Wednesday, March 20, 2019

'Toxic Silence' Nominated For A Lammy Award!

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I had talked about UHCL professor Dr William T Hoston's book Toxic Silence a few months ago in my Unapologetically Trans column I write for OutSmart magazine.

The book is focused on the Houston Black trans community, and interviews some local trans women for it.  It also offers some suggested action steps that need to be taken to reduce anti-trans violence aimed at Black trans women and is on my personal bookshelf.

I was happy to discover that Toxic Silence has been nominated  for a Lambda Literary Award in the LGBTQ Studies category

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The Lammys as they are nicknamed, have been around since 1988.  They are given out by the US based Lambda Literary Foundation, and honor published works that celebrate or explore  LGBTQ themes. 

To be eligible for the Lammy. a book must have been published in the US in the year current to the award    The Lammy categories have grown from 14 to now 24, and cover fiction, nonfiction, biographies, and LGBTQ studies just to name a few of them.

The finalists for this years Lammy Awards were selected by a panel of over 60 literary professionals.  Those literary professionals then sorted through over 1000 book submission from over 300 publishers to get down to the finalist books.     

The 31st annual Lammys award ceremony will take place on June 3, and is being hosted by a Lammy award winning author and performer in Mx Justin Vivian Bond 

Congrats on your nomination Dr Hoston!  I'm hoping the Houston area, UH-Clear Lake and you have reasons to celebrate on that evening.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

You're Mad At Mayor Turner - But Who Are You Going To Replace Him With?

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Sylvester Turner succeeded Annise Parker as mayor of Houston after narrowly defeating Bill King in a December 2015 runoff.   His first term has been a contentious and rocky one because of budgetary issues and the hard revenue cap that has forced him to make unpopular cuts.

There's also the contentious fight over Prop B.   Despite his repeated warnings that the city didn't have the money to pay for it, people passed it anyway, and now that has devolved into our own local Brexit style mess pitting him in a messy public battle against the firefighters.

Homeless advocates don't like the initiatives coming from the mayor's office they contend are anti- homeless.   I'd need another post to discuss the other groups who are big mad at Mayor Turner right now and want to fire Mayor Turner in November, and some of it is personal animus with him.

The Harris County Republicans are also big mad because the Blue Tsunami swept them out of power.  They went 0-59 in the Harris County judicial races, lost control of Harris County Commissioner's Court thanks to the wins of County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia, and haven't held the Houston mayor's chair since the early 70's. 

They would love to get some political payback for their massive Harris County losses by taking the Houston mayor's chair away from him.

There are several candidates who have stepped up to run against him, but they are far from the top tier candidate that is necessary to beat an incumbent mayor.

Turner has my vote for now because none of the declared candidates are demonstrably better than him, which is my standard to fire an incumbent ,mayor.   These declared candidates are all flawed in major ways, and are actually WORSE than the guy currently in the mayor's chair.

Tony Buzbee? 

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Doing fundraisers for Trump at your River Oaks mansion and donating $500K to Orange Fooluis automatically calls his judgment into question.   And he's a Republican. 
Hell naw

Kendall Baker?

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Please, that faux faith based HERO hater and transphobe who got fired from his city 311 director job for sexual harassment while falsely demonizing the Houston trans community at the behest of Dave Welch during the HERO passage and repeal fight? 

Naw player, I haven't forgotten about that, and neither has the Houston trans community, and FYI dawg, we vote.

Definite Hell Naw.

Booker T?

Really People?   Did y'all not learn anything from 2016?

Image result for booker t houston mayorNot a viable candidate, and too many questions about who is pushing him to run and why.  Not gonna let 'em have the mayor's chair.

Nope, not today.

Demetria Smith?

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NOT an option either. She not only hated on HERO, she told me to my face she voted against it because I quote ' she didn't want 'men in women's restrooms' and was clueless to the fact it covered 15 categories.   Also wasn't smart to say that to a nationally known trans advocate who fought like hell to pass HERO.

