When Gabrielle Claiborne came out as a transgender woman in 2010, she worried about what it would mean for her career. She had spent the past thirty years in the construction industry, owning and operating her own successful businesses, but she knew that discrimination against the transgender community would make it difficult for her to continue finding work.

She also knew that she wanted to make a difference in her community, that she wanted to use her business experience and knowledge to make life easier for other transgender people navigating their own careers. She didn’t know what that would look like until she met her eventual business partner, Reverend Linda Herzer, a trans advocate working to educate others about trans and non-binary people. The two women decided to merge their skills and passions to cofound Transformation Journeys Worldwide, an inclusion training and consulting firm that focuses on supporting organizations in creating fully inclusive cultures for trans and non-binary people.

Transformation Journeys Worldwide (TJWW), based in Atlanta, Georgia, serves corporations, nonprofits, spiritual communities, healthcare providers, as well as educational institutions. It has worked with clients like UPS, Home Depot, the Atlanta Hawks, and Kaiser Permanente.

“Our trainings and consultations look different for different clients,” Claiborne explains. “A lot of times our clients are at different places around understanding of trans and non-binary people, so we meet them where they are and create custom consultations and training to help them advance and move forward.”

In addition to teaching the importance of inclusion from a human rights perspective, Claiborne emphasizes to clients that an inclusive work culture is the best possible way to attract and retain top talent. She cites a 2017 Harris Poll that found 12% of Millennials identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, which is double the number of Generation Xers that identify as such.

Millennials are making up more and more of the workplace as time goes on, so it is in a company’s best interest to foster a culture of inclusion, she explains. The biggest challenges for people, Claiborne finds, is understanding what it means to identify as non-binary.

“To an extent culture is now just beginning to wrap their arms around trans people, but non-binary people challenge our cultural assumptions about gender even moreso than trans people do,” she says. “I identify as a woman so essentially I still identify with the binary. It’s non-binary individuals who are really challenging our assumptions on gender expression.”

One big piece of TJWW trainings is helping people understand how to interact respectfully with their transgender and non-binary clients and coworkers. TJWW offers strategies for respectfully asking someone which pronouns they use, and it educates people about what to expect when a coworker comes out or is still in the in the process of evolving their gender expression.

“We have found people want to do the right thing most of the time,” Claiborne says. “They just don’t know how to go about it. The companies we work with are calling us in because they recognize a gap and want to grow.”

Still, Claiborne says it can be challenging to help businesses understand why it is so important for them to undergo trainings like those offered by TJWW. “People are at different places, and meeting them where they are is critical because organizations are not wanting to invest their time, resources, and money if they don’t see it as beneficial to them. It has to be relevant to them. We have to create that relevancy and help them see the relevancy for themselves.”

Claiborne's significant entrepreneurial experience has guided her through the ups and downs of cofounding TJWW. “I knew how to start a business,” she says. “I knew how to collaborate. I knew how to market myself. I knew how to create.” Nevertheless, she says she has learned to be more collaborative since starting TJWW. It has become important to Claiborne to surround herself with other people who bring talent and experience. “So it’s not just me bringing my solutions to the table,” she says.

Through all of her entrepreneurial experiences, Claiborne has learned that it is how you handle the difficult times that will determine the success of your business. “It’s how you run your business in the between times, when it’s hard, when you don’t have money coming in that month.”

She also feels strongly about giving back to other organizations that need support. She is a board member for Atlanta Pride, a member of the city’s LGBTQ mayoral advisory board, a member of the Transgender Inclusion Task Force for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and she is also a vocalist for her spiritual community. “The sponge cannot be full all the time,” she says. “You have to wring it out occasionally, and you have to look at your business as that sponge.”

Claiborne is proud of all she has been able to do and is especially proud that TJWW is seeing positive results for the organizations it works with. “When our clients circle back around with us and share how much they learned and actual steps they’re taking to implement the changes they learned in our trainings, it does our heart good. I wanted to make a difference in the world, and now I feel like I am making a difference in the way it’s meant for me to make.”

