Transgender Woman Murdered in Philadelphia; GLAAD Working to Improve Coverage

Transgender Woman Murdered in Philadelphia; GLAAD Working to Improve Coverage

Image of Stacey Blahnik Lee

As confirmed today by the Philadelphia Daily News, autopsy results indicate that a transgender woman’s death in Philadelphia has been ruled a homicide.

The body of a 31-year-old transgender woman named  Stacey Blahnik Lee was discovered Monday night by her boyfriend in the home the two shared in Point Breeze, a neighborhood in South Philadelphia.

Initial reports indicated that Stacey was found with a pillowcase around her neck.  Homicide Sgt. Bob Wilkins refuted this yesterday. Instead, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office says that Stacey was strangled to death.

Autopsy reports also indicated that neither a weapon, nor a pillowcase, was used in Stacey’s death.  This finding was in line with Sgt. Wilkins’ comment on Tuesday that there were no visible signs of trauma to the victim, such as stab or bullet wounds.

Though Stacey and her boyfriend were regarded by neighbors as a private couple, phrases such as “really nice” and “very friendly” have all been used to describe Stacey.

GLAAD is in contact with the Philadelphia Daily News about some problematic elements in its coverage of this story, including putting quotes around Stacey’s name. After speaking with GLAAD the paper did remove quotes around Stacey’s name in part of the story but not the entire piece. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.  After consulting with GLAAD the outlet also made changes to include the word transgender to describe Stacey and we are continuing conversations with editors to bring the paper’s overall reporting on this story in line with fair, accurate and inclusive standards.

As many questions remain surrounding the circumstances of Stacey’s death, GLAAD urges the media to cover this story fairly and accurately, with particular attention to word choices.  As noted recently on our blog, the use of problematic terminology is too often the case in stories involving transgender people, particularly when those stories revolve around violent crime.

GLAAD has produced a Media Reference Guide that is intended to be a resource to media professionals when covering LGBT-related issues.  Specifically, pages 8-11 address issues that often arise in reports about the lives of transgender people.

We will continue to closely monitor the coverage of this story to insure fairness and accuracy.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Arrives

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Arrives
by Julianne Hing
Monday, October 4 2010, 4:25 PM EST

 The long-awaited, much-debated Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 has arrived. And to the surprise of no one in the immigrant rights movement, it’s kind of a letdown. While the bill includes basic reforms that the immigrant rights movement has been demanding for decades, the bill is weighed down by heavy enforcement which are supposed to help comprehensive reform win bipartisan support.

The bill, introduced by Senators Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy, opens with the promise that the nation’s undocumented will not be allowed to adjust their status to become authorized immigrants until a set of so-called “triggers” are met. The pre-conditions for legalization call for increased militarization of the border and increased interior enforcement, including bringing Immigration and Customs Enforcement staffing up to 6,410 agents and 185 work site enforcement auditors. No one could become a legal resident until Customs and Border Protection brings its ranks up to 21,000 border patrol agents—a number it is already on pace to achieve soon—and until the controversial E-Verify program is fully implemented and mandatory for employers.

Read More Here at Colorlines

New Anti-Truancy Law Passes in California

California Parents Could Get Jail Time if Kids Miss School
by Julianne Hing
Tuesday, October 5 2010, 1:00 PM EST

Last Thursday California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1317, a new statewide anti-truancy bill that officials hope will curb chronic absenteeism in elementary and middle school students. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2011, and allow state officials to prosecute parents when their kids don’t show up to school.

The initiative was pushed by California attorney general hopeful Kamala Harris, a rising star in the Democratic party who Today Show host Matt Lauer’s dubbed “the female Obama.” Harris has smartly tied crime rates with dropout rates; the correlation between kids’ educational achievement and the rate of their criminal convictions is direct. And yet the solutions are alarmingly punitive.

Parents whose kids miss any more than ten percent of their classes can be charged with a misdemeanor and slammed with a $2,000 fine or a yearlong jail sentence if, after being offered state support and counseling, their kids still fail to improve their attendance. Before SB 1317, parents could be prosecuted under a child endangerment statute. Now kids’ absenteeism has become a crime all its own. The state labels a student as truant if they have more than three unexcused absences in one school year on their record.

As the district attorney of San Francisco, Harris has pushed anti-truancy measures that criminalized parents for years, and said that her anti-truancy programs were responsible for reducing the truancy rate in the city by 23 percent.

Back in 2009, Harris touted one of her success stories in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle:

To date, I have prosecuted 20 parents of young children for truancy. The penalty for truancy charged as a misdemeanor is a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year of jail. Our groundbreaking strategy has worked. After Michael’s parents did not respond to repeated pleas from the school district to get him in class, my investigators served his parents with criminal complaints. His parents appeared in court and agreed to work to get needed services and get Michael back in school. Michael missed only three days the following school year. He got extra attention from teachers to get on track and one parent has even become a school volunteer.

