WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Monday from enforcing a new regulation that would roll back health care protections for transgender people.

Finalized days after the Supreme Court barred sex discrimination against LGBT individuals on the job, the regulation from the federal Department of Health and Human Services was to have taken effect Tuesday.

Monday’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn bars the administration from enforcing the regulation until the case can be heard in court and decided. Block indicated he thought the Trump administration’s so-called transgender rule is invalid in light of the Supreme Court ruling in June on a case involving similar issues in the context of job discrimination.

“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” Block wrote in his order, suggesting the agency may want to reconsider. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it.”

The HHS health care rule was seen as a signal to President Donald Trump’s social and religious conservative supporters that the administration remained squarely behind them after the shock of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Gorsuch wrote. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what (civil rights law) forbids.”

In a tweet, Trump called that “horrible & politically charged” and compared it to a shotgun blast in the faces of conservative Republicans.

The HHS rule sought to overturn Obama-era sex discrimination protections for transgender people in health care. Similar to the underlying issues in the job discrimination case before the Supreme Court, the health care rule rests on the idea that sex is determined by biology. The Obama-era version relied on a broader understanding shaped by a person’s inner sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.

The lawsuit against the Trump administration rule was brought by an advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, on behalf of two transgender women. One of the plaintiffs is an Army veteran, and the other a writer and activist.

Judge Block dismissed as “disingenuous” arguments from HHS that its rule was legally valid, and he wrote that the agency acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in enacting it.

HHS said it was disappointed by the judge’s decision.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a “victory for the LGBTQ community and the rule of law.”

The judge “was unambiguous in … ruling that the administration’s actions were in blatant violation of the Affordable Care Act’s protections and the Supreme Court’s recent … decision, which affirmed that discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ included sexual orientation and gender identity,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Judge Block was nominated to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton.

Three openly-LGBTQ people together will make the first openly-LGBTQ people to speak in the DNC keynote address.

Yesterday, the Democratic Convention announced the Keynote address participants slated to speak Tuesday evening at the 2020 Democratic National Convention including 3 openly-LGBTQ people who together will make the first openly-LGBTQ people to speak in the keynote address. In response, HRC President Alphonso David issued the following statement:

“From the most pro-equality platform in history to the first LGBTQ people to speak as keynote speakers, the 2020 Democratic National Convention marks a turning point for our community. We have fought for a seat at the table for generations, and at this convention more LGBTQ people will serve as delegates than any other party convention in history. It’s clear our voice is not only valued but seen as essential by the Democratic party.

Leaders like Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Del. Danica Roem, State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Sam Park, and Mayor Robert Garcia represent not only the diversity of our community but the future of our movement.

This convention season, one thing is clear: Democrats are leading with unity, inclusivity and diversity while Republicans are leading with ignorance, divisiveness and bigotry.”

Alphonso David, HRC President

BACKGROUND

LGBTQ people have made history across the board at this convention. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the history makers:

  • First openly LGBTQ person to keynote a party convention: State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Sam Park, and Mayor Robert Garcia.
  • First LGBTQ Presidential candidate earn delegates, and speak to a party convention: Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • First transgender elected official to participate in a convention: Del. Danica Roem 

The 2020 Democratic platform also marks the most pro-equality platform in history. LGBTQ people are integrated into almost every aspect of policy discussed throughout the platform.

There will be more LGBTQ delegates at this convention than any other convention in history, including a historic number of transgender delegates.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, advertising industry executive Allen Kay coined the public service announcement for New York City. And from there the message spread widely.

Can that kind of message spread work in in tiny Mifflinburg, Pa? On July 26, the members of The I Am Alliance, organized a pride event in the Union County village (pop. 3,600)  to find out.

The answer turned out to be “Yes.” And organizer Victoria Matthews told the Central Voice that her goal “is to keep awareness going.”

“I had been thinking about the I Am Alliance for quite some time,” she said. She later told FOX-56 News that the “idea for the rally started after a sign was put on Wenger’s grocery store spreading misinformation about mask usage and coronavirus, going on to say the LGBTQIA lifestyle is ‘a sin in God’s eyes and spreads deadly diseases.”

