Keep up-to-date with news, opinions and analysis on LGBT life in the South

The LGBT South is a weekly email newsletter, compiling national, regional, and local news important to LGBT Southerners. Subscribe to get the latest edition to your inbox every Friday morning and keep up with what the Campaign for Southern Equality is up to!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“In the face of policies like [HB 2], or finding out that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear trans student Gavin Grimm’s case, I’m transported back to those schools where I was constantly reminded that my existence was an inconvenience. It is a crushing feeling. I thought that being excluded from public restrooms was a relic of my past, not a part of my — and thousands of other trans people’s — futures.”

– Writer Christian McMahon, “I’m Trans, Disabled, and Tired of Fighting to Get Into Bathrooms”

Here’s your breakdown of what’s happening this week in the #LGBTsouth:

BAD BILLS MOVE FORWARD

Keeping up with the anti-LGBTQ bills popping up around the country and the South can feel like a big game of whac-a-mole sometimes – and this week two more just sprang up. HB 1111 in Tennessee and SB 6 in Texas have both advanced. HB 1111 is a vague bill that would require undefined words in the state code to be given their “natural and ordinary” meaning. This applies directly to words like “mother”, “father”, “husband”, and “wife”, and could affect same-sex marriages and trans people in the state. Texas’s SB 6 is a bathroom bill that has been pushed by the state’s Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, which passed a Senate vote this week. Both bills will now face their state’s House for a vote, where the Texas bill faces opposition from representatives from both parties.In North Carolina, House Democrats attempted to force a vote on repealing HB 2, but were unsuccessful. A compromise bill, HB 186 – which would fail to fix HB 2’s issues to begin with – is still on the table, but likely will not have enough support to bring it to a vote.

HATE CRIMES ON THE RISE

Over the last few months, there have been multiple incidents of vandalism and attacks on Jewish Community Centers, LGBTQ Centers, and other locations serving minority groups. Now, the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans has had a brick thrown through its window just days after hosting a town hall to address violence against the trans community. In a statement, the Church said “it does not affect our commitment to stand by our transgender neighbors, and all our neighbors who are marginalized or targeted by systems of oppression.” A library in Charleston, S.C. named for Cynthia Hurd, one of the victims of the Emmanuel AME Church massacre, was also vandalized with racist and sexist graffiti. Hurd had been a manager at the library and worked in the city’s libraries for 31 years.

Three men have been charged with hate crimes for the murder of Deeniquia Dodds, a transgender woman, last year in D.C. The charges bring justice to one of the many victims of transphobic violence in the last year, but in the South, hate crime laws often fail to protect trans victims because they do not cover gender identity. As we continue to face a spike in violence and intimidation against minority groups, the Campaign for Southern Equality is tracking violence, discrimination, and harassment against LGBTQ people with an online mapping system. Please report any incidents here.

WHAT ELSE?

South Dakota has become the first state to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2017, with a law allowing state-funded adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples.

Trans advocates share a message of hope for trans youth.

An ongoing photo series, “Butch is Not a Dirty Word”, aims to smash stereotypes about masculinity and gender expression.

A new online exhibit of the Durham County Library in North Carolina is preserving the history of the local LGBTQ community through photographs, oral histories, and of course, books.Polling shows that, even with some divide along party lines,  the majority of Americans oppose discriminatory bathroom bills.

Before “they” became common, there was a singular gender-neutral pronoun in English – “thon”.

STAFF READ OF THE WEEK

Our LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator, Ivy Gibson-Hill, wrote a moving open letter to Gavin Grimm following the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear his case. Read it below.

Dear Gavin,

I know you’re facing a lot of uncertainty right now with the rapidly changing legal landscape in our country. Having your identity called into question in such a public way must be scary, and at times painful.

I want you to know that I see you. I hear you. And I appreciate you. You are standing up for not only yourself, but also for the 355,600 transgender youth and young adults in our country. I was one of these young adults not too long ago, and I wish I had someone like you to look to when I was your age. I’m continually amazed by your grace and your ability to walk through this treacherous process with your head held high.

There’s another reason I’m writing you today though, I want you to know your identity is valid no matter what the courts say. You are a brilliant, bold, articulate, and incredibly resilient young man.

My job involves traveling across the South helping lead free clinics to connect transgender and LGBQ people with the direct services they need to live full and healthy lives. From Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I’ve met young trans folks whose rights you are fighting for. You are their hero, just as you are mine.


From the whole CSE team, we #StandWithGavin

Taking this stand is about so much more than people having access to the right restroom. It’s about protecting students from bullying and harassment, having access to public accommodations, and respecting people’s identities. This is a safety issue for transgender and gender nonconforming students across our country, and you are leading the charge.

There is an epidemic in our country that is rooted in fear, and has already taken eight transgender women of color from us so far in 2017. Your willingness to stand up and speak out is helping folks see us as who we are – human beings who deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as any other human being.

Gavin, thank you for speaking for those who have been unheard and those who are unable to speak up for themselves. You are empowering trans students by showing them that there is another option. We don’t have to remain silent and submit to oppressive policies. We can and must use our voices and stand up for each other now more than ever.

Lastly, I want to make sure you know you’re not alone. I know being a trans person in Virginia can feel just as lonely as being a trans person in South Carolina. But there’s a great big family across the South that loves you, and appreciates you.

So, thank you so much for your honesty, your bravery, and for sharing your story. We have your back. Always.

With love and gratitude,
Ivy

p.s. You’re invited to Camp Gender Bender this summer. This big trans family would love to meet their hero in person.

WHAT THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY IS UP TO


We are excited to host a FREE “Protect Yourself” Clinic that centers the trans experience and is led by trans and gender nonconforming folks. Hosted by Gender Benders and the Campaign for Southern Equality, the clinic will take place Sunday, March 26 in Greenville, SC.

This free clinic will cover a range of safety issues that come up for trans folks, including: trainings in self defense, writing a safety plan, and using safety apps on your phone and pepper spray. Free and confidential HIV testing and counseling will also be available. Every participant will receive a can of pepper spray and a flashlight, and we will have free pizza, snacks and drinks.

Check out the full schedule and RSVP here.