Amidst claims that a transgender woman was mistreated in a male prison in Georgia, Sir Elton John and former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe are calling for equal treatment of transgender inmates across the United States. According to John and Stipe, transgender inmates are “13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated,” and that is only one of the issues they face. The duo released a joint statement, claiming “we must do more to end the culture of violence and discrimination surrounding gender identity and expression.”
The duo’s comments come in the wake of claims of sexual misconduct and cruel mistreatment of Ashley Diamond, who is currently embroiled in a struggle to receive access to hormone treatment while in prison. Diamond has had her treatments for gender dysphoria withheld from her for three years while in the state prison. She has also reported several cases of sexual assault and public ridicule from fellow inmates, though she claims the officers in the jail failed to protect her. Studies have shown that many of these assaults go unreported because they are carried out by prison guards; something that John and Stipe refer to as “outrageous” going on to state that “the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned.”
Earlier this year, Elton John called for the boycotting of world-renowned fashion house Dolce and Gabbana following a series of controversial comments that the designers made in regards to same-sex parents. John, who conceived two children through IVF and parents them with his husband David Furnish, took issue with comments that referred to IVF children as “chemical offsprings” and vowed to never again wear Dolce and Gabbana, calling for others to join the cause. Celebrities including Perez Hilton, Madonna, Victoria Beckham, and many others joined the cause, forcing Dolce and Gabbana to release an apology.
Elton John released his last studio album, The Diving Board, in 2013, but the musician has remained in the public eye as an activist. He is also gearing up to appear at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest as well as at San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival.
FDRMX Eyes: From the United Kingdom comes singer-songwriter James Paterson. The pop musician has released a music video for his song, “Read Between the Lines.”