Sarah McBride made history as soon as she took to the stage and spoke her first words on the last day of the Democratic National Convention.

With the simple declaration, “I am a proud transgender American," McBride, a 25-year-old press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, became the first trans person to speak at a national party convention.

New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay congressman, introduced McBride during a portion of the convention dedicated to the LGBT community. That focus stood in stark contrast to the Republican National Convention, which adopted a party platform that advocates for overturning same-sex marriage and supports the discredited "conversion therapy."

In her speech, McBride referenced the social progress that has been made in regard to transgender rights, but cautioned about the work that remains.

“Will we be a nation where there is only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live?" McBride asked the audience. “Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live freely and openly? A nation that's stronger together? That is the question in this election.”

Earlier this year, McBride also made headlines after she took a selfie inside a women’s restroom in North Carolina, a move in defiance of the controversial HB2 law, which requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their sex at birth.

McBride has long been involved in political activism, but often feared that her dreams and identity were at odds, she told Time in an interview prior to her speaking at the convention. Though she was helping others, she didn’t feel complete, she said.

So she came out to her fellow college students via an op-ed in the campus newspaper.

“People forget our humanity,” McBride told Time. “Behind the dialogues and debates are real people that hurt when they are made fun of, that hurt when they are targeted for discrimination and that have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else.”

McBride also shared her own love story with Andy Cray, whom she was married to for a few days before he passed away from cancer. Cray, a transgender man, was also an advocate working on LGBT health issues in D.C.

"Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed," McBride told the audience at the convention. "But more than anything else, his passing taught me that every day matters when it comes to building a world where every person can live their life to the fullest. Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight."

ALBANY, N.Y., July 8 (Reuters) - Dozens of large U.S. companies on Friday backed the Obama administration's bid to strike down a North Carolina law restricting the use of public bathrooms by transgender people, saying the law hurts their recruitment efforts and could discourage investment in the state.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 68 companies including Apple Inc , Bloomberg LP, Microsoft Corp, General Electric Co and Nike Inc, said the law, known as H.B. 2, should be blocked pending the outcome of the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit seeking to have it overturned.

"H.B. 2 and the naked, invidious discrimination it condones is already damaging (some companies') ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and is imposing a substantial disincentive to investment and commerce in the state, directly impacting their bottom line," the brief says.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said in a statement on Friday that businesses were free to adopt their own anti-discrimination policies, and that the law was designed to protect the privacy of the state's residents in public places.

"It's disappointing that some companies are joining the Obama Administration's position which jeopardizes those long-held expectations of privacy," he said.

The state law, which was passed in March, requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates even if it conflicts with the gender they identify with. The Justice Department says that violates federal civil rights laws prohibiting gender discrimination in employment and education.

The lawsuit is just one front in a nationwide debate over civil rights for transgender people. Since 2012, several federal agencies have separately said that existing laws include protections for transgender people in employment, education and public accommodations, but federal courts have not settled the issue.

Separately on Friday, 10 states including Michigan, Ohio and Kansas filed a lawsuit in federal court in Nebraska challenging a May 13 letter the Justice Department sent to states warning them that restricting public bathroom use by transgender people was a violation of federal law that could lead to cuts in federal education funding.

Thirteen states are mounting a similar challenge to the administration in a lawsuit in federal court in Texas.

There’s still no federal law barring people from being fired for being LGBT.


WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed an executive order Thursday that bans discrimination in state government against transgender people.

“Throughout our history, it has been clear time and again that we always grow stronger when we work to ensure the full inclusion of all citizens in our democracy, our economy and our communities,” Hassan said in a statement. “By making clear that gender identity and gender expression are protected in the State’s anti-discrimination policies, this Executive Order helps ensure that New Hampshire state government welcomes and incorporates the talents and contributions of all of our citizens.”

The executive order also requires the state’s Justice Department and Department of Administrative Service to review their contracts with the private sector to ensure they include protections against discrimination based on gender identity. The state’s Division of Personnel has until Sept. 15 to give guidance to agencies on how to roll out the new policy.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell cited a new rule added to the Obamacare law to prevent discrimination, including “sexual stereotyping,” as one of the Obama administration’s successes in advancing homosexual rights.

“We took a major step just last month in the final rule of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” Burwell said at an event on June 9 at the agency in Washington, D.C., to mark Gay Pride Month.

The new final rule – which goes into effect on July 18 and was issued by HHS’s Office of Civil Rights – addresses three types of discrimination – those based on disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, and discrimination “based on sex.”

Patricia Dean, a partner in the Holland & Hart law firm in Washington, D.C., analyzed the portion of the 99-page regulation that is focused on sex discrimination, including gender identity and sexual stereotyping.

Dean explained the regulation as follows:

“The final rules define ‘gender identity’ as an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth,” Dean wrote in the analysis posted on the law firm’s website on June 8.

“A ‘transgender individual’ is an individual whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to that person at birth,” Dean wrote. “In defining what includes ‘sex stereotyping,’ the new rules reflect the Supreme Court's holding in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 250-51 (1989) that stereotypical notions of appropriate behavior, appearance, or mannerisms for each gender constitutes sex discrimination.

“The new rules thus define ‘sex stereotypes’ as stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, including expectations of how individuals represent or communicate their gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics,” Dean wrote. “Stereotypes can include the expectation that individuals will consistently identify with only one gender and that they will act in conformity with the gender-related expressions stereotypically associated with the gender.”

Dean called the rule “the first federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination ‘on the basis of sex,’” including gender identity and sex stereotyping in health care programs.

ORONO, Maine — When it was time for the RSU 26 board to vote Tuesday night on new guidelines for transgender students — required after the department was sued by a former student — school board vice chairman Jacob Eckert said he was uncomfortable and cast the lone vote against them.

The new rules are the result of a lawsuit by a former student who sued after being denied access to the girls bathroom in grade school and middle school, and Maine Human Rights Commission guidelines created last year in the wake of the lawsuit.

The Orono rules basically state students and staff should address transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, using the name and pronoun corresponding with how they identify themselves. Transgender students also should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.

School board members Eckert and Leo Kenney questioned the proposed rules before the 4-1 vote. Kenney said he was worried that local girls “will share a locker room with a transgender student.”

“I think it’s concerning,” Kenney said before the vote.

Eckert followed by saying, “I’m all in favor of making accommodations” but then added that his concern was sacrificing the “comforts of the majority for the comforts of a minority.”

The incident that sparked the court case against Orono began in 2007 when a child, later identified as Nicole Maines, who was born male but identifies as female, was forced to stop using the girls bathroom at the Asa Adams Elementary School. She was told to use a staff bathroom after the grandfather of a male student complained.

Her parents filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, and the lawsuit — the first in the country to fight for a transgender student’s access to the bathroom of the gender with which the child identified — followed.

The Penobscot County Superior Court order, dated Nov. 25, 2014, enjoined the Orono School Department from discriminating against other students as it did against Nicole Maines, who is now a University of Maine student.

The 2014 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision guarantees the right of a Maine transgender student to use the school bathroom designed for the gender with which he or she identifies.

Lisa Erhardt, the guidance counselor at Asa Adams School, suggested a couple minor word changes after the first reading of the new rules that were made before the final vote was taken Tuesday night. Millinocket also has established a transgender policy.

Chairman Brian McGill reminded the group that the Orono guidelines align with the state’s constitution, the Maine Human Rights Act and the state’s Human Rights Commission’s recommendations, as well as federal rules.

“We got sued and we lost and it does come back to the law,” McGill said, adding, “I do understand this discomfort but it is Maine law.”



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