Florida Congresswoman shares her support for her transgender son

Human Rights Campaign

November 19, 2014 by Hayley Miller, Digital Media Associate

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.. (Handout via Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.. (Handout via Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)

In an interview earlier this week, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s shared her support for her transgender son.  Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) told WFOR, “As parents, we wanted to make sure that Rigo understood that we’re totally fine with it and that we wanted to make sure that he was safe.”

Rodrigo, 28, also sat down with his mother for his first television interview.

“I think coming out as transgender is really about coming out as your authentic self, coming out as the person you always knew you were but no one else may have known,” he told WFOR. “And now you are sharing that honesty with other people for the first time.”

Ros-Lehtinen is not only an LGBT advocate for her family, but for her constituents as well. She received a 100 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress.

Coming out — whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or allied — is a deeply personal journey. As a parent of an openly trans child, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has embraced this journey and is sharing her lesson with others.

“Love your child because that person is your child whether it’s the person you wanted him or her to be or not,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “That’s my advice to parents, never, never reject your child. That’s unconditional love no matter what.”

Whether it’s for the first time ever or the first time today, the experience of coming out and living openly covers the full spectrum of human emotion — from fear to euphoria. Learn more at HRC’s Coming Out Center.

WATCH: Trans FDNY Firefighter speaks on msnbc.com

WATCH: Brooke Guinan, Trans FDNY Firefighter, Gets Real About Employment Discrimination

In a recent interview with MSNBC, the face of V.O.I.C.E.’s viral ‘So Trans, So What?’ campaign discusses trans people’s external and internal barriers to getting jobs.

BY Mitch Kellaway

November 01 2014 1:36 PM ET

FDNY firefighter Brooke Guinan

After a poster of her standing proudly in a t-shirt reading “So Trans, So What?” went viral, transgender New York firefighter Brooke Guinan has quickly become an articulate commentator about the employment barriers trans people face.

In an MSNBC interview on Friday, the 27-year-old advocate spoke with The Reid Report‘s Joy-Ann Reid not only about the staggering rates of unemployment among the U.S. trans population, but of the particular barriers LGBT people face when considering “traditionally straight, male field[s]” like firefighting.

“Finding a sense of stability in your life as a trans person — as a trans woman — is often very difficult with a lot of the stigmas that you face in society,” she explains in the video below. “That certainly wasn’t lessened any by working in a male-dominated environment.”

Guinan went on to point out that women make up “barely half of one percent” of New York’s 10,200-strong firefighting force, saying, “I think that has less to do with women and their ability to do this job, and it has more to do with society’s attitude [toward] firefighters and who should be firefighters.”

“That’s intimidating to a lot of women and a lot of LGBTQ-identified people,” Guinan continued. “So I think a lot of times you discount yourself from things simply because the world around you gives off this impression you internalize that says, ‘I can’t do that.’”

Watch the video below to learn more about  and how “role model for my life” Laverne Cox has influenced Guinan’s thoughts on trans equality, and why now is the time to have these conversations.

In the Galleries: A.B. Miner

In the Galleries: A.B. Miner

Miner, a gay trans man, deals with diverse masculinities in his art. Topics range from bodily shame to back hair portraits to a comparative study of animal penises.

BY Christopher Harrity

November 14 2014 5:00 AM ET

A.B. Miner’s paintings and drawings take things that are usually hidden from public view and make them  “bring to light.” Some of the works now at Gallery Kayafas employ self-portraiture to spark dialogue over the gendered body. The self-portraits are intimate in scale and content, they are conceptually and emotionally charged, and they expose vulnerability by revealing what he (and many people) hide from the outside world — inner turmoil and body irregularities.

Miner, a trans man, is frustrated with contemporary Western society’s binary views of gender based on “average” male and “average” female bodies, leading him to research how masculinity manifests in other species. Before his move to Boston, Miner discovered and photographed an undocumented, offsite collection of the National Museum of Natural History, simply labeled “Smithsonian Institution Penis Collection.” Two series evolved from Miner’s research in these natural history museum collections.

