Stories of hate against the LGBTQ community in Portland have been circulating on social media.

The Portland Police Bureau said it is looking into the attacks but coming forward may not be as easy as it sounds.

"Hate happens in the dark. Hate happens when no one is watching," Q Center executive director Cameron Whitten said. 

The disturbing stories spreading online say members of the LGBTQ community have been targeted in multiple attacks. 

"We are not shocked. We are seriously, seriously disappointed but we are not surprised," Whitten said. "For generations, LGBTQ people have been fighting against violence, harassment and discrimination."

With people turning to Facebook and Twitter with their stories, police are taking notice.

Police said they can't confirm any bias-related crimes lately but officers did respond to an assault on February 10 near SE 15th and Morrison that may have been one. 

Police went to the area of SE 15th and Morrison about a person who may have been assaulted. Police said the person was intoxicated and may have fallen. The person was taken to the hospital and later reported the incident as an assault. 

A bias crime detective was assigned to the case but wasn't able to confirm whether there was a crime. Police said social media posts "suggested the victim believed it may have been" a bias crime. 

"When a hate crime happens, people already have a sense of distrust in whether the authorities will do something," Whitten said. "The fact that we have not done a good enough job to protect people is a testament to why we have hate crimes that are under-reported. So we're trying to do better and we're focused on keeping our communities safe, that's what's important."

Portland police said they are looking into the numerous social media reports about the "rash of attacks on LGBTQ community members in Southeast Portland," but said they haven't received any reports. They urge anyone who is a victim to come forward.

"PPB has proactively reached out to community stakeholders to brief them on what we have learned, and to encourage any victims or witnesses to contact law enforcement," police said in a press release. 

By standing together and being vigilant, Whitten said victory is within reach. He also said the Q Center is another resource for help. 

"The fact that we're being vocal, saying enough is enough, gives me hope that we can actually end this awful wave of hate happening in our communities," he said. 

The Q Center is holding a town hall on Sunday at 6 p.m. to talk about the reports. 

If you were the victim of a bias crime assault or you witness one, call 911 right away. If you were the victim of vandalism or graffiti, call the non-emergency line at 503.823.3333.

For nearly four years, Gavin Grimm has been suing his former school district after it banned him from using the boys bathrooms in high school.

Along the way, he's became a national face for transgender rights. His case almost went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He graduated and moved to California but kept fighting.

"I have fought this legal battle for the past four years because I want to make sure that other transgender students do not have to go through the same pain and humiliation that I did," he said.

The Gloucester County School Board's meeting comes just months before a trial is set to begin over its current bathroom rules.

Grimm said the proposed policy "is far from perfect, but would represent an important first step for Gloucester." The policy "would also send the message to school districts across (Virginia) and the country that discrimination is unacceptable," he said.

Grimm has also been expanding his case against the school board. A federal judge ruled Thursday that he can sue over its refusal to change the gender on his high school transcript, which still lists him as female.

Grimm said the unchanged transcript will stigmatize him every time he applies to a college or potential employer that asks for it.

"I shouldn't have to be outed against my will in every situation where I would have to give that document," Grimm said during a phone interview from the San Francisco Bay Area, where he moved after graduating in 2017.

A court order legally made Grimm a man. And he is listed as male on his birth certificate, passport and a state-issued identification card in California.

The issue of Grimm's transcript highlights another concern in the transgender community that, like bathroom policies, remains far from settled across the nation.

Federal law does not directly address the issue. Some states, such as Massachusetts, provide explicit guidance to schools for updating records. Others, such as Virginia, do not provide a clear path forward to schools.

"The issue is certainly rising as more students express their gender identity," said Francisco M. Negron Jr., chief legal officer for the National School Boards Association.

"We would hope states offer clear guidance," he added. "The alternative is that students would have to make the case on their own, and school districts would not have the benefit of clarity under state law."

Paul D. Castillo, an attorney for the LGBTQ rights group Lambda Legal, said Grimm's effort to update his transcript is "not an isolated incident."

"But it might be one of the first challenges based on federal law to update a student's legal record," Castillo said.

