Olympic runner Caster Semenya running in a 800m race with other women.

Rainbow Rundown: Trans student discrimination, Caster Semenya appeal, out trans soccer player

Welcome to your second installment of the Rainbow Rundown, Charlotte Pride’s weekly recap and review of important, engaging, and timely LGBTQ news, arts, entertainment, and more. Here, you’ll find recaps from local, regional, national, and international sources to round out your week. (Read our first installment from last week to learn more about the Rainbow Rundown and why we’ve started this series.)

In this issue of the Rainbow Rundown

  • U.S. Department of Education holds firm on anti-trans positions
  • Olympic runner Caster Semenya loses appeal
  • Former Duke player, World Cup player comes out as trans
  • Trans veteran reflects on September 11, 2001
  • National and International Briefs
  • Local News Spotlight
  • Arts & Entertainment Briefs

U.S. Department of Education holds firm on anti-trans positions

A row of transgender flags along a sidewalk.

Photo by Ted Eytan, via Flickr. Licensed Creative Commons.

The U.S. Department of Education is standing by a controversial policy which repealed Obama-era protections for transgender students and, in particular, trans student athletes. Though the federal education department seems to continue investigating complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation, it has denied to investigate similar cases involving gender identity. Despite this summer’s Supreme Court ruling saying the Civil Rights Act protects against anti-LGBTQ employment discrimination, the department doesn’t seem willing to extend similar logic and protections to trans students.

ABC News reports:

The Trump administration said it plans to investigate alleged discrimination against LGBTQ students following this summer’s landmark Supreme Court rulings that said sexual orientation and gender identity are protected traits under existing civil rights law — but only in certain circumstances, according to documents released by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

In updated guidance posted via a letter to various Connecticut schools, the Education Department said transgender students still can’t play on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity and instead should be assigned to teams that correspond with their biological gender at birth.
At the same time, in a separate case, the department said it agreed to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation where a student alleged “homophobic bigot[ry]” at her school.

The department’s continued interpretation and enforcement of the rules will mean that trans students will be forced to play and participate in gender-segregated sports according to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The department will also not investigate claims of discrimination based on trans students’ bathroom or locker use.

“From the perspective of trans students, you can’t claim to protect the community while also take the position, not only that trans people aren’t protected, but that that that states and local governments are prohibited from protecting trans people,” Strangio said, and according to ABC News, claimed that the Education Department is “escalating” attacks on trans people.

Read the full story via ABC News.

Olympic champion Caster Semenya loses appeal

Olympic runner Caster Semenya running in a 800m race with other women.

Olympic runner Caster Semenya, front left, in the ISTAF Berlin 2011 800m race. Photo by André Zehetbauer via Wikimedia Commons.

South African Olympic champion runner has lost a legal appeal at the Swiss Supreme Court. She must now be forced to take testosterone-reducing drugs in order to compete in her signature athletic event.

Outsports reports:

Reports from Switzerland reveal South Africa’s two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya has lost what is considered her final appeal of restrictions on testosterone levels in female runners. The ruling by Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court dashes what is likely the out lesbian runner’s last chance to compete in the 800-meter race next summer in Tokyo — or in any organized track competition on earth, for that matter.

Outside court, Semenya told reporters including the BBC she was disappointed but not deterred, and will never agree to medical intervention to lower her naturally-high testosterone levels in order to compete.

“I am very disappointed,” the 29-year-old South African said. “I refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am.”

World Athletics officially changed its rules in 2019 to bar Semenya and other athletes with natural testosterone levels far above the standard range for women athletes, to compete in events between 400m and a mile, unless they take testosterone-reducing drugs.

The decision was widely criticized across the world, including by trans advocates who fear the ruling will be used to prevent transgender athletes from competing in worldwide athletic events.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also panned the decision, saying it was a “violation of women’s rights as well as sexist, misogynist and unnecessarily invasive,” according to Outsports.

“The regulations compel these women to undergo medical interventions or be forced out of competition,” HRW director of global initiatives Minky Worden writes. “Identifying which athletes are impacted by the regulations will be done through subjecting all women athletes’ bodies to public scrutiny and requiring those that seem ‘suspect’ to undergo a medical examination. Men athletes are subject to no such surveillance or compelled medical tests.

