With “The Real Thing,” filmmaker Brandon Kelley wants to set an inclusive example for parents of all kids.

 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-real-thing-transgender-film_us_5bef4438e4b07573881e935d

 A young transgender girl and her father share a tender embrace in “The Real Thing,” filmmaker Brandon Kelley’s heartwarming short that hit the internet Monday in honor of both Veterans Day and Trans Awareness Week

The seven-minute film, which screened at the 2017 Outfest in Los Angeles and the 2018 New England Film Festival, follows Allie (Sophie Giannamore), who has transitioned while her soldier father (Michael Torpey) has been on an active tour of duty. Unfortunately for Allie, her classmates and teachers have yet to accept her as her authentic self ― and when she returns home to spot her dad standing in her room, she’s worried he’ll react similarly. 

Kelley, who has worked behind the scenes at “Bill Nye Saves the World” and “Project Runway,” as well as on the 2016 TV series, “Nightcap,” told HuffPost he wanted to show “an example of what the parental relationship with a trans child, or any child, should be” with his film. He also praised the talent of Giannamore, who identifies as trans in real life and documented her journey in a series of videos on YouTube.

The filmmaker is, of course, conscious of the fact that “The Real Thing” was released at a time when members of the transgender community have seen their rights rolled back under President Donald Trump’s administration. Still, he’s hopeful the film will remind viewers that “we don’t have to wait until 2020 to fix our problems.” 

“Every day there is a new story of a local victory, or small-scale progress being made,” he said. “There are multiple large-scale battles being fought in courts, legislatures and communities across the country, and youth and passion are on our side. Together, these efforts create a tidal wave of progressive thought and policy.” 

As far as Transgender Awareness Week is concerned, he added, “There are many things for which we can be somber, but we should also look at this week as a chance to showcase ourselves. I want [trans youth] to know that this week exists, in a large part, in order to help them.

 

For years, LGBTQ people have been subject to the abhorrent practice known as conversion therapy, in which people attempt to cure their "patients" of homosexuality. Fortunately, enough people realized that this practice does more harm than good and have worked to have it banned in several states (New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, and New Hampshire). According to Into More, following the midterm election results where Democrats gained multiple seats in the local and federal government, it appears that four more states Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, are planning on banning conversion therapy. 

Openly gay Senator Brad Hoylman of New York said that the Republican party that controlled the State Senate at the time "blocked every piece of LGBTQ legislation since 2011." He also commented that he was sure that the Republicans will continue to try and block LGBTQ legislation and that would not change unless the State Senate had a Democratic majority. In 2018, New York approved a bill that would have prohibited conversion therapy from being performed on minors, but Republicans in the State Senate would not allow the bill to reach them. After November 6, Democrats will hold 35 out of 62 Senate seats in New York, hopefully the help and the majority needed to get protective LGBTQ legislation passed. Hoylman is hopeful that positive change will occur, as he saw record turnout among Democrats and he realized that many Republicans do not feel represented by their party anymore. 

COLORADO

The election of Jared Polis of Colorado, also an openly gay politician, indicates that change is also coming to the Centennial State. There is now a 19-16 Democratic Senate majority in Colorado, which will hopefully allow the state legislature to push forward with protective LGBTQ legislation.

MAINE

In Maine, Republican governor Paul LePage vetoed a conversion therapy bill, making him the first Governor to do so. Newly elected Governor Janet Mills promised once she became the new governor of Maine to sign a bill to conversion therapy. In a March 2018 statement, Mills said she recognizes the harm that conversion therapy causes, the anxiety, depression, homelessness, and other harmful effects.

"LGBTQ people don’t need to be ‘fixed'. As governor, I will make sure LGBTQ young people in Maine hear from their political leaders that they are respected and valued, not broken."

MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts, both the House and Senate supported a bill that would ban conversion therapy, but could not reconcile the differences of their versions. It is projected that such a bill will be reconsidered in 2019. 

NEXT?

It is clear that the increase of Democrats and LGBTQ citizens involved in and having positions in the government will lead to positive changes and more protective LGBTQ legislation in the near future as such things have been neglected for far too long. 

It was a call for which Brianna Titone had been waiting hours -- even days.

One of Colorado's closest races was finally decided Saturday afternoon as Republican candidate Vicky Pyne called Titone to congratulate Titone in the middle of her interview with FOX31.

Colorado House District 27, which covers part of the northwest Denver metro area, was ultimately decided by just 368 votes. However, the historical significance of the vote is far-reaching.

Brianna Titone is now the first openly transgender legislator in Colorado history.

"This is what I was waiting for," she said as she hung up the phone.

Titone says she chose not to focus on her gender identity while campaigning. Instead, she focused on the issues she's passionate about, especially education funding.

However, she admits the historical significance of her victory is a win for equal rights.

"While I was running to represent the district that I live in and fulfill the needs of those people, it was important to me to also represent trans people in Colorado and across the country," she said. "Being out as trans gives people carte blanche to say, 'I discriminate against you because you're different.' That's really the big distinction about being an openly trans person running for office, because I'm really putting myself out there with that vulnerability."

