DeSantis to run for president, HRC announces travel advisory for Florida, Montana governor defines sex as binary despite non-binary child, Target Pride merchandise, Iowa churches split over queer rights, falling HIV rates

6 queer and trans stories we’re watching: May 24

Happy Wednesday! Take a break from your day with news about DeSantis’s impending run for presidency, Target removing LGBTQ2S+ merchandise (yikes!), a Montana governor with a non-binary child defining sex as binary (???) and more.

1. DeSantis to announce presidential run today in conversation with Elon Musk
2. America’s largest LGBTQ2S+ advocacy group issues travel advisory for Florida
3. Montana governor with non-binary child defines sex as binary
4. Target taking Pride merchandise off shelves after threats against staff
5. Rift over LGBTQ2S+ rights causes 83 Iowa churches to split from United Methodist Church
6. CDC releases new data showing drop in new cases of HIV

1. DeSantis to announce presidential run today in conversation with Elon Musk

Florida governor Ron DeSantis will announce he is running for president today in a conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Moderated by DeSantis supporter and entrepreneur David Sacks, the conversation will happen at 6 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces. After the conversation, DeSantis is set to release a campaign video, and will officially kick off his campaign visiting different states after Memorial Day. 

During his tenure as governor, DeSantis has spearheaded some of the most virulently homophobic and transphobic legislature in the country, including the notorious “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts discussion of LGBTQ2S+ people and topics in schools and has inspired copycat bills across the U.S. In fact, speaking of Florida …

2. America’s largest LGBTQ2S+ advocacy group issues travel advisory for Florida

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has joined Equality Florida and other civil rights groups in issuing a travel advisory for Florida, saying in a press release that the state’s policies are “hostile” to queer people, immigrants and minorities. 

“Because of Ron DeSantis and his frenzied appeal to extremists, LGBTQ2S+ people in Florida are finding themselves in a state of emergency every single day,” said HRC president Kelley Robinson in the release. “Since the day he took office, Governor DeSantis has weaponized his position to weave bigotry, hate and discrimination into public law for his own political gain.” Let’s hope he doesn’t get the opportunity to do that from the White House, too. 

3. Montana governor with non-binary child defines sex as binary

Montana governor Greg Gianforte has signed three new anti-LGBTQ2S+ bills into law—including the “LGBTQ erasure act,” which defines sex as binary and based on things like chromosomes and reproductive traits. The other two laws allow public schools to out trans kids to their parents and allow parents to take their children out of school if they dislike that day’s lesson plan.

 

“He [Gianforte] talks about compassion toward children, the youth of Montana, while simultaneously taking away healthcare from the youth in Montana,” David, the governor’s 32-year-old non-binary son, told the Advocate. “It’s basically a contradiction in my mind.”

4. Target taking Pride merchandise off shelves after conservative backlash and threats against staff

Today, Target said that it was going to remove some Pride merchandise from its shelves after the company’s staff was threatened and the company had become the centre of an anti-LGBTQ2S+ campaign. The company told the Wall Street Journal that people have made threatening posts from inside Target stores, torn down Pride merchandise displays and had confrontations with workers in stores. The company didn’t clarify what merchandise would be withdrawn.

“Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year,” Target said in a statement. We’d expect nothing less from a corporation that only promised to stop funding anti-gay groups in 2017 (though we’re a bit bummed, given that this year’s offerings were a marked improvement from previous years!).

5. Eighty-three Iowa churches split from United Methodist Church over LGBTQ2S+ rights

Eighty-three Iowa Churches have split from the United Methodist Church a year after it moved to allow for gay clergy and for ministers to hold same-sex weddings. The 83 churches—representing about 11 percent of the state’s Methodist churches—will move to a new, conservative branch of the church called the Global Methodist Church, or become independent. This comes after masses of Methodist churches in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas have split over LGBTQ2S+ rights. 

6. CDC releases new data showing drop in new cases of HIV

The CDC released new data today showing that new cases of HIV dropped 12 percent from 2017 to 2021, with over 30,000 Americans receiving an HIV diagnosis in 2021. The falling HIV rate has occurred alongside a 17 percent increase in the use of PrEP in the past five years. Still, the beneficiaries of the PrEP have mostly been white men, while only 20 percent of eligible Latinx Americans, 12.3 percent of women and 11 percent of Black people were taking the drug. 

“It appears that our investments in HIV prevention are providing some positive results, but the persistent high number of new diagnoses and the low usage of PrEP among the communities most impacted by HIV point to the need for increased resources, particularly for a national PrEP program,” Carl Schmid, the executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, said in a press release.

Jackie Richardson is a freelance writer based in Western New York. She has worked at The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and The Sophian.

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