Connect with us

National

Idaho sued over law barring trans athletes from playing in sports

Gov. Little signed anti-trans measure into law during COVID-19 crisis.

Published

on

Lindsay Hecox is a trans athlete suing Idaho to participate in the track team. (Photo courtesy of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho)

Transgender legal advocates filed Wednesday in federal court a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s newly enacted law barring transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.

Among the plaintiffs in the litigation is Lindsay Hecox, a 19-year-old woman attending Boise State University who seeks to participate in the intercollegiate track and cross-country teams at the school.

“I just want to run with other girls on the team,” Hecox said in a statement. “I run for myself, but part of what I enjoy about the sport is building the relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team.”

HB 500, quietly signed into law last month by Idaho Gov. Brad Little amid the coronavirus epidemic, is the first and only state law in the country that bars transgender athletes from participating in school sports. Similar anti-trans measures, however, have been percolating in state legislatures throughout the country.

The transgender legal advocates who filed the 60-page complaint before the U.S. District Court in Idaho are the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Idaho, Legal Voice and Cooley LLP.

ACLU of Idaho Legal Director Ritchie Eppink said in a statement Idaho residents “have been fighting this hateful, unconstitutional legislation since it was introduced.”

“Businesses, major employers, schools, doctors, and counselors have all warned that this law is terrible for Idaho,” Eppink said.

Hecox, in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, told the Washington Blade she was amid her studies at the time HB 509 was moving through the legislative process, but still actively opposed and testified against it before the Idaho State Senate.

“As it got to the governor’s desk, I was pretty sure that it was going to pass,” Hecox said. “I am an optimist by nature, but it was not likely to be vetoed because of the political leanings of this state, and when I eventually did hear the news, I was more or less just sad, but not defeated.”

Dubbed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” HB 500 requires college and public school sports teams to be designed as male, female and co-ed — and any female athletic team “shall not be open to students of the male sex.”

In the event of a dispute, a student may be required to produce a physician’s statement to affirm her biological sex based on reproductive anatomy, normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone and an analysis of the student’s genetic makeup. That would effectively ban transgender athletes from participating in sports.

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit, anonymously referred to as Jane Doe, is a non-trans female athlete at Boise High School who seeks to try out for soccer in August 2020, but fears she could be forced to provide documentation about her sex under HB 500 and believes that would violate “her privacy and security, both emotionally and physically, if she continues to play sports.”

Catherine West, a staff attorney at Legal Voice, said in a statement HB 500 harms not just transgender athletes, but women seeking to participate in sports. 

“Embedding this discrimination into Idaho law is unnecessary and harmful to all,” West said. “Female athletes deserve to play, not endure invasive testing or internal and external exams.” 

According to the lawsuit, existing rules in Idaho prior to HB 500 already required transgender girls to “complete one year of hormone treatment related to the gender transition before competing on a girls team.” Further, there were no reported issues with the administration of that rule or its effect on athletics in Idaho, the complaint says. 

“We’re suing because HB 500 illegally targets women and girls who are transgender and intersex and subjects all female athletes to the possibility of invasive genital and genetic screenings,” Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project said in a statement. “In Idaho and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years. Inclusive teams support all athletes and encourage participation — this should be the standard for all school sports.” 

The lawsuit challenges the law on the basis that it violates the rights to equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; the prohibition on unconstitutional search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination in schools on the basis of sex; and the “lack of fair notice” principle of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Before Little signed HB 500, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden had warned the legislation was “constitutionally problematic” and would likely violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A Wasden spokesperson, citing a policy of no comment on pending litigation, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

But HB 500 was one of two anti-trans bills Little signed into law last month. The other was HB 509, which bars transgender people in Idaho from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates consistent with their gender identity.

Little signed that measure into law in defiance of a court order in 2018 requiring Idaho to allow transgender individuals to change the gender marker on the birth certificates.

The LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal obtained the previous court order and threatened additional legal action if HB 509 passed. A Lambda spokesperson told the Blade action against HB 509 “could happen pretty soon.”

[UPDATE 4/16/2020: Lambda Legal on Thursday filed a motion with the U.S. District Court of the Idaho to confirm that the 2018 order bars enforcement of HB 509.

“Permanent means permanent,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said in a statement. “It is shocking that state lawmakers would be so brazenly lawless as to defy a federal court ruling. The rule of law collapses if we refuse to abide by the outcome of who wins and who loses in our system of justice. HB 509, which reinstates a ban that the court already declared unconstitutional, is a naked flouting of the rule of law.”]

The litigation against HB 500 is filed as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to soon rule whether anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although that decision is directly related to employment, it could have an impact on all federal laws barring discrimination on the basis of sex, including Title IX, which forms a component of the complaint against HB 500.

