Black Trans Woman Assaulted by Guard in DC Restroom, Proving Bathroom Bill Fight Is Far from Over

feature image photo credit: Jackie Bensen/NBC Washington

Ebony Belcher, a Black trans woman, just needed to use the restroom at her local Giant grocery store in Washington DC, but a security guard followed her in, told her to get out, “grabbed her and pushed her out of the store.” Belcher said the guard told her “You guys cannot keep coming in here and using our women’s restroom. They did not pass the law yet.” Belcher called the police after leaving the grocery store, and the security guard was arrested for assault.

Ebony Belcher

Ebony Belcher

Although thankfully it doesn’t seem that Belcher was subject to arrest or serious injury, her experience helps highlight the danger of these bills, and how that danger persists in a way that’s disconnected from legal realities — although the DoJ has spoken out against this bill and it likely won’t remain on the books in the long term, that didn’t protect Belcher in the moment. Individual law enforcement officers — or even private citizens! Like we’ve seen with cis men taking it upon themselves to go into women’s restrooms to “protect” them in recent weeks — don’t necessarily fully understand what the law actually means, and they don’t always care to, so for lawmakers and politicians to repeatedly conflate trans women with sexual predation and to imply that they’re men creates a threat for this vulnerable population that the federal government can’t easily undo, no matter what the constitutionality of HB2 is decided to be.

Other Bathroom Bill News

+ How different states have been responding to the DoJ’s assertion that schools need to provide equal facilities access to trans kids or lose federal funding. Many of them are not pleased!

+ On how HB2 and other bathroom bills highlight the need for criminal justice reform and how dangerously trans bodies are criminalized by the state.

+ On the history of gender-segregated bathrooms.

+ The connections between bathroom bills, Title IX, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Election

+ Quite the week in convention news! As best as I can understand it, here’s essentially what happened: the committee that evaluates delegate eligibility for the Nevada convention ruled that 60 of Bernie’s delegates weren’t eligible. The delegates in question weren’t going to swing the nomination toward Bernie, but his camp is hoping to keep every delegate they can get to give them more power in shaping the party’s platform. Bernie supporters say that in addition to this setback, the convention chose a voting methodology that disadvantaged their candidate and “refused to consider motions, petitions, and amendments offered up by his supporters.” In response to these developments, video from the convention seems to show at least one physical altercation, although the details of it are unclear; shots can be heard calling Nevada Democratic Chairwoman Roberta Lange a “bitch,” and voicemails and text messages that Lange received range from further name-calling to death threats, and even threats against her kids and family, as well as posting her address and contact information on social media. The Nevada Democratic Party has filed a complaint against Sanders, saying that he incited “actual violence” amongst his supporters — in his statements following the convention, he condemned the use of violence but reiterated that he agreed with the concerns of his supporters. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also demanded an apology, with Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver refusing, and both of them using appropriated AAVE incorrectly to such a degree that I can’t repeat it here because thinking about it is giving me a migraine.

+ Ezekiel Kweku on Trump at the California GOP Convention.

The ethos of Trump’s campaign is capitalism. I don’t mean that Trump takes from capitalism confidence in free markets or neoclassical economics. Rather, he takes on the capitalist’s ideological flexibility and monomaniacal focus on the bottom line. Trump approaches ideas like an entrepreneur approaches products: He’s not particularly picky about what he’s selling. If one idea doesn’t sell, he’ll drop it and sell something else. And if it does sell, he will keep selling it, no matter who tells him he can’t.

+ Surprise! Trump’s statements about what rights trans people deserve have been totally contradictory.

Law & Order

+ The Oklahoma Senate has passed a bill that would suspend medical licenses of doctors who perform abortions in addition to making it a felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison, and another bill that requires the State Department of Health to “develop informational material on achieving an abortion-free society,” but no funding was approved for it, so. Anyhow, back to the first item, what??? I’m interested in how that holds up in appeals courts! (Although many Oklahomans and medical professionals will be harmed during the time it takes it to go through the appeals process, so it’s not like that’s a great fix.) Although anything could have happened by the time this news fix is published, as of right now the commenters on this news story are appropriately outraged, so at least that’s nice.

+ In exciting news regarding voter ID laws, a federal judge has ruled that Kansas can’t force people to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

+ Wisconsin has been embroiled in lots of debate and heartbreak over its public education, with governor and former Presidential candidate Scott Walker wanting to cut hundreds of millions from university funding as well as essentially putting the state government and/or cronies chosen by the governor in charge of education curriculum and policy. Anyhow, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that a 2011 Republican law that gave legislators and the governor increased control over education policy is unconstitutional.

+ President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico is submitting a proposal to Congress that would legalize same-sex marriage in his country. The bill, if passed, would expand on an earlier ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court that it’s unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage, and officially legalize it in the affirmative.

