Labor union vows to advocate on behalf of transgender workers during contract negotiations
Washington – Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, applauds the member-delegates of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for passing a resolution at their 2012 national conference in Denver yesterday. The resolution states that SEIU local groups and members will bargain for transgender-inclusive heath care coverage as part of their contract negotiations with businesses and employers.
“This is a tremendous step forward in the fight for workplace equality for LGBT people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Our friends at SEIU recognize that all workers should be treated equitably, and that includes being free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We are incredibly grateful to Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU member-delegates for continuing to be champions of justice and equality.”
With the passage of this resolution, SEIU joins the HRC Foundation, who, for the last decade, has been working to make workplace policies and protections more inclusive for transgender employees and their families through its Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This year the CEI rating criteria was made more stringent, requiring employers to have transgender inclusive health insurance coverage. A remarkable 206 companies met the criteria. Furthermore, HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index recommends that all U.S. healthcare facilities provide transgender-inclusive health coverage to their employees.
Historically, transgender people have been categorically denied health care coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex reassignment/affirmation. Until recently, nearly all U.S employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for this population.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
From New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/news/features/transgender-children-2012-6/
By Jesse Green
Published May 27, 2012
Looking up from the changing table, the beautiful boy said to his mother, “I want to be a girl.”
This was not a passing phase. At 3, Mark asked to dress for Halloween as Dora the Explorer; his parents bargained him down to Darth Vader, which at least featured a cape. At 5, he insisted on trick-or-treating as Gabriella Montez, the High School Musical sweetheart. By then, his birthday parties were girl-only, with girl-only themes. Any boy toys received were instantly re-gifted to a cousin.
At first, his mom was “all Free to Be You and Me about it,” she says, willing to let Mark experiment within reason. But whose reason? The neighborhood’s? (The Benders, as I’ll call them, live in a conservative suburb in the tri-state area.) Their own? They of course loved Mark, the middle of their three sons, but worried that permission amounted to encouragement. As for Mark’s “reason”—well, as many people trying to be helpful pointed out, it was pre-rational, as if this diminished instead of intensified its authenticity. Who credits a child’s wishes? Their youngest son wanted to be Spider-Man.
But the Benders knew that Mark’s desire was different: It went far deeper than a costume donned or discarded. When asked to explain himself, he’d say things like, “I want to have long hair that moves.” The Benders would counter: Well, there’s the dad at the bus stop whose hair is like that, and he’s a boy; you can be a boy like that. “But I don’t want to be a boy with those things,” Mark would answer. “I want to be a girl with those things.” The more he pushed, the more they worried, and the more desperate his rhetoric became. “Why did God make me this way?” he cried. “I don’t like myself.” “I hate myself.” “I want God to take me up to the clouds and bring me back down as a girl.”
Through her reading on the subject, Mark’s mother gradually came to feel that she and her husband had to be that “God” for their son. But it took Mark’s implicit threats of self-harm to convince his dad. “I’m in a conservative business; I sell software,” he says. “I want the normal life. And this was gonna be different, when my son is getting out of the car in a dress in front of everybody. But then you have to think about who are you protecting? Yourself or your kid? People would say, ‘I can’t believe you’d let your kid do that. That’s abuse.’ I’ll tell you what’s abuse: suicide. Do you want a live daughter or a dead son?”
Continue reading at: http://nymag.com/news/features/transgender-children-2012-6/
I added a link under Resources for The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.
From The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging: http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resource.cfm?r=512
Harper Jean Tobin, Policy Counsel, National Center for Transgender Equality
Organizations serving LGBT older adults regularly ask the National Resource Center, or my organization, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), how they can better serve transgender people. They may not see trans older adults taking advantage of their services and programs, or they may feel staff or volunteers are unprepared to adequately serve this segment of the community. They may even have encountered prejudice against trans older adults among other LGBT community members. These are common challenges for LGBT organizations of all kinds. The following advice is adapted from Opening the Door to the Inclusion of Transgender People: The Nine Keys to Making Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations Fully Transgender Inclusive a publication of NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. These principles can help guide organizations toward full inclusion of transgender older adults.
Continue reading at: http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resource.cfm?r=512
From In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13257/torie_osborn_crashes_the_party
The spirited California Assembly candidate battles the Democratic establishment.
BY Steve Early
May 24, 2012
In 2008, thousands of Obama campaign volunteers got fired up about electoral politics in a way they hadn’t been before. Four years later, some are now running for office themselves. But few have made a bigger splash in local Democratic circles than former In These Times staffer Torie Osborn, a nationally-known advocate for gay and lesbian rights and other progressive causes. Her insurgent campaign for a California Assembly seat has roiled the waters of Los Angeles-area liberalism and bucked the legislative leadership in Sacramento, which is circling the wagons around her main opponent.
