New research restores psychedelics’ medical respectability

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/research-restores-psychedelics-medical-respectability/

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 — 3:18 pm

Recently published studies suggest that ‘magic mushrooms’ and ‘ecstasy’ may have medical value.

Before the enactment of the Controlled Substances Act in the late 60’s, psychiatrists had been eagerly investigating the use of psychedelic drugs as an aid to psychological therapy.

Unfortunately, as the government sought to eliminate the recreational use of these drugs, it consequentially eliminated nearly all research into their effects.

Although there was almost no research on psychedelic drugs from the early 70’s to late 90’s, within the last decade studies have reaffirmed that ‘magic mushrooms’ and ecstasy (MDMA) can be valuable tools for mental health professionals.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/research-restores-psychedelics-medical-respectability/

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Survival Hints 2:

Over on the Blog the trial of Nikki Araguz” there is a lengthy post that is so important I am going to tell you not to just book mark it but copy it  and either print it and save the hard copy or simply save the file to an easily locatable location.

Due to a specific request not to publish in toto I will give you just a teaser and a link as per a posted notice on that blog.  I will be including a link to this particular post under resources.

BTW If you can possibly afford it (I understand how hard times are) try to make at least a small donation to Nikki’s legal fund.

Nikki Araguz – Possible Methods for Avoiding a Legal Battle Like Hers

While it may not be entirely possible for transsexual and intersex people to prevent or avoid the sort of legal calamity that currently consumes Nikki Araguz’s life, there are steps that people can take that may help. What follows are descriptions of some of the various ways in which transsexual and intersex people may be able to protect themselves from the sort of real life legal and media onslaught that Nikki Araguz currently faces. The topics covered include: identity documents, estate planning, jurisdictional choices, and other defensive legal protections.

Transsexual and intersex people live in a world of legal uncertainty with regard to: legal sex status recognition, ability to marry, access to healthcare, rights to privacy, and so on. However, legal counseling during the medical treatment process for transsexual and intersex people appears to be one of the glaring omissions within such treatment protocols. Such omissions may account for the many instances of transsexual and intersex people finding themselves in situations without having made appropriate legal preparations. It seems like every transsexual and intersex person receiving medical treatment and counseling for their conditions should have some legal counseling included as part of the process. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be a priority for such professionals, all too often with embarrassing or even catastrophic results.

There are multiple areas of legal protections that are important, such as:

Continue reading at:  http://thenikkiaraguztrial.blogspot.com/2010/09/nikki-araguz-how-to-avoid-legal-trouble.html

Posted in Legal Issues. Comments Off on Survival Hints 2:

Senator Franken ratchets up rhetoric in war against corporate power

From The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribunehttp://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/102267899.html?elr=KArks:DCiUMEaPc:UiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

Net neutrality is the latest issue where he warns that control of the country’s future is being hijacked by big business.

By JEREMY HERB, Star Tribune

Last update: September 5, 2010 – 9:20 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Al Franken sees a nation increasingly dominated by powerful corporations, and he doesn’t like it.

The Comcast-NBC-Universal merger? Franken warns it’s a step leading to conglomerates like “BP-Halliburton-Wal-Mart-Fox-Domino’s Pizza.”

The Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to support political candidates? “A fist on the scale” favoring big business over people, he says.

Now the Minnesota Democrat is redoubling his efforts to prevent what he sees as a corporate takeover of the Internet.

Continue reading at: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/102267899.html?elr=KArks:DCiUMEaPc:UiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

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Most current version of my article on the Feminine Boy Project and other threats to free gender expression

The following is the latest iteration of an on-going study by Cynthya BrianKate

The Feminine Boy Project Still Threatens Gender-Nonconforming People

By Cynthya BrianKate

For two decades the federal government funded a brainwashing project to keep children from “acting queer.” This collaboration between ant-LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender, Intersex) psychologists and “religious right” leaders, known as the Feminine Boy Project laid groundwork for current psychiatric abuses against transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

This was funded by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1972-1986. The original stated grant goals were “treatment of prehomosexuality,” the idea that if children were kept from stepping outside gender stereotypes they wouldn’t turn out gay. When homosexuality was removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in the mid-1970s, this became “treatment of pretranssexuality,” conflating gender identity with sexuality, based in biased assumptions that anything other than stereotypical gender and heterosexuality were wrong. Children were declared “pathological” for behavior like boys playing with dolls, wearing dresses or helping in the kitchen, or girls climbing trees, playing with boys’ toys or wearing boy clothes.

Here are some of the main people involved in the Feminine Boy Project.

Richard Green is a colleague of John Money, who instituted the “Money protocols” mandating unnecessary, nonconsensual genital surgeries on intersex children to make them “fit in” after forcing David Reimer to live as a girl (this was the infamous “John/Joan experiment”), until Reimer changed back to male before killing himself. During this “experiment” Green co-wrote Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment with Money.  Green has made a career pathologizing LGBTI people, including inflammatory comments like his 1995 Dateline remark “plays with Barbies at five, sleeps with men at twenty-five.” While head of the now-closed Human Sexuality branch of Stony Brook University’s psychology department he got NIMH to approve nearly $1 million for the Project.

