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A Trump presidency? Reactions to the election results

We face a starkly different America when President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office in January. Reactions to the election results:

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard:

Our hearts go out today to the millions of people who voted against bigotry and hate and now have to accept the fact that the man who ridiculed and threatened them for months is the President-elect of the United States. Fear may have won this election, but bravery, hope and perseverance will overcome.

Greenpeace and millions of people around the world have all the power we need to combat climate change and create a just world for everyone. Let’s use this moment to reenergize the fight for the climate and the fight for human rights around the world.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

For nearly 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has been the nation’s premier defender of freedom and justice for all, no matter who is president. Our role is no different today.

President-elect Trump, as you assume the nation’s highest office, we urge you to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises you have made. These include your plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.

These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers, and millions of card-carrying supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.

One thing is certain: we will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency and when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor.

Destiny Lopez, co-director, All* Above All:

During this campaign, Donald Trump played to the darkest impulses and prejudices of the American people. This outcome sends a frightening message to women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and others looking for their place in the American family. We are deeply concerned about the implications for women’s health and rights, but we–women, people of color, immigrants–know what it’s like to fight impossible odds. Our communities still need access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, and so we will keep fighting to protect and preserve that right.

May Boeve of 350.org:

It’s hard to know what to say in a moment like this. Many of us are reeling from the news and shaken to the core about what a Trump presidency will mean for the country, and the difficult work ahead for our movements.

Trump’s misogyny, racism and climate denial pose a greater threat than we’ve ever faced, and the battleground on which we’ll fight for justice of all kinds will be that much rougher.

The hardest thing to do right now is to hold on to hope, but it’s what we must do. We should feel our anger, mourn, pray, and then do everything we can to fight hate.

Our Revolution:

Tonight’s election demonstrates what most Americans knew since the beginning of the primaries: the political elite of both parties, the economists, and the media are completely out of touch with the American electorate.

Too many communities have been left behind in the global economy. Too many young people cannot afford the cost of the college education. Too many cannot afford basic necessities like health care, housing, or retirement.

Those of us who want a more equitable and inclusive America need to chart a new course that represents the needs of middle income and working families. The most important thing we can do is come together in unity and fight to protect the most vulnerable people of this country. Just like we did yesterday, Our Revolution will be on the front lines of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal tomorrow morning. We will do everything in our power to ensure that the president-elect cannot ignore the battles Americans are facing every single day.

Tonight Donald Trump was elected president. Our job is to offer a real alternative vision and engage on the local and national level to continue the work of the political revolution in the face of a divided nation.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign:

Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve faced devastating setbacks in our pursuit of a more perfect union. But even in the darkest of moments, Americans have summoned the courage and persistence to fight on. The results of tonight’s presidential election require us to meet tomorrow with the same resolve and determination.

This is a crucial moment for our nation and for the LGBTQ movement. The election of a man who stands opposed to our most fundamental values has left us all stunned. There will be time to analyze the results of this election, but we cannot afford to dwell. We must meet these challenges head on.

Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have intentionally sowed fear and division for cynical political purposes. They now face a decision about whether they will also govern that way. We hope, for the sake of our nation and our diverse community – which includes women, people of color, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of all faiths and traditions – they will choose a different path.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis/GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie:

We have finally come to the end of a long and grueling election cycle, which has dominated everything from social media and television news to conversations around the dinner table. What did not change after the results came in is that GMHC still has clients to serve this morning and we still have an AIDS epidemic on our hands. With Election Day behind us, the work of running a country must continue, which is why today, I call upon the President-elect to start leading on the critical, national fight to end the AIDS epidemic within his first year in office.

Some communities and regions are losing ground in the fight, with tragically increasing rates of new infections in the Southern United States, among young men who have sex with men, women of Trans experience, and within low-income communities of color. In the coming days, weeks, and months, GMHC will continue to fight and care for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, just as we have since this agency was founded in Larry Kramer’s living room in 1981. We will continue to organize around modernization of the Ryan White Care Act, removing the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs, ensuring funding for comprehensive sexual health education, and addressing outdated HIV-criminalization laws across the United States.

As President Obama observed in his final State of the Union address, ‘we’re on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS. That’s within our grasp.’ The next U.S. President has an urgent opportunity and responsibility to take historic action with a more aggressive response to the epidemic. In the coming months, we will be pushing for the action, commitment and leadership needed to combat this public health crisis.

Wilfred D’Costa from the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development:

For communities in the global south, the U.S. citizens’ choice to elect Donald Trump seems like a death sentence. Already we are suffering the effects of climate change after years of inaction by rich countries like the U.S., and with an unhinged climate change denier now in the White House, the relatively small progress made is under threat. The international community must not allow itself to be dragged into a race to the bottom. Other developed countries like Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan must increase their pledges for pollution cuts and increase their financial support for our communities.

Jean Su from California-based Center for Biological Diversity:

The Paris Agreement was signed and ratified not by a President, but by the United States itself. One man alone, especially in the twenty-first century, should not strip the globe of the climate progress that it has made and should continue to make. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments. And it’s incumbent upon U.S. communities to unite and push forth progressive climate policies on a state and local level, where federal policy does not reign.

Becky Chung from the youth network SustainUS:

As a young woman and first-time voter I will not tolerate Trump’s denialism of the action needed for climate justice. Our country must undergo a systemic change and just transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy within my lifetime. The next four years are critical for getting on the right pathway, and the disastrous election of Trump serves as a solemn reminder of the path ahead of us. As young people and as climate justice movements we will be demanding real action on climate for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world and for all future generations.