While on the surface, anti-truancy programs have a great ring to them—Harris has adopted the phrase “smart on crime” as her tagline — there’s another side to anti-truancy programs….Read More Here: Source

Where Jenn is Not at All Suprised.

Guatemala: New Research on Ethical Violations by White Researchers

By Jessie

Susan Reverby, a Wellesley College professor, recently discovered records that reveal a two-year study designed by white researchers and supported by the U.S. government was conducted in which people in Guatemala were intentionally infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

This STD study conducted from 1946-48, health researchers from the United States and Guatemala intentionally infected Guatemalan sex workers, prisoners, soldiers, and hospitalized psychiatric patients with gonorrhea, chancroid, and syphilis.  Reverby’s student prompted the U.S. Department of Health & Human services to release this information about the study.  It is officially referred to as “The 1946 STD inoculation study.”   And in an email statement, Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – the current version of the institution that originally ran the study – said this:

The 1946 STD inoculation study should never have happened.  We are committed to the respect and safety of research participants.  In this spirit, the U.S. government will convene an international group of experts to review and report on the most effective methods to ensure that all human medical research conducted around the globe today meets rigorous ethical standards and how training of researchers will ensure such abuses do not occur.  If you have questions or comments regarding ethical human research and this study, please send them to

This renewed commitment to ethical research by Dr. Frieden is an important one but may fail to persuade skeptical listeners familiar with the history of other ethical violations.

The fact is that the researcher who discovered the Guatemalan study made this discovery in the archived papers of Dr. John Cutler, a U.S. public health researcher who was also involved in the Tuskegee syphilis study.  Cutler was white and all the “participants” in the study were African American men.   While the Tuskegee study design did not intentionally infect subjects with syphilis (a common misunderstanding), the researchers violated medical and research ethics by withholding treatment – a simple shot of penicillin – that would have effectively cured the disease.   Further, the men in the study were never told that they were being used as research subjects.   The combination of these two facts (withholding medical treatment that would have cured the disease, and not telling them they were research subjects) are used as textbook examples of ethical violations in research.   The additional, and some could argue, central fact that these were white researchers violating the human rights of black subjects is an ethical violation that continues to reverberate today in a variety of ways.    (For further research on Tuskegee, see James H. Jones’ classic text, Bad Blood and the more recent, and broader in scope, Medical Apartheid, by Harriet Washington.)

Read More: here at Racism Review.


Second EU nation set to ban burqas

By Liz Goodwin Fri Oct 1, 10:32 am ET

The Netherlands is on track to become the second European Union country to ban burqas, Reuters reports. A draft agreement would allow a minority party led by the anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders to tighten immigration rules and ban the burqa. In exchange, Wilders would agree to the majority party’s sweeping budget cuts.

French lawmakers passed a ban on burqas, the head-to-toe, face-covering religious garment worn by some Muslim women, earlier this month. Face-covering veils in general are not permitted in the country.

“Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place,” the French government said when recommending the ban, according to CNN.

Opponents argued that the French law restricts freedom of religion and may be in violation of international human rights law. A pre-existing law already banned head scarves in public schools.

Clear majorities in many European countries support a burqa ban, according to the Pew Global Attitudes project, but less than 30 percent of American citizens support a ban.

(Photo of woman wearing a burqa in England: Getty)

Source: Yahoo


Autostraddle — 19-Year-Old Gay College Student Raymond Chase Commits Suicide

19-Year-Old Gay College Student Raymond Chase Commits Suicide
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed.

Raymond Chase, a 19-year-old openly gay sophomore studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, committed suicide on Wednesday by hanging himself in his dormitory.

This is a thing that happened and it was reported on Perez Hilton, who we categorically loathe but were visiting his website because we just wrote a thing about how we categorically loathe Perez Hilton, and so we thought we’d get the post started and by the time we got started there would be other news sources with other information that we could use and link to like a proper news reporting outfit.

But that was two hours ago and now it’s 3:30 AM and still it’s just Perez fucking Hilton and we’re in that weird time of the night where the news-cycle is sleeping and we’re awake and here we find ourselves instead on R.I.P Raymond Chase on facebook, and we’re crying because he’s so funny and cool in these videos, dancing and rapping and goofing around in the hallways with his friends. And we’re sad because it’s late and he’s a stranger, but he’s beautiful and also dead and there are other people in the videos who are still living; people who loved him and now must go on living without him even though they have feelings like “my tear flow has now turned into a blood flow cuz im living with a broken heart.” They must go on living with thoughts like “I love you Ray, I wish you would have just talked to one of us!” and “he said I was one of the flowers in his life, but he will AlWAYS be the rose in my heart” and “you were the funniest loving person ever” and “if we’re lucky enough in this life God blesses us with an instances of meeting someone like you.

Read more via: Autostraddle — 19-Year-Old Gay College Student Raymond Chase Commits Suicide.

Stop the hate. If you are LGBTQIPA, and you are contemplating suicide, please visit The Trevor Project for support. Please – you’re not alone. I promise.