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Transgender Military Ban Went Into Effect At Midnight In America, Potentially Putting Thousands of Trans Soldiers At Risk Of Discharge

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A memo from the Department of Defense was obtained by reporters outlining how the ban will be put into effect. Under its terms, the military will discharge or deny enlistment to anyone who won’t serve in the gender to which they were assigned at birth, or who are undergoing hormone therapy or other gender-confirmation procedures, the Associated Press reports.

“The order says the military services must implement the new policy in 30 days [by April 12], giving some individuals a short window of time to qualify for gender transition if needed,” according to the AP. “And it allows service secretaries to waive the policy on a case-by-case basis.”

Signed by David L. Norquist, who is serving as deputy defense secretary, the document appears to be largely in keeping with the memo prepared by then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis last year and approved by the White House. It says service members can be discharged due to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria if they are “unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seeks transition to another gender.”

The Mattis memo came several months after Donald Trump announced, via Twitter, his intention to bar transgender people from military service, reversing the Obama administration’s decision to allow trans people to serve openly. The Trump policy is the subject of four court challenges, and judges had issued injunctions in these lawsuits to block the policy from going into effect while the suits are heard.

The ban’s implementation would mean the discharge of an estimated 13,700 transgender service members (out of an estimated 15,000 serving), the largest single layoff of trans people in history. And it would come despite testimony from service chiefs that “they had seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military,” the AP reports.


Gender Non-Binary

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness Comes Out As Nonbinary

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Jonathan Van Ness, the grooming guy from the Netflix makeover show Queer Eyerecently came out as nonbinary, clarifying that “he prefers he/him pronouns, but does not identify as a ‘man.’”

As a child, Van Ness used to put on his mother’s makeup, high heels and scarves while playing in his family’s basement, but he never felt he could wear such things to school where he was bullied for being different.

“I didn’t really put [my dressing] that together with ‘gender nonconforming’ or ‘nonbinary’ or owning that as an identity until recently,” Van Ness said. He continued:

“The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman. I don’t really — I think my energies are really all over the place. Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I’m here for it. I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to. I always used to think ‘Oh, I’m like a gay man,’ but I think any way I can let little boys and little girls know that they can express themselves and they can like be.

I just am either like gender-bendy or nonconform-y or nonbinary and somedays I feel like a boy and somedays I feel like a girl. I didn’t think I was allowed to be nonconforming or genderqueer or nonbinary — I was just always like ‘a gay man’ because that’s just the label I thought I had to be.”

He said the visibility of social media has shown people the options they have for expressing their own gender and added that most of his role models are women including his mother, grandmother and pop divas like Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain, and Mariah Carey.

What does it mean to be non-binary?

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), non-binary and genderqueer identity are labels that refer to people who “don’t identify with any gender” or whose “gender changes over time.” The word non-binary literally means someone whose gender falls outside of the male-or-female binary.

Related: Sam Smith comes out as genderqueer and non-binary

The NCTE points out that non-binary people have existed in societies throughout world history, not all non-binary people get gender-affirmation surgeries and non-binary isn’t the same thing as being trans or intersex (although some trans and intersex people do identify as non-binary or genderqueer).

The organization also says that allies should be respectful of non-binary and genderqueer people’s chosen names and pronouns, recognizing that they don’t need to “understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them.” Most of all, allies should advocate for policies that allow non-binary people to live, dress and have their gender expression respected at work, at school and public spaces, especially bathrooms.

“There’s no one way to be non-binary,” the NCTE writes. “The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.”

(Reporting by Queerty)

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LGBTQ

Connecticut Lawmakers Move To Ban ‘Gay Panic Defense’

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Criminal defendants in Connecticut would be barred from claiming as their sole legal defense that they panicked after learning about their victim’s sexual orientation.


The state House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday preventing defendants from using the so-called gay panic defense. That defense blames a violent reaction on discovering a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The legislation already cleared the Senate and now moves to the governor.

Defense attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to use the “gay panic defense” in the case of Matthew Shepard, the college student beaten to death by two men in Wyoming in 1998. The judge would not allow it, and those men were convicted.

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Trans In America

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Over Transgender Bathrooms

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On May 28, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by teenagers in Pennsylvania who opposed a school district policy allowing students to use the locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. As CNN reports, the Supreme Court’s decision to leave a lower court’s ruling in place means that Boyertown School District’s current policy, which allows transgender students to choose which facilities they use, will stay in place.


Reuters reports that the six students opposing the policy argued that allowing their transgender peers to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity would be in violation of Title IX and privacy. The students are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC calls the firm “one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights.”

According to CNN, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that “forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress.” Boyertown School District’s policy allows students to choose which bathrooms they use on a case by case basis; before a student is allowed to use a facility with a label that differs from the gender they were assigned at birth, they are required to meet with a guidance counselor.

Lawyers for the school district say that they have this policy in place because they believe “that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students.”

The Supreme Court issued their decision without comment, but many people are viewing the court’s rejection of the appeal as the latest positive development in a nationwide legal battle for transgender rights. In a tweet on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that the Supreme Court’s rejection of the appeal is a “victory for trans students and educators nationwide.”

“Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again,” the ACLU added in a statement to CNBC. “This lawsuit sought to reverse that hard-won progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.”

The rejection of the plaintiffs’ appeal comes as the Trump administration continues to roll back anti-discrimination protections for transgender Americans. Back in February 2017, the administration removed an Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools toallow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with their gender identity. More recently, on April 12, the Supreme Court upheld a Trump policy that bans people who identify as transgender from serving in the armed forces, which will affect an estimated 14,700 troops, according to the Palm Center.

And on May 24, the administration announced that it plans to remove Obama-era protections against transgender people seeking medical care, by removing gender identity from discrimination “on the basis of sex.” In response, the National Center for Transgender Equality called the proposal “an escalation of its dangerous attacks against transgender people.”

(Reporting by Mic)

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