One School Kicks Him Out The Other Crowns Him Homecoming King

By Sabrina Samone

I’m sure the readers of TMP are ready by now for some good news, after what has been one sad blow after the next for our community. Recently, The Family Research Center, has launched a petition and campaign titled, ‘Free to Believe’, inserting their belief in a Freedom of Religious right to discriminant. TMPlanet’s senior writer Lynnea  Stuart, recently wrote about the consequences of such actions, and the UN vote titled.  The UN Vote: Is the United States Headed Toward an LGBT Holocaust?  Haven’t we as a human race witnessed this type of state sanctioned hate, and the consequences of legislated hate, against another group of people? Are we doomed to repeat the horrors of World War 2?

Recently a school that dares calls itself a Christian School, expelled a 17 year old Transgender teen. Stiles Zuschlag, was on track to be valedictorian at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire.

When the 17-year-old met with a school administrator in August about being identified as male, he was shocked when he was asked to “confess his sins, stop taking testosterone treatments, and receive Christian counseling.” If he refused, he’d be forced to leave the school.

Stiles, chose to leave the school, and start over at nearby Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, just seven miles away.

As he began to make friends at his new school, he joked about being nominated for homecoming king. “I asked on Snapchat as a joke to put me in,” he told HuffPost. His peers took his request a bit more seriously than he did. “People actually did it. I didn’t really expect them to. I still can’t believe they did that for me.”

He’d be even more shocked when he showed up to the game and won the homecoming king crown. “After I won at the homecoming game, I almost started crying. My friends all put me in, people I didn’t even know put me in, everyone voted for me on the final ballot,” he said. “This experience feels like a dream. It’s something I never thought could have happened to me.”

The outpouring of love and acceptance astonished Zuschlag.

“I’ve been degraded so much in the past, I’ve conformed to other people’s beliefs and standards just to make them happy and comfortable. I’ve put myself in situations really hurtful to my mental health just to keep peace,” he explained. “God forced me out of that situation, that school, knowing that my mental health was far more important than my education. The only reason I stayed at the school for so long was for my education, for my GPA, and to just learn about God. But I was also dying there mentally and I suffered a lot.”

“God took me away from that to help me be a better person, to breathe again, to be happy again. I’m so grateful He did that for me.”

Despite hate, blindly and blasphemously disguised as Christianity, love does win and it’s true nature of brotherly love, compassion, acceptance and love for thy neighbor does prevail in the end.


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The UN Vote: Is the United States Headed Toward an LGBT Holocaust?

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

Perhaps the most shocking thing about what’s come out of Washington is how little so many are shocked when it takes an unconscionable course.  On September 29, 2017 the United States voted against Agenda Item #3 from the United Nations Human Rights Council and LGBT rights organizations have decried that vote on an international scale. 

But that’s not all.  Criticism has also erupted over official statements concerning why the United States voted against a measure addressing death penalty cases including those applied to prisoners incarcerated for “same sex relations.”  Not a few countries consider transpeople as nothing different from homosexuals regardless of whom they may love so this decision really runs the gamut of LGBT.

This isn’t the first time the United States has rejected measures at the United Nations addressing the death penalty.  Administrations of both parties have done so.  The previous occurred in December 2016 when the U.S. delegation under President Barack Obama rejected a resolution that called upon states not to execute minors, pregnant women, and those with intellectual disabilities.1

The United States doesn’t oppose lawful use of the death penalty, of course.  In fact it still can be enforced during wartime against those convicted of treason on the battlefield.  Many states practice the death penalty and the constitutionality thereof remains unsettled.  But given the current trends aimed at shedding the civil rights of LGBT peoples at state, federal judiciary, and federal department levels, some may wonder if a holocaust targeting us may be in our future.  The issue falls directly upon matters of ethics concerning various demographics and most especially what they can rightly do against other demographics, and issues of secrecy play a key role.

 

THE UN RESOLUTION

The resolution was an “Oral Revision” labeled GE.17-16638(E), and titled, “36/… The question of the death penalty.”  A total of 61 nations including France and the United Kingdom sponsored this as a draft resolution.2 For the full text, click here.

Much of the text consists of acknowledgements concerning past resolutions by the UN and member states who abolished or established moratoriums upon the death penalty.  These acknowledgements are significant because this resolution addresses a broader scope of demographics than just LGBT peoples:

 

Deploring the fact that, frequently, poor and economically vulnerable persons and foreign nationals are disproportionately subjected to the death penalty, that laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association, and that persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those sentenced to the death penalty,

“Condemning in particular the use of the death penalty against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women,

“Condemning the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations, and expressing serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women,”3

 

The actions set forth in this resolution consist of 14 points.  Here are some of them as written that most apply to controversy in the United States:

 

 2. Calls upon States that have not yet acceded to or ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty to consider doing so;4

Nick Duffy of the Pink News quoted Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the State Department, to say that the United States had “broader concerns” and that the measure called for total abolition of the death penalty.5 Item 2 is the closest this document comes to total abolition.  But it only asks states who have not yet ratified abolition to consider doing so.  That isn’t the same thing as ordering abolition of the death penalty.  What the United States did was refuse to consider even addressing the matter with Congress.

 

5. Urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that the death penalty is not applied against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities and persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, as well as pregnant women;6

Item 5 reiterates the same resolution rejected by the Obama Administration in December 2016.  This might also apply to people with autism who have yet to overcome their disability.  We have already observed a higher incidence of transgenderism among people with autism.7 We cannot consider transgender issues without also considering the rights of those with mental or intellectual disabilities.

