As we reel from the news of *Charlottesville and the glaring mirror of white supremacy reflecting the reality of our country, let’s look at some of the other things going on. (*Joyce Hayden’s weekly roundup of news articles on Sunday August 20 contains several excellent articles on Charlottesville, in case you missed it.)
Our transgender siblings continue to lose their lives over their identity. The number of murders continue to rise. The deaths don’t get as much coverage as the bathroom laws or insurance coverage, and it’s important to remember the names of those killed.
Here are the transgender people who have died violently in 2017. Please look at their faces and say their names.
Gwynevere River Song was shot and killed in Dallas this month. The Human Rights Campaign mourns their death. Song was a 2015 graduate of the University of Texas in Austin and identified as “femandrogyne” and a member of the bisexual community, according to their Facebook profile. Their mother is holding a memorial service for them as I write this.
Bathroom Bill Dies a Quiet Death
For more than a year, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led the crusade for a state law to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans. Patrick pursued the bathroom bill even as other states [rightfully] abandoned their campaigns.
Transgender women, men and children from across Texas went to the Capitol in Austin to testify about how the proposal could endanger their lives. The business community also rallied against the legislation.
Even though the Governor called a special 30-day session to debate and settle the bill, the bill died in session. In fact, those extra thirty days allowed the momentum to shift toward reason.
“We hope that this time, this issue remains settled: Texans don’t want harmful, anti-transgender legislation,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign.
New York insurers Banned From Discrimination
Lisette Johnson, who heads up the Department of Financial Service’s health bureau, sent a letter to insurers providing guidance on how to handle coverage for health services provided to transgender individuals.
“Transgender persons should not be discriminated against because of their transgender status nor denied coverage for treatment because of coding issues,” Johnson wrote.
Governor Cuomo said, “in New York, we believe that health care is a right, and we are committed to protecting that right for all New Yorkers, regardless of income, age, race, sexuality or gender identity.”
More Good News
This summer, the National Center for Transgender Equality partnered with Transilient — a traveling photo, video and interview-based project. The team traveled from coast-to-coast to document the daily lives of transgender and non-binary people all over the nation, with a particular focus on states where lawmakers are trying to push anti-LGBTQ legislation. They’re calling it the #SummerofTrans. Please take a look at the photos and stories of five transgendered people here.
If you are the victim of a hate crime, or know someone who is, here is what to do.
Support your local queer center. Support the Human Rights Campaign (they’re the ones who send you the equal sign stickers).
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.