I was in the room when she had the meltdown at the January 2018 GLBT Caucus meeting in large part because she got mad she couldn't get more than 1 minute to speak, and then tried to spin it as 'The GOLBT's wouldn't let me speak and troied to bully me'

Naw Miss Thang, you thought we forgot that you hated on HERO?   You had nerve to even step your behind in that room to ask for our endorsement after demonizing our community. 

She's a perennial candidate not ready for mayoral prime time or ANY elected office, and an . .
Unequivocal HELL NAW

Bill King?

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Another GOP HERO hater who lost to Turner in 2015, couldn't run Kemah without drama, but y'all think he's Houston mayoral material?    Did I mention he's a Republican?

Hard pass

What some of you peeps big mad at Mayor Turner are failing to realize is that the Houston mayor's office is now a four year term with a term limit of eight years.   The mayor
's office combines the ceremonial functions  of a mayor's office with the administrative duties of a city manager, and the mayor gets a vote in our strong mayor form of civic government on council .   

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It is a powerful office, with the mayor having lots of power to dictate how stuff gets done around The Horseshoe and at City Hall.   The mayor selects the committee chairs.  He dictates to legislative agenda and if or when issues come up.

It's no longer a two year term.   If we pick the wrong person this November, we can't correct it until 2023. 

As part of a community taking the brunt of the anti-trans animus stirred up by the contentious passage of HERO five years ago and the 2015 HERO repeal, I'm majorly concerned that three HERO opponents are running. and we don't know Buzbee's or Booker T's public stances about it.

Based on who Buzbee has been palling around with, HERO 2.0 is probably a NO with him as well. .

You may not like Mayor Turner right now, but as far as I'm concerned, unless someone majorly qualified steps up to run by July who is demonstrably better than Turner, I'd rather have him in office for his second and final four year term running this city than these currently declared candidates. 

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe Is Running For San Antonio City Council

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Over the last two election cycles in 2017 and 2018, voters have increasingly shown their willingness to elect trans candidates to office.   Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham are serving their constituents on the Minneapolis City Council, with Jenkins also serving as the council vice president.

VA Del. Danica Roem is one of four openly trans state legislators serving her constituents in her district, and was joined by Rep Brianna Titone in Colorado, and Reps Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker in NH in the 2018 election cycle.

Here in Texas,  we have had trans masculine and trans feminine people running for all kinds of offices, and some have even made history like Phyllis Frye, our first transgender municipal judge in Houston who was reappointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Jess Herbst, who served as mayor of New Hope,TX after the death of the town's longtime mayor.

Finn Jones and Jenifer Rene Pool were the first to win Democratic Party primary races for the state legislature and Harris County commissioner, and Vanessa Edwards Foster got an impressive 17% of the vote in her 2018 Democratic congressional primary race.

But unfortunately we have had no openly trans Texan elected to public office in the Lone Star State, much less any trans Texans of color who have attempted to run for office.

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Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe is attempting to change that.   She's a small business owner and political consultant who has been running various campaigns for over 20 years.

Now this proud trans Latina is taking on the challenge of running her own potentially historic race for the San Antonio City Council.

She's running for the District 8 seat in northwest San Antonio against the incumbent council member Manny Pelaez and Tony Valdivia

The 55 square miles inside the District 8 boundaries  are not only the most diverse and fastest growing area of the city of San Antonio, it is home to UTSA, UT Health San Antonio, the San Antonio Medical Center, three of the city's largest employers in Valero, USAA and NuStar, the Fiesta Texas amusement park,  the Camp Bullis military base and the Northside ISD.

It was also formerly represented by current San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg, and has a history of  producing people who have moved on to statewide leadership.

Gonzales-Wolfe wants more transparency and inclusion in San Antonio city government, and has a vision for District 8 that seek to deal with traffic and infrastructure issues, growth, climate change
and economic development.

She is working hard to make sure on May 4 that history is made and a Texas electoral ceiling is pushed through.

