This Sunday, SAVE Dade and faith groups rallied at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park in support of a trans-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance that would protect everyone in Miami-Dade County.
Nearly 100 supporters rallied in support of the proposal, which was withdrawn from consideration before the County Commission earlier this summer after a campaign of misinformation led by extremists and special interests claiming to represent the faithful of Miami-Dade County.
The faith rally put to rest the notion that religious members of our community oppose extending human rights to all. Nearly a dozen faith groups rallied in support human rights, including Unity on the Bay of Miami, Temple Israel of Miami Beach, the Coral Gables Congregational United Christian Church, Trinity Cathedral, Miami Beach Community Church, and All Souls' Episcopal Church of Miami Beach.
The event made a splash in local and national media. The rally received coverage in the Miami Herald, the Huffington Post, and WLRN, to name a few outlets. Allison Grisham of InterfaithOUT, who spoke at the rally, was interviewed by the Miami Herald in the video above.
Scroll down to see pictures of the event:Read more
Last Friday, transgender teen Cassidy Campbell made history by being named the first transgender homecoming queen in Orange County, California. Cassidy was well aware of the symbolism of a potential crowning.
"I realized it wasn’t for me anymore and I was doing this for so many people all around the county and the state and possibly the world and I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there,” she was quoted as saying by local news station KTLA.
Unfortunately, Cassidy did not have much time to bask in the glow of her surprise win. By the end of the night, she was in tears over what she said were “judgmental” and “hateful” comments leveled at her by those who disapproved of her gender identity.
After posting a tearful video decrying her treatment by bigots and haters, the cyberbullying did not stop. One commenter on the video said "OH PLEASE DIE OF AIDS YOU F***ING F*G!!!!!!!!" Another said, "please commit suicide, it won't hurt to [sic] much and the world would be better."
SAVE Dade also asks our supporters to join in the chorus of support for Cassidy. Please sign the NCTE petition today, and help us send the message that attacking transgender people, and especially our young people, is unacceptable.
Aryah Lester gives a presentation about transgender sensitivity to HOPWA program administrators
SAVE Dade was pleased this week to partner with Miami’s Department of Community and Economic Development as it undertakes the first ever accounting of the city’s transgender population as part of the federally-funded Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.
HOPWA is a rental assistance program for low- to moderate-income individuals with AIDS and their families. Through HOPWA, the Department of Community and Economic Development assists over 1,000 individuals with AIDS.
Recently, the federal government issued a mandate requiring agencies administering HOPWA programs to collect data on transgender populations. Previously, administrators were required to collect other types of information, but this is the first time that they must collect information on the trans population.
In order to make the data collection possible, the Department of Community and Economic Development collaborated with SAVE Dade to train the city employees responsible for surveying the community on how to most effectively engage transgendered individuals.
SAVE Dade reached out to Aryah Lester to conduct a training of city employees on how to approach collection of data on the trans community. Aryah directs Trans-Miami, a local drop-in resource center on South Beach for the transgender community. She has been an invaluable partner for SAVE Dade’s campaigns, including the TransEquality campaign to pass an all-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance at the countywide level.
“I enjoyed training the surveyors who will be gathering this vital information,” said Aryah. “There is a dearth of data regarding transgender populations nationwide. HOPWA’s adoption of transgender data collection policies will provide concrete numbers for gender non-conforming residents and will help ensure access to services such as housing assistance for those who qualify.”
Pinellas County, home to nearly a million Floridians including the city of St. Petersburg, passed last Tuesday an amendment to the local human rights statute striking the word ‘sex’ from the law and replacing it with ‘gender.’
The change effectively adds to the law protections for the transgender community against discrimination in housing and employment. It excludes religious institutions, small businesses and schools, unlike legislation recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown in California, and does not require the construction of special bathrooms for gender nonconforming individuals.
The new law is very similar to a proposal considered by the Miami-Dade County Commission this summer and recently withdrawn from consideration to be reintroduced at a later date.
However, the Pinellas law differs from the Miami-Dade proposal in that it changes existing language to reflect a more modern understanding of the concept of gender (a psychological trait) versus biological sex (a physical trait assigned at birth). Click here to learn more about the differences between gender, sex, identity, and expression.
The way the existing human rights law in Miami-Dade is written, there is no such opportunity to modify existing language. Instead, the Miami-Dade proposal creates the entirely new categories of gender identity and gender expression on which basis a person cannot be discriminated against. As it was put before the Commission this summer, the Miami-Dade proposal also did not exempt entities like religious institutions and small businesses.
At SAVE Dade, we hope Pinellas County serves as an example for the rest of Florida going forward. If passage of human rights protections for everyone is possible in Pinellas County, it is certainly possible in Miami-Dade and throughout the state of Florida.
California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly announced this Monday that at least one of his sons wouldn’t be returning to his public school after Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1266, which expands the rights of transgender students in that state.
The new law goes into effect this January and guarantees that students can “participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” on the basis of their gender identities instead of the sex they were assigned at birth.
Donnelly told the conservative outlet World Net Daily that the law forces students in locker rooms to be “ogled” by students of the opposite gender. He also told the website that his sons were “horrified” at the prospect of girls in the boys locker room.
Of course, the law in question allows no such thing. It neither lets children arbitrarily use locker rooms of the opposite sex nor forces them to be “ogled.” Students who identify as boys will still have to use the boys’ bathroom and likewise for girls. Impersonating a member of the opposite sex in order to gain access to opposite-sex bathrooms will remain illegal under California law.
