Trans News In Review

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Image by Rebecca Lieberman

Image by Rebecca Lieberman

"All The Trans News Fit To Print"


On July 28th, 2016, Sarah McBride was the first trans person to speak at a national political party convention. The speech was electric, adding to the complex story of gender in this election. In a Kennedy-esque moment, she asks, “Are we a nation where there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, only one way to live? Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally?”

Not only was her speech at the DNC a leap in visibility for trans people, but it also seized a role in our national theater, announcing what parts transgender people can play and should play in American politics. Even more meaningful, Sarah McBride’s speech was a direct address to the country regarding the right of trans people to live safely in our own country, specifically trans women of color, who need our immediate attention and protection. Never before has such an address been made, and with so much power, charisma, clarity and guidance.

“I used to believe that my dreams and my identity were mutually exclusive,” a point that most of us can relate to. Sarah attended American University, and while acting as the student body president, she took the public leap and came out as trans to the entire school. She is now in position at HRC (Human Rights Campaign), and in her young life has already accomplished so much to advance trans rights, particularly in her home state of Delaware. We look forward to Sarah’s ongoing work in helping America make good on its promises.

Read Sarah McBride’s powerful essay coming out to her fellow students at American University.


The new commercial “Restaurant” stars North Carolina resident and trans woman, Alaina Kupec, a woman suffering under the anti-trans bathroom law, HB2. The commercial’s voice-over script is narrated by Alaina Kupec, and deftly explains what it means to be trans, what it feels like to be trans, and why the laws are significant to her safety.

The piece diverges visually, telling the tale of a woman eating at a restaurant with friends. She heads to the bathroom, but is stopped from entering the women’s bathroom by an employee, who points her to the men’s bathroom. Two women then escort the trans woman into the women’s room, ushering her safely past the male employee and others. With this resolution, one of the commercial’s greatest powers is that it demonstrates to us just what it means to stand up for trans people, and what it can look like to act as an ally.

This ran on Fox News as part of the coverage of both national conventions, further forcing into the spotlight and into the presidential election the hateful, anti-trans North Carolina law.

Now, all we can ask for is more from and the coalition of LGBTQ organizations that came together to fund this project and others like it.


Discrimination against trans folks is taking hold in many states across the nation as they resist President Obama’s May 2016 guidance from the Department of Education to require schools and districts to protect trans students’ rights to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The backlash to such protection is exemplified in the breaking news about Ash Whitaker, a Wisconsin student who is being surveilled and harassed by the administration, and forced to use a bathroom not associated with his gender identity.

As The Daily Beast reported, Ash Whitaker, an incoming senior, who came out early in his sophomore year, has been in an off-and-on conflict with his Wisconsin high school ever since. In what appears to be the school’s need to control this young person’s life, they are demanding (at the suggestion of Ash’s guidance counselor) that Ash wear an armband or bracelet to visually indicate to all admin and teachers that he is trans. No doubt the fascist-echoes of this new school policy are traumatic even to those of us merely reading about it, let alone those in direct community with this discrimination.

Ash’s parent and the Transgender Law Center are suing the school district for violating Ash’s rights under Title IX.

21 states are suing over the May 2016 guidance, and our friends at transgenderuniverse posted a powerful analysis of where we are in the war that has surfaced over trans students and bathroom policy. Thankfully, Washington State has stepped up and announced its coalition with other states (California, Illinois, New Mexico and 8 others) to bolster their support for the trans community.


Ha! The NBA pulls out of North Carolina! This was huge in July news. That such a pro-trans move was made by a sports team is a huge win. This is a marker of where we’ve come to, that our cultural institutions will no longer carry the stigma of being ignorant. Our school systems and our government are sure to follow—or so we hope.

The North Carolina Timeline, 2016:

Feb. 22nd: The City Council of Charlotte, North Carolina, votes 7 to 4 in support of protecting gay and transgender people against discrimination.

Feb. 23rd: North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore calls for legislation to block selected civil liberties with regards to bathroom use for transgender residents and visitors.

Mar. 21st: Lawmakers call a special session to swiftly create anti-LGBT legislation as a response to Charlotte’s protective ordinance. This is done without the consent of NC Governor Pat McCrory.

Mar. 23rd: The NC General Assembly passes House Bill 2, known colloquially as “The Bathroom Bill.” Governor McCrory signs it into law that very night. The law states that people must use the bathroom that is in compliance with their birth certificates, and it stops local NC governments from creating protections for LGBT people.

Mar. 24th: Protests begin and businesses threaten to pull out of North Carolina.

Mar. 29th: ACLU leads in a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina based on HB2’s implicit and explicit violation of constitutional rights. NC Attorney General Roy Cooper publicly announces that his office will not defend in the ACLU lawsuit, calling the bathroom legislation a “national embarrassment”.

April 5th: PayPal cancels their plan to open an operations center in Charlotte, NC—a loss of a $36 million dollar deal for the city (and 400 jobs).

April 10th: Bruce Springsteen cancels his gig in Greensboro, NC.

April 12th: Governor McCrory tries to save face and state that LGBT people will not be fired for their identities in the state of North Carolina. Can’t use the bathroom in your place of employment, but you can still have your job.

May 4th: The U.S. Justice Department publicly states to McCrory that HB2 violates federal civil rights law and asks him to respond by May 9th.

May 9th:  Governor McCrory files a lawsuit against the Justice Department, seeking a ruling that HB2 does not discriminate against LGBT people. The Justice Department sues North Carolina, alleging that the law violates three specific federal civil rights laws, including Title IX. Loretta Lynch gives a rousing public scolding of North Carolina for being out of step with the nation’s constitution.

July 21st: The NBA pulls its all-star game from Charlotte over HB2 and general public display of anti-LGBT rhetoric and legislation. The NBA states too that it is hopeful that it will be able to schedule the all-star game in Charlotte in 2019, but the law will have to change in order for it to do so. Bravo, NBA!

July 28th: A draft of the proposed changes to HB2 is leaked to the press and Democratic legislators. It is now called the “Privacy, Dignity, and Safety Act For All,” which is a suspicious title since the draft bill mandates that trans people would be required to carry "a certificate of sex reassignment." This moment will further the embarrassment of the state, and will likely act as a catalyst to the end of HB2.