College Student Assaulted for Using the “Wrong” Bathroom

Figuring out which bathroom to use is often a difficult problem for transgender people. Gender-specific bathrooms are sometimes unsafe for transgender people, who can face harassment regardless of which bathroom they use.

On a college level, more and more universities are installing gender-neutral bathroom facilities, in an attempt to make life safer for transgender students. But that certainly isn’t the case for Michelle Rayner, a student at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada.

Rayner is a female, but he identifies as transgender and often passes as a guy. He has been carded in public bathrooms and treated with disrespect because of his gender presentation. And he’s found that using the bathroom on campus is just as troubling and dangerous as it is off campus.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance Recognizes Hate Crime Victims

Every year, many transgender people around the world face discrimination based on their gender identity. Around one-third of transgender youth have attempted suicide, over half of transgender youth have been physically attacked, and a vast majority feel unsafe unsafe in school. For some, they aren’t just prone to employment discrimination or verbal harassment — they become the target of brutal hate crimes.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance aims to memorialize those who were killed because of hatred against or prejudice toward transgender people. The event was started in honor of Rita Hester, after her murder on November 28th, 1998. Oftentimes, deaths based on anti-transgender hatred are ignored, even though more than one person has died each month, for the last decade, because of anti-transgender hatred.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance raises awareness about hate crimes against transgender people, mourns and honors the lives of transgender people who were victims of hate crimes, and expresses respect for transgender people as a whole.

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Netflix Fails at Describing “Boys Don’t Cry”

UPDATE: Netflix has responded and has changed the description of “Boys Don’t Cry” to accurately reflect the movie’s storyline. The summary now says: “Based on actual events, director Kimberly Peirce’s powerful, often harrowing drama stars Hilary Swank (in an Oscar-winning performance) as Brandon Teena, a transgender young man searching for love and acceptance in a small Midwestern town. But even as he forges a deep connection with local beauty Lana (Chloë Sevigny), the prejudices of the community threaten to doom the fledgling romance.”

When I watched the movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” I was moved. It’s a rare occasion to see a movie about a transgender person, and even more rare to see a movie with a transgender person that is easy for transgender people to relate to.

In the movie, transgender teen Brandon Teena lives his life as a man, until locals discover that he was born female. The movie is a great commentary on what it’s like for transgender people, especially those living in towns that aren’t necessarily accepting.

Netflix, though, doesn’t seem to understand that the movie is about a transgender person. Their description of the movie is highly inaccurate and offensive. They refer to Brandon Teena using female pronouns and say that he “passes herself off as a boy… until the truth is revealed.” The description also says that the character shows “one woman’s voyage of self-discovery.”

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Straight Couple Denied Civil Partnership

Currently, the United Kingdom has “separate but equal” laws for couples who want to get married. Straight couples get a marriage license. Meanwhile, gay couples get civil partnerships, a legal union introduced in 2005, which gives gay couples the same legal protection, adoption and inheritance rights as marriage. Many LGBT people in the UK are unhappy that they’re denied the right to marriage, but you rarely see a straight couple fighting for the rights offered to gay couples.

Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle are ready to take their relationship to the next level — they want a civil partnership. But earlier this week, their application to form a civil partnership was rejected, because civil partnerships are only available to same-sex couples. The couple plans to go to court and fight for their right to a civil partnership.

Their situation may leave many baffled. Why are they doing this? But their interesting situation can easily be seen as a show of support for LGBT people and a statement about the inequalities that gay couples face.

“We don’t like the patriarchal traditions of marriage and don’t want to be called husband and wife. Tom and I see each other as equal partners,” Doyle said. “That’s why civil partnerships appeal to us. They are more egalitarian and better reflect our relationship.”

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Lesbian Couple Banned From School Dance

You would think Constance McMillen’s story would teach schools a lesson — discriminating against gay students and preventing same-sex couples from attending dances is not okay. But Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia didn’t learn the lesson. Hannah Williams, a 16-year-old student, was told that she couldn’t bring her girlfriend to the end-of-year school dance.

Hannah was initially told she couldn’t bring her girlfriend because “the ratio will be off for boy/girl.” On commercial radio, Williams said that the vice principal told her “we’re a girl’s school, you meet girls every day, this is a special event to meet boys.”

When the school came under fire for their homophobic decision, they acted like Williams wasn’t allowed to bring her girlfriend as her date because of her date’s age. The explanation is illogical, considering that her date was only one grade younger than her and at least one other girl was bringing a boy of that same age.

