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    In the News: 11.30.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Report Finds 2017 Is the Deadliest Year Yet for Transgender People

    There has been more reported violence against transgender people so far in 2017 than any year before in the U.S., according to a report recently released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which tells the stories of all 25 transgender people who have been killed this year. LGBT people are already more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group in the U.S. This study shows that that trend is particularly deadly for transgender people, and it is ever increasing. The majority of the victims were of people of color, and 80 percent were transgender women.

    Clair Farley Named Senior Advisor for Transgender Initiatives

    Mayor Ed Lee on November 20 announced the appointment of Clair Farley as the Mayor’s Senior Advisor on Transgender Initiatives. Farley will work directly with the Mayor and City Administrator Naomi Kelly on LGBTQ policies and oversee development of new transgender initiatives. Theresa Sparks, who held the role previously, will be retiring from a full-time role in City government to pursue other projects and interests. Farley’s appointment is effective on December 4. “I am so honored to follow in the footsteps of Theresa Sparks and all the leaders before us,” said Farley. “This has been a remarkable month despite these challenging times, with over seven transgender candidates winning across the country and the passing of vital trans policy in California. We must stay vigilant and keep investing in building our resilient and diverse communities. I am so grateful to be working for the City that I love and will make sure that no one gets left behind on our path to full equality.” Farley will be convening a transgender advisory committee to inform the Mayor, City departments, and the broader LGBTQ initiatives throughout the City. She will also be supporting new and emerging policy, such as implementing SB179 that will allow a third gender on state identification cards and SB310, the groundbreaking bill that will make it easier for trans inmates to change their identification documents.

    Nearly 21 Million People Living with HIV Now on Treatment

    Ahead of World AIDS Day, December 1, UNAIDS released a new report showing that access to treatment has risen significantly. In 2000, just 685,000 people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy. By June 2017, around 20.9 million people had access to the life-saving medicines. According to Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, such a dramatic scale-up could not have happened without the courage and determination of people living with HIV demanding and claiming their rights, backed up by steady, strong leadership and financial commitment.

    Former President Bill Clinton to Speak at National AIDS Memorial Grove on December 1

    Former President Bill Clinton will give the keynote address during World AIDS Day ceremonies in San Francisco, helping to culminate a year of events marking 25 years since the National AIDS Memorial was created to honor those lost to the AIDS epidemic. World AIDS Day is observed globally on December 1 each year for people to unite and recommit to the fight against HIV, show support for people living with it, and commemorate those who have died. This year’s World AIDS Day commemoration events at the memorial in Golden Gate Park are built around the theme “Bending the Arc Toward Justice,” honoring people from all walks of life who have made a difference in the fight against AIDS. David McMurry, retired Global Public Health Manager at Chevron, will receive the Humanitarian Leadership Award and Ruth Coker Burks, known as the “Cemetery Angel,” will receive the Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award. The next generation of leaders who are working on the front lines of education and prevention will be celebrated, announcing the recipients of the 2017 Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship. These young leaders will help to ensure the AIDS epidemic and struggle for a cure is never forgotten. (For more information on World AIDS Day, see page 18 of this issue.)

    Renewed Effort to Allow Cities to Extend Alcohol Sales to 4 AM

    On November 28, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) joined nightlife supporters, labor, community members, and business leaders to rally around support for a renewed effort to allow—but not require—cities to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 am. The new 5-year pilot program version of the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to the six cities whose Mayors have expressed interest in the bill: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach. Mayor Ed Lee said: “The bill strikes a perfect balance by introducing new opportunity while still providing local jurisdictions the ability to prioritize the public safety of our neighborhoods and determine—business by business—whether such an extension is desirable.” Senator Wiener will introduce the new bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

    Plus Housing Program for HIV Clients Has Launched

    Plus Housing is a program through the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. In this new program, applicants can choose to be considered for either (or both) permanent housing subsidies and units. Plus Housing is federally funded by Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, and locally by the San Francisco General Fund. It should be noted that the Plus Housing program is in pilot mode for the first six months or so, which means they reserve the right to make adjustments to program policies as needed, in order to serve the overall program aims and provide the greatest benefit to San Franciscans living with HIV/AIDS.

    Did Starbucks Put a Lesbian Couple on Its Christmas Cup?

    The annual “controversy” of the Starbucks Christmas cup continues, as fundamental rightwing Christians are convinced it has included a lesbian couple holding hands on this year’s design. And Starbucks isn’t denying it. While the hands are completely unidentifiable as male or female on the cup, the TV commercial promoting it shows a female couple getting cozy over cups of coffee, before reaching out to touch one another’s hands. The rightwing homophobes, of course, are particularly worked up about this.

    Second U.S. Judge Halts Proposed Transgender Military Ban

    Another federal judge has halted a proposed transgender military ban, expanding on an initial ruling issued last month against the plan by President Donald Trump’s administration. In a preliminary injunction issued in Baltimore, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis ruled that transgender service members have “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences” due to the proposed ban including threat of discharge, stigma, and the cancellation or delay of surgeries related to their gender transitions. The six plaintiffs in the lawsuit he reviewed have all been receiving hormone therapy. Trump had announced on Twitter in July that the government would not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity. The order was a proposed reinstatement of a longstanding policy that barred transgender people from joining the military and also subjected service members to discharge if they were revealed to be transgender. That policy was changed last year under former President Barack Obama. But in a strongly-worded passage from his 53-page decision, Garbis wrote that the “capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy change.”

    Interfaith Emergency Winter Shelter Schedule Announced

    Mayor Lee, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Director Jeff Kositsky, the San Francisco Interfaith Council and Episcopal Community Services have announced the schedule and details for the Interfaith Winter Shelter Program, an initiative that provides additional shelter services at local churches. Now in its 29th year, the Interfaith Winter Shelter Program began on November 19, and will run through February 24, 2018. The City and Episcopal Community Services are collaborating with the San Francisco Interfaith Council to provide additional shelter services to homeless San Franciscans during the winter months. The Interfaith Council works to identify the four host churches where the overnight shelter is located and to identify the church groups, congregations and community groups who sign up to provide the evening meals throughout the program. Spaces are reserved on a first come, first served basis each Sunday. The reservation ticket will allow the guest a seven-night stay. Two meals will be served to shelter guests each night. Last year, more than 95 percent of the beds were occupied for the Winter Shelter Program.

    SF Small Business Commission Approves Longstanding Gay Bar El Rio for Legacy Business Registry

    The San Francisco Small Business Commission unanimously approved El Rio for inclusion on the Legacy Business Registry, which recognizes longstanding, community-serving businesses as valuable cultural assets to the City and provides educational and promotional assistance to encourage their continued viability and success in San Francisco. In total, 113 small businesses that have been operating in San Francisco for 30 or more years are on the Legacy Business Registry. Founded in 1978 in the Mission District as a Brazilian leather gay bar, El Rio is a mixed events space and bar with a strong community-oriented agenda. “El Rio is a gem in the Mission District, and takes the term ‘neighborhood bar’ to the next level,” said Gloria Chan, Director of Communications, Office of Economic and Workforce Development. (For more about El Rio, please see the cover and pages 12–13.)