Transgender Candidate Doesn’t Support LGBT Rights

Donna Milo, a Cuban-American, conservative Republican is running to replace a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Milo is not your average Congressional candidate and is an especially surprising candidate for a Republican Congressional seat. Milo is a transgender woman.

Why is a transgender woman running as a Republican? There are certainly more aspects of politics than LGBT rights, and Milo has a wide range of conservative beliefs. But is it a conflict for someone in the LGBT community to run for Congress as a Republican?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with someone in the LGBT community being a part of the Republican party. Someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity only relates to one aspect of political beliefs — LGBT equality. Transgender people face many challenges and are often misunderstood by the general public, and Milo should relate to these challenges. As someone who has experienced life as a transgender person firsthand, Milo should support equal rights for LGBT people, whether running as a Republican or Democrat.

That’s why it’s surprising that Milo is not just running as a Republican, but she’s also opposed to certain policies when it comes equal rights for LGBT people, including marriage equality. Given her situation, her beliefs seem a little contradictory. Milo herself has been married, in what many would consider a gay marriage. Why is gay marriage acceptable in her personal life, but not good enough for others?

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Expedia Guide Assists LGBT Travelers

For LGBT travelers, how gay-friendly a city is can be an important consideration when traveling. Whether intending to meet other gay people, or hoping to walk around holding hands with your same-sex partner in peace, gay travelers face additional precautions when planning their vacations.

Expedia recognized the needs of LGBT travelers and partnered with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association to offer a gay travel guide. The gay travel site includes information on LGBT-welcoming hotels, guides for the top LGBT travel destinations, information on gay cruises, and a list of LGBT events and festivals.

Ten national travel destinations and five international destinations are highlighted as LGBT hot spots. The recommended international locations are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and London. The national LGBT-friendly destinations are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, Palm Springs, Provincetown, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, Toronto and South Florida.

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The Challenging Task of Expressing Gender Neutrality

We’ve been taught since we were little that a person is either a boy or a girl, he or she, him or her. Our language does little to accommodate for people who don’t identify as a man or as a woman. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to describe people without using gendered pronouns.

Gender-neutral pronouns are not widely acknowledged or used and avoiding pronouns altogether requires sloppy and confusing sentence structure. Genderqueer people are often referred to as “it,” stripping them of both their gender identity and their humanity.

Attempting to avoid using offensive language, people often use “they” or “them” to describe a genderqueer person. For example, “they are genderqueer.”

While this is preferable to forcing a gender on someone, it is grammatically incorrect. A genderqueer person is still an individual, and it doesn’t make sense to refer to a single person as they.

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Winning Transgender Protections at Dallas Area Rapid Transit

A few months ago, a transgender Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) employee faced appalling treatment from her employer. She had just transitioned and had her gender-marker changed to reflect her gender identity. DART’s Human Resources department was given a court order to change her records to reflect her gender. But DART’s attorneys didn’t accept the change, instead filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court, which ultimately led to the reversal of the order to change the transgender employee’s gender-marker.

Before this unnecessary, insulting, and damaging intervention, DART had already been treating the transgender employee unfairly. The DART nondiscrimination policy does not include gender identity or expression, and clearly, their treatment of transgender employees took advantage of that. DART supervisors told the employee she couldn’t have long hair, wear skirts at work, or use the women’s restroom. The employee was forced to show up in her uniform and use public restrooms on her bus route.

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Growing Rates of HIV in Asia Pacific Region

A shocking 90 percent of gay men in the Asia Pacific Region don’t have access to HIV prevention and care. In this region, discrimination and stigmatization of homosexuality and HIV leads to lack of access to HIV-related medical care, which leads to the spread of HIV.

So what does this mean for countries in the Asia Pacific Region?

Gay male sex is illegal in 19 of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region. Even in countries where homosexual sex is legal, laws are often in place that violate LGBT rights. These laws obstruct advocacy, outreach, and service delivery related to HIV. Law enforcement often lags behind HIV policies, making HIV programs ineffective in preventing the spread of HIV.

And making HIV prevention and care available is not sufficient to stop the spread of HIV. Many countries have legal and social environments that make it difficult for LGBT people to access HIV treatment. Several countries, including Nepal, India, the Philippines, and South Korea have recently changed laws and policies to address the spread of HIV, but many other countries in the region continue to criminalize homosexuality and stop large-scale HIV prevention.