If Santa Monica-based Osborn beats Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the newly-created 50th Assembly district—either on June 5 or in a November general election run-off—her victory over the party establishment will be a Left Coast monument to what might have been possible, in more places, if Obama’s campaign organization (or the Democratic Party) had been serious about grassroots movement building. “There could have been 100, or even 1,000 Torie Osborns, who came out of the network of energized people trying to change American politics in 2008,” says California political consultant Paul Kumar, an admirer of Osborn’s “extraordinary campaign organization.”
Given her strong resume as a community organizer, non-profit organization leader, and influential advisor to several Los Angeles mayors, it’s been surprising to some that Osborn’s well-funded first-time bid for public office wasn’t welcomed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez and other Democratic legislators. After helping to launch this magazine as a founding staff member in the mid-1970s, she played leadership roles in the National Organization for Women, a pioneering Los Angeles clinic for HIV/AIDS sufferers, and the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force that mobilized hundreds of thousands of civil rights marchers in Washington in 1993. While serving as director of Liberty Hill Foundation, and later with United Way, she helped channel millions of dollars from well-heeled Hollywooders into Los Angeles neighborhood projects dealing with gang violence, low-income housing, and environmental issues. Osborn’s latest work, with California Calls, has focused on boosting voter registration in the state and building a coalition to end “loopholes for giant corporate property owners and the requirement of a two-thirds supermajority vote by legislators to increase taxes.”
As San Francisco lawyer and Democratic Party activist Paul Hogarth noted in a February 2012 post on the Bay Area political blog Beyond Chron, California’s just-completed redistricting process has given “Democrats an historic opportunity to pick up seats in November— and win a two-thirds majority that would make Republicans irrelevant.” Instead, Hogarth charged, “[Speaker] Pérez has diverted resources from competitive ‘swing districts’ and is instead meddling into Democratic primary fights in deep-blue seats” so he can “consolidate control at the expense of everything else.” The chances of the Democrats gaining the necessary two additional seats in both houses of the legislature has decreased, as a result.
Continue reading at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13257/torie_osborn_crashes_the_party
The 1992 Rio Earth summit established “sustainable development” firmly in the global political lexicon – even though the term meant, and continues to mean, different things to different people. For Stephan Schmidheiny, a CEO who was appointed chief adviser for business and industry at the summit and subsequently set up the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, it apparently means continuing with business as usual: in February, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the deaths of thousands of workers at his asbestos-cement factory.
As the Rio+20 anniversary conference approaches, a battle rages over the definition of another term: “green economy“. “A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” is a key conference theme. It sounds good, but what does it mean?
According to one of the official preparatory documents (pdf): “Several delegations proposed the valuing of ecosystem services and internalising of environmental externalities as key elements of a green economy, as well as green accounting (pdf); while some delegations cautioned against further marketisation of nature’s services.”
The jargon masks some diametrically opposing views. On one side, many northern governments are saying we trash the natural world because we don’t value it properly. So far, so good. But they go on to confuse “value” with “price”, which is where it all starts to break down. They argue that to conserve or protect the resources and functions we need from nature, we need to ascribe a financial value to them and bring them into the market. Then we will pay the proper price for nature and stop destroying it.
The UK government is a big advocate of this approach, having bought heavily into the recommendations of a report on the subject by a team led by the former Deutsche Bank employee Pavan Sukhdev. It has gone as far as publishing a white paper that commits to pushing the agenda, both in the UK and on the international stage.
A market-based approach to dealing with natural resources is not an entirely new concept. The idea behind the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme (Redd), for example, is that if the carbon stored in forests is valued and quantified, forests will be seen as more valuable standing than they would be cut down.
By Mark Ames
Sunday, 27 May 2012
At the end of the 1990s, after the total collapse of the mass-privatization experiment in Boris Yeltin’s Russia, some of the more earnest free-market proselytizers tried making sense of it all. The unprecedented collapse of Russia’s economy and its capital markets, the wholesale looting, the quiet extermination of millions of Russians from the shock and destitution (Russian male life expectancy plummeted from 68 years to 56 years)—the terrible consequences of imposing radical libertarian free-market ideas on an alien culture—turned out worse than any worst-case-scenario imagined by the free-market true-believers.
