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Two nonbinary candidates elected to Md. Democratic Central Committee

Tia Hopkins and Antonio Bowens won respective races in August

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Antonio Bowens (Photo courtesy of Antonio Bowens)

Tia Hopkins and Antonio Bowens last month became the first openly nonbinary candidates elected to the Maryland Democratic Central Committee.

Hopkins was elected to represent District 40 in Baltimore City, and in an interview with the Baltimore Banner they said that the community’s response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Everyone has welcomed me with open arms,” Hopkins said. “All the remarks were positive. One person wanted a better explanation of what gender neutral is. It’s people wanting to educate themselves. Obviously, I look female, and I changed my gender to nonbinary. It’s about them understanding that change.”

Bowens was re-elected to represent Frederick County. After winning election in 2018 on the male ticket, they decided to run under the newly created nonbinary option in 2022.

“I tried to be truthful to myself and register as nonbinary,” Bowens said. “The best way to advocate for minority voices is to be active in Frederick politics.”

Bowens said that one of their goals as a committee member is to prepare potential candidates — especially LGBTQ and nonbinary candidates — for success in future elections.

“I want to get in and get the bench filled — to get these people ready and give them the tools to be successful candidates,” they said.

A third nonbinary candidate, Jo Riedel, was unsuccessful in their race to represent Harford County on the committee. Before running for the central committee, Riedel was active in Harford County Democratic politics as a treasure and advisor to the house of delegates candidate.

However, despite their familiarity with Harford County politics, Riedel faced significant pushback as a nonbinary candidate.

“I could have very easily run as a male candidate. I really didn’t ever entertain that thought,” Riedel said. “There were transphobic comments made by other party members, to the point where one of the party officers had to make the point that we’re not going to use Republican talking points on our fellow members.”

Riedel even described an incident at a candidate forum where another Democrat accused them of having multiple personality disorder, because they were wearing a “they/them” button.

Although Riedel’s own election bid was unsuccessful, Riedel said they were proud to be one of the first three Maryland candidates openly designated as nonbinary, and excited for the two other candidates who were elected.

“I am very, very happy and excited for both of them, that they were elected, because they’re good candidates, you know, and not just because they’re nonbinary,” they said.

As Maryland’s Democratic moves forward from this historic first, Riedel stressed there is still more internal work to be done, even as party members celebrate a victory for the nonbinary candidates.

“As a party, we still have work to do, and we’re going to have to address that if we expect to continue to reach out to the queer community,” they said.

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Maryland

Baltimore County police arrest suspect in rape of transgender woman

Jalen Green allegedly target victim through dating app

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Baltimore County police announced Feb. 15 they had arrested and charged a 22-year-old man with first-degree rape, first-degree assault, armed robbery and firearm-related charges in addition to other offenses.

According to a statement released by police, Jalen Green was arrested in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in the 3000 block of Putty Hill Avenue in Parkville on Feb. 11 at approximately 3:30 p.m. 

Investigators say Green targeted a member of the transgender community through a dating app.

WBAL reported

According to the charging documents, the victim told officers that Green contacted her for sex in exchange for money. The victim told officers that Green pointed the gun at her and demanded money, the documents state.

Not having any cash, the victim said Green used her phone to send himself $100 in the Cash App and then stole two prescription bottles from the victim. According to police, Green then sexually assaulted the victim at gunpoint and recorded video on his cellphone.

The charging documents state that investigators recovered evidence from the scene, including DNA. A search warrant was being sought to recover potential evidence on Green’s cellphone, the documents state.

Investigators seek to hear from anyone who may have been in contact with Green.

The Baltimore County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking information from anyone who may have been in contact with this subject. Detectives can be contacted at (410) 887-2223. 

If you are a survivor of a sexual assault, you can contact the Sexual Assault Hotline for crisis counseling by calling (410) 828-6390. The Special Victims Unit also works with TurnAround who can be contacted by calling (410) 377-8111.