The Trump administration’s animosity toward LGBTI people at home and abroad and toward women at home can be easy to shrug off as the “new normal” in the haze of crisis fatigue, but it would be a mistake to miss how dogged or how interrelated these attacks are. This administration is trying to create a world in which trans people don’t exist, women don’t have control over their bodies, and religious beliefs can overrule basic human rights.

These attacks are frequent and appalling, like when the president repeatedly tried to institute a trans military ban or when the administration callously rolled back protections for trans students. Less obvious but just as critical have been the attacks on LGBTI people as the administration tries to change definitions of “gender” in U.S. policy and practice, including the attempt by Health and Human Services to erase gender and define sex as immutable and set at birth, intentionally erasing transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people out of existence — and thus as not entitled to basic rights and protections.

Many of these attacks have been cloaked under the guise of championing women’s rights. Make no mistake: this administration is no friend of women or girls. And yet it has repeatedly tried to use the language of women’s rights as a Trojan horse for blatantly transphobic, anti-women, anti-rights policies — like when the U.S. Agency for International Development sought to use a routine congressional notification to change “gender equality” to “women’s equality.” Or when the U.S. delegation to the United Nations attempted to strip gender from U.N. policy statements, particularly regarding “gender-based violence.” A spokeswoman specifically defended this as part of “the administration’s efforts to empower women and girls.”

These attacks go beyond mere words: reframing gender-based violence, which includes LGBTI people, to "violence against women and girls" erases gay or bi men, transgender and intersex people. It also ignores the more systemic realities of gender power imbalance that must be addressed for all people to live free from violence.

These attempts to erase trans people and redefine gender are deeply related to the administration’s attacks on sexual and reproductive rights, moves that have disproportionate impact on women and LGBTI people. Take, for example, the stripping of reproductive rights from the Human Rights Report — a reversal of U.S. practice and a move that flatly denies sexual and reproductive rights as human rights and woefully misunderstands their centrality to LGBTI people and women, who need comprehensive services that include reproductive care as well as basic health care. Or the administration’s moves to ban diplomats from using well-defined terms like “sexual and reproductive health” and "comprehensive sexuality education" — replacing it instead with “reproduction and the related health services.” Additionally, internal leaked memos have suggested changing sexual and reproductive health language to “women’s health care.” These words matter, and the Trump administration knows it.

These attacks are part of a coordinated approach by the administration to strip LGBTI people and women of their rights. They are increasingly done under cloak of night through bureaucratic measures, only coming to light if leaked. They are rooted in anti-feminist, anti-human rights ideology, and they are being coordinated by a handful of people specifically placed by the Trump administration, under the leadership of the vice president’s office. These are people who have opaque if even existent accountability within the bureaus they work in, seemingly working under the directive of the office of the vice president instead. They’re people like Mari Stull, now at the State Department, currently under investigation for anti-LGBTI slurs and reprisals — and people like anti-trans, anti-reproductive rights activist Bethany Kozma, now at USAID.

This administration is enacting changes in which the government dictates what sex is, who it is for and who gets to have it. They are seeking to build a country and a world in which women and men are defined in opposition to each other and serve very distinct roles; where women don’t have control over their bodies; and where trans, genderqueer, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people simply don’t exist. We must see these attacks for what they are: the hellbent stripping away of people’s rights through whatever means possible at the expense of global health and all our human rights.

The Corvallis School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a policy detailing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming students.

The board discussed the policy extensively during a busy meeting which also included updates on a district financial strategic plan and the selection of contractors for the district's $200 million bond levy.

Board members voted on about a dozen proposed amendments to the proposal. The meeting was the fourth this fall in which the board reviewed and edited the policy.

Thursday night’s edits included changes to make it clear all students are allowed to express the gender identity of their choice, not just students who are transgender or gender nonconforming.

Board Chair Vince Adams said this was necessary to avoid creating a protected category of students who have more rights than their peers.

The board also made other changes to language suggested by Corvallis attorney Lorena Reynolds, who has been contributing to the policy.

