Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

Feb. 27 2017 3:33 PM

The Supreme Court Should Decide the Gavin Grimm Case Now

In response to the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw guidance on the scope of Title IX’s protections for transgender students, the Supreme Court asked the parties to the Gavin Grimm case their views on how that case should proceed. The Supreme Court can and should still decide the Grimm case and settle definitively that federal prohibitions on sex discrimination include discrimination against transgender people. There are both human and legal reasons for the Court to move forward.

Feb. 27 2017 10:30 AM

The Many Dreadful Ways That the Trump Administration Will Hurt LGBTQ Health Care

It has been a bit more than a month since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. With every passing day, the new administration seems to kick up another dust storm of controversy or troublesome policy. Waiting for it all to settle is likely to be a fool’s errand.

Nevertheless, for LGBTQ patients and those who deliver medical care to them, it’s worth pausing and considering what changes may be coming, and where the new agenda in Washington may have an impact on the health of gender and sexual minorities.

Following rumored rollbacks of federal protections for LGBTQ people, it was reported that those protections were preserved through the intervention of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s eldest daughter and son-in-law. While I know LGBTQ people are meant to be grateful those two were looking out for us, it’s distressing to consider that our rights are secure only insofar as they enjoy the personal protection of members of the president’s immediate family. Given the pressure from the evangelical wing of his base for Trump to justify their support, and the views of the man now leading the Department of Health and Human Services, it would have been naïve to blithely assume no adverse outcomes to our wellbeing would be forthcoming.

Indeed, whether or not Ivanka and Jared tried to do anything about it, the Trump White House has already reversed Obama-era protections for trans students. The Obama administration had advised schools that under Title IX, trans students should be allowed to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity. But the Trump administration withdrew this guidance, allowing conservative states to discriminate against trans students without legal repercussions.

Feb. 24 2017 7:08 PM

SCOTUS Reprimands Anti-LGBTQ Groups for Misgendering Trans Student Gavin Grimm

In March, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a case about transgender bathroom access. Gavin Grimm, the plaintiff—who has legally and medically transitioned from female to male—argues that under Title IX, his high school must let him use the men’s bathroom. The case has drawn a great deal of interest from both liberal and conservative advocacy groups, many of which have filed amicus briefs in support of either Grimm or his school. Three of these briefs caught my eye this week—one filed by Liberty Counsel, and two filed by the National Organization for Marriage together with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. These briefs, which argue against Grimm’s right to use the men’s bathroom, identifies him this way in their front-page captions (emphasis mine):


But the Supreme Court, as well as all lower courts, identify him this way:


That slightly odd formulation reflects the formal way that federal courts style a juvenile litigant’s name. (Grimm is 17.) It also obviously necessitates a gendered pronoun use. Did these anti-LGBTQ groups misgender Grimm by mistake? I posed the question to Liberty Counsel on Wednesday, and the organization confirmed that it used a female pronoun because “Gavin Grimm is a biological girl who now says she subjectively ‘identifies’ as a ‘boy.’ ”

Feb. 24 2017 4:43 PM

Why Dustin Lance Black Thinks Even Conservatives Will Care About When We Rise

If you tune in to ABC at any point during prime time the week of Feb. 27, chances are you’ll come across When We Rise, Dustin Lance Black’s epic, star-studded gay-rights miniseries. Airing from 9 to 11 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, When We Rise tells the story of the birth of the LGBTQ movement in the early 1970s, the AIDS crisis, and the contemporary fight for marriage equality through the experiences of three activists: Roma Guy, Cleve Jones, and Ken Jones. I talked to Black, who won the 2009 Oscar for best original screenplay for Milk, at January’s Television Critics Association gathering.

Who did you make this show for?

I made Milk very much for myself. As a young man, I’d never heard of Harvey Milk, and it would have been very helpful for me to know about someone like that.

I wrote this show for my family. Most of my family lives in the South, from Texas to Arkansas to Louisiana. They’re mostly conservative, religious, and I grew up in a military home. I thought doing this kind of show on ABC, was an opportunity to finally introduce my LGBT family to my birth family, and to speak that common language. I wanted to make it at ABC, because I knew there was an opportunity to reach an audience that needs to hear it.

