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Transgender A.U. student leader finds acceptance

Fellow students, Delaware governor embrace Sarah McBride’s transition



‘For my entire life, I’ve wrestled with my gender identity,’ Sarah McBride wrote in a May 1 op-ed column in American University’s student newspaper. (Photo courtesy of McBride)

Sarah McBride says she loves politics and loves her home state of Delaware.

A native of Wilmington, McBride, 21, has been active in Delaware politics since the age of 13 and worked on the 2008 election campaign of Gov. Jack Markell (D). When Markell won the Democratic primary in September 2008, he and his wife Carla invited McBride to introduce the future governor on the stage where he delivered his victory speech.

All of that, McBride points out, unfolded around Tim McBride, the person she informed her fellow students at American University last week that she had officially transitioned from.

“For my entire life, I’ve wrestled with my gender identity,” she wrote in a May 1 op-ed column in the Eagle, American University’s student newspaper. “It was only after the experiences of this year that I was able to come to terms with what had been my deepest secret: I’m transgender.”

In an interview with the Blade this week, McBride said she’s known as long as she can remember that her true gender was that of a female. But she suppressed taking action on that realization out of fear that her longstanding desire to become active in politics and eventually run for public office would be jeopardized if she changed her gender, she said.

“For the longest time my only ambition was to become an elected official and to change the world through that,” she told the Blade. “Those goals and those dreams sort of went hand in hand.”

Tim McBride advanced that goal shortly after beginning as a freshman political science student at American University in 2009. With political experience gained in Delaware as a backdrop, McBride won election to the A.U. student senate before winning election last year as president of the A.U. student government.

She submitted her op-ed column to the Eagle on the day after her term as student president ended and, upon completion of her junior year this spring, with one year to go before her graduation in June 2013.

In the column she noted that she came out as transgender to her parents and closest friends during the winter recess this year.

“Today is the next day of the life I’ve already had, but at the same time, the first day of the life I always knew I wanted to lead,” she said in the column. “Starting on Saturday, I will present as my true self. Going forward, I ask that you use female pronouns (she/her) and my chosen name, Sarah.”

In an interview with the Blade on Wednesday, McBride said the response on campus has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I always knew that I went to an inclusive and accepting school,” she said. “But the outpouring of love and support was so far beyond my expectations. I’ve never been prouder to go to A.U.”

She added, “And I really do hope this experience for our campus is not a blip on the gossip mill. I hope it’s an opportunity to raise awareness for a sustained inclusion and awareness of trans students.”

McBride said she considers herself privileged coming from a supportive, upper-income family that had the means to send her to a supportive university in the nation’s capital. Many transgender young people encounter far less supportive families and face discrimination and prejudice at every turn.

Among her goals is to work with the transgender and LGBT community to fight discrimination. She said her dreams to advance that goal by becoming involved in electoral politics in her home state were boosted in March when she came out to Gov. Markell and his wife, First Lady Carla Markell.

“They were incredible,” she said. “They were amazing. “They’re two of the best people I know and beyond my parents they are some of my biggest mentors and supporters. When I told them it was unconditional love from them. They said they were just as proud of me and that they were there for me 100 percent.”

She said other political leaders in the state have been similarly supportive. Although as Tim McBride and now as Sarah she has been known as a loyal Democratic Party activist, McBride said, “All of the active Republicans I know have sent me messages of love and support as well.”

McBride said she has accumulated enough college credits to spend the fall semester working as an intern with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, where she hopes to help the organization elect openly LGBT people to public office throughout the country, including two openly gay candidates running for office in Delaware.

She would complete her senior year at A.U. next spring. She’s considering law school or graduate school sometime in the future, with politics still on the horizon.

“This entire experience has taught me that the goal of changing the world is a good goal,” she said, adding that seeking to become an elected official should be a means rather than an end to “improving and changing your community and your world…So that’s sort of been my readjustment of my life in terms of my dreams and my ambitions.”

Among those who have helped guide and mentor her in the process of transitioning has been Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, McBride said.