David Corrigan, the lead attorney for the Gloucester County School Board, declined to comment on the case or on how it could be impacted by a possible policy change. The district is located about an hour east of Richmond.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she supports a third gender marker for non-binary people and would back federal policy that protects it. Gillibrand said "yes" when asked if she supported "X" as a possible third gender marker for official documents, according to CBS News on Saturday morning.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire organizer Palana Belken, who is also a trans woman, asked the question during an LGBTQ rights meeting, CBS News reported. In New Hampshire, a state lawmaker has introduced two bills for third gender markers in the Granite State, according to CBS.

The National Center For Transgender Equality described a non-binary person as someone who does not identify as either male or female. A third gender marker is one way of acknowledging non-binary people. If a third gender marker were to pass at a federal level, it would mean documents such as a passport could reflect a non-binary person's identity more accurately.

New Hampshire state Rep. Gerri Cannon introduced the state bills. As one of two transgender women elected to the legislature, Cannon said she knows the importance of unified documentation. "Right now, especially non-binary people, when they go to one state to another some state trooper may take a look at a license with an 'X' on it and go, 'What is this?'" Cannon told CBS News.

Cannon posted about Gillibrand's visit on Twitter. "It was great to Have Senator Gilabrand [sic] in Somersworth today. A real impressive Candidate!" Cannon tweeted on Friday night.

While supporting the third gender marker, The Associated Press reported that Gillibrand said she would also advocate for transgender rights more broadly. She called President Trump's anti-trans policies like the military service ban "an outrage," according to the AP.

While no third gender marker exists on a federal level, numerous states have instituted their own use of an "X" as a gender marker. CBS News reported that Maine started offering an "X" option back in June 2018, starting with stickers for those who signed up for the third option. Permanent licenses can be printed with either M, F, or X starting in June 2019, according to CBS News.

In January, California started issuing identification cards such as driver's licenses with a "X" option, according to The Guardian. "I'm glad that finally non-binary people are recognized, that we exist," one of the first people in line to get a new ID card, Alon Altman, told The Guardian.

In June 2017, Oregon became the first state in the country to offer a third gender marker on official documents for "nonbinary, intersex and agender people," according to NBC News. The rule went into effect in July 2017. "We must proactively break down the barriers of institutional bias," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told NBC News when the rule passed the state Transportation Commission.

While a handful of states have passed these laws, entire countries have as well. Canada introduced a third gender marker on passports in August 2017, according to The Guardian, joining Australia, New ZealandGermany, and Pakistan in their efforts to provide accurate documentation with third gender markers.

The South Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban teaching about transgender people in public schools.

Lawmakers in the state gave the green light to HB 1108, which seeks to block teachers from acknowledging the existence of transgender people to young people in classrooms, on Tuesday (February 12).

The bill says: “No instruction in gender dysphoria may be provided to any student in kindergarten through grade seven in any public school in the state.”

The proposal passed by a vote of 39-30 in the 70 seat chamber, where the Republican Party has a large majority.

South Dakota anti-transgender bill ‘harmful’ to young people

LGBT+ campaigners hit out at the proposal, warning that it could prevent teachers from providing any support to young transgender people.

Cathryn Oakley of LGBT+ campaigning group Human Rights Campaign said: “The intent of this legislation is clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans.

“If HB 1108 were to become law, it would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers.”

Oakley added: “South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country.

“We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.”

Libby Skarin of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota added: “[We are] disappointed that South Dakota’s representatives voted to pass House Bill 1108.

“It is this type of hostility toward young transgender people from adult leaders that contributes to the high rates of depression and even suicide among transgender young people in our state. But the fight is not over.

“Our commitment to ensuring that transgender South Dakotans can live openly without discrimination remains strong and urges South Dakota lawmakers to stop hurting transgender youth.”

South Dakota anti-transgender bill would be on ‘forefront of discrimination’

The bill will now head to the South Dakota Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans.

If it clears the legislature, the bill would then head to the desk of South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem.

And, if passed, the state would become the first to explicitly restrict teaching on trans issues, though wider laws restricting teaching about LGBT+ issues are not a new battle in the US.

