Being transgender in Birmingham isn’t easy. Harassment, bullying, and misgendering—referring to a transgender person with a word, especially a pronoun, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify—are just a few of the challenges. Add skin color as a factor, and things can be even worse for trans women.

Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, founder and executive director of Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE), is working to change all of that for transgender women of color.

What started out as a peer group in 2013 formed into a nonprofit that now features a drop-in center with peer-support groups, the T Girls Boutique Clothing Closet for interview looks, and a place where trans women can find anything to help meet their basic daily needs.

“We have toiletry kits, clothes, hair weaves, shoes, undergarments,” she said. “We do job-readiness training, help with job searches, host movie nights. Everything is done here. It’s a one-stop shop.”

Located at 8246 2nd Ave. South, TAKE has been housed in the East Birmingham community since June 2017. It is fiscally sponsored by Trans United, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., that supports transgender communities around the U.S.

Boyd said TAKE would like to partner with the city of Birmingham, as well, especially after Mayor Randall Woodfin, while a candidate, campaigned at the 2017 Transgender Day of Visibility.

Boyd said she has seen the mayor in passing but has not yet had a sit-down conversation with him. Some of the questions Boyd would like to ask Woodfin: “What’s going to be done for trans women? What are next steps for the city around sensitivity training when it comes to trans women, specifically trans women of color? How can a relationship be built with the community?”

Boyd said she was encouraged to see the city hire a new lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) liaison. Woodfin named Josh Coleman to the position in June 2018, but Boyd believes people in such positions should also reflect the community, particularly in Birmingham.

“So many people in the city are on the front line fighting for LGBTQ rights, … and black folks are doing some real critical work,” she said. “Just because you’re in office now, you can’t erase our existence in Birmingham. We were the same ones who, when [Woodfin was] out there campaigning, [were part of] the conversation to [get voters to the polls.]”

Boyd is determined to ensure that the trans community gets fair treatment in Birmingham.

“The most important thing people have to realize is that we do exist and we do live here,” she said. “They’d rather support more closeted, undercover cisgender men around here on all different levels than support people authentically living in their truth. It’s OK for gay men to go around and live out and loud, and nobody could know what they have going on. But [things are different] if a trans woman is out and loud, demanding respect and support from a community that doesn’t even feel like [she] should exist.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay person to the serve in the Senate, has been a champion of LGBTQ rights.   

At a June 2018 Human Rights Campaign event, Baldwin gave a speech in which she praised volunteers on the front lines of the "fight for equality" and also aimed a couple barbs at the Donald Trump administration.

On August 17, 2018, PolitiFact Wisconsin did a fact check on the first barb:

The Trump administration "has banned the CDC even using the word ‘transgender,’" Baldwin told the crowd, which booed in response.

The statement was based on a Washington Post report. But that story was later countered by several other published reports that indicated the words were not banned. Rather, it was suggested that other words be used in some cases — in part to temper controversy during the budget process.

We rated the claim False. See that claim here.  

Now, PolitiFact Wisconsin turns its attention to the second part of Baldwin’s claim:

"President Trump continues to disrespect patriotic transgender Americans who want to serve their country."

Evidence

When asked to back up Baldwin’s claim, campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt directed PolitiFact Wisconsin to news reports of nationwide demonstrations that erupted following the proposed transgender ban.
 

Background

Trump, citing concern over military focus and medical costs, announced on Twitterin June 2017 that he would ban transgender individuals from serving "in any capacity" in the U.S. military.

The president tweeted the following:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.

The action was aimed at reversing an Obama administration decision to begin allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

Several groups filed lawsuits against the ban, including Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN in Seattle, according to The Hill.

"A federal court in Seattle thwarted an administration request for a stay of an earlier injunction that halted the ban while a government appeal is heard," the report said.

On July 18, 2018, The Hill reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a block on the implementation of the ban, which was first announced by President Donald Trump in 2017.  

"The court's move enables transgender people to continue enlisting in the military until the opposing parties go to trial, expected in April 2019," The Hill stated.

On August 6, 2018, Reuters reported that a U.S. court ruled the Trump administration could not enforce an updated policy barring certain transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, becoming the second court in the country to rule against the government since it unveiled the policy.

"A federal court in Seattle thwarted an administration request for a stay of an earlier injunction that halted the ban while a government appeal is heard," the report said.

Gerald Coon, president & CEO of Diverse & Resilient, a Wisconsin organization working to end violence against LGBTQ+ people, commented on the position of military leaders.

"All four military service chiefs have gone on record to state that there is no harm in having transgender personnel serving in the military," Coon said in an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin. "Efforts to disqualify transgender people from serving in the military do not improve our national security."

Peter Renn, Lambda Legal western regional office senior attorney, supported Baldwin’s claim.

"Yes, Senator Baldwin’s statement is correct," Renn said in an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin.  "The Trump administration has been unrelenting in its crusade to ban qualified transgender people from serving our country, but every federal judge to consider the ban has halted the administration’s efforts at every turn, finding that the ban unconstitutionally targets a minority group for discrimination."

Tom Warnke, media relations director of Lambda Legal, confirmed that the organization filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Lambda Legal is a nonprofit legal organization:

"Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work," according to its mission statement.
 

Our rating

Tammy Baldwin told a Human Rights group that "President Trump continues to disrespect patriotic transgender Americans who want to serve their country."

