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March 22, 2016 3

Intended or Not, SJP’s Actions Have Consequences for LGBTQ People

By Seth M. Marnin, Vice Pres­i­dent for Civil Rights

Recent homo­pho­bic and anti-Semitic inci­dents at Brown Uni­ver­sity came on the heels of the announce­ment that Janet Mock, trans­gen­der author and founder of #Girl­s­LikeUs, a social media project that empow­ers trans women, had can­celled her sched­uled speak­ing engage­ment there. Mock’s talk, Redefin­ing Real­ness, was spon­sored by Moral Voices, the Brown Cen­ter for Stu­dents of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Cen­ter, LGBTQ Cen­ter, Sex­ual Assault Peer Edu­ca­tors, Swearer Cen­ter for Pub­lic Ser­vice, Office of the Chap­lains, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Inter­cul­tural Stu­dent Engage­ment, and Brown/RISD Hillel.

React­ing to the fact that Hil­lel was one of the co-sponsors of pro­gram, the Brown Uni­ver­sity chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) launched a change.org peti­tion urg­ing Ms. Mock to reject Hillel’s invi­ta­tion to speak, say­ing that she should accept “Brown stu­dents’ spon­sor­ship instead of Hillel’s.”  Although they were only able to gain 159 sup­port­ers (of the nearly 9,000 stu­dents who attend Brown), SJP’s divi­sive efforts led to Ms. Mock can­celling her talk.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

While some may be quick to crit­i­cize Ms. Mock’s deci­sion, con­dem­na­tion should instead be lev­eled against SJP and their efforts to splin­ter a com­mu­nity and use Ms. Mock as a pawn. In their effort to link Hillel’s Moral Voices’ cam­paign — a largely domes­tic ini­tia­tive high­light­ing vio­lence against LGBT+ indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties — to vio­lence in the Mid­dle East, SJP forced a trans­gen­der woman of color to choose between silenc­ing her­self or allow­ing her­self to be exploited for their unre­lated cru­sade.  She should never have been put in that position.

The homo­pho­bic and anti-Semitic graf­fiti that appeared on Brown’s cam­pus just days later occurred in an envi­ron­ment that SJP helped cre­ate. Their claim to be sur­prised is unper­sua­sive.   More­over, the graf­fiti is only one vis­i­ble sign of the con­se­quences of SJP’s actions. While SJP’s efforts to alien­ate Jew­ish stu­dents are well doc­u­mented, there are other impli­ca­tions too.

There are far too few vis­i­ble trans­gen­der role mod­els and lead­ers. Efforts that have the effect of quash­ing those scarce voices have far-reaching reper­cus­sions.  For exam­ple, stud­ies have shown that the sui­cide attempt rate among trans­gen­der men and women exceeds 41%, greatly sur­pass­ing the 4.6% of the over­all U.S. pop­u­la­tion who report a sui­cide attempt at some point in their lives. The ele­vated rates of sui­cide attempts are con­nected with sur­vivors’ expe­ri­ences of fam­ily rejec­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence at school and work. The absence of trans­gen­der voices in main­stream dis­course also plays a role. There few role mod­els for young trans­gen­der peo­ple, and fam­i­lies, co-workers, and friends of trans­gen­der peo­ple have lim­ited oppor­tu­ni­ties to hear from trans­gen­der lead­ers.  Such an expe­ri­ence would bet­ter equip them to be allies in the future. Unfor­tu­nately, SJP’s actions fore­closed that pos­si­bil­ity for the Brown Uni­ver­sity campus.

The impor­tance of pro­vid­ing plat­form for trans­gen­der voices is under­scored by the fact that, accord­ing to the National Coali­tion of Anti-Violence Pro­grams’ most recent report, vio­lence against trans­gen­der women and par­tic­u­larly trans­gen­der women of color remains at an alarm­ingly high rate. At present, only 17 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have hate crime laws that explic­itly cover gen­der iden­tity. Crit­i­cal efforts to address vio­lence against LGBTQ peo­ple, includ­ing advo­cacy for inclu­sive hate crime laws like the 50 States Against Hate cam­paign, are under­mined by orga­ni­za­tions that engage in activism that results in silenc­ing trans­gen­der voices. That too is what SJP did.