Seven states still maintain ‘no promo homo’ laws, which actively restrict schools teaching about homosexuality.

Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas maintain laws barring the “promotion of homosexual relationships” in schools.

Some of the laws have been criticised for being damaging—with Arizona explicitly restricting teaching about “safe methods of homosexual sex.”

Study suggests that increased hours of education related to caring for transgender patients may not correlate to more competent care

People who are transgender face many barriers in the health care system - from intake forms that use non-inclusive language, to challenges finding providers who are knowledgeable about their health care needs.

But more training may not be the answer to improving competent care, a new Michigan Medicine-led study suggests. Surprisingly, more hours of education in the field was not associated with improved knowledge of transgender care among physicians and other providers, according to a new study in the journal Medical Education.

Nearly half of providers in the study said they had cared for a transgender patient, but as many had received no training on the topic.

What distinguished knowledgeable providers from those who were less so, however, appeared to have little to do with their medical education. Transphobia, or a prejudice against people who are transgender, was the only predictor of provider knowledge.

"We were surprised to find that more hours of education about transgender health didn't correlate with a higher level of knowledge about this topic among providers," says lead author Daphna Stroumsa, M.D., MPH, an obstetrician gynecologist at University of Michigan's Von Voigtlander Woman's Hospital and a National Clinician Scholar at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

"Transgender and gender diverse individuals often face discrimination in health care settings and many are unable to find competent, knowledgeable and culturally-appropriate health care," Stroumsa adds. "Lack of provider knowledge is a significant barrier, but our findings suggest that simply increasing training may not be the solution.

"Medical education may need to address transphobia and implicit bias in order to improve the quality of care transgender patients receive."

Researchers surveyed 389 attending physicians, advanced practitioners and residents from the departments of internal medicine, family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology in a large urban health system.

While the study did not evaluate the content or format of the education providers were exposed to, it is likely that educational efforts that address unconscious bias would be more effective.

Stroumsa notes that even in educational programs that address transgender health, the topic is usually presented as a separate section of provider education, rather than as an integral part of general medical education and training - a distinction which may further fuel "othering" of transgender patients.

According to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, a third of transgender people who saw a healthcare provider over the past year had a negative experience with the provider related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity.

Twenty-four percent reported that they had to teach their medical providers about transgender care in order to receive the care they needed and 23 percent avoided medical care they needed because they were worried they would be mistreated due to their gender.

That's why Stroumsa developed and produced training modules (hosted on the Michigan Ob/Gyn website) to prepare Ob-Gyns and other providers to better care for transgender and gender diverse people. The modules were developed in collaboration with physicians and transgender health activists across the country, and the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Meanwhile, another series of videos created by U-M's Halley Crissman, M.D., M.P.H., intend to help train frontline staff on the same topic.

Many providers - especially those traditionally considered "women's health" professionals - likely need to be better prepared to care for transgender patients, Stroumsa notes. People who identify as transgender and non-binary may require many of the services provided by Ob/Gyns and other "women's healthcare" providers, including prenatal and fertility care, cervical cancer screening, menstrual cycle management, as well as gender transition-related care (i.e. hormone therapy), and other routine Ob-Gyn care.

In a separate publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stroumsa and Michigan Medicine family physician Justine Wu, M.D. M.P.H., urge expanded language around "women's health" to be more inclusive. This may include everything from using gender neutral terminology on intake forms to subtle differences in labels, such referring to "well-person" care instead of "well-woman visit."

Many services are "less specialized that we may think," the authors write.

"The Ob-Gyn field has traditionally centered on serving the health and needs of women. But our approach and language may unwittingly alienate a vulnerable population in need of our services," Stroumsa says.

"We obviously have a lot of work to do in improving health outcomes for gender diverse people," Stroumsa adds. "We need to take a close look at our healthcare environments, practices and approaches to medical education. These are just beginning steps in reducing wide health disparities.

"Creating a safe, knowledgeable, trustworthy care environment will help us expand the care we provide to a broader more diverse patient population."


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