“I come to you today, a proud, black, transgender woman from a working class background, raised by a single mother. I come to you an artist, an actress, a producer, a girlfriend, a sister, and a daughter […] I am not just one thing, and neither are you,” said Daytime Emmy Award-winner, famed actress and producer, Laverne Cox at the 40th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference (SLC).

“I am not a mistake, I am divinely made,” said Cox to the 3,400 attendees on Tuesday morning.

As the morning segment keynote speaker, Cox reflected on her ever-changing outlook on life, from shame to pride through experiences with bullying, self-love, and trauma surrounding the struggles of gender identity.

“I was deeply shamed about something that felt very organic and natural to me,” said Cox on her earliest memories in Mobile, Alabama of internalized femininity, something her teachers and family taught her to suppress.

“I had all these misconceptions about who transgender people were based on what I’d seen in the media […] I didn’t associate being transgender with being successful and accomplished.”

Over the course of her young-adult life, Cox found herself enrolled at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where she became a dance major before landing in New York to pursue acting at Marymount Manhattan College.

“New York City represented, for me, the place, the space of ultimate possibility […] my education really happened in the nightclubs,” said Cox.

After a few reputable roles on television including appearances on VH1’s I Want to Work for Diddy and self-produced series TRANSform Me, Cox landed the recurring role of Sophia Burset on hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

Cox divulged her more recent challenges of coping with trauma response and triggered anxiety through therapy, and left the audience with a call to action for transgender rights: “You are the person who needs to spearhead the movement.”

After her speech, audience members had the opportunity to ask Cox questions. Several were from parents looking for advice on addressing  their children’s questions about gender identity. Cox answered with what she would have liked to have known as a child.

“What I needed to hear, particularly from my mother, was that I’m beautifully made, that I’m here for a reason, and not only am I loved, but that I am lovable,” said Cox.

The conference was held at the Seaport World Trade Center on Tuesday, April 2 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Designing Success was this year’s theme, a perfect topic with the conference falling ironically on Equal Pay Day, a date commemorating the extra days females must work to catch up with previous year male earnings.


“We all have the gifts to be competitors, it’s our choice if we want to go out there and win,” said O’Malley.


Children's Minnesota will be adding a new health program designed specifically for transgender or gender-diverse youth.

The health system, which has its main hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as clinics dotted around the metro area, announced Tuesday the launch of its "Gender Health Program."

It will become one of only a dozen-or-so hospitals that provide specialized care and support for transgender children and their families, noting that this is one of the areas within the U.S. health system where inequities still exist.

"Our goal is to become the go-to resource for transgender and gender-diverse children from across the region," said Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, medical director for the program and vice chief of staff, in a press announcement.

"Often, families find themselves having to educate their primary care pediatricians, schools, neighbors and family members about how to appropriately care for gender-diverse children. At the Gender Health Program, families can access medical experts they can trust and get the answers they need to help them navigate the complexities they may encounter.

It comes amid an increasing number of youth across the U.S. and the world identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC).

study based on the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey found that as many as 2.7 percent of Minnesota 9th-11th graders identified as TGNC, out of more than 80,000 students who responded.

The same study found students who identified as TGNC reported "significantly poorer health, lower rates of preventive health checkups, and more nurse office visits than cisgender youth."

They stand to benefit therefore from the addition of a specialized service at Children's, which will offer a "variety of services that will support transgender and gender-diverse youth in their health and development."

Children's has released a list of the services it will offer:

  • Gender consultation: Meeting with a gender-health expert to discuss developmental questions and concerns about gender identity and develop a personalized care plan.
  • Pubertal suppression: This fully reversible treatment can put puberty “on pause” for kids in mid to late puberty, which is given as an injection or done as an implant
  • Menstrual suppression: This involves medication, shots or implants to stop menstruation for patients.
  • Gender-affirming hormone treatment: This involves hormones that create changes in the body to align with patient’s gender identity. 
  • Fertility preservation consultation: A fertility specialist will discuss options with patients prior to starting gender affirming treatment.

Police are investigating the shooting death of a transgender woman in suburban Maryland.

Fairmount Heights Police tell newsoutlets that they were called to the area of Aspen and Jost streets Saturday around 6:30 a.m. on reports of gunshots.

The woman, who has not been identified by police, was found dead at the scene after being shot multiple times.

The case will be turned over to Prince George's County Police for investigation.

WJLA-TV in Washington reports that the area, which borders the District of Columbia, has seen an influx of transgender prostitution.

The last week in March is recognized as LGBTQ Health Awareness Week.

GALA is partnering with several local organizations during the course of the week.

In an email, GALA’s Executive Director Michelle Call said the organization and Planned Parenthood will be announcing that all local Planned Parenthood offices will begin offering hormones for gender transition beginning this Summer, and reminding LGBTQ+ folks about current services including OB-GYN services for trans men.

Call also stated GALA and The Tobacco Control Program will be announcing that The GALA Center will be a tobacco-free area beginning on April 1, 2019. “This announcement will be accompanied by new signage, an invitation to an informational meeting and possible smoking cessation classes, and information about LGBTQ+ tobacco disparities,” she stated.