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UK Minister for Equality is Against Gay Equality

One would think that a prerequisite for becoming a minister for equality would be believing in equality. But in the United Kingdom, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The previous candidate for minister for equality, Chris Grayling, was accused of homophobia after suggesting that bed and breakfast owners should be able to turn away gay couples. That doesn’t sound to me like someone who should make a living looking out for equality.

And now, with a new minister for equality chosen instead of Grayling, the situation doesn’t seem much better. The new appointee, Theresa May, has a history of voting against gay and transgender rights. In 1998 she voted against equalizing the age of consent. In 2000, she voted against repealing Section 28, legislation banning the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by schools. In 2001 and 2002, she voted against gay couples jointly adopting children. And in 2008, she voted in favor of a bill requiring a male role model, hence discriminating against lesbian parents. She did vote in favor of civil partnerships in 2004 but didn’t even attend Parliament for votes leading to the Gender Recognition Act.

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Is Family Guy Transphobic or Funny?

If you watch Family Guy, you probably find humor in things that may be considered offensive. Family Guy has already been criticized for various tasteless jokes, including making fun of Sarah Palin’s son, who has Down syndrome. Given the nature of the show, perhaps no one should have been too surprised after Sunday night’s episode, which made fun of transgender people.

In the episode, Dan Quagmire, Glenn Quagmire’s father, comes out as a transgender woman and decides to have sex reassignment surgery and go by the name Ida. The episode shows Quagmire’s process of dealing with his father’s transition. Initially, Quagmire expresses concerns with his father’s new body and is reluctant to talk about Ida’s surgery or new lifestyle. Brian Griffin (the family dog) met Ida at a hotel bar and had sex with her, unaware that she was transgender. When he discovers that she was born male, he vomited for 29 seconds. Toward the end of the episode, Quagmire apologized to his father for his lack of acceptance.

Was this portrayal comical or downright offensive? Brian’s response, it seems, clearly perpetuates the false idea that intimacy with transgender people is disgusting. This idea often results in transgender people being assaulted, and is not a laughing matter. GLAAD reported on the episode, stating that it was “incredibly offensive to transgender people.”

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Elena Kagan’s Courage on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

President Obama has made a decision that could impact us for years to come by selecting Elena Kagan, Solicitor General of the United States, as his nominee for the country’s 112th Supreme Court justice. If she is confirmed, what will this mean for LGBT Americans and the future of gay rights?

Kagan has been warmly welcomed by some groups, and rabidly opposed by others. Some say she has a strong track record with conservatives, while others say she has a strong record with progressives. In many ways, it seems, Kagan remains a mystery.

But Kagan has not been so silent about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. military policy that punishes openly gay troops with a discharge, and prevents openly gay people from enlisting in the military.

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Colleges Should Cover Transgender Health Care

Colleges across the country are making changes to be more accepting of LGBT students. Many colleges have gender-neutral housing and non-discrimination policies that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Providing these services for LGBT people is a great way for colleges to attract LGBT students, staff, and faculty. Now, some colleges are offering coverage for transgender-related care in their health insurance plans.

University of Pennsylvania is the latest school to offer a transgender-inclusive insurance plan for their students. (They are considering a similar plan for staff and faculty.) Others include the University of Michigan and schools in the University of California system.

But even among the schools with transgender-inclusive insurance, there is variation in what exactly is covered. Harvard offers coverage for top surgery but not for bottom surgery, while Cornell and Princeton offer coverage for hormone therapy but not for any sex reassignment surgery.

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Body Scanners Allow TSA to See You Naked

AirplaneAirport security is downright annoying. You have to show up for your flight a couple hours early, prepare for long lines at security and take off your shoes and belt before passing through a metal detector. Make sure you check your toothpaste (if it’s in a container that’s bigger than 3oz) and be prepared to have your baggage scanned, too.

But airport security is getting much worse, now that airports are using full body scanners as a part of their security measures. Can you say outrageous breach of privacy?

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scanner was used to scan an employee during a training at Miami International Airport. Afterward, colleagues who saw the scan of his body continuously teased him about his small penis. (Yes, they could tell the size of his genitals from the scan.) Embarrassed and unable to handle the harassment, the employee snapped and beat his co-worker with a police baton in the airport parking lot.

Clearly, even TSA employees are uncomfortable with the scanner. It is far too invasive, allowing TSA employees to essentially strip search travelers and see pictures of their naked bodies.

But if you’re concerned by these new scanners, imagine how invasive they can be for transgender passengers.

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