Geoffrey Kamese from Friends of the Earth Africa:

Africa is already burning. The election of Trump is a disaster for our continent. The United States, if it follows through on its new President’s rash words about withdrawing from the international climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for climate action. This is a moment where the rest of the world must not waver and must redouble commitments to tackle dangerous climate change.

Jesse Bragg, from Boston-based Corporate Accountability International:

Whilst the election of a climate denier into the White House sends the wrong signal globally. The grassroots movements for climate justice — native american communities, people of color, working people – those that are at this moment defending water rights in Dakota, ending fossil fuel pollution, divesting from the fossil fuel industry, standing with communities who are losing their homes and livelihoods from extreme weather devastation to creating a renewable energy transformation – are the real beating heart of the movement for change. We will redouble our efforts, grow stronger and remain committed to stand with those on the frontline of climate injustice at home and abroad. In the absence of leadership from our government, the international community must come together redouble their effort to prevent climate disaster.

League of Women Voters president Chris Carson:

The League of Women Voters congratulates the American people for turning out in record numbers to participate in our democracy.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, voters had to overcome significant barriers that were erected by elected officials and other political operatives. These ongoing threats to voters’ rights are unacceptable.

This is the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Thousands of eligible voters were purged from the rolls. Onerous voter ID laws prevented eligible voters from casting their ballots. We saw cases of misinformation and intimidation at the polls.

We can and must do better. All year the League has worked in more than 700 communities, in every state, to register and help eligible Americans get ready to vote. In the 2016 election, more than 4 million people used our digital voter resource, VOTE411.org to find the election information they needed.

The League of Women Voters will continue our work to expand participation in the election process and work to give a voice to all Americans.

NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks:

“This beautiful fall morning represents the end of a long night filled with many midnight moments of uncertainty, voter intimidation and suppression, campaigns founded on bigotry and divisiveness as an electoral strategy.

And yet, despite the moments of ugliness, this election season has reminded us of the beauty and strength of both the nation and of the NAACP.

This was the first presidential election in more than 50 years where voters did not have the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. We confronted all manners of ugly, unconstitutional voter suppression, including voter purging, long lines and intimidation and misinformation.  When white nationalists bragged about dispensing malt liquor and marijuana in African-American communities to suppress the vote, we were neither distracted nor dissuaded from our work. When campaign operatives and candidates alike openly called for voter suppression in broad daylight and on camera, we neither flinched nor flagged in our efforts.

The NAACP prevailed in the federal courts against voter suppression no less than nine times in recent months.  In Texas, our state conference saved 608,470 votes with a victorious decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In North Carolina, our state conference saved nearly five percent of the electorate when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the state legislature had enacted discriminatory voting laws that intentionally targeted and disenfranchised black voters. And, just days ago, the NAACP saved nearly 4,500 voters from being purged from the North Carolina rolls.

The last five days of the campaign, after many months in planning, we formally launched our Selma Initiative, to protect the right to vote. We targeted 6,022 precincts in 17 states, dispatching both lawyers and laypeople alike to guard the ballot box and safeguard the rights of voters standing in long lines through our national command center.

Altogether, we mobilized our two million digital activists, nearly half million card-carrying members, 2,200 local units, and more than a hundred partner organizations to both protect and get out the vote through the Selma Initiative.

History will judge not only the courage of our volunteers but also the cowardice of those who chose again and again to suppress the vote rather than listen to the voice of democracy this year.  History may take note of the Selma Initiative, but let us all now remember Shena Goode, a 79-year-old NAACP volunteer who not only organized a virtual phone bank in her apartment complex, but also made more than 200 calls in a single day to get out the vote. Her story is the story of the NAACP and the nation. When civil rights are threatened, we are as persistent as we are determined.

Now that the election is over, the first priority for a new Congress and a new president must be restoring the badly-broken Voting Rights Act.  We cannot afford to send untold teams of lawyers to court and spend incalculable sums of money to defend our right to vote in the courts and in the streets again and again and again.

Any effort to suppress the vote, whether at the hands of lawmakers, judges or everyday people, is and must continue to be considered unjust, un-American and utterly unacceptable. The NAACP will not rest until full and equal voting rights are restored for each and every American citizen.

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this page throughout the day. And we welcome your reaction.

Studying autism in girls may help reveal the disorder’s secrets

Think autism and an image of an awkward boy typically emerges, but the way autism strikes girls — or doesn’t — may help reveal some of the developmental disorder’s frustrating secrets.

Autism is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition. And some girls do not show symptoms of autism even when they have the same genetic mutations seen in boys with the condition.

“Autism may not be the same thing in boys and girls,” said Kevin Pelphrey, an autism researcher at George Washington University.

The causes of autism aren’t known. Genetic mutations are thought to play a role, and outside factors including older parents and premature birth also may be factors. But the gender effect is now a hot topic in autism research and one that could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating a condition that affects at least 1 in 68 U.S. children.



Brain imaging suggests there may be an additional explanation for why many girls with autism have more subtle symptoms than boys, Pelphrey said. Even in girls who clearly have autism, he said, brain regions involved in social behavior that are normally affected are less severely impaired.

Also, recent studies on autism-linked genes have found that girls can have the same kinds of genetic mutations seen in boys with autism, but not show symptoms. They “even need to have twice as many mutations on average to actually manifest with autism,” said Joseph Buxbaum, director of an autism center at Mount Sinai medical school in New York.