“They are people of powerful love, people who deserve to be loved, people with rights, and people with a voice that will not be silenced,” Matthews said of the local queer community. “We will not stand by while they’re smeared with derogatory statements, but we will stand with them and for them.”

“I believe the queer community needs events like this,” Matthews continued. “So often LGBTQIA, especially children and teens in the community, feel isolated, rejected and alone. This showed them that they’re not alone, that they belong to something that is big and beautiful.”

If it’s successful, the Alliance’s work will show queer people “there is a place where they can be accepted and not bullied, where they are free to just be themselves and to be the person they are,” she said.

Matthews is keeping the Alliance Facebook and Instagram pages active with postings and event photos. She’s working on “more events and working on a coalition of social justice groups.”

The Alliance has held other rallies in the area in support of the Black Lives Matter. Frank Mazano, who heads If Not Us Then Who, told WNEP-TV, “Their fight is our fight. Oppression is oppression whichever way you look at it, especially when it’s systemic.”

During an Aug. 8 event in Milton, Pa., the Alliance had rally-goers form a human pride flag along a main street. Counter-protesters, some of whom carried confederate flags, took their place across the street.

“It does make me a little bit angry, but that’s okay, anger doesn’t always lead to hate. I don’t hate them; a lot of other people here don’t hate them,” participant Tiana Rawls-White of Northumberland, Pa., told WNEP-TV “Anger can lead to so many positive things like a movement, like right now.”

Manzano added: “We are only coming with love, and we are only coming with community. The only people who should be scared are the people who are trying to oppress us because we are done with that.”

One person “done with that” is Christopher A. Kalcich.

Kalcich, 19, is a member of borough council in neighboring Selinsgrove, as well as an organizer for the activist group Central Pennsylvania Advocates for Justice. He attended the July 26 event in an individual capacity, he told the Central Voice.

“The rally was “the first event that I, as a transgender man, have had the opportunity to fight for myself in particular,” he said, adding that he wanted to show Mifflinburg and the region’s LGBTQIA community “there are people who love and support them. They are not alone.”

Kalcich stressed “central Pennsylvania is not as hateful as it appears from the outside. There are people here that truly know how to love others. We won’t surrender this fight. We passed the first step in this process but we have a long way to go. It’s up to each individual person to make this movement successful.

Kalcich advocating for himself reflects one of several growing concerns within the current swirl of social justice activity in the region – BLM, anti-racism, police and prison reform, and skyrocketing numbers of transgender deaths.

In 2019, advocates tracked at least 27 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Through the end of July, at least 25 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. Data often uses the phrase at least because often these stories go unreported or misreported.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, has been the target of relentless public and social media messaging taking her to task for being a transgender woman.

Her detractors have included the nearby Columbia County’s Bloomsburg Fair. As part of fundraising, the event offered a dunk tank with a Levine representation. Further away, The Crossroads Tavern in Tioga County offered on their menu an item describing Levine and human anatomy. Both entities have since apologized for their actions.

Last May a Pittsburgh radio host repeatedly referred to Levine as “sir” during an interview, and social media comment sections have often run rampant with transphobic comments in response to stories that had nothing to do with Levine’s gender identity.

On July 23, Levine pushed back against critics, saying that her “only reaction is that I am going to stay, no matter what happens, laser-focused on protecting the public health in Pennsylvania. Our vision at the Pennsylvania Department of Health is a healthy Pennsylvania for all. And I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to achieve that, whether people agree with me, or if they don’t agree with me. Their health is still important to me.”

Regarding her recent experiences and in reference to LGBTQIA individuals, Levine also said: “Your actions perpetuate the spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQIA individuals, and specifically transgender individuals.”

One of those individuals feeling “the spirit of intolerance and discrimination” is 28-year-old Bucknell University senior Mary Collier. She helped coordinate the July 26 rally, and is involved with Green New Deal/Lewisburg, affiliated with the national youth-led environmentalist movement known as The Sunrise Movement.

