Christopher Street West, the nonprofit organization that produces LA Pride, has named a Black transgender woman as president of its board for the first time in its 50-year history. 

Sharon-Franklin Brown, an activist for transgender rights and a former U.S. Navy sailor, will take the reins as previous president of LA Prides board, Estevan Montemayor, leaves Christopher Street West. Something he had planned to do after the 50th anniversary celebration to focus on the 2020 election. Brown, who has been a board member since 2019, will serve the remainder of Montemayor’s term, which will expire October 2021.

Montemayor shares his feelings in a Facebook post stating, “The last 3 years have flown by. I’m so proud of the work we have done and the lessons we have learned. My time with LA Pride has come to an end but my commitment to our fearless and beautiful community will always continue. I’m so proud of my friend Sharon Brown. She is an exceptional and experienced professional who will lead with empathy, inclusiveness, and grace. LA Pride is lucky to have her. I cannot wait to see what she does with the role!”

Madonna Cacciatore, Christopher Street West’s executive director, said she has worked with Brown for more than eight years. The two women have known each other at Christopher Street West and the LA LGBT Center, where Cacciatore previously worked.

“I have known and worked with Sharon for more than eight years of my career at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Christopher Street West,” said CSW executive director Madonna Cacciatore. “She has never failed to inspire me and those around her through her intentional leadership, unwavering dedication, and her openness and honesty. She is the right person to walk our community into the next chapter of our history.”

Christopher Street West produces one of the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ celebrations, prepares to move annual events from its longtime West Hollywood home and places a renewed emphasis on diversity and social justice. 

“It’s never been a more important moment for the LGBTQ-plus community and its allies to continue fighting for all of us,” Brown said in a statement. “As a robust community across Los Angeles, we value inclusiveness and diversity.” She continues to say she is “so humbled to have been appointed … as the first Black trans woman to lead CSW/Los Angeles Pride and our community efforts forward, beyond the pandemic and election, and into the future.”

In July, Christopher Street West announced that it was leaving West Hollywood after more than four decades in the iconic LGBTQ-friendly city. 

The LA Pride Parade and Festival, which have taken place in West Hollywood every summer since 1979, draws hundreds of thousands of people each year and is a major economic driver for local bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other businesses that have been hard-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit, in a letter to the West Hollywood City Council, said it would move the parade and festival in 2021. A new location has not been announced.

An activist for transgender rights and a former U.S. Navy sailor, Brown also is the current director of human resources at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

America — the country known as the land of the free and home of the brave — provides many opportunities for people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and more minority groups. But this country also deprives a surplus amount financially, mentally and socially. Which leads to a troubling question: Does this land provide a home of safety and justice to all, or only to those deemed as free — the majority?

A night out in Hollywood, California turned into an unimaginable night of terror on Aug, 17 when three transgender influencers were attacked, robbed and ridiculed as bystanders did nothing. The occurrence caught on film and live-streamed turned into an ongoing investigation as no charges were filed due to lack of evidence. The police department recently released all three male suspects arrested, who were allegedly involved in the attack.

Eden Estrada, Jaslene Busanet and Joslyn Allen, affectionately known to their fans as Eden the DollJaslene White Rose and Joslyn Flawless, were waiting for an Uber around 2:15 a.m. when the attack occurred. A man was harassing them earlier in a store before attacking them with objects and anti-trans slurs as bystanders recorded and laughed at the attack on the trio, two being women of color.

“I don’t care if you don’t like me, or aren’t a fan, or even hate me. No one deserves this,” Estrada wrote on Instagram, according to Elle Magazine. “Women like me get murdered on the daily. I recognize my privilege. I know how lucky I am. But what about those who aren’t?

The three transgender influncers: Eden the Doll, Jaslene White Rose, and Joslyn Flawless. Photo courtesy @mefeater on Instagram

Unfortunately, this has not been the only or possibly the last reported attack on transgender people in America. Transgender people have been ridiculed since the start of their exposure across the globe. Transgender people were semi-embraced when the famous record-breaking athlete Bruce Jenner transformed into the news-breaking celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.

Though transgender people have been more accepted in today’s society, there are still many terrifying attacks similar to the case of these three influencers. It has been said that a trans woman of color is mainly targeted due to race and sexuality.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people face a heightened risk of fatal violence, and Black transgender women are especially vulnerable because of “a toxic mix of transphobia, racism and misogyny,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.

