Teen Invited to Perform Alongside the Biggest Names in Drag After Being Banned From School Talent Show

Lewis Bailey put his heart and soul into his talent show routine for Castle Hills High School and Visual Arts College in Dudley, West Midlands, England only to be told he could not perform the night before the big event. The school’s administrator claimed that his drag routine was not “age appropriate,”  even though there was no sexual content or profanity in his routine.

The incident represents, yet again, an attempt by school leaders and administrators to police kids’ and teens’ gender expression in school settings. But, Bailey, who performs as the drag persona Athena Heart, is not without support or encouragement. His stepfather is the one who helped him mix his songs and his grandmother bought him the heels he planned to wear during his performance. Since the news, he has also received an overflowing amount of support from people through social media.

The outcry over the school’s decision was so impactful that it reached the producers of DragWorld, Europe’s largest drag celebration and convention. Lewis has been invited to perform at the event in August--allowing him to showcase the program he was not allowed to perform at school.

Further reading:

Drag teen banned from Dudley school talent show

Teenager 'heartbroken' after school banned his talent show drag act

Boy, 14, is banned from performing drag act in high heels and long silver wig at talent show after school told him it was ILLEGAL

Schoolboy banned from talent show will perform with some of the biggest names in drag 

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

New Legislation Aims To Prohibit Gay/Trans Panic Defense in Federal Court Cases

Senator Edward Markey and Representative Joe Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, are looking to outlaw gay and transgender panic defenses in federal court cases with the introduction of the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018.


The “Gay/Trans Panic” defense has been used in courts across the United States since the 1960s. Under the legal tactic, individuals who stand accused of assaulting and/or killing LGBTQ individuals claim to experience temporary bouts of insanity that prompt them to react violently due to an interaction, sometimes sexual, with a gay or trans individual. The only three states that have banned using this defense in a courtroom are California, Rhode Island, and Illinois. It is still legal and being used in the other 47 states today.

In 2008, a transwoman named Angie Zapata had her life snatched away after a man reacted violently when he found out she was trans. And unfortunately, cases like these are far too common. 6,121 hate crimes were reported to the FBI in 2016. And of the 6,121 reported, 1,076 of them were fueled by someone’s alleged sexual identity. But, despite this large number, it is likely only a small account of how many actual LGBTQ hate crimes were committed in 2016, since reporting hate crimes to the FBI is optional.

It is no secret that homophobia and transphobia drive panic defenses. Keeping these defenses alive in the courts only gives homophobic and transphobic people a shield to hide behind when they stand accused of committing crimes against LGBTQ people. They make violent reactions to LGBTQ people seem normal and accepted. Gay and trans panic defenses paint an easy target on the backs of gay and trans individuals, especially those in the QTPoC community.

Further reading:

'Gay panic' defense still used in violence cases may be banned by new federal bill (ABC News)

New FBI Data Shows Increased Reported Incidents of Anti-LGBTQ Hate Crimes in 2016 (HRC)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

UK Moves to Ease Process of Obtaining Gender Recognition Certificate

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced efforts to simplify and streamline the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate in the United Kingdom for transgender citizens. The move is a part of a groundbreaking initiative known as the “LGBT Action Plan.”

The initiative is a result of a government survey that gathered information from over 100,000 LGBTQ+ people in the UK. Over 14,000 of the respondents were either transgender or non-binary. For both transgender and non-binary individuals, having their gender recognized legally is an essential step in allowing them to realize their full rights as a citizen and allowing them to realize their truth.  

Prime Minister May hopes to de-medicalize the process of getting a certificate so that more trans and non-binary people can receive the certificate, with the medical and bureaucratic leaps and bounds currently required.

The Prime Minister speaking on the issue stated, “Being trans should never be treated as a mental illness.” As of right now, the rules require applicants to supply various forms of evidence, including detailed medical reports, consent from a spouse if the individual is married, and proof that they’ve lived in their preferred gender for at least two years. The original legislation was a huge win for the LGBT community back in 2004, but has grown outdated.  While no huge changes are being made just yet, the hope is that Prime Minister May’s consultation will be a step in the right direction.

Further reading:

We support reforming the Gender Recognition Act (Amnesty International UK)

Legal recognition of gender change could be made easier (ITV News) 

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

Proposed Ohio Legislation Puts Transgender Students at Risk

Ohio State Representative Tom Brinkman has introduced legislation that would put many transgender students at risk. House Bill 568 would force teachers, counselors, and other school officials to report to parents if their child/student exhibits signs of gender dysphoria at school. The bill would also make it illegal for any “government entity” to provide any dysphoria treatment to students. Parents of the reported child would be able to choose whether or not to accept any sort of treatment for the child. Professional counseling, educational materials, mental health advocacy, medical treatment, and any other forms of help could be treated as a fourth degree felony, if provided to a transgender student without parent approval.

