House floor RuPaul tribute, Biden’s new LGBTQ2S+ initiatives, Florida con bans ‘cross-dressing cosplay,’ new Vancouver health centre, first trans man judge in U.S. and Sam Smith x Madonna collab

6 queer and trans stories we’re watching: June 9

Well, folks, another fri-gay is here at last. Hurrah! It’s time to once again enter into the most hallowed time of the week—the weekend. But, before you scrap your work clothes in favour of PJs (or something a bit racier), we’ve got all the news you need to get you through to Monday. Below, read our roundup of six queer and trans stories you won’t want to miss. 

1. Congressman Robert Garcia honoured RuPaul in the U.S. legislature
2. Joe Biden announced new supports for the LGBTQ2S+ community at a Pride celebration
3. A Florida Transformers convention banned “cross-dressing cosplay”
4. A new healthcare centre with a focus on trans people, non-binary people and women opened in Vancouver 
5. The U.S. saw its very first trans man judge appointed this week 
6. Sam Smith and Madonna dropped a sexy, defiant collab 

1. Congressman Robert Garcia honoured RuPaul in the U.S. legislature

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—it’s nice to see pro-LGBTQ2S+ rhetoric on the floor of any political body. Especially these days, when it can feel like you’re much more likely to see people trying to block our rights and open us to attack both politically and socially. So though his choice of queer icon may be a little … mainstream, we were cheering when we heard that California Rep. Robert Garcia delivered an ode to RuPaul and Drag Race on the House floor. 

“The show has served as a critical space to discuss issues around inclusion, trans rights, mental health and self worth,” said Garcia, who is gay himself (and a known Sasha Colby stan). “And this message couldn’t be more important, as the LGBTQ2S+ community continues to fight for equality and acceptance.”

As a visual aid, Garcia stood beside a printout of Ru wearing a form-fitting yellow dress and one of her quintessential blond wigs (could you imagine her as a brunette?? Never). Slay, Congressman! 

2. President Biden announced new supports for the LGBTQ2S+ community at a Pride celebration

Infamously, Pride Month is a time when the queer community gets a lot of dubious and superficial shows of support. So, it’s nice when words of solidarity are accompanied by actual acts of solidarity—and we’ll take them from the highest places we can get ’em. 

Yesterday, President Joe Biden unveiled several new initiatives to help support the LGBTQ2S+ community in the U.S. While details remain unclear (the White House Pride event at which Biden was to speak on the initiatives at length was cancelled due to poor air quality—relatable), they will be aimed at protecting queer people from attack, helping youth struggling with mental health and homelessness and countering book bans. We’re not thrilled with the lack of clarity, but we’re in a state of emergency here, so we’ll consider this good news until proven otherwise. 

 

Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay White House press secretary, said that Biden has queer people’s backs and “will continue to fight for them … That’s the message that we want to make sure that gets out there.”

3. A Florida Transformers convention banned “crossdressing cosplay”

Well, Florida’s anti-drag and anti-trans laws strike again—and this time not even robot costumes are safe. A convention for fans of the toy-turned-animated-series-turned-movie-franchise Transformers is set to be held in Orlando, Florida, in October, but not all of the fandom will be welcomed with open arms. In a message to ticket holders, the convention announced that “due to Florida state law, crossdressing will not be permitted as part of the cosplay contest or at the convention.” They offered refunds to LGBTQ2S+ people who no longer felt safe attending. 

While some are blaming Florida for ruining an otherwise notably inclusive convention, others are taking issue with the convention planners themselves. According to PinkNews, some fans are saying that organizers are doing the “bare minimum” and really should be making arrangements to move the convention to a different state entirely. For now, while non-binary robots exist in outer space in the Transformers world, they will not be allowed here on earth. 

4. A new healthcare centre with a focus on trans people, non-binary people and women opened in Vancouver 

Though it quietly opened in April, this week the Come As You Are Health Centre (CAYA) officially announced its launch in Vancouver, becoming the first of its kind due to its focus on women, trans and non-binary individuals. According to its founders, Veronica Li and Stephanie Dang, the goal of the centre is to improve healthcare experiences and outcomes for those who have historically been marginalized based on their gender. 

The centre currently has 15 healthcare providers, all trained to offer gender-affirming, trauma-informed and sex-positive approaches to healthcare—which includes respecting the names, pronouns and desires of each individual patient. There are also some who specialize in trans healthcare specifically. 

“We’re trying to decrease the scariness of seeking healthcare so that people feel safe,” Li told CTV. “We really hope this is just the beginning. We want more gender-affirming care training, we want more training in trauma-informed care, and we want more funding.” Same!!

5. The U.S. saw its very first trans man judge appointed this week 

Order in the court! We have a very important judicial announcement. Yesterday, justice of the peace Seth Marnin was appointed to the New York State Court of Claims by Democratic governor Kathy Hochul—making Marnin the first openly trans judge in the history of the state, and the first openly trans man in U.S. history to serve as a judge ever

Marnin currently works at Columbia University as the director of training and education for equal opportunity and affirmative action, a resumé item which, in our opinion, bodes well for his work at the Court of Claims.

“I have full faith that this historic and outstanding group of appointees will serve New Yorkers with fairness and impartiality,” said Hochul of Marnin and the other 14 appointees announced that day. “With diverse perspectives and extensive expertise, I’m confident that each appointee will bring honour and integrity to New York state’s judiciary.”

6. Sam Smith and Madonna dropped a sexy, defiant collab 

Well, folks, we’ve known it was coming since the Grammy Awards in February, when some people had the nerve to hate on Sam Smith’s super hot devilish outfit. Luckily, they had another queer icon rush to their defence: Madonna. Since then, rumours about a potential collaboration have been rampant, and y’all, we were right. As it turns out, Smith and Madonna wasted no time, jumping into a recording booth together literally the day after the award ceremony to produce their new single, Vulgar. (All right all right, if we look closely at the timing it does seem like this may have been in the pipeline already, but we’re suckers for a good origin story.)

The song opens with Smith singing, “I’m sexy, I’m free and I feel vulgar,” so it’s clear the anthem is an ode to bucking the haters, something Smith has unfortunately had to do many times as they’ve moved toward embracing their body and their queerness. “I do what I wanna, I go when I gotta”—a sentiment that truly deserves to be brought forth into Pride Month. 

🌈Bonus good news (because we need it)🌈

Have you seen today’s Google doodle? Today’s animated illustration honours ballroom icon and godfather of vogue Willi Ninja! As far as Pride Month corporate pandering goes, this one’s pretty cute.

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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