Transgender: Young person in autumn park on a skateboard

My Story, My Transformation As a Proud Trans Man

My name is J for all of you who don’t know me. I’m a transgender male, which means I was born as a female with the female anatomy, but transitioning into a male. Some of you might not know what a transgender is or why people change to become a transgender. It’s actually really important to know, even if you are not in the LGBTQ community yourself, because you will most likely come across someone who is.

Experts Say New Federal Rule Brings Hope for LGBTQ Youth in Custody

Given the high rate of torment suffered by LGBT youth in custody, activists applauded last week’s finalizing of a landmark law that took nine years to get from adoption to implementation. Last Monday, the federal Department of Justice finalized a set of guidelines under the Prison Rape Elimination Act that could help stem the risks of the already at-risk LGBT population that is incarcerated, including minors. “We were already working on this issue while PREA was being passed, but this raises awareness,” said Sarah Schriber, senior policy analyst with the Chicago-based Health and Medicine Policy Research group and community convener for the Illinois Court Involved LGBTQ Youth Task Force. According to Schriber, few juvenile detention center personnel even knew what the existing anti-harassment rules were. “A much harder part is making those policies meaningful on the ground,” she said.

A Transgender Man of Color Shares his Story

James Newton, 29, of Norcross, Ga., a suburban community near Atlanta, got a rude awakening into what it sometimes means to be a black man in America. Moments after officially getting his name changed from his female birth name at the county courthouse, he noticed a woman looking back at him in the parking lot. With every step he took toward his car, recalls Newton, the woman sped up, all the while frantically twisting her head in his direction. It took a moment for it to register, but he soon realized that she had incorrectly assumed that he was following her to her car. The incident, he says, in many ways marred an important milestone in his transgender transition into life as a male.

Tom Jacobs On Foster Care and LGBT Youth

It’s a good time to reflect on some troubling statistics concerning LGBTQ foster children and do something to make a difference. It is estimated that approximately 260,000 youth are in the foster care system in the United States at any given time, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 18 percent of children in foster care are LGBTQ youth. These youth are falling through the cracks and are more at risk of becoming runaways, homeless, suicidal and harassed by peers. According to the research conducted for the American Bar Association’s Opening Doors Project, judges and lawyers who work with youth in foster care acknowledge they don’t have the knowledge or resources to help LGBT foster kids.

Ty Cobb On Safe Schools for LGBT Youth

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth across America are facing a crisis in the juvenile justice system as a result of harmful discrimination in their homes, schools and communities. Recent studies demonstrate that continued harassment of LGBT youth in their schools place them at a higher risk for involvement with the system. LGBT youth are more likely to skip school to avoid victimization and in the process face truancy charges. Additionally, other LGBT students end up in the system on assault or disorderly conduct charges after they try to defend themselves against bullying by their classmates. In other instances, LGBT youth are disproportionately targeted by school officials for punishment, often referring them to juvenile court for conduct that is more appropriately handled in school.

The ABCs of LGBT

When my editor, John Fleming, informed me that I would be writing a series about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) young people in metro Atlanta and the issues they often face, honestly I did not know what to expect. At the least, I knew it would be interesting. Ultimately the very personal accounts shared by Brian, Amber and Connor were far more than that. I found their accounts to be engaging, enlightening and, quite frankly, educational. Interviewing these dynamic individuals really offered me some insight into the real challenges many people face just trying to express who they feel they are deep inside.

Brian Dixon

The Other Side of the Rainbow: Young, Gay and Homeless in Metro Atlanta

[“The Other Side of the Rainbow: Young, Gay and Homeless in Metro Atlanta” is part 1 of a 3 part series on LGBT issues. Bookmark this page for updates.]

In April 2008, Brian Dixon was 18-years-old and homeless. Being gay, he says, only exacerbated his predicament. After allegedly enduring years of mental and physical abuse, at age 14 Dixon left home to live with his grandparents. Within a year, they placed him in Georgia’s foster care system.

Two Teens Charged With Hate Crimes in McDonald’s Transgender Beating

A Maryland grand jury has handed down hate-crime charges in the beating of a transgender woman at a McDonald’s outside Baltimore. The April 24 incident has gotten national attention, in part because an employee shot a video of the incident and posted it online. From the Associated Press: 

Teonna Brown, 18, was indicted Monday on assault and hate crime charges in the attack on Chrissy Lee Polis at the restaurant last month. She is also charged with assaulting a customer and a McDonald’s employee who tried to intervene. A 14-year-old girl is facing the same charges in juvenile court.