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BREAKING: Maryland lawmakers introduce transgender rights bill

Measure has more than 20 co-sponsors

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Transgender Maryland

Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Dana Beyer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 that gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced has more than 20 co-sponsors. These include state Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County.)

The proposal died in committee last April because Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) reportedly blocked a vote on it. Miller has since backed the proposal.

“Put simply, the process of passing a bill requires that you line up the votes you need to make it through a chamber,” Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, told the Washington Blade. “That process is eased considerably when those legislators are willing to sign on as co-sponsors. I am very pleased we can show this degree of support in the Senate, which I attribute to the diligent work of Senators Madaleno and Raskin and their staffs. The trans community should be very hopeful that this is the year.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans also welcomed the proposal’s introduction.

“The protections in this bill are long overdue,” she said. “We are confident the General Assembly will demonstrate, as they did in 2012, that we are a state that treats all of its citizens with dignity and equality under the law.”

Maryland is among the 21 states and D.C. that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, while the nation’s capital and 16 states have passed laws that ban anti-trans discrimination.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. peter rosenstein

    January 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I am pleased to see that Mike Miller now backs the bill. It takes longer to open some people;s eyes and I have always believed Miller is basically a good person.

  2. Wesley Michael

    January 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Same troll, different day. Doesn't Brennan ever get tired of writing the same article over and over? Not to mention that tired argument has been around 20+ years before she ever stared parroting it.

    If you're going to continue to offend me, at least give me something exciting and new, please.

  3. Scott Schmidt

    January 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    For our trans brothers and sisters, this is the last piece of legislation that needs to be passed in order to make Maryland equal in every way!

  4. Michael Benefiel

    January 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I vote in Dist 18 and helped elect Senator Madaleno. I am proud of this faith-based progressive legislation to advance justice for all Marylanders. Go SB 449!

  5. Eric Garbe

    January 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Does Brennan ever get tired of the negative attention she gets from being a pretend internet villain? No. No she does not.

  6. Kelli Anne Busey

    January 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Cathey Brennan is a lawyer. Works a Hudson Cook in Hanover MD. I would suggest our friends and allies take their business elsewhere.
    http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2012/07/catherine-brennans-sorry-for-you-dick.html

  7. Cathy Brennan

    January 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for posting this. It's unfortunate that the Gay Male and Trans Woman Communities think they need to break the backs of Women in order to "gain rights" for Trans Women. It doesn't have to be that way. There's a reason why it is.

    • Blazewing

      January 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Perhaps Brennan and her Brennanites need to get back in the kitchen and make the grownups some sammiches.

      • Jenna Fischetti

        January 31, 2013 at 10:43 pm

        I am certainly NOT in agreement with the views expressed by Ms Brennan, nor others who believe transgender people should not have equality. Even when they go as far as to make disparaging claims, using flawed grounds which equate to unwarranted propositions.

        However, sexist and abuser’s language such as “sammiches” is offensive to survivors of assault and abuse.

        Discourse is not served. Please refrain from such comments.

  8. Jeri

    January 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    If I am reading this correctly. Brennan just said:

    Gay Male – Radfem definition of a trasngender woman.
    Trans Woman – Radfem definition of a transgender man.

    This correct Cathy? Just wanting to make sure I understand the context of your comment.

  9. Eric Garbe

    January 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Shush, the grown-ups are talking.

  10. Cathy Brennan

    January 31, 2013 at 1:48 am

    Another piece on why sex discrimination is the way to go: http://sexnotgender.com/2013/01/29/sex-discrimination-as-legal-strategy/

  11. Sofya David

    January 31, 2013 at 2:15 am

    hello friends

  12. Omar Betancourt Alvarez

    January 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    CREO QUE TODAS LAS PERSONAS TRANS, DEBEMOS SER UNIDAS Y AYUDARNOS.

    • Jenna Fischetti

      January 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Si, todas las personas trans!

  13. Jeri

    January 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Cathy Brennan jumped the shark a while ago and has since launched horrific attacks against the trans community, specifically against trans women. I assure you, listening to what Brennan has to say when it comes to trans rights is not in the best interest of the trans community. If she suggests something for trans it has to be bad.

