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Toronto School Board Member Shuts Down When Asked To Defend Homophobic, Transphobic Views - VIDEO

Sam Sotiropolous

Sam Sotiropolous, a member of the Toronto District School Board, has refused in an interview to answer questions about homophobic opinions expressed on Twitter, reports Pink News.

An August 30th tweet read “Until I see scientific proof that transgenderism exists and is not simply a mental illness, I reserve the right not to believe in it.” An earlier tweet on July 4th called Toronto Pride a “freak show.”

However, in a Global News interview, Sotiropolous - who is clearly uncomfortable -  refuses to answer questions about his views, claiming that although he has not formed an opinion on transgender people, he “has the right to reserve the right to have an opinion.”

Despite the fact that the tweet hasn’t been deleted, Sotiropolous denies calling Toronto Pride a “freak show”.  When confronted with another tweet claiming that the “disseminators” of “homosexism” are “maliciously rabid,” he walks away from the camera and appears speechless. At that point, his only comeback is he was under the impression that the interview would concern his comments on transgender people only. However, he does appear to back up his homophobic opinions, stating that “the words stand for themselves.”

At this point, he refuses to answer any more questions. The interview ends with a bizarre staring competition - which the Global News reporter wins.

Trans-rights activist Susan Gapka said that outrage at Sotiropoulos’s comments points to how far society has come in recent years.

“The terrific thing is that there are non-trans people, allies and supporters, leaping to the defense, there was a flurry on twitter, and social media, the news has covered it, that shows you how far we’ve come in the last five or ten years.”

Sotiropolous has since taken to Twitter again to defend his opinions, claiming that the school district is targeting "the rarest" types of bullying - transphobic and homophobic - while ignoring bullying based on appearance, school performance and ethnicity.

Watch the bizarre interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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HRC President Chad Griffin Apologizes To The Transgender Community: READ

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Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, formally apologized to members of the transgender community last Friday at this year’s Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. The HRC has long-since dealt with widespread criticism of its seeming willingness to put trans-advocacy on the back burner in favor of issues affecting cisgender members of the queer community.

In 2007, the HRC publicly endorsed an early version of the Employee Non Discrimination Act that did not provide protections for individuals facing gender-based discrimination. At that time the HRC defended its decision arguing that by removing protections for trans individuals initially, ENDA would be easier to pass and subsequently update to bring transgender people into the fold.

“I am sorry for the times you have been underrepresented or unrepresented by this organization. What happens to trans people is absolutely central to the LGBT struggle,” Griffin intoned. “And as the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC has a responsibility to do that struggle justice, or else we are failing at our fundamental mission.”

Griffin went on to assert that a fully inclusive version of ENDA was far from being all that the HRC could do to show its renewed support for the trans community. Acknowledging many of the socio-infrastructural challenges the trans community faces, Griffin expressed the HRC’s desire to pursue substantive legislative change meant specifically to benefit trans individuals.

In rooms like this one, for years, you have been making the case that we’ve got to change society at a fundamental level by lifting up more trans people, your lives, and your stories.

You’re right. And if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in this movement, it’s that once Americans come to really know us, it starts to become impossible to discriminate against us. And at our best, HRC offers an unmatched communications and public affairs platform to amplify LGBT stories across the country.

Read a transcript of Chad Griffin's apology to the transgender community AFTER THE JUMP...

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Wingnut Bryan Fischer: Diversity Is Crippling The U.S. - VIDEO

Bryan fischer

Anti-gay activist Bryan Fischer has taken to the website for his hate group American Family Association to argue that diversity is crippling the U.S.

Fischer is well known for his virulent - and regular - homophobic views.  In recent weeks, he has said that all LGBT people should be banned from public office, that god is disgusted when he looks at gay sex, and that Burger King’s Proud Burger will be a disaster for for the company because people do not want to have to think of two men having sex when they sit down to eat a hamburger. Chelsea Manning

In his latest outburst, Fischer asserts that the U.S. became the greatest nation in the world because of “an unshakable commitment to common core values and standards” and that the acceptance of diversity “fractures, debilitates, and diffuses.”

Alluding to transitioning transgender wikileaker Chelsea Manning, he continues:

“The strength of our military has not been its diversity but its unity, indeed its uniformity. Soldiers wear the same uniform, not uniforms of their own imaginations. They serve one nation, not many, salute one flag, not many, and follow one commander-in-chief, not many.”