She says her opponent avoided attacks aimed at her gender identity, but she did receive some from people while campaigning.

"There were a couple of things that happened at doors where people said some mean things," she says. "But at the doors, people were pretty intent on talking about the issues, because that's what I focused on, to make sure I was there to find out what was important to them."

Titone has degrees in physics and geology, and believes her science background will be beneficial at the Colorado Capitol.

"So many people are not tuned into politics. They tune into federal politics, but not state politics. So, going to the door, talking to them, allows me to find out what people are really [needing] and what they want. And I told them our conversation at the door is not the last one we're going to have. We're going to have more in the future, and I welcome those conversations so I can figure out what we really need to do," she said.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters upheld a 2016 law preventing transgender people from being turned away from services based on their gender identity. The 68-32 vote ensures that transgender people in Massachusetts will continue to enjoy the same rights afforded to the state’s other residents. 

But it never should have gotten to this point. That any minority population’s rights could be put to a vote, or subject to a patchwork of state laws, speaks to the need for the 116th Congress to pass a national policy upholding equal rights.

Many viewed the 2015 Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States as an indicator that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people had fully equal rights. Three years later, the Trump administration has rolled back federal protections for LGBT people and 12 states have passed policies explicitly permitting unequal treatment of LGBT people.

In Kentucky and Kansas, youth can be turned away from participation in student organizations for being LGBT. In Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee, patients can be turned away by medical professionals for being LGBT — a policy that the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to implement nationwide. The Trump administration also reversed a federal policy preventing federal employees from being fired based on being LGBT and is considering a move to define gender as a biological condition determined at birth, despite medical professional consensus that gender is not biologically defined. 

These policies are in stark contrast to the protections guaranteed to all citizens in the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The courts uphold equal rights with strict scrutiny for protected classes such as racial and ethnic minorities, who have been subject to historic discrimination based on immutable characteristics. 

Protection of life and liberty, of course, includes the protection of health. Yet it is clear that LGBT people still face health inequities linked to discrimination. Transgender people are eight times more likely to report a suicide attempt in their lifetime relative to cisgender people. Similarly, gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents are nearly five times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year relative to their heterosexual peers. These inequities have been linked to stigma at the stateneighborhoodschoolpeer and family levels. 

Laws permitting the denial of services to LGBT people exacerbate existing health disparities. In a study of three of the first state policies permitting the denial of services to LGBT people, we found that such policies were linked to a 46 percent increase in the proportion of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults who reported mental distress.

In contrast, we found that gaining equal rights through state marriage equality policies was linked to a 14 percent reduction in gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescent suicide attempts, ahead of the 2015 Supreme Court decision making marriage equality legal throughout the country. 

While proponents of laws permitting unequal rights for LGBT people suggest that these laws are a matter of religious rights, there is no evidence that those who are religious are experiencing harm when LGBT people have equal rights. In contrast to the severe mental health disparities affecting those who are LGBT, those who are religious do not experience such disparities; in fact, those who are religious consistently report better mental health than those who are not. 

Massachusetts voters upheld the spirit and principles of the U.S. Constitution by voting that transgender people are equal people, who deserve equal rights. It should not have been up to Massachusetts voters to protect the well-being of a minority population.

Upholding the Constitution is a responsibility we entrust to the senators and representatives elected yesterday and in past years, who take an oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The members of the 116th Congress should pass the The Equality Act to ensure that all of the people of the United States have permanently and universally equal rights.

The country’s first major-party transgender candidate for governor said Thursday she doesn’t know what she will do next now that she’s lost the election in Vermont — but Christine Hallquist is keeping all of her options open.

Hallquist, a former utility executive who was a relative unknown at the start her Democratic campaign, won 40 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election against Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who took 55 percent.

“I wouldn’t change anything, and everything about the campaign was exciting and rewarding, except for the losing part,” said Hallquist, who was taking a break after the election, visiting her grandchildren out of state on Thursday.

She knew it would be uphill battle. Beating an incumbent governor doesn’t happen often in Vermont. The last time was in 1962.

Hallquist led a trailblazing, historic campaign, said The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“She ran on a platform of furthering civil rights, expanding health care and holding government accountable — committing to making Vermont an even stronger, more vibrant and inclusive state,” President Chad Griffin said in a written statement after the election. “Hallquist’s inspiring and pioneering campaign has sent a loud, clear message that transgender people deserve a seat at the table in every level of government.”

In his victory speech, Scott thanked Hallquist for running a spirited and civil campaign .

What has not been civil is the vitriol Hallquist has faced and still does on social media, which she said for the most part doesn’t bother her.

“I pretty much ignore it because it’s really reflective on the person, not necessarily me, and I’m sorry that people have their bias, and I think it’s more a reflection on their insecurity because I don’t even know how I could be perceived as a threat,” she said.

After returning from her visit with family, she said she will have to find a job but didn’t know yet what that would be.

“I’m keeping the options open,” she said.

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