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ABC Family Orders Ryan Seacrest-backed Transgender Docuseries

Seacrest

ABC Family has handed out a straight-to-series pickup for My Transparent Life, a Ryan Seacrest produced docuseries that follows a teen named Ben dealing with his parents' divorce and his father's transition.

via The Hollywood Reporter:

The series will intimately follow Ben, his family and friends as they support each other through the unexpected journey and watch Charlie slowly become Carly, as she experiences the many stages of her transition from male to female. The show is described as a generational story of a loving family and circle of friends, supporting each other through the unfamiliar and unexpected situation. [...]

"At RSP, we love family stories, and we couldn’t be more excited that ABC Family is helping us share this heartwarming story of how an ordinary teenager grapples with a challenging and unexpected family situation," Seacrest said. "We feel audiences will find Ben’s story relatable on a number of different levels, because at the end of the day, family is family unconditionally." 

Earlier this week, Transparent earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series and Jeffrey Tambor was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical for his lead role in the Amazon series. 


Anti-Gay Group That Botched Houston Petition Aims To Put Plano LGBT Protections On Ballot: VIDEO

  Welch

The anti-gay group that led a botched petition drive against Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance now plans a similar effort in Plano, Texas — where the City Council passed LGBT protections this week. 

The Houston Pastor Council's petition to repeal the Houston ordinance was rejected by the city due to invalid signatures, prompting a lawsuit

Plano is more than 250 miles from Houston, but that's not stopping the Pastor Council, according to Houston Public Media:  

Director Dave Welch (above) says the group will work with pastors in the area to try to repeal the ordinance. He says law places unnecessary restrictions on businesses.

“There’s no evidence of any discrimination at all,” Welch says. “These categories are vague and undefined and place criminal penalties on something [businesses] can’t even defend themselves over.” ... 

The Pastor Council plans to place a referendum on the ballot to overturn Plano’s new law. A similar move in Houston has led to an ongoing legal battle over the Equal Rights Ordinance, which has yet to be enforced. 

To put the Plano ordinance on the ballot, the group would need to gather approximately 3,800 signatures before Jan. 17, city spokesman Scott Stoler told Towleroad. 

"We have not heard anything specific about an organized effort to repeal the ordinance," Stoler said Friday. 

Jmateer_webMeanwhile, state legislators have introduced "license to discriminate" bills to undermine local nondiscrimination ordinances in Texas, and the anti-gay Liberty Institute, based in Plano, reportedly is trolling for plaintiffs to challenge the ordinance. 

The Liberty Institute's Jeff Mateer (right) appeared on the Family Research Council's Washington Watch radio program on Friday. 

"In order to bring a legal challenge, you need a plaintiff, and so we're looking for people who are impacted by it," Mateer said. "And these would be, for instance, small business, folks who are bakers and photographers and florists, who this law now tells them you have to violate your religious beliefs. If someone wants to have a same-sex commitment ceremony in your facility, then the law says you're compelled to host them, you're compelled to bake their cake, you're compelled to provide their flowers, you're compelled to be their photographer." 

Note that the FRC and other hate groups are still referring to the Plano law as a "Bathroom Ordinance," even though it specifically exempts restrooms and similar facilities from its public accommodations provision. 

The restroom exemption has drawn criticism from transgender advocates, so it'll be interesting to see whether LGBT groups can unite in defense of the ordinance given its obvious flaws. 

In any case, Stoler also confirmed that the city will begin offering benefits to the same-sex partners of employees in January. In fact, Plano has even put together an informational video about the benefits. Watch it and weep below, Houston Pastor Council and Liberty Institute.

Also, listen to Mateer's interview with FRC, and watch his nauseating testimony against the ordinance, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Group That Botched Houston Petition Aims To Put Plano LGBT Protections On Ballot: VIDEO" »


Homeless Shelter For LGBT Youth To Open In San Antonio: VIDEO

Homeless

Growing up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle, Sandra Whitley says she knew she was gay from the age of 13 — in 1975.

“I thought I was the only person in the world that had these feelings,” Whitley writes. “As much as I tried to keep it a secret, it was not long until my classmates, the town, and my parents knew. The parents of my classmates would not let their children associate with a homosexual. I no longer had friends. I was the talk of the town and my parents were not pleased. The school board tried to expel me from school. I was very lost and had no one to talk to.”

