Transgender Americans Awoke to Find Ourselves on the Cusp of Eradication

The new policies to remove all protections, recognition and inclusion in the 1964 Civil Rights act has been discreetly being drafted since February.

I wish I could say with any confidence that I never expected this, but it would require that I dismiss two years of a war waged on transgender people. From late night tweets declaring a ban on transgender service members to the banning of the very word “Transgender” in any missives from the Center for Disease Control to the White House to the founding of the US Department of Human Services new Religious Freedom and New Conscience Division, I knew these were mere omens of much darker things to come.

It feels impossible. I said to myself those words. “That will never happen.” Other people reinforced that. “Don’t worry, that will never happen.” But, as religious radicals and a venomously bigoted president took control of every branch of government, it became increasingly difficult to console myself simply by turning a blind eye to the rapidly developing reality.

All this preceding the blatant perversion of American Democracy by Republicans so hellbent on maintaining power that they’ve reduced themselves to suppressing minority votes, mass purging registrations, closing voting polls in majority black or latinx districts and moving them miles away from any access to public transport in order to obstruct their path to the polls. This hasn’t been done quietly, nor has it been done with a shred of remorse. Why? Because those overseeing these corrupted midterm elections are the same people running for seats of power. These politicians that are aggressively skewering the results are the same men that our President is endorsing- even when, during a time not so long ago, some were bitter enemies that he deemed liars and frauds. Now, he’s their greatest ally. Right, “Lyin’ Ted?”

Some might say that it’s just the political game. Others, like myself, perceive it as a gaslighting of Americans. A masterful manipulation in which a power hungry elite align with each other for the sole purpose of protecting themselves from accountability and to preserve a narrow world view.

A world view in which people like me have no place. That fact has become increasingly evident throughout the duration of Donald Trump’s presidency. Both the President and Vice President, the deeply religious Mike Pence, have been the keynote speakers at the hate group rally Value Voters Summit which hosts hellfire and brimstone preachers who have proposed criminalizing homosexuality and even setting gays on fire as they distributed hateful propaganda.

So, was I surprised to wake up to the alarming memo leaked to the New York Times that detailed with great precision the argument to excise transgender people from society by making us vulnerable to greater threats of violence, religious persecution, acts of discrimination and attempting to legitimize the stripping of our basic civil rights?

No. I wasn’t. I hoped beyond all hopes that this day would never come and perhaps I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of complacency by the comforting words repeated over and over; “That will never happen here.”

Maybe it’s my fault for allowing myself to believe that this country was, in the greater scope of things, a better place today than had been demonstrated by its past of oppression and savagery toward minorities. I was wrong.

I am disturbed by the calculated organization of this plan to viciously attack my community, already one of the most vulnerable to societal persecution and threats to our safety. It feels like we’ve been locked in a war with Trump and his thugs in suits who are reckless wielding their authority over our fate since he was elected. I’m tired. I believe we’re all tired. I am not sorry to admit that for the first time, today, I wept upon reading these words taken from the memos shared between the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Justice.

The argument proposed by religious evangelicals that have taken the government hostage is that we, as Transgender Americans, have had our rights and dignities allowed us forced upon an resistant body of authority by a former, liberal president. These rights and equalities, the protections given to our community were seemingly done so begrudgingly and now the new administration is eager to rescind them. Using the excuse, in spite of science proving otherwise, that there are only 2 sexes, male and female, and that they are “Unchangeable and determined by the genitals a person was born with.”

Where does this leave us? Those of us who by means of our very existence indicate otherwise? We’ll be dubbed mentally ill again. We’ll be castaway in our own nation. We’ll be forced to revise any amended birth certificates or drivers licenses that represent our gender identity in favor of identifying our genital make-up. If we do not or cannot conform to the new normal, we will be subject to great risks to our job security. Our ability to thrive as individuals will be forever compromised. As fundamental Christianity tightens it’s grasp on laws and policies emphasizing Religious Freedoms over social progress we will fall victim to further incidents of violence, possibly even murder by those who claim it was in the name of their God- and they will pay no consequence citing religious freedom. All this delivered with the Presidential stamp of approval.

Justice will no longer serve us. A trans person before a bias court will find themselves thrown into prisons according to their genital, despite the evident danger to their person. Ultimately, we will be prey for the predators who hold high seats in America. We can never go back from this.

