Category Archives: LGBT Pride

Planet Fitness Upholds Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy, Cancels Woman’s Membership

After a woman in Michigan complained about a transgender person in the women’s locker room, Planet Fitness revoked her membership.

Forty-eight year old Yvette Cormier, said she saw someone “dressed like a man” when she she walked into the locker room at Midland Planet Fitness. She remarked that the person was wearing a wig and “a little bit of blush”, but was “huge” and looked “very manly”.  She reported to ABC News, “I just stopped right there in my tracks,” she said. “It was a man for sure.”

Cormier went to the front desk of the gym to inquire why there was a man in the women’s locker room; the employee at the desk told her that the man identified as a woman. Cormier decided to take it to the corporate office and was told that Planet Fitness Policy is  “whatever gender you feel you are, that’s the locker room you’re allowed to go in… We’ve had lots of complaints about him but we told him to go change in a stall… if you’re uncomfortable with that you can wait until he’s done in there.”

Planet Fitness Upholds Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy, Cancels Woman's Membership

Cormier had asked if he (the transgender person) could wait until she was done in the women’s locker room or get a unisex bathroom. The employee then asked if she wanted to speak with the manager and Cormier said, “I’m calling corporate.”

Since Cormier reportedly went back to the gym every day through Thursday and told other women about what she saw, Planet Fitness’ corporate office called and told her that she was violating their policy of “no judgement”. After they asked her to stop speaking to women in the gym about the issue, she refused. Planet Fitness then suspended her membership.

PR director for Planet Fitness, McCall Gosselin, said that whatever gender identity a person decides to use will allow them into that gender’s locker room. Gosselin’s statement read:

Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity. The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled.

Cormier does not feel that the policy is safe for women and feels as if she’s the one being punished. Her solution would be to add a third locker room for transgender people, even though there are private changing stalls and bathroom stalls with doors in the women’s locker room.

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‘Pansexual’ Is a More Accurate Label for Many

Most of the time, the LGBTQ community focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in conversation, etc. Often, though, pansexuals are completely misidentified as bisexual. Are you confused at all? Well, maybe you are if you’re unfamiliar with the term.

A pansexual is a person who may be attracted to females, males, transgender people and non-binary individuals. To them, biological sex (one’s physical gender at birth) and gender identity are not relevant as far as attraction goes. The prefix means “all” or “every” in Greek.

Just like bisexuality, pansexuality is often dismissed as being a greedy or indecisive. This is not true, though. A pansexual is open to loving the person, no matter their sexuality or gender identification. As bisexuals are attracted to two sexes based on gender, pansexuals are effectively blind to gender and are attracted to others for reasons beyond it, such as emotions, personality and ideals. This is not to say that everyone else doesn’t find different qualities important, but pansexuals have a wider range of people with whom they may become attracted.

'Pansexual' Is a More Accurate Label for Many

The term ‘pansexuality’ first came into use in the mid 90’s, but hasn’t been significantly searched for (on Google, for example) until about five years ago. This might be due to more recent generations being more in touch with themselves.

It can be difficult for pansexuals to know how to clearly define themselves. Some may choose ‘queer’ as a term that seems more inclusive, but it’s not exactly descriptive. It can be helpful if a celebrity decides to come out, but are they really practicing their assertion that they’re attracted to personality and not gender? It seems to be a more politically correct thing to say these days, but it’s damaging if it’s untrue. There are actually people (pansexuals) who feel this way. So, if a pansexual celebrity comes out as such, that’s great–if it’s true and not a publicity tactic.

Many pansexuals know how they differ from bisexuals; this can be a sore subject. It doesn’t seem appropriate for them to identify as bisexual when that means only including cisgender people. Rapper, Angel Haze (who has dated model Ireland Baldwin) says that for her: “love is boundary-less. If you can make me feel, if you can make me laugh… then I can be with you. I don’t care if you’re a hermaphrodite or whatever.” She says, “I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’m not bisexual – I don’t care,” she says. “At the end of the day, I just want someone to connect with.”

LGBT Medical Students Fear Revealing Sexual Identity

New research shows that approximately one-third of LGBT medical students do not come out of the closet due to fear of discrimination, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers. This online survey,  published Feb. 18 in the journal Academic Medicine, included nearly 1,000 LGBT respondents and was sent to every medical student in the US and Canada during the academic period of 2009-2010. Out of those who identified as being in the LGBT group, 30 percent said they did not reveal their sexual identity while in medical school.

The primary reason for keeping this aspect of themselves private was because they feared discrimination (which was reported by 40 percent of this group). Additional reasons included social pressure, lack of support from family or peers, and a belief that it wasn’t anyone else’s business.  Research from the study also showed that two-thirds of students did not identify as either male or female, but as something other than those two genders, and they concealed their gender at medical school.

