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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Trans deaths, Elizabeth Taylor, Kamala's successor
by Windy City Times Staff
2020-12-07

This article shared 736 times since Mon Dec 7, 2020
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Chae'Meshia Simms, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Richmond, Virginia, advocate.com reported, citing The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Simms's body was found in a car that had crashed into a garage Nov. 23; she had suffered a single gunshot wound and was the only person in the car. At a vigil for Simms, Richmond trans activist Zakia McKensey noted, "As a trans woman of color I know most well how we are disproportionately impacted and marginalized. When will I stop seeing news feeds or news threads or stories about trans women being brutally murdered?"

The death of Miami transgender woman Skylar Heath is being investigated as a homicide, bringing the total number of trans U.S. residents who have died by violence this year to at least 40, advocate.com reported. Heath, 20, died Nov. 4 in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, and she was misgendered and deadnamed in an obituary, according to Planet Transgender. This is the deadliest year on record for trans people in the U.S. since media and activists began tracking the information several years ago; most of the victims have been Black or Latinx women.

On World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) hosted The Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS: VIRTUAL broadcast, which ETAF ambassador Kathy Ireland hosted, a press release noted. The one-hour broadcast reflected Elizabeth Taylor's vision of an AIDS-free world, with messages about the nearly 40-year fight against AIDS, from President Bill Clinton, Ambassador Deborah Birx, Colin Farrell, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Aileen Getty, Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin and Judith Light, along with a performance by Vanessa Williams. Earvin "Magic" and Cookie Johnson presented the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award to Gilead Sciences, Inc. for its global leadership in HIV treatment and prevention. The live auction was conducted by Lydia Fenet in partnership with Christie's, powered by Charitybuzz, and included a walk-on role in the upcoming Elizabeth Taylor biopic and a luxury travel package by BVLGARI.

As speculation grows that Gov. Gavin Newsom is leaning toward California elections chief Alex Padilla to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a crowd of top Democratic donors and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown are launching an aggressive campaign to argue that another woman of color should fill that seat instead, Politico reported. Among the leading choices for Black leaders, Brown said, are Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass and Maxine Waters; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and state Sen. Holly Mitchell. Various groups are lobbying Newsom, from Indian Americans backing Rep. Ro Khanna to LGBT leaders who say Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins or Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia deserve the nod. Under state law, Newsom can appoint a replacement to fill Harris' seat until her term expires in 2022.

U.S. District Court Judge Gloria M. Navarro ruled that it's unconstitutional for transgender people to be required to show proof from a doctor that they're undergoing transition-related care in order to get a passport with the correct gender marker on it, LGBTQ Nation reported. Navarro said The State Department "has provided no explanation, let alone any evidence, of why [it] has an important interest in verifying a transgender passport applicant's gender identity, nor a cogent explanation of why the Policy requiring a physician's certification increases the accuracy of issued passports." Currently, the department requires trans people to show a doctor's certification that they "has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender of either male or female."

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF)—the educational arm of HRC—launched #WorkingPositively, a campaign that invites employers to commit to being visible role models in their support for HIV-positive employees, a press release noted. The campaign first launched in Germany in June 2019 and has expanded to Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and, now, the United States. For the initial launch in the States, HRC has partnered with IBM, SAP and Deutsche Aidshilfe. This campaign is a first-of-its-kind program that allows corporations to formally declare that they will work to end workplace discrimination against people living with HIV. See https://www.thehrcfoundation.org/professional-resources/workingpositively.

Pat Patterson—a former pro wrestler who was the first-ever WWE Intercontinental Champion and creator of the Royal Rumble match—has died at age 79, Queerty noted. In 1979, Patterson helped organize the World Wrestling Federation (later known as the WWE), along with its co-founder, Vince McMahon. Throughout his career, Patterson lived as an openly gay man among friends, family and co-workers. He found a longtime boyfriend in Louie Dondero; the two maintained a relationship for more than 40 years until Dondero's death in 1998. However, Patterson didn't come out officially until 2014.

Michelle McCausland—a legendary drag queen who graced almost every drag stage in the St. Louis region, and who was the drag ego of Michael Shreves—passed away recently at age 61 due to COVID-19-related complications, Fox2Now.com . McCausland was an activist as well: In 1984, Michelle was arrested during a drag performance, defying the city's anti-masquerading ordinance—and that moment sparked a change that resulted in the measure being taken off the books in 1986. Steven Brawley, founder of St. Louis History LGBTQ History Project, said the LGBTQ community in St. Louis will celebrate Shreves' life with an event when COVID numbers begin to decrease.

As former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn in as Arizona's second Democratic U.S. senator (with Vice President Mike Pence administering the swearing-in), bisexual U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema went viral after being photographed wearing a cheap purple bob wig—one she was worn since the Senate reopened in May, Yahoo! Finance noted. In solidarity with those unable to get haircuts amidst sheltering-in-place orders, Sinema has thrown on $12.99 wigs over her platinum blond hair.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently announced the city's first director of LGBTQ affairs, CNN.com reported. Lifelong Atlanta resident and LGBTQ advocate Malik Brown will take on the newly created position, in which he'll advise Bottoms, city officials and city departments on policies affecting the LGBTQ community, among other duties. The mayor's office said the full-time, director-level role would place Atlanta "among only a handful of cities in the country" to have such a position.

