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National: Trans lawsuit, gay Alaska politicians, Glamour honors trans woman
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-04-11

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Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four transgender Puerto Ricans and the LGBT-rights organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s to compel the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to allow transgender individuals to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates, a press release stated. The suit—filed on behalf of three transgender women and one transgender man as well as Puerto Rico Para Tod@s—argues that denying transgender Puerto Ricans the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Two Victory Fund-endorsed candidates—Felix Rivera and Christopher Constant—won their races for Anchorage Assembly on April 4 to become the only openly LGBTQ elected officials in Alaska, a Victory Fund press release stated. Rivera won with 47 percent of the vote despite a crowded field and one of his opponents sending homophobic mailers the weekend before the election; the election win makes him the first openly LGBTQ Latino person to win an election in Alaska. Constant, a long-serving LGBTQ activist in Alaska, faced five opponents and won with 52 percent of the vote.

Pitzer College's Eli Erlick—the founder of Trans Student Educational Resources, the only national organization led by trans youth—was among 10 people named as Glamour magazine's "College Women of the Year," a press release noted. Some of the others selected included Mount Holyoke College's Ellen Chilemba ( the $20,000 grand recipient ), Boston College's Angela Jin and Georgetown University's Sarah Clements. Additionally, L'Oréal Paris will present a College Woman of Worth award and cash prize at an April 25 luncheon ( horing all the recipients ) to the woman who exemplifies the strongest charitable spirit.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation that would ban the use on minors of conversion therapy that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, according to U.S. News & World Report. Bill sponsor Democrat state Sen. Jacob Candelaria called the signing historic, saying New Mexico has a commitment to protect all children from abuse and that the issue transcends party labels and ideological differences. The prohibition will apply to licensed physicians, nurses, psychologists and other health practitioners who apply conversion therapy to people under 18.

The Office for Victims of Crime ( OVC ), part of the U.S. Department of Justice's ( DoJ's ) Office of Justice Programs, presented an $8,466,970 Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program ( AEAP ) grant to assist victims of the June 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, according to a DoJ press release. Last June, a shooter killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U. S. history. Victim services funding is awarded to and distributed by the Florida Office of the Attorney General's Department of Legal Affairs.

Federal appeals court judges hailed the Virginia transgender teen fighting to use the boy's restroom at his high school as a courageous civil-rights leader, even as they lamented that the school year would end without a resolution of his case, The Washington Post noted. The praise for Gavin Grimm came from two judges ( Andre M. Davis and Henry F. Floyd ) on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Grimm's case "is about much more than bathrooms. It's about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It's about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins," wrote Davis.

An Idaho man has been sentenced 28 years in prison for his role in the death of a gay man, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Third District Judge Thomas J. Ryan sentenced 23-year-old Kelly Schneider on April 10. In January, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court in the death of 49-year-old Steven Nelson. Schneider also pled guilty to a federal hate crime, and he will be sentenced for that charge April 26.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is being sued by a man who claims Murray "raped and molested him" three decades ago, when the man was 15 years old, NPR reported. Murray held a news conference April 7 to deny the allegations, saying, "Things have never come easy to me in life—but I have never backed down and I will not back down now." The Seattle Times has investigated this claim in depth, along with the stories of two other men who also say Murray abused them when they were young; the publication noted that too much time has passed to file criminal charges, but the same is not true for a civil suit.

In "Disproportionality and Disparities Among Sexual Minority Youth in Custody" in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, researchers Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., Andrew R. Flores, Ph.D., and Jody L. Herman, Ph.D. discovered, among other things, that almost 60 percent of all incarcerated girls are sexual minorities and that gay and bisexual boys were nearly 11 times more likely than straight boys to report having experienced sexual violence by peers. The article is at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-017-0632-5.

The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative announced the release of its newly updated pastoral resources for faith leaders in honor of Minority Health Month, Business Wire reported. The Pastoral Brief and the Activity Manual ( at theblackchurchandhiv.org/take-action/ ) offer a foundational approach for faith leaders to address HIV within the Black community from a social justice perspective. The Black Church & HIV initiative—a partnership between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( NAACP ) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. that aims to address the urgent need for action on the HIV epidemic within the Black community—believes the faith community is part of the solution, just as it has been in addressing equity issues affecting African Americans for decades.