LGBT Medical Students Fear Revealing Sexual Identity

Matthew Mansh, author of the study and fourth-year medical student who says he’s been openly gay since age 17 remarked that he often didn’t go out of his way to mention that he was gay for reasons similar to what the study’s respondents reported, particularly during his clinical years. He said, “A lot of grading in medical school is very subjective. I have met physicians who make sexist or homophobic remarks, and it makes you not want to come out. You don’t want your personal identity to affect your grade”.

Dr. Mitchell Lunn, co-founder of the Stanford Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Medical Education Research Group,  and study co-author said: “There is still this huge percentage of medical students who are afraid of discrimination in medical school and how it could affect the rest of their careers.” He remarked that they’re supposed to be part of a field that accepts and takes care of people regardless of their differences, yet that is not happening for those who are part of their own community. The study authors suggest that there is a need for doctors to be leaders in encouraging more inclusion and diversity in medicine.

6 Damaging Myths about Non-Binary People

The biggest myth about non-binary people is that they’re non-existent.  What does it mean to be non-binary?  Non-binary gender identities cannot be fit into the male/female, accepted binary. It’s more simple to imagine an entire spectrum of gender and know that everyone fits somewhere on it and they don’t always necessarily remain in the exact same place. Yet, let’s remember that “male” and “female” do not begin and end this spectrum.  “Genderqueer” (GQ) is another word some use instead of non-binary.  There are plenty of harmful stereotypes about non-binary folks out there.  Here are six common ones that need debunking:

It’s just a fad
It is not an option to choose between male and female for gender identity for a non-binary person.  It’s not a game that anyone’s playing for attention…it’s very real.  Gender expression (the type of clothes you might choose to wear, for example) is not the same as gender identity. This is where a lot of people seem to get confused and think of non-binary people as if they’re folks trying to fit in with a trend.

Non-binary people are just confused
Confusion is natural for a lot of people and there’s nothing wrong with being confused.  It is part of the process of many trans people.  However, the fact that someone is non-binary doesn’t mean they’re confused.  It just means that they’re not male or female…or they are genderless (agender).

This is a new concept
The fact that non-binary folks haven’t received much recognition in the US until recently doesn’t mean it’s a new concept. There are  many cultures in the world who use words for genders that aren’t “male” or “female”.

6 Damaging Myths about Non-Binary People

Non-binary people want to destroy gender
Just because non-binary people want more options than “male” and “female” for gender doesn’t mean they’re trying to destroy gender.  This assumption doesn’t observe the fact that many non-binary people do have genders.

Non-binary is the same as intersex
Of course, this is untrue.  Being non-binary means you have a gender identity that doesn’t fit into the male or female genders.  When one is intersex, it means they’re born with a physical sex that isn’t classified as male or female.

Trans oppression is not experienced by non-binary people
Non-binary people experience more discrimination and violence in some circumstances, as they would have negativity coming from both cisgender and binary transgender communities.  This means less of a support system for non-binary folks as well as fewer safe places.  You can become a better ally to non-binary people by insisting on including them whenever the topic of gender arises.  You can be a part of the change that needs to happen in order for everyone to realize they matter just as much as anyone else.

“Biphobia” Is a Common Problem

Most people are familiar with the word “homophobia”.  There are many terrible, damaging myths and stereotypes out there that remind us far too much about how common it is to hate and be ignorant. There is another form of phobia that is less spoken about and it’s fairly safe to say that many have never heard of it: It’s called “biphobia” and it comes from all parts of the human sexuality spectrum.

Not everyone who is biphobic is homophobic.  There are those who believe bisexuals must be either straight or gay.  It’s an unfair judgment that’s not only invalidating, but is effectively saying that those identifying as bisexual are dishonest people.  It causes them to be unjustly assessed–as if their supposed ‘lies’ stretch to other areas of their lives.  Examples of biphobic statements are:

  • Bisexuals are confused.
  • Bisexuals just want to have threesomes/kinky sex.
  • Bisexuality is a phase.
  • Bisexual women just want to get men “hot and bothered’.

Many bisexuals stay ‘in the closet’ due to attitudes from the LGBT community and heterosexuals.  They might try to pass as either gay or straight.  Sadly, bisexuals are viewed as gay or lesbian when they’re with a same-sex partner and heterosexual when they have an opposite-sex partner.  The attitude that bisexuality doesn’t exist is a dangerous one to hold.

