A federal district court judge on Friday denied the Trump administration’s request to block or limit the scope of a ruling that temporarily prohibits the government from enforcing its ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the court is not convinced the government will suffer irreparable harm without a stay of the court's October 2017 preliminary injunction.

 

The government had asked for a stay pending any potential, future proceedings in the Supreme Court. Bypassing normal judicial order, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court last week to review the case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Arguments before the appeals court are scheduled for Dec. 10.

At the very least, the government asked the district court to limit the nationwide scope of the injunction while the court weighs in, but Kollar-Kotelly refused. She said the government had not convinced the court that a more limited injunction is appropriate.

“Without supporting evidence, defendants’ bare assertion that the Court’s injunction poses a threat to military readiness is insufficient to overcome the public interest in ensuring that the government does not engage in unconstitutional and discriminatory conduct,” she said.

“After all, ‘it must be remembered that all Plaintiffs seek during this litigation is to serve their nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the Nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them,’ ” she said

As a nonbinary Latinx person, a little thing such as getting the gender marker "X" on my Texas driver's license looked like a possibility, as it seemed as though the U.S. were headed toward progress.

As I look at my license now, though, the "F" gender marker continues to become more foreign to me. Throughout my life, I've always felt that something was different about me, whether it was my sexuality or my gender identity — and, as it turns out, I was right about both. My gender identity is something I have to work with every day – in fact, my therapist told me recently that I have to learn to be OK with the fact that I might never figure out whether I'm a "boy" or a "girl."

Part of learning to be OK with that was the possibility of "X" as my gender marker on my license, but this fall things began to look dimmer. As I read the news one Sunday, I thought to myself, Here is a memo that would nullify you and so many other people,

On Sunday, October 21, the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was preparing to redefine the term "sex" under Title IX for the purposes of several key government agencies, allegedly writing in an internal memo the Times obtained that these agencies "needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender" that "would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitals that a person is born with." But such a redefinition flies in the face of science, medicine and the law. It seems an attempt not just to eliminate protections for transgender individuals, but to stop recognizing them altogether.

Reducing someone's gender identity to their genitals is violence. It tells me and my community that my existence doesn't matter because I don't identify with my sex assigned at birth — it's why to date this year, at least 22 transgender individuals have been killed, a majority of them trans women of color.

This administration has repeatedly attempted to erase transgender people and deny them protections, and their messages that target the transgender community have only fueled similar legislation at the state levels. This year, according to the National Center for Trans Equality, there have been 21 anti-trans bills introduced in 10 states, and anti-trans ballot initiatives could show up in two other states.

I saw it happen in my own city when the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) did not pass, a devastating blow to Houston and its LGBTQ+ community. Despite clear messages from the mainstream medical, psychological and scientific communities, this administration continues to try to effectively erase protections for transgender individuals — protections such as access to health care, housing and employment.

Though the rhetoric and violence continues to put our lives at risk, I know it's not over. This memo serves as a reminder that the fight for equality is at the beginning, not the end — our fight for equal rights did not end with marriage equality. This proposed plan to redefine "sex" does not take away the fact that my community and I have worked to ensure that our voices are heard and present.

But we can't continue to do the work alone.

If you identify as an ally to the trans and nonbinary community at any capacity, now is the time to speak up and do the work to help us. Just in 2017, there was nearly one homicide a week of an LGBTQ person in the U.S.

Though the memo can't hide our existence and the precedents set by dozens of federal court decisions in the past two decades affirming the trans community, our safety might be compromised. This means that your contributions to the trans community can't stop at the voting booth or hashtagging #WontBeErased on your posts.

It means things such as volunteering your time to a transgender-supporting organization, starting transgender support groups in your neighborhood or school, donating to organizations that support trans women of color or undocumented communities, confronting hate speak and implicit bias or even sharing the messaging of other trans activists in your community.

But, most importantly, it means never stopping asking how you can best support this community in this volatile climate — let "ally" become a verb for you.

PHOENIX, Arizona – An independent autopsy conducted on the body of a transgender woman who died in ICE custody in May in New Mexico concluded that she likely died as the result of severe dehydration complicated by HIV infection but also found evidence she had been beaten.

The body of 33-year-old Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, who was HIV positive when taken into ICE custody, showed deep bruising on the left and right sides of her chest that was not evident externally, according to the independent autopsy conducted on behalf of her family.

The autopsy also found deep contusions on the left and right sides of her upper back.

The "blunt force trauma of lateral thoracic walls and posterior thorax (are) indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object," according to the autopsy report.

The independent autopsy also found "extensive deep hemorrhages" on the right and left wrists and hands "typical of handcuff injuries."

The independent autopsy was conducted on behalf of members of Hernandez's family. It was released this week as part of a wrongful death notice claim filed Monday with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office by the Transgender Law Center and Andrew Free, a civil rights attorney in Nashville who is representing Hernandez's family.

Free, the attorney representing Hernandez's family, told The Arizona Republic he believes the injuries found on Hernandez's body by the independent autopsy happened while Hernandez was in ICE custody because the injuries were relatively recent.

Hernandez presented herself to U.S. border officers at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego on May 9 and died on May 25, Free said.

What's more, while traveling with the migrant caravan, Hernandez was surrounded by other migrants, many of whom were interviewed as part of a wrongful death claim investigation.

"None of those people reported any physical abuse that would have been indicated by the pathology having occurred in Mexico or prior to crossing," Free said.