George Rekers belongs to several anti-gay fundamentalist groups, such as Family Research Council, which he co-founded and used to publish his essay “Gender Identity Disorder.”  Until recently he was “scientific advisor” to NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), which claims to “cure” gays despite the American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s condemning “reparative therapy.”  In 2004 he served as an “expert witness” in favor of Arkansas banning gay people adopting children, as he did in 2008 in Florida. Unknown then was that Rekers’ was an apparently latent gay man (see below) who adopted/fostered four children, while keeping openly-gay couples from doing likewise. He testified in absentia through two witnesses in favor of California’s now-overturned Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage.  Rekers’ “evidence” in the Prop. 8 hearings has been discredited, along with his witnesses, David Blankenhorn and Hack-Shing William Tam.  Blankenhorn is president of Institute for American Values and published a book called The Future of Marriage, where he outlined a sensationalistic list of harmful consequences of same-sex marriage; he now admits this list was arrived at through “a group ‘thought experiment’ where “an idea was written down if someone suggested it.”  In May 2010 New York Times columnist Frank Rich linked Blankenhorn to Rekers.  Blankenhorn denied any connection to Rekers but a month later wrote to the Times that he had consulted Rekers’ work in his Prop. 8 testimony.  Hack-Shing William Tam is secretary of America Return to God Prayer Movement, which operates anti-same-sex marriage website One Man, One Woman.net.  Tam called gay people “12 times more likely to molest children as heterosexuals” and claimed if “gay marriage is permitted .. states would fall one by one into Satan’s hands.”  Tam admits NARTH is his information source on homosexuality because he “believes in what they say” and the Internet was the source for his claim same-sex marriage “would lead to polygamy and incest.”  On March 31, 2010 Rekers sent a letter to every school superintendent in America through a fundamentalist group called American College of Pediatrics, which hopes to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, where Rekers said “there is no proof that a child is born gay or transgendered.”  In May 2010 the Miami New Times broke the story that Rekers had been caught in a gay sex scandal with young men from gay sex-worker website Rentboy.com. This scandal has had legs; at least one other young male prostitute has come forward as having been with Rekers. Since then Rekers has stepped down from NARTH.  Visitors to his “Professorgeorge.com” website now see his attempts to deny the scandal, and, may still see a now-disabled link to a website Rekers endorsed called “Teen Sex Today,” which makes the fact that he adopted and fostered children even more disturbing.

Green and Rekers worked on the Feminine Boy Project with doctors like Susan Coates, behaviorists like O. Ivor Lovaas and David Barlow and had staff of several institutions at their disposal.

Several institutions were used to justify funding and brainwash children. Fuller Theological Seminary is an Evangelical Christian college. In his book Stranger At the Gate Mel White says while a student at Fuller he was introduced to Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell and asked to ghost-write their autobiographies. Rekers used Fuller to get funding for the Project and justify his involvement in it.. Logos Research Institute is a “religious-right” think-tank promoting fundamentalist “science,” currently funding actor Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort (known as YouTube’s “Banana Guy” for claiming bananas disprove evolution)’s edited an edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Green used Stony Brook to get most of the NIMH grants and do most of the clerical, statical and administrative work of this “Study” and most of the brainwashing went on at UCLA, though others happened at New York City’s St. Luke’s Research Hospital’s Childhood Gender Identity Unit. The NIMH grants archived in pgs. 257-258 of Phyllis Burke’s book Gender Shock allege this last was connected with a grant to Roosevelt Institute.

Green and Rekers called for patients through mental health practitioners who knew of prepubescent children who didn’t obey gender stereotypes, mainly feminine boys, though there were some masculine girls. Some were referred by school authorities for gender nonconformity, some brought in by parents.

Children were diagnosed using pseudoscientific “Gender tests” including the “Barlow Gender-Specific Motor Test,” using stereotypes to “measure” gender identity by whether children sit/stand/move like boys or girls “should.” Diagnosed with “pathological gender development,” they’d be recommended for invasive behavior modification, including placement in special playrooms, repeatedly coached to choose gender-stereotypical toys with staff spying through mirrors. Behaviorists like Shasta Mead directly interacted with children; slowly gaining trust to reinforce stereotypical behavior, repeatedly suggesting they’d rather wear or play with the “right” items. Children were made to wear wrist counters to monitor whenever they thought about playing with the “wrong” toys. Rewards and demerits were issued for “right” and “wrong” choices. Parents were enlisted to police childrens’ choices, throw out toys, force boys out of the kitchen and “steering” children more toward stereotypical choices at home as well as in the facility. This would go on until the child was declared “cured.”

This Project was declared “successful” though it succeeded only in traumatizing children. “Becky” was declared “successfully cured” because the eight-year-old saw a male orderly old enough to be her father as her “boyfriend.” The “poster child,” called Kraig by Rekers and Kyle by Green, attempted suicide. Another Project survivor wrote a play called “The Blue Dress,” dramatizing the abuses suffered. None of this stopped expansion of “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) and “Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood” (GIDc) to pathologize transgender/gender-nonconforming people, no matter how emotionally healthy. The DSM-IV guidelines even specify boys playing with Barbie as a “symptom.”