These inescapable attacks subconsciously create a vulnerable population among transgender people as many are scared to live life freely the way America supposedly allows. This can advance mental health difficulties as hate crimes have increased 34 percent between 2017 and 2018, and the most reported deaths of 26 transgender people this year according to HRC.

A majority of transgender people killed in America are Black women. The death of a 17-year-old Black trans girl, Brayla Stone, on June 25 caught the attention of only some across the nation. Stone’s body was located in a car by a path in Little Rock, Arkansas, and allegedly could’ve been an assassination because Stone was a transgender person.

Suicide and attempted suicide rates of transgender people are also high in this country; many transgender individuals have experienced harassment, bullying or even family rejection. All of these factors can stimulate suicide, especially at a young age.

“According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40 percent of adult respondents reported having attempted suicide in their lifetime — almost nine times the attempted suicide rate in the general U.S. population,” wrote journalist Gwen Aviles in an article for NBC News.

Even the current 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, attempted to end transgender health protections, which leads to a lack of health benefits and financial stability within this vulnerable community. Though federal Judge Frederic Block blocked Trump’s attempt, the president has said he plans to end protection against discrimination in the health department, demonstrating the actual proclamation of freedom in America.

Despite the severe criticism this community is forced to cope with, transgender people and others in the LGBTQ+ community continue to demand justice for these unlawful crimes and social injustice against their community. They strive to get more recognition for their tragic stories from media outlets and the world.

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HRC knows that mail voting is going to be key for the upcoming election in November. That’s why we’re making sure we educate voters about their voting options, including mail voting, early voting and polling locations on election day.

  • HRC is pushing back against common myths about mail voting through a new video campaign. Check out the first few here.
  • The HRC Foundation & HIT Strategies released research earlier this month showing that voters of color, including LGBTQ voters of color, are seeking safe and secure alternatives to make their voices heard.
  • Earlier this year, HRC also announced a new initiative called Vote Equal, Vote Safe, which is focused on ensuring LGBTQ voters and their allies are able to exercise their right to vote this November.
  • Learn more and register to vote at hrc.org/vote.

CISSIE GRAHAM LYNCH ATTACKS LGBTQ KIDS AT RNC: Said HRC President Alphonso David (@AlphonsoDavid), “We knew this rhetoric would come from allies of a President dedicated to attacking LGBTQ people at every opportunity. What is particularly shameful is the targeting of some of the most vulnerable in our community: transgender kids. Cissie Graham Lynch’s comments were despicable and must be widely condemned by anyone who claims to be an ally of LGBTQ people. To Trump and his allies: we fight for our community and will see you at the ballot box.” More from HRC.

WHAT WE’RE READING WEDNESDAY -- HRC CRITICIZES NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE FOR ENCOURAGING ATTACKS ON GINA ORTIZ JONES BASED ON HER SEXUAL ORIENTATION: “These personal, homophobic and transphobic attacks shows how shameless and low Tony Gonzales and the NRCC are willing to go in the race for Texas’s 23rd Congressional District,” said HRC Texas State Director Rebecca Marques (@_RebeccaMarques). “It also shows how shallow their case is against a formidable veteran candidate of color and member of the LGBTQ community.”

BOISE — A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked Idaho’s new Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which as of July 1 bars transgender girls and women from competing on collegiate and K-12 women’s sports teams in Idaho.

The court will also allow intervention in defense of the law by two female athletes at Idaho State University who complained of “deflating” competitive losses to a transgender woman at an out-of-state cross country meet, letting them submit testimony and arguments as the case moves forward.

U.S. District Judge David Nye granted a preliminary injunction, stopping the law from taking effect while its constitutionality is challenged in court. Nye did so after outlining harm that challengers of the law would suffer in the near future, saying the law, also known as HB 500, risks withholding equal protection of the law outlined in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, in conjunction with the Seattle-based progressive feminist group Legal Voice, filed the lawsuit against the state April 15.

The plaintiffs are Lindsay Hecox, a Boise State University student and transgender distance runner hoping to try out for the university’s women’s track and cross country teams, and a cisgender Boise High School soccer player who is called “Jane Doe” throughout the case because she is a minor. (Cisgender describes people whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth.)

The plaintiffs “will both suffer specific ‘harm for which there is no adequate legal remedy’ in the absence of an injunction,” Nye wrote. “If Lindsay is denied the opportunity to try out for and compete on BSU’s women’s teams, she will permanently lose a year of NCAA eligibility that she can never get back. Lindsay is also subject to an Act that communicates the State’s ‘moral disproval’ of her identity, which the Constitution prohibits. … When Jane tries out for Boise High’s women’s soccer team, she will be subject to the possibility of embarrassment, harassment, and invasion of privacy through having to verify her sex. Such violations are irreparable.”

