Today is the 11th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to mourn those who were killed by hatred, bigotry, and ignorance. Many of these deaths went unreported in the media, or if they were covered, the victims were reduced to attention-grabbing headlines and dehumanizing terms. You can read the names of the 162 trans people murdered between November 20, 2008 and November 12, 2009 here, and these are only the people we know about.
Yesterday, Oct. 28, 2009, heralded a historic moment for human rights as President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. This act expands the already existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on one's sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, and also allows federal authorities to support local investigations, as well as step in when local authorities unable or unwilling to investigate. For the first time in our nation's history, GLBT people and people with disabilities have the legal right to safety from hate violence.
On Monday, President Obama announced his nomination for Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and I couldn't be happier about his pick: Chai Feldblum, Professor of Law at Georgetown, who also happens to be an out Jewish lesbian.
Last night marked the beginning of Tu B’Av, a cool Jewish holiday that I just found out about! The more I read and discover about Tu B’Av and its possible feminist undertones, the more excited I get. It seems the Jewish community has, in recent years, began a movement to turn the 15th of Av into a modern Jewish holiday – the Jewish Valentine’s Day. Creating a holiday that celebrates love and sexuality from a progressive, feminist, and Jewish prospective? Now that is a movement I can get behind!
The wee hours of June 28, 1969, began with a routine enough event: a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar owned by the mafia (as nearly all gay bars were at the time, since bars that catered to homosexuals were usually denied a liquor license, and only mob-owned bars could afford to pay off the police so that they could operate without a license). The cops entered with their usual intentions: to check id cards and arrest those found to be cross-dressing.