GALA and Tenet – Sierra Vista and Twin Cities Hospitals are releasing a fact sheet which will be displayed in hospitals. That fact sheet includes a recent study done showing LGBTQ youth are 3.9 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers. You can read more facts here.

It’s been seven months since a federal judge ruled that Drew Adams, a transgender student at Nease High School, can use the boys’ bathroom during his final year at the school.

Adams and his mother, Erica Adams Kasper, sued the St. Johns County School District over a policy that required Adams, who was born a girl and then underwent hormone treatment and surgery, to use gender neutral bathrooms on the school’s campus.

Since the July ruling, Adams has returned to life as a senior preparing for college. But the fight isn’t over.

The St. Johns County School Board decided to appeal the decision of U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In doing so, some believe the case has a chance to be a watershed moment in advocates’ push for transgender rights, and it’s capturing national attention.

“I think we are really in a position to defend our win in the district court after trial and to not just continue to vindicate Drew’s rights, but set a precedent that will positively impact transgender students across three states,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a lawyer for the Lamba Legal team representing Adams. “We are talking about, not just students in Florida, but students in Georgia and Alabama, as well.”

If Adams loses the appeal, the case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting up a potentially historic ruling.

Appeal moves forward

Adams, 18, was not available for an interview with The Record this week, but in a recent interview Adams said he’s just been trying to get his life back to normal after the high-profile case.

“Most days, the case does not actually affect me except for being able to use the correct bathroom now. I’m mostly just a normal kid trying to survive high school,” Adams told online news site NewNowNext.

Meanwhile, while Adams takes exams, prepares college applications and practices jiu-jitsu, his case has been slowly moving along after the school board appealed the ruling.

“We weren’t necessarily shocked at the appeal, but certainly disappointed by their [the school board’s] decision to do so,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

School board members Beverly Slough, Tommy Allen, Bill Mignon, Kelly Barrera and Patrick Canan either did not return a request for comment or declined to comment to The Record this week citing the ongoing litigation. St. Johns County Superintendent Tim Forson also did not respond to a request for comment, but Forson said previously the district disagrees “with the plaintiff’s interpretation of the law.”

“We believed our policy was legal and one which struck a balance of the rights of all students,” Forson said in a statement last year.

Adams came out as a transgender boy his freshman year and used the boys restroom at the school for about six weeks in 2015 until an anonymous complaint led to the administration requiring him to use gender-neutral bathrooms.

In his decision last year, Corrigan said the law was clearly on Adams’ side when it came to using the boys restroom.

“When confronted with something affecting our children that is new, outside of our experience, and contrary to gender norms we thought we understood, it is natural that parents want to protect their children,” Corrigan wrote. “But the evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of any of his fellow students. Rather, Drew Adams is just like every other student at Nease High School, a teenager coming of age in a complicated, uncertain and changing world. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.”

The school’s policy, Corrigan found, violated both federal Title IX education laws and Adams’ rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

“The district court judge here was following precedent from the appellate court as well as really the general consensus that has been building around this issue nationally,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

Adams’ case is the first time the question of transgender students’ bathroom access has come before the 11th Circuit, but NBC News reports that there are similar cases working their way through other federal courts.

Support and opposition

In recent weeks, Adams has been gaining support from around the country. The chief law enforcement officers of 20 states and the District of Columbia entered a brief on behalf of Adams in March. Florida’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody was not among the supporters. Later, more than 30 companies — including Microsoft, Apple and Google — signed an amicus brief sent to the 11th Circuit Court by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group. The friend-of-the-court brief from Human Rights Campaign argues that upholding the school’s bathroom policy would adversely affect the companies’ “ability to build and maintain diverse and inclusive workplaces.”

“Employees may be reluctant to be transferred to a state in which your child might experience discrimination,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, told NBC News.


There has also been continued opposition.

Alliance Defending Freedom — a conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of advocating, training, and funding on the issues of “religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family” — recently filed a friend-of-the court brief on behalf of medical professionals and scientists arguing that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit should reverse the lower court decision in Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County.

“School policies should help students and protect all students’ privacy, not disregard the privacy rights of many. But if gender identity advocates have their way, St. Johns’ schools will be forced to violate students’ privacy and cooperate with high-risk, unproven medical treatments,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb wrote in a statement in January. “As the doctors point out in their brief, there is no evidence supporting gender affirmation treatments in the long term. The 11th Circuit should reverse the lower court decision that gives legal weight to unfounded scientific conclusions and instead prioritize the well-being of all children over political ideology.”

Holcomb told OneNewsNow she believes there’s a good chance the case could make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could resolve this issue once and for all.

Next steps

The St. Johns County School Board is being represented by Tallahassee-based law firm Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. during the appeal process. According to the district, the firm’s services are being paid for by the district’s insurance company, Florida School Boards Insurance Trust. A representative from the firm was not able to be reached Friday.

After the school district filed its reply last week, Gonzalez-Pagan said his team is waiting for the case to be calendared by the court for argument. He expects it could happen late summer or early fall. When the case is finally heard, there will be a lot of people watching.

“Drew is in the process of finishing his senior year, being able to be fully treated as the boy that he is by the school and we look forward to just making sure that his win is protected at the appellate level,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

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