Whitley (below right) said she considered running away but ended up in a mental hospital.

“As horrible as that place was and as angry as I was when I got out (and for years to come), I did not end up on the streets,” Whitley writes. “As my life continued, I was always in trouble for being gay.  My relationship with my parents suffered for 20 years. I often said my only crime has been being gay.”

Whitley moved away from Texas for two decades before returning to San Antonio, where she’s owned a business for the last 20 years.

Now, Whitley plans to open a homeless shelter in San Antonio exclusively for LGBT youth, one of the few of its kind in the nation. Whitley will serve as executive director of the Thrive Youth Center, and initially, is underwriting many of the shelter’s expenses.

“I want these kids to know there is hope and they are not alone,” Whitley writes. “They can lead happy and productive lives. We are here to help them discover their dreams and fulfill them!”

WhitleyThe Thrive Youth Center was initially scheduled to open at Travis Park United Methodist Church downtown in November, but the opening has been delayed until at least January due to a zoning problem, KENS-TV reports.  

Whitley told Towleroad the city notified her the day the shelter was scheduled to open — after a report appeared in the LGBT publication Out In SA — that the site needed to be rezoned. The application to rezone the site will be heard by the city's Zoning Commission next week. Whitley said even if the rezoning application is rejected, she'll find another site. 

"I might have to jump throughout five hoops instead of two, but it's going to happen," she said. 

Whitley said she thinks opposition to the shelter is based on the fact that the city is trying to keep homeless people out of dowtown, rather than anti-LGBT sentiment. 

About 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, according to a 2012 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Of those, 46 percent said they ran away because of family rejection, while another 43 percent said they were forced out by their parents. According to Thrive Youth’s website, the rate in San Antonio is even higher, with as many as 50 percent of homeless youth in the Alamo City identifying as LGBT.

Whitley and the shelter’s assistant director, Joshua Lee Yurcheshen, said they visited The Ali Forney Center in New York City and the Los Angeles LGBT Community Center — two of the only other shelters exclusively for homeless LGBT youth. 

Initially, Thrive will provide emergency shelter for up to eight youth, two nights a week, and offer breakfast packs and bus passes. But Thrive’s founders say the shelter will eventually be open every night in addition to offering a daytime Drop in Center and a Transitional Housing Program.

“This is the first critical step for our organization,” they wrote on Thrive’s website. “As we gain strength and momentum, we will attain our goal of being able to provide a safe haven every night of the week for homeless and at-risk youth. It is the first step in breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

For more info on the Thrive Youth Center, or to donate or volunteer, visit the website.

Watch a report from WOAI-TV, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Homeless Shelter For LGBT Youth To Open In San Antonio: VIDEO" »


Austin Takes Major Steps Forward On Transgender Rights

Stabler

Austin on Thursday became the first city in Texas — and the 43rd in the nation — to add transgender-inclusive health benefits for employees.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution adding trans-inclusive benefits — including primary care, hormone therapy, mental health care and surgical care — beginning in 2015. 

The council also voted to require business owners to install signage indicating that single-stall restrooms are gender-neutral, and approved a resolution on pregnancy guidelines that specifically includes transmen.

From trans activist and HRC board member Meghan Stabler (above), who lives in Austin: 

BREAKING: Today, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the City Manager to incorporate transgender-inclusive benefits as part of the City employee benefits package in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 proposed budget. Specifically the City Council approved three trans* friendly items:

Ordinance — single occupancy gender neutral restroom signage now required.

Resolutions:
— Directs city manager to incorporate Trans-inclusive health benefits for city employees as part of Fiscal year 2015-16 proposed budget
— Directs city manager to examine workforce practices in other cities regarding personnel policies for **pregnancy-capable** employees & develop recommendations for implementation to council May 1st 2015. – note that the resolution specifically includes transmen.

Express thanks go out to CCM Mike Martinez and Chris Riley for steering this through for the vote. There were several local advocates involved in this for months, well done.