30108135. México, D.F.- El presidente Enrique Peña Nieto, encabezó la clausura de los trabajos de la XXIV Reunión de Embajadores y Cónsules, este día en Palacio Nacional. NOTIMEX/FOTO/JOSÉ PAZOS/JPF/POL/

President Enrique Peña Nieto/NOTIMEX/FOTO/JOSÉ PAZOS/JPF/POL/

+ An interesting legal subject I didn’t know much about: in a case that crosses international borders, a lesbian in Australia is suing the estate of her father in British Columbia in Canada, saying that the only reason she wasn’t included in her late father’s will is because of her sexual orientation and arguing that the will should be changed. There’s legal precedent for this in British Columbia; “In 2006 the B.C. Supreme Court corrected the will of a man who didn’t approve of homosexuals and left one of his sons, a homosexual, a fraction of what his brother inherited. ‘Homosexuality is not a factor in today’s society for justifying a judicious parent disinheriting or limiting benefits to his child,’ the court found.”

+ Sadly not all that surprisingly, the middle and high schools of Bolivar County in Cleveland, Mississippi are essentially still racially segregated, with two high schools on literal opposite sides of railroad tracks, one with a black student body and one with white students. Now a federal court is like, hey guys, come on now. You need to fix that.

+ Oh come ON. Anticipating a lack of enthusiasm about a bill that tries to limit the EPA’s power, Republicans just went ahead and renamed it to sound like it’s about the Zika virus. It has nothing to do with Zika. For the love of all that’s holy! Both shameless and very very dumb.

+ South Carolina has become the 17th state to ban abortion after 19 weeks.

+ ThinkProgress thinks that a recent SCOTUS ruling about loan repayment actually benefits vulnerable LGBT populations in its potential legal interpretation.

+ 170,000 undocumented children are now eligible to enroll in healthcare in California.

+ A district judge who argued in his ruling on a trans workplace discrimination case that trans people shouldn’t have to bear the burden of proof and explanation about trans identities before they’re worthy of legal protection, much like how we don’t require a person of religious faith to prove their true dedication to a religion before they’re deserving of religious freedom protections.

Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only “converts.” That would be a clear case of discrimination “because of religion.” No court would take seriously the notion that “converts” are not covered by the statute. Discrimination “because of religion” easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion. But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faces discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman, courts have traditionally carved such persons out of the statute by concluding that “transsexuality” is unprotected by Title VII. In other words, courts have allowed their focus on the label “transsexual” to blind them to the statutory language itself.

Police/Prison

+ Even though a law was passed in Massachusetts two years ago banning the practice of shackling pregnant inmates, prisons are still doing it!

+ Michael Brown Jr.’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, in an interview with Colorlines.

When these things happen, it enrages lots of people and everybody is looking and wondering and asking, “What can I do? What should we do?” If you’re not a family member, the first thing they should do before you take action into your own hands is reach out to the family. Have a conversation with that mother or father or both and try to help them with what they would like to do because that is their loved one.

LEZLEY-620x330

Lezley McSpadden

+ In his continuing bid to regain any modicum of respect or support from Chicagoans, especially after the repression of information about Laquan McDonald’s shooting death by police was revealed, Rahm Emanuel has announced he will disband the Independent Police Review Authority , which only upheld 2% of claims against officers, and replace it with a Civilian Police Investigation Agency made up of Chicago residents. Not that this means all problems with policing oversight in Chicago will be solved overnight:

Lori Lightfoot, who led the task force investigation, told the Chicago Tribune that while Emanuel’s announcement is an important step, “the devil will be in the details. How it will be different [from IPRA] is a fundamentally important question.”

Grab Bag

+ Eric Fanning has been confirmed as the first openly gay Army secretary of the US.

+ Three Orthodox Jewish men, members of the Shomrim volunteer Jewish security patrol in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will likely not serve time after a plea deal relating to the beating of Taj Patterson, a gay Black man who says the men shouted anti-gay slurs before assaulting him.

+ Gay and bisexual men in southern urban areas are at an especially high risk for HIV, according to a new study that finds that diagnoses of the AIDS virus in those areas are three times the national rate.

+ Protesters engaged in a direct action at the United Methodist Church 2016 General Conference this week, tying their hands and feet together with rainbow ribbons to communicate “their disapproval of the denomination’s lack of acceptance regarding human sexuality.”

+ On the challenging proposition for US companies that do global business when it comes to protecting their gay employees when working with countries where gay people aren’t safe, without alienating those nations (and their potential business).

+ The Library of Congress has stopped using the term “illegal alien,” arguing that it’s demeaning, and Republicans want it reinstated super bad.

+ On increased pressure around marriage equality in Japan from the international community as the Olympics approach.


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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 1016 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. If you happen to stalk or just notice me in the comments I harp about history, the importance of knowing it and what happens when people don’t it, or only know some abridged version from primary school plenty.
    Please I’m begging ya who ever you are out there read that piece on the History of Gender-Segregated Bathrooms, it’s important.
    It’s important because Victorian ideals; the concept of the domestic sphere, views on race and class, and the impact industrialisation had on Western society still impacts us. Not only us in the present day but how people view history and therefore what they believe to be the natural order throughout time.

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