Miner is now the assistant curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

A.B. Miner: “Bringing to Light” Gallery Kayafas Through November 29, 2014 450 Harrison Avenue #37 Boston, MA 02118



Downs and Up diptych, panels 8″ h x 16″ w, oil on gessobord, 2013


His (2), 20″ h x 16″ w, oil on gessobord, 2014


Singing Silence (Mystery I – IV), oil on linen on wood, 8.5″ w x 11″ h, 2014 (frames with translucent plexi are part of work)


What It’s Like to Be Transgender in Cuba

The Photo Blog
May 28 2014 11:47 AM
        By David Rosenberg
Two Women at the Las Vegas Club
Laura and Lady at the Las Vegas Club, Havana, Cuba.

Mariette Pathy Allen

This post contains nudity.

Mariette Pathy Allen has been an advocate and documentarian of the transgender community for more than 35 years. While much of her work has focused on the United States, in 2012, Allen traveled to Cuba with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health for a symposium about transgender identity and culture organized by Mariela Castro Espin, director of the Cuban National Center of Sex Education in Havana, and the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro.

“I had a rare privilege of going wherever they were going, just visiting and wandering” Allen said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever walked so much in my life! It was wonderful.”

Malu with her parents and sister, in front of their home
Malu with her parents and sister, in front of their home.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Laura at home, Havana
Laura at home, Havana.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Charito at home with one-week-old piglet, Camagüey.


Allen brought along her camera during their adventures and said at the time she wasn’t thinking about turning the work into a bigger project. But later that year she went to Fotofest in Houston where she showed the work and was energized by a lot of positive feedback. She was selected as one of the Discoveries of the Meeting Place at the festival, and Michael Itkoff of Daylight Books proposed that she return to Cuba to create more work and publish a book.

Inspired and also pressed for a scheduled 2014 publishing date, Allen made three trips to Cuba in 2013. She spent time with the friends she had made on her first trip and was introduced to more people in the trans community both in Havana and elsewhere, thus giving the title of the book, TransCuba, a dual meaning.

Allen was struck by the extreme poverty in which many of the people she met lived. She said that although Castro Espin has been a champion of the transgender community, and that trans people may now legally change their gender, they are still discriminated against in the workforce, and many end up working as prostitutes.

“You can kind of measure how a country is changing by the way the people who are sexual and gender minorities are treated,” Allen said. “They’ve never had a champion like Castro before and she has been working nonstop to improve their lives.”

Sissi, hairdresser, with her niece, Cienfuegos
Sissi, hairdresser, with her niece, Cienfuegos.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Paloma with her boyfriend at Mi Cayito beach, near Havana
Paloma with her boyfriend at Mi Cayito beach, near Havana.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Alsola, Santiago de Cuba
Alsola, Santiago de Cuba.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Throughout her trips, Allen for the most part hung out with her friends both in their homes and on the beach, met their families and went out with them at night.

“I found it very easy to develop a rapport with them,” she said. “They knew right away I was on their side.”

She also decided to interview the people she photographed and included the transcripts in TransCuba in both English and Spanish.

“I always feel it’s only fair and right and interesting to give a voice to the people I photograph,” she said.

Drying eyelashes, backstage at the National Theater, Havana.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Erika at home, Cienfuegos
Erika at home, Cienfuegos.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Nomi and Miguel, partners, watching television at Malu’s apartment, Havana
Nomi and Miguel, partners, watching television at Malu’s apartment, Havana.


Transgender Day of Remembrance

Human Rights Campaign



Commemorating TDOR in Alabama

November 12, 2014 by HRC staff


Post submitted by HRC Alabama Field Organizer Tori Sisson 

On November 20, HRC will honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals — and those perceived to be transgender — who have been murdered because of hate. In the lead-up, HRC is proud to present a blog series featuring a few of the many powerful voices of the trans community.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is November 20 each year. The purpose of this day is to pay homage to and share memories of those who have been killed as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the acts of violence and aggression suffered by the transgender community.

Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans woman who is a graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, founded the Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1998.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bias and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.

This year, I am not only a participant of TDOR, but I am part of the planning process. At HRC Alabama, we will work for all members of the LGBT community. Our lives are important. We matter.