He is among researchers trying to identify a “protective factor” that may explain how some girls at genetic risk remain unaffected — perhaps a protein or other biological marker that could be turned into a drug or other therapy to treat or even prevent autism.

That possibility is likely a long way off, but Pelphrey said this line of research has prompted excitement among autism scientists.



Buxbaum is involved in the Autism Sisters Project, which is seeking to enroll hundreds of families with autistic sons but unaffected daughters. The project began last year with the goal of building a big database that scientists can use to look for genetic clues and protective factors. Girls and their families visit the New York lab to give saliva samples for DNA analysis and efforts are underway to expand DNA collection to other sites.

Evee Bak, 15, hopes her samples will eventually benefit her older brother Tommy. The suburban Philadelphia siblings are just a year apart. They play in a garage band — Evee on drums, Tommy on guitar and vocals. He’s a masterful musician, but has trouble reading social cues and doing things that come easy to other teens, like shopping alone or using public transportation.

Her focus is “taking care of Tommy and making sure he’s happy and healthy,” Evee said.

Tommy was diagnosed at age 3, after he stopped using words he’d learned months earlier and showed unusual behavior including repetitively lining up toys instead of playing with them.

“He’s a wonderful person and I don’t think that we’d ever want to change him,” said his mother, Erin Lopes. But they’d welcome anything that could help him function as independently as possible “because I think that’s what he really wants, is to be independent.”



Autism is diagnosed by observing behavior, there’s no blood test for it. Some experts say gender-based differences highlight a need to develop different ways to evaluate boys and girls.

Autism screening, recommended for kids starting at 18 months, uses tools based on research in autistic boys, said Rachel Loftin, clinical director of an autism center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

One widely used screening questionnaire for parents includes questions like “Does your child play make-believe, make eye contact, seek praise, show interest in other children?” Girls with autism, especially mild cases, often don’t show obvious problems in those categories _ they’re more likely than affected boys to play pretend with toys rather than lining them up by size or shape. Loftin said they’re also more likely to show concern for another person’s feelings.

Government data show that all forms of autism, mild to severe, are more common in boys and that the average age at diagnosis is 4 years in boys and girls. But Loftin said anecdotal evidence suggests a two-year lag time in diagnosis for girls, especially those with mild cases. And she suspects many cases are missed or misdiagnosed. That means a delay in early intensive behavior therapy that is the main treatment for autism.

Some girls manage to camouflage symptoms until pressures to fit in at school become overwhelming, delaying diagnosis until around age 8 or 9, said Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research-funding group which is paying for the Sisters Project.

The prominent autism advocate, professor and author Temple Grandin wasn’t fully verbal until age 4.ß “It was obvious something was drastically wrong with me,” Grandin said. But she said she learned to adapt, in part because with “1950’s parenting” she was faced with intense encouragement to develop social skills and other talents.



Allison Klein worried about her daughter, Jillian, for three years before the little girl was finally diagnosed with mild autism. Jillian couldn’t tolerate loud noises, she grew withdrawn around her preschool classmates and she lagged behind academically. She was labeled anxious, not autistic.

“She didn’t meet the stereotypical behaviors of no eye contact, no communication, hand flapping,” Klein said. Teachers and doctors suggested she was just shy and would grow out of it.

A few months ago, just before Jillian turned 6, Loftin confirmed Klein’s concerns.

Even Pelphrey, the autism researcher, had a similar experience. His daughter, Frances, was diagnosed almost four years after her behavior raised concerns. She didn’t walk or talk until she was almost 3 years old. She tried to be “cuddly” and interact with others, but sometimes she did so awkwardly.

“Nobody really wanted to make the call,” Pelphrey said. “Had she been a boy, there would have been much more pressure to look into it.”


On the Web

CDC & Autism: http://tinyurl.com/zarznp2

With confidence and determination, Clinton accepts nomination

Madame secretary accepted the presidential nomination from the Democratic Party July 28, putting the deepest, widest crack in the glass ceiling yet. Driving roar after roar from the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton forcefully explained why she is the best candidate for the White House and how she will become madame president.

Clinton, the first female nominee for president from a major U.S. party, had a lot of support from family — daughter Chelsea and husband Bill — and many friends, a solid contingent of progressive activists and political powerhouses, rising political stars and even entertainment stars.

On the fourth and final night of the convention, Katy Perry and Carole King performed for an audience in the center and millions in TV-land.

King performed “You’ve Got a Friend.” The song she wrote in 1971 echoed what so many of Clinton’s friends and colleagues said about the candidate from the podium:

“When you’re down and troubled

And you need some love and care

And nothing, nothing is going right

Close your eyes and think of me

And soon I will be there

To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name

And you know wherever I am

I’ll come running, to see you again

Winter, spring, summer or fall

All you have to do is call

And I’ll be there

You’ve got a friend.

Perry performed “Roar,” the pre-anthem to Clinton’s anthemic address, and, “oh, oh, oh,” did the crowd roar: “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter/Dancing through the fire/ ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

The pop star, who has been campaigning with Clinton since the primary start in Iowa, urged people to vote. “On Nov. 8, you’ll be just as powerful as any NRA lobbyist,” Perry said. “You’ll have as much say as any billionaire. Or you can cancel out your weird cousin’s vote.”

Chelsea Clinton followed Perry to the stage to talk about a caring, compassionate woman with steely resolve to help people.

“People ask me all the time how she does it,” Chelsea Clinton said. “How she keeps going amid the sound and fury of politics. Here’s how. It’s because she never forgets who she’s fighting for.”

She left the stage while a video told the story of Hillary Clinton’s life and then the daughter returned to welcome her mother to the stage. To borrow from another Carole King song, the earth moved — or at least the arena rocked.

“Thank you! Thank you for that amazing welcome,” Clinton said.

She called for unity, because the nation is “stronger together” and the party is “stronger together.”

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning,” Clinton said. “Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we all will work together so we all can rise together.”

She recited the national motto, e pluribus unum, out of many, we are one.

“Will we stay true to that motto?” Clinton said and then referred directly to general election opponent Donald Trump, who defeated a crowded field of candidates, including Scott Walker, for the GOP nomination.

“Well, we heard Donald Trump’s answer last week at his convention,” Clinton said. “He wants to divide us — from the rest of the world and from each other. He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise. He’s taken the Republican Party a long way, from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’ He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.

“Well,” Clinton continued, “a great Democratic president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than 80 years ago, during a much more perilous time. ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'”

Aides said Clinton worked weeks on the speech, in which she had to tell the American people she is not the cartoon that the far left and the right has drawn.

Clinton made a direct appeal to independents, whose choice is a longtime Democratic leader or a Republican who’s abandoned traditional Republican values.

And she made a direct appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who waged a hard-fought primary campaign with his progressive, political revolution.

“I’ve heard you,” she said to Sanders supporters. “Your cause is our cause.”

Still, in the arena, there were occasional boos from Sanders supporters, who wore neon shirts to stand out in the crowd and held signs that read “Get it done,” “Walk the walk” and “Keep your promises.”

Clinton supporters drowned every “boo” with rousing chants of “Hillary.”

After the convention, hard feelings remained evident between Sanders and Clinton supporters in the corridors of the Wells Fargo.

But when the red, white and blue balloons and confetti came down and golden fireworks shot up, there seemed to be only joy in the hall.


The general election

The Democrats ended their convention with polls showing Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine locked in a tight contest with Trump and running mate Mike Pence. Trump has no record in public office, but Pence is known nationwide for his anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT efforts as Indiana’s governor and a U.S. senator.

Trump had received a slight bump in his poll numbers after the GOP convention in Cleveland. But after a multitude of speeches and videos at the Democratic convention, the numbers already were shifting more in Clinton’s favor before she took the stage July 28.

“I’m an independent and I’ve heard what I needed to hear. I’m an independent for Hillary,” said convention-goer Mary Plumber of Camden, New Jersey. She had arrived hours early to the Wells Fargo Center to  claim a seat for the historic night and was entertained with King’s soundcheck.

Plumber’s friend, Chrissy Nikomi of Philadelphia, also attended. She’s a longtime Clinton devotee who hoped her candidate could bring in more people to the campaign.

“It’s really hard out there, with all the false information and this myth created by the right and perpetuated by some on the left that she’s not trustworthy,” Nikomi said.


They’re with her

By the time Clinton took the stage to accept the nomination, dozens of speakers had declared their support and explained why she is the best-qualified person for the presidency.

First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey delivered emotional and rousing speeches the first night of a convention that offered sunny optimism about America’s future but also much sadness about division in the United States.

The next night, Bill Clinton painted a loving portrait of the woman, wife, mother and advocate he admires.

On the third night, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama and Kaine championed Clinton’s candidacy.

“She’s been there for us, even if we haven’t always noticed,” Obama said.

And those are just the biggest names to make the case.

Many others talked about Clinton and her years of dedication as activist, attorney, first lady, senator and secretary of state.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin joined other Democratic women of the U.S. Senate at the podiums on July 28.

“I entered public service to fight for health coverage for all, especially children and young adults. Hillary Clinton has led that fight for decades,” Baldwin said. “With the help of her relentless advocacy, 8 million children are insured and their families more secure. …That’s Hillary. As president, she’ll fight for healthier families and a fair shot for all.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin also addressed the convention on the fourth night, sketching contrasts between Clinton, who famously went to China decades ago to declare women’s rights are human rights, and Trump, who infamously has called women “pigs” and “dogs.”

“Pigs? Dogs? Disgusting? Too many women know where this toxic language leads,” said Moore. “Too many women have experienced sexual violence and abuse. And I’m one of them. But we are not victims. We are survivors. We have been bullied, beaten and berated. Told to sit down and to shut up. Well, my voice matters, and I won’t shut up.

“Our voices matter, and we won’t shut up. Women make our communities better — stronger each and every day. That’s why Hillary Clinton has spent her life fighting for us.”

Others spoke about Clinton’s work and policies on jobs and industry, civil rights and equality, immigration reform and the environment, diplomacy and national security. They also spoke of Trump’s lack of experience, as well as the Republican’s disinterest in national issues and disrespect for many people.

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar introduced a film about Capt. Humayun Khan, one of 14 U.S. Muslim soldiers to die in the service since Sept. 11, 2001. In an unscripted moment, Abdul-Jabbar introduced himself as Michael Jordan because, he said, Trump can’t tell the difference.

Sarah McBride, the first transgender person to address a major party’s political convention, said, “Today in America, LGBTQ people are targeted by hate that lives in both laws and hearts. Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe tomorrow can be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected — especially if Hillary Clinton is our president. And that’s why I’m proud to say that I’m with her.”

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, introduced McBride with a high-energy speech that paid tribute to the victims of the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June.

“While the nation mourned, Donald Trump strutted before the cameras and exploited a national tragedy,” Griffin said. “He had the audacity to tell the American public he was the true champion for LGBTQ people in this race and that our community would be better off with him in the White House. He even challenged his skeptics to  ‘ask the gays.'”

Griffin, met Clinton as a closeted kid growing up in Arkansas. He said, “Long before Donald Trump struggled to read the letters ‘LGBTQ’ off a teleprompter, Hillary Clinton stood before the United Nations and boldly declared that gay rights are human rights.”

Twenty years before Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination for president in Philadelphia, Bill Clinton accepted the nomination for his re-election in Chicago.

At that convention, LGBT people anxiously waited to hear whether and how Bill Clinton would refer to gays in his acceptance speech.

At the Philadelphia convention, there was no question. Speaker after speaker spoke about equality and justice as delegates waved “Love trumps hate” signs and rainbow flags.

Hillary Clinton told them, “We will defend all our rights – civil rights, human rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities! And we will stand up against mean and divisive rhetoric wherever it comes from.”

There was little rest for the candidate who, following the convention, was embarking on a bus tour of Pennsylvania and Ohio, crucial states in the general election. The tour was to begin with a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia.


On the Web

Read Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech online.

People shattered by N.C. ‘bathroom law’ share their stories

A student who’s losing time in the classroom. A mother trying to show strength to her 8-year-old daughter. A reluctant protester led away in handcuffs.

These transgender residents of North Carolina were swiftly and directly affected by the new state law that limits protections for LGBT people and mandates that transgendered people must use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings.

This week, the federal government warned that the so-called “bathroom law” violates federal civil rights laws, but the state’s GOP leaders say they won’t change it. LGBT leaders refer to such laws as “potty politics,” because they’re used to rile up evangelical voters over a made-up problem.  Wisconsin’s GOP lawmakers have attempted to pass a similar law here.

Some transgender people say they’re suffering not only from the bathroom law’s practical effects, but also from the emotional consequences of the state regulating deeply personal aspects of their identities.

Here are some of their stories.


“I spent 7 ½ years defending everyone’s freedom, just to come home and have my own revoked,” said Veronica O’Kelly, a transgender woman living in Durham.

The infantry soldier served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq before leaving the Army in 2015, according to discharge documents she showed to The Associated Press.

Now, she’s trying to decide whether to follow through on plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where she wouldn’t be allowed to use women’s restrooms — to finish her bachelor’s degree.

She began transitioning in the early 2000s while attending college in Buffalo, New York, and living with her parents. They didn’t agree with her gender identity, she said, so she moved out.

To support herself, she said, she joined the Army as a man, slipping into “a very alpha-male environment.” She had yet to undergo any medical treatments and presented herself as her birth sex.

“I had a wardrobe full of clothes, and I got rid of it all,” she said. “No one had any idea.”

Wearing a purple blouse and lipstick during a recent interview, she said the routine of military life helped her think less about her gender dysphoria, but she’s resumed her transition since leaving the service. She was accepted at UNC and planned to enroll this fall. Then the bathroom law passed: “It was like the legs were cut out from under me,” she said.


After Payton McGarry enrolled at UNC-Greensboro, he joined campus bands and a music-oriented fraternity. He was in his sophomore year, working toward business and accounting degrees, when the bathroom law passed in March.

“I felt very shaken,” he said. “I felt like everything I had built myself up on as a man had been called into question by the legislature: ‘You’re not man enough to use the men’s bathroom.””

McGarry, who wants to finish at UNC-Greensboro and go to law school, said he has complied with the provision that bars him from using multi-stall men’s restrooms on campus, even though he previously used them without problems. He has had to leave campus in the middle of class because some buildings have no single-user restrooms.

“I’m missing out on instructional time I’m paying $20,000 a year to get,” said McGarry, a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the bathroom law.

McGarry said he tried the alternative — using women’s restrooms despite his masculine appearance — in high school while transitioning to life as a man.

“I would be screamed at. I would be shoved and pushed,” he said. “You never knew when you’d go into a bathroom and be beaten up. No one should have to go through that.”


Erica Lachowitz was leaving for work about two years ago when her daughter, then 6, helped convince her it was time to take a crucial step in living her identity.

“She said: ‘Mommy, Mommy, why are you wearing a suit to work? … You’re not a boy,’” said Lachowitz, a 40-year-old transgender woman who was then wearing men’s clothes by day at a Charlotte-area company that makes doorway technology for offices and other buildings.

Since then, Lachowitz’s company has supported her as she transitioned to living full-time as a woman. Under the new law, private companies can still set their own policies.

Now, Lachowitz’s focus is on raising her daughter to have good values, which sometimes means frank conversations about what’s on the news: “All she sees on TV is … ‘no men in the women’s room.’”

“She doesn’t understand the hatred toward me,” Lachowitz said. “She says: ‘You’re not a man. I don’t get it. Why do they think you’re a man? You don’t want to lie anymore.’”


Asheville social worker Stephen Wiseman’s family has mountain roots that extend back nine generations. The transgender man wants to stay in western North Carolina, so that means advocating for change.

When the General Assembly reconvened for its legislative session last month, he drove to Raleigh to join those protesting the bathroom law, chanting and holding signs outside Republican House Speaker Tim Moore’s office. He initially didn’t plan to risk arrest — partly because he said jail can be dangerous for transgender people. But at Moore’s doorway, he felt it was important to join those who entered the office and refused to leave.

They were led away in plastic handcuffs on misdemeanor charges and held for several hours.

Wiseman, 37, lives with his wife and dog in a neighborhood of ranch homes near the Blue Ridge Parkway where families ride bikes and have yard sales.

“I’m just a normal guy. I walk my dog and go to church,” he said.

Hearing the rhetoric surrounding the new law was devastating: “It’s real hard to hear every single day that you’re a perversion. Because that’s what this bill says.”


Angela Bridgman, 44, moved her small medical-billing and support business to North Carolina in 2014.

“It seemed to be becoming a more inclusive place,” she said. “It’s not like I just threw a dart at a map.”

But because of the new law, she frequently carries around her Illinois birth certificate, which she changed to reflect her female gender after surgery a few years ago.

She was fired from a New Jersey company years ago after coming out to co-workers and starting to wear women’s attire, she said, and she later dropped out of a private Kentucky university after a dean told her to use the men’s restroom.

Those are experiences she wishes no one else would have to face, but the North Carolina law excludes gender identity from statewide workplace protections.

“I wound up so severely depressed, I could barely even get out of bed,” she said. “I’ve built myself back a lot since then. It took a long time.”

Those experiences helped drive her to become self-employed: “I was tired of being turned down for jobs.”

She said she would like to add employees to her company, but she has misgivings about the business-related fees and taxes going to government officials who support the law.

“It’s just one more insult,” she said. “I pay world-class taxes, and for that I get to be a second-class citizen.”


Even before North Carolina’s bathroom law was enacted, Joaquin Carcano took precautions when traveling to rural areas for work. His girlfriend had insisted that he call her and keep an open phone line when he stopped at gas stations after a clerk verbally accosted him.

Carcano, a 27-year-old transgender man, works for UNC-Chapel Hill overseeing a project that provides health education and HIV testing. After the law passed, he was in a difficult position — there are no single-use restrooms on his floor.

Carcano said he joined the legal challenge to help counteract the message from the law’s supporters, who have suggested criminals might try to use the wrong bathroom to target women and children.

“What about our safety and protection?” he said of transgender people. “We deserve that right.”


Wisconsin GOP plays potty politics

Two Republican lawmakers, seeking to rollback reforms in 60 Wisconsin school districts, are pushing a bill to ban transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

The measure — a proposed mandate that school districts designate facilities exclusively for one biological sex or the other — is being circulated for co-sponsors by state Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, and state Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater.

“This bill reinforces the societal norm in our schools that students born biologically male must not be allowed to enter facilities designated for biological females and vice versa,” Kremer wrote in a memo.

Meanwhile, Democrats Sondy Pope, a representative from Cross Plains, and Nikiya Harris Dodd, a senator from Milwaukee, are seeking co-sponsors for a measure that would require the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to develop a model policy protecting the rights of transgender students. The measure also would require school districts to adopt a policy.

The Democratic lawmakers wrote in a memo, “Recent actions in our state and nationwide indicate that many individuals do not have a clear understanding of the unique issues faced by transgender youth. Adopting a school board-wide policy is necessary to ensure a safe, equal learning environment for transgender students.”

Civil rights groups, education organizations and Democratic lawmakers denounced the bill by Kremer and Nass as mean-spirited, reckless and discriminatory.

“This bill is an unnecessary solution in search of a problem,” said Megin McDonell, the interim executive director of Fair Wisconsin, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “It singles out, isolates and stigmatizes transgender students, who often already face harassment and exclusion at school.”

McDonell said the bill would undermine the advances in many school districts, which “have made allowing students to use facilities and participate in sports and activities consistent with their gender identity.”

State Reps. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, and Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, two of three openly LGBT members of the Assembly, responded in a joint statement. They said the measure proposed by Kremer and Nass reveals a “gross misunderstanding of both biology and gender identity.”

The Democrats also said the measure constituted “the ultimate invasion of privacy. We don’t need big government to check kids’ anatomy before they’re allowed to use the bathroom.”

Dozens of school districts in the state have adopted best practices and modernized nondiscrimination policies, protecting all students.

The Janesville School District, for example, has a policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms assigned to the gender with which they identify, if parents and principals give the OK. Meanwhile, in the Madison School District and at Shorewood High School, policies provide for transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

None of these districts have reported an incident of a non-transgender student being harassed by the presence of a transgender student, according to GSAFE, a Wisconsin organization that advocates for LGBT students.

“All this bill does is single out transgender and intersex students for increased scrutiny and harassment, directly jeopardizing their safety,” said GSAFE education and policy director Brian Juchems.

Juchems noted that the language in the “bathroom bill” is the same as the language in a draft policy circulated by the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom. 

“Instead of looking outside our state, our Legislature should look at the sample policy drafted by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards,” suggested Juchems. 

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the state does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.

School uniform rules relaxed for LGBT students in Puerto Rico

Students at public schools across Puerto Rico for the first time can choose to wear pants or skirts as part of their uniform regardless of their gender without being punished, a move that has unleashed a debate in this socially conservative island.

Education Secretary Rafael Roman said this week that the new regulation he recently signed is meant to be inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. He added that teachers will no longer be allowed to discipline students who prefer to wear pants instead of skirts or vice versa.

“No student can be sanctioned for not opting to wear a particular piece of clothing … that he or she does not feel comfortable with,” he told reporters.

Girls at public schools in Puerto Rico traditionally wear skirts as part of their uniforms and the boys wear pants.

LGBT civil rights activists and some school officials praised the measure, which comes months after Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order prohibiting bullying in public schools based on sexual orientation.

“It’s a bit late, but it was approved, which is important,” said Cristina Torres, director of a high school in Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city. “Changing people’s mentality from one day to another will be hard … The most incredible thing is that young people can accept this with an open mind, but it’s the adults who discriminate.”

Torres is familiar with the issue. Teachers filed a complaint against her two years ago for appearing in a picture with a student who wore women’s clothing at his graduation. The student was a victim of bullying and had received an award for overcoming difficult circumstances, she said.

“Our responsibility is to protect students’ rights,” Torres said.

However, critics of the new regulation accused government officials of acting like dictators and stripping parents of their power.

“Once again, this government and the Department of Education work against what’s best for our children,'” said officials with Alerta Puerto Rico, a conservative group that says it was founded to promote family and childhood values.

But Roman argues that parents have the final word on how their children dress for school since they’re the ones buying the uniform. He added that several school districts in the U.S. mainland have adopted similar regulations.

Messages left with the U.S. Department of Education were not immediately returned.

Paola Gonzalez, a 39-year-old transsexual woman who grew up in Puerto Rico and now lives in Albany, New York, said she wished the measure would have been approved years ago.

“It would have simplified my life,” she said, adding that she has some concerns about the new regulation given what she described as Puerto Rico’s “macho” culture.

“For a student to come out and say I identify with this gender and wear these clothes … that will be a big step,” Gonzalez said. “The school may also have to consider the safety of the student.”

Garcia’s administration previously approved several measures in favor of the gay community, including one that allows transgender and transsexual people to change their gender on their driver’s license and another that protects their rights when seeking medical services.

‘Twilight’ anniversary editions reversing genders

Call them Edythe and Beau.

For the 10th anniversary of her “Twilight” series, Stephenie Meyer is offering a gender swap for those millions caught up in the saga of Bella and Edward.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on Tuesday released a “Twilight/Life and Death” dual edition of Meyer’s first of four main novels in the best-selling vampire series.

The original book has been paired with “Life and Death,” a narrative that reverses the author’s famed romance between a teen girl and male vampire, instead having a human boy (Beau) fall for a female vampire (Edythe).

According to Little, Brown, the alternate version contains nearly 400 pages of new material. The book was in the top 500 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list.

Finding their voice: Speech clinic helps transgender clients

Sylvia Wojcik was making reservations for a beach getaway in Maine when the receptionist on the other end of the line called her “ma’am.” Nothing could have delighted her more.

Wojcik, 66, is transitioning from male to female. For her, that proof that she sounded like a woman was an important moment. 

“It felt like I had just been validated,” she said. “It just gave me a great sense of being at ease with myself.”

Wojcik has undergone several years of voice therapy, the past 18 months at the University of Connecticut’s Speech and Hearing Clinic, one of a growing number of clinics with programs to teach transgender people how to sound more like the gender with which they identify.

“You can be well kept, present well, but if your voice is masculine, you get pegged right away,” said Wojcik, of Enfield, north of Hartford. “I really didn’t start getting success with my voice until I came to UConn. And I’m sure glad I did, because it’s made all the difference.”

The program at UConn is in its fourth year, with about a dozen people participating at any one time. The typical participant will spend an hour a week in a group session, and another 11/2 hours working one on one with a speech pathologist.

They learn not only how to change the pitch of their voice, but also its resonance (males speak more from chest, females from the head) and delivery (males tend to be more staccato, females more fluid).

It involves a lot of voice exercises — humming to find an ideal pitch, naming five words that start with the letter “T.”

The idea is to condition and change the voice without harming the vocal chords, said Wendy Chase, the clinic’s director.

“Pitch up, shoulders back … whatever you’re doing wrong, she tends to help you correct it,” said 61-year-old Brianne Roberts, also of Enfield. “It really works.”

The majority of the transgender clients at the clinic are transitioning to female.

Hormone therapy will naturally cause a lowering in the voice of someone transitioning to male, Chase said. Many “F to Ms,” as they are sometimes called, need to learn the other subtleties.

But clients transitioning either way need to work on articulation and patterns associated with male and female speech, even how to use their hands differently to gesture and touch during communication.

“There is tremendous irony in the fact that we use information based on stereotype to make people feel better about themselves,” said Chase. “But that’s what we do.”

The clinic also has served some people who are not transgender, such as men who wish to sound less effeminate. And some clients, including people who are only considering a change in gender, want a voice that is more neutral, Chase said.

Literature in the field dates back 50 years, but until the past 20 years only a handful of people were doing voice work with transgender people, and the work is still in its infancy, Chase said.

Richard Adler, who retired this month from Minnesota State University-Moorhead, was one of those pioneers. The field has been growing exponentially and internationally, he said, as the world has become more accepting of transgender people and people like Caitlyn Jenner have shared their stories.

“There are still people opposed to the work we do,” he said. “We still get hate mail, but it’s less and less.”

UConn charges clients $192 for a voice evaluation to determine what needs to be changed. It’s then $10 per session for individual treatment and $25 per semester for the group sessions. 

Some insurance companies may pick up some or all the cost if a doctor gives a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. But Chase said that it is still rare.

A typical patient will spend about 18 months in therapy, Chase said, but the number of sessions varies widely.

Roberts, a freelance copywriter, has been attending sessions since February. She expects to participate for at least another semester.

Before the transitioning process, Roberts was a radio personality, voiceover artist and actor. She is now returning to the stage as an actress and doesn’t want her voice to impede her winning roles. 

“For me, passing is important,” she said. “But, in some cases it’s a matter of survival. There are some places where you do not want to be read as being anything other than female. It’s dangerous.”

The sessions also help in other ways, Roberts said. She’s able to talk to other people going through the same experience about progress and problems. And the environment is supportive and respectful, something Roberts said affirms her decision to transition.

As for Wojcik, she is just happy to be able to order sliced bologna at the deli without getting a strange look.

“I want to just be one of the girls,” she said. “I just want to blend in with the woodwork and people not notice that I’m trans.”

Restroom research: Study examines bathroom graffiti by men, women

A new article published in Gender, Place & Culture examines how men and women express themselves in the seemingly private and anonymous spaces of public bathrooms.

Texts or drawings in the bathroom stalls, while created in a private space and presumably during a very private moment, are meant to be public — transmitting ideas, images and even responses.

Using data collected in 10 university bathroom stalls, the study examines differences in communication patterns in women’s and men’s bathroom stalls through an analysis of graffiti content and style.

The research indicated that that while communication patterns tend to be supportive and relationship-focused in women’s bathrooms, the graffiti in men’s bathroom walls are replete with sexual content and insults.

In addition, an analysis of the response-and-reply chains suggests that, in the bathroom stalls, hierarchies of power are established and reinforced even in anonymous, unmoderated spaces, and even when no humans are physically present.

The first major study of bathroom graffiti was produced by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s, which found that many wall inscriptions were highly sexual, but sexuality was defined quite differently among men and women. Men’s bathroom graffiti centered on sexual acts and sexual organs, women’s graffiti referred to love and relationships in non-erotic terms.

Further studies in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that women’s graffiti was becoming more sexual and political.

In the latest study, 60 years on from Kinsey’s work, Pamela Leong, an assistant professor of Sociology at Salem State University, monitored graffiti in 10 single sex bathrooms.  Leong found that women were more prolific, accounting for 70 percent of graffiti, and male graffiti was what she characterized as overtly sexual, crude, competitive and aggressive.

She characterized female graffiti as less sexually explicit — messages were more relationship oriented, confided private thoughts and feelings, as well as messages of support to fellow writers. She also said women often referred to bowel movements, indicating a need to discuss such things privately for fear of being judged “dirty” or “unfeminine,” a contrast to social acceptance of male lavatorial behavior.

Bruce Jenner: ‘I am a woman’

Former Olympic champion Bruce Jenner told the world that “for all intents and purposes, I am a woman” in an extraordinary television interview aired Friday about gender confusion he first felt as a youngster trying on his mother’s and sister’s dresses.

The 1976 decathlon champion, known better to a new generation as the patriarch of television’s omnipresent Kardashian clan, took out his ponytail to let his long hair flow past his shoulders.

“I’m not this bad person,” said Jenner, who hoped the two-hour interview could help others struggling with gender identity issues. “I’m just doing what I have to do.”

The E! Entertainment network announced that Jenner would be part of a documentary series about the transition that would begin on July 26.

The two-hour interview with Diane Sawyer was filmed in February in Los Angeles and New York, before a fatal car accident in which Jenner was involved.

Jenner said he self-identifies as “her,” not a specific name. But he told Sawyer he felt comfortable using the pronouns “he” and “him,” a designation that is an important issue for many in the transgender community, which believes that transgender people should be referred to by the pronouns with which they choose to identify.

Jenner said his “brain is more female than it is male.” He said he began gender reassignment therapy in the 1980s — taking hormones, having surgery to make his nose smaller and having hair removed from his face and chest — but gave it up. As Jenner, 65, got older, he realized that if he got sick and faced death without facing up to this issue, “I’d be so mad that I didn’t explore that side of my life.”

As a young boy, Jenner felt an urge to try on his mother’s and sister’s dresses.

“I didn’t know why I was doing it,” he said. “It just made me feel good.”

Jenner said he has never been sexually attracted to men, and he wanted to make clear to viewers that gender identity and sexuality were separate things.

“I am not gay,” he said. “I am, as far as I know, heterosexual. I’ve always been with a woman, raising kids.”

Jenner said he has not decided whether he will undergo sexual reassignment surgery.

“These are all things that are out there in the future for me to explore,” he said. “There’s no rush for that. And I would do it so quietly that nobody in the world would know.”

Jenner’s four oldest children appeared on the interview special to support their father, but not the two girls he had with Kris Kardashian. He said his stepdaughter Kim has been a big supporter, urged on by husband Kanye West, but that his stepdaughter Khloe was taking it the hardest.

Jenner’s first two wives offered messages of support; Kris Kardashian told ABC she had no comment but tweeted after the interview aired, “Not only was I able to call him my husband for 25 years and father of my children, I am now able to call him my hero.”

Jenner told Sawyer that Kris was having a difficult time with it, and that if she better understood it, the couple would probably still be together.

Jenner’s 89-year-old mother also was interviewed, saying she was more proud of Bruce than when he stood as an Olympic champion in Montreal.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund offered a statement of congratulations to Jenner.

“We hope that Jenner inspires others to find the courage to be open about who they are,” said Michael Silverman, the fund’s executive director. “And we hope that Jenner’s message of authenticity and openness will shine a light on the unique challenges that transgender people face and help further equality.”

Jenner showed Sawyer a closet filled with dresses and men’s clothes. Sawyer said she had a private dinner with Jenner where he wore a dress, but the former Olympian did not appear in one in the ABC special.

Jenner said his two youngest daughters, suspecting that each other was secretly using her clothes, set up a computer to catch the other in the act — only to find out it was their father raiding their closets.

“I would like to think that we can save some lives here,” said Jenner, who admitted he once considered suicide at a low point when seen by paparazzi heading to a surgery to have his Adam’s apple shaved back. “I have a feeling this is my cause in life. This is why God put me on this Earth, to deal with this issue.”