  14. Jeri

    January 31, 2013 at 8:58 am

    BTW, sexnotgender is a smoke screen. Do a search on some of the authors on the site and see what they really think about trans women. TW Extreme transphobia

  15. Budah QueerJamerican

    February 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    What are the 16 states have passed laws that ban anti-trans discrimination?

    • Meredith Moise

      February 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      FYI: the EEOC has been taking complaints from transgender Marylanders regarding discrimination since 2001. This bill is overbroad and redundant. The law already protects people regardless of sex.

      • I. Tohljaseaux

        February 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm

        “the EEOC has been taking complaints from transgender Marylanders regarding discrimination since 2001”

        The issue here, however, is Maryland state law – and no one has ever been able to point to any relevant, binding, published, findable-by-non-attorneys aspect of Maryland state law which explicitly states that trans people AS TRANS PEOPLE have anti-discrimination protection under Maryland state law.

        In that sense, 2013 would be shaping up to be the same as 2011, which shaped up to be the same as 2001.

        Have a nice day!

    • Meredith Moise

      February 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      FYI: the EEOC has been taking complaints from transgender Marylanders regarding discrimination since 2001. This bill is overbroad and redundant. The law already protects people regardless of sex.

    • Budah QueerJamerican

      February 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      The EEOC may take complaints from transgender people, but they do NOT state that they protect individuals based on being transgender or gender nonconforming. The EEOC fights discrimination on sex and sexuality which are often confused as being the same thing. These issues are similar, but not the same thing. So I disagree with you Meredith Moise, we do need laws to protect gender variance!

      ….back to my question- What are the 16 states have passed laws that ban anti-trans discrimination?

    • Jenna Fischetti

      February 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Actually Meredith, no. It was not until the Macy v. Holder case, did the EEOC issue a ruling in 2012 that discrimination based on sex includes non conformity to gender. We've heard the same misinformation in Maryland in respect to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. Glendora Hughes, General Counsel for MCoCR has repeated stated her commission will not take cases based on gender non conformity even after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Glenn v. Brumby. She has testified on behalf of laws to protect Marylanders based on gender identity and gender non-conformity.She certainly doesn't think they are overbroad and redundant and its her commission who's job it is to enforce these laws.

      Budah, here are the States, and the language used:
      http://transmaryland.blogspot.com/p/language-of-gender-identity.html

    • Jenna Fischetti

      February 9, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Meredith Moise , for the record, that's an interesting perspective for a Policy Advisory Board member of Gender Rights Maryland.

    • Budah QueerJamerican

      February 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you for the info Jenna Fischetti!
      …and I am shocked that she is supposed to be fighting for gender rights! I think transgender and gender variant people need all the help we can get. Wow…disturbing…

    • Jenna Fischetti

      February 13, 2013 at 3:53 am

      Budah QueerJamerican No problem, thanks for stopping by TransMaryland.org to check out that link I sent you! Did you get to Creating Change this year in Atlanta?

      The lack of trans folks from Maryland on the Policy Advisory Board or the "brain trust" as GRMD calls it, is shocking. I believe 2 out of 17 are Transgender Marylanders. It makes one wonder how an organization can claim to represent a community it has no accountability to, nor does it outreach into. It explains how someone on their "brain trust" opposes trans protections. Head-scratcher if you ask me.

  16. Sofya David

    February 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you very much for this law, which indicates that the Justice and Equality and I hope this legislation in all countries of the world in order to do justice to the transgender.
    Thank you

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Two injured in gunfire outside crowded 14th Street restaurants

Witnesses say 20 shots fired near Blade, Whitman-Walker offices

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Police are looking for three suspects in connection with Thursday’s shooting.

D.C. police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least three suspects involved in a shooting in which two men were wounded shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, on the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W. where the offices of the Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, are located.

The shooting occurred while dozens of people were dining at restaurants along the bustling street in the heart of the city’s Logan Circle nightlife area.

Police released a video showing two men – one wearing a white hooded sweater or sweatshirt and the other wearing a dark colored similar hooded shirt running along the street and entering the front and rear passenger doors of a black car double parked on the street that police described as an older model Honda Civic with D.C. license plates.

The video shows the car driving away at a fast speed with a third person driving the vehicle.

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District seek the public’s assistance in locating suspects and a vehicle in reference to an Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun) offense,” a statement released by D.C. police says.

