Legion of Retired Generals and Admirals Condemn Trump’s Trans Military Ban

In a clear repudiation of the President’s harmful and ill-conceived Twitter policy-making, 56 retired Generals and Admirals released a joint statement warning President Trump’s transgender military ban would degrade military readiness.

According to the statement released today by the Palm Center, the decorated military brass not only condemned Trump’s reckless ban, but also declared their unwavering support for thousands of brave trans service members already serving our country with valor. 

“This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy,” say the generals and admirals. “As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving — and who want to serve — must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.”

Last week, Trump made the unconscionable decision via Twitter to ban qualified transgender service members from serving “in any capacity” in the military. If implemented, the ban could result in the discharge of more than 15,000 transgender Americans currently serving our country. HRC blasted the ban as an all out assault on an already vulnerable group of service members.

“These retired generals and admirals have made it clear exactly how destructive President Trump’s proposed transgender military ban would be to our nation’s armed forces,” said Stephen Peters, HRC National Press Secretary and Marine veteran. “President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s attack on bravely serving transgender troops is dangerous and unpatriotic. They absolutely must listen to these voices of reason and reverse course in support of ALL of our nation’s heroes, regardless of their gender identity.”

The Generals and Admirals also shot down claims made by Trump that the financial costs associated with trans military service would be too disruptive, saying these claims are “without merit.”

“The financial cost of providing health care to transgender troops would be, at most, $8.4 million per year. This amounts to one one-hundredth of one percent of the military’s annual health care budget,” according to the statement. “As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honorably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders.”

Dozens of Senators and House members from both sides of the aisle expressed their outrage over the move, with Senators already requesting the Pentagon not implement the ban. The Defense Department has said they need more guidance from the White House amid widespread confusion following Trump’s announcement.

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Five Horrific Testimonies in LGBT Network’s Report Highlights Chechnya’s Atrocities

The Russian LGBT Network published a new report this week exposing the alleged atrocities endured by gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The dossier not only breaks down the Russian and Chechen politics that led up to the brutal human rights violations, but also contains horrific testimony from more than 30 survivors. 

Since news first broke in April, reports indicate more than 100 gay and bisexual Chechen men have been arrested and detained without charge. Chechen leaders have denied these accusations, going so far as to deny the very existence of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. Nonetheless, there have been numerous verified reports of torture and at least three and possibly as many as 20 men have been killed. HRC continues working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, the primary organization leading efforts to evacuate people in danger in Chechnya.

Here are five personal accounts from LGBT Network’s report highlighting the disturbing conditions gay and bisexual men faced at the hands of Chechen authorities and the culture that encourages families to ostracize or even murder their LGBTQ family members. These victims gave anonymous testimony.

  1. “Every day, I was transported to the premises for torture. It was situated underground. I was beaten there every day. Every new day. <…> It was impossible to sleep there; you could be captured anytime and thrown into another place. There were no windows, nothing. It was always as dark as night. <…> They put plastic bags on my head, and when I was running out of oxygen, they tore the bag away and hit my legs at the same time. <…> We had no water inside. The only water we could drink was when we were going out of the cells.”
  2. “One day, all my relatives were informed about the fact that I was detained. “The Lord” came to us, the chairman of the parliament — Magomed Daudov. We were all set down before the Lord. The Lord approached us, took pictures on his phone, and asked if each of us was gay. We had to answer “yes”. This all happened in front of our relatives. He talked to our relatives, saying that we brought disgrace to the nation and to our families. He told them that if they honor the traditions, they must kill us. And that if they did everything, they would not be punished for it. After all this talk, a few people were released to their relatives.”
  3. “On February ** of 2017, my friend called me late at night and offered to come over. I agreed. When he arrived, I went outside the house to see him. I saw him with other people and immediately realized that it was a set-up. The people who were with him were wearing camouflage uniforms. They said that they were taking me away. They started beating me up and saying humiliating things. They said that I’m not a man, just some creature, that I am nothing. That I should rather be a terrorist than a faggot. That a dirty piece of cloth was worth more than me.”
  4. “We were forced to lie on the floor with our bottoms up, and each person in the cell would hit us with a pipe 3 times. As the week went by, there were already 18 LGBT people being detained and tortured. The youngest was around 17 years old, and the oldest was about 47 years old. We were not allowed to wash. Some detainees developed open-cut wounds, and the cell smelled like rotten meat.”
  5. “One day, when all of us were tortured, the head of the ROVD had a “conversation” with us about the deadly sin of homosexuality. He said that we should be ashamed, and that we are a disgrace for such a proud nation. That there had never been such people among the Chechens. One of us said that there is no way we can change who we are, and he replied that they would continue their efforts to clear the Republic of such contamination. There was a question about our constitutional rights, and he answered: “We have our own laws, and the law is what the current government of the Republic says to do.”