He said there are no allegations of physical abuse while Hernandez was hospitalized. In addition, the autopsy also found no signs of "defensive" wounds or bruises typically caused by "putting your hands up" indicating Hernandez was beaten while handcuffed, he said.

"Piecing together the timeline and dating the injuries based on the pathology, it seems that the injuries (happened) when she was handcuffed and in custody," Free said, though he acknowledged "there is not 100 percent certainty."

ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said in a written statement any allegations that Hernandez was abused while in ICE custody are false.

Hernandez was part of the caravan of migrants from Honduras and Central America that arrived in Tijuana in April after leaving Tapachula in southern Mexico in March. That caravan preceded the much larger migrant caravan that has arrived in Tijuana over the last two weeks.

The independent autopsy was conducted after an official autopsy conducted as part of a death investigation by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.

The death investigation has not yet been completed and the autopsy results have not yet been released, said Alex Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, which oversees the medical investigator's office. 

The independent autopsy was conducted on June 8 by Dr. Kris Sperry, an independent pathologist in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Sperry was Georgia's chief medical examiner from 1997 until he abruptly retired in 2015 after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an investigation. The investigation reported Sperry moonlighted as a paid forensic expert in over 500 cases while employed as the state's chief medical examiner.

Sperry did not respond to an email request for comment. 

Hernandez entered ICE custody on May 13 and was transferred to the Cibola County Correctional Center, ICE officials said.

She was admitted on May 17 to the Cibola General Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with untreated HIV. Later in the day, she was transferred via air ambulance to Lovelace Medical Center, where she remained in the intensive care unit until she died, ICE officials said. Staff at Lovelace Medical Center identified the preliminary cause of death as cardiac arrest, ICE officials said. 

"A review of Hernandez's death conducted by ICE Health Service Corps medical professionals confirmed that she suffered from a history of untreated HIV," Zamarripa said. "At no time did the medical personnel treating Ms. Hernandez at Cibola General Hospital or Lovelace Medical Center raise any issues of suspected physical abuse."

Twitter has banned the misgendering and deadnaming of transgender people, earning it widespread praise from trans users and their allies.

The social media platform updated its terms of service on this matter in October, but it was not widely reported until last Friday, Pink News notes. Twitter made the move in an effort to stop anti-trans abuse, which often involves using the wrong gender or old name in describing a trans person. Misgendering and deadnaming are sometimes used to out people as transgender, something that can put them at risk of physical harm.

“We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” Twitter states in its updated terms of service. “This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

Penalties for violating the policy vary according to the severity of the violation and a user’s previous conduct. For a first offense, for example, a user may have to remove the content and be barred from tweeting for a limited period. But severe or multiple offenses can result in the permanent suspension of the account, according to the terms of service.

The update to the terms of service also recognizes that LGBTQ people are at particularly high risk for abuse. “Research has shown that some groups of people are disproportionately targeted with abuse online,” it reads. “This includes; women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual individuals, marginalized and historically underrepresented communities. For those who identify with multiple underrepresented groups, abuse may be more common, more severe in nature and have a higher impact on those targeted.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality praised the update in this statement to The Advocate: “The policy is a great step forward for inclusivity and safety online. We’re glad to see Twitter take responsibility for ensuring all people can find community on their platforms.”

Also, trans people and allies quickly tweeted support for the new policy, although some were skeptical that it would be enforced. A few right-wingers, however, denounced it.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Won’t Be Erased PDX held a rally on Nov. 16 at Portland City Hall to protest an unreleased Trump administration memo proposing a strict definition of gender based on one’s genitals at birth.

Protesters held signs bearing the slogans, “Fight transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism”; “Non-binary, queer, still here”; ”LGBTQ+ united against Trump”; and “Trans-inclusive Medicare for all,” as the self-described “social action-oriented” Unpresidented Brass Band played.

“[We started organizing] probably a month ago or so,” event organizer Cherry Garcia said. “With [the memo] essentially erasing queer people and denying their right for correct documentation, alienating queer and trans folks.”

The event, chosen to land on International Stand Up to Bullying Day, featured speeches about the experiences of members of the trans community and their struggles with identificationhealthcaresuicide and self-harm—issues that deeply affect the LGBTQ+ community.

Devina Bookbinder spoke about her reaction to the memo’s release. “[We] can and should use [the bad] to empower ourselves and to fuel our passions and our fervor, to remember that there is so much good out there,” she said. “We need the crap to empower us and make us angry because justice comes about through being angry at injustice, but it also comes about because we have hope that things can change and get better.”

Other speakers cited statistics on houselessness and job discrimination among members of the transgender community.

Speaker Mirror Meadows said he wanted the protest’s message to focus on “forming community, on building each other up and on supporting each other…because we go through a unique kind of hell being trans.”

“I think that the whole point is that my speech is just one of many,” Meadows continued. “I think that’s part of the beauty. I like that I heard my sentiments echoed [among] all the speakers, the sentiment of ‘stick together,’ that we are stronger when we are together [and] that we are united.”

Over the course of the evening, the crowd on the steps outside City Hall grew to about 200 people. “I’m incredibly happy with the turnout,” Garcia said. “I’m really happy to see so many community members and activists from other organizations…I’m proud of my community.”

The rally was part of a series of three protests nationwide, with the other two being held in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

“Just seeing the community gather in Portland is really significant,” Portland State student Cassie Nelson said. “As far as local spaces where queer youths can actually gather to support things, it’s hard to find places that are inclusive and open, so it’s good to see.”

Fellow PSU student Avery Clifton added, “It’s important to make sure our voices are heard, wherever, whenever possible.”

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