Recent Comments



    By Joanie Juster–

    By now the ballots from the March 5 election should have been tallied and the results announced. The flood of political ads on our airwaves, in our social media, and in our mailboxes may subside for a short time before they gear up again for the November elections. The level of deception and gaslighting in the ads for the primary election was off the charts, and with AI and deepfakes becoming normalized, it behooves all of us to be hyper-vigilant about our news sources. Be careful out there, folks. Elections have consequences.


    The news that a young nonbinary student had died after being severely beaten by three older girls in a school bathroom sent shockwaves across the country. While a specific cause of death has not been announced as of this writing, the bullying and violence to which Nex Benedict was subjected was horrific, and shouldn’t happen to anyone.

    But it did happen. And it is no coincidence that it happened in a state with some of the most virulent anti-trans laws and atmosphere. When news of Nex’s death broke, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt issued the kind of generic statement expected from elected officials: “Sarah and I are saddened to learn of the death of Nex Benedict, and our hearts go out to Nex’s family, classmates, and the Owasso community. The death of any child in an Oklahoma school is a tragedy—and bullies must be held accountable.”

    But his words meant nothing, considering that in August 2023, Governor Stitt signed an executive order that directed state agencies to use narrow definitions of “male” and “female.” At that time, he showed his true feelings, claiming, “Today we’re taking a stand against this out-of-control gender ideology that is eroding the very foundation of our society. We’re going to be safeguarding the very essence of what it means to be a woman.”

    While we mourn the death of Nex Benedict, we should honor their memory by continuing to fight for a more just and equitable society where they could have lived openly, freely, and safely.

    New Tool for Defending Trans Rights

    Two respected trans organizations are forming a more powerful alliance at a time when trans rights are under extreme attack. The National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund are merging. Together with the Trans Formations Project, they have also created an online State Action Center to facilitate taking action on bills that impact the trans community.

    The State Action Center makes it easy to track bills as they move through state legislatures, and provides links to contact your state legislators. Also, by looking through the bills being brought up in the various state houses, it’s clear that there are bigger forces at play, to criminalize, marginalize, and basically erase LGBTQ+ people, and particularly trans people. They are leading a coordinated effort, with bill after bill, in state after state, being practically identical. For example, ten states are currently considering a bill described as follows: “Requires commercial entities that publish material considered ‘harmful to minors’ (people under 18) to verify that anyone accessing their site is 18 or older. This could be used to apply to queer and trans content.”

    Other anti-LGBTQ+ bills include attacks on marriage equality, bathroom bans, bills denying affirming health care to trans students, bills limiting trans students’ ability to participate in school sports, and so on and so on. Most of the bills are aimed at trans students—a very small, but particularly vulnerable, demographic.

    State legislators need to hear from us. Take a look at the State Action Center, use the tool to speak up to your state legislators, and share it with your out-of-state friends and family. Lawmakers in West Virginia, Utah, Alabama, Ohio, and so many other states need to hear our voices:

    Your Voice Is Needed: Survey of LGBTQ+ Seniors

    We’re all getting older, every day, and at a certain point you starting realizing, “Yeah, I should really start thinking about this, and what it means for me.” One thing we know is that LGBTQ+ people tend to face significant barriers to timely, affordable, supportive health care, and that those barriers have an adverse effect on their health outcomes.

    In order to address those disparities, it is important to learn about the community, and determine what this community needs and wants. To that end, the California Department of Aging is funding a study conducted by researchers from CITRIS Health at UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Openhouse. The survey will provide valuable insights that policymakers, healthcare providers, and researchers can use to help improve both access to health care and the quality of care available to LGBTQ+ seniors.

    But a study is only as good as the data it collects, so that’s where you (and your older friends) come in. Please take the survey. Your answers will remain anonymous, and you will be providing a valuable service. Any California resident who is over 50 years old and identifies as LGBTQ+ is qualified to participate. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Chinese.

    The deadline for participating in the survey is March 31, so please don’t wait: take the survey now, and share the link with your friends:

    The Sisters Are Putting Out Again

    It’s that time of year again, when The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence solicit grant applications for worthy projects and organizations to fund. While the grants may seem small—typically $250 to $1,000—those amounts can make all the difference to people who are doing good work on a shoestring. Knowing that funding sources for off-the-beaten-path projects can be hard to find, the Sisters tend to fund “progressive grassroots projects that promote wellness, joy, tolerance, and diversity within our communities. We have a vision that encompasses diverse communities and groups that have a common interest in human rights, people of every gender, gender identity, race, class, age, and sexual orientation.”

    The application deadline is March 17 at 11:59 pm, and awardees will be announced on March 31—coincidentally (or not), the day the Sisters celebrate Easter in the Park. Read the grant guidelines carefully, and take a look at all the marvelous, life-affirming projects they funded in 2023.


    Nex Benedict, Gaza, Ukraine, Uganda, Alabama … the news is filled with examples of violence and cruelty that can shatter your heart if you let it. But don’t’ let it. Be the example of kindness this world needs. Open your heart and your mind, and let us help each other through these challenging times.

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on March 7, 2024