Not content with transphobia, he goes on to say that immigrants are only welcome in the U.S. “if they embrace [Christian] fundamental values and are willing to become Americans rather than hyphenated Americans.”

Of course, same-sex marriage - not very subtly linked with profanity, fidelity, murder and theft - is also out, in Fischer’s version of Christianity:

“We recognized the importance of language that was free from profanity. We recognized the importance of honoring parents. We affirmed the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and stressed the importance of fidelity to the marriage covenant. We treated murder as a capital crime, punished theft, and punished perjury.”

ICYMI, watch Fischer's bizarre war on the Proud Burger, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Obamacare Expanding Healthcare Access For Trans People

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A growing number of low-income people who identify as transgender are finding that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is making it easier for them to transition. One of Obamacare’s key components is the requirement that health care providers provide coverage for all people interested in purchasing policies, regardless of whether or not they have pre-existing conditions.

Previously gender identity disorder, the psychological description of a dysphoria associated with one’s birth sex and assigned gender, was frequently used both to disqualify people from purchasing health plans and as a justification for denying certain forms of coverage. By making health care generally more affordable and divorcing coverage from employers, Obamacare is removing many of the barriers that trans-identified people have traditionally had to deal with

“The system isn’t perfect — low-income people buying insurance through a state exchange will still have to pay monthly fees — but it’s an improvement over the current setup,” Transgender Law Center Project Health program manager Anand Kalra explained to the Advocate:

“[A]ll plans sold through state exchanges have to provide coverage for 10 ‘Essential Health Benefits,’ which include, among others, preventative care, reproductive health, prescription drugs, mental health care, and treatment for substance abuse.”

Increased access to a broader network of healthcare practitioners is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t address all of the infrastructural healthcare difficulties faced by the the trans-community. There are far fewer general practitioners that specialize in trans-health issues. Moreover, while insurance companies can no longer out and out deny trans-identified people coverage simply for being trans, the approval process for many  medical procedures commonly associated with trans-people can be arduous.

"It is not a simple, easy, magical surgery," Devin Payn recounted to Kaiser Health News. "Trying to do this without insurance is a big risk. Things can go wrong ... not having the money to pay for it would be awful."


Transgender LGBT Advocate Allyson Robinson Ordained Baptist Minister - VIDEO

LGBT advocate and army veteran Allyson Robinson became one of the few openly transgender pastors in the U.S. when she was ordained last month at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., reports Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

6a00d8341c730253ef019103bcd4ff970c-800wiSharon Groves, HRC’s Director of Religion and Faith Program, said:

"We at HRC who have had the privilege of working with her for years are excited to see her gifts put to good use at Calvary Baptist Church.

"Allyson Robinson is a born preacher and pastor who inspires everyone she meets. I have had the privilege of working closely with her and with Calvary Baptist Church, which is leading to new conversations among Baptists and all people of faith. Together they are one powerful combination.  

"As summer comes to an end and families are coming back to church after their summer break, they would do well to check out the prophetic ministry happening at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C."

Last year, Robinson featured in and acted as a consultant on web-funded series TransMilitary, which focused on the unique struggles of transgender service members on active duty. She was the first transgender leader of a national LGBT rights organization until she was asked last year to resign as executive director of LGBT military group Outserve_SLDN.

Robinson is also founder of boutique consulting firm Warrior Poet Strategies and Vice President at LGBT Tech Partnership.

Watch Allyson speak about her transgender journey at a TedX talk, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mills College Becomes First All-Women's School to Welcome Transgender Students

Mills hall

Yesterday, Mills College in Oakland, California, became the first all-women’s college in the U.S. to openly welcome transgender and gender nonconforming students, reports Think Progress.

Last December, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill providing unprecedented protections for transgender students in the state.

Mills College is one of 119 single-sex universities across the U.S., 48 of which are women’s colleges.

According to Brian O’Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions, about three to five of the college’s 1,000 undergraduates identify as transgender or gender non-conforming every year.

The new policy allows for numerous ways to accommodate transgender students while still maintaining an identity as a women’s college:

  • The college welcome any student who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of what sex she was assigned at birth.

  • Applicants “who do not fit into the gender binary” are welcome provided they were assigned “female” at birth.

  • Female students who enroll but later identify as a man may stay and graduate.

  • The policy does not apply to undergraduate students who were assigned “female” at birth but who already legally identify as a man.

Last month we reported that George Fox University in Oregon and The California Baptist University continue to legally discriminate against transgender students.  Under exemptions, George Fox University can legally discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students.  In The California Baptist University case, a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.


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