Bisexuality is not an undecided sexuality or a phase.  It’s not about being confused.  If anything, it’s biphobia that’s making things complicated.  Even if you’re not bisexual, take it upon yourself to help stop these myths. When you hear someone engaging in biphobic behavior, stop them and let them know the truth.  It’s best to be calm while doing this, of course…the message will be received more openly and taken more seriously that way.

If a loved one comes out to you, treat it seriously and with compassion.  Don’t treat them as if they’re suddenly all about sex or they’re just experimenting. It took a lot of courage for them to come out.  A little education and compassion goes a long way!

Is Coming Out at Work the Right Choice?

Making a decision about coming out is a difficult one.  If you’re lucky, you already know you’ll have needed support from your family and friends. The decision about whether to come out at work can be especially risky for some. There’s no right or wrong answer for everyone in general, but it might be helpful to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

You might become more relaxed
It takes up a lot of our mental energy to try to ‘pass’ in any way at work. We have to be vigilant about using gender neutral pronouns and possibly feel as if we need to behave in a more feminine or masculine way than we actually feel. Coming out could be just what’s needed to take the load off of our shoulders. Without all of that worry and pretense, other things can be focused on, such as building professional relationships.

You’ll know who’s not on your side
Those who knew of your capabilities before you came out will have no choice but to acknowledge it, even if not out loud. It can also stop any hate speech that might have occurred before because bigoted co-workers will know that it’s now personal.

You’ll find out who supports you
You never know, you might find out you have a fellow co-worker in the LGBT community in the next cubicle over! Plus, you might inspire someone to come out if they haven’t already.

Is Coming Out at Work the Right Choice?

Cons

You might get attention you don’t want
You might not want everyone to know. Some co-workers may think that your coming out is an invitation for them to ask personal questions about your sex life. They won’t care or even understand that it’s inappropriate. You might be working with some seriously hateful (even threatening) bigots. Of course you should be able to rely on HR to have your back, but that might not actually happen.

It could turn out to be dangerous
There’s a chance you might lose your job after coming out, even if it is against company policy. There are always cases of people making up false reasons for ‘letting you go’ or cutting down hours until there aren’t any left. Try to understand the atmosphere of your workplace first. There are states where you can be fired after coming out. Check out the laws first. It’s ultimately your decision to come out, or not.

Mormon Church Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Rights

The Mormon Church officially came out in support for LGBT rights in a recent, unprecedented news conference.

There were conditions though: The church wanted to make clear that they were not changing their opposition to same-sex marriage and the requirement was that the same legal protections would include all religious organizations.

This announcement coincides with an anti-discrimination bill that’s passing through Utah’s state legislature, seeking to ban discrimination in housing and the workplace based on gender.  Although the Mormon Church has promoted kinder attitudes towards LGBT issues, this has been its most obvious approval of LGBT rights. Fewer than one third of the United States has LGBT anti-discrimination laws, according to Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Less state laws protect gender expression or identity.

Mormon Church Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Rights

Neill Marriott, the second counselor in the general presidency of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said at a press conference: “Such basic human rights such as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on a person’s sexual orientation.”

This is a step beyond the Church of LDS’s 2009 backing of a non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City, as it is now in support of statewide LGBT protections. The condition of this endorsement is significant, though. The church is asking for religious freedom protections along with the LGBT non-discrimination legislation.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of one of the church’s leadership groups, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals.” His belief is that laws are necessary to protect individuals and faith communities from discrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says they believe religious freedom should be protected, but that the Mormon church’s request would diminish the effectiveness of any protections granted in non-discrimination legislation.

Neutral Gender Embraced by University of Vermont

Recently, the University of Vermont acknowledged a third gender option: “neutral”, according to a report from The New York Times. They have agreed to allow students to “select their own identity” in a few ways which include:

  • Choosing a pronoun for themselves that will be entered into the campus information system.
  • Having the option to be referred to by name only if they do not want a pronoun used.
  • Selecting to change their first name, even if it’s not legally acknowledged.

Neutral Gender Embraced by University of Vermont

This system makes it easier for transgender or genderqueer students, saving them from possible embarrassment and confusion.  Vermont is a leader in validating a third gender, ahead of colleges across the U.S. facing concerns related to transitioning students.  These changes did not come without serious effort.  According to The New York Times, it took “nearly a decade of lobbying”, which included a task force of administrators, students and faculty.  Adding gender-neutral options to the information system cost approximately $80,0000 in staff labor.

Gender identity exists along a spectrum that includes a number of ways in which an individual may want to identify, not only male/female.  The existing contrast of the two genders more commonly acknowledged is so much a part of our society that even those who want to make the most profound changes are effectively trying to stretch out the definitions of “male” and “female”.