It is difficult to hear people minimize our plight by offering up easy words and flippant pacification. Where once it was; “It will never happen here” and then it did, now it is, “Everything will be fine.” And “Don’t be afraid.” Words quite easily falling from the lips of those without a knife held to the thinning tether of their freedom. In fairness, it must be hard for those who do not experience this resistance and fall comfortably between this administrations goal posts to appear grossly disaffected by the potential consequences we now face. I’ve spent the day listening to CIS people telling me how to feel and why it looks worse than it will be.

How I feel is valid and justified. I have been fighting this moment for two years and yet, even still, here I am.

Here we are. What frightens me the most is my inability to predict where we are going now. What is the next blindsiding announcement I’ll wake up to in this frightening new world where everything that was once good is now gone. Where fear and anxiety is my own new normal. How does one reconcile teetering on the cusp of absolute erasure?

Pushing back against the tiding feelings of hopelessness and inevitable defeat is not a battle I fight alone as I know many others are dealing with the same unnerving uncertainties we face. So, I did what I do. The only thing I can do.

I spoke.

I know all to intimately the bleak place within that days like today can thrust us into. The sheer suddenness of it, the shock over the coordinated effort privately composed behind closed doors for nearly a year to disenfranchise us further, it causes us grave emotional damage.

All I could think to myself as I slowly processed this information was this; “I’m going to see countless trans men and women taking their own lives, even more so than we do already, afraid this very moment is an indicator of a terrifying future.” That is my greatest fear of all- that even one of us will see no value in their tomorrow. With that weighing on me, I am compelled to share this:

Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime to speak to a certified counselor.

The Trevor Project has a 24/7 hotline available to anyone

Trans Lifeline 877–565–8860 is available to counsel any Trans+ person who needs to talk.

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It’s Okay For LGBT People To Be Afraid In Post Trump America

The elevated visibility of white nationalists and emboldened religious hate groups boasting the endorsement of the Trump Administration has made the streets of America as dangerous for LGBT and people of color since the 1960’s.

In New York City, the birthplace of the LGBT movement, the epicenter of pride, the city that celebrates it’s cultural diversity and inclusion, a White Supremacy group known as Proud Boys violently attacked a group of peaceful protesters, hurling anti-gay slurs as they pummeled their victims on the sidewalk in front of a club in Manhattan’s lower East side.

After the vicious attack which injured several bystanders, the alt-right group gathered to take a celebratory photo… and the New York City police department did nothing in response to the attack leaving many asking why. The authorities refuse to provide any answers.

Unite The Right — A White Nationalist Group

Since Trump has taken office, we’ve seen the growing radicalism of his base become increasingly violent. In Charlottesville, a White Supremacist group of Trump Supporters called “Unite The Right” held a rally to demonstrate their intolerance toward LGBT and black communities. There were counter-protesters present, carrying placards and signs condemning the hatred that had shamelessly marched down the streets, parading their bigotry. Unite The Right attendees turned violent and ultimately, a riot ensued wherein they even attacked the police.

Unite The Right Members attack the Police in Charlottesville, NC on August 11 2017

In one of the darkest moments, they brutally beat an black bystander and Neo-Nazi James Fields decided to weaponize his vehicle and plow it into the crowd of protesters that left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and dozens more injured.

A year after the deadly attack, Unite The Right boldly applied for- and was granted- a license to hold a second rally on the anniversary of their first; This was intended to celebrate the pain, chaos and death they’d brought to their opposition. They felt they’d won.

In fact, their hate parade spawned hundreds more just like it in backwoods towns and major cities as Alt-Right extremists began developing local branches and offshoot hate groups feeling wildly confident by our Presidents refusal to condemn their racism, bigotry, xenophobia and misogyny. He referred to them as “Some fine people,” effectively providing a presidential stamp of approval.

Indeed, the president and his administration have aligned with well known evangelical based hate groups. Bother the President himself and his VP have given keynote speeches during the Voters Values Summit, a notoriously anti-gay, anti-trans collective of evangelicals who use the conference to preach that homosexuality should be criminalized, trans women are the downfall of society and they pass around shocking propaganda pamphlets. It is the first time that American leaders have shown solidarity with such divisive hate groups.

Some LGBT and people of color are understandably afraid. We have every right to be afraid. The direction that America is going has the potential to have a devastating effect on our communities. Our healthcare will be compromised, given Trump has founded the Division of Religions Freedom and Moral Conscience that will allow medical professionals to refuse us treatment based solely on our sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump has effectively banned the word “Transgender” and “Vulnerable people” from any missives between the White House and the CDC. He has tried multiple times to ban Transgender people from serving in the military. His Zero Tolerance policy resulted in the separation of immigrant families at the border and babies locked in cages.