If Assemblyman Donnelly is worried about the effect of the new law, he should look to Los Angeles County, which has similar protections for transgender students in place. In that school district, transgender students have been protected without controversy for nearly a decade, according to the Associated Press.
Donnelly’s comments came in the midst of the beginning stages of an electoral fight to repeal the law. Conservative groups are preparing a ballot initiative to overturn the law much in the same way that Proposition 8 unsuccessfully attempted to outlaw same-sex marriage in the state. If the measure makes it to the ballot, the vote will most likely occur alongside the midterm races in November 2014.
Today, in the face of obstruction before the County Commission and an onslaught of hateful misinformation, the proposal to add all-inclusive language to the countywide Human Rights Ordinance has been withdrawn for the time being.
What this means is that for now, it will remain legal to be fired, refused services, or denied housing simply for being born a certain way.
Fortunately, the effort to keep Miami-Dade County moving forward does not end here. SAVE Dade will keep engaging the community on this important issue as we forge ahead with the groundbreaking TransEquality campaign to pass an all-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance. We thank Commissioners Edmonson, Barreiro, and the rest of our supporters on the commission, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
We will also hold accountable those who obstructed this crucial proposal from being brought to a vote. The chief obstructionist in this debate is Commissioner Lynda Bell, whose actions in favor of discrimination do not represent the voters of her district. Such an important proposal should not be held hostage by one out-of-touch politician.
Commissioner Lynda Bell (District 8)
Going forward, SAVE Dade will be committing significant resources to educating Commissioner Bell’s constituents about her anti-equality positions and her disregard for the views of the people she claims to represent. Commissioner Bell should represent the voters, not a small select group of special interests and extremists.
With your help, we can pass this important proposal to guarantee human rights for everyone in Miami-Dade County. You can do your part by getting involved in the TransEquality campaign today.
Today the state of California made history by becoming the first state with laws on the books protecting transgender students from discrimination in public schools.
The School Success and Opportunity Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2014, requires California public schools to respect students’ gender identities. It also ensures that all students can use the appropriate facilities and participate in sports teams and extracurricular activities.
The proposal, which passed the California General Assembly in early July, faced heavy lobbying from both proponents and opponents of the bill. LGBT groups were quick to praise Governor Brown for his action to ensure equality for trans students in California public schools.
“I am so proud of this state and its leaders,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis. “I extend our deepest gratitude to the Governor, Assembly and Senate for the passage and signing of this bill.”
The signing of the bill comes on the heels of a groundbreaking agreement between California’s Arcadia School District and the U.S. Department of Justice ensuring equal treatment and access to facilities for transgender students. The new law effectively extends the terms of that particular agreement to all school districts in California.
SAVE Dade is excited about the developments in California. We hope that the progress made there helps galvanize support for passage of an all-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance by the County Commission.
Today a federal judge ruled unconstitutional New York City’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy that permits police officers to detain pedestrians if they reasonably suspect that detainees are involved or will be eventually involved in potential criminal activity.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, over half a million individuals were stopped in 2012 on the streets of New York City. More than half of those individuals (more than 280,000) were black, and another third of those individuals (more than 160,000) were Hispanic. Nearly 90% of those stopped were totally innocent.
Because the statistics show that “stop-and-frisk” has lopsidedly targeted minorities, civil libertarians have criticized the program as an unconstitutionally intrusive violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. They argue that because profiling plays a large part in deciding who is stopped, minority groups regularly suffer unreasonable searches on the streets of New York.
Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the Federal District Court in Manhattan agreed. She ordered a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s implementation of a plan that would end profiling of innocent people on city streets.
The ruling was a welcome development for LGBTQ advocates in and around the city. More than a dozen local and national advocacy groups signed on to a letter last month urging the New York City Council to end “police profiling based on sexual orientation and gender identity” after the New York Times highlighted the issue in an article entitled Arrests by the Fashion Police.
The Times article focused on gender-nonconforming individuals, especially men dressed in drag and transgender women in particular, who had been arrested on the streets of New York on suspicion of prostitution.
Arrests of trans and gender nonconforming individuals on charges of prostitution are apparently a regular occurrence in the city and elsewhere. LGBTQ advocates hope that the ruling paves the way for New York and other cities to end policing practices that profile individuals on the basis of gender conformity.
In a victory for progress in southern California, the federal government has settled a complaint against the Arcadia Unified School District on behalf of a transgender student barred from using male-designated facilities and joining boys-only sports teams because he was born anatomically female.
According to the complaint, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in October 2011, the policies of the school district were impeding the student’s ability to learn and causing him to suffer routine discrimination.
The student in question was assigned the female gender at birth but from a young age identified as male, took on a male name, and wore boys’ clothes. According to the complaint, the school district prohibited the student from using the boys’ locker room and forced him to use a bathroom on the other side of the school’s campus in the nurses’ office, resulting in ostracism from his peers and class time missed.
The agreement reached between the Department of Justice and the Arcadia School District affirms that the student must be treated as male in all respects, including when it comes to school trips, extracurricular activities, and facilities. It also stipulates that the district must train staff in sensitivity towards transgender students.
"I am glad that my school district has agreed to put in place the protections that I, and other transgender students, need to feel safe and welcome in school," said the student, who remains anonymous, as quoted in an NCLR press release. "Knowing that I have the school district’s support, I can focus on learning and being a typical high school student, like my friends."