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Top Ten Things That Never Would Have Happened If I Didn’t Make It Past High School

Much like other LGBT people, my life has significantly improved in the past few years. Since the beginning of college, I’ve had many fantastic experiences — experiences that I never thought I’d enjoy when I was in middle school or high school. Change.org writers are compiling top ten lists of things in life that improved drastically after their middle school and high school years. This is the third post in the series. Check out Cristian’s list, Allison’s list, and Brandon’s list, or add your own list to the comments. Here are some of the most exciting and rewarding things I’ve done since graduating from high school.

1. Had a wonderful relationship with my girlfriend. We met over three years ago and have been together to share everything. I’ve experienced a love and support stronger than I ever imagined.

2. Become a blogger for Change.org. It’s given me a reason to obsessively follow LGBT news and the opportunity to share my thoughts with thousands of people.

3. Live in New York City. I’ve always wanted to live in Manhattan, and now I share a cute place here with my girlfriend. In high school, I never would have imagined that I would have a place in New York by the time I was 22. And I especially wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be sharing it with the person I love.

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NBC Philadelphia’s Role in Inaccurate Transgender Reporting

Poor reporting on transgender people is, unfortunately, very common. Just last week, FOX Sports reported that a transgender man “decided to identify as a man.”

After some pressure, FOX Sports fixed their mistake. But now another story about a transgender person is spurring a new wave of inaccurate and disrespectful reporting.

Transgender woman Peaches Burton was recently charged with killing a man. She was arrested last week and police suspect that she beat and killed Michael Brady, before burning the hotel room to cover up any evidence of the murder. Burton was on probation and had been arrested 36 times in the past five years. Her arrests were mostly related to loitering and obstructing the highway — charges that are often associated with prostitution.

Media coverage of the event has shown a shocking ignorance of transgender issues among reporters. Several articles misrepresent Burton’s identity and use sensationalist, insulting terms, instead of respecting her identity and referring to her as a woman.

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GLSEN Safe Space Campaign Fights Anti-Gay Bullying

As a response to the epidemic of LGBT bullying, and bullying that directly contributes to suicide, individuals and organizations are feverishly stepping up efforts to reach out to LGBT youth. Recently, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) launched their Safe Space Campaign, an effort to promote support for LGBT middle school and high school students. The campaign’s goal is to put a Safe Space Kit in every single middle and high school in the United States.

The Safe Space Kit contains stickers and posters, a guide with steps for staff members to take to build support for LGBT students and prevent anti-gay bullying and harassment. Chely Wright, the country singer who made history this year when she came out of the closet, has stepped up to the plate as the Safe Space Campaign spokesperson. Several other celebrities have also voiced their support of the Safe Space Campaign.

The campaign resembles a similar campaign at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, and many other universities across the country — Safezone. The Safezone program required interested students and staff to undergo a training program in LGBT sensitivity, as well as how to help LGBT students. Upon completion of the program, each person received their own Safezone sticker, which they could put on their dorm room door to let others know that they’re LGBT-friendly.

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FOX Says Transgender Basketball Player Chose His Gender Identity

Recently, George Washington University junior Kye Allums became the first transgender athlete to play in NCAA basketball. Allums, who identifies as a man, will still be playing on the women’s team. While he competes, he is not permitted to undergo testosterone therapy.

His teammates, coaches, and the university administration have been accepting of his gender identity and support his decision to continue playing on the women’s basketball team, as long as he holds off on the transition process.

Coverage of Allums has generally been supportive, too, with the media consistently referring to Allums using male pronouns. That is, except for FOX. In a FOX Sports article on Allums, the author wrote that Allums “decided to identify as a man.”

Earth to FOX: people don’t choose their gender identity. Allums didn’t choose to be transgender, he chose to tell people about his gender identity and to eventually undergo the transition process. But by reporting that Allums chose his gender identity, FOX is spreading misinformation about transgender people and giving readers an inaccurate portrayal of what it’s like to be transgender.

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Katy Perry Dedicates Music Video to the “It Gets Better” Project

After the recent wave of news coverage related to LGBT bullying and LGBT suicides, celebrities and politicians from Hillary Clinton to President Obama to Adam Lambert made videos for the “It Gets Better” project. Some of these videos come from known advocates of the LGBT community, while others come from less expected supporters.

One recent supporter of the project may be expected by many, but surprising to others. Katy Perry has thrown her support to the initiative by devoting her most recent music video to the project. This is certainly not the first time that one of Perry’s music videos has addressed LGBT issues — but is it the first time that it’s done so in a respectful way?

I, for one, am not a huge fan of Katy Perry, finding her songs “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay” to be offensive and homophobic. Both songs have received significant criticism from some activists, too.

Given the issues with these lyrics (although, I admit, her songs are quite catchy), it may seem unlikely that Perry could redeem herself. But it looks as if she’s doing just that.

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