Black Friday is the perfect day for the government to release bad, controversial news. The second in-depth climate change report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was moved up from December, prompting speculation that its focus on the cost and impacts on health, water and infrastructure is not an analysis welcome by the Trump administration.

Now, eagle eye Zack Ford, LGBTQ Editor at ThinkProgress.org, has discovered that any mention of “transgender” has been removed from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website.

“Under President Obama, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees all federal employees, issued detailed guidance protecting transgender people in the workforce. As of Friday, that guidance has disappeared and been replaced by generic language with no content specific to transgender people,” Ford reports.  “The previous “Gender Identity Guidance” page, which was still live as of earlier this week, laid out definitions for terms related to transgender identities, and outlined specific expectations for respecting transgender employees. These included ensuring that trans workers could dress according to their gender identity, that they were called by their preferred names and pronouns, and that they were allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.”

Though language on the new site still includes the words “gender identity” in the overall guidance on its non-discrimination policy, generic terms have replaced specific definitions.

Ford—who has consistently filed in-depth reporting on the treatment of trans people— notes how vital information has just been erased:

"Two vital sections have been erased without a trace: both the section on respecting employees’ names and pronouns and the section addressing access to ‘sanitary and related facilities.’ There is no longer any guidance whatsoever to ensure that trans people are respected according to their gender identity in the federal government. Should a manager have questions about how to respond when an employee comes out as transgender, they will find no answers on OPM’s page…. The changes to the page came without any announcement or notice.”

Meanwhile, in a one-two-punch the administration hopes will escape attention, the Trump Administration is trying to bypass the normal judicial appeals process by leap-frogging over three different courts and going directly to the US Supreme Court to decide the challenges to  Trump’s transgender military ban in Doe v. Trump, Stockman v. Trump, and Karnoski v. Trump. Four federal courts have already issued preliminary injunctions in the total of four lawsuits, thus halting the ban while the cases are being heard. If the high court takes up the administration’s request this term, lifting the injunctions would be part of their consideration.

 

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to immediately take up the legal battle over transgender military service, asking the justices to act even before the issue has gone through the lower courts.

The Supreme Court rarely allows such a move to leapfrog over the usual appeals process, but Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the Obama administration's policy of allowing transgender service poses a threat to military readiness and imposes "an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military readiness and lethality."

President Donald Trump took the Pentagon by surprise in July 2017when he said in a series of tweets that the government "will not accept or allow" transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Six months later, Defense Secretary James Mattis proposed a modified policy, ultimately approved by the president, that would allow transgender individuals to serve, but only if they did not seek gender transition and agreed to serve "in their biological sex."

The revised plan reversed the policy imposed during the Obama administration, allowing transgender members to serve openly and even to receive sex reassignment surgery. But the Pentagon hoped the Mattis order could prevail against the expected discrimination lawsuits by saying that it was not based merely on status.

The Mattis policy was immediately challenged, and four federal courts issued orders forbidding the government to enforce it. Federal District Court Judge Marsha Pechman of Seattle said that "discrimination against transgender people clearly is unrelated to their ability to perform and contribute to society." Other judges said the policy was nothing more than a plan to carry out the outright ban on transgender service announced by President Trump.

In urging the Supreme Court to take the case now, the Justice Department said allowing the Obama transgender military service policy to continue would undermine military readiness and unit cohesion. Allowing service members "who retained the anatomy of their biological sex to use the facilities of the preferred gender” would invade the privacy of others. And permitting a biological male who identifies as female to compete against women in training "would pose a serious safety risk and generate perceptions of unfairness."

Civil liberties groups condemned Friday's move by the government.
 

Surrounded by friends, Tech. Sgt. Jamie Hash stood next to the U.S. flag and raised her right hand, prepared to commit to another six years of military service.

It was a decision she didn’t make lightly.

Before that moment, Hash had been forced three times to consider her future in the Air Force, a career that matters to her deeply after seven years of service.

