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Trans activist speaks out on prostitution arrest

Dee Curry goes public with solicitation charge to draw attention to plight of sex workers



Dee Curry, gay news, Washington Blade
Dee Curry said she considers the police tactics used to arrest her as a form of entrapment. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Dee Curry has been an outspoken advocate for transgender rights in the District of Columbia for many years and has appeared as a speaker at numerous LGBT events. Earlier this year, the mayor’s office appointed her to serve on a newly created city advisory committee on street harassment.

Curry was scheduled to testify on Wednesday, March 27, before the City Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety to discuss priorities as she sees them for the D.C. Police Department’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

With that as a backdrop, Curry, 64, said she has decided to publicly disclose that she was arrested on Feb. 8 on a charge of misdemeanor solicitation for prostitution as part of a D.C. police “sting” operation.

She said she considers the police tactics used to arrest her as a form of entrapment that she feels the LGBT community and the public at large should view as a misuse of police resources to target commercial sex workers, especially trans sex workers.

D.C. police spokesperson Alaina Gertz said the department cannot comment on the specific circumstances surrounding Curry’s arrest because it is a pending case. But she said the department’s enforcement efforts do not target any specific population.

“We respond to citizen and community complaints and focus our attention in the geographic areas where those complaints are located,” Gertz told the Blade in an email.

Curry said her arrest involved an undercover D.C. police officer who posed as an Uber driver and who invited her into his car, leading her to believe he could drive her home at a time when she needed a ride.

She said she had just finished visiting her godmother, who lives in a house on a side street off of a section of West Virginia Avenue, N.E., next to the campus of Gallaudet University. The area is known as a location where transgender sex workers congregate. 

Curry acknowledges having been arrested for sex work in the past but said she has changed the direction of her life and “absolutely” was not soliciting at the time of her arrest on Feb. 8. 

“I was walking and he drove past me,” she said. “And then he turned around and he beckoned me to come to his car. I said I didn’t call for an Uber and he said that’s OK, and I got in the backseat,” Curry told the Blade.

“And he proceeded and I told him where I was living and when he turned the corner he said you know that’s a little too far for me because all my calls come from this area,” Curry recounted. 

“I said can you take me a little closer to where I live? And he said I really picked you up because I wanted a blowjob for $30 and we can park in one of these parking spaces. He said we could park by a school,” Curry quoted him as saying.

“I said no you’re not, not with me,” she continued. “And that’s when the police came.” 

When asked by the Blade if she might have said something to the officer that he interpreted as her consenting to his offer, Curry said she did not think so.

“I don’t recall saying yes,” she said. “It was cold that night. I probably said well we could talk about that. Give me a ride home. I might have tried to con him out of a ride home,” Curry said. “I may have given him some indication that I might participate in some shit like that.”

But Curry added, “That doesn’t take away the fact that this man was egregiously masquerading as an Uber driver. I would have never gotten in his car. That’s my point,” she said in characterizing the encounter as a form of entrapment.

The arrest affidavit filed in court by police identifies the driver as undercover officer D. Eley and says he’s a member of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit. It says the unit was “conducting an undercover prostitution operation in reference to complaints of prostitution activity in the area.”

The affidavit gives no indication that sex trafficking was occurring in the area where the undercover operation took place. When the Blade asked police spokesperson Gertz why the Human Trafficking Unit was dispatched to the area she sent a response by email. 

“Deployment of MPD’s Human Trafficking Unit is based on requests from district commanders and complaints that are sent directly to the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division (NSID) about prostitution activity,” she said. “Those complaints come from residents and citizens of D.C.”

The affidavit provides a short transcript of what it says was a conversation between the undercover officer and “Defendant 1,” who was later identified as Curry.

“Hey baby get in,” it quotes the officer as saying. “Hey, I’m trying to make some money,” it quotes Defendant 1 as saying. “You driving for Uber tonight?” it quotes Defendant 1 as saying.

“Yeah,” the transcript quotes the officer as saying. “I want something real quick while I’m on a break. I want some head. Is $30 good for you? For some head,” the officer is quoted as saying.

“Yeah, $30 is good,” it says Defendant 1 replied. “Okay baby,” the officer is quoted as saying.

The affidavit then states, “Undercover Ofc. D. Eley gave a prearranged signal for the arrest team to move in and apprehended D 1. D 1 was stopped and placed under arrest for solicitation for prostitution. D 1 was transported to the 5th District for processing.”

Curry disputes the quotes that the transcript attributes to her.