 The Trump administration pressed a federal appeals court Monday to allow the U.S. military to restrict service by transgender men and women, calling it "truly extraordinary" that judges throughout the country have stood in the way of its policy.

Judge Thomas Griffith noted the way in which President Donald Trump announced the initial ban last year on transgender troops in a series of tweets — and to the surprise of military leaders — "was extraordinary, too."

The exchange in Washington came during oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and after three lower court judges have temporarily blocked the restrictions in challenges from civil rights and gay rights organizations. Thousands of transgender troops have continued to serve and enlist.

There were parallels in the Trump administration's argument Monday to those made in support of the president's ban on travelers to the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority nations. Trump had initially pledged a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

On the transgender service ban, Trump announced the prohibition via Twitter in July 2017, and cited what he viewed as the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" transgender military service would cause. The administration's order reversed President Barack Obama's policy of allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and to receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.

Attorneys for active-duty service members went to court to block the policy shift that could subject current transgender service members to discharge and deny them certain medical care.

The court rulings were met with another policy revision early this year from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who issued a plan to bar men and women from the military who identify with a gender different from their biological sex and who are seeking to undergo the medical transition process. The new plan makes exceptions, for instance, for about 900 transgender individuals who are already serving openly and for others who would serve in their biological sex.

The Justice Department has tried to short circuit the appeals process by asking the Supreme Court to intervene and rule on the issue this term, but the high court has not yet acted.

The dispute at the D.C. Circuit on Monday centered in part on whether Mattis's revised policy is substantially different from the president's initial order. The appeal by the government contends a lower court judge was wrong when she said she could find no evidence transgender troops would harm the military and put Mattis's proposal on hold nationally while the administration continued its legal fight.

Griffith suggested the government's requirement that transgender troops serve in their biological sex would force a person to suppress their nature and what it means to be transgender.

"Isn't that a contradiction in itself?" Griffith asked. He suggested that "no one can fit into the category you describe."

Justice Department attorney Briton Lucas emphasized that a person's transgender status alone was not disqualifying, and noted that a subset of transgender individuals have no interest in transitioning.

That argument was picked up by Judge Stephen F. Williams, who repeatedly referred to transgender individuals who "do not wish to transition," seeming to make the point that the administration's policy is not a complete ban.

"The record in this case is against you," Williams told the lawyer representing the transgender troops, Jennifer Levi.

Levi disagreed. She told the judge a person's gender identity is "deep-seated" and there are significant reasons, including concerns about discrimination, that would make a person reluctant to transition.

The revised policy still is "rooted in discrimination against an entire group," said Levi, who led the team from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The court discussion had echoes of arguments over the travel ban and its makeovers.

The administration revised its initial sweeping travel ban after a "worldwide review," and lower courts struck down each of three iterations of the president's policy. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the president's power to control entry into the U.S.

At the D.C. Circuit Monday, the government's lawyer said the new version of the policy restricting transgender military service was crafted based on the military's professional judgment and after extensive review.

Lucas, of the Justice Department, urged the court to defer to the judgment of the military and said the situation was "no different than the travel ban case."

Griffith said the revised version of the travel ban included "many, many differences." The judge added, "You haven't been able to identify so many."

Judge Robert Wilkins also seemed skeptical the recast rule on troops had changed much otherthan its provision allowing current transgender troops already serving openly to remain.

"Other than the grandfather clause, what's the difference?" he asked.

Attorneys for the transgender service members said the revised plan still discriminates because it continues to apply different standards to a group of troops because of gender identity, rather than considering an individual's fitness to serve.

Top military leaders told Congress in April they had seen no evidence transgender personnel serving openly had presented a problem for unit cohesion or military readiness.

A long list of retired military officers, former national security officials and military historians have filed briefs in support of allowing transgender troops. The former officials reject the government's argument that the policy arose from the type of military judgment to which courts should defer. President Trump did not consult with military leaders before announcing the initial ban on Twitter, and, they say, the subsequent order is no different.

The appeal comes after U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly repeatedly rejected the government's requests to lift her initial injunction, finding "absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all."

