LGBTQ&A: Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks

Sharron Cooks is a trans woman activist of color and the founder and CEO of Making Our Lives Easier LLC. We chatted with her about her community-building and being the only trans woman of color delegate participating in the Democratic National Convention.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I have a B.A in philosophy from Arcadia University, with a focus on ethics. I’m the founder and CEO of Making Our Lives Easier LLC, which is a consulting firm that provides quality resources and information to underrepresented communities through activism, advocacy, community organizing, and political advising. I work in community relations at the Educational Justice Charter School, which is an initiative that aims to provide an accepting, safe educational environment for students and an interdisciplinary learning experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, math, and community service. It was my years of volunteerism at the William Way LGBT Community Center that helped me realize and understand the strong impact that giving back to the community has on both the giver and the receiver. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Trans Murder Victim Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds Remembered

Dee Dee Dodds, courtesy of Facebook.

Dee Dee Dodds, via Facebook.

Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds’s murder brings this year’s toll of reported trans women’s deaths to 15.

On Saturday, friends and family paid their respects to the life of black trans woman Deeiquia “Dee Dee” Dodds who was murdered in Washington, D.C. Dodds, 22, was shot on July 4th near her home and died after spending nine days on life support. “This is Dee Dee neighborhood … everyone knew her,” Janiyah Littman, one of Dodd’s friends, told the press during the vigil. “Like, she always went somewhere, like she didn’t go too far.” It was also made known during the vigil that Dodd was a sex worker, a common occupation for working-class trans women who face employment discrimination. It is currently unknown whether her profession was connected to her murder; no suspects have been announced. Police are still investigating what exactly happened and whether she was the victim of a hate crime. The rate of murders of trans women has risen alarmingly this year. Even more disturbing is that there seems to be a particular trend of them being of color, with many of the reported 15 murdered so far have been identified as either black or Latina. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: A Transgender Bathroom Ad Causes Big Buzz

Screenshot from the controversial bathroom ad.

Screenshot from the controversial bathroom ad.

A national TV ad depicting transgender bathroom discrimination will premiere during the Republican National Convention.

A new ad spotlighting the bathroom discrimination struggles faced by transgender people will make its national television debut on the FOX News channel on Thursday, July 21st, during the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The 60-second ad, now available to watch at www.FairnessUSA.org, features a transgender woman from North Carolina, where HB2 passed earlier this year, discussing how the lack of state and federal nondiscrimination protections affects her every day. HB2 makes it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the gender they live, making them susceptible to even higher levels of harassment and violence. The ad has had thousands of views since its online release on Monday. After the RNC, the ad will run again run nationally on MSNBC during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the following week. Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Lower Merion School Board Unanimously Passes Trans-Affirmative Policy

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Lower Merion schools now have a transgender-inclusive student policy.

On Monday, the Lower Merion school board unanimously passed a transgender-inclusive policy that respects students’ names, pronouns, and personal identification in records and academic documents. The new policy also aims to ensure trans students are included in sex-segregated events and public spaces. “This policy is the icing on the cake,” Bruno Reiver, a trans student at Lower Merion, told the press. “As a graduating senior, I cannot express how grateful I am to have attended such a progressive, open-minded institution.” The Pennsylvania Youth Congress and local student groups helped to get the policy passed. Lower Merion is now one of five districts in Pennsylvania — Great Valley, Springfield, Upper Dublin, and Cheltenham are the others — to officially enforce a trans-affirmative policy. The Pittsburgh Public School Board plans to vote on a transgender student policy in June, while the School District of Philadelphia is currently reviewing a policy expected to reach the School Reform Commission this summer. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez

Deja Lynn Alvarez is a trans woman who has provided LGBTQ youth wellness and service training throughout Philadelphia for years. She previously worked at GALAEI pursuing trans activism within the larger community, and later became director of the Divine Light LGBTQ Wellness Center. Alvarez was recently hired as the assistant prevention navigator for the city’s Department of Public Health, where she addresses HIV/AIDS prevention for LGBTQ youth of color. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Pope Francis Disappoints With Trans Comments

Pope Francis blesses baby  while in Philadelphia.

Pope Francis blesses a baby during his Philadelphia trip in September 2015.

Pope Francis makes discouraging remarks about trans youth identity and same-sex marriage.

Pope Francis has disappointed members of the Catholic church on matters pertaining to LGBTQ relations in his recent letter Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), which covers marriage and the family. In his writing, he supports the College of Pediatriciansrecent claims that “conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.” “The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created,” Pope Francis states. He further asserts that if individuals believe they have “absolute power over our own bodies,” it could potentially imply that “we enjoy absolute power over creation.” The 261-page document also included statements that there are “absolutely no grounds” for sincerely acknowledging “homosexual unions.” All of this comes as another reminder that Pope Francis is not as socially progressive as many followers had initially hoped. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Protesters Sing “Let Us Pee” Outside N.C. Governor’s Mansion

Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday, March 28, 2015.  Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday, March 28, 2015. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

“Triangle Families Against HB2” event had protesters singing the famous Beatles hit “Let It Be” — with a twist.

On Sunday, a coalition of hundreds of protesters spoke out against North Carolina‘s new law HB2, which overturns protections for LGBTQ people and prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom of their selected gender. The standout moment of the protest at Gov. Pat McCrory‘s mansion was when the group united to sing “Let Us Pee,” a spin on the Beatles song “Let It Be.” Read more »

OPINION: Here’s What We All Should Be Doing for Transgender Day of Visibility

transgender

Poster by Micah Bazant

Thursday is Transgender Day of Visibility, a moment designated to reflect and acknowledge the existence of transpeople and their causes. The special nature of the day will no doubt prompt a torrent of heartfelt pictures and historical retellings on social media. But our transgender brother and sisters need more than just shout-outs this time around — they need serious action.

The irony of celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility in Pennsylvania is that it might actually cost a transperson their job. While we have increased visibility of transpeople in media, the fact remains that there is currently no law to protect such individuals from employment discrimination. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: New North Carolina Anti-Gay Law Faces Court Challenge

(sebra/Shutterstock)

(sebra/Shutterstock)

New North Carolina gay discrimination law is headed to court.

A new anti-LGBTQ law that prevents North Carolina municipalities and counties from extending protections to LGBTQ citizens in restaurants, hotels, and stores is now being challenged by The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and Equality North Carolina. The controversial law was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory last week after GOP lawmakers wanted to overturn an impending Charlotte ordinance that allowed transpeople to have a restroom preference that matched their selected gender identity. The lawsuit argues that “by singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution. H.B. 2 imposes a different and more burdensome political process on LGBT people than on non-LGBT people who have state protection against identity-based discrimination.” Read more »

OPINION: Identity and Acceptance Collide in LGBTQ News

Caitlyn Jenner is now endorsing Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) for president.

Caitlyn Jenner is now endorsing Texas Senator Ted Cruz for president.

Coverage this week of LGBTQ news couldn’t be any more of a headache.

The same tropes of homophobia and transphobia showed their nastier sides on social media and beyond with adverse reactions to the difference in opinions and expressions in Hollywood. Read more »

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