Court records show that Curry was released on the night of her arrest after being processed and given a citation ordering her to appear in court on March 12 for an arraignment. At that time she pleaded not guilty to the charge through a court appointed lawyer and was instructed to return to court on April 9 for a preliminary hearing.

D.C. attorney Dale Edwin Sanders, who has practiced criminal law in D.C. and Virginia, said an entrapment defense is difficult to prove because courts have ruled that police tactics similar to those used in Curry’s arrest are legal if there is evidence that the person arrested had a “predisposition” for engaging in an illegal activity such as prostitution.

“The government will argue that all they’ve done is to provide an opportunity for the defendant to commit a crime that they were predisposed to commit,” Sanders said. “If the government does more than provide the opportunity but rather is the initiator and the aggressor and overcomes or infringes or compromises the defendant’s will resist the overture of the government, then that would be entrapment,” he said.

Curry said she decided to stop engaging in commercial sex work after a previous arrest in 2011 in which she said she was similarly entrapped by an undercover police officer on a charge of sexual solicitation. Court records show that Curry was found not guilty of the charge by a judge in a non-jury trial in August 2011.

D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, has said the department aggressively investigates hate crimes and other crimes targeting the transgender community and the LGBT community as a whole.

 Parson told the Blade on Wednesday that his response to Dee Curry’s allegation of entrapment and misuse of police resources on prostitution arrests would be the same response offered by police spokesperson Gertz. Because it’s an open case, he said, he has no further comment on the specifics of the arrest.

He said the department’s deployment of officers for these types of arrests is based on citizen complaints, and that determines the areas where the arrests are made.

“And as far as the allegation of a false arrest, we trust the criminal justice system, and if it’s a false arrest I’m sure she’ll make that defense,” Parson said.

Curry’s latest arrest came less than a month before the International Lesbian and Gay Association announced it has joined a growing number of U.S. and international LGBT rights organizations in calling for the decriminalization of sex work between consenting adults. An increasing number of mainline human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have also called for decriminalizing sex work between adults.

Locally, several LGBT rights groups, including the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, have endorsed a bill introduced in 2017 by D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) calling for decriminalizing sex work among consenting adults in the District. Grosso’s bill died in committee last year, but his office says he plans to reintroduce it this year with some changes that supporters hope will boost its chances for passing.

Curry said she wants to publicize her arrest as a means of drawing attention to what she believes is a misguided policy by D.C. police and some in the community to address the issue of commercial sex work through arrests.

She noted that when the undercover officer posing as the Uber driver gave the signal, three or four police cars with flashing lights and sirens rushed to the scene, with at least two officers in each of the cars, to arrest her. In thinking back on how her arrest unfolded Curry said she believes the half dozen or more officers involved in her misdemeanor prostitution arrest could have been better utilized to address the city’s growing problem of violent crime.

“The interesting thing for me is we have so many unsolved cold cases involving LGBTQ individuals,” she said. “We have this uptick in gun violence and murders in this city. And to me, and this is my opinion but I’m almost certain it will be shown when we get the data, the most successful crime fighting force in this city is the vice unit against prostitution,” Curry said. “And that’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Last year, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham declined a request by Council member Grosso that D.C. police temporarily suspend making arrests of sex workers involved in commercial sex between consenting adults.

In response to a question from the Blade at a public appearance last year, Newsham said the department has sufficient resources to make prostitution related arrests and to address violent crime throughout the city.

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Biden names civil rights veteran to U.S. Education Dept.

Catherine Lhamon’s portfolio will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct, racial discrimination



Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. (Photo public domain))

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has nominated Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

Lhamon currently serves as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity at the White House, where she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. She is a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) and served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2017 to 2021.

She has also served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Her portfolio at Education, where she previously served in the same position under former President Barack Obama, will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct and racial discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools, universities and colleges. Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013.

“I am thrilled that President Biden is nominating Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement released by his office Thursday.

“She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University. We are thrilled to have Catherine serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and know she will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”

Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.  Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Catherine Lhamon is the right choice to lead the Department of Education’s civil rights division at such a critical time for the country and the agency. There is much work to do in order to roll back the harmful policies and legacies of Betsy DeVos, from her attacks on transgender students to her unconscionable revocation of discriminatory discipline guidance and rewrite of Title IX rules,” Adele Kimmel, Director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at Public Justice told the Blade in an email.

“During her previous tenure in the same job, Catherine embraced equality, enforced Title IX and ensured students had an ally inside the federal government. She will do so again, and the Senate should move to quickly confirm her so she can begin the work of restoring the Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights and dignity of students and implementing the Biden Administration’s pledge to undo the damage that DeVos has done,” Kimmel added.

Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon and her husband and two daughters are transitioning between California and Maryland.

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IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada



(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)


Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.

Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.

“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.

The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.

“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.

Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.

Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.

Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.

The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced in the Cuban Parliament in July.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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Mixed reviews from transgender Republicans on Caitlyn Jenner’s run

Remarks on kids in sport a sore point among LGBTQ advocacy groups



Caitlyn Jenner was quickly repudiated by LGBTQ advocates after she entered California’s recall election as a gubernatorial candidate — and her fellow transgender Republicans are mixed over whether or not to back her up.

Transgender Republicans are few in number, but some are in high-profile positions and have been working with their party to change its approach and drop its attacks on transgender people, whether it be in the military, public bathrooms, or school sports.

Jordan Evans, a Charlton, Mass.-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully last year ran to become a Massachusetts Republican State Committee Woman, told the Washington Blade she had high hopes for Jenner as a fellow transgender candidate, but they were quickly dashed after her campaign launched.

“My feelings changed quickly after Caitlyn made it clear that she was less interested in using this opportunity to present the Republican Party and conservative movements with an accessible and high-profile introduction to the trans community and simply wanted to be a trans woman who espoused the same destructive approaches that we just so happen to be seeing all over the country,” Evans said.

Evans said the high hopes she had were based on the transgender advocacy she said Jenner was doing behind the scenes and the potential for two prominent LGBTQ Republicans to run for governor in California. After all, Jenner may soon be joined in the race by Richard Grenell, who was U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence before becoming the face of LGBTQ outreach for Trump’s failed re-election.

But Jenner’s approach to the gubernatorial recall in California, Evans said, is “putting trans youth at risk for a campaign that isn’t even transformative for Republicans during this volatile time.”

“Even her current messaging is superficial and does nothing to help dispel claims that she’s unqualified,” Evans said. “The only positive thing that I’ve seen come from this is conservative mainstream media using her correct pronouns, but that is not worth the damage that she’s inflicting.”

Much of the disappointment over Jenner’s campaign is the result of her essentially throwing transgender kids under the bus as part of her campaign at a time when state legislatures are advancing legislation against them, including the bills that would essentially bar transgender girls from participating in school sports.

Jenner, declining to push back on these measures and assert transgender kids have a place in sports, instead essentially endorsed the bills shortly after she announced her candidacy.

“If you’re born as a biological boy, you shouldn’t be allowed to compete in girls’ sports,” Jenner told TMZ, which asked her about the hot-button issue during a Sunday morning coffee run.

Jenner dug deeper into MAGA-world at the expense of solidarity with the transgender community. Last week, Jenner retweeted Jenna Ellis, who has a notoriously anti-LGBTQ background and was criticized just last year for refusing to use the personal pronouns of Rachel Levine, who’s now assistant secretary of health and the first openly transgender presidential appointee to win Senate confirmation.

Jennifer Williams, a New Jersey-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly last year, said via email Jenner “did much good for several years by educating millions of people around the world about transgender folks,” but won’t countenance the candidate’s remarks on transgender kids in sports.

“In regard to her current run for California governor, her recent comments regarding transgender youth playing sports are confusing,” Williams said. “Just last year, she said that she supported transgender female athletes. Caitlyn should consult with tennis great Billie Jean King, soccer star Megan Rapinoe or WNBA legend Candace Parker on the subject of transgender athletes in women’s sports, as they are very well versed on the matter.”

At a time when state legislatures are pushing through legislation targeting transgender youth, restricting their access to sports and transition-related care, Jenner’s refusal to repudiate those measures has become a focal point for opposition to her candidacy from LGBTQ advocacy groups, who say she’s “out of touch” (although none were supporting her even before she made those comments).

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ political candidates and public officials, has signaled it wants nothing to do with Jenner.

Sean Meloy, vice president of political programs for LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Jenner hasn’t applied for an endorsement from the Victory Fund “and she shouldn’t bother to.”

“Her opposition to full trans inclusion – particularly for trans kids in sports – makes her ineligible for the endorsement,” Meloy said. “There are many great trans candidates running this cycle who are champions for equality.”

To be sure, Jenner used her celebrity status as a former reality TV star and Olympic champion on behalf of transgender lobbyists, urging donations to groups like the National Center for Transgender Equality and going to Capitol Hill to lobby Republicans on transgender issues. Jenner has also given money for transgender kids to attend college, giving transgender advocate Blossom Brown a check for $20,000 on “The Ellen Show” in 2015.