In August, the judge acknowledged the plan from Mattis is "more nuanced" but found a similar discriminatory effect.

The Mattis plan "still accomplishes an extremely broad prohibition on military service by transgender individuals that appears to be divorced from any transgender individual's actual ability to serve," Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

By Robert S. Chang, founding executive director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law

With the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled to hear oral arguments on Monday in the Doe v. Trump legal challenge to the transgender military ban, Trump's Justice Department is expected to make arguments diminishing the humanity of transgender people and insulting their willingness to put their lives on the line to defend this nation.

Though the Trump administration has falsely called service by transgender people a matter of national urgency — even going so far as to attempt a leapfrog of normal legal process by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in prematurely — the only response from the court should be to affirm the equal dignity of transgender Americans and their right to full participation in American life, including the right to serve their country with honor. The proposed transgender military ban (endorsed by a commander-in-chief who did not serve when he had the opportunity) is a slap in the face to those transgender persons who have served, who are serving, or who want to serve.

The ban is further discredited by being counterproductive to the strength of our military forces. The military itself has recognized that arbitrarily barring qualified individuals from service harms its readiness and ability to recruit and retain talent. In a 2016 press briefing, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter noted, “[w]e have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified and to retain them.” At a time when the military struggles to meet recruiting goals, it is not only shameful but irrational to deny those who want to serve their country the opportunity to do so.

Besides which, the administration’s reasoning for the ban and claims about “unit cohesion” are stale and recycled, having been previously discredited time and again when used against people of color, women and gay men and lesbians.

By banning transgender people from serving in the military, the Trump administration denigrates honorable service of transgender people who have already fought and died and sacrificed alongside their fellow soldiers.Military service has — counter to arguments about the inability of servicemembers to effectively work and fight alongside of all other Americans who have made the commitment to serve — played a critical role in breaking down stereotypes of marginalized groups and making the promise of equal citizenship real.

Time and again, individuals facing extreme prejudice in civilian life have, despite those prejudices, signed up to fight for their country. It occurred during the Civil War when black people sought to serve in the Union military, and again during World Wars I and II. Similarly, during World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans who had their loyalty questioned and their freedoms rescinded by internment nevertheless volunteered to serve (and later became one of the most decorated units in the war). Racial integration inside the military had reverberations outside it.

And from women in combat to the end of “don’t ask don’t tell,” honorable military service has also shown the ability to tear down broader barriers to equality for marginalized groups.

Though barriers to true equality remain, we have seen time and again how the service and sacrifice of marginalized groups expand their opportunities by demonstrating the falsity of stereotypes. As a result, a black man has been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an openly gay man has led the Army and women have been our chief diplomats, attorneys general and a secretary of the Air Force. Individuals from marginalized groups today serve in the halls of Congress and governor mansions, in corporate boardrooms, and on the federal bench. Military service opened doors and minds in ways little else could.

When confronted with clear injustices, we as a nation have not always risen to the occasion. Too often, we have remained on the sidelines as we witnessed discrimination. We remained silent and permitted the enslavement of millions. We remained silent and permitted the displacement of Native Americans. We remained silent and permitted the mass deportation of Mexican Americans during the Great Depression and in the 1950s. We remained silent and permitted the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Today, we have an opportunity to recognize the wrongs in front of us in the moment and to take a different course. I am moved by the outpouring of protests in response to policies like the transgender military ban, the rescinding of DACA and severe restrictions on who can seek asylum and refuge at our border. Whereas once some may have been too ready to believe that blatant discrimination against a minority was justified, or to know it is wrong but to acquiesce by remaining silent, we have come to realize that violating the core American value of equality causes lasting harm and undermines our country’s strength.

Frederick Douglass once said, in exhorting his fellow African Americans to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War, that whoever “fights the battles of America may claim America as his country — and have that claim respected.” Transgender soldiers are already serving in the U.S. military, fighting the battles of America; their service and sacrifice establishes clearly their claim on America. Enabling discrimination against them calls into question our own commitment to the values we claim that America represents

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