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D.C., Rehoboth officials misgender trans women

Sgt. Hawkins among those told to use men’s facilities



Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade
Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade, misgender trans women

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In separate incidents that activists say they hope were rare occurrences, city government employees in D.C. and Rehoboth Beach, Del., during the past week directed transgender women to use the men’s bathroom or locker room at a public facility.

In the D.C. case, an employee of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation told several trans women entering the city’s Banneker Pool on Georgia Avenue, N.W., on July 1 that they needed to access the pool through the men’s locker room, according to an account of the incident by the local online news blog dcist.

Among the trans women asked to use the men’s locker room, dcist reported, was D.C. police Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, who serves as supervisor for the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit. Rebecca Kling, an official with the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the trans people came to the pool to participate in the second annual D.C. Trans Pool Party that Kling organized.

Kling said she didn’t directly witness a female desk clerk at the pool asking the trans women to use the men’s locker room and who reportedly addressed Sgt. Hawkins as “sir.” But Kling said she spoke to several people who informed her of that taking place.

Kling noted that once she brought the matter to the attention of the manager of the Banneker Pool he immediately assigned another employee to the front desk and that employee treated the trans visitors with respect and had no objections to their using the locker room that matched their gender identity – the women’s locker room.

Kling and transgender advocate Ruby Corado also noted that the “misgendering” by the pool employee of the trans women marked the second year in a row in which attendees of the annual Trans Pool Party were treated improperly by a DPR employee assigned to work at the Banneker Pool.

DPR officials responded to last year’s incident by promising to provide additional training for all DPR employees on LGBT-related issues, including the fact that the D.C. Human Rights Act bans discrimination against LGBT people. The Human Rights Act, among other things, requires that transgender people be allowed to use public bathrooms or other facilities, including locker rooms, that match their gender identity.

“As far as trans persons being mistreated, as far as I could see once everyone got into the pool everyone had a great time and everyone was treated appropriately,” Kling told the Blade in discussing this year’s Trans Pool Party on July 1.

“We take all concerns seriously and we address them immediately,” DPR spokesperson Gwen Crump said in a statement. “DPR has and will continue to train employees regarding sensitivity to LGBTQ guests,” she said, adding, “[W]e want every DPR facility to be a welcoming experience for all guests.”

In the Rehoboth Beach incident, Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks told the Blade a female transgender visitor called police in the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, to report being mistreated by a city attendant working at one of the public bathrooms located next to a bandstand near the boardwalk.

Similar to the D.C. pool incident, Banks said the trans visitor complained to police officers who arrived on the scene that the attendant directed her to use the men’s bathroom instead of the women’s bathroom, a development that violates Delaware’s human rights law. The Delaware human rights law, similar to D.C.’s law, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and allows trans people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Steve Elkins, president of CAMP Rehoboth, an LGBT community center, said Banks invited him to attend a meeting on Monday with him, the Rehoboth city manager, and other city officials to discuss the bathroom incident. Among other things, Elkins said City Manager Sharon Lynn, who’s a lesbian, said she would arrange for city employees to be briefed on the state human rights law and its application to issues affecting transgender people.

“The police acted appropriately in the way they handled this,” Elkins said. “The bathroom attendant is being counseled.”



Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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