Call Me By My Name

Since December 2017 the Anne Arundel County Police Department has had a department policy on how to interact with transgender people in an appropriate and dignified manner. We’ve been reviewing the policy in class. The policy states that, “no person shall be discriminated against based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other basis.” The policy not only provides some very basic definitions, it also gives instructions on addressing members of the trans community with a person’s preferred first name and appropriate pronouns. The policy prompts the officer to remember that you can’t ask a person about their anatomy or […]

Why I Wanted to Move to Iceland as a Teenager

Most teenagers have probably never given Iceland much of a thought. In fact, most teenagers probably can’t even find Iceland on a map unless they’ve taken a world geography course before. I, on the other hand, desperately longed to live there when I was a teenager. What was it about the land of fire and ice that intrigued me so much? It was the fact that Iceland was the first country to ever have an openly gay head of state. Now, as a more mature 25-year-old trans woman, I’m absolutely thrilled by the fact that there’s a very real chance […]

Talking with Police

In December 2018 Corporal Erica Mahan from the Anne Arundel County Police Department Training Academy reached out the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce seeking a trainer to conduct LGBT Cultural Awareness classes to all police officers during their annual in-service trainings. I was one of the trainers the Chamber recommended. What I’ve since learned is that the Training Academy had been conducting diversity training for the County officers for several years as part of Chief Timothy Altomare’s fair and impartial policing mandate. Learning about the many communities that make up the county gives the officers a better understanding of who’s […]

Activists Halt US Conference on AIDS to Protest CDC

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surely saw it coming. Protests are part of the DNA of the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), and conference organizers have never shied from welcoming dissent from activists. In fact, they schedule time in their finely produced event for just such occasions. Still, when a large group of diverse activists stormed the stage during the opening plenary on Thursday, their sheer number was impressive, as were their considerable list of grievances against the CDC and, in sometimes very direct and personal terms, against CDC Director […]

Changing with the Times

Let’s talk about the cops – today’s cops. Not the cops from 50 years ago, ten years ago, or even last year. I’m talking about the ones in uniform today who want to be included in our community, who want to protect us, and treat us as equal human beings of worth and value. I’m not talking about the cops who dismiss us, or bully us, or don’t give our humanity a second thought. I’m talking about the ones who want to understand us; who want to defend us; change policies, procedures, and ultimately laws for us. The cops who […]

The U.S. Border Patrol is Separating People with HIV from Their Family

The slow-motion train wreck once known as the United States Constitution continued its human wreckage Thursday, when Chief Brian Hastings of the Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) casually explained to Rep. Jamie Raskin in a congressional hearing that HIV status is a criteria used to separate families at the border. The House Judiciary Committee hearing, “Oversight of Family Separation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Hearing,” contained this jaw-dropping exchange between the two men (it occurs around the 2:26:00 mark in the video below):   Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): If a mother or father has an HIV positive status, is that […]

Rainbow Retirement

by Jennifer Jimenez Maraña The older adult population is growing larger and more diverse. As older adults of all backgrounds age, where can someone find a community of active older adults who are living their best life and making the most of retirement? Who would care for older adults if they need help with activities of daily life and/or support with health issues? When I was growing up, my parents set the expectation for me and my siblings that we would care for them when they were older. We were not to send my parents to “those facilities” also known […]

We Must Reinvigorate AIDS Fight

For many years, I’ve viewed activist Larry Bryant, Jr., as one of the most highly regarded voices of conscience in the HIV/AIDS movement, and among black men in particular. At the recent Reunion Project event in Washington, DC – a day of education and community for long-term survivors – Larry laid bare his life with HIV and his observations from decades in the HIV arena. Larry does not mince words. He calls out other community figures when he sees fit. He names names. He exposes racism and transphobia, even among our ranks. His keynote speech taught me, shamed me, and maddened me. That’s […]

(Love) Letter to Mayor Pete

Here’s a letter to Mayor Pete. This is kind of like the letter that outgoing presidents leave behind in the Oval Office for the incoming commander-in-chief. It’s advice from a guy who has a shared experience with you. I also grew up in northern Indiana and graduated high school as the All-American guy with good grades, scholarships, and a gregarious personality. I attended the local Catholic Church and was active in the youth group. I returned from college and was quickly elected to my hometown city council. My family and friends were so proud. I was on my way and […]

IML Winner Jack Thompson

… on sex, HIV, and facing transphobia Jack Thompson, who just won the 2019 International Mr. Leather (IML), is a lot. And he carries it well. Jack is biracial. He’s gay. He’s transgender. He’s extremely kinky, depending on what scale you use to measure such things. Jack is also utterly transparent about all that he is, to a disarming degree. His speech at the IML competition (“You are enough.”) laid bare all of his identities and became an instant viral meme. Over breakfast at his favorite diner in his newly adopted home city of Baltimore, Jack discussed coming out (as many things), sex, […]