There are ample reports that the administration is continuing its attempts to bar transgender individuals from the military, including updating and adjusting its policy as court rulings roll in. Having said that, it’s important to note that the issue is still winding its way through the courts, so a ban is not in place at this time. We rate the claim Mostly True

Vanderbilt Medical Center opening ‘transgender health’ clinic

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) will open a new clinic this month that caters exclusively to “transgender health.”

“The multispecialty clinic provides comprehensive health care services for transgender patients age 18 and older allowing them to receive their care in one location, including primary care and subspecialty consultations with endocrinologists, mental health experts, and surgeons,” VUMC announced Tuesday, noting that services offered at the clinic will include “hormone therapy, lab monitoring, and pre- and post-operative guidance.”

The clinic also “plans to add a mental health provider” to supplement those services, but will not have one at the time of its opening.

When it opens on August 24, the clinic will reside in VUMC’s established walk-in clinic in Tennessee and operate primarily by appointment on Friday afternoons from 1:00-5:00 p.m. However, Focus Middle Tennessee reports that the center plans to move to its own location in early 2019, which will allow it to expand its hours.

Friday afternoon clinics “will be reserved specifically for transgender health care,” but VUMC notes that medical director Shayne Sebold Taylor, MD will “provide comprehensive primary care to LGBT patients during regular clinic hours, Monday through Friday, offering preventive medicine such as immunizations, HIV prevention, and cancer screening with special attention given to nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and chronic disease management. “

A federal judge has ruled that an Indiana school district must allow a transgender student to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity.

Judge William Lawrence in Indianapolis issued a preliminary injunction on Friday requiring the Evansville Banderburgh School Corp. (EVSC) to allow a transgender high school student to use male bathrooms, The Courier & Press reported on Monday.

The student, identified by his initials, J.A.W., filed a lawsuit through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in February.

J.A.W. argued that the school district was violating his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title IX when he was told he had to use either the women’s restrooms or a private bathroom near the nurse’s office.

The student, who was born female, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and prescribed hormone medications, according to the newspaper.

He testified in a July 20 hearing that the school was very accommodating when he approached them with other requests, including how he would be addressed.

The high school student, however, was allegedly told he could be disciplined for using male restrooms.

EVSC attorney Pat Shoulders said during last month's hearing that a child’s birth certificate is used to determine bathroom usage, something he called “an objective standard.”

Changing that policy “would result in chaos,” Shoulders said at the hearing, adding that the student could use the male bathrooms if his legal documentation was changed from female to male.

The student was born outside Indiana in a state that will not change the gender identification on a birth certificate without documented surgery, the newspaper noted.

The ACLU argued that transgender students can face increased bullying if they are denied access to the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Some students may avoid using the restroom entirely throughout the school day, the group said.

The judge agreed and found that J.A.W.’s claims of discrimination were “likely to prevail.”

“The likely negative emotional consequences of being denied access to the boys’ restrooms at school would constitute irreparable harm to J.A.W.,” Lawrence wrote in his ruling.

The student is slated to graduate in December.

Shoulders told the newspaper that he will appeal the temporary injunction.

“This ruling pertains to one student and one student only out of the 2,300 who will begin the school year on Wednesday,” Shoulders said. “The EVSC will continue as it has in the past to comply with Indiana law and Indiana Department of Education regulations."

"All federal statutes as interpreted by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Education. All of which seem to suggest that sex is determined biologically not psychologically," he added.

The Trump administration announced last year that it was rolling back protections extended under the Obama administration that allowed children to use school bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identities.

Lawrence’s ruling came days after a federal judge in Oregon ruled that transgender students have the right to use restrooms based on their gender identity.

A Warren County judge is being sued over allegations he's not granting name changes to kids who are transgender.

The plaintiffs in a new federal lawsuit claim Judge Joseph Kirby is violating the constitutional rights of their transgender children by not granting name changes.

 

For people who are transgender, a legal name change is the first step in changing things like a driver's license, passport or college application. The attorneys involved in the suit claim this is usually a "rubber stamp" process, but it has become more complicated for transgender teens.

"Quite simply, this is a violation of the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs in this case, by treating their children differently because of their transgender status," said attorney Josh Langdon.

The Shaul family found themselves pulled into the fight in order to protect their child. They have filed for a name change, but their hearing has not taken place yet.

"By the denial of this, it's another step of the struggle that he deals with every single day," said Jennifer Shaul.

The Whitaker family had a hearing in front of Judge Kirby, and their request for a name change was denied.

"This should have been a private family matter. Instead, we feel our rights were violated," said Kylen Whitaker.

Both families, along with a third, unnamed family, are part of a federal lawsuit filed against Judge Kirby.

"The process for me is not just defending our child, but to raise awareness for other families and children that might be going through this," Whitaker said.

What has been a private journey of learning and acceptance for these parents and their children is now posed to become a legal journey through federal court.

"I'm very proud of my child, and I'll do anything in the world for them to succeed as long as they feel they're doing the right thing," Whitaker said.

The lawsuit specifically points out the higher risk of victimization, anxiety, depression and suicide for transgender teens.

Members of both families say they and their children have not come to this decision easily. It has involved therapy and working with doctors. Both said they are sure it's not a phase their children are going through.

"Honestly, I know this sounds kind of sad, but it's a saying that helps me – I'd rather have an alive son than a dead daughter," Shaul said.

The next step is for a federal judge to set a hearing date. The plaintiffs have asked for an expedited hearing.

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