tirelessly to end the violence and discrimination facing transgender people around the world.”

The initiative follows what Arcus said was a two year “ listening and learning effort with frontline transgender activists and other interested funders.” Together with the NoVo Foundation, Arcus’s philanthropic effort outlined three goals:

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Driving Is A DRAG For Erika Simone is the website of the President and Founder of Driving Is a Drag and Erika Simone. I first learned about Erika from reading about her in an biography on


Here’s an except from her bio:

Driving in the streets of Los Angeles is probably one of the most frustrating, intimidating and sometimes terrifying things to do. Public transportation is somewhat lackluster to say the least and getting anywhere can take an hour or more depending on traffic. Companies like Uber and Lyft have tried to help alleviate the stress of driving around in cities alone by introducing ride sharing. It’s a concept where drivers use their own cars and pick up strangers to go to various locations depending on their needs. There are apps and all types of variations to the experience, but Erika Simone dragged out the experience.

We took some time to speak with Erika about her “Driving Is a DRAG” concept and here’s how she described it, “The way that it works is that people request a LYFT and see a normal looking guy in the app’s car profile coming to pick them up. Nobody knows that I am showing up in full drag and they look confused when they see a “girl” sitting outside their home/location and typically walk right by my car. At that point I hop out and say ‘Hey Babe, you need a Lyft? I’m Erika Simone, and this is Driving is a DRAG. I’m here to take you on a fabulous ride to your next destination.’ At that point, people typically drop their Whole Foods Shopping Bags on the floor and start laughing hysterically.” Erika continues, “I definitely see this concept as somewhere between Cash Cab, Punked, and Borat – IN DRAG!”

Erika is the alter ego of 38-year-old LA native, Erik Koral. Erik specialized in marketing for bands for 15 years and with his own company, FanManager, for 9 years. Unfortunately, due to shrinking budgets from record imagelabels, he had to shut down his business last year. Out of necessity, he took up the Lyft position to pay bills and the marketing background went to work.

Erik struggled for some time with his sexuality, which led him down a few dark paths. This struggle led to a few relapses with addiction and a life filled with shame and secrecy. While he’s since recovered and is now sober due to rehabilitation and working a 12 step program, he is no longer struggling with his sexuality and is openly bi-sexual. His life as Erika has added a level of empowerment as well. He explains, “I finally feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life and it’s a wonderful feeling.”

We asked Erika why drag and she stated, it’s “fun, it’s creative, and it’s kinky. I think the whole drag thing is a big middle finger to societal norms and I’m all about that. When I first started to try on women’s clothes, I think there’s a very powerful chemical reaction that happens and you feel different, you look different, and I realized that I can be beautiful. That was eye opening to say the least.” While Erik has only been dressing up for 4 months, he has embraced it as an integral part of his life and personality.

As a marketing professional, Driving is a DRAG came to Erik through an epiphany moment that almost made him crash his Toyota Prius in late July. He was able to combine his love for drag and Lyft position to create the ultimate ride-share experience. Erika Simone is providing a safe, sober and entertaining ride and she’s just getting started. She’s got a lot of ideas, opportunities (such as reality TV offers pending and charity partnerships) and miles to go, be sure to check her website

Follow @drivingisadrag on Twitter and like erikasimoneofficial on Facebook.