A Hawaii high school girls volleyball team now has a transgender girl on its roster, and some people are upset.

In Hawaiian culture, the word “Mahu” is historically a third gender designation, and is now used as slang for “transgender” among Hawaiians. From the island of Maui, comes news of a new Mahu: a transgender student athlete, who reportedly is finding acceptance from her high school, her coaches and volleyball teammates.

So far, her only obstacle appears to be one bigoted coach, who refused to give his name to the newspaper reporting on her debut last week.

According to Maui News, the girl attends Kamehameha School in Maui, and while the report did not reveal her name or her age, it did say the athlete played for the KSM boys junior varsity volleyball team as a freshman in 2017.

She warmed up and was in uniform for the Warriors’ 25-14, 25-17, 27-25 win over Baldwin High School in the girls volleyball opener at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym one week ago today.

“I’m not going to say anything about our transgender athlete,” Kamehameha Maui Athletic Director Jon Viela said last Tuesday, reported the Maui News. Kamehameha Maui coach Alex Akana also declined comment following the match, as did the coach for Baldwin.

A Baldwin High administrator told the paper his school was aware of the situation going into Tuesday’s match. “We are OK with it,” the official said, and requested anonymity.

But one rival girls volleyball coach in the Maui Interscholastic League, who also asked the Maui News to withhold his name, said he wasn’t informed about the participation of a trans athlete before the season opened Tuesday night. He said his team wasn’t the only one left in the dark, and he feared for his girls’ safety.

“In my opinion, it’s very irresponsible for the league to place these young women, who are minors, in an elevated level of risk,” the unnamed coach told Maui News. Then he said he spoke for the parents who entrust their girls to him.

“They all sign off on an assumption of risk form for an understandable amount of risk. Now, there’s an elevated level of risk their daughters are going through and being put through without any notification to the parents at all.

“I have no problem with the kid being who (they) want to be, but now these girls are being put in an unsafe situation without giving the parents the opportunity to make an educated decision on whether they want their daughter in that position.”

How unsafe, exactly? The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in Rosemont, Ill., says “volleyball injuries rank lowest for all major sports.” That said, volleyball players can of course incur both traumatic and overuse injuries.

Maui News reporter Robert Collias asked a transgender woman who transitioned as a youngster and played volleyball at Wahiawa Intermediate School on Oahu, to weigh in.

Tiare Sua defended the Kamehameha Maui student, and pushed back on the notion that males are necessarily stronger than females. Girls should not be underestimated, Sua said.

I just want to say that, for me, I don’t compare females to males in that kind of strategy because I feel that females are stronger than men think,” said Sua, who is project coordinator for the Hawaii Empowered Alliance Reaching Transgender Services program at the Maui AIDS Foundation.

“I don’t like to degrade women as thinking that they are weaker than men,” she told Maui News. “Like, you would be surprised at how strong women are… To have somebody transgender or saying that somebody who’s trans is stronger than a female opponent, to me, is just biased.

“To me, females are strong, just the same… Women are not weak, they are strong beings.”

“This is kind of something new, so everybody’s learning,” Maui Interscholastic League Executive Director Joe Balangitao told the Maui News.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association adopted its policy on transgender student-athletes in October 2017. HHSAA Executive Director Chris Chun called the policy — which he wrote — a work in progress.

“I wrote the policy about trying to be inclusive and letting student-athletes of all kinds of groups participate, which will make them feel comfortable,” Chun told the Maui News last week.

“I don’t feel comfortable getting into specifics or a specific sport, but safety is always a concern and competitive advantage is also a concern,” Chun said. “So even though we have a policy, it’s kind of like a guideline. It’s still in its early, early transition stages.”

 

Several bridges and the city hall building in Houston were lit up in transgender flag colors to honor the memory of Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman who was found dead in a possible homicide in July.

Police found Single’s body the parking lot of a convenience store at 3:30 am on July 30. Investigators said that her death was not natural but did not specify why they believed that.

According to TransGriot, police were initially not able to identify the victim. A week after her death, police identified her as transgender and contacted their LGBTQ liaisons. Community leader Dee Dee Watters organized a town hall meeting on August 11 to identify her.

This week, the city lit six bridges and city hall up with the colors of the transgender flag – light blue, pink, and white – in the memory of Single.

Single is the sixteenth transgender person known to have been killed in the U.S. this year, and the third in Texas.

The Supreme Court is considering three cases that look at whether LGBTQ employees are protected under federal civil rights law.

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to set a legal precedent that would make it OK for an employer to fire a person for being transgender.

In a brief filed Friday, the Justice Department argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only protects workers from discrimination based on their “biological sex.”

“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against transgender persons based on their transgender status,” the Justice Department wrote. “It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex.”

The Supreme Court agreed earlier this year to hear three cases that look at whether Title VII, the federal civil rights law that prohibits workplace discrimination, applies to LGBTQ workers.

Friday’s brief pertains to one of the lawsuits, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which a transgender woman was fired after she transitioned.

Aimee Stephens had reportedly presented as a man when she began working at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan in 2007. The company’s owner, Thomas Rost, fired her six years later, when she announced her plans to transition.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that Stephens’ firing was discriminatory. 

“The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer’s stereotypical conception of her sex,” the court wrote in a 49-page decision.

“Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII,” the court said. “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex.”

But the Justice Department argued on Friday that “the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex” when the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964.

“It did not encompass transgender status, which Stephens and the Sixth Circuit describe as a disconnect between an individual’s biological sex and gender identity,” DOJ lawyers wrote. “In the particular context of Title VII — legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities — it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.” 

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Stephens in her suit, argued that the case has implications beyond the trans community.

“People don’t realize that the stakes are extending not just the trans and LGB communities, but every person who departs from sex stereotypes: Women who want to wear pants in the workplace, men who want more childbearing responsibilities. Those protections are also in peril with the arguments advanced by the Trump administration, presented at the Supreme Court,” Strangio told HuffPost.

He added: “There isn’t a coherent way to carve out LGBT people without changing the standard that exists under the law.”

The Supreme Court is also looking at two cases of employees fired over their sexual orientation: In Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Long Island skydiving instructor Don Zarda was fired after he told a client he was gay. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that Zarda’s firing was discriminatory. But the 11th Circuit, in a similar case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, ruled that precedent suggested Title VII did not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Department of Justice is expected to file briefs on both cases next week.

A transgender woman was found dead outside of a west Houston gas station last month, according to news reports. 

Monica Roberts, founder and editor of the blog Transgriotidentified the victim as Tracy Single, 22.

Single is at least the 16th trans person murdered in the U.S. in 2019. The vast majority of victims, including Single, have been trans women of color. Three of the murders have occurred in Texas. 

On July 30, ABC 13 and Fox 26 reported that the body of a woman was found around 3:30 a.m. At that time, authorities investigating the case said that her death did not appear to be natural. 

Houston City Hall lit in the Transgender Pride Flag colors in remembrance of Single.

The Houston Police Department’s LGBT Liaisons have now confirmed that the woman who was found dead was trans and was murdered. On August 11, trans activist Dee Dee Watters organized a town hall meeting that led to the identification of Single. 

City Hall and the seven bridges over Houston’s Southwest Freeway were lit in the colors of the Trans Pride Flag in honor of Single on August 15, and will be lit in pink, blue, and white again tonight, August 16, thanks to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBT Advisory board chair Harrison Homer-Guy.

Anyone with information about Single’s murder should call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

A Las Vegas security guard who once patrolled his neighborhood with a semi-automatic rifle has been arrested on a federal charge in connection with possessing “destructive devices.” The FBI says he had bomb-making materials and was planning to attack a synagogue and a gay bar.

Conor Climo, 23, also chatted online with white supremacists, quoted Adolf Hitler, and drew a sketch for attacks, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.

Climo was arraigned Friday on allegations he had bomb-making materials, which the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force said it found in his home, the complaint states. The alleged crime is possession of an unregistered firearm.

CNN has reached out to his attorney. His mother declined to comment.

“Threats of violence motivated by hate and intended to intimidate or coerce our faith-based and LGBTQ communities have no place in this country,” said US Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

“Law enforcement in Nevada remains determined to use the full weight of our investigative resources to prevent bias-motivated violence before it happens. I commend our partners who identified the threat and took swift and appropriate action to ensure justice and protect the community.”

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is involved in the prosecution.

The arrest Thursday follows a startling week of mass shootings in three cities across the United States. Federal authorities are investigating two of those — in Gilroy, California, and El Paso, Texas — as domestic terrorism.

Las Vegas was the site of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, when 58 people were killed and more than 500 hurt in October 2017. Also on that dire list are massacres in 2016 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando and in 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Climo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Department of Justice says.

Investigation reveals communications with extremists

In 2016, Climo tried to start an armed civilian neighborhood patrol wearing a full vest of magazines and carrying what CNN affiliate KTNV called “an AR-rifle.” Climo told the station his effort was a response to crime in the area.

The criminal complaint references that episode and says Climo was “carrying an AR-15 style assault rifle, four magazines each containing 30 rounds of ammunition, and wearing a tactical vest.”

He was not arrested or charged in that incident.

A task force of local, state and federal agencies began investigating Climo in April based on his electronic communications with people who identified with a white extremist group, the criminal complaint says.

The group has the goal of “challenging the established laws, social order, and government via terrorism and other violent acts,” according to the complaint. It targets the federal government, “minorities, homosexuals, and Jews,” the complaint says. Members primarily communicate via encrypted chat applications that let users transmit text messages and files on computer, tablet or cell phone.

Climo discussed with an FBI informant making Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices and attacking an Las Vegas synagogue “close to his home,” the complaint says.

It also states that he discussed online with an FBI undercover agent conducting surveillance on a bar he saw as serving the LGBTQ community, which the complaint describes only as being downtown near Fremont Street. Climo tried to recruit a homeless man’s assistance in the surveillance of both places, the complaint says.

Climo allegedly told the undercover agent he intended to “further the cause,” which the agent came to believe referred to a “desire to engage in anti-Semitic and Anti-homosexual violent extremism,” according to the complaint.

Investigators also said they found a 2017 posting from Climo on Quora, a general-interest, question-and-answer website, on which he quoted Hitler: “Your most precious possession on this earth is your people!”

In searching Climo’s home Thursday with a warrant, authorities said, they found a notebook with hand-drawn potential attack schematics, as well as drawings of timed explosive devices.

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