Green is being held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

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Maryland

Trial date set for man accused of killing transgender woman in Bel Air

Judge expected to hear case on May 21

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Signs honoring the 'sparkle' of Meghan Lewis are held during a memorial in Bel Air on Jan. 2, 2024. (Photo by Heather Diehl/Baltimore Banner)

BY CLARA LONGO DE FREITAS | A Harford County judge on Wednesday late afternoon set a jury trial for 47-year-old man charged in the fatal shooting of a transgender woman who was killed two days after Christmas.

Judge Yolanda Curtin is expected to hear the case on May 21.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner website.

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Maryland

Md. could become next state to pass trans sanctuary law

Senate Finance Committee heard bill on Thursday

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The Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

BY ERIN REED | On Thursday, Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee heard Senate Bill 119, a bill that would make Maryland a sanctuary state for transgender individuals and providers fleeing other states. 

The bill would add gender-affirming care to a law passed last year that shields abortion patients and providers from out-of-state prosecution and investigations. Many more individuals testified in favor of the bill than against it, including Maryland state government officials who remarked on its necessity. 

If passed, the law would make Maryland the 12th state, not counting D.C., to do so.

The bill includes several protections for trans individuals. It would block the enforcement of out-of-state subpoenas for medical records and information on trans patients who seek care within Maryland’s jurisdiction.

It would also prevent foreign financial judgments from other states attempting to sue Maryland providers. It would prohibit liability insurers from taking adverse action against healthcare providers for providing gender affirming care.

Additionally, it would block the extradition of individuals who have received gender-affirming care in Maryland. Lastly, it specifies that the state cannot use state funds to provide “information, spend time or money, or use state facilities, state property, state equipment, state personnel or other state resource” in aiding investigations around gender affirming care — a virtually total barring of any enforcement of anti-trans laws in the state.

The state joined several others in providing protections for patients and providers when Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order in June to enact many of these policies. Heather Forsyth spoke on behalf of the office of the Maryland Attorney General in favor of the bill at the hearing, stating that this bill would go farther than that executive order: “It’s both critical and urgent … The executive order provided some protections, but it couldn’t offer many of the protections this legislation would provide.”

Movement Advancement Project “Equality Maps: Transgender Healthcare ‘Shield’ Laws.”

Among the things she stated this bill would do beyond Moore’s executive order:

  • It would prevent liability insurance from taking adverse action on providers for providing gender affirming care.
  • It would ensure license and regulatory boards could not take adverse actions for providing gender affirming care.
  • It would place limits on subpoenas, wire tapping, ex parte and foreign judgments that target care provided within the state of Maryland
  • It would go into law and protect transgender people regardless of who holds the governor’s office.

Forsyth was not the only one to speak on behalf of the bill from the Maryland executive branch. Ryan Moran, representing the Maryland Department of Health, also testified to the importance of the bill, emphasizing that “Maryland remains a leader in supporting trans people’s rights to equitable healthcare and safety.” Moran highlighted the growing list of Republican states banning gender-affirming care as a reason for the bill’s necessity: “These list of states are growing … the states include criminal penalties against health officials providing gender-affirming care.”

The hearing also saw testimony from representatives of large hospitals and medical associations. Michael Huber, representing Johns Hopkins University and School of Medicine, asserted that gender-affirming care is “medically necessary, lifesaving, evidence-based and age-appropriate healthcare.” 

Pam Kasemeyer, testifying on behalf of the state medical society, the Academy of Pediatrics, the Mid-Atlantic Community Health Centers, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stated that the bill was needed due to “legal challenges and fear” from out-of-state actors targeting care in the state.

These challenges and investigations are indeed unfolding. Recently, Attorney General Ken Paxton made national headlines by subpoenaing the medical records of patients who traveled from Texas to Seattle Children’s Hospital for gender-affirming care. Similar subpoenas have been issued to gender-affirming care clinics in other states. 

Meanwhile, 19 Republican state attorneys general have signed a letter asserting their right to medical information from other states, indicating that this tactic may be employed against both transgender individuals and those seeking and providing abortions moving forward.

Only a three people testified against the bill — one concerned citizen, a representative from the Maryland Family Institute, a religious organization, and Health Choice Maryland, an anti-vax organization.

The bill will need to pass a committee vote before moving to the full Senate floor in the coming days.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on X (Link)

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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