Blaire White, a transgender conservative and YouTube personality, drew on these examples of Jenner helping transgender youth in a video earlier this month and said the two once had dinner together, but wasn’t yet ready to make a endorsement.

“I will say that until she lays out all of her policy positions and until she’s more on record in long form really talking about what she wants to do for the state of California, I can’t say for sure I would vote for her and would not vote for her,” White concluded in the video. “What I can say is: I’m interested. And also, being under Gavin Newson’s governorship, I would literally vote for a triple-amputee frog over Gavin Newsom, so she already has that going for her.”

Jenner’s campaign couldn’t be reached for comment for this article on the repudiation of her campaign from LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Gina Roberts, who’s the first transgender Republican elected to public office in California and a member of the San Diego GOP Central Committee, said she’s neutral for the time being as an elected Republican Party leader, but nonetheless had good things to say about Jenner’s candidacy.

“I think it’s awesome,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of indicative of how cool the Republican Party in California is because nobody really cares or it makes any difference. I mean, I was the first elected GOP transgender person in California and I think we’re ready for No. 2.”

Asked whether Jenner’s comments about allowing transgender kids in sports was troubling, Roberts said that wasn’t the case because she has her own reservations.

“I have pretty much the same opinion because … there’s so many nuances in that,” Roberts said. “If somebody transitions after they’ve gone through puberty, there is a big difference, especially in high school. If they transition beforehand, it’s not a big deal.”

A gun enthusiast and supporter of gun owner’s rights, Roberts said she competes in women’s events in shooting sports, but there’s a difference because she doesn’t “really have any advantages all those young, small ladies can pull a lot faster than I do and shoot faster than I do.”

Roberts concluded she’ll personally make a decision about whom she’ll support in the California recall election after Grenell announces whether or not he’ll enter the race, but can’t say anything until the San Diego GOP Central Committee issues an endorsement.

“He’s a good friend of mine, too,” Roberts said. “I know both of them. I think they’d both be certainly better than Gavin Newsom, I have to stay neutral until the county party decides who they’re going to endorse. I will support somebody or another in the endorsement process, but I can’t publicly announce it.”

Although LGBTQ groups want nothing to do with her campaign, Jenner’s approach has garnered the attention of prominent conservatives, who are taking her seriously as a candidate. One of Jenner’s first interviews was on Fox News’ Sean Hannity, a Trump ally with considerable sway among his viewers. Hannity was able to find common ground with Jenner, including agreement on seeing California wildfires as a problem with forest management as opposed to climate change.

Kayleigh McEnany, who served as White House press secretary in Trump’s final year in the White House and defended in the media his efforts to challenge his 2020 election loss in court, signaled her openness to Jenner’s candidacy after the Hannity interview.

“I really enjoyed watching @Caitlyn_Jenner’s interview with @seanhannity,” McEnany tweeted. “I found Caitlyn to be well-informed, sincere, and laser-focused on undoing the socialist, radical, a-scientific policies of Biden & the left. Very good.”

In theory, that support combined with Jenner’s visibility might be enough to propel Jenner to victory. In the recall election, California will answer two questions, whether California Gov. Gavin Newsom should be recalled, and if so, which candidate should replace him. The contender with the plurality of votes would win the election, even if that’s less than a majority vote, and become the next governor. There isn’t a run-off if no candidate fails to obtain a majority.

With Jenner’s name recognition as a celebrity, that achievement could be in her reach. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 2004 recall election in California as a Republican based on his celebrity status, and ended up becoming a popular governor.

But the modest inroads Jenner has made with the acceptance of conservatives and potential to win isn’t enough for other transgender Republicans.

Evans, for example, said Jenner’s candidacy is not only a disappointment, but threatening the potential candidacies of transgender hopefuls in the future.

“It’s difficult to be in electoral politics, and that’s even more true when you’re a member of a marginalized community,” Evans said. “Caitlyn’s behavior is making it even more challenging for the trans community to be visible in a field where we desperately need to be seen. She’s casting a tall shadow on our ability to have a voice and is giving credibility to lawmakers and local leaders simply unwilling to view us with decency and respect.”

Williams said Jenner should avoid talking about transgender issues over the course of her gubernatorial run “and instead focus on the hard, critical policy issues facing California.”

“It is a state in crisis and she has to run a very serious campaign and not rely on her celebrity or LGBTQ status to win over voters’ hearts and minds — just like all other LGBTQ candidates around the country need to do when they run for public office,” Williams said.

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