Welcome back to OptOut’s LGBTQ+ Newsletter.
Last week, the LGBTQ+ community received devastating news that our beloved, Cecilia Gentili, an actress, activist, and author, passed away. Many queer and trans people, in New York City especially, considered Gentili as their chosen family, as their mother. I had the pleasure of being in her presence a few months ago, and though it was just the once, her energy, light, warmth, and goodness was contagious and continuous. As often happens with legends, her soul will outlive her physical body, and her impact, message, and purpose will be carried on through us all. TransLash Media has been compiling reactions and messages from the community in a digital tribute. May Cecilia’s memory be a blessing. May she rest in power.
With that, let’s get to it.
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The New York Times
On February 2nd, The New York Times published one of their longest op-eds to date: a piece by Pamela Paul. If you’ve been reading my newsletters, are chronically on X (formally Twitter), or follow the NYT, then you’re likely familiar with Paul’s name. She has penned numerous anti-trans articles for The Times, and her latest is not dissimilar to those previous. Like her other pieces, this new one is filled with disinformation, including the dated and false “statistic” that 80% of trans youth regret transitioning. What’s alarming is not just that Paul wrote the piece, but that the NYT published it.
Adhering to basic journalistic standards would mean that statistics and sources cited in an article are up-to-date and factually accurate. But in this recent article of Paul’s, that is not the case. And her record of spouting inaccuracies goes beyond trans rights, extending into other areas of public health as well, including COVID-19 mitigation measures.
What’s more, the Republican lawmakers and right-wing activists frequently uses articles like Paul’s latest anti-trans piece to uphold their own anti-trans crusade. There’s no both-sides when it comes to trans existence. Media must stop treating the anti-trans movement as anything more than a focused effort to destabilize and destroy our community.
Journalist Erin Reed and one of OptOut’s own, Evan Urquhart from Assigned Media, wrote several thorough and poised responses to Paul. You can read their joint response here, as well as Paul’s initial response to them. Reed was also in conversation with the folks over at The Majority Report, discussing Paul’s abhorrent reporting.
More of the Latest
🏳️🌈 While the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) purports to protect kids against harmful content about eating disorders or suicide, it also poses a problem for LGBTQ+ kids, who might be shielded from affirming content online. (The New Republic)
🏳️🌈 A crucial and timely piece by YES! Magazine speaks to the falsities and harm perpetuated by queer pink-washing in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Here’s a snippet:
Pinkwashing has long been part of Israel’s international strategy, according to Sarah Schulman, who popularized the term in a 2011 op-ed for The New York Times and authored the book Israel/Palestine and the Queer International. In the early 2000s, the Israeli government launched its ‘Brand Israel’ campaign—intended to literally brand Israel as modern and progressive to global audiences. By 2010, that strategy included marketing Tel Aviv as an epicenter of gay life and tourism. "They were, very brilliantly, making the claim that gay rights was a symbol of modernity," Schulman says. "So that if you had any kind of gay rights, you were considered advanced."
The other side of Israel’s pinkwashing often portrays Palestinians as homophobic and transphobic, says [Yaffa A.S.]. ‘All this reinforces white supremacist imperialist notions that have been used for hundreds of years to justify genocide and occupation to ‘save’ Black and Brown people from ourselves.’”
Prism provides additional coverage on the subject.
🏳️🌈 A bill in Iowa would mandate “sex reassignment” disclosure on birth certificates and driver’s licenses. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)
🏳️🌈 Gender-affirming care bans have long been posed as efforts to “save the children.” Recent audio recordings from Republicans remind us that that’s far from the truth. (The New Republic, New Hampshire Bulletin).
🏳️🌈 The Abbey, a notorious LGBTQ+ bar in West Hollywood, is the subject of numerous allegations and less-than-thorough investigations. Many patrons have stepped forward, detailing experiences of being given drugged drinks by bartenders; some of those patrons were sexually assaulted. (KnockLA)
🏳️🌈 Maine wants to become a refugee state for trans kids, but the move has not been without stirred up controversy as anti-trans pundits spread disinformation. (The Humanist Report)
🏳️🌈 Washington Senate Majority Leader Andy Bilig introduced and passed Senate Bill 5917 earlier this month, which “would expand Washington’s hate crime law to apply to public property.” This move was sparked after several LGBTQ+ spaces, including a rainbow crosswalk were vandalized in Spokane earlier this year. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)
🏳️🌈 The Michigan legislature is considering a bill that would make it easier for trans folks to change their names and gender markers on legal documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates. (Michigan Advance)
🏳️🌈 From The Buckeye Flame:
🏳️🌈 Art teacher and woodblock print maker Klaire Smith is bringing power and positivity to LGBTQ+ identities in Ohio.
🏳️🌈 In Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the Dobama Theatre is centering LGBTQ+ stories, providing queer and trans Ohioans with crucial on-stage representation.
🏳️🌈 An LGBTQ+ rally in Utah, aimed at opposing anti-trans bill HB257 demonstrates the positivity and joy queer and trans people harbor and utilize, even when facing rigorous efforts to take those characteristics away. (Unicorn Riot)
🏳️🌈 In CT, people are protesting against Enfield’s removal of LGBTQ+ flags from the town hall during Pride Month in June. (The Connecticut Mirror)
🏳️🌈 In a clear rebuttal to the idea that “classical music is dying,” queer classical musicians are making a name for themselves. (The Nation)
Thank you for being here, and thank you for your diligent, informed, and independent news consumption. Remember to hold each other. I’ll see you in two weeks.
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