We might be used to using two gender labels to define ourselves, but an increasing number of people are open to the idea of including more than two options.  This is demonstrated on social media and dating sites such as Facebook and OkCupid.  Next to “female” and “male’, there’s now a tab that lets one choose “custom”.  Approximately 50 options are available, including “pangender”, “androgyne”, “agender”, and “trans person”.  Privacy settings can also be adjusted according to the user’s preference. Hopefully this will be the beginning of much overdue progress in the way of gender identity.

 

Real Reasons that Gay Parents are Amazing

Scientific evidence shows that children of gay parents are being raised very well. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced its approval of same sex marriage and said: “Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage.”

Benjamin Siegel, who co-authored the policy statement, said in a statement.  “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”  Here are some reasons that gay parents are doing an excellent job:

They intentionally have kids.

The frequent unplanned pregnancies are not in the mix with same-sex couples.  It’s not to say that anyone who doesn’t have a child in a planned way is doing a bad job.  But, when gay couples plan to have children they tend to be more attentive, passionate and motivated about raising their children.

They care for the neediest children.

Some of the neediest children up for adoption are saved by gay parents who look for them.  It has been found that 60 percent of lesbian and gay parents who adopt do so across races.  This makes it possible for minority children to get out of the system when it’s often so difficult for them to be wanted by those looking to adopt.  Gay parents also go for older children.  When kids are older than 3, it is much more difficult for them to be adopted.  A majority of those adopted are special needs children.

Real Reasons that Gay Parents are Amazing

They encourage tolerance.

Many who were raised by lesbian and gay parents say that they learned empathy and open-mindedness from their parents.  They were not taught to stereotype genders and felt that they were more accepting and tolerant of others because of their upbringing.

Their kids do well academically.

A review of research on same-sex parents and their kids from 2010 reported that GPAs were up to par with kids of heterosexual couples.  One study showed that boys of lesbian parents had a higher average GPA (2.9) compared to heterosexual parents (2.65).  Teen girls of lesbian moms scored (2.8) compared to those with heterosexual parents with an average (2.9) GPA.

They raise confident kids.

Being raised in an environment with gay or lesbian parents can bring about confidence in kids.  A study involving lesbian mothers with or without partners who intentionally had kids, not bringing them in to the family from a previous heterosexual relationship, showed that they raised more confident kids than heterosexual parents.  This is most likely because of more involvement in their children’s lives.

 

Misconceptions Every Transgender Ally Should Know

Understanding the difference between gay, lesbian, and transgender lives and experiences is crucial for being a positive ally and member of the community. In regards to trans men and women, there some common misconceptions about their everyday lives:

Getting a job as a transgender person is the same as getting a job as a gay person.
Just about all transgender people are outed during the vetting process. This might be because the person does not “pass” in some way or their background check might reveal their previous name. A Google search might do it. If you’re transgender, chances are you will eventually be outed during the process and it will most likely have a negative effect on your chances of getting an interview, much less hired.

It’s just like LGB dating.
No, it’s a unique experience. Violence is often a result of a trans person telling their story. Even when there isn’t violence, the experience can be humiliating. Also, transgender women often do not fit within the traditional ideas of beauty.  Many times men who find them attractive are acting on a fetish rather than an interest in them as individuals. Trans women who are attracted to women often have a more difficult time finding romantic partners than those attracted to men.

Geography is meaningless.
Depending on where you live, you can go from being a person protected on many levels, with full recognition and access to transgender specific health care, to a person who has human rights in name only. In some areas, you might as well be a member of an untouchable caste. Just because some people in your area seem to be doing okay, doesn’t mean that’s even near reality in other areas.

Career field doesn’t matter.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a career that is LGB friendly. Many have to keep their lives a secret, often when they know others are talking behind their back–like they’re an ‘elephant in the room’.

People know the difference between transgender and drag. The difference between the two is quite obvious to people who have been around either or both communities at all.  The fact that only about 9 percent of Americans know someone who is transgender means this difference escapes most people.

Race doesn’t matter when it comes to these issues.
Complete myth. Most LGBT people murdered in hate crimes are transgender women. Of that group, a vast majority are persons of color. It is important to include trans women of color when you’re having a discussion about the transgender community.

“No, stop. You’re hurting me,” means “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
When a non-trans person is behaving in a way that transgender women find offensive or painful, there’s this idea that they’re just “doing their thing” and that people should be quiet about it.  These actions are damaging.  Regardless of your intentions, your behavior needs to be modified.

“Transgender” has clear definitions.
There is a fair amount of debate over who fits under this umbrella term. Only some accept it.

One voice can speak for all.
This is untrue. Whether or not we are transgender, we all speak from our own truth and life experiences.