We will not stop until equality is reached for everyone, everywhere

To find an event near you, visit www.hrc.org/tdor 

Must Watch: An 8-Year-Old’s Powerful Rap About Being Transgender

Watch: An 8-Year-Old’s Powerful Rap About Being Transgender

by         77 Reactions 1.7K Shares




Coming out as transgender is not easy — especially when you’re still in elementary school. But one boy is hoping his experience will make the process easier for others. During his Summer stay at Camp Aranu’tiq, a camp for transgender and gender-variant youth, 8-year-old Alex shared his coming-out story in the form of a rap. Standing tall and smiling for his audience, Alex recounted the day when he told his mother that he identified as a boy and not a girl. He was worried that his mother would be sad, but when he saw her smile, he knew everything would be OK. But more important than Alex’s personal story was his message of spreading respect, acceptance, and love to everyone. Watch his heartwarming performance above, and try not to shed a tear.


“So I had a little story I’d like to share / about something I went through that might seem pretty weird / Please try and imagine if this was you / or you might have something that you can relate it to / So I was just a little kid about 7 or 8 / and I had something to say that could no longer wait / So I went to my mom that hot day in July / with a hope in my heart and a tear in my eye / Basically I said this girl is your son / and I’ve always felt this way and it hasn’t been fun / We sat there together for a little while / I thought she was sad but then I saw her smile / She told me I was brave and that she was so proud / that I came to her so she could help me sort things out. My family and friends / were also on board / and the support that I got / just had me floored / And from that day on / I started my path / and we worked together / and even faced some wrath / Together we can weather / whatever this life brings / and we’ll continue to love / and I’ll continue to sing / And I know that there are other kids / who feel like I do / and I truly understand / what they are going through / Thank you all for sitting here / and taking the time / to let me tell my message / in the form of a rhyme / Please treat everyone / the way you expect / we all deserve freedom, love and respect”

Isabella Santiago, Transgender Beauty Contestant, Crowned Miss International Queen 2014

Isabella Santiago, Transgender Beauty Contestant, Crowned Miss International Queen 2014

                                                 The Huffington Post  | By 

                   Posted:    Updated: 

Miss International Queen, an annual pageant in Thailand that provides a platform for transgender women to compete for a title has declared a new winner — and she is absolutely stunning.

The event took place last Friday night, bringing together transgender women from across the globe. Isabella Santiago, 22, of Venezuela reportedly beat out 21 other contestants from 18 countries for a prize of $12,500 and the option of free cosmetic surgery.

This competition was also Santiago’s first public coming out as a transgender woman, reportedly telling Reuters TV, “You know what, this is life and you can’t run away from the past. I can’t hide it anymore.”

trans beauties

According to the pageant’s Facebook page, Miss International Queen “is the world’s most prestigious and largest beauty pageant for international transgender [individuals] and transvestites.”

Congrats to these women. However, despite claims by Miss Universe  Gabriela Isler that transgender individuals should have their own pageant, we can’t wait for the day that these beautiful women compete in competitions alongside those who were assigned female at birth.

Miss International Queen 2014

Reuters / Corbis

A Malaysian appeals court overturned a ban on men and trans women wearing women’s clothing

Malaysian Judge Strikes Antitrans Ban on Gender Expression

BY Thom Senzee

November 10 2014 2:53 PM ET

A Malaysian appeals court has handed a trio of transgender women a victory by overturning a law that banned them from wearing women’s clothes. Delivering his decision, Judge Mohamad Yunus called the law “degrading, oppressive, and inhumane,” reports the BBC.

Malaysia’s population is 61 percent Muslim, and men there are subject to a form of Sharia Law that has been categorized as “moderate.” Yet the law had prohibited cisgender men and transgender women from wearing anything remotely resembling women’s attire — even hair clips — until now.

“This is a win for all Malaysians, as the constitution protects us all, irrespective of ethnicity, gender and class,” Ivy Josiah of the Women’s Aid Organization told Reuters. “Surely no court, civil or Sharia, can refute the fact that human dignity is paramount.”

The law had provided jail time for the offense of “cross dressing.”

“Now the transgender community knows they have their rights to challenge the law and not just plead guilty to charges,” Nisha Ayub of Justice for Sisters, an LGBT-advocacy organization, told Reuters.

The three women involved in the case were arrested by so-called Islamic officers four years ago for “cross-dressing.”

While Malaysia’s Constitution officially guarantees the right to express both religion and gender without discrimination, challenges to the strict enforcement of Sharia Law contrary to those guarantees have, until Friday’s decision, been unsuccessful.