“I was disgusted, disheartened, and disturbed by reading the sign that Wenger’s Grocery Outlet posted on their front doors because it made me feel unwanted in my own community,” she told the Central Voice. “I wanted to make sure our voices were heard loud and clear across central Pennsylvania we spoke out against hatred and bigotry.”

Anne Coyne, 23, of Selinsgrove, told the Central Voice told  that “as a queer person growing up in the region, I was never able to square my identity with my feelings about my hometown. This event was an opportunity to feel fully like myself while also being in solidarity with others.” Coyne is also involved with Green New Deal Lewisburg as well as the I Am Alliance.

The I Am Alliance is planning other events in August as well.

The New York Police Department has arrested a man in connection with the death of Black transgender woman Tiffany Harris, who was fatally stabbed in an apartment building in the Bronx in July.

Alpha Diallo, 21, was arrested Wednesday and is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and weapon possession, the New York Daily News reports.

Harris was found in the hallway of an apartment building about 1:30 a.m. July 26. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 2:20 a.m. She had lived in another Bronx building, about a mile from where she was found.

Diallo was diagnosed with schizophrenia a few years ago and had been involuntarily admitted to the psychiatric ward of a Manhattan hospital August 7 on the basis that he was a danger to himself and others, his attorney, Michael Cibella, said in Bronx Criminal Court when Diallo was formally charged Thursday, according to the Daily News.

He had robbed a CVS drugstore in Indianapolis in 2017 and two years later received a sentence of time served plus three years of supervised release on the condition that he continue taking medication for schizophrenia. But he had gone off his meds during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cibella said.

Harris also went by the name Dior H. Ova, and her Facebook page expresses her love of fashion and says she worked as a personal shopper. The Daily News used a male name for Harris and said her family identified her as a gay man who cross-dressed, but other accounts indicate she was a transgender woman.

The Human Rights Campaign mourned her in a news release at the time of her death. “Who else? Who else has to die before this country stands up and demands that we put an end to this epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, and especially Black trans women like Dior Ova,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “We are experiencing an epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people like we have never seen before. Every single one of the at least 25 victims, including Ova, is a human being who had their lives stolen from them because of a mix of toxic masculinity, misogyny, racism and transphobia. As we mourn the loss of yet another Black transgender woman, we must continue to call for it to end.”

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho officials’ latest attempt to ban transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificates violates a court order issued two years ago, a federal judge said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale first ruled in 2018 that a law barring the birth certificate changes was unconstitutional, and she banned state officials from implementing it. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers passed new legislation that did largely the same thing.

That law signed by Republican Gov. Brad Little went into effect on July 1. It set strict criteria for changing gender on a birth certificate, including a requirement that a person first obtain a court order, and only allowed people to seek the court order if the sex listed on their birth certificate was mistakenly entered, entered fraudulently or under duress.

As a result, the state Department of Health and Welfare created procedures to implement the new law, including revising an application form and the department’s instructions for changing the sex listed on a birth certificate.

In her order Friday, Dale said the new procedure does the same thing as the old one by effectively preventing transgender people from changing the sex on their birth certificates.

“The plain language of the statute, as quoted, forecloses any avenue for a transgender individual to successfully challenge the sex listed on their Idaho birth certificate to reflect their gender identity,” Dale wrote.

Lambda Legal represented two transgender women who filed the original lawsuit that led to Dale’s first ruling. The advocacy group successfully argued the state’s ban on birth certificate changes for transgender people violated their constitutionally protected right to privacy, liberty and freedom from compelled speech.

“It is astonishing that the Idaho Legislature and Gov. Little plowed forward with resuscitating this dangerous and archaic ban in direct defiance of multiple court orders that repeatedly ordered the government to stop discriminating against transgender people,” said Nora Huppert, an attorney with Lambda Legal. “What was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today.”

Spokespeople with the Department of Health and Welfare and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Another anti-transgender law passed this year also is being litigated. It bars transgender and intersex girls and women from competing in women’s sports. Boise State University student Lindsay Hecox is suing the state in federal court, contending the law is discriminatory and would prevent her from trying out for the women’s cross country team because she is transgender.

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