As a teenager growing up in Costa Rica, Natasha Jiménez intended to continue along the Protestant path that her family had followed. Her journey was cut short in 1982 when, at age 15, her physician told her church pastor that Jiménez was neither male nor female.
Working for Change
Patrisse Cullors has dedicated half of her 32 years to working toward the reform of the Los Angeles prison system, a quest that started with her brother Monte’s 1999 arrest and subsequent 40-month sentence, during which a confrontation with a deputy left him unconscious and with a mental illness that continued after his release. Feeling voiceless and angry about her brother’s treatment, Cullors joined forces with others who had experienced injustice at the hands of the Sheriff’s department, which in 2012 was the subject of a damning complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union about numerous assaults on inmates.
As this report went to press, Emmanuel de Mérode, chief warden of the 3,000-square-mile Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, had just returned to his post, having survived multiple gunshots in an ambush on April 15, 2014. He had been driving to the park—home to one-third of the world’s estimated 880 mountain gorillas1 and a tiny population of Grauer’s gorillas —which he has worked tirelessly to protect from armed militia and illegal activities.
McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, in April 2015 became the latest corporation to announce that it would source paper and palm-oil products only from companies committed to stopping forest clearance, one goal of a long-fought campaign to protect rich and fragile terrain that provides habitat for endangered species, including great apes. The company’s pledge became the latest in a cascade of corporate no-deforestation announcements that unfolded throughout 2014 among mainly international food and cosmetic manufacturers, including Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Mars.
More than 1,7001 chimpanzees held by private and government entities across the United States are to receive stronger legal protections against abuse and exploitation following an announcement in June 2015 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Recent landmark legal victories for LGBT organizations in Kenya and Botswana are being welcomed by activists as heralding greater recognition of the existence and human rights of LGBT populations more widely across Africa. Kenya’s High Court ruled on April 24, 2015, that an LGBT rights group must be allowed to register with government authorities—and that the denial of this right to Kenya’s National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission had violated the constitutional right to free association.