“At approximately 8:20 p.m., members of the Third District heard the sounds of gunshots and responded to the listed location,” the statement says. “Upon arrival, members located two adult male victims, both conscious and breathing, suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to the statement. “DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The shooting incident took place at a time when many city residents and police were on edge following the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl on July 16 in Southeast D.C. and the firing of gunshots last Saturday outside Washington Nationals Stadium during a game, which prompted people inside the stadium, who heard the gunshots, to duck for cover.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who was accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, said investigators believe one of the two men wounded by the gunfire was a target of the shooting. Contee said police believe the second victim was hit in the crossfire.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can as an entire system here in the District of Columbia to hold offenders accountable when these things happen in our community,” Contee said. “This is unacceptable. That’s the bottom line. It is totally unacceptable behavior,” he said.

“I’m asking the community to take a look at these videos,” he told reporters at the press conference. “If you know the person or the vehicle or somebody who is in that – there is one individual with a very distinctive hoody that he was wearing – please look at that very closely,” he said. “We’re asking for the community’s help.”

When asked by a reporter to comment on expressions of outrage by members of the community over the widespread outbreak of gun violence in the city, Bowser said she shares that concern.

“Well, I’m outraged. The chief is outraged. And the community should be outraged,” the mayor said. “What we saw tonight and unfortunately what we saw over the last several days is an illegal firearm brazenly used on D.C. streets,” Bowser said.

“And we know that our investigators and detectives are going to track down every lead. Our citizens have already been helpful in supplying leads and video and anything else that they saw so that we can get these individuals off the street and hold them accountable,” the mayor said.

Witnesses have said the Thursday night shooting on 14th Street reportedly occurred at the intersection of Riggs Street outside the Mexicue Restaurant, which is located at 1720 14th Street, N.W. The Blade office is located just a few doors down and Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor building is a short distance away across the street at 14th and R Street, N.W.

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Suspect charged in murder of trans woman in PG County apartment

District Heights man apprehended in Arlington following unrelated arrest

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P.G. Police charged DeAllen Davonta Price with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Taya Ashton’s death.

Prince George’s County, Md., Police announced on Wednesday that homicide investigators identified and filed murder charges against a 27-year-old District Heights, Md., man for the July 17 homicide of transgender woman Taya Ashton, 20, who was found shot to death in her apartment in nearby Suitland, Md.

In a statement, P.G. Police said they charged DeAllen Davonta Price of the 6400 block of Hil Mar Drive in the unincorporated area of District Heights with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Ashton’s death.

According to the statement, while P.G. police detectives identified Price as a suspect in the Ashton murder, Arlington County, Va. Police arrested him on July 18 on an unrelated robbery charge after he attempted to flee from Arlington and Metro Transit police inside a train tunnel at the Pentagon City Metro Station.

“With the assistance of Metro Transit Police, Prince George’s County Police detectives and a K9 officer searched those tracks and recovered a weapon that’s now been linked to Taya’s murder,” the P.G. Police statement says.

“Price remains in custody in Virginia pending extradition to Prince George’s County,” the statement says. “The motive remains under investigation,” says the statement, but it adds, “Detectives have uncovered no evidence suggesting Taya’s murder was due to her gender identity.”

The announcement by P.G. police of Price’s arrest came on the same day that family members and friends of Taya Ashton held a vigil to honor her life at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at River Terrace Park in Northeast D.C. along the banks of the Anacostia River, which is part of the neighborhood were Ashton grew up.

Veteran D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate Phil Pannell, who attended and spoke at the vigil, said that in addition to family members and friends of Ashton’s, those who spoke included Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), D.C. transgender rights advocate Earline Budd, and numerous community leaders in D.C. and P.G. County. Budd said more than 200 people turned out for the vigil.

At the conclusion of the vigil, many of the participants drove in a lengthy caravan of cars to the apartment building in the Suitland section of Prince George’s County, where Ashton lived and where her life ended, to further honor her.

“The nearby streets were completely filled with people coming out for Taya and her family,” Budd said.

A three-page charging document filed in Prince George’s County District Court by P.G. Police on Wednesday, July 21, provides a detailed account of how homicide detectives used cell phone records and high-tech firearm ballistics techniques to link Price to the murder.