Stony Brook’s administration denies Green ever taught there, despite the NIMH grants archived in Gender Shock and Green thanking his Stony Brook staff in his book The “Sissy Boy” Syndrome, with several still working there today. Both books can be found in that university’s library.

In 1980 Dylan Scholinski, a young transgender man then named Daphne, was incarcerated in psychiatric institutions for years under “Gender Identity Disorder.” His memoir The Last Time I Wore A Dress shows his school reported him to psychiatrists, diagnosed using the Barlow Gender Motor Test and given “treatment” which included forced makeovers. In 2000 a six-year-old child was removed from loving parents who were seen as “exacerbating a mental disorder.” The “disorder?” Aurora Lipscomb told her parents she was not a boy but was a girl, and her parents supported her decision to live as a girl. Because her parents “exacerbated” her “gender identity disorder” the court took Aurora from loving parents and put her in a household where for two years she was forced to live as a Christian boy rather than a Jewish girl. She is out of that home and healing from the experience, which she should have never had to go through.

Currently there’s a push to rewrite the DSM to make it even more pathological toward transgender, gender-nonconforming and intersex people. These changes were proposed by Ken Zucker and Ray Blanchard.

Zucker’s been pathologizing LGBTI people for many years. He has run Clarke Gender Institute, this institution’s handling of transgender and intersex have so angered both communities that some activists call it “Jurassic Clarke”. Zucker was an expert in the Lipscomb case and recommended the court take Aurora from her family.  While Zucker is not part of NARTH, he lets them cite his work and quote him in their literature.

Blanchard is a colleague of J. Michael Bailey.  Bailey is author of the racist, LGBTI-phobic book The Man Who Would Be Queen, and has advocated for selective abortion of “gay babies.”  Blanchard helped popularize some of the discredited gender theories, including the debunked theory of Autogynephilia, on which Bailey based his book.  Bailey has also gained notoriety by working with eugenicists like Alice Dreger to promote the reuse of toxic and outdated terms such as DSD, ,or Disorders of Sex Development, in place of Intersex.  Dreger has made a career for herself by exploiting and pathologizing entire populations, including gay, transgender and intersex people, as well as disabled people.  Though she’s not intersex she ran the now-closed Intersex Society North America (ISNA) for several years and under her leadership the group became a DSD promoter.  In 2007 she presented a bioethics lecture titled “Should we attenuate the growth of children with disabilities?”  Dreger has on many occasions defended Bailey’s racism, sexism and transphobia, even threatening transgender feminist scholar Joelle Ruby Ryan’s career when Ryan organized a panel about Bailey’s prejudice called “The Bailey Brouhaha” at the National Womens’ Studies Association )NWSA) conference in 2008.  While Blanchard is not directly connected to Dreger, he is a colleague of Bailey.  Both Bailey and Blanchard belong to a eugenicist think-tank called Human Biodiversity Institute, whose membership includes the author of The Bell Curve, which claimed African-Americans were intellectually inferior, and the founder and many members of virulently anti-immigrant group VDARE. Some call this kind of retread of old hatreds of difference as “Newgenics”.

The proposed changes include renaming GID “Gender Incongruity Disorder,” putting anyone who in any way steps outside gender stereotypes at risk for being declared mentally disordered, not only transgender people but also possibly gay, lesbian and bisexual people, as well as feminine men and masculine women. These also include adding intersex to the list of gender disorders, which makes no sense as intersex is a physical variation, being biologically in between male and female, having nothing to do with mental health.

In addition to the APA some of these people, including Zucker and Green,, are actively involved and in power in other organizations whose decisions impact peoples’ lives in terms of gender.  In June 2010 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, or HBIGDA) issued a press release claiming to advocate “de-psychopathologisation of gender variance worldwide.”  This sounds quite progressive, unless you know the truth about WPATH’s record on gender.

WPATH’s past presidents include Richard Green,  and Ray Blanchard was a board member until resigning in 2003.  Ken Zucker sits on two of their committees, as do several of his colleagues, such as Heino Meyer-Bahlburg.  Meyer-Bahlburg is seen by many as homophobic, transphobic, misogynist and trying to “prevent homosexuality.”

WPATH’s Standards Of Care (SOC), their guidelines for people seeking  medical gender transition, such as hormones and/or SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) uphold DSM-IV.  The SOC reiterates DSM-IV’s pathologization of gender nonconformity as GID (Gender Identity Disorder).  WPATH’s SOC Committee includes Ken Zucker, as well as Randi Ettner..  In her book Confessions of a Gender Defender Ettner describes transgender people using phrases like “zombie,” “overstuffed sausage casing” and “the transie from hell…looked about to murder me in the August heat.”