Feb. 24 2017 1:07 PM

Milo Was the Wrong Voice on the Real Complexity of Age, Sex, and Consent

On Friday, the rightwing provocateur and (former) Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was sitting pretty. Bill Maher gave him a tender massage on Real Time. Maybe, during the ministrations, his mind wandered to the fat check Simon & Schuster had cut him in advance for his forthcoming memoir Dangerous. On top of all this, he was scheduled to deliver a keynote address at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. At the start of President’s Day weekend, Yiannopoulos was not yet tired of winning.

Feb. 22 2017 1:24 PM

Report: DeVos Wanted to Keep Trans School Protections, Was Overruled By Sessions and Trump

On Monday, the Washington Blade reported that the Trump administration was preparing to rescind the Obama administration’s nationwide protections for transgender schoolchildren, allowing trans kids to use the school bathroom to aligns with their gender identity. On Tuesday, the Washington Post obtained a leaked draft of the letter, stating that it was “slated to be issued Wednesday.” Yet here we are on Wednesday afternoon, and the letter hasn’t been issued. What gives?

Feb. 21 2017 11:12 AM

Podcasters Jesse and Theresa Thorn on Parenting a Gender-Nonconforming Child

A couple weeks ago I was listening to my favorite podcast, Jordan, Jesse, Go, when I heard host Jesse Thorn explain that his 5-year-old is gender-nonconforming and had asked to be addressed as Grace and to use female pronouns. Intrigued by Thorn’s open, humble, nonjudgmental response to this news, I asked if he and Theresa Thorn—his wife, who is also a podcaster who had spoken about Grace on her podcast One Bad Mother—would be willing to talk about their experience parenting a gender-nonconforming child. The resulting interview has been condensed and lightly edited.

Feb. 20 2017 8:30 AM

Saying Goodbye to Jeannie Made Us Even More of a Family Than Creating Children Together Did

Ethan, just shy of 2, is thrilled to be on a plane. Outside of that, he has no idea why this trip is such a big deal. He doesn’t yet know that our family is complicated or worry about ownership and identity the way his father and I do. To him the world is simple: love, hugs, and magic.

This isn’t a vacation. We’re racing to get to Odessa, Texas, before Jeannie, my friend Eddie’s mother, dies. Jeannie is genetically Ethan’s grandmother, though until now, we’ve been reluctant to consider her one. Her dying wish is to meet Ethan.

My husband, Doug, is transgender, so when we wanted to have kids, we couldn’t do it on our own. Not being able to genetically father our child was painful for Doug, like nature’s middle finger, saying, “No matter how you change your body, it will never be enough. There will always be another man out there whose DNA runs through your child’s blood.”

Feb. 16 2017 3:18 PM

Washington Supreme Court Rules Against Florist Who Refused to Serve Same-Sex Couple

On Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously rejected a florist’s assertion that she had not discriminated against a same-sex couple when she refused to provide flowers for their wedding—and that, even if she had, she held a constitutional right to do so.

The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, rose to fame in 2013 after she informed Robert Ingersoll, a gay customer, that she would not sell him flowers for his upcoming wedding because of “her relationship with Jesus Christ.” Stutzman explained that her religious beliefs precluded her from providing flowers for same-sex ceremonies. Ingersoll and his partner sued under Washington nondiscrimination law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the state attorney general asked Stutzman to stop discriminating against gay customers. Stutzman refused, and the state sued as well. A trial court ruled against Stutzman, fining her $1001 and ordering her to stop discriminating. She appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which has now affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Feb. 16 2017 2:34 PM

A Normal Lost Phone Offers Players an Encounter With the Queer Experience

Spoiler warning: This article reveals surprise elements of the games A Normal Lost Phone, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Gone Home.

At first, the game A Normal Lost Phone looks like a series of simple puzzles: The player is presented with a lost phone, and must snoop through it to learn about its owner. But there's something more happening under the surface.

Poking through emails, texts, and dating apps, a story begins to emerge. “I'm getting a little tired of my family telling me ‘you’re a man now,’ ” writes Sam, the phone’s 18-year-old owner. That sounds like a fairly normal complaint for a teenager, but then the player finds a second account in a dating app. Sam’s been presenting as a girl whose description is similar to Sam’s male appearance. Later, players find a text message that threatens, “Don’t ever set foot back in this club or I’ll have to tell your little secret to everybody.”

By the time the player discovers a forum for gender-questioning teens in the browser, it’s no surprise to see that Sam wrote, “I don’t really know what I am, and I’m feeling kinda lost at the moment.”