P.G. police said homicide detectives began an intense investigation into the murder almost immediately after family members who discovered Ashton’s body at her apartment on July 17 called police. Ashton’s grandfather, Stuart Anderson, who said Taya Ashton’s status as a transgender woman was accepted by her family, told the Blade that family members who arrived at the apartment could not find any evidence of a forced entry, leading them to believe the assailant responsible for the murder may have been someone Ashton knew and invited into her home.

The charging document says that although Ashton’s phone was missing from the apartment and presumed stolen at the time her body was found, detectives obtained her phone number from family members and used it to discover through the tracing of her calls and text message records that she and Price communicated with each other by text or calls between Friday, July 16, one day prior to the murder, and at 11:42 p.m. Saturday, July 17.

“This is the last call that the Decedent makes or answers before being found deceased,” the charging document states.

According to the charging document, earlier in the evening of July 17 Ashton and a friend of hers exchanged text messages in which Ashton wrote, “My dude is on his way” which the friend understood to mean a sexual encounter was expected to take place. A short time later Ashton told her friend in a follow-up text message “that a sexual encounter occurred,” the charging document says.

“As the investigation continued, it was discovered that Defendant was arrested on 07/18/2021 at approximately 1642 hours [4:42 p.m.] by the Arlington County Police Department for a theft,” the charging document in support of Price’s arrest says.

It says that when Arlington Police initially attempted to apprehend Price, “he jumped off of a platform and ran into a subway tunnel towards the Pentagon Metro Station.” The document says he hid inside the tunnel for about two hours before being arrested after he walked out of the tunnel into the station.

At the time of his arrest, the charging document says, Price was in possession of a Gucci cross strap bag with distinct markings that Ashton’s family members reported was missing from her apartment at the time her body was found.

A short time later, P.G. County homicide investigators, who arrived on the scene, conducted a search of the train tunnel and found a black semi-automatic .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, the charging document states.

It says that that a police firearm expert, after examining the gun, “was able to conclude that the fired .40 caliber cartridge casing recovered from the scene [of the murder] and the fired projectile recovered from the Decedent’s body were fired from the Smith and Wesson handgun bearing serial #HTU3274 recovered from the area the Defendant hid from police.” 

The document states that when questioned after his arrest, Price waived his Miranda rights to withhold comment and obtain representation from an attorney and acknowledged that police had obtained access to his correct cell phone number.

“He also admitted to being sexually intimate with the Decedent and stated that he has known the Decedent for approximately three months,” the charging document continues. “He then admitted to being at the Decedent’s apartment the night of the murder and being sexually intimate with the Decedent that night,” it says.

“Based on the aforementioned facts, the evidence indicates that the Defendant is responsible for shooting and killing the Decedent,” the document concludes. The document does not state whether detectives asked Price whether he committed the murder or whether or not he admitted or denied fatally shooting Taya Ashton.

An arrest warrant that accompanies the charging document says that in addition to being charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, police charged Price with Assault-First Degree; Firearm Use/Felony Crime of Violence; Assault-Second Degree; Handgun on Person; and Loaded Handgun on Person.

Court records show that Price had been arrested in Virginia and Maryland several times prior to his latest arrests beginning in 2012 on charges that include illegal possession of a firearm, armed robbery, misdemeanor theft, and grand larceny.

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LGBTQ ally Hoffberger stepping down at American Visionary Art Museum

Iconic Baltimore attraction looking for a successor

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The Divine statue is a tribute to the gay actor and Baltimore native that was championed by outgoing AVAM founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger.

A longtime ally of the LGBTQ community is leaving her job in the arts world.

After 26 years as founder, director and primary curator of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger disclosed this week that she will retire in March of 2022.

In 1992, Congress designated the museum as a “national repository and educational center for visionary art,” which is defined as works “produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training” which arise from “an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.”

Rather than focusing on works of visionary art as objects unto themselves, Hoffberger curates exhibits that combine art, science, philosophy, and humor, always with an underlying focus on social justice and betterment. AVAM’s exhibits have explored themes ranging from hunger, public health and climate change to sleep and what makes us smile.

Throughout her tenure, Hoffberger has supported LGBTQ artists by featuring their work and stories in her themed exhibits and adding their work to the museum’s permanent collection. While other museums have only recently begun to call attention to their efforts to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access, AVAM has done it all along.