The court’s finding that the ban on transgender women or men wearing women’s clothing is likely to spur other challenges to Sharia, reports the BBC. However, the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan is expected to appeal the judge’s decision. For now, the decision to overturn the law stands — but only in that state.

Human Rights Watch, which recently labeled Malaysia one of the worst places to be transgender in a 100-page report, called the appeals court’s decision a “strong” one.

“The court’s rejection of the ban on cross-dressing was a strong affirmation of the rights of transgender people in Malaysia,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “By upholding the constitution over a discriminatory state law, the court is saying all Malaysians can express themselves as the people they want to be.”

According to Reuters, the case may provide encouragement to an appellant in another case. Political aspirant Anwar Ibraham is currently challenging a five-year sentence he received for a sodomy conviction.

WATCH: Honoring Trans Military Members This Veterans Day

WATCH: Honoring Trans Military Members This Veterans Day

The TransMilitary documentary team reminds us that the lives of all U.S. veterans are valuable. Why, then, force trans service members to continue serving in silence?

BY Mitch Kellaway

November 11 2014 3:36 PM ET

Landon Wilson

U.S. Navy veteran Landon Wilson is among the 134,000 military veterans the U.S. commemorates today. But even as the country pauses to reflect on the work and sacrifice of its service members, it remains clear that all veterans cannot be equal until all active members of the military are equal, as well.

Under an ongoing ban on open military service by transgender Americans — that was not impacted by 2011 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — nearly 15,500 trans service members are still unable to be out about their gender identities, pursue any aspect of transition, or seek medically necessary health care, according to the University of California at Los Angeles’ Williams Institute.

If these men and women reveal their trans identities — or if, like Wilson, a mismatch in their gender markers on military paperwork is discovered — they can be discharged. This remains the case despite research, such as a recent landmark study from the Palm Center, that has increasingly concluded that there is “no compelling medical rationale” to continue disqualifying trans American from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

The video below, produced by the team of TransMilitary, a documentary centered around the lives of trans service members in the U.S. and U.K., succinctly raises awareness of of the ban while still saluting those who continue to serve in silence.

“This Veterans Day, I pause to honor all the men and women who made it possible for me to wear the uniform,” Wilson declares. “But if it were up to me, I would still be wearing it today.”

Bangladeshi Hijras Show Their Pride

One year after the Bangladesh government formally recognized a third gender, the nation’s hijras celebrated with their first-ever Pride parade.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

November 10 2014 5:44 PM ET

It’s been a year since the south Asian nation of Bangladesh formally recognized a third gender, giving unprecedented visibility for individuals known locally as hijra.

More than 1,000 people took to the streets of Dhaka on Monday to participate in the country’s first Pride march, reports U.K. LGBT outlet PinkNews. Participants wore bright, colorful saris and reportedly marched through the streets carrying signs, one of which read “The days of stigma, discrimination, and fear are over.” The day’s festivities also included a talent show

While typically understood in Western cultures to broadly equate with transgender women, hijra may also identify as intersex or nonbinary, embracing local comprehension of gender identity that differs vastly from European conceptions. Hijra is generally understood to be a feminine gender identity.

A 25-year-old hijra named Sonali told Agence France Presse that she never imagined a day where she would see such a rally.

“We are stigmatized everywhere,” Sonali explained to AFP. “We are discriminated against. We are laughed at just because we do not feel like a man or a woman. But today is different. We feel like we’re normal human beings.”

The predominantly Muslim nation of roughly 156 million contains somewhere between 15,000 and half a million hijra, according to government statistics and activist estimates collected by AFP. Last November, the government began recognizing hijra as third gender, giving the individuals access to official, state-recognized documentation that accurately reflects an individual’s identity.

See a sampling of photos from the first-of-its-kind event in Bangladesh below.

A Bangladeshi hijra holds a national flag as she dances during a rally to mark the first ever nationwide program to observe ‘Hijra Day’ in Dhaka on November 10.

Preparations include the application of dazzling make-up prior to the events.

A Bangladeshi transgender woman applies a henna mehndi on a woman’s hand as a part of the first ever nationwide program to observe Hijra Day.

A Bangladeshi hijra holds a national flag during a rally in Dhaka to mark the first ever nationwide Hijra Day.