My name is Adrian L. Jawort and I am a Native American trans woman activist and lobbyist for Indigenous Vote who has been the victim of a dangerous, transphobic, libelous hit piece article via the Montana Daily Gazette, a far right-wing publication whose associated radio program regularly features Montana conservative legislators and Senators as guests.
The article at nearly 1,000 words titled, “Who’s the Gothic Transvestite Haunting the Halls of the Montana Capitol?” used personal Facebook pictures without my permission while writing stereotypical, transphobic tropes and outright lies about me. While the article inadvertently does an extraordinary job of exposing the gross, bigoted attitudes Montana trans people experience that many claim do not exist, there is a particularly libelous line (which of course never happened) that's very damaging to my profession and endangers my personal safety which states:
"Reportedly, the angry transvestite and several of his associates had cornered Senator Butch Gillespie in an angry tirade. Also reportedly, Montana Family Foundation President Jeff Laszloffy escorted Sen. Gillespie to the Sergeant of Arms for his protection."
While I internally debated whether to ignore the piece altogether lest the publication get the trollish attention it craved, I noticed on the Montana Daily Gazette Radio Program that very week alone they had four Montana state representatives (which included the Rules Committee Chair, Derek Skees, and Senator Theresa Manzella) featured, garnering official credibility to their dishonest media. I asked them politely via email to at least take down the fallacious remarks claimed I attacked a State Senator, to which they promptly refused.
As a personal safety matter this causes legitimate emotional distress. Although I am passionate in my writings, I am also very introverted and soft-spoken to the point people always ask me to speak up. I now worry people will want to take 'revenge' out on me and be potentially applauded for doing so by people who actually believe I bullied a 75-year-old rancher/Senator.
What’s notable was that after this piece came out, "Jeff Laszloffy” even commented, “This is low. Not a public figure, just a person. Are you planning to attack every LGBTQ person in Montana?”
Pastor Jordan Hall, who runs the Gideon Knox Group which publishes the Montana Daily Gazette (along with conservative editor James White of Kalispel), once cyber bullied a teen who committed suicide shortly thereafter. Before Hall gave a half-hearted apology after much condemnation from fellow Christians, he'd initially defended himself, claiming, "This was not about 'shaming' a young man (although he should be ashamed)." And also, "And I ask people repeatedly, what is the chapter and verse that tells me this fifteen year old man’s public sin can’t be addressed publicly?" The 15-year-old's alleged sin was a pic of themselves kissing their girlfriend on their personal social media.
While I've done all I can to combat LGBTQ-phobic legislation on a state political level, the unseen costs are people who want to cower and see me run from such libelous attacks via such media that many conservative politicians condone with eager embracing of such people who produce it.
Just weeks after their transphobic hit piece came out, Hall attacked a Sidney, Montana LGBTQ youth group, so maybe that's a "yes" to Laszloffy's question. In the meanwhile, the Montana Young Republicans and Women Republicans have apparently committed to come visit Hall.
Such is the unfortunate reality of being LGBTQ in a red state America, where four Native American LGBTQ teens on one reservation killed themselves in the same week just a couple of years ago all while politicians since have passed legislation like protecting the torturous practice of gay conversion therapy via "religious freedom" laws as well as making it so transgender people have to submit and register their health information publically to courts so they can be easily tracked and doxxed.
I empathize on a personal level those struggles of those Native youths who've passed, as I'd once been that cold, dark place in the mind of suicidal thought where the light on the "other side" offered a false beacon of comforting warmth. Such tragic instances inspired me to get out of my introversion comfort zone to become a Two Spirit/trans advocate, to use my voice and stand up for the rights of myself and others to live free from being bullied and treated like second class citizens by law on my own Indigenous lands.
4 suicides from Native LGBTQ youths in a week....
That's something that's always stuck in my head.
While I oft say I can't speak on behalf of all people's personal experience, it's also hard to not hear those ghosts.
Those ghosts who felt less than.
Those ghosts dehumanized.
Those ghosts branded as outcasts in society for whom they loved.
Those ghosts who felt there must be something wrong with them because they were told they're an abomination just for being born the way they were.
Those ghosts who didn't think their story mattered anymore.
But we hear you.
And your story still matters.
[While Adrian has taken much of their own time and money to learn how to file a cross jurisdictional file a lawsuit, perhaps we can help her offset some of these costs and garner her some professional legal help and assistance on suing those libelous words meant to cower people like her into silence and intimidate them from speaking out.
*Content warning: extreme transphobia for those curious to view this vile, libelous hate speech: https://montanadailygazette.com/2021/05/03/whos-the-gothic-transvestite-haunting-the-halls-of-the-montana-capitol/
Thank you for your consideration and for taking the time to read this, and please feel free to share.]