It is a perfectly reasonable emotional response to be frightened about what the future holds as we approach mid-term elections. Whether or not democrats win the house, the split down the middle of the nation and dramatically opposing world views will likely provoke only more discord and social chaos as the conservative retaliate, likely claiming the results are rigged if they don’t prove favorable. The violence will intensify and the targets that have been painted on the backs of people of color and the LGBT community will only invite more aggression from neo-nazi’s who will be outraged at the prospect of a political loss of power having exposed themselves so unapologetically. They can’t simply disappear again.

We are in danger. Our public safety is on the line. Our ability to thrive in society is being unceremoniously challenged. We’re witnessing, nearly every day, more examples of hate motivated crimes. 2018 has been a record year in murders of Transgender women and of black men killed by police authorities. We have no reason to expect that winning the midterm election will result in a sudden ebbing of such radical and violent behaviors toward our people.

We are not afraid because we are “Snowflakes” or possess a weak nature. We are not afraid because we aren’t being catered to or getting things our way. Our protections have mostly been redacted anyway. We’re afraid because we’re being systematically disenfranchised and subject to cruel and inhumane treatment that is being sanctioned by government leaders. Equality seems to be slipping further away rather than nearer to our grasp. Between anti-trans bathroom bills intended to alienate us by identifying us according to what bathroom we use and Christian adoption agencies preferring children in their care go without loving families rather than be adopted by gay parents, we’re being pushed further to the fringes of society. Our culture is regressing to an era wherein we must live our truths in secret, if only to guarantee our survival in hostile territory.

It is not an exaggeration to say that a culture war has been waged upon us, and the government is on the side of our opponents.

The question is often asked; How do these Christians see Donald Trump as such a paragon of virtue? He’s an adulterer, a habitual liar, his arrogance remains astounding. What has created this unique marriage of interests that warrants the the unwavering support by Christians of a man who is the absolute antithesis of their own values? The answer is simple.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

We are that described enemy.

We have received the messages they are sending loud and clear. There’s nothing wrong for experiencing fear, anger, even feeling anxiety, depression and agitation as we wait to what lies in wait. The seeds of chaos and targeted bigotry have been sewn. We’re watching it happen. Its easy for those who have never been subject to persecution to feel lulled into a privilege of comfort and security, thereby dismiss us as reactionary and irrational when we express our fear. They’re not in our shoes.

They have nothing at risk. There will be no marches down their street intended to protest their existence. There will be no Senators introducing bills that debate their human rights and dignities. This is not their fight, thus the implications are easily rejected.

This is our fight. We haven’t invited it. We’d rather not have to do it. We also understand we have no choice. Again.

We’re standing in the very shoes of those in history who had everything to lose and risked it all anyway…

They didn’t do that just so that we’d had to find ourselves in the same battle half a century later. But, here we are. That’s what we must do…

… And it’s okay to be afraid.

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Trump Efforts to Ban Protests Proves The Constitution is Negotiable When Inconvenient

For years now we’ve listened to right wing conservatives bellow incessantly about their second amendment rights, that being the right to bare arms. They lived in a state of perpetual terror that President Obama was going send officials door to door like Avon Ladies to collect guns in a mythical mass exodus of civilian firearms.

It never happened. It was never going to happen. It was a self manifested hysteria intended to leverage something- anything- against the democratic administration. Even in the face of horrific mass shooting events that have plagued the nation, not a single member of the administration attempted to revise or retract the second amendment.

They did propose regulations to thwart the increasing frequency of unlicensed gun ownership. They did propose more aggressive background checks on those attempting to own firearms. They did propose the removal of military grade weapons from the marketplace because who needs rapid firing military weapons if not in pursuit of a deadly purpose? Who wants those types of machine guns floating around or easy to obtain?

In American, we experience more deadly mass shootings than any other modernized nation. We also boast the most lenient gun laws, and that has been reflected repeatedly and to devastating effect in Aurora, Colorado, Newton, Connecticut, Orlando, Florida, Santa Barbara, California, Las Vegas, Nevada. Everywhere from shopping malls to elementary schools, from music concerts to college campuses, we have seen the consequences of our cavalier attitude toward heavy arsenal and ammunition.

In the dark aftermath of each bloodbath, Republicans, many financially backed by the National Rifle Association, come forward immediately in defense of guns and, predictably, they start reciting the Second Amendment.