In a rare interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that society, including the tech community, is not moving fast enough on issues like equal rights and diversity, CNBC noted. "I think the U.S. will lose its leadership in technology if this doesn't change," Cook said to The Plainsman, the student newspaper at his alma mater, Auburn University. "Women are such an important part of the workforce. If STEM-related fields continue to have this low representation of women, then there just will not be enough innovation in the United States. That's just the simple fact of it." Diversity is "incredibly important," Cook told the newspaper. He also touched on his platform as the most high-profile gay executive in technology.

Lambda Legal asked a federal district court to order the Missouri Department of Corrections ( MDOC ) and Corizon LLC ( Corizon )—which MDOC contracts to provide healthcare at its facilities—to provide doctor-recommended healthcare for the treatment of gender dysphoria for Jessica Hicklin, a 38-year-old transgender woman incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri, an organizational press release stated. Hicklin is asking for immediate access to hormone therapy, permanent body-hair removal as well as access to gender-affirming canteen items—all recommended by her doctors as part of her treatment in accordance with the prevailing standards of care. The brief is at LambdaLegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/hicklin_mo_20170404_memorandum-in-support.

Two Hungarians will spend 30 years in prison each for forcing young gay men into sexual slavery in Miami, The Miami Herald reported. Gabor Acs and Viktor Berki received their sentences after earlier being convicted of human trafficking, conspiracy and racketeering.The April 7 sentencing concludef a case that was hailed as a first for Florida prosecutors because the victims were gay men forced into prostitution after being lured from Hungary to the United States.

Truth Wins Out called on Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler to rescind an invitation to an anti-LGBT activist to speak at the city's prayer breakfast, a press release noted. Seiler invited Focus on the Family's president, Jim Daly, to the April 28 "Mayor's Prayer Breakfast." The group, according to the release, is known for promoting conversion therapy.

In Philadelphia, it only took 15 minutes for the "Free Speech Bus" to clash with counter-demonstrations in Center City on April 1, according to Philadelphia Weekly. Before the bus could fully circle City Hall, a crowd of more than 100 protesters quickly blocked traffic in the roundabout as a form of resistance. The bus' message is "It's Biology: Boys are boys… and always will be. Girls are girls… and always will be. You can't change sex. Respect all." Funded by the National Organization for Marriage, the International Organization for the Family and the conservative activist site CitizenGo, the bus has stopped in Boston and New York City, among other cities.

The SF LGBT Center held a grand reopening April 9, according to a press release. Among those who attended were Calif. state Sens. Scott Wiener and Mark Leno, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco Jose Cisneros and City College of San Francisco Trustee Rafael Mandelman. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Sister Roma and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were among those providing entertainment. The Center marked its 15th anniversary and the $10.3-million renovation.

Milwaukee Brewers minor-league first baseman/outfielder David Denson has unexpectedly retired from baseball—but said the decision was unrelated to coming out in 2015 as the first openly gay player in affiliated baseball, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Denson, 22—who played last season at Class A Wisconsin and advanced Class A Brevard County—announced his decision on his Facebook page, saying he would pursue a career as a personal/athletic trainer and thanking family, friends and fans for "the amazing love and support over the years."

Virginia Tech—one of the nine Power Five Conference schools believed to never have an athlete come out publicly as LGBT—has had an influx of LGBT athletes recently, Outsports noted. At least four out LGBT men's divers ( Old Dominion junior Cory Moreno, Drexel freshman Anthony Musciano, West Virginia junior Alex Obendorf and Harvard junior David Pfeifer ) competed at the NCAA Zone A Championships hosted by Virginia Tech and held in Christiansburg, Virginia, on March 6-8. Purdue's Max Showalter was another out LGBT diver at one of the other four zone meets.

For the people of New York City and Philadelphia, life is sweeter, Metro.us reported: Big Gay Ice Cream now comes in pints that they can buy in stores and eat in the comfort of your own home. Founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff started selling their soft serve ice creams out of a truck in NYC in 2009, but within two years, their popularity grew enough that in 2011 they opened their first store in the East Village. Flavors such as Rocky Roadhouse, American Globs and Salty Pimp can also be purchased through Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct and Jet.

President Trump's modeling agency could be in trouble, Business Insider reported. Three sources—including an anonymous fashion industry insider and two bookers who have previously worked with Trump Models—told Mother Jones that they've heard the agency is on the brink of closing due to Trump's politics. Some current employees are looking for other work, while others have left to create their own agencies. Trump opened the agency in 1999.


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