The trans-inclusive benefits were opposed by the Travis County Taxpayers Association, and gender-neutral restrooms faced opposition from the anti-LGBT group Texas Values and its President Jonathan Saenz, according to a recent report from KTBC-TV

“Legally, politically and financially, this is not a smart move by the city of Austin,” Saenz said. "There are major privacy issues and safety issues when we deal with these type of transgender bathroom issues and we’ve seen them come up in Houston and San Antonio, where women are concerned about sharing or having to use a restroom where maybe a man’s gonna come in before or after them, you have small children and little girls.”

Jimmy Flannigan, an openly gay City Council candidate, has also come under attack from his opponent for supporting the gender-neutral restroom proposal. 

But Thursday's actions by the City Council only further solidify Austin's reputation as the queerest city in Texas. 

Next up? Rainbow crosswalks

Crosswalks


British Labour Party Candidate Comes Out As Transgender - VIDEO

Emily Brothers

British Labour party parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers has come out as transgender, reports Pink News.

Brothers, who lost her sight to glaucoma as a child, is standing is standing for Parliament in the Sutton and Cheam district.

Although Liberal Democrat Stephanie Dearden was outed by the Daily Mail as transgender in 2005, it is believed to the the first time a parliamentary candidate for a major party has taken the decision to come out.

In an interview with Pink News, she said:

“In an ideal world I wouldn’t be speaking out about my past because it’s very private; however I recognise that as a politician the key thing is trust.

“I don’t want to be somebody who has notoriety as having a transgender background, but I also believe it’s an experience that has value to it, that I can be a positive role model.

“For a lot of people of a transgender experience that can be very challenging but for me, it was absolutely the right thing to do. I am happy and content as a woman, and also as a gay woman.

“I have two great children who are very supportive, but my wider family are not and have broken their connections with me.”

In September, Paula Overby, was the first openly transgender person to run for Congress from Minnesota.

Watch Brothers speak about the National Health Service at the 2014 Labour Party conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "British Labour Party Candidate Comes Out As Transgender - VIDEO" »


Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO

Arkansas

Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, narrowly repealed an ordinance banning anti-LGBT discrimination on Tuesday.  

The final tally was 7,523 votes in favor of repealing the ordinance, or 52 percent, to 7,040 votes against repeal, or 48 percent. 

Turnout was high for a special election, at 29 percent or 14,600 votes. That's compared to 21,457 Fayetteville residents who cast ballots in the Nov. 4 general election. 

The City Council approved the ordinance in August after 10 hours of debate, but opponents gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Fayetteville would have been the first city in Arkansas to ban anti-LGBT discrimination. 

NWA Online reports: 

Alderman Matthew Petty, the ordinance's sponsor, said he was disappointed but not discouraged after results were announced at Fresco Cafe & Pub, where supporters of the group Keep Fayetteville Fair gathered.

"We believe that we were on the right side of history," Petty said. "And if we're going to win the hearts and minds of people on the other side of this issue, we need to remember that and remember that they're brothers and sisters of Fayetteville, too." ... 

Petty said Tuesday night it's too soon to tell if the City Council will consider a revised version of a similar ordinance.

"We're going to consider all options," he said.

"This is the first round, but it won't be the last round," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who has publicly endorsed the ordinance. "I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but that doesn't mean we can't go back and try something again eventually."

Despite the setback, there were signs of progress in the results. Sixteen years ago, when Fayetteville voters repealed an ordinance protecting only gay city employees — the margin was 58 percent to 42 percent. The ordinance voted on Tuesday was much broader in its scope, applying citywide and including transgender protections.  

Kendra Johnson, a representative from the Human Rights Campaign in Arkansas, issued the following statement:  

"Tonight's vote is a deeply disappointing reminder that equality doesn't always move forward in a straight line. Make no mistake about it, tonight's election results—and the repeal of this ordinance — will inflict direct harm on LGBT Arkansans, their families and their friends. But we remain convinced that the progress of fairness will continue despite this result. All Arkansans should have the legal right to live safely within their communities, homes and workplaces, and the day will come soon when LGBT young people will wake up in this state and enjoy true equality under the law. We'll keep up the fight until that dream is achieved.”

Opposition to the ordinance was led by the likes of reality TV star Josh Duggar, as well as several Republican members of the Arkansas Legislature, who threatened to overturn the measure anyway if it was upheld by voters. 

Here's how they reacted on Twitter:

Watch KFSM-TV's report on the results, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO" »


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