Star Tribune publishes second anti-transgender ad

The Minnesota Child Protection League is at it again. The anti-LGBTQ organization paid for a second full-page anti-transgender ad in the Star Tribune’s Sunday paper this week. The ad comes as the Minnesota State High School League reconsiders this week whether or not to allow transgender high school students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity.“The end of girls’ sports?” reads the ad in bold letters at the top. “Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your 14-year-old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a male … and now she may have to shower with him. Are you willing to let that happen?”The MPCL published an anti-transgender ad in the Star Tribune last September, just before an October vote by MSHSL to allow transgender students to play sports based on their gender identity.However, MSHSL decided to table that decision because of significant pressure from opposition, and postponed the vote until Dec. Continue Reading

Twin Cities celebrates Transgender Day of Remembrance

Stoned to death. Stabbed 33 times. Pushed out of a moving car then run over. When hate and fear rage out of control, people destroy by any means necessary. Eighty-one transgender people were murdered in the past year throughout the world.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. Continue Reading

National religious right legal firm gets involved in MSHSL’s trans-inclusive proposal

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a well-funded religious right legal outfit, has inserted itself into the debate over a transgender-inclusive athletics policy being considered by the Minnesota State High School League.ADF, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, was founded in 1994 by half a dozen prominent religious right groups including Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the American Family Association. The group opposes reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and a secular society, and often uses its lawyers to insert itself into local debates.On Tuesday, the group announced that it has sent a letter to the Minnesota State High School League which is in the process of drafting a framework for how schools can create an inclusive environment for transgender athletes.The letter represents a fundamental misunderstandings about transgender students, misgendering them in the process: “Forcing students into vulnerable interactions with members of the opposite sex in secluded locker and hotel rooms disregards basic notions of personal dignity, which federal courts have recognized in a variety of contexts…. MSHSL and its member schools also have a common law duty to maintain school “property free of unreasonable risks of harm.”ADF also warned that religious schools might sue if the policy is implemented: “It is unlikely that a court would uphold the proposed transgender policy’s interference with religious freedom. Most, if not all, religious schools regard facilitating the denial and rejection of one’s God-given sex to be a grave sin. And religious students are precluded by basic modesty principles from sharing locker or hotel rooms with members of the opposite sex.”The group is also targeting transgender-inclusive policies in Wisconsin’s Sparta Area School District and Rhode Island’s Westerly Public Schools.Here’s the full letter:Download (PDF, 374KB)Related stories:Minnesota League tables trans-inclusive policy under mounting opposition (Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet, 2014)State athletics league mulls transgender inclusion in sports (Andy Birkey, The Colu.mn, 2014) Continue Reading

BEHIND THE STORY | What’s so problematic about equal rights?

It’s disappointing that our Governor thinks supporting transgender student athletes is “problematic.” As reported by the Huffington Post, Governor Mark Dayton, when asked at a recent debate whether he supported “allowing transgender high school students to participate in sports based on their gender identity,” Dayton, like the other gubernatorial candidates deferred the decision to the Minnesota State High School League, saying it was a complicated issue. “Giving transgender students the choice of which team they want to play on is, I think, problematic,” he is quoted as saying.It’s the wrong answer. The right answer is to follow the bill that Dayton supported and signed into law, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, which requires districts and schools to “establish strategies for creating a positive school climate and use evidence-based emotional learning to prevent and reduce discrimination and other improper conduct.”How, may I ask, is denying young people the opportunity to participate in sports because they happen to be transgender reducing discrimination? It seems to me that it actually encourages discrimination, not by other kids but by the school itself (which has the ripple effect of encouraging discrimination from students). Naysayers might argue- oh, well they can still play sports as long as they play on the team whose gender aligns with that on their birth certificate, but that doesn’t work, because in that case you would be requiring a student to deny their very identity just to participate in an athletic activity. Continue Reading

Leading by example: New youth directors to lead Trans Youth Support Network

Local trans youth can now officially turn to their peers for help in navigating a system they say doesn’t accommodate their needs.On July 1, Trans Youth Support Network transitioned into a completely youth-led organization. Jahleel Princeton Arcani, TayvonCaples, La’Niya Dixon and Jakob Rumble took over the organization, replacing TYSN’s previous adult leaders Katie Burgess and Roxanne Anderson. Officials say the transition will allow TYSN to better support trans youth in the Twin Cities.“We don’t just want to be serving youth,”Jakob Rumble said. “We want to be leading by example.”Rumble took over as financial director, and said it’s important for young trans people to support other young trans people when it comes to navigating societal and governmental systems.Trans youth face higher rates of poverty, higher drop-out rates, and more homelessness, he said, and they’re often forced into it.Some of TYSN’s support services include learning how to acquire jobs properly, and offering advice on how to pass as cis-gender in order to apply for a name change.Jahleel Princeton Arcani took over as the development and sustainability director, and said the group is excited about the change. The organization has always been youth-led since their board members must be under 30, he said, but this transition is the final push to a fully youth-led nonprofit.“It’s been a dream of the people who started TYSN for it to be youth led,”Arcani said, noting the two top leaders weren’t youth. Continue Reading