The bill was inspired by a case from the Hamilton County Juvenile Court in which  custody of a transgender teen was granted to his supportive grandparents who accepted his gender identity and helped the child start his transition journey. The student’s parents were unsupportive of his desire to begin hormone replacement therapy and instead forced him to endure hours of Bible study and Christian therapy.

Representative Brinkman defends his bill, saying "Parents have the right to decide what is best for their children.” The Ohio Education Association, a teacher’s union of 124,000 members, has voiced its opposition to the proposed bill. While Brinkman would like to turn teachers into gender cops, what he is ultimately doing is putting the safety of Ohio transgender and gender-questioning students at great risk.

Further reading:

Ohio state reps offer bill that would make teachers 'out' students to their parents (The Hill)

Ohio Republicans Propose Bill to Out Trans Students to Parents (Advocate)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

Starbucks Expands Health Insurance Coverage for Transgender Employees

In an effort to expand its health insurance coverage for its transgender employees, coffee chain giant Starbucks announced this week that its health insurance plans will now cover more gender re-affirming surgeries and procedures. Bottom surgery has been covered by the coffee brand’s insurance since 2012; and now top surgery, hair transplants, and facial feminization procedures are also covered.

Many transgender individuals face countless obstacles and roadblocks in trying to convince health insurance providers to cover their procedures. Some opt to save money until they can afford to pay for it themselves, while others fundraise online through platforms such as Go Fund Me pages.

Last year, Starbucks executives reached out to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Guidance on how to further broaden the health coverage of its transgender employees.  

This latest initiative is not first time Starbucks has shown genuine support for the LGBTQ+ community. Gender neutral bathrooms were instituted in their Washington D.C stores in 2010. A year later, the company voiced its disapproval of the Defense of Marriage Act. The LGBTQ+ community has too many adversaries to list, and it seems like the list grows longer each day. To know that a large corporation like Starbucks supports the LGBTQ+ community is refreshing and encouraging.

Further reading:

‘They are lifesaving’: Starbucks offers expanded benefits for trans people (Starbucks website)

Starbucks Expands Transgender Health Care Benefits (Advocate)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page.

 

Maryland Court Ruling Sets Encouraging Legal Precedent in Fight for Transgender Students’ Rights

Sixteen-year-old transgender high school student Max Brennan was recently banned from using the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms at his school in Maryland’s Talbott County Public School System. Determined to fight for his rights, Brennan challenged his school’s ban in a lawsuit, and reached a settlement in his favor this week.

Maryland District Judge George L. Russell III ruled that Title IX of 1972 Education Act, the federal statute barring sex discrimination in education, also prohibits bathroom discrimination against transgender students. According to the nonprofit advocacy organization, FreeState Justice, Judge Russell’s ruling sets a historic legal precedent for other transgender students battling discrimination in schools, with another court using his ruling to favor another transgender student’s legal battle in another state.

Incidents of school discrimination are far too common for transgender individuals, with some students simply refusing to use public restrooms out of fear of discrimination or harassment. State legislators all over the country are trying to pass anti-transgender bathroom laws, citing concerns for the safety of women and children, even though the people most likely to get harassed in a public bathroom are transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

This week’s settlement in Maryland and its subsequent effect on other cases is a promising development in the fight for equality for transgender students.

Further reading:

M.A.B. vs. Board of Education Settlement Reached

4 Big Problems With Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills – and How You Can Help Stop Them

Transgender student wins settlement allowing use of gender-segregatedbathrooms at school

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page.  

 

Yearbook Incident Highlights Educational Institutions’ Tendency to Police Gender

A transgender student’s picture was almost cut a mere two weeks before her school’s yearbook was set to be published. According to reports, Jeff Roberts, principal at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, claimed that Kami Pham’s photo violated the school’s dress code because she wore a wig and makeup, and because she was not expressing the gender identified on her birth certificate. The principal also threatened to ban Pham from walking at graduation if she showed up in “feminine” attire.

This event, unfortunately, highlights how LGBTQ students are frequently the target of gender policing. Strict dress codes that include gender-specific attire often trap LGBTQ students into stressful situations at a time when so much of the country seems focused on mental health. Such tactics also reinforce the idea that not conforming to one gender is unacceptable. Meanwhile, many high schools host “gender swap” days and make jokes out of boys dressing in feminine attire, while failing to provide a supportive space for nonbinary students.

With the encouragement and support of her peers, a petition demanding an apology and change was put into action on Pham’s behalf. Eventually, the Caddo Parish School Board agreed to allow her walk at graduation in her preferred attire, with her picture finally printed in the yearbook.  

Further reading:

Principal claims transgender student’s yearbook photo somehow violates dress code

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page.