The Daily Inter Lake and John Fuller have done it again. As LGBTQ+ Montanans are experiencing legitimate fear and trauma after the shootings at Club Q in Colorado Springs, the Inter Lake and Representative Fuller have repeated harmful misinformation about LGBTQ+ people that enables verbal and physical violence and discrimination against our LGBTQ+ neighbors, friends, and relatives.  
 
In 2018, the Inter Lake published a guest editorial that criticized a support group for LGBTQ+ teens. That piece was full of character attacks and cruel stereotypes, and local residents responded by telling the Inter Lake that gross misrepresentations of LGBTQ+ teens and adults had no place in our valley.  
 
During the 2021 Montana Legislative Session, Fuller sponsored three bills designed to remove the rights of transgender youth to access medical care and participate in school sports. He used every stage of the legislative process as an opportunity to amplify misleading information meant to reinforce negative perceptions about LGBTQ+ people, and especially transgender people. MHRN knows that this misinformation comes directly from well-funded national groups that are promoting a slate of hate bills that target transgender youth and adults. 

Let’s be clear: Rep. Fuller’s actions are not designed to protect anyone. Since the passage of his misleadingly named “Save Women’s Sports” bill in 2021, he has shown no interest in taking actions that would truly support women’s sports, like advocating for funding or scholarships that close gaps in access to sports and athletics. Rep. Fuller’s actions exemplify the type of blatant lies and rhetoric that encourages violence against the LGBTQ community. 
 
 

While Rep. Fuller is free to have his completely unfounded opinions about transgender people, the Inter Lake and other media companies are not required to repeat slurs, false characterizations, and calculated cruelty that leads to very real harm toward our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors. Transgender people belong in Montana; Rep. Fuller’s hateful rhetoric does not.


Please take time today to tell your local elected officials that you support equality for LGBTQ+ people in our valley and our state.  Click here to send an email to tell Fuller
that you support LGBTQ+ rights and Montanans. 

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We have received some questions asking if we expect to see voter suppression or intimidation tactics from armed militia members similar to what has been happening in Arizona. While it’s possible that radicalized individuals or groups could stage a presence at polling places, we’re not seeing a coordinated effort or major reason for concern at this time. Of course, anything is possible and, if you encounter such activity, please contact MHRN and call the Voter Protection Hotline at 406-888-VOTE (8683) with any voting-related irregularities you see or hear about.

Unfortunately, Montana is likely to see disruptions after ballots have been cast and while ballots are being counted. Missoula has been targeted by “election security” conspiracy theorists since the 2020 election, and MHRN knows of another group in Carbon County that has been trying to find errors in the voter file.

Another potential problem could come from so-called “constitutional sheriffs” in Montana. The national organization Protect America Now has been pushing for sheriffs to challenge legitimate elections under the guise of protecting “election integrity.” Depending on how some contested races go, right-wing extremists might lean on their local sheriffs to intervene. This fact sheet is a good overview about sheriffs and elections. “Constitutional sheriffs” don’t have the authority to determine elections, but that never seems to stop them from responding with misinformation and intimidation tactics.

MHRN will keep an eye on the situation and provide updates if needed.
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Raging Against the Rainbow: Extremism in Montana Series

A coordinated national attack on basic rights for transgender people started in Montana during the 2021 Montana Legislature and has filtered down to local libraries, schools, and businesses.

Attend this webinar featuring our own staff experts and find out what’s happening, who’s involved, and what you can do to make sure that the rights of transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit Montanans are protected. We’ll give you some insider information on recent incidents in Montana, too.

Get more information and register for the webinar here.


Montana Gender Alliance Campout

September 16-18, 2022 at Hauser Lake

The Montana Gender Alliance had so much fun camping together in June (even with the rain), so we’re doing it again!

This time we’re trying out a new group campsite on Hauser Lake which is located near Helena. Mark your calendars for September 16-18, we hope to see you there!

This event is intended for trans, nonbinary, Two Spirit, and gender diverse folks and their families.

Please email Shawn@mhrn.org for a registration form and more information.


Title IX Comments

The U.S. Education Department is suggesting a rule change that would amend Title IX’s nondiscrimination mandate, which could help LGBTQ+ students in public schools.

The public comment period is open! Please leave a message supporting this rule change. Click here for more information and talking points.
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Take Action to Protect Transgender People’s Access to Education and Sports!

A quick overview


The U.S. Education Department is suggesting a rule change that would amend Title IX’s nondiscrimination mandate to include all schools that receive federal funding. Anti-LGBTQ+ operatives are organizing to flood public comments rejecting this change. MHRN supports this change, which would go a long way to supporting LGBTQ+ students at school.


We need you to leave a comment by September 12 in support of this rule change and efforts to reduce discrimination in all schools that receive taxpayer funding. To leave a comment, please go to this link, click the green button, and write a message. If you need help writing your comment, see suggested talking points below.


Please keep in mind that all comments will be part of the official record. Speak your mind but be aware that all personal information in your statement will be part of the public record.

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The Montana Gender Alliance is a trans founded and trans led organization that provides support groups, individual advocacy, and community-building opportunities for transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit Montanans.


The Montana Gender Alliance provides:

– Support groups for transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit community members

– Support groups for parents of transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit children

– Family and individual advocacy

– Assistance with transition plans in the workplace or school

– Civic engagement opportunities

– Education and consultation on LGBTQ+ issues

– Legal name change and gender marker update guidance


The Montana Gender Alliance is fiscally sponsored by the Montana Human Rights Network. For access or more information about any of these resources, please email mga@mhrn.org.