 

6. Also urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not imposed as a sanction for specific forms of conduct such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations;8

We would be amiss to treat this item as applicable to gays and lesbians but not to transpeople.  Too many states refuse to recognize those who transition as anything other than assigned birth sex.  Too many states refuse to permit changing of birth records to reflect one’s sex post-transition.  What does that mean for those of us who marry or otherwise love another?  If a transwoman marries a man, is her heterosexual supposed to be a same sex marriage such as was asserted in Littleton v. Prange (1999)?9  If the same entered a relationship with a woman would that also be considered “same sex” if such are to marry?  Division remains in this respect because too many people have failed to think through the tyrannical nature of many societal traditions.  Worse yet, many clergy have dismissed the relationships of transpeople as “adulterous” whether within the marriage circle or not.  Do we go back to stoning people for adultery, or at least just stoning “women” while protecting “men” from prosecution?  Do we stone for transpeople for “apostasy” who had become personae non grata in their churches because of their gender identity?

 

8.  Also calls upon States to undertake further studies to identify the underlying factors that contribute to the substantial racial and ethnic bias in the application of the death penalty, where they exist, with a view to developing effective strategies aimed at eliminating such discriminatory practices;10

 The rights of ethnic transpeople have recently become an active area of study in the United States precisely because non-white transpeople have suffered the most.  On October 1, 2017, the National Center for Transgender Equality in conjunction with Black Transmen, Black Transwomen, Inc., and the National Black Justice Coalition released a special report titled, U.S. Transgender Survey, 2015: Report on the Experiences of Black Respondents.  Statistics regarding police interactions are telltale:  twice the level of arrests and incarceration than the USTS sample and more than 4 times that of the U.S. population as a whole.11 We cannot ignore the issues of race when dealing with trans issues and that would apply also to transpeople facing the death penalty.  Nor can we afford to dismiss with disinterest cases of transpeople convicted of capital crimes.  We may find a time not far in the future in which even existing as a transperson may be treated as a capital offence as it is in certain other countries, whether or not it has been legislated and such may be covered up with practices of state-sponsored or locally sanctioned assassination.

 

9.  Calls upon States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to make available relevant information, disaggregated by gender, age, nationality and other applicable criteria, with regard to their use of the death penalty, inter alia, the charges, number of persons sentenced to death, the number of persons on death row, the number of executions carried out and the number of death sentences reversed, commuted on appeal or in which amnesty or pardon has been granted, as well as information on any scheduled execution, which can contribute to possible informed and transparent national and international debates, including on the obligations of States with regard to the use of the death penalty; 12

No secret execution should ever be permitted.  Even if a heinous crime may have been committed and proven, no execution should be celebrated or ignored whether it’s legal or covert. Should America’s violations be an international issue?  Definitely.

When Soviets threw religious people into gulags we considered their actions an international issue.13   When the Islamic Republic of Iran incarcerated and murdered dissidents we considered their actions an international issue.14  When the military government of Argentina committed mass murder and torture upon its people in the Dirty War including the rapes, torture, and murder of dissident youth in the La Noche de lost Lapices (The Night of the Pencils) before democracy returned to that nation we also regarded atrocities the same way.15  Should the United States be so arrogant to presume upon its own “goodness” that such cannot happen here?  We cannot and dare not be so naïve.

Worse yet, with regard to the treatment of LGBT peoples, too often arrests, incarcerations, torture, and state-sponsored murder with erasure have gone without notice.  We saw these things happen in Chechnya16 and Azerbaijan17 against “gays” this year while those governments denied anything improper existed.  Transpeople have likewise been targeted.  Could it never happen here?  It certainly could without due vigilance and action, and forces against transpeople have been amassing on state and federal levels.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE DISCLAIMER

Jason Mack delivered this statement on behalf of the United States:

 

“Thank you Mr. President.

The United States is disappointed that it must vote against this resolution.  As in previous years, we had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully.  We reaffirm our longstanding position on the legality of the death penalty, when imposed and carried out in a manner consistent with a state’s international obligations.

We are deeply troubled whenever an individual subject to the death penalty is denied the procedural and substantive protections to which he or she is entitled.  We, likewise condemn any instance in which a method of execution or treatment during confinement is applied in such a manner as to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of a state’s international obligations.  We cannot accept the implication, however, that all methods of execution have such a result.

The United States is committed to complying with its constitution, laws, and international obligations, and we encourage other countries that employ the death penalty to do so as well.

Thank you”18

 

This statement raises some serious concerns.  Mack’s statement asserts that the resolution isn’t “balanced and inclusive.”  How is it not inclusive when it calls upon all states to report to the international community in such detail?  Exactly who does this exclude?  How is it not “balanced” when it did not order elimination of the death penalty but only asked those who have not signed on to simply consider doing so?

Worse yet, condemnation of torture, cruelty, inhuman, or degrading treatment is a hollow gesture when we consider the broader treatment of transpeople in prisons.  Too many of us don’t go into protective custody.  Instead, too many are placed in positions in which rape and other forms of violence are facilitated and participation of abuses by prison personnel hasn’t been unheard of.19 What about the practice of water-boarding, obviously a practice of torture, sanctioned by the Bush administration in the wars following the 9-11 AttacksDonald Trump declared in the 2016 Presidential Debates that he would support worse acts than water boarding.20

Such has the potential for wholesale violations of human rights.  We rarely hear of abuses precisely because we learn of them second-hand through visitors or a prisoner recently released who has witnessed it or has been a victim.   Too often, various authorities want to quash reports of incidents.  Some may dismiss reports of ill treatment as “exaggerations” or “inaccuracies” because authorities don’t regard cruelty as “cruel”.

We must recognize that “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” are relative terms, too easily subjected to widely disparate opinion and easily manipulated in an authoritarian milieu.  We must also recognize that if any demographic becomes subject to legalized prosecution there’s nothing to stop a nation from claiming it has used the death penalty “legally”.  Such can even call acts of cruelty “balanced” and even “compassionate” because it has taken upon itself the right to determine accepted definitions.

