Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
Latest On Outvoices
Trending around OUTvoices
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
His words are as relevant today as they were when King wrote them. We live in a time of advanced technology, when word can be spread around the globe in mere seconds, when terrorists are targeted by an overhead drone controlled by a military operator half a world away and when breakthroughs in medical science point to the inevitable end of horrible diseases.
Yet even in this advanced age, when humanity should have evolved beyond primitive rage to a point of reason in all matters concerning human rights and dignity, the transgender community still faces incomparable sacrifice, suffering, and struggle on a daily basis. Although dedicated individuals are fighting very hard to bring this injustice to an end, the slow pace of progress can be measured by the violence and murder against trans people.
October marked the 10th anniversary of the murder in California of a 17-year-old pre-operative trans woman, Gwen Araujo. Gwen dreamed of becoming a Hollywood make-up artist. She never had a chance to fulfill her dreams. Instead she was brutally murdered by four men and buried in a shallow grave by the side of the road. Her attackers were extremely vicious, as is the case with most murders of trans women, and the details of her beating and burial tell a tale of terror and hatred. Two of the men were convicted of second-degree murder, but not convicted on the requested enhancement of a hate crime. The third man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and the fourth pleaded no contest to the same charge.
Gwen’s murder was the first time that the “trans panic defense” was used by a defendant, essentially a blame-the-victim excuse that says that regardless of the fact that you enjoyed someone’s company, even possibly enjoyed intimacy with that person, it is somehow OK to fly into a rage and murder them when you find out their identity is transgender. It implies that being transgender is an intentional deception, not on an equal footing with born males or females, and that having a relationship with such a “thing” is justification for slaughtering them as if they weren’t human at all.
Gwen was a human being. She was a beautiful young trans woman full of dreams for a bright future, with a family and friends who loved and cared for her deeply. She is missed. After the trial of Gwen’s murderers, her mother became a crusader to strengthen hate-crime statutes and to eliminate the trans panic defense, and she has been successful to some degree, but much work remains.
December will mark another sad anniversary, one that hits the Kansas City transgender community particularly hard. On Christmas Eve 2011, a time when Christmas music played in homes in every neighborhood, sharing good tidings for all, trans woman Dee Dee Pearson was brutally murdered. Her attacker killed her after obtaining a gun, searching for her for several hours, then chasing her three blocks to her apartment, where he shot her multiple times at her front door. Like Gwen, Dee Dee had a family and friends who loved her. She was a human being, savagely gunned down because the label “transgender” carried more significance for her attacker than “human being.”
As in Gwen’s court case, the defense used the trans panic defense to argue that the client’s rage was justified because the victim was transgender, a mere trickster out to deceive innocent people, therefore bringing the circumstances of her unfortunate end upon herself. However, last month, the judge rejected this victim-blaming defense and sentenced Dee Dee’s murderer to 30 years in prison for first-degree murder, five years more than the prosecutor’s recommendation of 25 years, and added 10 years to his sentence for armed criminal action. Thanks to advocacy efforts by Gwen’s mother and many others around the country, the trans panic defense is beginning to lose ground.
Sandwiched between the anniversaries of Gwen’s murder and Dee Dee Pearson’s murder is the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20. TDOR is a very important and solemn occasion when transgender communities around the world remember and honor those who have been murdered.
Each victim had a name and a family or friends who loved them. Each victim had dreams and hopes, regardless of their situation in life, and those dreams and hopes were violently taken away from them for no other reason than the fact that they were who they were — transgender.
In some communities, candlelight vigils will take place and the names of the victims will be read aloud. Regardless of whether they are able to attend a local TDOR event, trans people everywhere will reflect on the senseless loss, shedding tears for the lost dreams of so many, and wonder how such unjustified hatred can exist in this world.
Trans people are often wary of police agencies, court systems, media outlets, and the health-care system. In many cases, transgender survivors of violence choose not to report the attack in order to avoid being “outed” or out of fear of being mocked in media reports. According to the Hate Violence Report in 2010 from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), transgender women were the least likely to report to police: 25.4 percent of transgender women did not make a report, compared to 19.1 percent of non-transgender women and 20.9 percent of non-transgender men. Sometimes the violence is misreported as gay or lesbian violence, instead of transgender violence, by the media or police. Because of these factors, we know that anti-trans violence is widely underreported.
According to the Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project, which gathers worldwide statistics on the murder cases that are actually reported and published, there were 221 transgender murder victims in 2011. According to the 2011 Hate Violence Report from NCAVP, 40 percent of all hate-violence murder victims were transgender women. In addition, transgender women represented only 10 percent of all survivors of hate-crime violence, indicating that they were disproportionately murdered.
Especially hard hit are trans women of color, who suffer the highest rate of unemployment, homelessness, and violence.
As 2012 slowly comes to a close and we mourn the senseless loss of Gwen, Dee Dee, and many other transgender or gender non-conforming people, we should all ask ourselves what we are each individually doing to end the anti-trans hate and violence.
Another one of Martin Luther King’s quotes that I think of often is: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I think of this quote because I know the pace of our progress in eliminating intolerance would be greatly accelerated if everyone who believed that hatred and violence has no place in our society would get involved instead of reading about it. While you are silent, the cacophony of the social conservatives that fuel the intolerance gets louder.
It is time to grow the small number of people who fight for equality and justice into a large army to drown out this poisonous message coming from the right. It is time to stop sitting idly by while the voices of intolerance enjoy control of the airwaves, their hateful message lending justification and courage to those who would kill a transgender person simply for being transgender. It is time to stop sitting idly by while gay and trans people are beaten and murdered and our LGBT children are bullied to death.
Help put an end to this injustice. You don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer-identified to know that hate and intolerance are wrong and want to do something about it. Straight allies are sometimes the most potent voices in the struggle for justice.
When someone tells an offensive anti-gay or anti-trans joke, let them know that kind of speech has no place. When you see hateful letters in the newspaper or hear hateful speech on the radio, write a letter of your own, or call the radio station and add your voice to the airwaves. When a harmful bill is being debated by your legislators, call or write them and let them know that you do not support it. Join or donate to an organization such as Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, PROMO, KCAVP or Kansas Equality Coalition.
Together we can drown out the shrill hate speech that says my life isn’t worth the same as everybody else’s just because I’m transgender. Take a moment to remember our victims. Then get involved. Today.
Sandra Meade is the chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, Metro Kansas City Chapter.
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.