HRC through its  #EyesOnChechnya effort is continuing to take action to stop the atrocities and help the victims. Click here for background information and actions that individuals can take to help end the violence.

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HRC Calls For Special Prosecutor In Wake of Comey Firing

In a surprising announcement that shocked the nation on Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey — the man who was leading the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.

More disturbingly is how his firing was initiated.

Anti-LGBTQ Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who had promised to recuse himself from that probe after lying under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee — made the recommendation to Trump that Comey should be let go.

The incident caused confusion among members of Congress, the intelligence community and even Comey himself, who thought the initial reports of his firing were a joke.

.@RepCummings .@RepCummings: Mindboggling that the AG— who claimed to have recused himself — was involved in the decision to fire #FBIDirector Comey.

— House OversightDems (@OversightDems) May 9, 2017

HRC along with our supporters, advocates and other organizations descended on the White House to rally against this dangerous abuse of power and demand the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.  

WATCH LIVE: @HRC is rallying at the White House calling for a special prosecutor. #ComeyFiring https://t.co/ghWqM1r1bT pic.twitter.com/TbJFQF9yoZ

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) May 10, 2017

Bipartisan calls from Congress are also growing as members from both sides of the aisle are calling for an independent prosecutor to oversee the Russia probe.

First Pres Trump fired Sally Yates, then Preet Bharara. Now #Comey. Doesn’t seem like an accident. We must have a special prosecutor.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 9, 2017

Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia‘s interference in 2016 election https://t.co/LfKlwSw6iQ

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 9, 2017

There is no time for delay in appointing a special prosecutor. Congress must put patriotism before party and do what’s right for the country. In order to advance LGBTQ rights, we must have a strong democracy.

Trump’s administration has been attacking the LGBTQ community since he was sworn in as president. We can’t let him get away with covering up his campaign ties to Russia — especially as they shamefully allow the detention and murder of LGBTQ people in Chechnya to continue.

Text “COMEY” to 30644 now and we’ll connect you directly to your Senators to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor. We can’t let Trump get away with covering up his campaign ties to Russia.

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10 Transgender and Gender Fluid Youth Who Are Working to Change the World

Over the past several years, more and more young transgender people are coming out and sharing their stories publicly. These brave young people are becoming advocates for change across the country. Young transgender people from all walks of life are making a lasting impact towards achieving full transgender equality in our nation — even if some of these remarkable trail blazers aren’t old enough to legally drive or vote.

Transgender young people face significant discrimination and bullying. Last year, North Carolina adopted the infamous HB2, legislation that required discrimination against transgender people, including in public schools. Several states, including Texas, are currently considering similar bills. Seventy-five percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school, and, tragically, more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime.

Despite these odds, transgender young people are making history for all the right reasons using their own unique stories and backgrounds, they all are working the same goal: ensuring that transgender people everywhere are treated with the same rights and protections as everyone else. 

