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Posted on Sep 2, 2014

Students at Mount Holyoke College show support for trans women inclusion

Students at Mount Holyoke College (MHC), a women's college in Massachusetts, are calling for full inclusion of transgender women as students at the school. While MHC has no official policy barring transgender women from being admitted, issues arise for trans women applicants whose legal identification documents do not reflect how they identify. Open Gates, a student organization at the college dedicated to transgender women's inclusion, lauded the recent statement from Mills College clarifying that all who self-identify as women are welcome to apply and be considered for admission.

MHC is located just 10 miles from Smith College, where the application of transgender woman Calliope Wong was denied consideration by the admissions department in 2013, simply because not all of Wong's official documents affirmed her gender identity. The student group Smith Q&A worked with GLAAD to bring attention to the Smith College's rejection of Wong, and highlight the need for an admissions policy supporting transgender women applicants. Despite Smith College's initial response to receiving more than 4,000 petition signatures calling for the equal treatment of trans women in admissions last year, students at the school gathered again in April to protest the lack of progress on this issue from the administration.

Members of MHC's Open Gates spoke to BuzzFeed, saying:

"Although there have not been any cases as public as Calliope Wong’s rejection from Smith College, we know that trans women have been similarly excluded from Mount Holyoke… We have hope for the future of MHC as a place where trans women can be members of the student body."

During Pangy Day, an MHC tradition and school holiday, Open Gates photographed students and community members who support the admission of trans women students at the college, seen in this post. See more photos from Pangy Day and learn about Open Gates at MHC here.

September 2, 2014
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Posted on Aug 29, 2014

California Assembly passes bill to ban use of “trans panic” and “gay panic” defenses

A new bill that would ban people from using the "trans panic" or "gay panic" defenses in court passed California's State Assembly, and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown. If Brown signs the bill, California will become the first state to enact such a law. The State Assembly approved the bill, AB 2501, on Wednesday, a day after it was approved by the State Senate.

According to the National LGBT Bar Association, "trans panic" and "gay panic" defenses "seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction." In 2013, the organization unanimously approved a resolution calling for an end to these defense arguments.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who introduced California's AB 2501, said in a statement from Equality California on Wednesday:

“There is absolutely no justification for the use of ‘panic defenses.’ Clearly this tactic has been utilized by defendants, unjustly targeting members of the LGBT community, based on damaging stereotypes. With AB 2501, we are moving forward to ensure equality in our courts and making it very clear that discrimination against the LGBT community is intolerable and unacceptable.”

Last year, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging “federal, tribal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defenses.”

September 2, 2014
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Posted on Aug 25, 2014

Petition launched to #FreeEisha, a trans woman of color arrested after she was attacked

A trans woman of color, Eisha Love, is currently facing attempted murder charges after she was attacked by two men outside a gas station on Chicago's West Side. According to a Change.org petition calling for Love's release from prison with over 2,000 signatures at this time, she was with a friend when two men began harassing them with slurs and epithets, and Love was struck in the face.

As Love and her friend rushed to escape the attack in their car, one of their attackers standing near the vehicle was permanently injured. Later, Love turned herself in for the injury and was charged with 1st degree attempted murder. If convicted, she faces 10 years in prison.

Love is not the first trans woman of color to face criminal charges after being attacked. Trans woman CeCe McDonald's story gained national attention when she was arrested and later sentenced for the death of her attacker, Dean Schmitz. McDonald was also targeted with slurs and epithets, and was bleeding from a drinking glass thrown at her face by one of her attackers before police arrived and arrested her at the scene. Many advocates have said that McDonald was "punished for surviving."

You can read more about Eisha's story and support her by signing and sharing this Change.org petition, and by using hashtag #FreeEisha on social media. 

August 25, 2014
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NC State Branding Bar