“She’s going to be a real powerhouse in whatever she does,” Keisling told the Blade. “She’s very politically savvy, very politically connected. I’m very excited not only that she’s transitioning but she’s transitioning with a real strong sense of social justice and political acumen.”

Keisling added, “So I’m hopeful for real big things for Sarah.”

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District of Columbia

Man charged with assaulting lesbian activist pleads guilty, gets 14 months in jail

Aiyi’nah Ford hit in head with barstool at Congress Heights restaurant in August



Lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford was attacked in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 17 sentenced a 46-year-old D.C. man to 14 months in jail after he pleaded guilty in September to an assault charge for an incident in which he attacked lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford at a restaurant on Aug. 3

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police on Aug. 12 states that Donnell Anthony Peterson allegedly knocked Ford to the floor at the Player’s Lounge restaurant and bar in the city’s Congress Heights neighborhood before hitting her in the head twice with the metal legs of a barstool.

Ford told the Washington Blade that Peterson, who was a regular customer at Player’s Lounge as was she, assaulted her while repeatedly calling her a “dyke bitch” after the two got into a verbal argument over, among other things, the city’s violence interruption program. Ford said she told Peterson and others who were having a discussion that she considers the program to be ineffective and a “joke.”

According to court records, witnesses reported seeing Ford bleeding profusely from the head before an ambulance took her to George Washington University Hospital, where she received multiple stitches to treat a serious head wound.

Court records show that D.C. police, who were called to the scene at the time of the assault, initially charged Peterson with Assault With a Dangerous Weapon. The records show that Peterson through his attorney agreed in September to accept a plea bargain offer by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

The offer called for lowering the charge to Assault With Significant Bodily Injury in exchange for pleading guilty with a promise by prosecutors to seek a sentence of no more than 14 month in jail.

The court records show that Superior Court Judge James A. Cromwell sentenced Peterson to 32 months of incarceration but suspended 18 months, requiring that he serve 14 months after which he would be released on probation. Court records show the probation was to last 18 months. Under court rules, if someone violates the terms of their probation, which almost always prohibits them from breaking the law or threatening a person they were charged with assaulting, the released person is ordered back to jail to serve the remaining time that had been suspended.

At the time Peterson was arrested in August a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, in response to a question from the Blade, declined to disclose why prosecutors chose not to classify Peterson’s assault against Ford as a hate crime based on her sexual orientation.

Ford told the Blade this week that the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alec Levi, was supportive of her throughout the case and told her a hate crime designation sometimes makes it more difficult to obtain a conviction if a case goes to trial. Ford said Levi told her prosecutors wanted to do all they could to bring Peterson to justice for his attack against her.

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District of Columbia

Longtime activist Lane Hudson arrested on drug charges

Homeland Security launched probe leading to August 2021 raid



Lane Hudson was arrested last year on drug charges. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia show that law enforcement officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested D.C. gay activist Thomas Lane Hudson on Aug. 11, 2021, on charges of possession with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.

An affidavit filed in court says the arrest took place at Hudson’s Logan Circle area apartment after officers forcibly entered the apartment when Hudson did not respond to their knocking on the door announcing their presence with a search warrant.

The affidavit says the officers discovered and seized illegal narcotics that were field tested and weighed and which included “1,096.4 grams of a mixture and substance containing Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance; 29.5 grams of a mixture and substance containing Heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance; and 322.974 fluid ounces of a mixture and substance containing Gamma Butyrolactone (‘GBL’), a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Court records show that Hudson was held without bond until at least Aug. 25, 2021, when U.S. District Court Judge Robin M. Meriweather approved a motion filed by prosecutors to seal the case from the public record on grounds that it “contains sensitive information regarding the underlying ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Aug. 25 entry that up until then was part of the public court record announcing the decision to seal the case did not disclose any information about an underlying or ongoing investigation. It also did not disclose why federal Homeland Security investigators became involved in a drug case ordinarily handled by D.C. police.

Hudson and his attorney, who is identified in the court records as Brian Keith McDaniel, did not respond to repeated requests by the Washington Blade for comment on the case and to disclose whether they dispute the accuracy of the charges filed against Hudson.

