US slips to 49th in life expectancy

From Raw Story:

By Sahil Kapur
Monday, October 18th, 2010 — 8:23 am

The United States currently ranks 49th in the world in overall life expectancy, according to a study published in the academic journal Health Affairs, slipping dramatically during the last decade.

“As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined,” concludes the study, conducted by Columbia University health policy professors Peter A. Muennig and Sherry A. Glied, which will appear in the November edition of the influential peer-reviewed journal.

The noteworthy decline is highlighted by the fact that in 1999, the World Health Organization ranked the US as 24th in the world in the same category, life expectancy.

The report by Muenning and Glied found the prime culprit of the plunge to be America’s deteriorating health care system, marred by ever-rising costs and growing numbers of uninsured and under-insured individuals.

Noting that the United States spends over twice as much per capita on health care than other industrialized nations, it adds: “The observation that Americans are spending relatively more on health but living relatively shorter, less healthy lives has led some critics to allege that the US health care system is ‘uniquely inefficient.'”

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LA Sheriff Pledges to Bust People for Pot Even If Marijuana Is Legalized in California

From Alternet:

By Steve Elliott

October 17, 2010

Sheriff Baca, who is sworn to uphold California state law, has essentially said that the voters don’t matter.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said on Friday that the voters don’t matter. His deputies’ enforcement of marijuana laws would not change even if voters approved Proposition 19, which would legalize cannabis in California, on November 2, according to the Sheriff.

“Proposition 19 is not going to pass, even if it passes,” Baca said in a news conference Friday at sheriff’s headquarters in Monterey Park, reports Robert Faturechi in The Los Angeles Times.

The department run by Sheriff Baca polices 75 percent of Los Angeles County. His staunch opposition to marijuana — even if it is legalized — was echoed Friday by an announcement from Attorney General Eric Holder that federal officials would continue to “vigorously enforce” cannabis laws in California, even if state voters pass the measure.

Baca, who is sworn to uphold California state law, claimed Prop 19 was superseded by federal law and if passed, would be found unconstitutional.

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Julia Serano: The Case Against Autogynephilia

Transsexual Road Map Notes, USA

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Julia Serano: The Case Against Autogynephilia

Biologist Julia Serano has published a peer-reviewed analysis of ”autogynephilia <> ,” a sex-fueled mental illness created in 1989 by psychologist Ray Blanchard <> . This theory emerged from a convenience sample that presented at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health <> , a group which is unlikely to be a representative sample of the nonclinical trans population. Most trans people avoid the “gender clinic” system of the 1970s, seeking out supportive individual practitioners or using long-established extralegal networks. Since most “gender clinics” are long closed, many people who seek these out are either indigent, low-functioning, enjoy the humiliation of CAMH’s
regressive forced feminization, and/or find validation in the clinic’s diagnoses that they do not find elsewhere (CAMH treats some people considered “pseudo-transsexuals” under other theoretical constructs).

Her abstract notes:

Autogynephilia is a paraphilic model that states that all male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals who are not exclusively attracted toward men are instead sexually oriented toward the thought or image of themselves as a woman. The assertion that transsexual women are sexually motivated in their transitions challenges the standard model of transsexualism—that is, that transsexuals have a gender identity that is distinct from their sexual orientation and incongruent with their physical sex. This article provides a review of the evidence against autogynephilia and makes the case that the taxonomy and terminology associated with this theory are both misleading and unnecessarily stigmatizing.

Dr. Serano notes the straw man “feminine essence” argument used by Alice Dreger <> , J. Michael Bailey <> , Kiira Triea < , and Blanchard:

However, pitting autogynephilia against an overly simplistic “feminine essence narrative” ignores a more nuanced view that I will refer to here as the gender variance model, which holds that gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and physical sex are largely separable traits that may tend to correlate in the general population but do not all necessarily align in the same direction within any given individual.

In other words, Blanchard and his supporters assert that transwomen are “really” men, and anyone who takes issue with them must be arguing that transwomen are “really” women, thus ignoring the more sophisticated views held by their critics. Dr. Serano also tackles the claims that anyone whose self-report does not fit Blanchard’s ideology must be lying, and anyone whose self-report does must be telling the truth. This kind of cherry-picking of data is unfalsifiable:

If proponents of autogynephilia insist that every exception to the model is due to misreporting, then autogynephilia theory must be rejected on the grounds that it is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific. If, on the other hand, we accept that these exceptions are legitimate, then it is clear that autogynephilia theory’s two-subtype taxonomy does not hold true.

Dr. Serano also tackles Anne Lawrence <> ‘s bizarre “becoming what we love” assertions that love is a form of paraphilic expression in trans women:

The notion that individuals who do not experience erotic arousal to some stimulus might nevertheless be described as having a paraphilic relationship with that same stimulus has extraordinary ramifications. By the same reasoning, men who love their own children, but who are not sexually aroused by them, could nevertheless be said to experience pedophilia. Given the lack of empirical evidence to support this autogynephilia-as-romantic-love hypothesis, Lawrence’s argument is not very persuasive.

She concludes with several examples of how Blanchard and his allies needlessly exacerbate the nonconsensual sexualization that this population already faces in society:

Autogynephilia theory reduces MtF spectrum people to sexual motivation—in other words, it seems to both draw from, and to reinforce, these disparaging media stereotypes. Studies have shown that individuals who are sexualized are seen as less than human, are not treated with empathy, are not taken as seriously, and are seen as less competent and intelligent than individuals who are not sexualized (reviewed in American Psychological Association Task Force, 2007). Given this, it is no surprise that those who wish to demean, sensationalize, or discriminate against MtF transsexuals often cite autogynephilia theory in their attempts to invalidate transsexual women’s identities (e.g., Jeffreys, 2005; O’Leary, 2009; Wilkinson, 2006).

Serano, Julia M. (2010) ‘The Case Against Autogynephilia.’ International Journal of Transgenderism, 12: 3, 176 — 187. DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2010.514223

See also:
“Autogynephilia”: a disputed diagnosis

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Posted by Andrea James on 10/17 at 03:09 PM

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