Good luck, Frankie!  Hope you make that Texas history and give me something else to celebrate on my birthday!

Friday, March 08, 2019

The New Miss International Queen Winner Is Black!

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“I want them to see that we are beautiful, we are educated, we are talented and we can maneuver in society just like everyone else.”-Jazell Barbie Royale, MIQ 19 

I guess the Miss International Queen Pageantry system peeps have been reading my posts blasting their long history of anti-Blackness and never having a Black winner of it.

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History was made in Pattaya last night just in time for International Women's Day as 31 year old Jazell Barbie Royale became the first ever Black winner of the Miss International Queen trans beauty pageant.

In addition to her becoming the first ever Black winner of MIQ in its 15 plus year history, she also became the first American to snatch this crown since Mimi Marks did so in 2005.

Like Mimi Marks, she is also a Miss Continental pageant titleholder, having won that title in 2016

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First runner up was Kanwara Kaewijn from Thailand (another Miss Tiffany's pageant winner) and second runner up was Yaya from China

When she's not competing, the Florida native is an HIV advocate, and said in an interview that what she would like to do if she won is become a trans advocate, especially to those not well educated about trans issues.

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She also noted the pageant being devoid of Black contestants, as I have pointed out more than a few times over the years as the perceived anti-Blackness has discouraged Black trans contestants around the globe from even attempting to compete in it.

"There is no one else in the pageant that has won that looks like me, there is no one in the pageant that looks like me. I would be able to inspire so many other people out there,” she said in a Travel News Asia interview .

Well, the Miss International Queen Pageant FINALLY has a Black queen.   Still isn't going to stop me from calling out the other problematic elements of the pageant.

But this is a nice start.   Congratulations Jazell for making history and becoming Miss International Queen..   May you be just the beginning of more Black trans women from around the world who capture this title


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Moni's TENT Trans Lobby Day Speech

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This is the full text of the TENT Trans Lobby Day speech I gave on the north steps of the state capitol building earlier this morning,


To Emmett Schelling and the TENT leadership team,  the Texas NASW leadership team, my fellow trans Texans, you Mama and Papa Bears,you citizen lobbyists, friends and allies in attendance.

It is a tremendous honor, blessing and privilege to be standing before you today as we prepare to head into the Pink Dome and lobby our state legislators and senators for our human rights. And since I am the TransGriot. I needed to take a moment to drop your trans history on you before we send you on your way to lobby your state reps and state senators.  

Our job today, citizen lobbyists is very simple. It is to advocate for just laws to get enacted and do our best to ensure that unjust laws don’t pass this session.

So what is a just law versus an unjust law?   As the Rev Dr Martin Luther King so eloquently put it in his 1963 ‘Letter From Birmingham City Jail’, ‘Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

Translation:  if you’re trying to pass laws that denigrate marginalized communities and people you don’t like, it is an unjust law.   If you’re trying to pass laws that uplift people, they are just laws.

I had fun reminding Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Lt Governor Dan Patrick of that point two years ago. I will continue to drive that point home to any legislator who believes their dry as dust religion gives them the right to oppress and discriminate against people they don’t like..

I’m happily here in the ATX with you a mere 26 days before my 25th transition anniversary on April 4.  I’m also here exactly 20 years to the day I made my first trip to Austin to participate in a trans specific lobby day.   

I’m also doing so with a heavy heart.   Sarah DePalma, one of our trans elders who was the former executive director of TENT’s progenitor organization TGAIN, the Texas Gender Advocacy Information Network, passed away a few weeks ago at age 67   Her memorial service is today. .

She not only was TGAIN’s executive director, she also headed an early national trans rights organization called It’s Time America   She was proudly standing up for our human rights in the late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, and walked these Capitol building halls multiple times.