The arrest affidavit, which was filed before the case was sealed, remains a part of the public record. It says that in addition to the allegation that illegal drugs were seized from Hudson’s apartment, the officers conducting the search found “assorted items related to distribution of controlled substances.”

Among the items found, it says, were digital scales, plastic zip bags, vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags, a currency counting machine, and “approximately $48,000 in United States currency.” 

Although the public court records do not show whether Hudson was released while awaiting trial or was still being held, sources who know Hudson pointed out that he resumed posting messages on social media in December of 2021 after a period when no postings from him could be found. This suggests he has been released while the case remains pending.

Hudson’s arrest came less than a year before the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance released its 2022 D.C. LGBTQ Election Guide called Leave No One Behind, which calls for the decriminalization of possession of currently illegal drugs for personal use.

Although the GLAA document doesn’t call for decriminalizing the selling of illegal drugs, it says “evidence demonstrates criminalization has done little to curb the prevalence of drugs in our communities and is not an effective way of getting people into treatment because it stigmatizes drug users.”

Hudson is well known in the D.C. area and among LGBTQ advocates locally and nationally. He was twice elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention; served on Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee; and once worked for the Human Rights Campaign. 

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District of Columbia

Hundreds attend Dupont Circle vigil for Colorado shooting victims

Clergy members join activists in denouncing ant-LGBTQ violence



Hundreds showed up Monday night to remember Club Q victims. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Several hundred people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle Monday night to honor the five who died and at least 25 wounded in the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., this past Saturday night.

Among those who participated in the vigil were eight ministers and two elders from local LGBTQ supportive churches.

The event took place shortly after Colorado authorities released the names of the five patrons of the Club Q nightclub who police said were shot to death by lone gunman suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was subdued by other patrons before police arrived on the scene and placed him under arrest.

“We’re going to take the time to heal, to process, to honor those victims, members of our own community,” said Larry Miller, news anchor for D.C.’s WUSA 9 TV, who served as moderator at the vigil.

“It will be tough,” Miller said in opening the event. “But we’ll do it together. If you need to cry this is an opportunity to do that,” he said. “If you need to pray, you’ll have that opportunity as well.”  

The vigil was organized jointly by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs; Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events; the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events; the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community; and the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence.

“Today we are standing in solidarity with our queer family in Colorado Springs in the aftermath of a tragic and deadly shooting at Club Q,” Japer Bowles, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, told the gathering.

“However, gun violence and anti-LGBTQ hate will not stomp out our life,” Bowles said. “And even though we are mourning today and tomorrow and through the holidays where seats around the dinner table will be empty due to gun violence and anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, our love and our strength as a community will prevail.”

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kenya Hutton, deputy director of the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events, told those attending the Dupont Circle vigil he worries that a shooting incident like the one in Colorado Springs could happen anywhere, including in D.C.

“I’m tired of having to say the names of those we’ve lost for no reason,” he said. “We have legislators pushing all these anti-LGBTQ bills,” Hutton said. “We can’t sit by silently and let this continue.” 

Among the clergy members who spoke was Rev. Adalphie Johnson, Senior Pastor of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.

“I come here this evening with a heavy heart,” she said. “A heavy heart because we are still living in a world where folks need to understand what it means to love, what it means to allow people to be free, what it means to allow people to live their authentic self.”

Others who spoke included Mike Silverstein, a member of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission; Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance; Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors and a member of the Human Rights Campaign board; Alexis Elizabeth Rodriguez, director of D.C.’s Latinx Pride organization; and D.C. artist and poet Reggie Rich.

Other clergy members who participated in the vigil included Rev. Aaron Wade, founder and Pastor Emeritus of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, Senior Minister at First Congressional United church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Arthur Cribbs Jr., Senior Pastor of Little River United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Sidney Fowler of United Church of Christ; and Rev. Kenneth King, Pastor serving New Hope Baptist Church and Plymouth Congressional United Church of Christ.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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