I found it incredibly telling that Donald Trump has decided that protesters, who have been the bane of his presidency since the indelibly corrupt 2016 election, should be criminalized. He wants to make the act of peaceful protesting illegal. Ironically, protesting is an exercising of multiple constitutionally protected rights; Both in the form of Freedom of Speech and the Right to Assemble covered by the first amendment.

However, Donald Trump loathes criticism. It’s no secret that the American President experiences an emotional meltdown whenever he is mocked or challenged. He has made sure to clarify that his hands are, indeed, normal size hands. His hair is real. He is a self-made billionaire. He is the healthiest president in the history of presidents. He’s done more for the country than any former president has. Most of these statements he has made in response to the press are contradictory to demonstrable facts. Facts, however, are irrelevant to this President. Optics are everything. He has an egotistical desire to control perspective of his image, and if he is not exalted as anything but the greatest human male specimen, the best in every form and fashion, he launches into a public tirade. Sometimes at the White House podium, sometimes on twitter.

In the past he has classified all of those Americans who have protested his divisive, dangerous policies as paid actors; An effort to discredit anyone who disagree with him or simply dislikes him. He has attempted to convince his adoring fanbase that all those who protest him are, ultimately, fake. Same with news agencies that don’t beam adoringly over him. “Fake News!” His ego will not allow him to accept that there are people who find his racist, misogynistic, behavior despicable, his politics of “Them vs. Us” malignant, and his leadership unqualified. Still, there exists a disturbing yet persistent delusion that it is impossible for anyone to genuinely object to his presidency.

Thus, he believes it should be illegal.

Unlike with guns and the bizarre, self-manufactured, legitimately fake war against them, similarly to the legitimately fake “War on Christmas” that never existed but even still sends Republicans into hysterics every year, the Republican aren’t interested in the constitution anymore. At least, not in any context where it might be used to protect civilians from a Dictator-like leadership or hold those in power accountable for violating them.

Now, the constitution is an inconvenience. A thorn in his side. A threat to his ego.

As far right as the United States government has shifted, the threat to our democracy is growing more evident with every baby caging, trans banning, travel banning, woman hating, law making in the name of Christianity, and we should be terrified.

The truth, despite the president’s own protestations, is undeniable.

It is also his worst enemy.

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Black and Latinx Democratic Votes Are Being Suppressed In Multiple States

Nearly 60,000 votes in Georgia, primarily representing black voices by at least 70%, have been placed on indefinite hold or completely purged.

How did this happen? In true Trump Fashion, Georgia’s current Secretary Of State, Republican Brian Kemp, hurriedly passed an “Exact Match” policy. The policy immediately purges all registrations with even the slightest discrepancies from public record, such as hyphenations in surnames, misspelled street names or those have recently moved within the state but haven’t updated a government record. Investigative journalist Greg Palast that Indiana has ultimately purged an overwhelming 469,000 voters, collectively.

Brian Kemp has a strong motivation to repress the votes in primarily black counties, especially given his democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, was polling surprising well in the staunch red state.

Abrams also happens to be a black woman.

Current Georgia Secretary Of State Brian Kemp and his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams

Rather than risk the possibility of a record turn out for black Americans during the midterms, Kemp decided to take no chances and instituted the last-minute policy as a deliberate voter deterrent and, in many cases complete disqualification of votes.

It seems this is becoming a terrifying trend as Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence who is famous for intentionally suppressing votes in majority black communities over and over, has purged 469,000 voter registrations as of today. This was done in in violation of a June 2018 federal court order that barred the state from using an Interstate Crosscheck purge list sent to state officials by Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas who Vice President Pence has voraciously endorsed despite his questionable ethics.

“Exact Match” Policy author Kris Kobach, accused of suppressing minority votes has been endorsed by Trump

The move to unjustly alienate American citizens from participating in the upcoming elections by Kris Kobach, especially people of color, resulted in the NAACP and the League of Women Voters filing a lawsuit, which they won. Kobach, however, carried on with his voter purge anyway.

In Ohio, U.S. District Judge George C. Smith rejected a suit brought against the state by voter’s rights groups who stated that a politically bias purge has resulted the removal of countless registrations from it’s polls. The groups deemed the purge as a violation of constitutional rights, but the Judge upheld the States policy anyway.

Republicans tried doubly hard to stop the Black vote in Alabama as Trump tried to push through accused pedophile Roy Moore to a Senate win- it didn’t work. Women and people of color turned out in record numbers to elect his opponent Doug Jones instead. They alone carried Jones to victory in the traditionally unwavering red state. Moore was so outraged over the loss in spite of having President Trump’s endorsement that he refused to concede.