Sarah was also along with Phyllis Frye one of my activist mentors.   She was standing up for trans rights before I transitioned in 1994. She was a co host on KPFT-FM’s ‘After Hours’ show

As TGAIN’s executive director, DePalma also organized trans lobby days over multiple Texas legislative sessions.   She fought for trans inclusion in lesbian and gay orgs resisting it until Parkinson’s Disease started affecting her in 2005.

We in Texas and the nation are indebted to our transcestor for being a fierce warrior for our community.

DePalma wrote in a 1994 letter a comment that was published by the This Week In Texas LGBTQ magazine that I’m going to remix here  Transgender people and drag queens cannot be hidden without our cooperation, and we refuse to hide. Get used to it, Texas.

May we please take time to honor Sarah DePalma by having a moment of silence in her memory? Thank you
It’s roll call time!  What part of the Lone Star State are you peeps from?.  Dallas-Fort Worth-North Texas, where y’all at? East Texas?   The Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange Golden Triangle? The Rio Grande Valley?  West Texas? The Panhandle? San Antonio? Austin? Central Texas? Houston, are y’all in the house?

Raise your hands if this is the first time you have participated in a trans lobby day or a lobby day of any kind.  

Whether this is your first time or you’re a veteran of these events like me, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to let your legislators know that your human rights are precious to you.

There are nearly one million of us TBLGQ Texans in the Lone Star State.   If all of the estimated 930,000 of us were living in our own fabulous rainbow flavored city, we would be the fifth largest city by population in Texas.  It would also be a city that had non discrimination protections for its citizens, something that the unjust SB 15 wants to take away.

And note to all you politicians within and beyond the sound of my voice.   We LGBTQ Texans vote in EVERY election cycle..

As I mentioned, I first ventured to Austin for a trans lobby day in 1999.   The political landscape was different at that time. George W Bush was our governor.   The Texas House had a six seat Democratic edge, and a one seat Republican one in the Texas Senate.

We had a modest goal of getting included in the James Byrd Hate Crimes bill and getting a TGAIN sponsored name change bill passed that would take the name change process out of the Texas court system and make it an administrative process.

While we weren’t successful in doing so in 1999, what we did accomplish was visiting all 150 house offices and all 31 Texas senators despite having about 20 people to do so who were predominately from Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

Today that torch on the name change legislation has been picked up by Reps Jon Rosenthal with HB 1835, HB 2089 by Rep. Garnet Coleman, and Sen. Jose Rodriguez with SB 154.

We’re also still trying to get included in the Byrd Hate Crime bill, and Rep Coleman has sponsored HB 1513 to make that happen    

One of the things we didn’t have 20 years ago that we do now is the support of many organizations like the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, PFLAG, Equality Texas, and HRC,

Texas based organizations now exist that advocate for the issues of trans people of color like the Dallas based Black Trans Advocacy Coalition founded by Carter Brown, and the Houston based Organization Latina de Trans in Texas founded by Ana Andrea Molina   

We also have fighting alongside of us the parents of transgender kids that we lovingly call Mama and Papa Bears.   They have been invaluable, along with our trans kids themselves, in dispelling the myths and stereotypes that crop up about trans people, and even getting legislators through their lobbying efforts to change their minds about unjust legislation and pass    

The trans kids have also been some of our best community ambassadors for spreading the word that trans people exist, and that we are an undeniable part of the diverse mosaic of human life.

And everything we are doing here on March 7, 2019 is to ensure that 20 years from now the Kai Shappleys, Libby Gonzales’ and Zuri’s of our state who are in elementary and middle school don’t have to come here to lobby every session for basic human rights coverage.

I want them to be building upon the trans lobbying work we do in our Capitol today. But since I’m still doing this work 20 years later, I won't be surprised if I'm still blessed to be around in 2039 to witness it that I will probably see them doing so on behalf of our community

Yes, Trans Lobby Day is about our trans and gender non conforming kids and making life better for future generations .  Some of what we elders do here we may never reap the benefits of it. But if it does happen for us trans elders sooner than that, that’s all good as well.  