LGBTQ Victory Fund—the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ people to public office—celebrated the election of U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to serve as the next chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Maloney won by a vote of 119-107—making him the first out LGBTQ DCCC chair in history. In a press release, LGBTQ Victory Fund President/CEO Mayor Annise Parker said, "There is enormous power in Congressional Democrats choosing an out gay man to serve as chair, especially after an election cycle where anti-LGBTQ attacks on candidates became the norm."

In Wilton Manors, Florida, the election of Scott Newton as mayor broke up the city's all LGBT commission, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported. Newton, a straight man, defeated Julie Carson, a lesbian, by 112 votes—ousting Carson from a 12-year tenure on the commission. The presence of Josie Smith-Malave in the campaign was an undeniable factor in Newton's victory; the reality-TV chef, also a part of the LGBT community, received 874 votes for 12% of the vote.

A recent report from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute stated that almost half of LGBTQ adults in the United States consider themselves to be religious, NBC News noted. Of nearly 16,000 respondents polled in the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey, 47 percent were either moderately or highly religious. Those who were older, Black or lived in the South were the most likely to be religious, researchers found. The report is at https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/lgbt-religiosity-us/.

Musical stars and international artists Annie Lennox, Melissa Etheridge, Cam, Citizen Queen, Hayley Orrantia, Yuna, K3 Sisters Band, GEM and Renaissance Youth Center Choir will perform at a concert to raise money for COVID-19 relief at WrapWomen's 2020 Power Women Summit on Thursday, Dec. 10, a press release announced. The WrapWomen Foundation is donating on its behalf to the Hire Her Back Fund, which provides grants to women and marginalized people in the screen industries whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Register for free at https://www.thewrap.com/power-women-summit-2020/.

Outgoing President Donald Trump issued his last World AIDS Day proclamation—and again erased LGBTQ people, LGBTQ Nation reported. Instead, Trump touted his administration's "Ending the HIV Epidemic" plan from 2019 that claims it will practically end new HIV infections in the United States within a decade. During his tenure, Trump fired his HIV/AIDS commission without explanation and shut down HIV cure research, among other things.

In response to the increasing economic crisis and social risk faced by the LGBTQIA+ population, the Pennsylvania organization the LGBT Center of Greater Reading announced the establishment of the Rainbow Relief Fund—an emergency resource to aid those in critical and urgent need, BCTV.org noted. Funds will help cover or defray the costs of food, gas, temporary shelter, or transportation. An LGBT Center donor is matching contributions up to $2,000 to kickstart the fund.

Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) will hold its "25th Art & Culture Festival: Plugged In" virtually Dec. 11-13, according to the group. The festival is one of the key public events the foundation does each year. This year is also the 36th anniversary of the foundation—a Los Angeles-based organization founded by Tom of Finland and Durk Dehner. ToFF's mission is to protect, preserve and promote erotic art; the foundation is located in Echo Park, in TOM House, a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Regarding the event, visit tomoffinland.org/artfair.

Fox News's Tucker Carlson said that there was a "nationwide epidemic" of children being forced by their parents to transition, which he called "child abuse," according to LGBTQ Nation. Carlson played a clip from the HBO documentary Transhood—which he called "so disturbing"—about a 4-year-old girl named Phoenix. Carlson also (incorrectly) complained that people can't even ask what "the process" is to being recognized as one's gender identity.

A Texas high school senior said he was given an in-school suspension for showing up with painted fingernails in violation of a district dress code that only lets girls wear makeup and nail polish, The New York Post noted. Trevor Wilkinson, 17, who is openly gay, revealed the policy in a tweet that railed against the Clyde Consolidated Independent School District. Clyde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Kenny Berry did not comment to the newspaper, but said the district's dress code is reviewed annually.

In a lawsuit, New Jersey resident Betsy Fresse claimed Starbucks illegally fired her because she refused to wear a Pride T-shirt that violated her religious beliefs, NJ.com reported. Fresse, of Newark, said her managers at the Glen Ridge location of the coffee chain "assured her" in June 2019 that she didn't have to wear the T-shirt during her shift. Two months later she was sent a notice of separation that she was being let for "acting in violation of Starbucks' core values."

Openly gay political pundit Steve Kornacki and Gap paired to give 500 pairs of khakis to youth, out.com noted. Initially, the retail outlet offered a lifetime supply of the pants to Kornacki after the publicity the clothes got from his appearances on MSNBC. Kornacki said no—but they agreed to give 500 pairs to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Workforce Readiness Program in his name.

A 61-year-old Nebraska woman told of her joy after giving birth to her own grandchild, acting as the surrogate for her son and his husband, Yahoo! News reported. Cecile Eledge carried the daughter of her son Matthew Eledge and his husband, Elliot Dougherty, to term—giving birth to baby Uma Louise. With Matthew providing the sperm, Dougherty's sister Lea served as the egg donor.


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