Republicans around the country realize that they could potentially suffer grave damage as a consequence for two horrific years of emboldened racism, misogyny and bigotry under the the Trump Administration. In response to this, we have seen a record number of women candidates, racially diverse candidates and LGBT candidates running for seats across all branches of government at both state and federal levels. There is no question that if every minority community across the Nation stood against the divisive and dangerous Republican regime, they could win, thus Republicans in office seem to be resorting to extreme measures to protect their positions.

In New York City, 28 year old Puerto Rican Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent shockwaves through the political terrain when she won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district defeating the incumbent Congressman, Joe Crowley, for a seat he held since 2013.

Last year, Virginia’s Danica Roem became the first transgender woman to win a seat in senate, ousting Robert G. Marshall, the very man who authored the controversial anti-trans bathroom bill.

This election will determine the long-term fate of America’s future generations, and given how vital this midterm is, Republicans seem willing to throw the democratic process under the bus to maintain power at any cost.

That cost, of course, will come at the expense of women, people of color and the LGBT communities.

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Republicans Go Into Crisis Mode After Taylor Swift Endorses Democrats. Really.

In the two years that has been mostly comprised of headlines I never thought I’d read, it seems there’s little left in politics that manages to stir any element of surprise anymore. Donald Trump is President after 19 sexual harassment allegations. We’ve had alt-right Nazi’s referred to as “Some fine people.” There are babies in cages, an effort to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military, an FBI cover-up to place a conservative Supreme Court Judge nominee at the President’s behest. We’ve had adult film stars who’ve had affairs with Trump take center stage, Kim Kardashian taking meetings in the Oval Office, and now her (in)famous husband, Kanye West, will be too.

Since Trump took office in 216, American has flipped upside down. What was once good- things like equality and inclusion, is now bad. Racism and misogyny seem to be the new normal as Republicans aggressively push their divisive agendas.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that morale among Republican candidates running for seats during November’s mid-term elections is high. The President has traveled across the country, hitting every small town and backwoods village off the beaten path in pursuit of amassing an army of followers. Trump and those who serve in his party have openly bragged about their perceived invincibility, even in the face of nationwide protests.

It’s true that Republican confidence is at a record high. Sadly, the rest of us have witnessed the consequences of that as instances of hate based violence and attacks on minorities have increased exponentially as the conservative alignment evolves more into a Trump cult than a political party.

Who would have thought that pop music phenom Taylor Swift would strike such fear into the hearts of these conservative men and women on Capitol Hill, but she has.

On October 7th, a little less than a month before the midterms, the Grammy winning artist did something she’s never done before. She got political.

She demonstrated a democratic leaning, and condemned Tennessee conservative Republican Candidate Marsha Blackburn who had been the State front runner for Senate. Swift spoke of the necessity for equality, pointing out injustices that have politically targeted women, the LGBT community and people of color.

So, maybe you’re rolling your eyes. Another celebrity airing their political persuasions in public. It’s not uncommon. How many times have inconvenienced Republicans moaned about these famous democrats and their ridiculous desire for fairness and equal justice in an upended society?

Except, in the case of Swift, the impact was very real. For starters, she was speaking to an audience of over 110 Million people. She has more followers than former president Barack Obama who clocks in at 103 million and more than double that of President Donald Trump. Her reach is formidable, to say the least. Given these politicians often just preach to their own choir of voters who already know who they’re voting far, a reach into new territory is everything.

Much of the audience that Swift reaches via her social media is a largely untapped demographic- people between the ages of 18–24, many who have never voted before. In fact, our political system makes it intentionally difficult for college students who study away from home to register to vote. In the last election, the majority of them didn’t. The Republicans relied heavily on this.

After Swift’s Instagram post, logged a record 65,000 new registrations - in less than 24 hours.

Republicans have gone into red alert status, now. Many have come out and denied, despite the facts to the contrary, that Swift’s statement has any influence. They also want their base to believe that, while Swift’s fans may have mobilized for a minute, they’re too young and easily distracted to carry through with the process of actually voting. They’re hoping that the surge of registrations marks only an act of child-like impulse, provoked by a pop star idol, and by November, they will have forgotten all about it.

While it remains without question that Taylor Swift flexed quite the impressive political muscle during these times of hardship, especially for women, it is yet to be seen whether it will have any impact on the November election results.