In the Zoom call with reporters, the ACLU’s Arkles said the Title VII ruling “could have implications” for how the courts interpret Title IX, but “not necessarily” because the two federal laws are structured differently and that argument forms just one component of the lawsuit against HB 500.

“There are several other claims in this case that would not necessarily be impacted by a decision in [the Supreme Court case],” Arkles said. “In addition to the Title IX claim, we’re also bringing claims under the U.S. Constitution, based on the equal protection clause, the protection against unreasonable search and seizure and invasion of privacy.”

The litigation is needed now before the Supreme Court has ruled and issued clarity on federal law, Arkles said, because plaintiffs need immediate relief.

“We brought it now because, the need is urgent,” Arkles said. “So assuming that fall sports go ahead as planned, this law is going to have an impact on Linsday in a few short months, so really it wasn’t any time for us to wait.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

homepage news

Patrick O’Connell, acclaimed AIDS activist, dies at 67

Played key role in creating red ribbon for awareness

Published

on

Activist Patrick O’Connell was instrumental in creating the red ribbon to promote AIDS awareness. (Photo courtesy of Allen Frame; courtesy Visual AIDS)

Patrick O’Connell, a founding director of the New York City-based AIDS advocacy group Visual AIDS who played a lead role in developing the internationally recognized display of an inverted, V-shaped red ribbon as a symbol of AIDS advocacy, died on March 23 at a Manhattan hospital from AIDS-related causes, according to the New York Times. He was 67.

Visual AIDS said in a statement that O’Connell held the title of founding director of the organization from 1980 to 1995.

During those years, according to the statement and others who knew him, O’Connell was involved in the group’s widely recognized and supported efforts to use art and artist’s works to advocate in support of people with HIV/AIDS and efforts to curtail the epidemic that had a devastating impact on the art world.

Thanks to a grant from the Art Matters foundation, Visual AIDS was able to retain O’Connell as its first paid staff member in 1990, the group said in its statement.

“Armed with a fax machine and an early Macintosh computer, Patrick helped Visual AIDS grow from a volunteer group to a sustainable non-profit organization,” the statement says. “A passionate spokesperson for the organization, he helped projects like Day Without Art, Night Without Light, and the Red Ribbon reach thousands of people and organizations across the world,” the group says in its statement.

“We were living in a war zone,” the statement quoted O’Connell as saying in a 2011 interview with the Long Island newspaper Newsday. “But it was like a war that was some kind of deep secret only we knew about,” O’Connell said in the interview. “Thousands were dying of AIDS. We felt we had to respond with a visible expression,” he told the newspaper.

With O’Connell’s help, Visual AIDS in 1989 organized the first annual Day Without Art in which dozens of galleries and museums in New York and other cities covered art works with black cloths to symbolize the mourning of those who died of AIDS. Among those participating were the Brooklyn Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which replaced a Picasso painting with a “somber informational placard,” according to the New York Times.

In 1990 O’Connell helped Visual AIDS organize the first Night Without Light, which was held at the time of World AIDS Day. New York City’s skyscraper buildings, bridges, monuments, and Broadway theaters turned off their lights for 15 minutes to commemorate people who lost their lives to AIDS, the New York Times reported.

In the kickoff of its Red Ribbon Project in 1991, McConnell helped organize volunteers to join “ribbon bees” in which thousands of the ribbons were cut and folded for distribution around the city, the Times reports. Those who knew McConnell said he also arranged for his team of volunteers to call Broadway theaters and producers of the upcoming Tony Awards television broadcast to have participants and theater goers display the red ribbons on their clothes.

Among those displaying a red ribbon on his label at the Tony Awards broadcast was actor Jeremy Irons, who was one of the hosts. In later years, large numbers of celebrities followed the practice of wearing the red ribbon, and in 1993 the U.S. Postal Service issued a red ribbon stamp.

The Times reports that O’Connell was born and raised in Manhattan, where he attended Fordham Preparatory School and later graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in history. According to Visual AIDS, O’Connell served as director of the Hallwalls arts center in Buffalo, N.Y. from 1977 to 1978 before returning to New York City to work for a gallery called Artists Space.

The Times reports that O’Connell learned in the middle 1980s that he had contracted AIDS and began a regimen of early AIDS treatment with a cocktail of over 30 pills a day. His involvement with Visual AIDS, which began in 1989, ended on an active basis in 1995 when his health worsened, the Times reports.