Of all the disastrous results of that experiment, what troubled many Western free-market true-believers most wasn’t so much the mass poverty and population collapse, but rather, the way things turned out so badly in Russia’s newly-privatized companies and industries. That was the one thing that was supposed to go right. According to the operative theory—developed by the founding fathers of libertarianism/neoliberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and the rest—a privately-owned company will always outperform a state-run company because private ownership and the profit-motive incentivize the owners to make their companies stronger, more efficient, more competitive, and so on. The theory promises that everyone benefits except for the bad old state and the lazy.
That was the dominant libertarian theory framing the whole “shock doctrine” privatization experiment in Russia and elsewhere. In reality, as everyone was forced to admit by 1999, Russia’s privatized companies were stripped and plundered as fast as their new private owners could loot them, leaving millions of workers without salaries, and most of Russia’s industry in far worse shape than the Communists left it.
Most of the free-market proselytizers—ranging from Clinton neoliberal Michael McFaul (currently Obama’s ambassador to Moscow) to libertarian Pinochet fanboy Andrei Illarionov (currently with the Cato Institute)– blamed everything but free-market experiments for Russia’s collapse.
But some of the more earnest believers whose libertarian faith was shaken by what happened to Corporate Russia needed something more sophisticated than a crude historical whitewash.
Lucky for them, Milton Friedman provided the answer to a Cato Institute interviewer: Russia lacked “rule of law”—another neoliberal/libertarian catchphrase that went mainstream in the late 80s. Without “rule of law,” Friedman and the rest of the free-market faithful argued, privatization was bound to fail. Here’s Friedman’s answer in the Cato Institute’s 2002 Economic Freedom of the World Report:
on May 28, 2012
Conservatives must be feeling regretful. After nearly fifty years of using appeals to white racial resentment to take over the South, win presidential elections and control of Congress, conservatives are realizing this might come back to bite them in the ass. As the right wing has become xenophobic and anti-Latino, conservatives have watched young Latinos and young Asian Americans join young African-Americans in being overwhelmingly Democratic. The greater diversity of this younger generation has in turn meant that Democrats, especially Barack Obama, have won handily among young voters in recent elections. All of a sudden, conservatives see being the party of angry white males as a potential liability, and they want to change their image.
You can see this concern in Mitt Romney’s recent campaign events touting his substantively thin but rhetorically compassionate education reform agenda. As the Washington Post reported on Romney’s visit to a school in West Philadelphia on Thursday, his first campaign event in a majority black neighborhood: “Mitt Romney’s campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama’s most loyal supporters—black voters—not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent swing voters that Romney can be inclusive and tolerant in his thinking and approach.” Romney’s campaign insists they are sincere, but they never made any such outreach during the primaries, when they were competing against Newt Gingrich’s successful efforts to appeal to racism in his campaign in South Carolina.
The conservative media are happy to help burnish both white racial anxieties and the official story line that Republicans are the friends of minorities by trying to tell an oddly inverted story of race relations in America. According to National Review’s current cover story by Kevin Williamson, it is the Republican Party which has consistently supported civil rights and Democrats who have opposed it. Meanwhile, conservative blogs, talk radio and Fox News hype random stories of anti-white violence, creating the false impression that whites are more often the victims of hate crimes by blacks than the reverse.
The National Review argument has been thoroughly debunked in many outlets. Over at Democracy Journal, Clay Risen demonstrates “Williamson’s embarrassingly basic misunderstanding of American history.” There used to be liberal pro–civil rights wings and conservative anti–civil rights wings in both parties, hence the misleading factoid commonly cited by conservative pundits that a higher proportion of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But it was the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, especially Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who pushed the issue and got the law passed. Republicans nominated anti–civil rights conservative extremist Barry Goldwater in 1964 and thus began their conversion of the South. Goldwater carried five Southern states despite losing in a landslide. “For a variety of reasons—including, but not only, racial politics—both parties went through ideological realignments in the postwar decades, so that today we speak of Republicans as almost uniformly conservative and Democrats as almost uniformly liberal,” notes Risen. “The GOP of today is simply not the GOP of 1963.” That’s why anti–civil rights Southern conservatives such as Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms became Republicans. Williamson is simply lying when he writes, “those southerners who defected from the Democratic Party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era.”
Continue reading at: http://www.thenation.com/blog/168097/conservative-media-try-reverse-racial-reality
by Stephen Gray
28 May 2012
A Christian psychotherapist lost her appeal last week against a ruling by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy that her behaviour in offering to therapeutically change a patient’s sexuality was negligent.
A decision given last week confirmed that Lesley Pilkington had been described by the BACP as “negligent”, “dogmatic” and “unprofessional” in her behaviour after she was approached by undercover journalist Patrick Strudwick.
In 2009, Mr Strudwick had pretended to be a gay Christian struggling with his orientation who wanted to become straight and received two counselling sessions from Ms Pilkington. Ms Pilkington was found guilty of professional malpractice in 2011 and filed an appeal against the decision, which was rejected last week.
