South Dakota
A Christian organization running a shelter refused to provide a meal to a Two-Spirit transgender woman, KDLT reports:

A Sioux Falls transgender woman is speaking out after she says she was denied service at Union Gospel Mission because of how she was dressed.
“You have to dress like a guy and then you can come back, “says Isabella Red Cloud as she recalls being turned away at the Union Gospel Mission.
Those are the words Isabella Red Cloud, says a staff member at the Union Gospel Mission said to her when she tried to eat breakfast at the shelter over the weekend.
“I cried, I contemplated suicide, I felt sad, I felt weak, “says Red Cloud.
Red Cloud says she was denied service not only on Saturday but again on Sunday when she returned for church service.
“It took everything in my power to sit there and not get violent because I just got out of prison and every time anybody has ever said a derogatory word to me about my sexuality. I called them out in there, “says Red Cloud.
The Union Gospel Mission says they will not provide services to transgender people and they will stand firm in their belief.
“We need to, first of all, make sure that it is a safe place because we have women and children here. Sometimes certain situations bring about animosity and so we have to eliminate that and sometimes that causes us to have to make the decision to deny a service, “says Executive Director of Union Gospel Mission Fran Stenberg.

Argus Leader has more:

Kendra Heathscott, of TransAction South Dakota, said she hopes to start a dialogue with the mission to address the issue of transgender access to the soup kitchen.

“We would love to have the opportunity to talk to them and humanize the situation … we weren’t dressing up as women, we were dressing up as men,” Heathscott said.

LGBTQ activists say the policy at the Mission is a sign of a need for change in South Dakota, which has no state-level protections against discrimination on the basis of sexuality.

“Unfortunately, the protections do not exist for transgender people,” said Lawrence Novotny, chair of Equality South Dakota. “This is what the community is trying to change.”

Iowa
Over the weekend, health care professionals met to talk about disparities in LGBTQ health, KCCI reports:

Health care professionals from across the state gathered Saturday to address challenges providers face when caring for LGBTQ individuals.

One Iowa, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, hosted the fifth annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference at Des Moines University’s Student Education Center, holding workshops and discussing the health inequalities and disparities LGBTQ Iowans continue to experience in the state’s health system.

“Many LGBTQ Iowans struggle to access inclusive health care,” One Iowa executive director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. “One Iowa is dedicated to ensuring LGBTQ Iowans receive the health care they need by helping health care providers create safe and welcoming environments for the LGBTQ community.”

The conference’s keynote speaker featured Dr. Katie Imborek, University of Iowa Health Care LGBTQ clinic developer and co-director, who moved to Iowa City along with her girlfriend, Paula, where the couple finally found acceptance.

Wisconsin
A professor recruited by the University of Wisconsin – Madison turned down the job because of Wisconsin’s policy of not providing transgender-inclusive health care, the Daily Cardinal reports:

A professor—the top faculty recruit for the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies—recently rejected an offer from UW-Madison, citing the “chilling effect” Wisconsin’s political climate has on the university, according to the chair of the department.
The professor, who the chair declined to name but specified that he researches transgender health care and transgender identity, decided to turn down the offer shortly after Wisconsin quit providing health insurance coverage for state workers seeking gender reassignment surgery.
“I certainly can’t control what the insurance board is deciding. I can’t,” said Judith Houck, the GWS department chair. “It does have a chilling effect on people’s academic life, on their emotional life, on their personal life, to hear that some kinds of treatments that some people feel are lifesaving and essential are not being provided by our health care provider.”
Houck said the professor didn’t specifically mention the halting of coverage during their telephone conversation.
Instead, he remained general in his critiques of legislators overreaching into UW syllabi, according to Houck. Still, she noted the timing, saying it led her to believe he heard about the situation, and that it “would have given him sort of ammunition for his beliefs that this is not a good place to do research on trans health, on trans identity.”

North Dakota
The Bismarck Tribune took a look at the fate of LGBTQ legislation in 2017:

Legislation of protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community died in February, after the Republican-dominated House killed House Bill 1386 by a 22-69 vote.
The bill would have banned discrimination in North Dakota based on sexual orientation. It was the fourth time in the past five sessions the LGBT community was dealt that hand.
The lead proponent of such legislation maintains the days of disappointment will eventually be over. North Dakota’s first openly gay lawmaker, Rep. Joshua Boschee, D-Fargo, said the pursuit of LGBT rights will continue.
“I’ll work with anyone who’s willing to discuss it. It comes down to finding people, opponents, to get them to the table,” said Boschee, adding that the foundation will need to be built brick-by-brick, but the bill’s day will come.

Debate, year after year, has been heated and sometimes tearful.
Members of the LGBT community and their supporters have argued over the lack of protections and that passage would ensure the state is welcoming to all people and no one should be at risk for being fired or losing housing because of sexual orientation.

An exhibit at NDSU focuses on the loneliness often felt by LGBTQ people living in North Dakota, NDSU Spectrum reports:

Sitting and staring at Joshua Barduson’s works transports you into two different worlds: one of expansive loneliness and another of warm companionship.
Of the six works Barduson chose to feature in this year’s baccalaureate exhibition in the Memorial Union Gallery, three are indistinguishable landscapes and three represent companionship in a state that’s still learning how to accept homosexuality.
Originally from Willmar, Minnesota, Barduson lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chicago, Illinois, before moving to Fargo for college. He represents these changes in location through is pieces of photography.
“The overall theme, I guess you could say, is that I really wanted to convey this overwhelming sense of loneliness that I felt when I first moved to North Dakota,” Barduson said.
Barduson’s baccalaureate exhibition is a continuation of his first semester project, something that’s been developing and changing since its conception. Originally, Barduson photographed the bedrooms of gay people in Fargo to show there was “nothing that signified to someone who was looking in that they were gay.”
“My thought process going into that was I wanted it to show that you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was a gay person’s bedroom or a straight person’s bedroom, it’s all the same kind of bedroom,” he said. “But I found that I kept wanting to give these people this voice, but then I realized it’s not my place to give these people a voice. I have to tell my story and then hope that my story resonates and gives enough courage that these people are willing to — not necessarily follow in my footsteps but maybe get the courage to finally start accepting, even to themselves, that this is a part of them and that it’s going to be okay.”

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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