Read the full story at Outsports.

Former Duke soccer player, World Cup champion comes out as trans

Canadian soccer player Rebecca Quinn came out this week as trans, in a touching Instagram post. Quinn, who previously played for Duke University, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics as a part of the Canadian soccer team. Quinn also played in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

You can read more about Quinn via LGBTQNation.com.

Trans veteran reflects on 9/11 anniversary

A small U.S. flag and flower are placed at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

In a commentary posted today at The Advocate, a trans veteran reflects on the fear the September 11, 2001 attacks caused and how a similar fear exists today, though for different reasons.

Kimberly Acoff writes that 19 years after 9/11, “I’m not feeling as safe any more. I’m feeling the same fear and anger and resolve to serve and protect my fellow Americans. This time the threat is not coming from some faraway land. Nor am I able to find solace in the fact that Americans are united as one against a known threat to our liberty.”

Acoff continues:

Today the source of my fear is woven in the fabric of America and from within. It’s a threat to my people and the American way of life. It’s rooted in the same blind evil that allowed human beings to shackle other humans of a different race and deem them slaves. Hate and fear, compounded by our collective concern over a deadly virus and the economic crisis, that doesn’t take into account Black and Brown people struggling to be safe and equal. Fear that sees trans people as a threat to the majority, when all we’ve ever wanted was to be ourselves.

Read Acoff’s full commentary at The Advocate.

News from around the country and world

Local and Regional News Spotlight

Arts & Entertainment Briefs

  • HBO Max is set to premiere a four-part documentary series, “Equal,” exploring the lives for four pre-Stonewall and contemporary activists, with its final episode focusing on the Stonewall Riots themselves. According to GoPride: “The series will profile LGBT rights activist Harry Hay; The Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian civil and political rights organization; Christine Jorgensen, a transgender woman who publicly transitioned in 1951; and Bayard Rustin, a prominent LGBT and civil rights activist. The final one-hour episode will focus on the Stonewall Riots in New York, which have been widely credited with sparking the modern LGBT rights movement.” The limited series is set for streaming in October 2020, which is LGBTQ History Month. Read more at GoPride.com.
  • Looking for young adult books for your teens (or, heck, even for yourself), and coming up short on titles focusing on trans lives and written by trans authors? Look no further and peruse this compilation of eight trans young adult books written by trans and nonbinary authors via Book Riot.
  • Billy Williams, a trans masc tattoo artist in London is taking their art and turning its profits into a way to help trans people fund their surgeries. Billy’s tattoo studio, Tits 4 Tats, is a way to help others as they face long waiting lists and high costs for their gender confirmation surgeries. Read more about the tattoo artist via PinkNews.
  • For Queer Women in Ballet, There’s a Profound Gap in Representation. These Dancers Hope to Change That. Read more via Pointe Magazine.
  • Haute Couture is building online safe spaces for queer and avant-garde artists out of the Philippines. Read more via MixMag.
Who is this Micro-Mural artist?

This week, the team at Charlotte Is Creative noticed a small, approximately 7-inch tall detail as part of.a larger mural on the campus of Queens University. The small “micro mural,” showing a figure pulling back a curtain to reveal a rainbow flag was at the bottom of a larger mural in an alley behind the campus’ Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation and a parking garage. Like Charlotte Is Creative, we’re also curious who the artist is? Have any clues? Hit us or Charlotte Is Creative up on Twitter.


Don’t forget: Charlotte Pride is truly 365! There are several ways you can get involved in the work we do throughout the year. Check out our recent blog post on ways to get involved this fall and throughout the year!

Want to get involved specifically with our increasing online content and blog coverage? We are looking to increase our online news, commentary, and community features on the Charlotte Pride Blog, as part of our continued digital programming through the fall. Are you a freelancer, commentator, essayist, or other writer and want to contribute? Email us at media@charlottepride.org and we’d be happy to chat about opportunities to contribute! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark our website’s news section to get the latest updates.