In any case, Republicans are scrambling to find an impact equal to that which they’ve just taken…

That’s about the only equality that matters to them.

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Musician DeadMau5 Launches into Homophobic and Transphobic Tirade at Fans

The Grammy nominated music producer, composer and DJ who dons a trademark Mouse Helmet on stage spiraled out of control when a fan simply asked if he sweats under the costume.

As the tide of bigotry targeting the LGBT community becomes Americas “new normal,” even the most staunch fans of Deadmau5, whose real name is Joel Thomas Zimmerman, took him to task for his reckless remarks.

The best-selling performer and stage persona who draws crowds of thousands lashed out at a fan who innocuously asked if his neck became sweaty while performing in costume.

Deadmau5 responded by implying that if the fan were getting a $40,000 paycheck, he’d bet that he would “Suck a guy off. ZERO questions asked.”

Immediately, other fans wondered why he would draw such a comparison in a negative context, as if gay sex is something of an indignity or compromise to one’s better judgment.

As his comments began to draw ire from some of his 3.7 million followers, instead of clarifying his statement, he doubled down, this time taking a shot at transgender women. “Women don’t possess penises, you’ll find out when you’re older.” He sniped.

The message he sent was glaringly obvious; Gay sex is something you’d have to be baited into for financial benefit or otherwise set traditional, acceptable sexual standards aside. Turning both barrels on Transgender women after this was pointed out to him, he unexpected spat, “How many biological women have you sucked off? There, I fixed it.”

The fact that Deadmau5 has many fans who identify as LGBT seemed irrelevant to him. Instead of apologizing, he threatened to leave twitter due to the backlash that ensued.

Of course, this provoked more abuse towards his LGBT fans from others who decided his sudden departure was their fault for being overly sensitive or lacking a sense of humor. A common tactic used against minorities to manipulate them into being silent and thereby complicit in their own degradation.

One mother took to social media after the caustic remarks.

Only then did the performer offer up a disingenuous apology, claiming his statements were the result of a “Heated argument.” There was no heated argument. It was evident he took unnecessary exception to someone wondering if he became sweaty and leveraged that to ridiculous gay and transgender people.

Deadmau5 is just a small part of a growing problem where musicians are routinely attacking the LGBT+ community in the lyrics to their songs (Nicki Minaj, Eminem) or in live social media videos (Cardi B)broadcast to their fans, many who are young, many who have diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. The influence these artists have does remarkable harm to those fans who feel immediately alienated and ostracized by their hateful, or, at best, careless inflammatory language regarding LGBT+ individuals. It further emboldens the hatred this community is subject to already and often the consequences are far reaching, leaving those fans feeling rejected, self-loathing and isolated from the artists more embraced fan base.

It left me wondering, we have a handful, sparse as they may be, of our, proud and influential LGB artists… but where are the idols for young transgender people? Where are the artists who stand as a reflection of themselves? Someone, perhaps, I needed as a young person so that I could see that, despite my circumstances, my potential was limitless. Someone like me that I could hang posters of on my wall and play on repeat. Someone who would have me on their side, in their audience and welcome me because they were like me.

That may not have existed for me or millions of other transgender folks, but for the youth of today, they have someone, thankfully, in the form of artist Kim Petras.

The German born Petras has appeared alongside Charlie XCX and other iconic modern musicians and reviewers have dubbed her “The new princess of Pop.” On October 1st she released a themed, streamable album entitled “Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1” to much acclaim and is currently on tour with Troye Sivan.

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Senator Jeff Merkley Reads Sexual Assault Stories Aloud In Solidarity With Women

On the eve of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley stood on the Senate Room floor at 4 in the morning and read aloud dozens of stories sent to him by women detailing their experiences with sexual assault.

The Senate Room was sparsely populated, hours before dawn, when Merkley took the podium to contest the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh who has been accused by three women of sexual harassment and assault. The Republicans, fearing they wouldn’t have enough votes to confirm the embattled Judge, agreed to a one week FBI investigation “Limited in scope and to be concluded no later than one week.” The FBI finished 3 days early, never spoke to witnesses, accusers, or even the accused. The President of the United States and his allies deliberately repressed key information, text messages and testimonies that demonstrated Kavanaugh had perjured himself under oath.

Although no other senators attended, Merkley spoke only to a small audience of interns, recorders and the Presiding Officer for two solid hours. While it may seem odd for a Senator to speak to a small audience to whom his speech would be ultimately inconsequential as none were voters, he chose to do it for the sake of official record. It wasn’t just his words that he relayed for document, but that of dozens of assault survivors who had written to him, urging him to vote against the confirmation of a judge with questionable character. Merkley was so moved by the stories, he likely felt that he would be serving women around the country a grave disservice if he did not use his position to amplify their voices, and he represented those women with incredible dignity during his two hour speech.