One of AVAM’s best known and most photographed pieces by an LGBTQ artist is British sculptor Andrew Logan’s 10-foot-tall statue of Divine, a tribute to the gay actor and Baltimore native who starred in drag in “Pink Flamingos,” “Multiple Maniacs,” “Hairspray” and other movies by filmmaker John Waters.

Logan, whose paintings and sculpture fill the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture between England and Wales, has two other works at AVAM: Icarus, a figure suspended above the main staircase, and the Cosmic Galaxy Egg, an eight-foot sculpture on a plaza outside the museum’s Jim Rouse Visionary Center.

Other LGBTQ artists highlighted at AVAM include painter James Snodgrass; Judy Tallwing McCarthy, an Apache leatherwoman and multi-media artist who won the first International Ms. Leather contest in 1987; Andrey Bartenev, a Russian performer, sculptor and experimentalist who won the Alternate Miss World pansexual beauty pageant in 2018 as Miss UFO; and psychic and “consciousness researcher” Ingo Douglas Swann, co-founder of the Stargate Project that was launched to investigate psychic phenomena in military and domestic intelligence applications.

Local visionary talents include woodworker Bob Little; Bob Adams, a multi-media artist and one of John Waters’ Dreamlanders, whose photographs, scrapbooks, shrines and other assemblages have been featured in three AVAM exhibits, and Bob Benson, a popular classical music radio host who became a prolific visual artist later in life, responsible for the fart machine in the museum’s Flatulence exhibit; the blinged-out Universal Tree of Life visible on Key Highway (made with Rick Ames and David Hess); the ocean beneath Icarus and the sky above him, and many other creations.

The museum has supported the LGBTQ community in other ways as well. It was one of the first places in Maryland to offer a welcoming setting for same-sex weddings, even before they were legal in the state. Couples would get married in the District of Columbia, where it was legal, and then come to AVAM’s Meditation Chapel to have a second wedding and reception.

One of Hoffberger’s year-long exhibits was called “Race, Class and Gender: 3 Things that Contribute “0” to CHARACTER (Because being a Schmuck is an equal opportunity for everyone!), also known as The Character Show. As part of that 2005-2006 presentation, she wrote an essay entitled “gender,” in which she explored the ways people in different countries think about transgender citizens; “intersex” children born with both male and female reproductive organs; gender “verification” for athletes; gender fluidity, the “gender rights” movement and related subjects.

“Every human being is precious,” she argued at the end. “We are all, all of us, part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor.”

The museum’s shop, Sideshow, has a gay owner whom she recruited from Chicago, Ted “Uncle Fun” Frankel, and is filled with gay-friendly books and gifts that reflect his sensibility. TripSavvy.com, a website last month named AVAM the LGBTQ+ Best Hidden Gem in Maryland. Readers of The Baltimore Sun just chose it as Baltimore’s Best Museum and Best Tourist Attraction.

In announcing her departure, Hoffberger said she loves her time at the museum but wants to pursue other interests, including writing a play about the close friendship between inventor Nikola Tesla and writer Mark Twain.

“I consider myself the luckiest woman I know,” she said. “It has been such a fantastic privilege to imagine, birth and to help our American Visionary Art Museum flourish over these past decades, alongside the most wonderful hardworking staff imaginable. Every beautiful thought, opportunity to communally inspire some greater good, we have joyfully undertaken.”

Her final curated exhibit as director will be “Healing & The Art of Compassion (And The Lack Thereof!),” scheduled for Oct. 9, 2021 to Sept. 4, 2022. A farewell gala and fundraiser has been set for Nov. 20. The museum’s board has appointed m/Oppenheim Executive Search to help find her replacement.

Waters, a big fan of the museum, is one of many who think Oppenheim doesn’t have an easy assignment.

“Rebecca Hoffberger’s name is almost synonymous with the word ‘irreplaceable,” the writer and filmmaker said in an email message.

“She has given the world the perfect museum to celebrate Baltimore’s reputation as a welcoming home to eccentric artistic outsiders and crackpot personalities,” he said. “The statue of Divine watches over the international visiting guests with benevolence and the same understanding Rebecca has for all artists who don’t fit in. Rebecca is passionate, obsessive in her drive, and nobody else could have made this place become such a major tourist destination. And now to find a successor? Who knows? We need another Glinda, the Good Witch of the Visionary. She’s out there somewhere.”

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