Transgender Model To Caitlyn Jenner: ‘We Do Not Need You To Save Us’

Transgender model Isis King tweeted a blunt open letter to Caitlyn Jenner on Friday after the reality star criticized the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that protected transgender students in public schools.

King, the first openly transgender contestant to compete on “America’s Next Top Model,” calls out Jenner in the letter, referencing an incident at the TransNation Queen USA Pageant in October in which Jenner allegedly ignored King’s presence, then cut in front of her to take an empty elevator for herself and her team.

“I could not believe that this happened to me and immediately felt as if I had just been asked to move to the back of the bus,” King writes in the letter. “It was as if I was not good enough, not worthy enough, not rich enough, not famous enough to ride with these three white women. … The amount of privilege that was thrown in my face made me feel so uncomfortable.” 

King seemed to suggest that the insult represents a larger issue in the trans community when it comes to power, privilege and visibility: “I have, like so many women of color, helped blazed [sic] trails for our sisters, brothers and siblings, and I have seen how you treated me. We do not need you to save us.”

On Thursday, Jenner tweeted a video message directed at President Donald Trump “from one Republican to another,” calling Trump’s blow to the rights of trans students a “disaster” and telling the president “we’ll see you in court.”

The video was met with harsh criticism from parts of the LGBTQ community. Jenner was an outspoken supporter of Trump during the 2016 election ― even attending his inauguration.

James Michael Nichols is a queer writer and cultural critic whose work focuses heavily on the intersections of identity, art and politics. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Syrian cinamatographer can’t enter US for Academy Awards

The first responders risked their lives to help Syrian people during the civil war, often being targetted by Bashar Assad. White Helmets

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. immigration authorities are barring entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on a harrowing film about his nation’s civil war, “The White Helmets,” that has been nominated for an Academy Award.

According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after U.S. officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb.

Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, said, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.”

“The White Helmets,” a 40-minute Netflix documentary, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. If the film wins the Oscar, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography; Franklin Dow is the film’s director of photography.

The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war. Many of the group’s members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air forces. The group also was nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“The White Helmets” includes emblematic scenes of the deadly 6-year-old conflict: people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of “double tap” attacks that target first responders after they’ve arrived at the scene of a strike.

Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony with Hollywood’s biggest stars. But Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal U.S. government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country.

The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver. There was no explanation in the correspondence for why Turkey detained Khateeb.

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Years & Years’ Olly Alexander has opened up about finding his sexuality

Olly Alexander for the band Years & Years had revealed that during high school he fooled around with a classmate who was straight.

The singer spoke about the relationship he had at 14 on a panel at the Student Pride event in London.

He opened up about finding his feet with his sexuality, and how he experimented to learn because school sex education left him “clueless” as a teenager.

Speaking on the Sex Education panel with transgender activist Paris Lees and National AIDS Trust representative Deborah Gold, the gay pop star said he wasn’t given proper sex education and that led to abusive relationships.

Alexander said: “I fell in love with a guy who was a year above me at school. He was straight. I think a lot of straight guys experiment at school, I don’t think it means anything.

“I thought he was in love with me too… but it turns out nothing came of it. We used to fool around at 14 or 15.”

“I had a few experiences with older guys I realise now that I was taken advantage of. I was desperate for the attention, the relationship. I was desperate for education,” he added.

He went on to credit the programme Queer As Folk for it’s role in teaching him about sex, which he knew nothing about before beginning to experiment.

“Gay people didn’t exist in our sex education. I had no idea how men even had sex with men. The first time I saw it was on Queer As Folk, and when a guy spat into the hand I couldn’t believe it. It just wasn’t spoken about. It was hidden away. You could only guess just by talking with friends.”

The star also spoke about his anxiety surrounding HIV, and said that it deterred him from having a positive view about relationships.

“I had a huge anxiety about getting HIV. I don’t know where that came from, I just didn’t have a positive relationship about sex for a long time,” Alexander said.

Profiles in Cowardice: Betsy DeVos

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

One thing I often hear liberals say about Republicans is that, no matter what, they stand up for what they believe in, unlike those feckless Democrats who have no spine.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans rarely show the courage of their convictions. Instead, they look for the nearest authoritarian leader and fall in line, because that’s how they believe the world should work.

Take Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week. Several anonymous Republican sources attempted to put on one of the oldest plays in DC theater, an act known as “One Principled Official Secretly Stood Up for the Right Thing.” DeVos is in particular need of the good press this play can generate after she was almost refused confirmation by the Senate because of her overwhelming lack of qualifications for the job.

This number is performed by anonymous sources. In this case, these sources were identified as Republican and they went to the New York Times and the Washington Post to say that DeVos opposed Donald Trump‘s rollback of transgender rights, but that she ultimately relented under pressure from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This story, in and of itself, doesn’t make DeVos seem like a great person. She could have publicly defied Trump and forced him to either drop the rollback of transgender rights or fire her. She also could have resigned in protest. It’s not like the billionaire heiress needs this job to put food on the table.

Instead, she put a job she doesn’t need and loyalty to a transphobic reality TV star ahead of the safety and equality of transgender students all over America.

A real profile in courage there, and that’s the best reading of this story.

Then, as usual, the Trump Administration’s lack of message discipline meant that it contradicted the series of events that it was trying to make the usually gullible media believe. Press secretary Sean Spicer, when asked, said that DeVos was “100%” in agreement with the move.

This is similar to events from last week when Supreme Court-nominee Neil Gorsuch was quietly saying that he disagreed with Trump’s criticisms of the judiciary in an attempt to provide cover for conservative Democrats to vote to confirm him. As Digby wrote, the White House couldn’t stand the idea that anyone would believe that Gorsuch would be disloyal and attempted to squash the rumors, rumors Republicans were spreading to get a conservative judge confirmed.

Last, it seemed like DeVos herself wasn’t in on the joke, probably due to her lack of experience as a public official. She appeared at the CPAC and defended the rollback on its merits. How are we supposed to believe that she opposed the move when she’s defending it on camera?

So let the rumor just die. DeVos has donated millions to Focus on the Family, a group that isn’t ambivalent on LGBTQ issues. She wanted this just as much as Sessions or Trump did, and she should get no credit for possibly, maybe, secretly opposing it while signing off on it in an official capacity and publicly defending it.

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Vermont reaffirms transgender protections

Vermont governor Phil Scott (D). Wikipedia

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Top Vermont officials are reaffirming the state’s policy of protecting the rights of transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

In a release issued Friday, Republican Gov. Phil Scott, Secretary of Education and other top officials say the decision by the Trump Administration to back away from an Obama Administration policy on the issue would not change Vermont’s interpretation of the underlying law.

Scott, Holcombe and the others say state law protects Vermonters based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe sent a memo to educators on Thursday saying the state’s guidance on the issue remains in force and the state intends to ensure the safety of the state’s children.

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