The first time was in late fall 2016 when she was torn between the prospect of separating or coming out as transgender.

She chose to disclose her gender identity, a decision that made her among the first service members allowed to transition without fear of retribution.

The second time was in July 2017 after President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban trans people from military service and revoke the policy that had allowed Hash to transition.

How his proclamation would be implemented was in question, but Hash resolved to carry out her duties to the best of her ability despite not knowing what lay ahead.

The third came this year as Hash, 31, approached the end of her service commitment.

In March, the defense secretary had released his recommendations for trans service members based on the president’s directive: Individuals who had begun to transition under the previous policy could continue to serve openly, but new trans recruits would be barred from service, and active-duty service members no longer could transition while in uniform.

The new policy remains embroiled in the courts, but if the administration prevails, Hash would become part of what she called “a small, finite group of service members” allowed to openly serve.

In October, she learned she had received an assignment that would start in August 2019 in England, where she would advise Wing leadership on resource utilization, including deployment planning, performance improvements and readiness. She submitted her re-enlistment papers quickly and secured approval to hold her ceremony Nov. 15.

“I feel that it’s critical I continue to serve for those who cannot,” Hash said, and she would do so no matter what the courts decided.

Some have asked her why she did not separate from the Air Force, given the scrutiny and uncertainty.

“I tell them that if no more transgender people are able to join the military, I will have the rare privilege and opportunity to continue proving transgender people are more than capable of answering our nation’s call,” Hash said.

In the year and a half since the trans military ban announcement, Hash has been promoted from staff sergeant to technical sergeant, named military Volunteer of the Year for the joint base and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for her squadron and field operating agency and nominated for other awards.

After Hash started transitioning, she became an ambassador of sorts to military personnel in San Antonio by helping educate them about being trans.

She was thrust into that role even moreso after the ban was announced. She said she’s often told by other service members that she is the first trans person they ever have met and that she has changed their preconceived notions.

Hash made plans to hold her re-enlistment ceremony at a time and place that was symbolic of the “rebirth” she’d undergone while stationed as a manpower analyst at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

That date fell during Transgender Awareness Week and shortly before Transgender Day of Remembrance, which commemorates trans people killed in the previous year.

Hash picked Luther’s Cafe, adjacent to the rainbow crosswalks on The Strip, home to many of San Antonio’s LGBTQ-friendly bars and restaurants.

Her previous re-enlistment ceremony took place during a deployment in Southwest Asia, where she was working as an aircraft armament technician as part of a joint coalition fighting ISIS.

Hash, who had not yet come out, had helped load munitions onto a fighter jet and, upon its return, recited the re-enlistment oath to the pilot.

This time, Hash was joined by her partner, her dog and several close friends. They gathered on the patio, with Bacchus tethered by a rainbow leash to the leg of a table.

Danny Ingram, a friend who was discharged from the Army for being gay in 1994 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” helped unfurl a U.S. flag with Hash’s colleague, Staff Sgt. Chelsea Serviss. Hash faced Capt. Dawnisha Peagler, her former flight commander, who administered the oath.

Both grinned as they reached the end. They saluted and hugged, then friends broke into applause.

“I feel like I’m able to continue serving my country and doing the thing that I love the most, but also being visible and open, compared to my first re-enlistment, is a big deal for me,” Hash said after the ceremony.

Hash’s partner, Emily Gerson, beamed nearby. Gerson, who will move with Hash to the Cambridge area next year, said she had been somewhat skeptical when they discussed re-enlistment because of the uncertainty now associated with trans service.

The conversation, however, always came back to the fact that Hash’s service was not just about her, Gerson said.

“I’m really proud of her. ... To see her be under this level of scrutiny in this current climate and to keep going and persisting, I think it takes an incredible amount of bravery,” Gerson said.

Leaving San Antonio will be “very bittersweet,” Hash said. She’s grown attached to the city where she had accepted herself.

One day, she knows she’ll be back.

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. 

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