Although it did not address gay conversion therapy directly, the appeals panel said the counsellor’s behaviour amounted to “professional malpractice in that Mrs Pilkington had failed to provide the complainant with adequate professional services that could reasonably be expected of a practitioner exercising reasonable skill and care.”
The BACP appeals panel said it was “of the opinion that, given that the complainant presented with depression and unhappiness, it is incumbent upon a practitioner to explore why he was depressed/unhappy and not to take at face value his assertion that it is because of an unwanted same sex attraction. Not to do this and to rush in and assume that the complainant’s depression and unhappiness must follow from his unwanted same sex attraction was below the standard expected of a reasonably competent practitioner.”
Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society said Ms Pilkington was “guilty of religiously inspired bigotry parading as psychotherapy.”
Continue reading at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/28/christian-gay-cure-therapist-loses-appeal/
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/opinion/blow-plantations-prisons-and-profits.html
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: May 25, 2012
“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”
That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it.
The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification.
First, some facts from the series:
• One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.
• More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is 5 percent.
• Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole.
• Louisiana spends less on local inmates than any other state.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/opinion/blow-plantations-prisons-and-profits.html
From Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/lgbt-rights-are-universal-rights-not-open-to-a-healthy-debate
By Christine Sun, Deputy Legal Director
It’s a common sight across the country: A family packs up its belongings and moves to a new state it will call home.
Sometimes it’s a job opportunity that calls. Other times it’s family. These moves are life-changing events for any family, but for LGBT people, the simple act of crossing a state line has even more significance.
It can mean your marriage no longer exists in the eyes of that state.
It can mean the law won’t protect you from discrimination.
It can mean you have fewer parental rights.
This is the reality the LGBT community faces every day thanks to the patchwork of state laws regarding LGBT rights in this country. It’s a reality that exists even after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage – a position he said “evolved” from his earlier support of civil unions.
While Obama’s recent announcement is certainly a historic milestone for LGBT rights, he made some troubling remarks that show he must continue to “evolve” on this issue. Otherwise, the LGBT community will continue to see its fundamental rights ebb and flow from state to state.
Sadly, the president says he believes each state should decide the issue of same-sex marriage, saying this approach is a “healthy process” that spurs “healthy debate.” Even more troubling, he framed his support for same-sex marriage as a personal position rather than a civil rights issue.
His position denies the fact that LGBT rights are civil rights. They should not be subject for debate – even a “healthy debate.” And they should not be subject to the whim of the majority by placing them on the ballot.
It’s ludicrous to believe the gains of the civil rights movement would have been achieved by putting the civil rights of black people on the ballot across the Deep South. And today, at the Southern Poverty Law Center, we see how this wrongheaded approach is denying the LGBT community its rights.
Our client Chelsea Hughes watched her parental rights evaporate after the father of her children moved to Alabama. He used the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to deny her right to overnight visitation with her children, solely because she lives with her partner Jaymi. Even though Chelsea and Jaymi are registered domestic partners in Washington state, under Alabama law, Jaymi is considered a “paramour,” as if their committed relationship were no more than a casual fling. The result is that Chelsea has been unable to tuck her four young children into bed for over a year now, while the SPLC continues to fight for her parenting rights.
Chelsea, and countless others like her across the South and elsewhere, cannot wait for their home states to “evolve.” That six states and the District of Columbia have affirmed the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry provides little consolation. For every state that has made advances for the LGBT community, there’s a state where lawmakers exploit the backlash to these gains to pass laws restricting LGBT rights. Just last month, we saw North Carolina inscribe discrimination into their constitution by banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.
Here in Alabama, there is little likelihood that state legislators or the courts will advance laws protecting the LGBT community, much less pass legislation supporting same-sex marriage. This is where Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in 2002 wrote an opinion in a child custody case that said homosexuality was “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” He also wrote that gay parents were “presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this state.”
In Alabama classrooms, teachers leading sex education classes where the instruction extends beyond abstinence education are required by law to teach “in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
It’s clear. The tide is not going to turn anytime soon in Alabama or its neighbor states. This means LGBT families will continue to suffer undue hardship because they are not seen as equal in the eyes of the state. Yet, in the same nation, a completely different experience may be found in another state that recognizes LGBT rights.
This patchwork approach is not sustainable. Allowing each individual state to maybe someday come around to recognizing fundamental rights just won’t work, and will only harm our country. These are universal rights. We cannot be a nation that espouses equality for all when so many in the LGBT community, like Chelsea and Jaymi, are forced to check their rights at the door.