Merkley’s appearance in the early morning of October 5th were broadcast live on C-SPAN, and social media users watched the Oregonian become visibly emotional as he delivered moving, unsettling accounts from victims, many telling their story for the first time.

Senator Merkley may have only had the opportunity to speak to America’s night owls and early birds, but his speech remains one of the most powerful ever given on behalf of women from a government official.

However, this isn’t the first time Merkley has used his platform to draw attention to- or publicly challenge social injustices that plague America’s most vulnerable communities.

After Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland claiming it was inappropriate for him to do so during an election year, they left the seat vacant for 293 days until they gained the house majority. After the election, they immediately fast-tracked the confirmation of their own heavily conservative nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Even by those standards, the confirmation of Kavanaugh was further expedited in an effort to place him on the highest court in the Nation just 30 days before Midterm elections.

So much for following their own rules of delaying a Supreme Court appointee during an election year.

It was because of that gross hypocrisy that Merkley spoke on the record to protest such corrupt, partisan behavior in politics for a marathon 15 hours.

Merkley was also one of the only US Senators who, in early 2018 in the wake of the Trump administration’s Zero Tolerance Immigration policy that allowed ICE agents to detain those fleeing dangerous countries at the border and separate children from their families in concentration camp-like conditions. Due to administrative negligence, US immigration somehow lost over 1,000 children in the system. He was turned away at the gate of one such camp and then had local authorities called on him for trespassing.

Merkley’s efforts as a Senator serving the American people often reach beyond the gilded walls of Senate. Time and time again he shown himself to be invested in causes that effect all of our lives. Unlike his colleagues who reign from towers far above the rest of us, Merkley serves on the ground, going above the call of duty to fight for justice and enforce equality in a contentious era where it is severely lacking.

Merkley is a rare specimen in Senate- he recognizes that his time belongs to those who provided him such a platform and despite so much ridicule perpetrated by Republicans both in the Senate and the public, he stands out as a Man that history will remember as a Hero.

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The Sacrifice Of Christine Blasey Ford

Thrust into the National spotlight by the media, the victim of sexual assault told her story before a primarily male Senate Judicial Committee and the entire world, only to be doubted, her life threatened and mocked by the President of the United States.

Over the last two years, it remains without question that the public humiliation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is perhaps the most disturbing experience suffered by an individual since Republican took control of government.

When Blasey caught wind that Brett Kavanaugh, her old high school classmate, had made the shortlist of Donald Trump’s potential Supreme Court Nominees, her heart climbed into her throat. She knew that name, and remembered him well. 30 years prior, during a gathering of friends at a suburban Baltimore home, Kavanaugh, along with his friend, Mark Judge, allegedly attempted to rape her in an upstairs bedroom. She knew this was not an individual who should be sitting in a seat on the highest court in the country. In an effort to provide the information she possessed regarding his past behavior and her experience, she reached out to several local leaders, including Senator Diane Feinstein. Her goal was not to disrupt the life of the Man she accused, but to inform the opinion of those who would be determining the quality of his character o they would have a more expansive insight into his history and behavior which saw her become an unwitting victim.

Her anonymity was important to her. She wasn’t interested in drawing attention to herself. The 51 year old professor of psychology has a family to protect and a job at a University where her focus must remain on her students. She wasn’t interested in upending her life, nor in destroying Kavanaughs. In her own words, and possessing the awareness that he would likely be responsible for deciding cases in involving sexual assault survivors or legislation that required neutrality in determining the future of women’s rights, she said “I’m terrified, but I felt it was my civil duty to be here.”

Here, being before a scrutinizing committee comprised mostly of older sneering men who resented the fact that they had to suffer the inconvenience she presented. She never wanted to take on the task of testifying before the Judiciary Committee, but much to her chagrin, an as yet unidentified individual leaked her name to the mainstream media. Immediately she was being harassed at home, at work in the presence of her students, and her family found themselves in the middle of a growing firestorm of unsolicited attention. She left her home and went into hiding to avoid the onslaught of death threats and relentless pursuits by the press for comment. Hoping to spare her family potentially dangerous exposure, she left them behind when she realized that her privacy had been compromised and, consequentially, presented very real dangers.

