Exclusive: West Point Recognizes Its First-Ever Trans Graduate By Correct Name and Gender

The first transgender cadet to graduate from West Point this week received a small but important victory this week: Her name was updated in alumni records.

If you search for Riley Dosh’s name on the West Point Association of Graduates website, the result reads “Ms. Riley Dosh,” despite the fact that she matriculated at the military academy under her birth name. The update to the system was made Thursday morning after Dosh put in a request to administrators to have her name reflect her lived identity and gender.

Dosh, who graduated in May, says that she’s “thrilled.”

“For any of my classmates or any other West Point graduate, if they want to search my academic records or anything about me, I want them to be able to see the name that reflects who I amand not any other name,” she tells INTO in an exclusive interview.

Dosh came out to classmates and teachers in 2016during her senior year at the New York-based institutionand was allowed to graduate as Riley. But when Dosh received her diploma in the mail, it was “a little bittersweet.” The document referred to her by her chosen name, which is the same name listed on her driver’s license and social security card. The diploma, though, listed the incorrect pronoun.

“I didn’t open my diploma for days, and when I did, it was kind of disheartening to see that,” she says.

But Dosh fears that getting all of her documents updated at West Point may be a challenge. The West Point Association of Graduates is a separate entity from the rest of the university and has their own bureaucracy. Applying for a name and gender change with the main campus is another set of red tape.

Officials with West Point confirmed to INTO that Dosh’s general academic records still reflect her birth name and gender.

“No change was made to the official cadet record,” says Theresa Brinkerhoff, the supervisory public relations specialist at West Point, in an email. “Ms. Dosh can still make this request on-line through the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records with a completed Department of Defense form 1-49.”

Dosh believes that administrators will be responsive to her request for a name change, which she is in the process of filing. After she began going by Riley during her Senior year, Dosh says that it was easy for other students and members of the faculty to adjust. People rarely slipped up. She points out that one of the reasons for that is her chosen name is gender-neutralwhich is one of the reasons she liked it.

“I’ve always been kind of a tomboy,” Dosh explains.

But given the political optics, Dosh worries that having her gender marker updated may be a more difficult conversation. Just weeks after she graduated, President Trump announced on Twitter that he intended to ban transgender troops from military service. That policy proposal was put into effect on Friday in an executive memo signed by the POTUS.

Dosh wasn’t surprised by this development. Shortly before she graduated, the 22-year-old learned that she would not be invited to join the armed forces.

But the former cadet is hopeful that change is possible. Trump’s ban, which reverses a 2016 policy from the Obama administration allowing trans people to serve openly for the first time, won’t take effect until March. Before that time, Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis has stated that the Pentagon will be investigating the issue.

Multiple independent studies have already debunked the president’s claims that permitting trans troops to enlist would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

A 2014 survey from thePalm Centerthink tank determined that there exists “no compelling medical rationale for banning transgender military service.” The RAND Corporation found in a 2016 study requested by the Pentagon that trans troops had no “significant effect on cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.” Israel, Canada, and the U.K. already allow trans people to serve with no consequences as a result.

“There’s still room to fight this,” Dosh says. “And there’s still room for the Pentagon to say no.”

Trans troops will continue to serve, though, just as they always have. They will just do so in silence. Arli Christian, the state policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender, tellsINTOthat it’s important for military entities to affirm trans identities to ensure these individuals don’t experience “discrimination, harassment, or undue scrutiny.”

“It’s also important that all records be consistent to ensure that the records don’t cause confusion for administrators or anyone else,” Christian says in an email, pointing specifically to Dosh’s case.

But for the estimated 15,500 trans service members who face being discharged seven months from now, Dosh’s story is a small measure of hopeat a time when many need something to be hopeful about. After all, it only took 24 hours for West Point’s alumni office to process her request. Getting it right was as easy as sending an email.

“It’s really that simple,” Dosh says.