1. Gavin Grimm, Virginia

Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy and only a senior in high school, has become a leader in the transgender movement. Grimm filed suit against the school board alleging the district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will have far-reaching consequences for tens of thousands of transgender students across the nation. Yesterday, dozens of major companies have join the cause in supporting Grimm’s case in a historic Amicus Brief announced this week.

.@GavinGrimmVA speaks truth to power at White House rally to #ProtectTransKids. @HRC‘s proud to #StandWithGavin! https://t.co/nhqjv83M07

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) February 23, 2017

2. Jazz Jennings, Florida

One of HRC’s Youth Ambassadors, Jazz Jennings is an openly transgender girl whose activism spans most of her life. At 16, she is a TV personality, spokesmodel and LGBTQ right activist. Her impressive resume includes starring in TLC’s GLAAD Award winning docu-series, I Am Jazz; co-author of I am Jazz,released her self-titled memoir, Being Jazz in 2016 and co-founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which assists transgender youth. She has also been named one of TIME’s 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 and 2015.

you can’t bring us down. #LoveTrumpsHate pic.twitter.com/5ecMz8A4Xz

— Jazz Jennings (@JazzJennings__) February 26, 2017

3. Marci Owens, Washington

Nearly seven years ago, when former President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law — making healthcare accessible and affordable for millions of Americans, especially for the transgender community — standing next to him was 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, a “miniature health care activist.” Years later, Owens came out as transgender in her late teens. Now that Owens has publicly come out as transgender, she hopes to share her passion and journey with others.   

 

“I’m not the obamacare kid anymore ” new article on cnn #transgirl #transgender ��: Annabel Clark for CNN

A post shared by Celise-Marcí Owens (@celisemarcii) on Mar 18, 2016 at 10:44am PDT

4. Lucas Segal, Arkansas

For Lucas Segal, growing up in a conservative town in Arkansas was a painful experience, especially knowing that he was transgender. In fact, aside from the taunts and bullying he endured, Segal described those “painful and stressful” moments didn’t compare to the anguish he felt when he needed to use his high school restroom. However, he turned his pain into power and in recognition for his advocacy work, Segal won a trip to San Diego through the Students Taking Action with Recognition competition. Segal is also among HRC Foundation’s Youth Ambassadors.

5. Rebekah Bruesehoff, New Jersey

Rebekah might be the youngest transgender activist on our list, but her activism for equal rights is already making a big splash on social media. A photo of Rebekah holding up a sign quickly went viral earlier this week. Her mom, Jamie Bruesehoff, told The Huffington Post that her daughter came out publicly when she was 8 years old and has since began using her voice and her story to help others understand the hardships the transgender community faces.

10-year-old busts myth about trans people with powerful sign https://t.co/rmIq9cl2W7 pic.twitter.com/cl9B6uLNDs

— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) March 1, 2017

6. Brendan Jordan, Nevada

Social media star and one of HRC’s Youth ambassadors, 16-year-old Brendan Jordan’s stardom began with a viral video of him dancing behind a local reporter during a live news report. Jordan’s coming out video went viral in 2014, and has inspired LGBTQ youth around the world. He has advocated against drug use through SoCrush, appeared in advertisements for American Apparel and participated in Miley Cyrus’s #InstaPride campaign. At HRC’s third annual Time to THRIVE Conference for LGBTQ youth in February 2016, Brendan came out as identifying as both male and female, and using both pronouns “he” and “she.” “I’m still figuring it out. I’m starting to identify as one or as part of the trans community,” Jordan said to the crowd. While Jordan admitted that being a teenager and dealing with bullying can be tough, his shared this advice to young people, “Be true to yourself and don’t care about anything anyone else says about you.”

7. Trinity Neal, Delaware

Trinity Neal was only two-years-old when she started expressing her true self. Now 12, she tells Essence that she wants to help other transgender children in coming out. “They don’t need to hide all the time. I had to tell my parents, and they could do the same thing… I want to change the world by making it much more friendly for trans people.” Trinity isn’t the only one in her family to be a fierce advocate for the transgender community, her mother, DeShanna is a member of HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council. The Council is some of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people.

8. Avery Jackson, Missouri

Avery Jackson made history in 2016, becoming the first transgender girl to appear on the cover of National Geographic and sparking a national conversation about gender identity. “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy,” Avery said in a quote on the cover. Avery’s mother, Debi Jackson, was the subject of one of HRC’s Moms for Transgender Equality videos and is a member of HRC’s groundbreaking Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

Avery, a trans girl, is on @NatGeo‘s cover. Honored to have her parents on @HRC‘s Parents for Trans Equality Council https://t.co/CSg8ExkOC0 pic.twitter.com/YjKuPJAO6g

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) December 18, 2016

9. Grace Dolan-Sandrino, Washington, D.C.

At 16, Grace Dolan-Sandrino’s personal story of overcoming adversity during her transition in high school propelled her to advocate on behalf of other transgender students going through the same hardships. After getting involved in HRC’s Welcoming Schools program, which helps make schools more inclusive for LGBTQ students, she got a call from the White House. In 2015, she attended a meeting of transgender and other nonconforming students that would help inform the office’s policy under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. “It was very empowering and amazing to be involved,” she told Rolling Stone. “It made me feel like I was not only helping other kids but also that my opinion, my life, and my education mattered.”

Most recently, Dolan-Sandrino spoke out against President Trump’s actions to dismantle protections for transgender students during HRC’s Facebook live event last month.

10. Nicole Maines, Maine

Nicole Maines made history in early 2014 when a judge ruled that she had the right to use the restroom of the gender she identified with, marking a major victory for transgender rights and the first time a state court ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom. Since then, their family’s story has been brought to life on a national scale in the bestselling book Becoming Nicole – The Transformation of An American Family, written by Pulitzer Prize author Amy Ellis Nutt. Maines’ father, Wayne Maines, was the subject of one of HRC’s Dads for Transgender Equality videos and is a member of HRC’s groundbreaking Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

In September, HRC partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians to release Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children, a guide explaining what experts know about supporting our youngest transgender and gender-expansive kids, especially those in elementary school.

In 2015, HRC partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Spectrum, the ACLU and the National Education Association on Schools in Transition, a groundbreaking guide for K-12 administrators, teachers and parents. The guide describes the legal landscape for transgender students, discusses crucial policies that affect students’ daily experiences, and offers advice for working with families who aren’t yet supportive of their child’s identity.

To learn more about how you can support transgender and gender-expansive youth, visit www.hrc.org/trans-youth.

For more information about HRC’s efforts toward transgender equality, go to hrc.org/transgender.

Also check out HRC’s Transgender Visibility Guide here.

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HRC Honors Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, HRC will commemorate pioneers who made significant strides towards equal rights for women and the LGBTQ community.

During these uncertain times, this month serves as a poignant reminder that when women stand up against the status quo, the resistance can lead to monumental change in society.

The contributions made by lesbian, bisexual, transgender women such as Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Gov. Kate Brown, Laverne Cox, Ellen DeGeneres, Lili Elbe, Martha P. Johnson, Billie Jean King, Janet Mock, Geena Rocero, Alice Walker and Edith Windsor will leave an indelible mark on our efforts toward achieving full LGBTQ equality.

Just as essential to the fight for equal rights are LGBTQ allies including Sen. Kamala Harris, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dolores Huerta, Janelle Monae, Meryl Streep and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. They have made it their mission to speak up and advocate for a more just nation.

The Women’s March, which HRC was proud to sponsor, demonstrated what happens when a government tries to roll back the basic human rights of women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. Progressive partners from around the country locked arms in the name of fairness, equality and justice. Millions let their voices be heard, and have been turning that energy into sustained political action.

Stay tuned as HRC honors Women’s History Month and renews our commitment to making the world a better place for girls and women everywhere.

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