Click here to report discrimination, slurs, or hate activity.


Click here for support with a mental health crisis from the Trevor Project via text or call.

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Transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit Montanans, we are going to keep fighting for you. Here’s our response to the DPHHS hearing this morning on the emergency rule to prevent updates to birth certificates.
 
Montanans have spoken again. They have repeatedly told DPHHS that transgender Montanans must be allowed to update the gender marker on their personal identity documents without interference. LGBTQ+ community members and allies completely outnumbered opponents of equality at the hearing for the 2017 rule change, the hearing for SB 280 at the 2021 legislative session, and today’s hearing.
 
Dozens of Montana’s outstanding medical and mental health professionals, teachers, social workers, and clergy gave compelling statements. Most importantly, we heard from brave trans, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people about their daily experiences when they are blocked from the essential right to update their birth certificates. There is no reason for the state to act against the wishes of the public, especially when the benefits are immense, and public comments have decisively rejected the rule change.

DPHHS is still taking public comments via email until 5pm on July 8. You can use this form to send a message or email them at dphhslegal@mt.gov .
 
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A few weeks ago, the leader of a literal neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), announced on social media that he was planning to hold an event in Missoula. Rumors grew, and it became clear that the community needed support and a plan.  
 
We are relieved to report that despite all of the hype, only three NSM members participated in the event. They stood in front of Southgate Mall on Saturday, June 18, for about an hour. After livestreaming and recording their paltry turnout, they disappeared after rain and hail dumped down on them. This weak showing is evidence that, while white nationalist groups have an online following, they typically have limited in-person support. It’s clear that Missoula’s refusal to engage with them prevented a larger turnout, so we are grateful that people avoided them.  


On the same day across the state in Livingston, White Lives Matter supporters in Montana also gathered and had a very
small turnout. That low attendance level is similar to other  racist honk-and-waves events the group has conducted recently. 


Now that this threat is past, it’s a good time to talk about the best ways to Nazi-proof local communities. Here’s what we know and what we learned from these incidents. 
 

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PRIDE DAY OF ACTION: JUNE 30, 2022 
Defend the right of Montanans to have accurate personal documents 
 

In late May, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) issued an emergency rule that would prevent transgender and nonbinary people from revising gender marker changes. You can read MHRN’s original statement here.

Tragically, DPHHS has responded to calls from LGBTQ+ community members and allies to overturn this rule and reject gender marker changes with an attempt to make the emergency rule permanent. After receiving calls and emails detailing how harmful and hateful the emergency rule is, DPPHS chose not to listen to the majority of public statements made at the 2021 Legislative Session. Instead, they have doubled down on cruelty. This vicious attack on transgender Montanans must be stopped.

Unlike the emergency rule, a permanent rule includes opportunity for public comment. Our best chance of defeating this harmful policy is to turn out in LARGE AND LOUD NUMBERS on June 30th during public comment.

How to give comment:

There are two ways to give public comment. The first is to attend the hearing online via Zoom and give spoken or written comment. If you are able to tune into the hearing, we STRONGLY request that you make a public comment. Please do more than listen in. More comments equal more support for the rights of trans, nonbinary, and Two Spirit Montanans.

If you are unable to attend the hearing, that’s ok! You can submit written comments by emailing dphhslegal@mt.gov by 5pm on July 8th.
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The Montana Human Rights Network extends our congratulations to Adrian Jawort and Upper Seven Law for winning their lawsuit against Sidney pastor Jordan Hall, who published false accusations against Jawort during the 2021 Montana Legislative Session.


Hall published dangerous, false statements in his extremist blog, the Montana Daily Gazette, and then went on a speaking tour across Montana to repeat those claims and beg for donations to his blog and his legal fees. Jawort received harassment and threats after Hall’s anti-LGBTQ+ campaign, and some of that continues today. In addition to the false statements, Hall has repeatedly and intentionally misgendered Ms. Jawort. We applaud Adrian’s strength and resilience through this challenging process.


MHRN has been following this case and Hall’s malicious statements for months. We are relieved that he is being held accountable for his untrue, unsubstantiated statements that have caused harm to Jawort and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. We commend Jawort for her courage and hope that others will speak out against malicious rumors that harm Montanans who already face discrimination.


Jawort is the Political Director of Indigenous Transilience.

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Late yesterday, news broke that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) responded to an ongoing lawsuit regarding gender markers on identifying documents with a worst-case scenario. DPHHS issued an emergency rule that stops all gender marker changes. According to the emergency rule, “The court’s decision leaves this department in an ambiguous and uncertain situation. The court’s preliminary injunction means that, pending final resolution of the litigation, the department’s Office of Vital Records (OVR) cannot accept and process birth certificate sex designation amendment applications….”

The logic for this emergency rule defies the authority of a court injunction and boils down to a calculated political attack on some of Montana’s most marginalized citizens. It’s hard to imagine any other reason for this decision other than DPHHS seizing an opportunity to cruelly punish transgender Montanans for being who they are. It appears that DPHHS is attempting to create a loophole in the legal process in order to defy court orders and cause fear, despair, and anxiety.


The evidence is clear: restricting gender marker changes is extremely harmful. In a study published last month researchers found that that transgender and nonbinary youth with IDs that match their gender identity were 11 percent less likely to report a recent suicide attempt compared to those who were not able to change their gender marker on official documents. Suicide rates among transgender youth are among the highest in the nation. The findings from this study indicate that altering the way a person’s gender is reflected on legal documents is an effective way to protect the health and wellbeing of transgender youth.

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