September Horoscopes

Aries

Last month brought some surprises, and they’re far from over. How much excitement can you handle before you crash? Hint: it’s just a hair less than you think. Spend this time learning what rhythms treat you better in the long run. Slow down just enough to get it right.

Taurus

Novelist E.M. Forster wrote of gay love when it was a criminal acthis motto was “only connect.” Take this to heart this month if you’re feeling disappointed or muddled. Whatever you can do right now to stay open to experiences, you’ll benefit from all kinds of connection. Don’t weigh them down with too much expectation, and you’ll notice much more than you would have.

Gemini

Don’t get too distracted by what you see in the mirror right now, or what you think others see when they look at you. You are a being in motion, not a snapshot taken in flattering light. It is exactly the way you move that makes you fascinating, not what’s already finished about you. Let go of needing to be impressive, and see who you can attract when you lead with sincerity instead of bravado.

Cancer

Everything is funnier when you’ve got some distance on it. This month helps you get that necessary distance that can turn your saddest memories into the most entertaining stories. What are you ready to stop being sad about? If you’re brave enough to, you’ll find yourself connecting in all kinds of unexpected ways. But you’ve got to make an effort! Get out of the house, go somewhere unfamiliar, and see where the day takes you.

Leo

To avoid confusion, let them come to you right now. There’s enough unsettled in your heart and mind that you might not know what you even want. Save your energy and see who’s noticing you just as you are, instead of making an effort to be noticeable. This is a time when you’re learning more about what you really wantgo ahead and experiment, but don’t draw any conclusions just yet.

Virgo

Girl, you get all kinds of shade for being a little less fun than some other signs. Never believe it. As a lover you go to greater heights and depths, as it were, to please your partner and to understand what pleases you. This month brings all kinds of Virgo energy into play, which means you’ll be particularly busy. Don’t be afraid of the spotlight, and remember what makes you sexy is way more than skin deepdon’t waste time obsessing over microscopic flaws when you could be out there killing it. People want what you’ve got right now. Do you want to give it to them?

Libra

Let go of the past. You’re done with it. If your present isn’t all you want it to be, think of the future instead. It’s okay to lose yourself in fantasies a little, as long as you don’t get trapped there. This is a time for remembering what makes you happy and helping yourself have as many of those experiences as you can, with or without a partner. In the immortal words of the poet, “treat yo self.”

Scorpio

As much as you want all the romance right now, part of you knows you’ve got work to do. If you want passion, start looking for people who share your values and want to make a difference in the world. Ignore the myth that activism is only for the elite or unemployedyou have more power than you think you do. Who do you want to team up with to take a stand? What’s hotter than fighting for a common cause together?

Sagittarius

This is a month for the fluffy slippers and plenty of back rubs. You have some ish you need to work out of those sore muscles and that tired heart. Find a boo who wants to play house with you, whether that means redecorating everything or just curling up on the couch and watching an entire season of Sense8. Let yourself recover this month, and you’ll be back out there feeling restless and excitable soon enough.

Capricorn

While everyone else is still dealing with life upheavals and identity crises after last month’s eclipse, you’re more grounded and clear-headed. What else is new? You have a lot to offer right now, including your capacity to help people think more carefully about their futures. But if there’s anything out of balance in your own life right now, don’t dwell so much on other people’s problems that you bury yours under the rug. It’s okay to ask for the exact kind of help you’re afraid to ask for.

Aquarius

What are you ready to walk away from right now? This month rewards big risks, as long as you don’t plunge off any cliffs. Think about what makes your blood pump harder. Think about this one life you get and all the things you want to do with it. Are you ready to leave old stories behind? Are you ready to reinvent yourself? What small steps can you take towards a brand new future?

Pisces

Expect some fireworks this month! Potential lovers find you extra compelling right now and current lovers may be stepping up their game. It could feel like there’s a lot at stake, so be extra clear with everyone about where they stand. Whether you’re polyamorous or just having fun, make sure everyone knows what’s up. Most of all, make sure you know what you feel and what you want! Handled well, this can be an intoxicating time. Handled poorly, next month could bring a major hangover.

