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Trans News In Review

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“All the Trans News That’s Fit To Print”

TEXAS REJECTS TRANSGENDER STUDENTS JUST IN TIME FOR FRESHMAN ORIENTATION

The day before Texas schools started up again this past Monday, Federal Judge Reed O’Connor (appointed to his position by President George W. Bush) ruled in favor of a coalition of anti-trans plaintiffs and anti-trans school districts across 22 states. This ruling was in favor of the injunction to block the Obama Administration’s guidance regarding the rights of transgender students to use the bathrooms aligned with their gender identities.

Proud of his state’s “success,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton—who originally filed the lawsuit—stated that the Obama Administration’s guidance was an “illegal federal overreach.” Of course, the Obama admin efforts were simply a direct interpretation of Title IX law, which expresses that if you identify as a “she,” you are allowed to use the women’s bathroom, and if you are “he,” you are allowed to use the men’s bathroom. Very simply, the term “sex” is out of date in the writing of the 1972 title, and should promptly be translated to “gender” according to current definitions and research about identity.

The injunction is national, but allows for states to proceed with their decreed stance on trans rights. Thank you California, Oregon, Washington and the 8 other states for creating a pro-trans coalition.

All of this is a serious setback for trans students nationwide, however, and our hearts are very heavy thinking about their individual struggles inside dangerous school spaces. What many LGBT activists and protection agencies are saying is that this injunction will hasten a SCOTUS review of trans rights. We are hopeful that the highest court will rule favorably and protect the rights of transgender people in the U.S from our schools to our workplaces to our hospitals.

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the Obama Administration was very disappointed in the decision. You can almost hear the entire administration sigh.

MORE MESS IN TEXAS

And if that wasn’t enough, AG Ken Paxton filed another anti-trans lawsuit this past week. Again, it is a suit comprised of a multiple-state coalition, which banded together against transgender identities. This suit states that religious healthcare practitioners shouldn’t have to assist with gender transitioning if it is against their religious beliefs. Nevermind the Hippocratic oath.

Add to the mess that the presiding judge is the same judge who just ruled in AG Paxton’s favor to disallow trans students to use their correct bathroom. We wonder: what will the outcome be?

VIRGINIA IS FOR HATERS

If Texas doesn’t force trans rights in front of SCOTUS, Virginia will. This past week marks the premiere moment in which SCOTUS has stated any interest in the bathroom issue. Unfortunately, with a 5-3 vote, the justices issued a stay, informing trans student Gavin Grimm that it is against school policy for him to use the appropriate boy’s bathroom.

Justice Stephen Breyer, known as a liberal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton, acted as the 5th vote in issuing a hold on the school district having to comply with the new education guidance issued by the Obama Admin.

Justice Breyer explained that his vote to rule in favor of a hold was a “courtesy vote” to maintain the status quo while the court is in recess. In other words, he did not offer a specific opinion about whether or not Gavin should be allowed to use the boy’s restroom, but rather voted to uphold the law and process of the law until they are back in session in October. This leads us to believe that a minimum of four justices are needed to review the case; and because the 4 GOP justices voted in favor of the stay, the court will most likely agree to see this case when they are back in session in October.

This truly is terrible news for Gavin Grimm, however his case might ultimately decide the issue, and we are hopeful that SCOTUS will rule justly. There have been 22 state-based lawsuits filed against the federal government with regards to the Obama Administration’s education guidance stating that schools and districts must allow trans students to use the bathroom and locker room in keeping with their gender. This is truly a battle in our nation to discover whether or not the country’s tenets will support basic human rights for its transgender citizens.

IF YOU’RE CHRISTIAN, YOU CAN FIRE ME FOR BEING TRANS

Time to cross Detroit off the list as a “renewed, hip city” and a possible “move.”

This past week, the court decided to uphold the right for a Detroit funeral home to fire its Funeral Director, Aimee Stephens, for transitioning into the woman she is. This was supposedly a decision in favor of religious rights. However, the funeral home is not a religiously-founded business; the owner just happens to be Christian.

Yep, here we are once again in the U.S.’s bizarro-Puritanical territory. The presiding judge, U.S District Judge Sean Cox, based his ruling on the following interpretation of the law, thus setting a dangerous precedent: "Significantly, neither transgender status nor gender identity are protected classes under Title VII." Courts have widely held the view that Title VII does protect employers from firing those who do not fit into traditional gender expressions, and thus have protected trans individuals from being fired—until now. This ruling is a major setback for trans rights at large, as the precedent allows for religious identification to allow for discriminatory practices.

Furthermore, Judge Cox refused to use the correct pronoun, refused to withhold personal opinion, including disgust-filled tones and overt dismissal that transgender people exist at all, as well as dismissive ridicule towards the EEOC.

TRANSGENDER BUTTER CREAM

Freeport Bakery in Sacramento, California posted a picture of one of their Ken Doll cakes on Facebook, leading a number of followers to identify the cake (depicting a flamboyantly-dressed Ken) as “transgender.” A media flurry ensued, along with a slew of hateful comments.

For context: The cake Ken is wearing a pink dress, a necklace and earrings, none of which imply that Ken is transgender, of course. The customer did not ask for a transgender cake, and the bakery did not make a transgender cake—but the media deemed it “transgender” in accordance with the incorrect (and infectious) comments from Facebook users. This is just to say: WOW! All Americans (and world citizens, really) need to take a crash course in the meaning of “transgender” and the nuances of gender identity.

After the cake was publicly “outed” as transgender (also: can cakes really be  transgender? We don’t think so), many people un-liked Freeport’s Facebook page, while others continued to shower the page in horrible comments about trans identities. Yuck. We prefer cake.

See Ken in Butter Cream and read the bakery’s public statement here.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS WITH A QUICK INTERVIEW?

Yes. And so we end our column on a high note. While this is not a breaking story, we have found it’s been missed by mainstream media. And so we bring it to you as the best recent news, auspiciously arriving amidst a long line of terrible federal rulings.

The data from a new study about bias out of the Los Angeles’ LGBT Center was released early this year, and the findings are remarkable within the landscape of the social sciences—showing promising discoveries about how we can effectively dispel prejudice. The study basically showed how having open dialogue about prejudice is actually a powerful way to dispel prejudice. Who knew? (We did, but it’s always helpful when science can provide some validation).

The first iteration of the study was thrown out because one of their primary canvasser’s forged all of his data, and so a second study was implemented to test their findings. Luckily, the second study’s findings were even more remarkable. According to Science magazine’s reporting about the study, the scientific belief about biases—up until this point—was that they were hard-wired in some capacity, and could not be overturned effectively, efficiently, or at all.

But according to the new findings, canvassers were able to eradicate prejudicial thinking against transgender people in about 1 in 10 people, with the results lasting at least 3 months. The study was done with 56 canvassers who knocked on doors in the metropolitan Miami area and who successfully interviewed 501 people.  According to This American Life (who reported on the complicated tale of the debunked first study, as well as the success of the second study) in their episode “For Your Reconsideration,” the persuasive interviews included two important techniques: 1. Allow a person to come to their own new conclusion about transgender identity 2. Provide in the interview a time for the interviewee to relate to trans prejudice by touching on a prejudice that they themselves have experienced.

No one can say any longer that the power of open dialogue is a hippie myth. In fact, it’s scientifically proven! Take that, Texas. At trans.cafe, we hope to use this knowledge to create effective curricula.