Only after serious consideration did she agree to appear before Senate amidst Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. While she admitted she had nothing to hide, the invasive attention frightened her, but her conscience would not allow her to remain silent. At great risk to her security and long term ability to thrive in a hostile political climate she gave one of the most poised, powerful statements ever given on the senate floor regarding a Supreme Court Nominee since Anita Hill 27 years earlier. She was the first to do it in the post #MeToo era.

She confessed to her closest friends that her greatest fear was subjecting herself to intense ridicule, hatred and that decision ultimate be for nothing.

She was right.

Republicans of the committee elected not to participate in questioning Dr. Ford, instead enlisting an outside prosecutor to ask questions on their behalf. Ford answered every question with conviction and, even when trembling with emotion, detailed the alleged attack with alarming detail. For three hours she sat before the world and recounted one of the most painful experiences a woman can face- sexual assault.

And the it was Kavanaugh’s turn. He came in with his lips puckered, his brow furrowed and attacked those who questioned him on details of Dr. Ford’s story. He scowled at the democratic senators who sought clarity and instead of answering most questions, aggressively fired back with inflammatory questions of his own before claiming the assault allegations- which are now coming from 2 other women besides Dr. Ford- as a political it job motivated by the Clintons and promising those who on the Democratic side of the room; “What goes around comes around.” Indeed, he went into what can only be defined as an epic meltdown, one quite unbecoming of a Supreme Court Judge.

Most unusual about the trial was the sudden re-entry of the Committee Republicans who had abandoned the hearing during Dr. Ford’s testimony. Suddenly, they took their seats and began attacking their Democratic colleagues in defense of Kavanaugh, despite his combative demeanor. Senator Lindsay Graham was reduced to episodes of shouting at the Senators on the other side of the aisle claiming “A good man is being ruined!”

But, he wasn’t ruined. The Republicans who supported Kavanaugh remained unwavering in their stance, in spite of Dr. Ford’s testimony just moments before demonstrating that her appearance was inconsequential to their decision to confirm the nominee as quickly as possible.

And they did.

On Friday, every Republican with the exception of Lisa Murkowski, a female senator from Alaska, will vote “Yes” to give Kavanaugh a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

Had Dr. Ford know that her personal sacrifice would not even be given moderate consideration by the men wielding power in Senate, she likely would have stayed silent.

This is, of course, why most women are too afraid to tell their stories. The #MeToo movement and it’s necessity in our male dominated culture was put on full display before a fixated global audience. We watched and learned exactly why #MeToo is a vital instrument of change… with a very long way to go.

As Dr. Ford attempts to resume a normal life after being served no form of justice- not even the courtesy of a thorough FBI investigation to either corroborate her testimony or exonerate Kavanaugh from the accusations leveled against him by both Ford and two women. Instead, they ignored individuals who attempted to contact them insisting they possessed evidence proving Kavanaugh lied under oath multiple times. They never bothered speaking to the accusers or the accused. They never interviewed witnesses, nor did they subject Kavanaugh to a polygraph test as Dr. Ford willingly took and passed.

It was evident that there was never any intention of a result other than the confirmation of Kavanaugh, regardless of Dr. Ford’s terstimony or the other accusers who had come forward, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. Neither were contacted by the FBI in pursuit of the information available. Commitee Leader Chuck Grassey gave the FBI one week to complete the investigation… which was submitted and deemed complete three days before the deadline. That’s right. It took them 4 days to do a “Thorough Investigation.” Today, that investigation has left more questions than answers, with most calling it a cover-up rather than a genuine inquiry into the accounts of the alleged victims. Some senators agree.

That theory is not entirely unreasonable. Despite President Trump have 2 other qualified Judges on his short list, Judge Kavanaugh as the only one who said publicly that he would never prosecute as sitting president… and given the unending revelations coming out each day that implicate the President in illegal activities, it makes sense he would insist on placing his own judge on the court knowing he would not hold him accountable for any criminal conduct- even if only to exact his previously implied revenge against democrats who challenged his nomination.

We would be negligent to allow our ever shifting attention during these chaotic times fall away from Dr. Ford. To many American women, she is a hero. To some she is a martyr, unjustly persecuted for believing she owed it to her country to testify, even at unfathomable consequence.

To Dr. Ford, we own an enormous debt of gratitude… and an apology. History will remember her as another woman that our male-driven government has failed in pursuit of power.

History will also write her name indelibly in its pages as a woman who mobilized millions of others, and set them free from shackles of shame as they tell their own stories in her wake.

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