___

Illustrations by Lucy Kirk

That ‘Devil Wears Prada’ Scene Was Cut for a Damn Good Reason

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada by now. The movie catapulted Anne Hathaway to another level of stardom and gave us one of Meryl Streep’s best creations, ice queen Runway editor Miranda Priestly.

This week, the internet has been gagging over a deleted scene from the gala event that causes Hathaway’s character Andy to miss a birthday party for her boyfriend, played by Adrian Grenier. The scene, which has been on YouTube for a while, gained popularity this week when it was tweeted out by BuzzFeed’s Spencer Althouse.

In the scene, Priestly’s husband, who is not her husband by the end of the film, barges into the party drunk and begins insulting partygoers. Andy steps in to save “the Dragon Lady” some embarrassment. As Streep walks away, she mouths two words: “Thank you.”

“I’m just seeing this deleted scene from The Devil Wears Prada for the first time, and honestly it changed the whole movie for me,” Althouse wrote.

People on Twitter are flipping out over this ~ softer side of Priestly ~.

I mean, there’s a reason this scene was cut, right? Some scenes are cut for time, some for tone. This seems to be a character misstep. Would Priestly, editor of Runway, Lady of Optics, Queen of Secrecy, Mother of Ice really mouth these words in the middle of a crowded party? Wouldn’t she make Emily Blunt write a discreet “thank you” note and hand it to Andy after the rest of the staff has left for the night?

Best to leave this one on the cutting room floor.

That’s all.

That ‘Devil Wears Prada’ Scene Was Cut for a Damn Good Reason

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada by now. The movie catapulted Anne Hathaway to another level of stardom and gave us one of Meryl Streep’s best creations, ice queen Runway editor Miranda Priestly.

This week, the internet has been gagging over a deleted scene from the gala event that causes Hathaway’s character Andy to miss a birthday party for her boyfriend, played by Adrian Grenier. The scene, which has been on YouTube for a while, gained popularity this week when it was tweeted out by BuzzFeed’s Spencer Althouse.

In the scene, Priestly’s husband, who is not her husband by the end of the film, barges into the party drunk and begins insulting partygoers. Andy steps in to save “the Dragon Lady” some embarrassment. As Streep walks away, she mouths two words: “Thank you.”

“I’m just seeing this deleted scene from The Devil Wears Prada for the first time, and honestly it changed the whole movie for me,” Althouse wrote.

People on Twitter are flipping out over this ~ softer side of Priestly ~.

I mean, there’s a reason this scene was cut, right? Some scenes are cut for time, some for tone. This seems to be a character misstep. Would Priestly, editor of Runway, Lady of Optics, Queen of Secrecy, Mother of Ice really mouth these words in the middle of a crowded party? Wouldn’t she make Emily Blunt write a discreet “thank you” note and hand it to Andy after the rest of the staff has left for the night?

Best to leave this one on the cutting room floor.

That’s all.

Pulse Nightclub Is Looking to Reopen in New Location

The owner of Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma, is looking for a place to relocate the venue, which became the site of a shooting on June 12, 2016, that led to the death of 49 clubgoers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to the Sentinel, Poma’s search comes just as the first town hall regarding a memorial approaches on September 13.

Many in the community will be happy to see Pulse, a space for queer Latinx people, to return. Of those killed in the Pulse massacre, 90% were Latino.

“It creates more spaces more affirming spaces for a community that doesn’t feel like it has many,” Christopher Cuevas, the founder and executive director of QLatinx, an advocacy and support organization for queer Latinx people that formed in the tragedy’s aftermath, told INTO. “That space is gone, but with it coming back, it opens up more visibility.”

He added, “There’s not a lot that we have that ours, there’s not a lot that feels like it celebrates us.”

The road to re-opening Pulse has been a long one. According to the Sentinel, Poma briefly entertained the idea of opening the club again on the same site. At one point, Poma was set to sell the club to the city of Orlando, but had a last moment change of heart.