As one of the last remaining survivors of his New York contemporaries who had HIV beginning in the 1980s, O’Connell continued in his strong support for AIDS-related causes through 2000s and beyond, people who knew him said.
Visual AIDS says it is gathering remembrances and photos for a tribute post for O’Connell on its website. It has invited people to share their memories of him by sending written contributions and images via email to: [email protected].

Continue Reading

National

Caitlyn Jenner releases campaign ad and social media reacts- ‘enough already’

Published

on

MALIBU – Former Trump presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale released the first campaign advert Tuesday for reality television celebrity Caitlyn Jenner who is running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the recall election race.

The ad drew an immediate and overwhelmingly negative reaction for exasperated social media users, many who identify as LGBTQ, decrying the reality TV personality getting into politics.

Jenner, 71, who is Trans herself, had drawn a firestorm of criticism over the past few days after she was caught outside a Malibu coffee spot Saturday and made remarks to a reporter from celebrity tabloid media outlet TMZ, saying that she didn’t think it was fair to have trans women athletes competing in girls’ and women’s sports.

In Tuesday’s advert, Jenner claims to be a “compassionate disrupter” and offers to rebuild and reopen California while in imagery silently alludes that Newsom in conjunction with ‘big government’ has somehow destroyed the state.

“I came here with a dream 48 years ago, to be the greatest athlete in the world,” she says in the ad, noting her own history in the state. “Now I enter a different kind of race, arguably my most important one yet: to save California.”

Reaction to the ad has been brutal. (Sampling below)

Another challenger to Newsom also released a campaign video Tuesday Sacramento’s Fox affiliate KTXL reported.

California businessman John Cox, who has challenged Newsom previously for the governorship launched his Meet the Beast Bus Tour Tuesday morning at Miller Regional Park in Sacramento. Cox brought a live bear with him.

Throughout the news conference, Cox attacked Newsom’s handling of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, water management and strain on the power grid.

Cox lost the 2018 general election to Newsom by 23 points.

Continue Reading

homepage news

National transgender military advocacy group elects new president

Bree Fram has been SPARTA member since 2014

Published

on

Lt. Col. Bree Fram (Photo courtesy of SPARTA)

SPARTA, the nation’s leading transgender military service advocacy organization, announced Saturday that it had elected Bree Fram as its new board chair and president of the organization.

She has been a member of SPARTA since 2014 and has served on the board of directors since April 2018, most recently as vice president. Fram is also a lieutenant colonel and astronautical engineer in the U.S. Air Force and will soon be recommissioning into the U. S. Space Force.

She is currently a student at the U.S. Naval War College with a follow-on assignment to the Department of Defense at the Pentagon.

“I’m honored and humbled to serve as SPARTA president on behalf of so many amazing transgender service member,” said Fram. “We will do our utmost to continue SPARTA’s a rich history of incredible dedication and progress. My heartfelt thanks go to the previous leaders of the organization, including Sue Fulton, Jacob Eleazar, Blake Dremann, and Emma Shinn, and all our members for the incredible achievements of the past eight years. Despite setbacks, their desire to make transgender military service possible is reality again as of yesterday as the new Department of Defense Policy went into effect.”

The immediate past president, Emma Shinn served through a challenging time as President Trump’s ban on transgender service went into effect in April 2019. Her leadership rallied the organization and ensured SPARTA remained dedicated to positive change.

With the January 2021 executive order from President Biden directing the Defense Department to re-implement open transgender service, she and the organization celebrated a major success that will benefit all members of SPARTA and the nation.

“Leading SPARTA for the past two years has been a tremendous honor and privilege,” stated Shinn as her time at the head of SPARTA came to an end. She continued, “I am confident that SPARTA will continue to help our military and nation recognize the value trans service members bring to the mission. I am thankful for the opportunity SPARTA has given me to work with leaders in the DoD, legislators, and partner groups to make open trans service a reality again. I look forward to continuing to work with this amazing group of people under Bree’s leadership. I am excited for the future of our organization and nation.”

In a press release the organization noted that Fram’s remarks highlighted the fact that SPARTA’s mission is not over. “Although transgender service members have already proven they belong on the battlefield and here at home,” she said. “We need to ensure they can’t be erased in the future by an administration set on turning back the clock. Beyond ensuring our members can thrive in their careers, my top priority is to ensure the opportunity to serve is enshrined in law.”

Fram spoke on additional goals for SPARTA during her tenure and listed the following:

·  Minimize the administrative burden and career impact of transition in the military

·  Advocate for inclusion of transgender voices in policy making

·  Push for inclusive policies regarding intersex and non-binary military service

“All Americans who are otherwise qualified to serve in the military should have the opportunity to do so,” Fram summarized. “This nation will be better and better defended with inclusive policies that enable the military to draw upon the best talent this nation has to offer.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Trending