The WPATH press release claims to address “The psychopathologlisation of gender characteristics and identities reinforces or can prompt stigma, making prejudice and discrimination more likely, rendering transgender and transsexual people more vulnerable to social and legal marginalisation and exclusion, and increasing risks to mental and physical well-being” yet intersex people are not mentioned at all in this document.  WPATH still pathologizes intersex people, and does not even call intersex people intersex.  Instead, WPATH has an actual Committee dedicated to continuing the use of DSD, even though that term is proven to be harmful and stigmatizing to intersex people, and a product of the new eugenics.  WPATH’s “Disorders of Sex Development” Committee includes both Zucker and Meyer-Bahlburg.  WPATH is also partnering with GLMA (Gay-Lesbian Medical Association) with their conferences in 2011 overlapping with each other.  In 2006 GLMA worked with groups like the ISNA to use DSD to refer to  intersex people.  In 2005 GLMA allowed ISNA to stage a mini-conference inside their San Francisco conference to help push DSD, and both groups co-wrote literature to popularize  DSD.

In 2005 GLMA and ISNA held a similar conference in Chicago which helped to publicize the work of a group calling themselves the “Consensus Group” which was a “consensus” of several non-intersex medical groups, without the participation or even the knowledge of the intersex community.  The participants in this group included several members of WPATH, including Ken Zucker, Heino Meyer-Bahlburg and Richard Green.  Also involved was ISNA founder Cheryl Chase, who has since come forward as actually having been pro-DSD activist Bo Laurent from the very founding of that group.  This “Consensus Group” drafted a document called the “Consensus Statement on the Management of Disorders of Sex Development.”  Their idea of “management” goes an entire order of magnitude worse than the Money Protocols, which urged forcing unnecessary surgery on intersex babies before two years old; the Consensus Statement urges such surgery at two months old.

So long as WPATH has people like Zucker, Meyer-Bahlburg and Ettner in leadership positions, calls intersex people “Disorders of Sex Development” and upholds the DSM stance on gender nonconformity, any claims that they affirm all peoples’ rights to gender expression ring quite hollow.  I’d recommend people demand that WPATH  stop pathologizing intersex, transgender and gender-nonconforming people, , and to tell people who may not know better what’s really underneath that press release until WPATH actually lives up to their claims about supporting everyones’ right to free gender expression.

The APA has likely closed the period for public comment on their website at www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx but I’d still recommend writing to them there and I certainly recommend writing them at apa@psych.org to let them know how you feel.  I’d urge them they to distance themselves from Zucker and Blanchard and would point out Zucker’s guilt by association by letting people like Rekers use his work to justify their hypocrisy and their violation of APA rules against “Reparative therapy.”  I’m hoping we can make it clear to the APA that we don’t want them to put these changes through.

Sources, Additional Information and Proof:

Sources, Additional Information and Proof:

1)             Archives of Disease in Childhood ac98319 Module 2, 5/4/06, www.medhelp.org/ais/PDFs/Chicago-Consensus-Statement-06.pdf

2)             Aurora Lipscomb archive, www.mermaids.freeuk.com/aurora1.html

3)             Beirich, Heidi,  and Moser, Bob, “Queer Science,” Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=96

4)             Bullock, Penn and Thorp, Brandon K.,, “Christian Right Leader George Rekers Takes Vacation with ‘rent boy’,” Miami New Times 5/6/10, www.miaminewtimes.com/2010-05-06/news/christian-right-leader-george-rekers-takes-vacation-with-rent-boy/

5)             Burke, Phyllis, Gender Shock: Exploding Myths of Male and Female, Anchor Books 1997

6)             Colapinto, John, with Reimer, David, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, Harper Books, 2000

7)             Colbert, Steven, on George Rekers’ “rent boy” scandal, video clip at http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/05/video_stephen_colbert_names_ge.php

8)             Conover, Pat, Transgender Good News, New Wineskins Press 2002

9)             Conway, Lynn, “Ray Blanchard Resigns from HBIGDA In a Huff!” http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/BaileyAssociates/BlanchardResigns.html

10)           Conway, Lynn, “J. Michael Bailey’s statements about wanting to abort ‘gay babies,” http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Bailey/HBES/Bailey%20on%20homosexuality.htm

11)           Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR (Text Revision), American Psychiatric Association

12)           DSM-V Committee feedback link, www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx

13)           Ettner, Randi, Confessions of a Gender Defender, Spectrum Press 1996

14)           Exposing Junk Science About Same-Sex Behavior, http://blog.ejsssb.org/category/george-rekers/

15)           Green, Richard, The “Sissy Boy” Syndrome and the Formation of Adult Homosexuality, Yale University Press 1987

16)           Green, Richard, and Money, John, Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment, Johns Hopkins Press 1969

17)           Intersex Society North America, DSD Symposium at the 2006 San Francesco GLMA Conference, www.isna.org/dsdsymposium20066

18)           “Kirk Cameron’s ‘Origin Of Species’ Plan: Ex-Actor To Distribute 50,000 Altered Darwin Books,” www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/22/kirk-camerons-origin-of-s_n_294349.html