Currently, plans include building a memorial and possibly a museum.

“This project is not about replacing a building or a fun hangout for the gay community,” Jason Felts, a board member of onePulse Foundation, said in May. “This project is about healing Central Florida, the GLBT community, the Latino community.”

Pulse Nightclub Is Looking to Reopen in New Location

The owner of Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma, is looking for a place to relocate the venue, which became the site of a shooting on June 12, 2016, that led to the death of 49 clubgoers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to the Sentinel, Poma’s search comes just as the first town hall regarding a memorial approaches on September 13.

Many in the community will be happy to see Pulse, a space for queer Latinx people, to return. Of those killed in the Pulse massacre, 90% were Latino.

“It creates more spaces more affirming spaces for a community that doesn’t feel like it has many,” Christopher Cuevas, the founder and executive director of QLatinx, an advocacy and support organization for queer Latinx people that formed in the tragedy’s aftermath, told INTO. “That space is gone, but with it coming back, it opens up more visibility.”

He added, “There’s not a lot that we have that ours, there’s not a lot that feels like it celebrates us.”

The road to re-opening Pulse has been a long one. According to the Sentinel, Poma briefly entertained the idea of opening the club again on the same site. At one point, Poma was set to sell the club to the city of Orlando, but had a last moment change of heart.

Currently, plans include building a memorial and possibly a museum.

“This project is not about replacing a building or a fun hangout for the gay community,” Jason Felts, a board member of onePulse Foundation, said in May. “This project is about healing Central Florida, the GLBT community, the Latino community.”

LGBTQ-friendly traffic lights promote diversity, cause controversy in Europe

On the corner of Knipstraat and Daalsesingel in Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth largest city, a cluster of pedestrians waits to cross the street. When the time comes, the traffic light on the other side of the Knipstraat will turn green, indicating that it’s safe to cross.

Pedestrian traffic lights in the Netherlands take the form of a red male figure viewed head-on for “stop,” and a green male figure shown in profile with one leg raised for “go.” But in early March of 2016, three of Utrecht’s pedestrian lights underwent a radical makeover.

At the intersection of Knipstraat and Daalsesingel, the lone male figure was replaced by two females, holding hands and surrounded by hearts. In the opposite direction are two additional regenboogverkeerslichten, or rainbow traffic lights. One depicts a gay couple, the other, a heterosexual one.

City alderman Kees Geldorf, who was on hand for the March 8th unveiling, told Dutch news broadcaster Nos that the lights are a reflection of Utrecht’s diversity. “Each time you come upon one of these lights is an opportunity to reflect on that,” he said.

Utrecht is the most recent of a growing number of European cities to install the rainbow traffic lights. In May of 2015, the first lights appeared in Vienna, Austria in preparation for the Life Ball AIDS charity fundraiser and the city’s stint as Eurovision Song Contest host.

Originally intended to be temporary, the Ampelpärchen, or traffic light couples, were made permanent due to public pressure. A Facebook page calling for the preservation of the lights accumulated more than 4,000 Likes in a matter of hours. The lights even received international attention, scoring mentions in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The BBC, and TIME among others.

Soon after, the Austrian cities of Linz and Salzburg adopted the design, followed by Cologne, Munich, and Hamburg in Germany. Last fall, Helmond and Arnhem in the Netherlands followed suit. Lucerne, Switzerland is debating jumping on the bandwagon as well.

“Being inclusive of LGBTQ+ people in public-works is something that helps eliminate stigma and hate by making sure that they are visible, making sure that diversity is represented,” said Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, headquartered in Washington, DC.

That’s why the all-inclusive nature of the traffic lights is so important, according to Pepijn Zwanenberg, the Utrecht City Councilmember behind the implementation of the traffic lights. The goal is “to show diversity, not single one group out from the rest,” Zwanenberg said.

“If you’re from [somewhere less tolerant] and you hear about this or you see this and you’re gay or lesbian or transgender, I think it can be very powerful,” Zwanenberg added. The lights send a message of welcome and the validity of love of all kinds, while at the same time helping normalize LGBTQ+ people.

Reactions to the lights have been mostly positive, according to Zwanenberg and Dutch gay rights group COC Midden Nederland. But not everyone is on board. Comments on Twitter, Facebook, and the Dutch news organizations reporting on the development are overwhelmingly negative.

The most common accusation is that the lights are guilty of the very thing they are purported to be fighting – discrimination – by singling out the gay community and excluding heterosexuals. Since the media frequently bills the lights as “gay traffic lights,” most critics are unaware that a heterosexual couple is included.

Most infuriating to detractors is the cost of the project, which set the city of Utrecht back €1,200 (roughly $1,350 USD). A waste of money, one commenter argued, for what amounts to little more than a “photo op for tourists.”

The well-intentioned traffic lights were met with similar criticism in Austria. In Linz, city traffic official Markus Hein had the lights taken down just five months after their debut. “Traffic lights are for traffic and should not be misused to impart advice on how to live your life,” Hein, a member of the right-wing Freedom Partytold the Kurier. The city council voted in January 2016 to restore the lights.

In Vienna, The Freedom Party filed a criminal complaint against deputy mayor and traffic official Maria Vassilakou, who initiated the placement of the lights at 120 pedestrian crossings throughout the city. The Freedom Party claimed that the lights were a waste of taxpayers’ money and a violation of traffic codes.

The complaint ultimately proved unfounded and was subsequently dropped. City spokesman Andreas Baur told INTO that, in addition to complying with Austria’s road traffic requirements, “the diversity-themed symbols on the traffic lights [are] part of a road safety campaign” the city is pursuing to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents.

Pedestrian safety is a major concern in the Austrian capital, where, in 2012, 16 pedestrians were killed and more than 1,000 were injured, according to Statistics Austria. Twenty-two of those injured at pedestrian crossings in 2014 were children. To draw attention to the often-ignored traffic lights and motivate pedestrians to adhere to their signals, the city of Vienna replaced the traditional symbol with the unique, more visible Ampelpärchen.

Vienna is not the only city to experiment with this concept. In Augsburg, Germany, city officials moved to embed traffic signals in sidewalks, where Smartphone users would be more likely to see them. Smart, the company best known for its self-titled mini car, designed a dancing traffic signal for a crosswalk in Lisbon, Portugal. Passersby slip into a booth in a nearby square to bust a move, which is then mimicked in real time by the red figure in the traffic light. Smart reported that 81% more people stopped for the red light when it was dancing.

Many European cities have their own unique traffic light designs, of which city dwellers are fiercely proud. Berlin, Germany, for example, has its Ampelmännchen; behatted cartoon men implemented in East Germany in 1969 and saved from extinction by the public after the reunification of Germany in 1989. It’s entirely possible that the rainbow traffic lights will become part of the local identity of the cities that adopted them.

When asked if a similar initiative might be possible in the United States, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) spokesperson explained that, although the FHWA does have a set of nationwide standards to avoid confusion for road users, it’s ultimately up to local officials to decide which images to display on their traffic signs and signals.

West Hollywood, CA Councilmember John Duran, who sponsored the city’s rainbow crosswalks, expressed an interest in exploring the idea in WeHo. Seattle traffic engineer Dongho Chang said the City of Seattle would also be “open” to experimenting with modified pedestrian traffic lights. Once approved, they could be tested “at locations that have ‘all-way’ walks, where all vehicular traffic is stopped before pedestrians are provided the signal to cross,” he said.

Obviously, cost would be a major deciding factor, as well as location and public receptiveness. “It might look trivial and it might sound trivial – most people don’t spend their days thinking about crosswalk lights,” said Rodriguez-Roldan. “The point is, even that is a way to show inclusion.”

Though traffic lights alone won’t guarantee acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community, they just might be a step in the right direction.

LGBTQ-friendly traffic lights promote diversity, cause controversy in Europe

On the corner of Knipstraat and Daalsesingel in Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth largest city, a cluster of pedestrians waits to cross the street. When the time comes, the traffic light on the other side of the Knipstraat will turn green, indicating that it’s safe to cross.

Pedestrian traffic lights in the Netherlands take the form of a red male figure viewed head-on for “stop,” and a green male figure shown in profile with one leg raised for “go.” But in early March of 2016, three of Utrecht’s pedestrian lights underwent a radical makeover.

At the intersection of Knipstraat and Daalsesingel, the lone male figure was replaced by two females, holding hands and surrounded by hearts. In the opposite direction are two additional regenboogverkeerslichten, or rainbow traffic lights. One depicts a gay couple, the other, a heterosexual one.

City alderman Kees Geldorf, who was on hand for the March 8th unveiling, told Dutch news broadcaster Nos that the lights are a reflection of Utrecht’s diversity. “Each time you come upon one of these lights is an opportunity to reflect on that,” he said.

Utrecht is the most recent of a growing number of European cities to install the rainbow traffic lights. In May of 2015, the first lights appeared in Vienna, Austria in preparation for the Life Ball AIDS charity fundraiser and the city’s stint as Eurovision Song Contest host.

Originally intended to be temporary, the Ampelpärchen, or traffic light couples, were made permanent due to public pressure. A Facebook page calling for the preservation of the lights accumulated more than 4,000 Likes in a matter of hours. The lights even received international attention, scoring mentions in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The BBC, and TIME among others.

Soon after, the Austrian cities of Linz and Salzburg adopted the design, followed by Cologne, Munich, and Hamburg in Germany. Last fall, Helmond and Arnhem in the Netherlands followed suit. Lucerne, Switzerland is debating jumping on the bandwagon as well.

“Being inclusive of LGBTQ+ people in public-works is something that helps eliminate stigma and hate by making sure that they are visible, making sure that diversity is represented,” said Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, headquartered in Washington, DC.

That’s why the all-inclusive nature of the traffic lights is so important, according to Pepijn Zwanenberg, the Utrecht City Councilmember behind the implementation of the traffic lights. The goal is “to show diversity, not single one group out from the rest,” Zwanenberg said.

“If you’re from [somewhere less tolerant] and you hear about this or you see this and you’re gay or lesbian or transgender, I think it can be very powerful,” Zwanenberg added. The lights send a message of welcome and the validity of love of all kinds, while at the same time helping normalize LGBTQ+ people.

Reactions to the lights have been mostly positive, according to Zwanenberg and Dutch gay rights group COC Midden Nederland. But not everyone is on board. Comments on Twitter, Facebook, and the Dutch news organizations reporting on the development are overwhelmingly negative.

The most common accusation is that the lights are guilty of the very thing they are purported to be fighting – discrimination – by singling out the gay community and excluding heterosexuals. Since the media frequently bills the lights as “gay traffic lights,” most critics are unaware that a heterosexual couple is included.

Most infuriating to detractors is the cost of the project, which set the city of Utrecht back €1,200 (roughly $1,350 USD). A waste of money, one commenter argued, for what amounts to little more than a “photo op for tourists.”

The well-intentioned traffic lights were met with similar criticism in Austria. In Linz, city traffic official Markus Hein had the lights taken down just five months after their debut. “Traffic lights are for traffic and should not be misused to impart advice on how to live your life,” Hein, a member of the right-wing Freedom Partytold the Kurier. The city council voted in January 2016 to restore the lights.

In Vienna, The Freedom Party filed a criminal complaint against deputy mayor and traffic official Maria Vassilakou, who initiated the placement of the lights at 120 pedestrian crossings throughout the city. The Freedom Party claimed that the lights were a waste of taxpayers’ money and a violation of traffic codes.

The complaint ultimately proved unfounded and was subsequently dropped. City spokesman Andreas Baur told INTO that, in addition to complying with Austria’s road traffic requirements, “the diversity-themed symbols on the traffic lights [are] part of a road safety campaign” the city is pursuing to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents.

Pedestrian safety is a major concern in the Austrian capital, where, in 2012, 16 pedestrians were killed and more than 1,000 were injured, according to Statistics Austria. Twenty-two of those injured at pedestrian crossings in 2014 were children. To draw attention to the often-ignored traffic lights and motivate pedestrians to adhere to their signals, the city of Vienna replaced the traditional symbol with the unique, more visible Ampelpärchen.

Vienna is not the only city to experiment with this concept. In Augsburg, Germany, city officials moved to embed traffic signals in sidewalks, where Smartphone users would be more likely to see them. Smart, the company best known for its self-titled mini car, designed a dancing traffic signal for a crosswalk in Lisbon, Portugal. Passersby slip into a booth in a nearby square to bust a move, which is then mimicked in real time by the red figure in the traffic light. Smart reported that 81% more people stopped for the red light when it was dancing.

Many European cities have their own unique traffic light designs, of which city dwellers are fiercely proud. Berlin, Germany, for example, has its Ampelmännchen; behatted cartoon men implemented in East Germany in 1969 and saved from extinction by the public after the reunification of Germany in 1989. It’s entirely possible that the rainbow traffic lights will become part of the local identity of the cities that adopted them.

When asked if a similar initiative might be possible in the United States, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) spokesperson explained that, although the FHWA does have a set of nationwide standards to avoid confusion for road users, it’s ultimately up to local officials to decide which images to display on their traffic signs and signals.

West Hollywood, CA Councilmember John Duran, who sponsored the city’s rainbow crosswalks, expressed an interest in exploring the idea in WeHo. Seattle traffic engineer Dongho Chang said the City of Seattle would also be “open” to experimenting with modified pedestrian traffic lights. Once approved, they could be tested “at locations that have ‘all-way’ walks, where all vehicular traffic is stopped before pedestrians are provided the signal to cross,” he said.

Obviously, cost would be a major deciding factor, as well as location and public receptiveness. “It might look trivial and it might sound trivial – most people don’t spend their days thinking about crosswalk lights,” said Rodriguez-Roldan. “The point is, even that is a way to show inclusion.”

Though traffic lights alone won’t guarantee acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community, they just might be a step in the right direction.

‘Calling Someone Transgender Is Not An Insult’: Landmark Ruling in Richard Simmons Case

A Los Angeles court ruled on Wednesday that claiming someone is transgender is not grounds for defamation.

That preliminary verdict, handed down by Judge Gregory Keosian, is a major blow to a suit brought forward by Richard Simmons in May after the National Enquirer claimed the former fitness superstar was transitioning in a 2016 cover story. But advocates say that the ruling is an unusual victory for LGBTQ rights.

Keosian argues in a written opinion that being incorrectly labeled as transgender does not innately target an individual for “hatred, contempt, [or] ridicule.” To suggest that it does, he writes, would implicitly validate the daily bigotry trans people face.

“Whilethe characteristic may be held in contempt by a portion of the population, the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them,” Keosian says.

Lambda Legal, the national LGBTQ civil rights organization, applauded the judge’s ruling in a statement provided exclusively to INTO. M. Dru Levasseur, the group’s senior attorney and transgender rights project director, says that giving credence to Simmons’ claims would “demean transgender individuals.”

“At its core, defamation is about disgrace,” Levasseur argues. “Saying that someone is transgender is not an insult. Being identified as transgender is neither bad nor shamefulnot in our society, and not under the law.”

“We are gratified that the judge in this case has recognized that,” he adds.

Simmons’ counsel, though, argued in court that the events of the past few weeks illustrate the lingering stigma of being viewed as transgender. Attorney Rodney Smolla cited Trump’s recent ban on trans troops serving openly in the armed forces, which was made into policy in a Friday memo, and bathroom bills targeting the trans community in states like North Carolina.