 We must also recognize that public governmental statements do not necessarily reflect what’s said privately.  Officials can make public condemnations of torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment but what’s executed behind the scenes may differ widely from what’s claimed.  The vagueness of Mr. Mack’s statement opens the door for us to consider the U.S. may have something of its own to hide.

 

AFTERMATH AND FOREMATH

Despite the U.S. vote against the resolution, it did pass 27 to 13 with 7 abstaining.  Nations joining the United States were Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Nations abstaining included Cuba, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, and Tunisia.21 Many of these nations actively prosecute LGBT peoples.  Others simply followed the lead of the Americans or, like India, merely don’t want to interfere with other governments on this while entertaining its own favor toward the death penalty.  Huffington Post quoted Amnesty International to reveal they awarded 136 death sentences in 2016, up from 75 in 2015.22

Though the U.N. resolution did pass, we cannot count upon Congress to ratify it.  Too easily, what has been accepted at the level of the United Nations becomes effectively nullified at the national level if a nation doesn’t happen to agree with it.  Worse yet, citizens may not know that the whole world may be watching incidents of atrocities or mistreatment of prisoners.  Prisoners typically face restrictions concerning communications they may exchange during incarceration.  Transparency isn’t one of prison staffs’ greater virtues. This has been the case in virtually every nation.  The message of the United States and others at the U.N. really amounted to saying, “Back off, nosey.”

After all, the United States really wants a death penalty and proponents will defend it as vigorously as the National Rifle Association vigorously defends access to guns. What’s particularly disturbing about this zeal for the death penalty is the overall agenda of the Republican Party led by a theocratic Evangelical Alliance.

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump not one month has passed without some action of the current administration in opposition to transpeople.  The National Center for Transgender Equality has posted a list of these actions on its website along with a list of other administrative actions that, while not directed against transpeople specifically, harm transpeople.23

Lest we dismiss these actions as “preserving religious liberty,” we should consider what’s happening right now in the United States, most specifically in Mississippi whose passage of HB 1523 has just taken effect.  This act is called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” and it’s expressly directed against LGBT peoples.  This law permits the following based solely upon one’s own stated religious beliefs:

  1. Denial of services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges related any marriage being celebrated or solemnized.
  2. Refusal to hire and permission to terminate and discipline anyone whose conduct or religious beliefs don’t square with an employer’s.
  3. Denial of lodging.
  4. Denial of adoption or foster care service.
  5. Refusal to participate in sex reassignment treatments or assessment for such treatments.
  6. Setting of sex-specific standards in dress and grooming for schools and businesses including use of “intimate facilities of settings.”24

What this means is that if you’re transgender and your community is staunchly Baptist and Church of Christ (as most are in Mississippi), then you’ll very likely have to move away, conform through enforced detransition and possible “conversion therapy”, or you will end up homeless and unemployed.  If you do become a homeless transperson, vagrancy laws will probably kick in, resulting in incarceration in which “sex-specific” grooming standards would be enforced.  Meanwhile you may be subjected to prison rape, and possibly even torture or murder by prisoners or even by prison staff.  Your death wouldn’t be noticed as an execution because you were never formally sentenced to death in the first place.  But in spirit it really is an unofficial application of the death penalty determined upon a self-appointed kangaroo court of religionists.  The truth would be swept under the rug just like so many killings of minorities have been swept under the rug during the vicious history of atrocities against unwelcome minorities in the Deep South and official disregard for civil rights over many years.25

While the U.S. vote at the United Nations wasn’t directly about such cases, consider that part of the resolution that calls for states to make available information about executions, dis-aggregated by several factors including gender and other applicable criteria.  The United Nations isn’t the only entity involved in death penalty issues and human rights violations.  Others like Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Southern Poverty Law Center are very interested in civil rights abuses and atrocities directed against minorities including transpeople.  However, their cases represent anecdotal incidents so we can’t say they have meaningful statistics for comparison with those the U.N. may have.

But facts deserve to be made known.  If that doesn’t happen, then there’s nothing to stop those inclined to harm minorities they don’t happen to like, and the more secrecy abounds, the more arrogance is licensed and greater space is given for potential atrocities.  By then, the potential for prisons and detention centers to become de facto death camps becomes very real.

 

THE SUBJECTION OF ETHICS TO POWERS

Great danger lurks whenever a nation, state, municipality, or even an individual determines ethics upon the dictates of a power other than compassion and logical principle.  We’re never safe to say that something’s right or wrong because a leader says so, whether that leader is determined by election, appointment, and especially by his own self-delusion.  The dream and promise of international human rights can only be reached by nations whose hearts put compassion before dominance.  Not only must a nation do this, but its people must not pretend that committing an atrocity is a compassionate act, especially if done in the name of religion.  It isn’t.

Herein we have been repeatedly tested throughout history.  There’s a right and wrong to right and wrong.  But too often, we’ve been led either though schooling, the pulpit, or military training to subject all sense of ethics and judgment to an immediate authority and to blindly accept consequences when that authority betrays its followers.  People commit and even enforce atrocities in such a milieu and secrecy is its sustenance.

The United States will go on regardless of what the outcome of the vote of the United Nations happened to be.  An LGBT holocaust hasn’t fully arrived in America, at least not yet.  But in our continuing business we must address again and again whether our hearts collectively put compassion before dominance.  Compassion demands daring to expose atrocities.  If our hearts do not put compassion before dominance, then we risk the danger that a cancer of tyranny may choke out human rights such as we have not witnessed in generations.  If ours do not, then holocaust may lurk beneath our own horizon. 

_______________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  A burst of light in the clouds over the horizon, photo by the author, with the emblem of the United Nations superimposed thereon.  (Wikimedia)

 

  1. Alex Emmons. “The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People” The Intercept (October 3, 2017, accessed October 4, 2017) https://theintercept.com/2017/10/03/the-u-s-voted-against-a-u-n-resolution-condemning-death-penalty-for-lgbtq-people/.
  2. United Nations General Assembly, 17-16638(E), (September 28, 2017, accessed October 4, 2017) p. 1. http://ilga.org/downloads/HRC36_resolution_question_death_penalty.pdf.
  3. Ibid, p. 3. (Italics if not bold are those of the document itself)
  4. Ibid.
  5. Nick Duffy. “US government defends voting against UN resolution on gay death penalty” Pink News (October 4, 2017, 12:11 pm, accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/04/us-government-defends-voting-against-un-resolution-on-gay-death-penalty/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=PNFB&utm_content=ND.
  6. Op cit.
  7. Byrony White. “The Link Between Autism and Trans Identity” The Atlantic (November 15, 2016, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/the-link-between-autism-and-trans-identity/507509/.
  8. Op. cit.
  9. “Littleton v. Prange” FindLaw (October 27, 1999, report accessed October 5, 2017) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-appeals/1079164.html.
  10. Op. cit.
  11. James, S. E., Brown, C., & Wilson, I. “2015 U.S. Transgender Survey: Report on the Experiences of Black Respondents” (2017, accessed October 1, 2017) Washington, DC and Dallas, TX: National Center for Transgender Equality, Black Trans Advocacy, & National Black Justice Coalition, p. 16. http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Black-Respondents-Report.pdf .
  12. Op. cit.
  13. (n.a.)” Introduction: Stalin’s Gulag” Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom (accessed October 5, 2017) http://gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/stalin/.
  1. Robert F. Worth. “Iran Arrests Dissidents, Sites Report” New York Times (December 28, 2009, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/world/middleeast/29iran.html.
  2. Vladimir Hernandez “Argentina marks ‘Night of the Pencils” BBC News (September 16, 2011, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-14910859.
  3. Adam Taylor. “How a transgender Chechen escaped Russia and found asylum in the United States” Washington Post (September 1, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-transgender-chechen-woman-and-her-plea-for-asylum-in-america/2017/09/01/0edc5bd6-8916-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html?utm_term=.76604fabcc44.
  4. Teo Armus. “Dozens of LGBTQ People Reportedly Arrested in Azerbaijan” NBC News (September 26, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/dozens-lgbtq-people-reportedly-arrested-azerbaijan-n804801.
  5. “U.S. Statement as delivered by Jason Mack, Human Rights Council, 36th Session, Geneva, September 29, 2017” (accessed October 4, 2017) https://geneva.usmission.gov/2017/10/03/u-s-explanation-of-vote-resolution-on-the-question-of-the-death-penalty/.
  6. Multiple resources at (n.a.) “Issues/ Police, Jails & Prisons” National Center for Transgende4er Equality (NCTE, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.transequality.org/issues/police-jails-prisons.
  7. Jenna Johnson. “Trump says ‘torture works,’ backs waterboarding and ‘much worse’” Washington Post (February 17, 2016, accessed October 5, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-torture-works-backs-waterboarding-and-much-worse/2016/02/17/4c9277be-d59c-11e5-b195-2e29a4e13425_story.html?utm_term=.fb01aaccf05a.
  8. Nick Duffy. “US government defends voting against UN resolution on gay death penalty” Pink News (October 4, 2017, 12:11 pm, accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/04/us-government-defends-voting-against-un-resolution-on-gay-death-penalty/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=PNFB&utm_content=ND.
  9. Somak Ghoshal. “It’s Hardly Surprising That India Has No Problem With Death Penalty For LGBTQ People” Huffington Post (April 10, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/10/04/its-hardly-surprising-that-india-has-no-problem-with-death-penalty-for-lgbtq-people_a_23231962/?utm_hp_ref=in-homepage.
  10. “Trump’s record of action against transgender people” National Center for Transgender Equality (accessed October 4, 2017) http://www.transequality.org/the-discrimination-administration?utm_content=buffer0637f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.
  11. Dan Avery. “Mississippi’s HB 1523 Is the Most Sweeping Anti-LGBT Law In America. And It Takes Effect Friday” NewNowNext (October 2, 2017, accessed October 5, 2017) http://www.newnownext.com/hb-1523-law-lgbt-discrimination/10/2017/?fb_ref=fbshare_web.
  12. Robert A. Gibson. “The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States, 1880-1950” Yale Teacher’s Insitute (accessed October 5, 2017) http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1979/2/79.02.04.x.html.

Billiards to Astral Flight: The Awakening of the Transgender Soul

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

Author’s note:  this article is related to a previous article here in TransMusePlanet Magazine.  See “A Message in an E-Mail: The Heart of the Struggle for the Transgender Soul” by Lynnea Urania Stuart, posted September 16, 2017.  Click here to access it.

__________________________________

He probably never thought about what billiard balls might eventually set into motion.  David Hume (1711-1776) didn’t care about religion and his probable exposure to anything transgender may have been restricted to socially accepted performances in Scottish theater and talk about molly houses in the local pub.  Ironically, his atheism would spark a re-evaluation of spiritual experience as explored today in laboratories and temples alike.  Just as ironically, the current reassertion of trans spiritualities cannot help but contribute to this exploratory milieu.  This current of re-evaluation represents yet another theater of the struggle for the transgender soul apart from dogmatism:  the crisis within when faced with spiritual awakening.

 

SCIENCE ALMOST DERAILED

Hume came along during a heady time in science.  Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Gottfried Leibnitz (1646-1716) had introduced Calculus.  Newton had proposed his Laws of Gravitation in the Principia (1687).  The sciences were beginning to blossom.  But Hume made an important observation, illustrating it through the collision of billiard balls, and this observation nearly turned science completely on its head.

Observe carefully the collision of those billiard balls.  Do we see the cause of the collision?  Look closely.  Newton might have spoken of forces, but did we see those forces in play?

No we didn’t.  Those forces were surmised as a result of theory, even if they may have had predictive results.  Could those actions observed correlate to any knowledge about them before the fact (called “a priori”)?  Do we have the right to call laws of motion “universal laws”?  Or might those observations be skewed at another time?  Hume denied we could know these events for certain a priori.  All we might claim to know must be after the fact, after each time of observation (called “a posteriori”, an idea without sexual implications).  Of course, Hume didn’t have anything spiritual in mind.  He wasn’t even concerned with metaphysics.  His argument was a purely epistemological one as an empiricist.  But it was an argument with far reaching implications.1

Hume’s idea, called Hume’s Fork, divided possible knowledge claims into relations of ideas and matters of fact.  Relations of ideas can be known independently of what’s observed.  Matters of fact can only be known from what’s observed and only in the context of what was observed for that time and could not be relied upon in any other.2

So if we can’t be certain about universal laws, how can we claim to have a science?  That would be answered by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) when he proposed the Transcendental Aesthetic in Critique of Pure Reason after being awakened by Hume’s writings about causation.  He revisited what happens on the side of the human mind past the veil of perception.

The veil of perception, a fundamental concept in philosophy, might be described in terms of a person stuck in an office with an errand runner between him and another office.  The person stuck in his office cannot know what’s happening in the other office except through what that errand runner tells him.  By analogy, the man stuck in his office is like the individual locked inside the confines of his brain with his senses acting like the errand runner.  The office about which the errand runner reports is by analogy, the outside world.  We can’t accept with absolute certainty that we can take those sense impressions at face value.

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic addressed what we can know a priori, building upon Hume’s relations of ideas, being himself very interested in universality.  He described general affection of the mind (Gemüth – see the diagram in the featured image) that exercises a receptivity of the mind through the senses (Vorstellungen) which in turn supplies intuitions for the mind (Anschauungen), and forms a seed of thought through understanding (Verstand).  These empiric impressions of the world occur a posteriori.  This process also produces forms or conceptions (Begriffe) from thought.  These thoughts are returned to Gemüth a priori.3 As a result Kant claimed that we can reliably know a priori that if we knock the supporting pillars away from a house the whole structure will catastrophically crash.4

Upon this, Kant continued to examine various areas of thought to which this a priori knowledge may be applied.  From this came Categories of Understanding in Judgments5 and the closely related Categories of Pure Concepts of Understanding.6 Through these ideas, science moved onwards and quit feeling the hot breath of logical deconstruction due to extreme empiricism.

 

A GLARING PHENOMENOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE

Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic also provided the grist for the later phenomenological theories of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and his student Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), particularly regarding intentionality (Husserl) and temporality (Heidegger).  But Husserl would understand something subtle but significant about those forms to which Kant referred.  The forms don’t match observation 100%.  He took extra steps to articulate it.

 In the beginning Husserl considered what’s given to consciousness in terms of Kant’s impressions supplied by as a “manifold of appearances” developed from the “thing-in-itself” as received by the affection of the mind.  The “manifold of appearances” for Husserl consisted of objects of consciousness separate from its total reality.7

This difference between a priori forms developed in the mind and a posteriori impressions from empiric observations could be dramatized in an exercise commonly taught in preparation for astral projection from either REM or trance states:

 

Stand in front of a full length mirror, naked, with a strong light behind you (most who do astral projection do so unclothed or “skyclad”).  The image you see will be shadowy.  Use that image to form an image of your body in your mind.  Do this repeatedly for a long while.  Notice the shift between your mental image and the image you see in the mirror.  Notice also shifts in your awareness between the 2 images.8

 

The effect may seem a bit disorienting, and in fact other exercises for these practices get even more disorienting than that.  The important thing in this regard is to recognize the difference between the fact observed a posteriori (the actual view of one’s body in a mirror) and the form returned a priori (the mental image of one’s body).  These differences have been addressed variously by different authors on dreaming practices including Carlos Castaneda who spoke of the synchronizing these disparate images in terms of “completing the energy body.”9 The same disparities also arise when comparing images recalled during episodes of astral travel as a dreaming phenomenon and examination of a target area thereafter.  Few astral experiences resemble fact in beginning attempts.  Even experienced practitioners encounter differences.  Comparable disparities have also been noted for remote viewers who form mental images of a target without any sensation of separation from the physical body, judging by comparisons of sketches with photos of targets.10

For transpeople, the preceding exercise has raised an extra issue specific to gender identity when engaged during early transition.  A transwoman may see a predominantly male body in that mirror, but the initial mental image thereof may be completely female, coming across in a flash till the mind reworks that image (vice versa in the case of a transman).  It could also happen that since that flash of a mental image is perceived as female, the participant may prefer for that mental image to remain so.  That feminine image may become accepted as regular projected image of the astral body before a transwoman experiences any sensation of her consciousness being transferred from her physical body to that energy body.

Episodes like these can accompany a more general spiritual awakening.  The internal image of an astral body, described by various authors as a kind of “soul” impacts that experience of awakening.  It reaches beyond epistemology, entering the realm of philosophical psychology.

 

NOESIS AND LUCIDITY

In Husserl’s Theory of Intentionality, noema consists of content types as ideal and timeless components. Noesis, is an act of thinking and ruminating.  A noematic moment will correspond to a noetic moment.  The 2 always happen in relation to one another.11

But a noematic-noetic moment may or may not happen when you expect it.  Noematic structures develop out of the body of forms derived from impressions.  But noesis pertains to what someone consciously does with noemata. Without such a corresponding moment, intentionality doesn’t happen.

Perhaps a delay in a noematic-noetic moment may be best illustrated in terms of dreams and dreaming, the former as passive experiences, and the latter as an intentional art.  A mundane dream represents a purely noematic action because it goes no farther than the preconscious while the dreamer remains asleep.  The noetic response to that action doesn’t happen till the dreamer wakes up and recalls the dream.  Noesis demands conscious interaction and that doesn’t happen in a mundane dream.

But this changes entirely when a dreamer gains lucidity.  Only through lucidity does the noematic-noetic moment happen within the dream.  When that takes place, the effect can become literally life-changing, generating deep personal inspiration and awakening to natural innocence while forcing a crisis in which the dreamer must think through new modal realities when others may condemn them.

Here’s a description of the lucid dream experience to readers who either haven’t encountered the phenomenon or haven’t known that sleep labs have studied it.  In fact it has become a subject for serious scientific inquiry since the 1980’s:

 

“I run away from a charging dinosaur then realize an incongruity.  Dinosaurs are extinct.  Therefore I must be dreaming.  I declare this realization, saying, “I’m dreaming!”  As I repeat the entire character of the dream changes.  The dream becomes incredibly lifelike and clear.  The dreamscape becomes strangely luminous.  I have greater interest to explore the dreamscape.  I step aside and watch the dinosaur charge past me, knowing I’m no longer bound by the dream.  I do so, freely and rationally examining various components of the dream.  The lifelike clarity of the dream is so intense that it’s as if I had stepped into a 2-dimensional flat screen television and actually live what’s on the other side in 3 dimensions. 12

 

Though many Conservative religious circles condemn lucid dreaming as “demonic”, as they do dream phenomena generally, the vast majority who experience lucid dreaming have no occult ties.  Lucid dreaming occurs with people of all religions, typically by accident, though some prefer to suppress lucid dreams because of learned dogmatic fears of what they don’t understand.  But the perceptions of changes endemic to lucid dreams are really tied to a physiological event in which portions of the brain that had been off line while sleeping switch on during REM sleep.  “REM” refers to the stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and dreams have been most commonly noted at this stage, though dreams do occur at other times.

 

A NEUROLOGY OF SPIRITUALITIES

Of special interest concerning those brain structures coming online during lucid dream episodes is the frontal lobe of the brain.  This area is normally off during REM but springs into activity during Lucid REM episodes.  Elisa Filevich of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development announced in a January 2015 press release that their MRI scans demonstrated how participants in a study who reported highly lucid during dreams had larger anterior prefrontal cortexes.  This area of the brain also controls conscious cognitive processes and plays an important role in self-reflection.13

Another researcher who noted this action of the anterior prefrontal cortexes is Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of The Metaphysical Mind:  Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought.  He cited that practices of concentration either through prayer or mantra based meditation tend to activate this part of the brain.  It also has a role in directing attention, modulating behavior, and expression of language.  Conversely, when one surrenders the will as in mediumistic trance or speaking in tongues, activity decreases in the frontal lobes and increases in the thalamus where flow of sensory information to much of the brain is regulated.14

Dr. Newberg noted in a study of Buddhist monks an experiment in which during experiences of high ecstasy in meditative trance they would pull a kite string, triggering injection of a tracer dye for brain scan.  He told the BBC in 2002:

 

“There was an increase in activity in the front part of the brain, the area that is activated when anyone focuses attention on a particular task…  In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised [sic] as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness…  During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw.”15

 

Brick Johnstone, Professor of Health Psychology at the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri, declared in 2012 that many parts of the brain are involved in spirituality.  He noted concerning impairment of the right side of the brain:

 

Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self.  This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves.”16

 

This stands as a warning for many transgender people whose construction of the self can swallow them up in self-obsession.  Reasonably, anyone who transitions also needs to balance the experience of reconstruction of life consistent with construction of the self through charitable service to others.

It’s more than just an issue of spirituality.  It’s an issue of health and well being.  It also can build communities.  It would also be a reasonable conjecture based upon that warrant for service to others that those transpeople engaged in such activities should be less prone to suicide.  Future surveys including those on the order of the U.S. Transgender Survey should examine this, and if confirmed, should be made an integral part of regimens designed to sustain mental health.

 

ANCIENT INSIGHT

The link of the anterior frontal lobes to spirituality, lucid dreaming, and higher thinking comparable to the action of noesis upon noemata seems to be more than just a modern consideration.  Consider the work of a genius from long ago.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonorotti Simoni (1475-1564), Renaissance sculptor, painter, and one of the most brilliant artists of all time, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in The Vatican.  His work, the subject of many books, articles, and television programs, even the motion picture The Agony and the Ecstasy, features numerous scenes from the Bible.  Perhaps the most inspiring of all is a central depiction of the Creation of Adam (see featured image, upper left hand corner).

In this image, an anthropomorphic depiction of God the Creator, reaches outward to touch the hand of Adam to deliver a spark of life.  But that touch seems to represent much more.  Not a few people have commented about the God figure, wrapped in his shadowy cloak and accompanied by other spirits to witness this crowning act of creation.  To some the cloak and entourage represents a womb.  But to most it vividly takes the form of a brain viewed from the side, the pituitary gland and brainstem clearly visible.  God reaches out through the frontal lobe of a brain to give life to Adam.

He painted this scene centuries before the invention of MRI and PET scans.  How did Michelangelo connect the frontal lobe of the brain with the making of Adam as a living soul?  Or did he connect them?

He may not need to have consciously done so.  Artists often experience very close connections with their faculties of dreaming and meditation.  The detail of Michelangelo’s work suggests that his degree of exact representation of conceived impressions gave him a higher level of technical insight than most artists.  The dynamism of his work suggests enhanced noematic-noetic moments leading to thematic insight, even extending to the underlying geometry that governed his compositions.  But the genius of the Creation of Adam suggests more than technicalities in art, extending to archetypes like those described through the work of Carl Jung (1875-1961).17

Might Michelangelo’s dreaming proclivities have led him, even unconsciously to the dynamism of his composition?  The similarity of God’s cloak to the brain in the Creation of Adam may have emerged through Michelangelo’s dream mechanisms as a structural archetype, the mind unveiling an insight of itself to the world as the inner genius with whom every artist craves to connect.

 

Some of us who are transgender and with Abrahamic connections to our spiritualities may see this creation of Adam with a bit of a twist, following a Kabbalistic belief centuries old.  Kabbalah relies as much upon dreaming proclivities and lore as upon persnickety logic and commentary upon sacred texts.  One of the Kabbalistic texts, The Zohar, makes a claim incredible to many not accustomed to it, but advancing a Rabbinic view concerning Adam:

 

Rabbi Yirmeyah son of El’azar said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him androgynous, as it said: Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).’  Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said, ‘When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him with two faces.  Then He sawed him and gave him two backs, one on this side and one on that.’”18

 

These aspects of mind pertaining to the interactions of noema and noesis have the capacity to awaken us to life issues including those relating to gender with mechanisms far above those described.  They also have the capacity to interface with the various spiritualities throughout the world and to warn us when we lose balance through obsession as the enemy of innocence.  As such they play a pivotal role in our health, quality of life, and understanding as harbingers and awakeners of insight.

For most of us, unless hampered from antagonistic sources imposed by the dogmatic seeds of noemata sown by others, we can find them worth cultivating, knowing also that by cultivation we also must face social and psychological currents designed to destroy us.  The struggle for the transgender soul is more than a struggle for domination by religious and political parties.  The struggle is internal, one of which we often find ourselves at a loss to grasp.

Our philosophies touch upon them but the bulk remains a deep mystery.  But we can admit one thing:  we’ve come a very long way since Hume’s colliding billiard balls.

_________________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  Superimposed glyph of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life with the sephirah of Binah superimposed upon the part of a diagram expressing Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic at the circle pertaining to Verstand (Understanding, also the meaning of Binah).  The spheres representing the sephirot are themselves reminiscent of Hume’s billiard balls.  A graphic limitation exists here because while in Kabbalah, understanding pertains to Binah, the development of forms is deemed to be more a function of Chokhmah.  Beyond is a detail of Michelangelo’s Creation of Man from the Sistine Chapel, Vatican in which not a few have observed the uncanny appearance of the Godhead figure and cloak to a brain.  The Divine appears to reach through what appears to be the frontal lobe at the Ajña Chakra, to give life to Adam (Flickr).  The diagram concerning Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic is by the author.

  1. M. Lorkowski. “David Hume- Causation” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (n.d., accessed September 20, 2017) http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Kant, Immanuel. “Critique of Pure Reason” The Basic Writings of Kant (Allen W. Wood, ed, transl.,2001) Modern Library, Random House Publishing Group, NY, ISBN: 0-375-75733-3, pp. 42,43.
  4. 25, ibid.
  5. 57, Ibid.
  6. 59, ibid.
  7. Zack, Naomi, PhD. “The Handy Philosophy Answer Book” (Visible Ink Press, Canton MI 2010) ISBN: 978-1-57859-226-5, p. 275.
  8. An exercise known by the author since the 1990’s as a teacher in various classes on the subject. In settings where the participant does not act alone, clothing is loose-fitting or with the wearing of a ritual robe.
  9. (n.a.) “The Art of Dreaming” Biblioteca Pleyades (Quotations and comments from Carlos Castaneda, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/cienciareal/esp_donjuan9.htm.
  10. Observed by the author.
  11. Rassi, Fatemeh and Shahabi, Zeiae. “Husserl’s Phenomenology and two terms of Noema and Noesis” International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, ISSN: 2300-2697, Vol. 53, pp29-34 (2015, Sci Press LTD, Switzerland), pp. 29, 30; referencing Husserl, Edmund. Ideas:  General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (2003, W. R. Boyce Gibson, translator, George Allen & Unwinm LTD, London).  Available through https://www.scipress.com/ILSHS.53.29.
  12. A commonly reported example of awakening within a dream. Scientific inquiry began with Stephen LeBerge of Stanford University when he proved the existence of lucid dreams in the Stanford Sleep Lab.  Much material is available on his work from The Lucidity Institute. http://www.lucidity.com/
  13. Fiona Macdonald. “Scientists May Have Found The Part of The Brain That Enables Lucid Dreaming” Science Alert (January 26, 2015, accessed September 21, 2017) https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-may-have-found-the-part-of-the-brain-that-enables-lucid-dreaming .
  14. Lynne Blumberg. “What Happens to Brains During Spiritual Experiences” The Atlantic (June 5, 2014, accessed September 21, 2017). https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/what-happens-to-brains-during-spiritual-experiences/361882/
  15. BBC Staff. “Meditation mapped in monks” BBC (March 1, 2002, accessed September 21, 2017) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1847442.stm
  16. Brad Fischer. “Distinct ‘God Spot’ in the Brain does not exist, MU Researcher Says” University of Missouri News (April 18, 2012, accessed September 21, 2017) http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2012/0418-distinct-%E2%80%9Cgod-spot%E2%80%9D-in-the-brain-does-not-exist-mu-researcher-says/
  17. Jung, C. G. Man and His Symbols (1968, Laurel Books, Dell Publishing, NY) ISBN: 0-440-35183-9, p. 32.
  18. Zohar 1:13b, from Matt, Daniel C. The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Volume 1 (2004) Stanford University Press. ISBN: 0-8047-4747-4, p. 94, footnote708.

Three Charged with Gruesome Murder of Houston Transgender Teen Ally Steinfeld

By Sabrina Samone

&

TMP iReporter Grace Ann Ashcraft

Three people are accused of murdering a Houston, Mo teenager who was recently reported missing.


Online court records indicate 18-year-old Andrew Vrba and 18-year-old Isis Schauer of Houston, and 24-year-old Briana Calderas of Cabool, were charged Thursday with first degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. Vrba also faces charges of armed criminal action.

The three suspects are accused of killing 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld of Houston, who has been dead named as Joseph Steinfeld in recent local news reports.

The Houston Herald reports that burned remains were later identified as Steinfeld’s, who had been reported missing the week prior. The remains were discovered by the Texas County Sheriff’s Office at Calderas’ mobile home near Cabool. Vrba reportedly told authorities that he stabbed Steinfield in the living room of the mobile home, and that all three, Schauer, Calderas, and Vrba wrapped up the victim’s body, took it outside, and destroyed the body by burning it. According to a probable cause statement, the women traveled to Walmart in Houston and Mountain Grove to buy items to aid in the burning of the body.


Steinfeld’s cell phone and a knife were recovered at the property, and stains believed to be blood were located inside the home.

Online court records did not indicate any future hearing dates for the three suspects, and no attorneys were listed.

The investigation is ongoing. Officers remained on the scene Friday.

It was quoted as being, “a grisly terrible series of heinous acts by the accused“, said Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr.

Vrba told law enforcement officers that some of the bones were placed in a garbage bag, which was transferred to a chicken coop on the property. Officers executed a search warrant and also found human bones in a burn pile next to the residence. Apparent blood stains were discovered on the living room carpet. Caldereas admitted that the death occurred there, but denied that she wanted the teen, whose preferred name was Ally Steinfeld, according to a social media posting, to die. A cellular telephone belonging to Steinfeld and a knife were recovered at the property.

Facebook messages between the women gave officers a break in the teen’s death, which apparently occurred Sept. 3, six days before Steinfeld’s Birthday.

The women told officers that Vrba bragged about the murder and it’s brutality, according to court documents.

Condolences are pouring onto Ally Steinfeld’s Facebook page, where her last post before being reported missing was on August the 27th, where she wrote, “I feeling little bit beautiful how likes my hair i got it red.”

 

A Judge in Brazil Approves ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’

By Sabrina Samone

&

TMP Brazil iReporter Sammy Sarvaris

Yearly, on November 20th, trans people across the globe gather to read the names of fallen sisters and brothers. We honor their lives by speaking their names, and refusing to let the world forget the transphobic hate that took their lives. The names are from all walks of life, and nearly every country, but trans women of color and particularly those in Brazil leaves our community gasping at the number and degree of violence trans people face in Brazil.

According to Gay Group Bahia¹, over 275 lgbt persons have been murdered in one year in Brazil. The stats shows that over 200 gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people have been murdered between January 1 and September this year. The group’s study, which estimated the number using police records and news reports in the region, found that 43 percent of the times took place in the North East. 35% of victims were trans people, while 59% of those were gay, and 4% were lesbians. Though homosexuality is not a crime in Brazil, it is notorious for having one of the highest murder rates for LGBT people – and transgender people in particular – in the world

Each year, and in particularly on Transgender Day of Remembrance², we listen to the growing names of transgender people being murdered in Brazil. It is this very reason, with the growing murder rate, the latest action of a judge in Brazil has become exceptionally troubling. In a country already beyond an epidemic of homophobia and transphobia, a judge has approved conversion therapy of gay people.

Actions like these give a license for even swifter, uglier forms of hate, and considering this is Brazil, that is beyond alarming.

Waldemar de Carvalho, a federal judge in the capital of Brasília, overruled a 1999 decision by the Federal Council of Psychology that forbade psychologists from offering widely discredited treatments which claims to “cure” gay people.

Coming a week after a bank cancelled an exhibition of gay art after protests from rightwing and evangelical Christian groups, the ruling has raised fears that progressive policies could be overturned.

Brazil has a growing population of evangelical Christians who have protested vociferously at plotlines in television soap operas featuring gay or transgender characters, and increasingly ally themselves with burgeoning rightwing groups.

This decision is a big regression to the progressive conquests that the LBGT community had in recent decades,” David Miranda, a leftist councillor in Rio de Janeiro and one of the country’s few openly gay politicians, told the Guardian. “Like various countries in the world, Brazil is suffering a conservative wave.”

Ivete Sangolo, one of Brazil’s most celebrated singers, wrote:

“The sick ones are those who believe in this grand absurdity,”in an Instagram post commenting on the ruling.

Judge de Carvalho ruled in favor of an action brought by Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist whose license was revoked in 2016 after she offered “conversion therapy”.

In a 2009 interview with the Folha de S Paulo newspaper, Justino said she saw homosexuality as a “disease”, advised patients to seek religious guidance and said: “I feel directed by God to help people who are homosexual.”

The Federal Council of Psychology said in a statement that the decision “opens the dangerous possibility of the use of sexual reversion therapies” and promised to contest it legally.

Council president Rogério Giannini, a psychologist based in São Paulo, said its 1999 decision prohibiting “sexual conversion” therapy had already faced off other legal actions and even a proposed bill in Congress.

“We have no power over research,” Giannini said in a Guardian interview. “The way it was put by the judge gave the impression that we prohibited research which is not true.”

As hashtags like #curagay (“gay cure”)³ trended in Brazil, Twitter users used memes and GIFs to ridicule the decision.

“They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no,” tweeted one Brazilian using the name Ubiratan.

Blasphemy is using the word of God to justify one’s hate or own personal sins. Those actions have consequences, and unfortunately our trans sisters and brothers who are often the easiest known targets of LGBT hate may face a heavier toll than we could ever imagine if such legislation continues to go unnoticed and rivaled by the world’s LGBT communities.


  1. Groupo Gay Da Bahia, LGBT rights organization in Brazil similar to the HRC in America.
  2. TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance) was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
  3. Trending hashtag on twitter in response to Brazilian Judges decision