SJP encour­aged a speaker – wholly unre­lated to Israel — to reject an invi­ta­tion from a broad coali­tion of stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions solely because one of those orga­ni­za­tions is Jew­ish. Intended or not, SJP harmed the LGBTQ com­mu­nity at Brown and beyond.  It’s well beyond time to reject these divi­sive tactics.

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November 20, 2015 Off

Today We Remember Transgender Lives Lost and Recommit to Justice

For the past six­teen years on Novem­ber 20th, trans­gen­der peo­ple and allies around the world have come together to mark Trans­gen­der Day of Remem­brance (TDOR). It is a day to honor trans­gen­der peo­ple whose lives trag­i­cally ended in the last year as a result of anti-transgender vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion and cel­e­brate the resilience of those who are liv­ing. At memo­r­ial ser­vices around the coun­try, the names of trans­gen­der peo­ple who have been killed in the last year are read.


Much like observ­ing a yahrtzeit (the anniver­sary of a death), it is a time for reflec­tion and intro­spec­tion. This year was an espe­cially vio­lent year, with at least 22 reported mur­ders in the United States since Jan­u­ary, almost dou­ble the num­ber of trans mur­ders in all of 2014. This year has also wit­nessed a sig­nif­i­cant increase in reported non-lethal anti-trans vio­lence. And the major­ity of this year’s vic­tims were trans­gen­der women of color.

Just this past week, the Con­gres­sional LGBT Equal­ity Cau­cus hosted a forum that brought together advo­cates and com­mu­nity lead­ers to dis­cuss how to address soar­ing lev­els of vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple. Unsur­pris­ingly, issues of racism, poverty, the sys­tem­atic mar­gin­al­iza­tion of trans peo­ple, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools, jobs and hous­ing were high­lighted. Advo­cates pri­or­i­tized com­pre­hen­sive nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions and immi­gra­tion and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform as a way to reduce vio­lence against trans people.

Also ear­lier this week, the FBI released the 2014 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act (HCSA) report. While the report doc­u­mented a decrease in the num­ber of reported hate crimes in the United States, crimes tar­get­ing vic­tims on the basis of their gen­der iden­tity tripled. Tripled. And the vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple is not lim­ited to the United States.  Trans Mur­der Mon­i­tor­ing (TMM) project, a pro­gram of Trans­gen­der Europe, sys­tem­at­i­cally mon­i­tors, col­lects and ana­lyzes reports of homi­cides of trans peo­ple world­wide. This year TMM iden­ti­fied 271 trans per­sons to be added to the list to be remembered.

It is impor­tant to take this day to mourn and to honor the lives of those trag­i­cally cut short by hatred and vio­lence. And it is also a day to re-commit to nam­ing the prob­lems work­ing on solutions.

A com­pre­hen­sive fed­eral anti-discrimination law that explic­itly includes gen­der iden­tity is essen­tial. We must ensure that trans­gen­der peo­ple are explic­itly pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion in hous­ing, employ­ment, pub­lic accom­mo­da­tions, edu­ca­tion, fed­eral fund­ing, credit, and jury ser­vice. These legal pro­tec­tions will go far in reduc­ing the num­ber of trans­gen­der peo­ple put in vul­ner­a­ble posi­tions as a result of discrimination.

State hate crime laws must cover hate crimes com­mit­ted on the basis of gen­der iden­tity and expres­sion. An inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime law is not enough. We must redou­ble our efforts to ful­fill the goals of ADL’s 50 States Against Hate cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly enhanced train­ing for law enforce­ment offi­cers on how to iden­tify and respond to hate crimes com­mit­ted against trans peo­ple, bet­ter data col­lec­tion and report­ing by law enforce­ment agen­cies, and increased pub­lic education.

And we must edu­cate young peo­ple and edu­ca­tors about trans­gen­der lives. Our schools must be places where trans­gen­der and gen­der non-conforming youth are able to thrive in an envi­ron­ment that is safe and free from bul­ly­ing and harassment.

So today, we remem­ber and mourn. Tomor­row we con­tinue to fight fiercely for secur­ing jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.


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August 31, 2015 Off

A Special Trip to Atlanta, and a New Campaign to Combat Hate Crimes in America

By Jonathan Green­blatt
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt with  Congressman John Lewis at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank.

ADL National Direc­tor Jonathan Green­blatt with Con­gress­man John Lewis at an event com­mem­o­rat­ing the 100th anniver­sary of the lynch­ing of Leo Frank.

Last week was a spe­cial week for me per­son­ally and more impor­tantly, I hope, for the Anti-Defamation League as we began a cam­paign to ensure every Amer­i­can is pro­tected by a state hate crime law.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, near the site of the lynch­ing of Jew­ish pen­cil fac­tory man­ager Leo Frank a cen­tury ago (an inci­dent which, com­ing just two years after the for­ma­tion of ADL, sent shock waves through the Jew­ish com­mu­nity and gal­va­nized our work), we launched #50StatesAgainstHate, a nation­wide effort to shore up hate crime laws in America.

Along with two dozen groups, includ­ing the Human Rights Cam­paign and the National Coun­cil of La Raza, we made a com­mit­ment to pass hate crime laws in the five states that do not have them (includ­ing Geor­gia and South Car­olina, site of the hor­ri­ble Charleston 9 mur­ders ear­lier this sum­mer), strengthen laws on the books in other states so they include crimes against the LGBT com­mu­nity, and train law enforce­ment on how to pros­e­cute these crimes.

This work embod­ies ADL’s found­ing mis­sion: To stop the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple, and to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.

This dual and com­ple­men­tary mis­sion is what we brought me to Atlanta – to launch this new cam­paign and to speak with lead­ers of both the Jew­ish and African-American com­mu­ni­ties there, two peo­ples with very dif­fer­ent his­to­ries, but a shared com­mit­ment to an inclu­sive Amer­ica where equal treat­ment and oppor­tu­nity are avail­able to all.

Mr. Greenblatt in Atlanta discussing ADL's new campaign for tougher hate crimes laws across the country

Mr. Green­blatt in Atlanta dis­cussing ADL’s new cam­paign for tougher hate crimes laws across the country

My fam­ily and I cel­e­brated Shab­bat (the Jew­ish Sab­bath) with Con­gre­ga­tion Or Hadash, a syn­a­gogue that rel­a­tives of mine attend which has made social jus­tice a key part of its mis­sion. There, I spoke about the Iran deal and how the Jewish-American com­mu­nity must not let it dis­agree­ments over it tear us apart.

The next day, I was hon­ored to take the pul­pit of Ebenezer Bap­tist Church, Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr’s church and cen­ter of the Civil Rights Move­ment. There, we mourned the news of Julian Bond’s death, and then looked for­ward to the work ahead: includ­ing pass­ing a hate crimes law in Geor­gia. It was won­der­ful to meet Mar­tin Luther King III and his fam­ily who was at the ser­vice, and the warm wel­come that the con­gre­ga­tion gave me – a man of a dif­fer­ent race and faith – is some­thing that I will always remember.

On Mon­day, the anniver­sary of the Leo Frank lynch­ing, our local ADL lead­er­ship was joined by Geor­gia Attor­ney Gen­eral Sam Olens, for­mer Geor­gia Gov­er­nor Roy Barnes, and Con­gress­man John Lewis as we marked the somber occa­sion and kicked off the #50StatesAgainstHate cam­paign. For those that doubt the Jew­ish and African-American com­mu­ni­ties can come together, I say: come to Atlanta and see how ADL and Jew­ish com­mu­nal lead­ers are work­ing together toward shared goals that will pro­tect us both and make our coun­try stronger.

While the week­end was inspi­ra­tional and invig­o­rat­ing, I am under no illu­sions that the work ahead of us will take many months – and even many years. But know­ing that our cause is just, I know that ADL and our part­ners will keep at it – day after day – until we are able to say that we hon­ored the mem­ory of Leo Frank and all those killed by hate-filled mur­der­ers and passed hate crimes laws in all 50 states.

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