Iowa
Rep. Steve King sought to add anti-transgender amendments a defense authorization bill, according to Windy City Media:

One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel issued a statement condemning Rep. King’s proposed amendments.
“With these amendments, Rep. King is telling transgender Iowans, specifically transgender service members and veterans, that they are not welcome in the U.S. military and their service is not valued. The only ‘transgender agenda’ these amendments would prevent is the ability for transgender service members to bring their whole selves to their mission and receive basic support from the nation they fight to protect. We urge Rep. King to withdraw Amendment 406 as he did Amendment 337 and apologize for his disrespect of our transgender service members who bravely serve our country despite policies and rhetoric that discourage them from doing so freely and openly.”

King’s amendment failed but his comments on the House floor have caused controversy, KCCI reports:

U.S. Rep. Steve King, the notorious Iowa Republican who has stirred the pot time and time again, is in hot water again for his comments comparing transgender troops to castrated slaves from the Ottoman Empire.

King’s remarks came during a speech on the House floor Friday after the House rejected his bid to stop the Department of Defense from paying for U.S. service members’ gender reassignment surgery through insurance.

“And today, we’re here thinking somehow we’re going to make the military better by letting people line up at their recruitment center who have planned that they want to do sexual reassignment surgery, know that it’s expensive, and believe ‘if I can just get into any branch of the United States services — to the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines; maybe become a Navy SEAL — and then submit to sexual reassignment surgery and then go from a man to a woman,'” King said.

Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, director of One Iowa, an LGBT advocacy group, condemned King’s House floor speech, saying in a statement: “Rep. Steve King’s speech is absolutely unacceptable. Not only does he compare transgender troops to castrated slaves, but he insinuates that transgender people going into the service only do so to get free surgery.

The Little Village Magazine takes a look at drag in Iowa City:

It may be 2017, but tonight drag queen Roxie Mess is channeling her inner ’80s superstar. From the moment she takes the stage, she controls the crowd at Studio 13, the only gay bar in Iowa City. Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It To My Heart” blasts through the speakers. Roxie struts on stage in a skin-tight, neon orange dress with pink frills and huge blonde hair that seems to take up more space than her actual head. Her 4-inch heels make her tower above the crowd at 6-foot-9. Her makeup is just as bright and jarring as the neon dress and makes it impossible for anyone to look away as she dances across the floor and against the wall.

Throughout the song she walks around to dozens of people eagerly holding out dollar bills for her to take, blowing kisses to each one as she grabs the bills and stuffs them down her dress. People cheer as the song finishes up and she glides off stage. As she rushes to change costumes for her next routine, she feeds off of the energy around her. Studio 13 is her place — a bar full of people who come out week after week to support the loud, comedic, crazy, dramatic routines of Roxie Mess.

Last year, Roxie took her act to a new level: She performed for the third time at the Miss Gay Iowa At-Large pageant. The at-large category of the pageant calls on all plus-size drag queens around the state to compete. After disappointing results in the previous two years, 2016 was different. She walked away with the crown.

A University of Iowa employee is riding 300 miles to raise awareness and resources for LGBTQ youth, the Daily Iowan reports:

Larry Schreier will soon bike more than 300 miles across the Midwest to provide LGBTQ students with the resources he lacked when he was a gay college student in the 1980s.
Schreier, the director of the University of Iowa University Counseling Service, will ride his bike from Iowa City to West Lafayette, Indiana, from July 15-19 to raise money for the LGBTQ resource centers at the UI and Purdue University.
When Schreier worked at Purdue 11 years ago, he said, the university had an LGBTQ student organization but no LGBTQ center. But for the last five years, a center has served the LGBTQ community at Purdue.
A seasoned bike rider, he said he was planning to ride his bike to visit friends in Indiana and thought he should do something useful with his efforts.
“The gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer students are near and dear to me, having been a gay student myself,” he said. “I thought as long as I have the opportunity, I thought I would make use of the ride and raise money for the two centers.”
He started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $10,000 to split evenly between the universities’ two LGBTQ centers, and he believes it will be a reminder that the LGBTQ community is a vulnerable population in need of more support.

Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune talks about being transgender in the Fox Cities region:

When Tasha Saecker and Bryan Durkee are together, laughter fills the room.
The couple finishes each other’s sentences, and the excitement in their voices is palpable, especially when they talk about their daughter, Rowan.
Rowan came out to them as transgender when she was 16 years old. Now, with the help of activist Kathy Flores, the Menasha couple is leading a support group in the Fox Cities for parents of transgender children.
“We’ve wanted to do it (the support group) for a while. It’s really important,” Tasha said. “We looked and looked for people to kind of help us understand the journey we were starting on, and there was nobody around to talk to except Kathy.”
The support group met for the first time in June at the Goodwill campus. Flores, the statewide LGBTQ anti-violence coordinator for the Milwaukee-based organization Diverse & Resilient, attends the sessions as an advocate. A dozen parents attended the first meeting.

The Shepherd Express takes a look at the push for transgender student safety in schools and the fallout from the case in Kenosha:

Wisconsin has already jumped into the new wave of anti-transgender sentiment. Kenosha trans high school student Ash Whitaker had already won a historic lawsuit against his school board to allow him access to the men’s bathroom. In a unanimous decision announced May 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling against the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD). However, the celebration would be short lived. Just weeks later, supported by KUSD board member Gary J. Kunich who had ardently argued against Whitaker’s case, KUSD appealed again, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court. In online social media posting in March, when the Whitaker debate and his campaign for reelection to the school board were at their peaks, Kunich used the “privacy and safety” refrain to underscore his opposition. KUSD’s attorney, Ronald Stadler of Milwaukee, said in a Kenosha News statement, “I think it is very important for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue because it is affecting schools all across the nation.”

Manitoba
Steinbach held its second Pride Parade over the weekend, the CBC reports:

Saturday morning began with a feeling of uncertainty in Manitoba’s Bible Belt, but as hundreds began to trickle into a small Steinbach park, organizers say that worry turned to pride and joy.
“Absolutely amazing,” said Chris Plett on the turnout to Saturday’s march.
Pride march returns to Manitoba’s Bible Belt Saturday for round 2
Save the date: Steinbach Pride posts invite for 2017 parade
Politicians will be no-shows at city’s 1st Pride parade​
The Steinbach Pride co-chair was hesitant to say progress has been made for LGBT people in his predominantly Mennonite community, but said he was happy to see a greater number of Steinbach residents come out to the LGBT march than he thought were at last year’s inaugural event.
“That says something.”

Pride Winnipeg grand marshall Kelly Houle greeted marchers as they paraded through Steinbach. (Austin Grabish/CBC)
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Co-chair Michelle McHale said she thought there was a possibility protesters would show up Saturday — organizers had been sifting through homophobic comments made online in the days leading up to the march — but those opposed didn’t cause any problems.
Hundreds carried rainbow flags and signs in support of gay rights down the city’s main street while RCMP directed traffic.
Many of the marchers were from Winnipeg, but there were plenty of Steinbach residents out too.

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. U.S. Rep. Steve King is showing himself to be, the epitome of arrogance, and Ignorance, with his comments. People elected this person, that probably has never read the Constitution of these United States. He should acquaint himself with the 14th Amendment. All men [And women] should be created, and treated as equals, so who told him he was to judge others, such as Trans people, as not being equal. We were born with a Birth anomaly, our Brains, that do not match our bodies. If this arrogant, Ignorant being, were to educate himself to facts, he will learn this, and to speak with a group of Trans people, he would find we are basically the same as all people with the same needs and wants. Time he grows up, and yes for him it will be hard to do.

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