19)           Maddow, Rachel, “Rachel Maddow Reports on George Rekers Rentboy.com Vacation,” Youtube clip at www.youtube.com/watch?v=skXMv5vsFpE

20)           Maddow, Rachel, on connections between George Rekers, David Blankenhorn and Hack-Shing William Tam, found as Youtube clip at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu56T_AirsM

21)           Organisation Intersex International, “Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development” www.intersexualite.org/AliceDreger.html

22)           Organisation Intersex International, “Alice Dreger Played Intersex People a Nasty Trick for Halloween,” www.intersexualite.org/Dreger_Halloween.html

23)           Organisation Intersex International, “Alice Dreger: the Unethical Ethicist?” www.intersexualite.org/Alice_Dreger_ethics.html

24)           Organisation Intersex International,, “Cheryl Chase and Disorders of Sex Development (DSD),” http://oii-usa.blogspot.com/2006/10/cheryl-chase-and-disorders-of-sex.html

25)           Organisation Intersex International, DSD Fact Sheet, www.intersexualite.org/DSD_Activists.html

26)           Organisation Intersex International, “Would the real Cheryl Chase, Bo Laurent, Charlie Chase, Brian Sullivan, Bonnie Sullivan please stand up?” www.intersexualite.org/Cheryl_Chase.html

27)           Petition, “Objection to DSM-V Committee Members on Gender Identity Disorders.” www.thepetitionsite.com/2/objection-to-dsm-v-committee-members-on-gender-identity-disorders

28)           Preventing Homosexuality & Non-Comforming Women: When Science & Medicine Go Astray (a criticism of Heino Meyer-Bahlburg) www.afterthree.net/tag/gender/

29)           Proposed DSM-V Revisions, www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=192

30)           Rekers, George, “Gender identity Disorders,” Family Research Council of America 1985

31)           Ryan, Joelle Ruby, Appeal to community about threats by Alice Dreger, http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Dreger/ASB%20paper/NWSA%20panel/Academic_Attack_Against_Transwoman_by_Alice_Dreger.html

32)           Ryan, Joelle Ruby, panel host, “The Bailey Brouhaha” at the 2008 National Womens’ Studies Association (NWSA) conference, entire panel on Youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMJAK_IqQa4

33)           Scholinski, Daphne,, The Last Time I Wore A Dress, Riverhead Trade 1998

34)           Serano, Julia, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Seal Press 2007

35)           TG Crossroads article archive of Ken Zucker’s pathologizing LGBTI people, www.tsroadmap.com/info/kenneth-zucker.html

36)           “The Blue Dress” (play written by a survivor of the Feminine Boy Project), www.jweekly.com/article/full/22941/boy-in-a-blue-dress/

37)           TS Roadmap archive on Ray Blanchard, www.tsroadmap.com/info/ray-blanchard.html

38)           TS Roadmap archive of transgender criticism of J. Michael Bailey, www.tsroadmap.com/bailey/

39)           University of Michigan Bioethics Grand Rounds Speakers’ series, “Should We Attenuate the Growth of Children with Disabilities? Looking at Ashley in a Broader Context,” lecture by Alice Dreger. 10?31/07, www.med.umich.edu/adultethics/2007.htm

40)           White, Mel, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian In America, Plume Books 1995

41)           Wilkinson, Stephanie, “Drop the Barbie!: If You Bend Gender Far Enough, Does It Break?”, Brain, child the magazine for thinking mothers, 2001, www.brainchildmag.com/essays/fall2001_wilkinson.htm

42)           World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), www.wpath.org

43)           WPATH June 2010 Press Release, www.wpath.org/publications_public_policy.cfm

44)           WPATH, Past Presidents List, www.wpath.org/documents/WPATH%20BOD%20Terms%20List%205-7-09.pd

Britain – The Equality Act 2010 – your questions answered…

From Brenda Lana Smith

[2010-09-02 Reed Smith]

http://tinyurl.com/3xvl93b

Employment Law Watch

Posted at 5:57 PM on September 2, 2010 by Joanna Whiteman

The UK Equality Act – your questions answered

This post was written by Joanna Whiteman < http://tinyurl.com/35jjspb > and Ruth Bonino< http://tinyurl.com/2ceyr9d >.

In this Q&A, we have attempted to cover some of your most frequently asked questions on the UK Equality Act 2010. This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide of the new provisions, so if you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Equality Act 2010 has been in the press a lot recently. Should we already have taken steps to ensure that our systems are in compliance with it?

The Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent in April, just before the general election and after a period of intense discussion and debate. The new coalition government has recently announced that most of the Act’s provisions are due to take effect, as planned, from October 2010. However, despite this, questions remain over the more controversial provisions, such as the socio economic duty, gender pay reporting and positive action.

Employers need to act now in order to prepare for the Act, and the action we recommend is set out at the end of this note. As regards those provisions of the Act where a question mark remains, there is no need to jump the gun – keep a close eye on developments, but be prepared to act as soon as any announcements are made.

I’ve heard that the Act makes it easier for employees to show they have suffered disability discrimination. Is this true?

