Hari Nef is Barbie (!), record number of LGBTQ2S+ officials in U.S., more U.K. transphobia, Catholic nuns stand up for trans people and Spider-verse says trans rights 

 5 queer and trans news stories we’re following: April 5

It’s hump day! Whether mid-week is a low or a high for you, trust—the weekend is fast approaching. In the meantime, we’re offering a little work-week break that has the added bonus of getting you up to date on LGBTQ2S+ news. Here’s our roundup of the five biggest queer and trans stories of the day. Happy reading! 

1. Hari Nef is one of several queer people to appear in new teaser material for the Barbie movie
2. The U.S. has a record number of out LGBTQ2S+ elected officials
3. The U.K. is considering excluding trans women from the Equality Act
4. Thousands of Catholic nuns declare trans people “beloved by God”
 5. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse trailer includes a clear call-out for trans rights

1. Hari Nef is one of several queer people to appear in new teaser material for the Barbie movie

Folks, life is plastic and it is definitely fantastic. The teaser for the upcoming Barbie movie is out, and the camp factor is extremely high—it may not be officially queer, but trust us, it is queer. The set is decked out in hot pink and glitter, and the trailer features a joke about Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu “beaching each other off.” Thank you, Greta Gerwig. Plus, there are some fan-favourite queer and trans actors in the cast, including Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp and Hari Nef. 

After the teaser came out, Nef, who will be playing “Dr. Barbie,” posted a note on Instagram that she’d sent to Gerwig and Margot Robbie when scheduling conflicts almost prevented her from being cast. “The name BARBIE looms large over every American woman,” she wrote, adding that her and her trans girlfriends call themselves “the dolls.” “We call ourselves ‘the dolls’ in the face of everything we know we are, never will be, hope to be. We yell the word because the word matters. And no doll matters more than Barbie.” Suffice to say, we would have changed the schedule for her, too. 

2. The U.S. has a record number of out LGBTQ2S+ elected officials

When it comes to legislation and legislators, there have been some pretty dismal records set this year—but LGBTQ2S+ people are not about to let the transphobic and homophobic politicians and lawmakers go unchecked. A new report from the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute found that the number of LGBTQ2S+ people holding elected office in the U.S. has officially reached an all-time high. 

According to their findings, the number of out elected officials has risen by 68 percent over the past five years, with individual increases in Congress, state legislatures and local governments. And LGBTQ2S+ elected officials are more diverse than ever. There has been a 10 percent increase in the number of queer people of colour serving in office, as well as more non-binary, trans and queer women than ever before.

“Bigoted legislators, who detest growing LGBTQ2S+ acceptance and representation, are unleashing an agenda of hate,” says the report. “These attacks, however, have lit a fire under the LGBTQ2S+ community, inspiring more LGBTQ2S+ people to run.

“We will not—cannot—stop until we achieve equitable representation. Our rights depend on it.” 

3. The U.K. is considering excluding trans women from the Equality Act

Trans advocates in the U.K. are speaking out after the Equality Human Right Commissions (EHRC) failed to live up to its role as the country’s human rights watchdog. In response to a request from the U.K.’s equalities minister, the EHRC published a letter considering the implications of changing “sex” to “biological sex” in the U.K.’s Equality Act. In the letter, the EHRC said that this change “merits further consideration” because it would allow “greater legal clarity” around single-sex spaces—single-sex spaces that exclude trans women, that is. 

The letter isn’t binding and, for now, doesn’t change anything, but it is a dismal indication of where the EHRC stands on trans rights. “Trans people no longer seem to be people in their eyes,” Helen Belcher, the chair of trans education org TransActual, told PinkNews. “Our pains and struggles are seemingly irrelevant.”

“Our challenge to the increasingly misnamed EHRC and [the equality minister] is: why is it necessary now to try to redefine ‘woman’ to exclude trans women (and include trans men) when there is no evidence of problems actually caused by the understanding that has existed for decades?”

4. Thousands of Catholic nuns declare trans people “beloved by God”

Catholicism has not traditionally been a super welcoming place for queer people—but praise be, sometimes allies are found in unexpected places. Over the weekend, a group of over 6,000 Catholic nuns, organized by the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation, published an open letter to declare their support for the trans community and condemn the recent wave of anti-trans legislation. 

“We wholeheartedly affirm that transgender, non-binary and gender-expansive individuals are beloved and cherished by God,” the letter said, before adding that without the full inclusion of trans and gender-diverse people the church “cannot be whole.” The letter cited specific causes for the harm and erasure of trans people, including anti-LGBTQ2S+ legislation and rhetoric from some Christian institutions and leaders. Just last month, a coalition of Catholic Bishops discouraged healthcare providers from providing gender-affirming care, saying that it does not respect the “intrinsic unity of body and soul.” 

“We will remain oppressors until we—as vowed Catholic religious—acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in our own congregations,” said the nuns’ letter. Amen, sisters. 

 5. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse trailer includes a clear call-out for trans rights

Queer representation in comic book characters and superhero movies has been on the rise in recent years—Superman’s son came out as bisexual, and the Marvel universe has had out queer characters in both the Dr. Strange and Black Panther series. Even though we’re seeing more and more of it, it’s always exciting when these often high-grossing movies take a strong stand for queer rights—and the new trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was unambiguous about where it stands. 

In a brief but clear moment from the trailer, we get a shot of Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man’s friend and classmate, in her bedroom. Above the door is a trans flag sign that reads, “Protect Trans Kids.” 

Fans of the show quickly took to Twitter to celebrate this subtle nod to trans youth. “SPIDER-MAN SAID TRANS RIGHTS,” wrote one fan, while another simply echoed the sentiment from the trailer with a heart. Calling all superheroes—more of this, please!

Maddy Mahoney (she/her) is a journalist and writer based in Toronto. You can find her work at CBC Arts, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, Loose Lips Magazine and others. She lives in Toronto and speaks English.

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