Alex Petkanas

Alex Petkanas is a student at Brooklyn Law School. They are an able-bodied, white, trans person who grew up in a small town in Connecticut, and went to high school and college in upstate New York. Alex intends to pursue a legal career in public interest work, and spent the past semester in an LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, focusing on name changes for transgender people in New York State.

Climate Justice is Queer Justice

Today, people all over the world will walk out of work and school to strike, demanding action on climate change. Strikes have started in much of the world, with CNN reporting that 100,000 people gathered in Melbourne, Australia to demonstrate and call for action.

Actions are taking place all across the world, and you can find one near you by clicking here.

The terrors of climate change will ultimately come for us all, but the most marginalized members of our communities are suffering first. Low income people and nonwhite people globally are already facing worsening fires, droughts, and storms, a lack of access to clean water, and more extreme heat without air conditioning.

Trans and queer people are more likely to be low income than their cishetero peers. Low income people are more likely to live in areas with no clean water, and areas that are especially susceptible to severe damage by storms.

Trans and queer people are more likely to be incarcerated than their cishetero peers. Incarcerated people often are kept in cages built on toxic waste sites and are trapped and unable to move during storms. After a severe storm, they may be without power, without water, kept in flooded cells, and less able to contact family and loved ones outside of the prison.

Indigenous communities, including Two-Spirit people whose gender is beyond the binary imposed by colonizers, have been on the forefront of the struggle against capitalist destruction of land and water and yet are often erased from the movement.

Today’s climate strike marks a key moment in larger coalition building, and it is essential that the trans and queer liberation movement centers climate change to protect the most vulnerable members of our community first, and ensure a future for all of us.

A few organizations doing the work:

More Than a Manhole: Gender Neutral City Codes

In Berkeley, CA the city council voted unanimously last week to remove all gendered terms from its city code. It will be read a second time this week and, if approved, go into effect in late August. The ordinance would amend the Berkeley Municipal Code to use the gender neutral pronoun “they” instead of “he” or “she” and update a number of specific gendered terms to gender neutral terms. 

Some examples from page 8 of the ordinance are below:  

CURRENT GENDERED TERM  NEW GENDER NEUTRAL TERM 
“Male” and “female” “People of different genders”
“Pregnant women” or “pregnant woman” “Pregnant employee(s)” 
“Brother” or “sister” “Siblings” 

Despite the fact that this ordinance will change nearly thirty gendered terms and all gendered pronouns, and that it will only cost the City about $600 to update the entire Code, this ordinance has been mocked in press coverage and on social media. A substantial amount of national coverage (NBC, ABC, The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN)  has highlighted one specific change: the word “manhole” will be changed to “maintenance hole.” 

Gender Affirming Laws: New York State Legislative Session Ends Without Addressing Name and Gender Marker Changes

Despite an exciting session in Albany, the legislature has not addressed barriers for nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers who attempt to access basic updates to identification documents.

[Photos by Andrew Franciosa]

The New York State 2019 legislative session ended last week after six months of its new dynamic of full Democratic control played out. During the three weeks of Pride month while the legislature was still in session, it proudly passed a bill banning the Gay and Trans Panic Defense, and considered (but ultimately abandoned) a bill to legalize gestational surrogacy. Earlier this year, the state passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a historic piece of legislation to add gender identity and expression to the categories protected under anti-discrimination laws.

However, the legislature failed to pass the Gender Recognition Act, a bill that would have made name changes more accessible for nonbinary and transgender people, and would have added a third gender marker, X, to driver’s licenses and state birth certificates.