The Act introduces some significant changes in the law concerning disability discrimination, and the government has said that these will come into force in October. The changes have come about because of a recent decision of the House of Lords (London Borough of Lewisham v Malcolm (2008)), which rendered the existing protections against disability-related discrimination inadequate. The changes make it easier for people to show they are disabled and are protected by disability discrimination law. Two new types of disability discrimination are recognised as unlawful by the Act:

• Indirect discrimination – under Section 19 of the Act, a person will be indirectly discriminated against if the employer applies a “provision, criterion or practice” that puts people sharing that person’s specific disability, at a particular disadvantage. This means, for example, that a job applicant or an employee with dyslexia could claim that a rule that employees must be able to type at a certain speed disadvantages people with dyslexia. Unless the employer can justify this, it would be unlawful.
• Discrimination arising from disability – under Section 15 of the Act, an employer discriminates against a person when it treats that person less favourably, not because of the disability itself, but because of something arising “in consequence of that person’s disability,” such as the need to take a period of disability-related absence. For this type of discrimination to occur, the employer must know, or reasonably be expected to know, that the disabled person has a disability. This type of discrimination will be easier for an employee to show since there will be no need to make a comparison with a person who does not have a disability (as is currently the position). It will, however, be possible for an employer to defend a claim by showing that the treatment is justified as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Some aspects of disability discrimination law are not changed by the Act. For example, the Act still requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees and does not change the extent to which these are required. However, it may be necessary to review your organisation’s policies to ensure that they are up to date and compliant with the current interpretation of “reasonable adjustments.” It will also be advisable to review your policies and practices to ensure that they cover the new definitions of disability discrimination referred to above.

We find it useful to ask prospective employees to fill in a pre-employment health questionnaire before we offer a job. Does the Equality Act 2010 say anything about this?

Under Section 60 of the Act, it will only be lawful to ask questions on health before a job has been offered in a very small number of exceptional circumstances, such as when those questions are necessary in order to establish whether the candidate will be able to carry out an “intrinsic function” of the job he or she is applying for. For example, where a job requires heavy lifting, the employer will be permitted to ask the candidate whether he or she could manage the heavy work involved. Other permitted reasons might be the need for diversity monitoring or to make reasonable adjustments in the selection process. The purpose of the new provision is to make it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs. Once the applicant has been interviewed and has received a conditional or unconditional offer, further health questions can then be asked. This new provision is likely to be in force from 1 October 2010.

I have heard that we will need to take part in complicated and time-consuming gender pay audits. Is this true?

One of the more significant new legal requirements in the Act is the proposed “gender pay audit” obligation that may be imposed on private sector employers. If this provision is brought into force, the government will be able to require all private sector employers with more than 250 staff to produce reports on the gender pay gap in their organisation. This new provision was designed to be part of measures to encourage more transparent pay reporting in the private sector, and the Labour Government’s aim was to encourage private companies to publish this information on a voluntary basis. For this reason, the measure was not set to come into force until 2013 and, even then, was only intended to be used if sufficient progress on voluntary reporting had not been made.

It is currently not clear if the new coalition government will ever implement voluntary pay reporting, or bring this new requirement into force.

Accordingly, if your organisation has more than 250 employees you will need to keep a close eye on developments. In the meantime, you should be prepared for the possibility that you may, at some time in the future, be required to publish gender pay data. In order to avoid any nasty surprises (and as a matter of good practice), prudent employers should analyse their pay structures with a view to establishing whether there is a gender pay gap problem. Any potential problems revealed by this analysis will enable you to rectify them now, before you find yourself in the embarrassing and potentially costly situation of having to fight equal pay claims.

Will we have additional equality obligations toward a larger number of our employees?

Whilst “protected characteristics” (such as age, race, sex, etc.) remain the same, the Act will strengthen and expand the law protecting people from discrimination in certain categories:

Associative discrimination

The Act will strengthen the law protecting people from discrimination when they are associated with someone from a protected group. This concept is not new – it is already unlawful to discriminate against or harass someone because they are “linked” or associated with a person who is of another sexual orientation, race or religion and belief. A recent decision of the European Court confirmed that European law also protects against direct disability discrimination by association. The Act now extends the protection from discrimination by association across all the strands of discrimination or harassment so as to include age, disability, sex and gender reassignment.

Therefore, the Act does, to some extent, extend equality obligations to those employees who themselves are not within a protected group, but who are linked or associated with someone who is within a protected group. The Act would therefore protect an employee making a request to work flexibly for an elderly relative or a disabled child, from being less favourably treated than an employee making a similar request to care for another adult who is not elderly or a child who is not disabled.

Perception discrimination

Under current UK discrimination law, persons are protected from discrimination on grounds of race, sexual orientation or age if they are perceived to be of a certain race, sexual orientation or age that is the subject of the discriminatory treatment when, in fact, they are not of that race, orientation or age. The UK Court of Appeal will also soon be considering whether someone can claim discrimination on the grounds of a perceived disability.