Minnesota League tables trans-inclusive policy under mounting opposition

Zeam Porter just wants to play basketball. A trans youth who is a junior in high school, Porter played for the women’s team last year, and was constantly misgendered and called the wrong name. Porter won Most Improved Player, but today feels the trophy was a lie.“My love for basketball last year made me believe I could handle being on the wrong team,” Porter said. “I love basketball. Do not take basketball away from me. Continue Reading

Facing pressure from anti-LGBT groups, Minnesota league tables trans-inclusive policy

On Thursday morning, the Minnesota State High School League tabled a proposal that would provide guidance to schools on inclusion of transgender students in high school sports.For two hours on Wednesday afternoon, and again on Thursday morning, supporters and opponents of transgender inclusion in high school sports took turns giving their input about the proposed policy.Though the MSHSL announced last spring that is was researching transgender inclusion, the issue did not ignite until an anti-LGBT group placed a full page ad in the Star Tribune that painted transgender students as dangerous. The Minnesota Child Protection League placed the ad, and have been joined by the Minnesota Family Council and the Minnesota Catholic Conference — two groups opposed to LGBT rights — in organizing opposition to the policy. Most of the speakers in opposition to the policy had a connection with either the Child Protection League or the Minnesota Family Council.Autumn Leva of Minnesota Family Council complained that that group’s letters to the MSHSL weren’t responded to. Her group is housed at the office building at 2855 St. Anthony Lane in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Star Tribune runs full-page anti-transgender ad

The Minnesota Child Protection League, an anti-LGBT group that opposes LGBT inclusion in the state’s public schools, bought an ad in the Sunday Star Tribune. The ad says, “A male wants to shower beside your 14 year old daughter. Are you okay with that?”The ad is part of a push by MNCPL to stop the Minnesota State High School League from passing a policy that would provide inclusion for transgender athletes. The Catholic Church and the religious right have mounted a campaign to block it. In the process, they’ve perpetuated false stereotypes about transgender people, including the myth that transgender students will prey on fellow students in locker rooms, showers, restrooms and hotel rooms. According to many law enforcement, civil rights and sexual assault prevention organizations, the idea that transgender inclusion will put anyone at risk is unfounded.Related article: State athletics league mulls transgender inclusion in sportsThe Minnesota State High School League is “a voluntary, nonprofit association of public and private schools with a history of service to Minnesota’s high school youth since 1916.” The MSHSL oversees much of the athletics in the state.According to the proposed policy, transgender high school students can play on the team of their choice (male or female) but must have a physician’s documentation and in some cases must have begun hormone therapy to “preserve competitive equity.” The MSHSL policy also provides transgender students avenues for corrective action if a school district does not comply.The MSHSL will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 1, and Thursday, Oct. Continue Reading

State athletics league mulls transgender inclusion in sports

The Minnesota State High School League is set to vote next week on whether to allow transgender high schools students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity.The Minnesota State High School League is “a voluntary, nonprofit association of public and private schools with a history of service to Minnesota’s high school youth since 1916.” The MSHSL oversees much of the athletics in the state.According to the policy, transgender high school students can play on the team of their choice (male or female) but have to have a physician’s documentation and in some cases must have begun hormone therapy to “preserve competitive equity.” The MSHSL policy also provides transgender students avenues for corrective action if a school district does not comply.The new policy will be discussed in a workshop on Oct. 1 and the full MSHSL is expected to vote on the policy on Oct. 2.Associations in Illinois, California, Maine, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut have had similar policies for several years. Even associations in states that are considered conservative have adopted such policies including Nebraska in 2012, and North Carolina and Virginia in 2014. Minnesota’s neighbors to the south and west have also approved of the policies. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Fifty Shades of Gender begins to go into production

Fifty Shades of Gender is a project that I have been personally coordinating since around April of 2013. It’s been started as a documentary project focused on telling the stories and experiences of the transgender struggle from the perspectives of transgender individuals directed by a transgender identified person. The goals of this project include “looking at the fine points of the gender binary and questioning if these gender definitions are too rigid for us to all be living in. We aim to identify other gender identities, the struggles that we go through trying to fit into these binaries or beyond them, and what we can do to break down the boxes of simply male and female” “I really just want people to be educated about gender and trans* issues and learn how to treat us with respect and human dignity.  Raising awareness is the first step to changing things.” Says gender-queer identified participant, Ollie Schminkey.There will be discussions throughout the project on how our society currently defines gender from the day that we are born, the role of patriarchy, and the intersection of various other identities that are affected in relation to our assigned gender and personal gender identities. Continue Reading