“Obviously, it’s clear that the court itself doesn’t want to be in a position of endorsing prejudice against transgender people,” Smolla claimed. “But it’s not an exercise in idealism, it’s an exercise in realism.”

University of Florida professor Clay Calvert says that the Wednesday ruling recognizes that while there might be setbacks in the struggle for LGBTQ equality, progress is on its way. Plaintiffs used to be able to claim that being misidentified as gay was a means of character assassination, but today most courts of law would “reject that notion.”

“While Richard Simmons may lose his case, there’s a larger victory for the LGBTQ community in terms of legal recognition that being transgender is not a damning characteristic,” says Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project.

A final ruling is expected on the lawsuit next week.

Simmons filed suit against National Enquirer and its sister publication Radar Online earlier this year, claiming that headlines like “Richard Simmons: He’s Now A Woman” were “cruel” and “malicious.” The stories alleged that the reclusive 69-year-old, who hasn’t been seen in public since 2014, got breast implants and was receiving hormone treatments. The publications also claimed Simmons was going by the name “Fiona.”

While stating his support for the LGBTQ community, Simmons has claimed the false reporting “sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity.”

‘Calling Someone Transgender Is Not An Insult’: Landmark Ruling in Richard Simmons Case

A Los Angeles court ruled on Wednesday that claiming someone is transgender is not grounds for defamation.

That preliminary verdict, handed down by Judge Gregory Keosian, is a major blow to a suit brought forward by Richard Simmons in May after the National Enquirer claimed the former fitness superstar was transitioning in a 2016 cover story. But advocates say that the ruling is an unusual victory for LGBTQ rights.

Keosian argues in a written opinion that being incorrectly labeled as transgender does not innately target an individual for “hatred, contempt, [or] ridicule.” To suggest that it does, he writes, would implicitly validate the daily bigotry trans people face.

“Whilethe characteristic may be held in contempt by a portion of the population, the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them,” Keosian says.

Lambda Legal, the national LGBTQ civil rights organization, applauded the judge’s ruling in a statement provided exclusively to INTO. M. Dru Levasseur, the group’s senior attorney and transgender rights project director, says that giving credence to Simmons’ claims would “demean transgender individuals.”

“At its core, defamation is about disgrace,” Levasseur argues. “Saying that someone is transgender is not an insult. Being identified as transgender is neither bad nor shamefulnot in our society, and not under the law.”

“We are gratified that the judge in this case has recognized that,” he adds.

Simmons’ counsel, though, argued in court that the events of the past few weeks illustrate the lingering stigma of being viewed as transgender. Attorney Rodney Smolla cited Trump’s recent ban on trans troops serving openly in the armed forces, which was made into policy in a Friday memo, and bathroom bills targeting the trans community in states like North Carolina.

“Obviously, it’s clear that the court itself doesn’t want to be in a position of endorsing prejudice against transgender people,” Smolla claimed. “But it’s not an exercise in idealism, it’s an exercise in realism.”

University of Florida professor Clay Calvert says that the Wednesday ruling recognizes that while there might be setbacks in the struggle for LGBTQ equality, progress is on its way. Plaintiffs used to be able to claim that being misidentified as gay was a means of character assassination, but today most courts of law would “reject that notion.”

“While Richard Simmons may lose his case, there’s a larger victory for the LGBTQ community in terms of legal recognition that being transgender is not a damning characteristic,” says Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project.

A final ruling is expected on the lawsuit next week.

Simmons filed suit against National Enquirer and its sister publication Radar Online earlier this year, claiming that headlines like “Richard Simmons: He’s Now A Woman” were “cruel” and “malicious.” The stories alleged that the reclusive 69-year-old, who hasn’t been seen in public since 2014, got breast implants and was receiving hormone treatments. The publications also claimed Simmons was going by the name “Fiona.”

While stating his support for the LGBTQ community, Simmons has claimed the false reporting “sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity.”