Dozens brought shovels and rakes to an Oct. 18 tree-planting event. The sign reads, "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."
Transgender Memorial Garden organization

A symbol of new life will officially launch in St. Louis on a day set aside for commemorating violent deaths. Organizers and the public will dedicate the new Transgender Memorial Garden on Friday, the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

A Kansas City-area man cannot sue his former employer for discrimination because Missouri's legal definition of discrimination does not include sexual orientation; so says the state's western district appeals court.

James Pittman's lawsuit claimed that, because he is gay, he was fired from Cook Paper Recycling and was subjected to a hostile work environment.  His case was dismissed by a lower court nearly two years ago, in part because sexual orientation is not included in Missouri's definition of discrimination.

Panelist Dr. Karen Edison, who helps create health policy surveys at the University of Missouri, said she was once threatened with a loss of funding for including survey questions about sexual orientation. AJ Bockleman of PROMO sits to her right.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes, state and federal law are in conflict.

Rules for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is one example. Even though the federal government prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on many counts, Missouri state law does not include those protections. 

Resolving those conflicts was the focus of a summit Wednesday between members of the LGBT community, their advocates and representatives from five federal agencies. 

Provided by Lifting Up Lila event

Hundreds of St. Louisans have pledged to rally around Lila Perry, a transgender student at Jefferson County’s Hillsboro High School.

A gathering called “Lifting up Lila” was set for 5 p.m. Sept. 4, in Hillsboro City Park. Supporters want to have their say after a group of students walked out in protest Monday when Perry said she planned to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker room. On Thursday night, a group of parents asked the school board to create a policy about who can use what restrooms.

Outgoing PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman
Provided by PROMO

The executive director of Missouri’s statewide organization for LGBT equality is leaving his post at the end of October. But it's possible he might later continue his work in a different arena: Jefferson City.

A.J. Bockleman has been executive director of PROMO since 2007. He announced today he’s stepping down after eight years of what often felt like an uphill, non-stop fight for LGBT rights.

Jessica Liss (left), Michelle Smith (middle), and AJ Bockelman (right) joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Awareness of transgender individuals and trans* issues has grown substantially in the past couple of years, but for many people—transgender and cisgender alike—uncertainty still prevails.

From the June 2015 Pride Parade
Sayer Johnson

They’re last in the LGBT acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and they were nearly last in this year’s St. Louis Pride Parade. Now the local transgender community is taking the lead.

They’re making themselves known and making plans to open a community center. It's an effort spearheaded by an organization called the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, or MTUG.

Dr. Wes Crenshaw joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

It may be easier than ever before for young people to be open and curious about their sexuality; or at least, Julia Poe of Prairie Village, Kansas seems to think so. Poe identifies as bisexual and believes that for people of her generation, coming out is becoming more common and less traumatic—just as same-sex marriage, recently legalized across the country, is increasingly frequent and accepted.

Monica Rea, left, and Pam Grakanoff lean back from a kiss after exchanging rings Saturday, June 27, 2015 at St. Louis City Hall.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:22 Sunday, June 28 with confirmed number of participants.

The St. Louis City Hall Rotunda echoed with laughter and cheers Saturday as same-sex couples were legally married. The ceremony took place just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Monica Rea and Pam Graklanoff were one of twelve couples who exchanged wedding vows.

Many children were in the crowd at City Hall Friday night.
Cindy Betz

A joyous throng filled the rotunda of St. Louis’s City Hall Friday night — on the eve of PrideFest — to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The court ruled Friday that all 50 states must allow these unions. They must also recognize such marriages performed in other states and countries.

Kelly Hamilton, left, and William Copeland
Alex Heuer

What do transgender people have in common with each other? Often, the answer is, not all that much.

On Thursday, two days before PrideFest weekend, “St. Louis on the Air” listeners heard from two local transgender men who have very different stories to tell. The term “transgender man” refers to someone who was labeled female at birth but identifies as male.

St. Louis' LGBT Center had been in negotiations to buy this building, the Grand Oak Hill Community Center, but an anonymous donor backed out of the deal.
Nancy Fowler

St. Louis will not be getting the LGBT Center building its board promised a year ago.

The Center moved out of its building in the Grove area in April 2014 and established an online-only presence. Last June board president Dara Strickland said they were looking to buy a building, thanks to an anonymous donor. That move was to take place in early 2015.

SAGE coordinator Eugene Potchen-Webb (left), volunteer Clarissa Jackson (center) and executive director Sherrill Wayland (right) stand outside SAGE's current offices at 4168 Juniata St. in Tower Grove.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sherrill Wayland started SAGE eight years ago, in a one-bedroom apartment at the Tower Grove Manor.

Now, the group that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults find housing, healthcare and other services will start to expand their reach, by coming under the wing of the state’s largest advocacy group for the LGBT community, PROMO Fund.  

Beth Finder and Zakary Finder, now 20, at recent St. Charles County Pride planning event
Beth Finder

When Zakary Finder of Lake St. Louis was in middle school, other students taunted him for three whole years for being "different."

“They would say, like, ‘Hey, faggot,’ ‘What’s up, homo?’” he said. “Or, ‘Get out of here, homo, nobody wants you.’”

Missouri Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Beacon.

Mike Colona is getting his wish. Two months ago, the Democratic representative from St. Louis attended a Senate committee hearing on Senate Bill 237. The bill bars discrimination in Missouri based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But after the hearing, Colona was upset because he hadn’t seen similar action from the House.

Human Rights Campaign / HRC logo

Missouri has a long way to go to achieve equality for LGBT residents, according to a national advocacy organization.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a report today showing Missouri is among 29 states lacking basic equality standards. The organization gives Missouri particularly low marks in two areas:

Steph James
Jess Dugan

Until her late 50s, Steph James of Maryland Heights lived a life that, from all appearances, looked like the American dream.

Jess Dugan, left, and Vanessa Fabbre
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

When the TV show “Transparent” won two Golden Globe Awards a week ago Sunday, many transgender people felt validated, and a little less invisible.

Andre Wilson, an inclusive health advocate and transgender man, will speak at Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 13 and 14.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Andre Wilson lived as a woman for the first 43 years of his life. It was excruciating, he said.

“I lived a life of depression, suicidality. I couldn’t even explain to myself, let alone others, what the barriers were,” Wilson said. “One lives a life of never having access to the core self.”

When Wilson began hormone therapy to transition into becoming a man, everything changed.

Lilly Leyh, left, and Sadie Pierce wait to get their marriage license in November 2014 at the St. Louis recorder of deeds office.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

After Wednesday's ruling that Missouri's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, offices in St. Louis and St. Louis County have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But so far, other counties in Missouri have expressed reluctance at issuing their own.

The Recorders' Association of Missouri, an organization that all recorders of deeds are part of, has advised recorders outside of the city of St. Louis not to issue same-sex marriage licenses.