Sam Levin Profile picture
30 Mar, 15 tweets, 6 min read
NEW: I interviewed trans kids across the US about the Republican bills targeting their rights. Many have faced these attacks for years and are now seeing the bills become law.

Here are some of their stories (thread) ⬇️

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/m…
Wyatt, 14, South Dakota, is banned from using the boys bathroom. He has to walk across the school to get to the single-stall staff restroom: "This is a basic human need ... I’ve asked my guy friends if they’d be uncomfortable if I was in the boys’ restroom. They wouldn’t."
Wyatt has faced anti-trans bills since he was 11: "As a 14-year-old, I shouldn’t have to worry about my rights being taken away. I should not have to go out of my way to make other people happy. I’m not a problem to society. I just hope by the time I’m 18, things are better."
Ava, 12, Utah, was nearly banned from swimming this year, but the Republican governor opposed the bill.

"When the bill was canceled, I was so happy and relieved, because it meant I could, for now at least, keep swimming and hopefully swim on the high school team in the future."
Kris, 13, South Dakota, wasn't allowed to play on boys' teams at his first junior high school: "They told my dad: ‘We’re just afraid that he’s going to confuse the other kids.’ They weren’t worried about my education. They were just worried I might confuse people. I was shocked."
At his new school, Kris is fully supported by his team + coaches, but still fears legislators will ban him: "I told all my teachers I was trans, and they didn’t even really care. They treated me as any other student, as any other kid on the team. That’s what I wanted."
Miles, 14, Missouri has been to his capitol about nine times to fight anti-trans bills. He says he's used to it by now but worries about younger kids: "The hardest part is seeing the kids who are younger than me, and the knowledge of what they are going to go through."
Miles: "I’m a kid just like any other kid. My personal life journey has definitely not been easy. Being trans itself is not difficult. The hard part is the societal view. People don’t attempt suicide because they’re trans, they harm themselves because of how society views them."
Corey, 15, Missouri, says he constantly worries about new anti-trans bills being introduced: "Sometimes we don’t get notice about the bills until 24 hours before. It’s like, ‘By the way, tomorrow’s a Senate hearing that could quite literally end your life.’ They just don’t care."
Christa and Jeff, parents of a 12-year-old trans girl in Alabama, are fighting to protect the gender-affirming treatments that have "made all the difference" for their daughter. "Her confidence just soared. I can’t even explain how much more vibrant and full of life she is."
Jeff: "I spent a fair amount of time looking at the medical literature on this, which is very clear about the drops in suicide rates that occur when you provide this treatment to these kids. So to have that treatment taken away, it really puts our daughter at risk."
Jeanette Jennings, mother of @JazzJennings__, said one of the worst moments for her family was when Jazz was banned from the girls soccer team. She tried playing with the boys but it was too painful: "She’d go out to the field and just stand there, paralyzed and frozen or crying"
Jeanette: "You have these politicians out there that have this fear of trans kids, with bathrooms + now with sports. I don’t understand it. We fought so hard to win our battles. To see it all unraveling now is breaking my heart. I’m torn up. It’s discrimination at its ugliest."
For more on the sports bills and the coordinated efforts across the country targeting trans girls: theguardian.com/us-news/2021/m…
And for more on the bans on gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, my earlier piece. Arkansas lawmakers passed the first ban in the US yesterday, and there are similar bills across the country.

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/m…

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More from @SamTLevin

28 Jan
NEWS: Bounchan Keola, the incarcerated firefighter who California sent to ICE for deportation, is free after 22 years.

He was released from ICE custody yesterday and is now reuniting with his family for the first time in decades: Image
When Boun was working as an incarcerated firefighter last fall, he suffered a near-death injury.

He had two weeks left of his sentence at the time, but California transferred him to ICE instead of releasing him to his family. My story from November:

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/n…
Boun, 39, has been incarcerated since age 16. If California had not reported him to ICE, he would've gone home last year to his family and received medical treatment for his firefighting injuries.

Instead, he's been stuck in ICE jail, threatened with deportation to Laos.
Read 12 tweets
12 Jan
I spent time inside a South LA hospital with the highest rate of Covid patients in the region – the epicenter of the epicenter of America's out-of-control pandemic.

Here's what I saw + heard from frontline staff battling the catastrophic surge. THREAD:

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/j…
Entire families are hospitalized – husbands and wives, twin brothers in their 20s, parents and their children. Anahiz Correa, ICU nurse manager, recounted a mother and son who ended up dying in the same ICU room weeks apart. "The patients are much sicker and it’s not clear why.”
Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital has put beds in an old gift shop, which has a small sign on the door indicating “patient care in progress.” The chapel around the corner is filled with gurneys. Patients are treated in the waiting room + doubled up in spaces meant for one.
Read 23 tweets
17 Dec 20
A short thread on the California prison system's Covid catastrophe + vaccine access:

Advocates + experts are arguing that CDCR must urgently make vaccines available to incarcerated people, mandate vaccines for guards, AND do mass releases of elderly/vulnerable. Here's why ⬇️
CDCR has a long history of severe medical neglect + abuse, including experimenting on incarcerated people. Some will likely be reluctant or scared to take a vaccine. This mistrust is compounded by the fact that CDCR has spread Covid across the system, infecting 31,000+ people.
Incarcerated people in CA have witnessed CDCR’s botched Covid response, which has allowed guards to bring Covid to every single prison, leading to mass and worsening outbreaks and 104 deaths. So why would people inside trust a vaccine? says @jamesking0314:
Read 11 tweets
13 Dec 20
NEW: California is on track to allow mass evictions to begin during the worst phase of the pandemic so far. Millions are at risk, and many more will die of Covid if lawmakers don't pass new tenant protections.

A short thread on what's at stake ⬇️

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/d…
-More than 2 million households said they couldn't pay rent in November, and that # will increase with new shutdowns.

-Tenants owe an estimated $1.7 billion in unpaid rent, and California law currently says they are on the hook for all of it, which will be impossible for many.
Evictions mean more people will die. When other states lifted eviction moratoriums, it led to 433,700 additional Covid cases + 10,700 more fatalities, according to @LeifScience.

Given the scale of the crisis in CA, the fatal consequences will be catastrophic here.
Read 11 tweets
15 Oct 20
NEW: I interviewed Jackie Lacey + George Gascón about their tight race for LA district attorney, arguably the most important criminal justice election in the US. There are huge differences in their beliefs on incarceration + safety.

Thread on my chats ⬇️

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/o…
LA has the largest jail system in the world + extremely high prison rates. I asked Lacey if the region jails too many people.

She said no, and warned that if she were a less punitive DA, LA would “deteriorate” with the “criminal community” + “predators” flocking to the region.
Lacey has fought for the right to continue prosecuting children under the age of 12, and has continued to try youth as adults. She said this was warranted for some crimes: "You can say, 'Oh you’re incarcerating children!' but that’s not the act of a child or the mind of a child."
Read 19 tweets
22 Sep 20
NEW: Kao Saelee worked as an incarcerated firefighter in California.

But when his release date came, the state partnered with ICE and transferred him to detention. He now faces deportation to Laos, a country his family fled when he was two years old.

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Kao, now 41, has been imprisoned since he was a teenager. Even though he completed his sentence and fought wildfires, @GavinNewsom + CDCR handed him over to ICE.

“I paid my debt to society, and I think I should have a chance to be with my family," Kao told me from ICE jail. Image
When his release date came on August 6, Kao's sister was waiting outside the prison to take him home for the first time in two decades. Instead, guards handed Kao over to a private security contractor for ICE who shackled his hands, waist and legs, put him in a van and drove off.
Read 17 tweets

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