The Act will extend the current law as it will protect anyone who is perceived to have a protected characteristic from discrimination because of that perception. The Explanatory Notes to the Act gives some practical examples to help indicate the types of situations in which this applies. One example they give is, “If an employer rejects a job application form from a white man whom he wrongly thinks is black, because the applicant has an African-sounding name, this would constitute direct race discrimination based on the employer’s mistaken perception.” So, if an employee is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic (whether perceived or actual), that employee will have a claim for direct discrimination.

Harassment

Under current UK discrimination law, different levels of protection from harassment are given to employees depending on the protected characteristic involved. The Act corrects this by harmonising the law on harassment, as well as by extending the protection from harassment to people with any protected characteristics (except pregnancy and maternity and marriage/civil partnership). Furthermore, as the Act protects people from unwanted conduct “related to” a protected characteristic, employees are protected from harassment to which they are subjected because they are associated with someone with a protected characteristic or they are perceived to have a protected characteristic. This means that an employee who, for example, is harassed because of her son’s disability or because she is wrongly perceived to be Jewish, is protected under the Act.

In addition, as regards employer liability for third-party harassment, current legislation restricts this to cases relating to sex discrimination, but the Act will extend this across most protected characteristics. An employer will therefore be liable for harassment where a third party harasses an employee in the course of their employment and the employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the harassment, where the employer knows that the employee was harassed by the third party on at least two other occasions during the course of his or her employment.

What do these changes mean for employers?

An employer following good practice should already have equal opportunities and disciplinary policies in place that address any form of discrimination or harassment. These may need to be slightly reworded to take account of the expansion of the meanings of discrimination and harassment. However, the additional protections should not require a dramatic shift in culture. The area we think will be likely to require the greatest caution is that of disability, particularly in the case of people who may be perceived to be disabled. For example, an employee with a poor sickness record who is not given a promotion may not be “disabled” within the meaning of the Act, but may be able to argue discrimination arising out of perceived disability.

The above new provisions are likely to be in force from 1 October 2010.

If we’re recruiting for a job and we’ve got two candidates who are equally employable and one is from an ethnic minority background, do we have to recruit the minority candidate?

Under the Act, it is proposed that employers will be permitted (but not required) to take “positive action” with regard to recruitment and promotion. There is no date set for when this provision will come into force. If and when in force, an employer will be allowed to pick someone who has a “protected characteristic” (e.g., a particular race/ethnic minority background) for a job when the employer has a choice between two or more candidates who are equally suitable, provided that the employer “reasonably thinks” that people with that candidate’s protected characteristic are disadvantaged or disproportionately badly represented.

However, employers may only do this where they are faced with two candidates who are “as qualified” as each other. They are not entitled to select a less well-qualified candidate purely on the basis that he or she is from an under-represented group. In addition, an employer must not have a policy of treating people in a protected group more favourably. Each decision must be made on a case-by-case basis, assessing whether this positive treatment is a proportionate means of enabling a protected group to overcome the disproportionate under-representation.

If employers wish to take advantage of this provision once it is in force, they need to proceed with caution. Because it is open to dispute as to whether any two candidates are ever “as qualified as each other,, employers will be open to the risk of discrimination claims by unsuccessful candidates, brought on the basis that they felt that they were better qualified but lost out purely on discrimination grounds. For this reason, it is likely employers may be reluctant to use this provision.

I’ve heard that we need to ensure that we don’t discriminate against someone because of their class. Is this true and, if so, will we need to introduce a new policy on this?

No, there is no new obligation on private employers not to discriminate on a socio-economic basis. There is, however, a proposed new public “socio-economic” duty that requires public authorities, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise their functions, to “have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.” This duty will fall upon government ministers, the NHS and local authorities, amongst other bodies. This new duty will affect some private employers indirectly. Private companies that provide services to government departments under outsourcing agreements might be required to ensure that they work in a way that complies with their client’s public sector duties.

Prior to the General Election, the Conservative Party was not in favour of this duty, and the Liberal Democrats also expressed some concern. Accordingly, it is doubtful as to whether it will come into force.

Some of our employment contracts contain provisions restricting our employees from disclosing information relating to pay – are these now unenforceable?

The Act will render unenforceable any term in an employment contract that prevents or restricts an employee from discussing his or her pay with other colleagues or any other person (such as a trade union) if the purpose of the disclosure is to find out whether there is a connection between any difference in pay and a protected characteristic (such as age, race or sex). Furthermore, if a man (for example) who is asked by a woman to disclose the details of his pay does so, and is then disciplined by his employer, the Act makes it clear that he could make a victimisation claim. The new provisions do not mean, however, that all pay secrecy clauses are unenforceable. If, for example, an employee discloses his pay to a competitor in breach of a confidentiality clause in his contract, his employer will be entitled to enforce the contractual obligation in the usual way through the courts.

This new provision is likely to be in force from 1 October 2010.

I read that the Act allows “dual discrimination” claims. What does this mean?