Texas trans kids, here’s a message to you from your Aunt Moni.  I and your trans elders will fight for you with every fiber of our unapologetic trans beings   You are our future. We will do our utmost to make it a great one for you. So dream big, get those good grades, make friends with people who unconditionally love you, and be better quality people than the bullies who irrationally hate on you.

One of the things we also have going for us now we didn’t have in 1999 was the overwhelming support of the business community.   They said it loud and clear in 2017 and before this session started that they see diversity as a core principle of their businesses, and discrimination hurts their bottom line.  

Target and Victoria’s Secret are excellent examples of what I’m talking about here.   Target just reported their best earnings since 2005 and business is booming for them.  Meanwhile a business that went in the opposite direction in Victoria’s Secret is seeing lackluster sales and is  closing 58 stores.

Bigotry costs you money   As North Carolina proved in the wake of the passage of the unjust and transphobic HB 2, it can also cost you convention and hospitality business and sporting events that bring in millions of dollars to your state's economy. .  

We also have increasing support from progressive pastors who have no problem telling the world we trans people are God’s children despite whatever faux faith based anti-trans hate speech Dave Welch, Jonathan Saenz, Steven Hotze and other Texas right wing hate mongers keep putting out there.

I also must give thanks to the people in the social work, education, media and medical communities who unequivocally support our human rights struggle and fight back against the ignorance and attempts to demonize and dehumanize our community.

In closing I want to salute you citizen lobbyists and give you a few pro tips.   Relax, take a deep breath and don’t be scared to talk to your state senators and state reps.  Yes, they reprepresent you here in Austin and have the power to write legislation, but the bottom line is that they still work for you.

Frankly, your legislators and staffers enjoy talking to a constituent who made the effort to come to Austin from their district far more than they do some paid corporate lobbyist with an expense account who is here in the Pink Dome nearly every day    

Know your bill numbers and the basics of what they do when you talk to staffers and legislators so they can be on the alert for them when that bill hits their committee or the floor  They can also tell you where they are in the legislative process as well in their respective chamber.

Please and thank you works, especially in liberal progressive offices that get a constant barrage of nasty calls from our loud and wrong opposition.   Thank them for doing their demanding jobs and being legislative supporters of our TBLGQ community.

And before you leave Austin, take some time to get to know some of your fellow citizen lobbyists here today.  You may make a lifelong friend before this day is over.

Your authenticity is your strength as a citizen lobbyist.  You have a unique story to tell, so tell as much of that story to your reps and the legislative assistants in their offices as you feel comfortable in doing.  

You don’t have to be perfect.   Just be the beautifully human people I know all of you are.  

TENT Trans Lobby Day Today

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I'm chilling with my peeps in Austin after a relatively uneventful travel day.  I did have to wait two hours before I got into my hotel room.  I got here at 11 AM, and like my hotel, many of the ATX hotels are packed not only because of the legislative session, but also because SXSW is about to kick off this weekend

So after I grabbed something to eat, I had to kill two hours wandering the downtown streets of Austin.   I happily discovered during my wandering to familiarize myself with the general hotel vicinity there's a 7 Eleven near the hotel.

I'm halfway to my free Slurpee.

I'm here for the TENT Lobby Day, and I'll be speaking before we start heading into the Pink Dome to talk to our legislators.   The registration for the event closed on March 4 with 276 people signaling their intention to be here, so looking forward to seeing if we get more than that.

Also looking forward to seeing our trans family from across the Lone Star State

Our legislators know we're here because we've already made the local ATX news.   It's also interesting for me because it's exactly 20 years to the day I first made the trip to Austin as a rookie citizen lobbyist to participate in my maiden trans lobby day. 

I'm also doing so with a heavy heart because back home in Houston, the private memorial service for Sarah DePalma, the founding executive director of the Texas Gender Advocacy Information Network (TGAIN), and the proto org of TENT, takes place today. 

Our trans elder and my activist mentor died several weeks ago at age 67.

Here's the schedule for today's TENT Lobby Day

8-9 AM - Check in at FUMC Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca St), parking is available in the Capitol garage and will be within walking distance of all events. It is also handicap accessible and so is the FUMC Family Life Center)

9-10:00 AM - Lobby Day Training

10:35 AM - Pick up lunch, walk over to south steps of the Capitol

11:00 AM - TENT Rally

12 PM - Join NASW Rally

1 PM - Lobby Day Visits begin

5 PM - Lobby Day Ends

Hope I'll see as many of you peeps and allies handling your trans human rights business.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Heading To The ATX Again

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If you're saying to yourself, 'weren't you just in Austin last week?', you would be correct.   I was there for a quick in an out trip to speak during an Equality Texas press conference on the south steps of the Texas Capitol.

And yeah, got my Slurpee before I headed back to H-town.

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This time I'm heading back to Austin to take part in the Trans Education Network of Texas (TENT) trans lobby day that is also cosponsored with the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

This lobby day is happening nearly 20 years to the day I made my first ever Texas lege trans lobby trip in 1999 organized by TGAIN, the forerunner org of TENT.

Same Pink Dome, but a different Texas legislative configuration.   Even Austin is way larger population wise than when I first started coming to lobby the Lege.

We have a long list of good bills to support, but are also concerned about the bad ones like SB 15, that would kill already passed non discrimination ordinances in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Plano, Carrollton and El Paso and prevent cities from enacting those laws

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We also for the first time have an official Texas LGBTQ Legislative Caucus this session, and looking forward to talking to the members of it in addition to my own state rep and state senator.

My behind is already in bed as you read this because I have a 7:35 AM Megabus departure from downtown Houston to get to our state capitol, and the alarm is set for 5 AM CST

I sure hope the route we're going to take to Austin is via I-10 west to TX 71 because I despise going there via US 290.

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Despite our schizophrenic weather lately, the bluebonnets are starting to bloom along TX 71 as well

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My ETA there is 10:40 AM, so hope we get there on time.   Once I get there, I'll have the opportunity to catch up with what the Texas Lege is doing and on Thursday see my Texas trans fam from across the Lone Star State. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Piss Off An Evilgelical -Buy Some Girl Scout Cookies!

If you live for an opportunity to support an organization that supports our community and piss off the evilgelicals at the same time, a quick and easy way to do both is to find your local Girl Scout troop selling cookies in your area and buy few boxes.

The evilgelicals have been hating on the Girl Scouts since 2013 because unlike the Boy Scouts, the conservative movement was never able to get control of the org and inject their conservahate into it.

They also hate the Girl Scouts for being unapologetic supporters of human rights, and really have been going off the deep end about Girl Scout troops admitting trans feminine scouts into their ranks .

Their doomed to fail conservaboycott means there's more cookies for those of us who love them and who also want to support an organization that supports our community.. 
If you're wondering how and where you can get your fix of Thin Mints, Shortbreads, and all the other delicious flavors of Girl Scout cookies available, here's the link to the Girl Scout Cookie Finder.

So yep, it's Girl Scout Cookie Time!   So buy some boxes of cookies, support the Girl Scouts, and piss off the evilgelicals at the same time.

Target Has Best Year Since 2005

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When you support the TBLGQ community, we will not only reciprocate, but it will benefit your bottom line.

The evilgelicals and right wing peeps have been boycotting Target for their supported TBLGQ policies and stances, and it looks like that boycott has spectacularly failed.

Sales at Target stores grew 5% in 2018.   Its digital sales grew an astounding 31% and the topped it off with an outstanding Christmas season to cap their best year performance wise since 2005..
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Target's stock has also risen to $75 a share.

I also believe in supporting people who support my community.   When I needed stuff for my new apartment last July, I got the majority of it from Target.

So what can we learn from this?   If you peddle transphobia and homophobia, it affects your bottom line.    When you embrace your TBLGQ customers, you will be rewarded with loyalty from that customer base.

And besides, Target has better quality stuff.