In addition to forbidding transgender women and girls from competing in school sports on teams that match their gender identity, HB 500 allowed any person to challenge the sex of a female school athlete in Idaho, and girls who were so challenged would have to prove they were female through medical exams. The plaintiff called Jane Doe worried about being forced to undergo that process to verify her sex.

The law and mandatory verification of an athlete’s sex do not apply to athletes on boys’ and men’s sports teams, an omission that Nye pointed out.

Though the court temporarily blocked the rule, Nye wrote that, under Title IX and the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment, two ISU students supporting the bill had legal standing because of the competitive losses they reported. 

Christiana Holcomb, an attorney representing the ISU students and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit in Arizona that worked with Idaho lawmakers in crafting HB 500, was disappointed by the freeze of the bill but said she was “delighted” by the court’s decision to consider the students’ arguments and stakes in the case.

“What it brings is the perspective of female athletes,” she said by phone Monday evening, arguing that the law was “establishing the fair, level playing field that Title IX was meant to create” before its enforcement was paused.

Jeremy Woodson from ACLU of Idaho called the injunction “momentous.”

“Transgender people belong in Idaho, including on school sports teams,” Ritchie Eppink, legal director for the ACLU of Idaho, said in a statement. “This decision will not only protect women and girls, but also the Idaho economy as businesses have made it clear that they do not want to support any attack on transgender students. This is a welcome first step, and our fight for Lindsay, Jane Doe and others impacted by this law is not over.”

The law spurred calls for the NCAA to move its 2021 March Madness tournament games out of Boise; the Board of Governors has yet to make a decision. Additionally, the state of California restricted state-funded travel to Idaho over HB 500 and another new law this year, HB 509, that sets strict criteria for changing gender on a birth certificate; a federal judge earlier this month ruled the latter violated a court order from two years ago.

Though a previous Idaho attorney general analysis raised questions about HB 500’s constitutionality, the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the recent development in the case.

The bill was first sponsored by Bonneville County and District 33A Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, earlier this year. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Opposition to HB 500 paralleled that to HB 509. Criticism came from Idaho’s largest employers, human rights advocates, faith leaders and more but the bill passed on largely party-line votes, with nearly all majority Republicans favoring it and legislative Democrats all opposed. Republican Gov. Brad Little signed it into law on March 30.

Reporter Betsy Z. Russell contributed.

Los Angeles police are on the hunt for one final man suspected in a robbery and hate crime incident against three transgender women.

Two men are in custody. Willie Walker, 42, was arrested in Hollywood Wednesday and on an extortion charge, police said, and Carlton Callway, 29, was arrested Thursday on a robbery charge with a hate crime enhancement. Police said they're still looking for 22-year-old Davion Williams, who is suspected of assaulting the victims with a deadly weapon.It is unclear if Walker and Callway have legal representation.
 
The women were robbed and assaulted in Hollywood Monday, police said. During the incident, one man approached one victim with a metal bar and demanded her shoes and bracelet, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. The man later assaulted another victim with a bottle, knocking her to the ground, according to police. Throughout the attack, police said, the man made derogatory remarks about the women being transgender.
 
"We believe these crimes were motivated by hate because the victims were transgender women and derogatory remarks were made by the suspect about the victims," Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Justin Eisenberg said.
One of the three victims was identified by CNN affiliate KCAL as Eden Estrada, who goes by Eden the Doll on YouTube and has an Instagram following of more than 400,000.
"It was absolutely the worst moment of my life," Estrada told the news station. "I know that I'm so privileged, because I am a YouTuber and because people know who I am, but this happens all the time to women like me who aren't on social media."
 
"We need this to stop."
 
CNN has reached out to Estrada for comment.
 
The incident was partially captured on video by onlookers and shared widely on social media. But the passersby did little to help the women who were under attack, according to police.
 
"What was particularly callous about these crimes was the actions of the onlookers," Eisenberg said. "They recorded and appear to celebrate the assaults rather than render aid and assist the victims."
 
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said in a statement posted to Twitter he was angered to see the video of the attack.
"The video of three transgender women of color being physically attacked, chased, robbed and jeered at by a hostile crowd of cisgender men and women has me infuriated," O'Farrell wrote. "And determined to see that all perpetrators are brought to justice."

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