The Act proposes to make it possible to bring a discrimination claim based on a combination of two protected characteristics. For example, an Asian woman who feels she has been less favourably treated, may bring a claim that she has been discriminated against specifically because she is an Asian woman. This is to be distinguished from a person who brings two concurrent claims, one for race discrimination and one for sex discrimination. The Asian woman who claims dual discrimination may be unable to show that she has been discriminated against because she is Asian (because male Asians are not suffering less favourable treatment) or that she has been discriminated against because she is a woman (because non-Asian women are not suffering the same less favourable treatment).

The purpose of this provision in the Act is to recognise that people do suffer less favourable treatment on account of stereotypes relating to, for example, women from a particular race.

It remains to be seen whether this new category of claim will be brought into force. There are doubts amongst discrimination lawyers as to whether the coalition government will keep this provision. So again, it is a question of watch this space.

What immediate steps should we be taking?

Given the uncertainty as to whether certain provisions of the Act will ever come into force, it is advisable not to act over-hastily. However, since most of the main provisions of the Act will come into force in October 2010, including certain key provisions such as those relating to disability discrimination, we do not recommend simply waiting until October. A prudent employer can do certain things now:

• Review the three draft Codes of Practice (Employment, Equal Pay and, if relevant to your organisation, Services, Public Functions and Associations) to check for areas where new compliance measures will be required.
• Amend current policies in order to refer to the Act and the Codes.
Ensure that your policies cover the extended definitions of disability, as well as the extension and harmonisation of associative and perception of discrimination and harassment. Consider adding specific examples to your policies to illustrate these issues.
• Research the impact that any requirement to publish pay would have on your organisation. Will it cause issues? If so, it would be prudent to consider redressing these in advance of any obligations.
• Consider what additional training is required to ensure that employees in management or supervisory roles are aware of their obligations.

Click on the following link for the Government Equalities Office website< http://www.equalities.gov.uk/equality_act_2010.aspx >, which contains all the latest news from the government on the Equality Act 2010 and its implementation, as well as links to the text of the Act and the Explanatory Notes.

Click on the following link for the Equality and Human Rights Commission website < http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/equality-act/ >, which gives more information the Equality Act 2010 and the draft Codes of Practice.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Britain – The Equality Act 2010 – your questions answered…

US – Experts recommend universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia…

[09-07-2010 PhysOrg]

http://www.physorg.com/news203053083.html

Diseases

Experts recommend universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia

September 07, 2010

Today, The Endocrine Society released a new clinical practice guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). The guideline features a series of evidence-based clinical recommendations developed by an expert task force.

The guideline, published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), a publication of The Endocrine Society, is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrine Society, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, the European Society of Endocrinology, the Society for Pediatric Urology, the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society, and the CARES Foundation.

CAH is a genetic disorder of the adrenal glands that affects about one in 10,000 to 20,000 newborns, both male and female. The adrenal glands make the steroid hormones cortisol, aldosterone and androgens. In individuals with CAH, the adrenal glands produce an imbalance of these hormones which can result in ambiguous genitalia in newborn females, infertility and the development of masculine features such as development of pubic hair, rapid growth in both girls and boys before the expected age of puberty.

“If CAH is not recognized and treated, both girls and boys undergo rapid postnatal growth and early sexual development or, in more severe cases, neonatal salt loss and death,” said Phyllis Speiser, MD, of Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York and Hofstra University School of Medicine, and chair of the task force that developed the guideline. “We recommend that every newborn be screened for CAH and that positive results be followed up with confirmatory tests.”

Other recommendations from the guideline include:

• Prenatal treatment of CAH should continue to be regarded as experimental. Such therapies should be pursued through protocols approved by Institutional Review Boards at centers capable of collecting outcomes data on a large number of patients so that risks and benefits of this treatment can be defined more precisely;
• Diagnosis should rest on clinical and hormone data while genotyping should be reserved for equivocal cases and genetic counseling;
• Regarding treatment, glucocorticoid dosage should be minimized to avoid iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome. Mineralcorticoids and, in infants, supplemental sodium are recommended in classic CAH patients;
• Clinicians should avoid the routine use of experimental therapies to promote growth and delay puberty, and patients should avoid adrenalectomy;
• Early single-stage genital repair should be considered for severely virilized girls and should be performed only by surgeons experienced in this type of procedure;
• Clinicians should consider patients’ quality of life, consulting mental health professionals as appropriate;
• At the transition to adulthood, clinicians should monitor for potential complications of CAH; and
• Clinicians should exercise judicious use of medication during pregnancy and in symptomatic patients with nonclassic CAH.

“People with classic CAH should have a team of health care providers, including specialists in pediatric endocrinology, pediatric urologic surgery (for girls), psychology and genetics,” said Speiser. “Other than having to take daily medication, people with classic CAH can have a normal life.”

More information: The fact sheet can be found online at:
http://www.hormone … l-081310.pdf

Provided by The Endocrine Society (news http://www.physorg.com/partners/the-endocrine-society/ : web http://www.endo-society.org )

© PhysOrg.com 2003-2010

Posted in Intersex. Comments Off on US – Experts recommend universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia…