Selfish relative to what?

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Toronto: Transgendered kids can use whichever school washroom they wish: TDSB 12

From The Toronto Sun:

By Terry Davidson
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

TORONTO – Kids have the right to use any school washroom they wish — as long as the choice corresponds with their view of whether they’re a boy or a girl, according to the Toronto District School Board.

The board released guidelines Wednesday for transgendered kids which address the issue of whether students should use washrooms designated for boys or girls.

“All students have … the right to use a washroom that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s sex assigned at birth,” states the 30-page document, Guidelines for the Accommodation of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students and Staff.

It adds that a student will not have to provide a doctor’s note or “identity documents,” and that “a student’s self-identification” is proof enough.

Schools should also provide an “all-gender, single-stall” washroom for transgendered pupils if one is available, but that it is up to the student to decide if they want to take advantage of such an option, according to the document. “We’re talking about a very small minority of the (school) population — a very beleaguered and marginalized minority,” said NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, a proponent of the guidelines.

Transgendered students are a tremendously vulnerable group, added DiNovo, saying there are statistics showing high rates of attempted suicide among those dealing with gender issues while attending school.

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ACLU files appeal in case of transgender woman denied name change

From LGBTQ Nation:

Monday, October 1, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU) has announced that it will represent a transgender woman who was denied a name change by an Oklahoma judge who told her “you can’t change what God gave you.”

The ACLU is seeking to overturn a ruling by Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bill Graves, who denied an application by Angela Ingram to change her legally recognized name from James Dean Ingram to Angela Renee Ingram. Angela lives as a woman, and is seeking to change her legal name to match her identity.

Prior to denying Angela’s request to change her name, Graves had denied another application for a name change because that applicant, like Angela, “did not conform to his narrow concept of gender identity,” the ACLU said, in a statement.

In both cases, Graves denied the name change requests, citing science, DNA, and God’s own desire “for them to stay male.”

“What we do see here is evidence of an imposition of a personal idea of what gender is supposed to be,” said Brady Henderson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “The fact is we have a choice over what our names are and what the names of our children are and in this case we feel that Angela was denied that choice unfairly.”

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Victory! Transgender Woman Wins Insurance Coverage for Sex Reassignment Surgery

From Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund:

October 3, 2012

We are thrilled to announce that we have resolved a claim on behalf of a transgender woman who had been denied health insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. Ida Hammer, a 34-year-old New York City resident, applied for pre-authorization for male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in July 2011. MVP Health Care denied her claim on the grounds that the surgery was “cosmetic” and therefore was not covered under the policy.  MVP refused to alter its position and denied two internal appeals, even after TLDEF submitted extensive evidence in support of Ms. Hammer’s claim.

Only after TLDEF threatened to file a lawsuit did MVP reverse its position and agree to cover the doctor-recommended procedure. MVP stated in its letter authorizing the surgery that “the requested surgery is medically necessary.”

“I have been undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria for the past five years.  My doctors determined that surgery is the only adequate treatment for my condition,” said Ms. Hammer. “My insurance company should not be second-guessing my doctors.  I’m relieved that it is finally treating me fairly and covering the health care I need.”

“The well-established medical and legal consensus is that transgender-related health care is medically necessary care,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman.  “This surgery is not designed to improve one’s appearance, but rather to treat a recognized medical condition. Transgender individuals pay the same premiums and simply want the same benefits as anyone else,” he added.

The medical necessity of sex reassignment surgery has been widely recognized in medicine and law.  Organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recognize surgery as medically necessary and support insurance coverage for it.  Since the 1970s, numerous state and federal courts have recognized this surgery as non-cosmetic, medically necessary surgery.  Even the Internal Revenue Service recognizes transgender-related surgery as medically necessary and tax deductible.

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SPLC Applauds Gov. Jerry Brown for Leading Nation, Protecting Children by Fighting Dangerous Conversion Therapy

From The Huffington Post:


With a stroke of his pen, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown sent a powerful message to the rest of the nation about the dangers of conversion therapy.

By signing S.B. 1172, Brown made California the first state in the nation to ban conversion therapy for children. This dangerous and discredited “therapy” — sometimes known as “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay therapy” — claims to change people from gay to straight. The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, not only protects California children but paves the way for a national effort to end this dangerous practice. It has already inspired a similar bill in New Jersey.

People need to know that conversion therapy is junk science. It has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological, and professional counseling organizations. In 2006 the American Psychological Association stated, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”

Nevertheless, the conversion therapy movement continues to push its message, churning out ludicrous claims, such as the belief that people aren’t lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender but simply “latent heterosexuals,” a common precept of conversion therapy.

Absurd treatments also abound within the movement. A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, written by Joseph Nicolosi, advises, “The penis is the essential symbol of masculinity — the unmistakable difference between male and female. This undeniable anatomical difference should be emphasized to the boy in therapy.”

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Professor Regnerus’ Study Seems Deceptive About His Funding Source’s Participation

From The Family Scholars Org:


In his post earlier tonight, Brad Wilcox writes that I “asked about [his] affiliation with the Witherspoon Institute.”

The reason I emailed Brad was that I had grown curious about an issue that lgbt-rights blogger Scott Rose has raised.

To provide context, here’s the full text of the email I sent to Brad, with links added:

Hi, Brad. Barry Deutsch here – we’ve exchanged a few comments on “family scholars blog” from time to time.

I’ve been reading about something that I will probably blog about, but I wanted to ask you if you wanted to comment.

I’m hesitant to ask you about this at all, because so many of the folks who have criticized Regnerus’ study have been, in my opinion, over-the-top, and have made personal attacks on Professor Regnerus. That’s not something I want to be associated with. Although I’ve criticized Professor Regnerus’ study, I bear him no ill will.

Professor Regnerus has said a couple of times, referring to the NFSS, that “the funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of this manuscript.”

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Tony Perkins Threatens ‘Out Of Control’ Dan Savage: ‘We Are Pursuing Everything Possible’

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on October 3, 2012

Tony Perkins told Mike Huckabee that he and the Family Research Council are “pursuing everything possible” against LGBT activist Dan Savage, “because he is out of control.” Perkins and Huckabee today were discussing Savage’s address last week at Winona State University, during which Savage said, “every dead gay kid is a victory for the Family Research Council.” It’s unclear, but it certainly sounded like Perkins was suggesting — or threatening — legal action against Savage, though not sure on what grounds.

“Tony Perkins tells parents whose kids come out to reject them,” Savage told the audience at Winona State.

“Tony Perkins tells the parents of queer kids to do what Tony Perkins damn well knows drives those kids to suicide — doubles their already quadruple rate of suicide. Why would someone who calls themselves a Christian do that? Because every dead gay kid is a victory for the Family Research Council. They argue that the gay lifestyle is sick and sinful and dangerous and they point to the suicide rate, and then they turn around and do everything in their power to make sure that suicide rate does not come down and to drive it up. Tony Perkins sits on a pile of dead gay kids every day when he goes to work — and he calls himself a Christian. I don’t understand how real Christians let that little fucker get away with that.”

“I found Dan Savage to be unnecessarily rude, vile, and angry,” Huckabee  told Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council, an active anti-gay hate group. “Just angry. He was not a happy person and he just takes out his venom on other people, but he’s gone to a level I’ve never seen.”

Perkins responded, “As my teenagers would say, he has some issues. He is a man with some real deep-seated issues … and Dan Savage is nowhere near, he’s a hundred and eighty degrees from the positions that we have taken. It’s wrong and I will tell you this, we are pursuing everything possible to deal with him because he is out of control.”

Perkins certainly was right there — Dan Savage, and most of America, for that matter, are “a hundred and eighty degrees from the positions” that the Family Research Council has taken.

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Right Wing Propagandist and Professional Liar: Jerome Corsi Continues his ‘Obama is Gay’ Crusade

From Right Wing Watch:


In 2004, conservative political commentators hailed Jerome Corsi’s book on John Kerry’s military service, Unfit for Command, as a serious and devastating work despite the book’s factual shortcomings. Now targeting President Obama, Corsi has dedicated his career to peddling birther conspiracies. But with the birther movement’s efforts to declare Obama ineligible to be president going nowhere, Corsi is now arguing that Obama is secretly gay and was married to another man.

In his latest “report” for WorldNetDaily, Corsi ponders whether Obama joined Jeremiah Wright’s church in order to meet other men at “The Down Low Club,” all confirmed by a source identified as “Carolyn,” who said Wright “helped Obama hide his homosexuality” and warned that people may have been killed to cover-up Obama’s dark, gay past.

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Brian Camenker’s conspiracy theory: Gays have taken over the FBI

From LGBTQ Nation:

Even the CIA isn’t safe from the ‘gay agenda’

By Brian Tashman
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brian Camenker’s organization MassResistance is out with a new “report” arguing that the “homosexual and transgender movements” are using the FBI and CIA to “crack down on pro-family groups and citizens.”

Camenker appeared on Crosstalk with host Jim Schneider of VCY America on Monday to warn that efforts by the government agencies to create a more open workplace for their gay and lesbian employees and to engage with the gay community to prevent and prosecute anti-gay hate crimes is part of a pernicious plan that will “do a lot of damage” and harm the Religious Right.

Camenker said he is “really scared” of the FBI now that it has become an “out homosexual organization” that is “embracing the gay agenda” by trying to stem the tide of anti-gay hate crimes.

Schneider: Brian, many have been appalled at the annual gay celebrations that President Obama has hosted at the White House and we’ve also seen the State Department hosting these celebrations, this year though we saw the Department of Defense surrender to gay pride events. But your revealing in a release that you sent out today about additional federal agencies that are involved in law enforcement and also surveillance that you have embraced the homosexual and transgender movements, namely that of the FBI and the CIA, Brian it is appalling.

Camenker: It’s unbelievable. The FBI is just unbelievable to see. They have started a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender program on their careers website and they apparently have even gone from there to embracing the gay agenda, having a gay advisory committee, welcoming homosexuals as FBI agents, getting involved with pride events, but more than that going to gay pride events and encouraging homosexual activists to report hate crimes and working with them against pro-family groups. So this is what we’re seeing the FBI doing according to their own writings and according to the writings of the gay newspapers. We have one on our website, one of the gay newspapers in San Francisco, ‘FBI Encourages LGBTs to Report Hate Crimes,’ it is very, very frightening to see. The FBI is very powerful and they can do a lot of damage if they are out to get you.

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Right-wing racial panic

From Salon:

Hannity and Carlson hype a 2007 Obama video and prove they’re having an ethnic nervous breakdown

Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012

I’m promoting a book that says we need to give most white people the benefit of the doubt: Most of us aren’t in revolt against multiracial America, or the president who heralded its arrival before many were ready.

But sadly, some white people are just that crazy, and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are their Pied Pipers, leading them off a cliff.

Tuesday night they hyped a 2007 Barack Obama speech to a group of black ministers at Hampton University in Virginia, and they engaged in the most rancid racial fear-mongering I’ve seen in a long time. Hannity hailed the speech as “a glimpse into the mind of the real Barack Obama,” and he tried out his own black preacher voice for special effect. Carlson insisted Obama was preaching racial division to his black audience and sputtered, “This is not a dog whistle, this is a dog siren!”

He would know.

Mainly, their complaint came down to: How dare a black president (or at the time, presidential candidate) talk to a black audience about black poverty and suffering! And the legacy of slavery, and the endurance of racism! Has he no shame?

There was absolutely nothing objectionable in Obama’s speech. (I watched the whole thing on the Daily Caller Web site, but I won’t link to it.) It made me proud to have a president who could speak with that complexity. If you know anything about his audience of African-American ministers, you could hear him at one point chiding them for their own divisions and competitiveness. It was a speech that preached personal responsibility as part of the answer to poverty.

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Why Let the Rich Hoard All the Toys?

From The New York Times:

Published: October 3, 2012

Imagine a kindergarten with 100 students, lavishly supplied with books, crayons and toys.

Yet you gasp: one avaricious little boy is jealously guarding a mountain of toys for himself. A handful of other children are quietly playing with a few toys each, while 90 of the children are looking on forlornly — empty-handed.

The one greedy boy has hoarded more toys than all those 90 children put together!

“What’s going on?” you ask. “Let’s learn to share! One child shouldn’t hog everything for himself!”

The greedy little boy looks at you, indignant. “Do you believe in redistribution?” he asks suspiciously, his lips curling in contempt. “I don’t want to share. This is America!”

And then he summons his private security firm and has you dragged off the premises. Well, maybe not, but you get the point.

That kindergarten distribution is precisely what America looks like. Our wealth has become so skewed that the top 1 percent possesses a greater collective worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

This inequality is a central challenge for the United States today and should be getting far more attention in this presidential campaign. A few snapshots:

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Republican climate sceptics face battle for re-election as green groups hit back

From The Guardian UK:

Activists plan targeted campaign to defeat ‘Flat Earth Five’ group of Republicans in congress who refuse to accept climate science

, US environment correspondent, Wednesday 3 October 2012

It is the issue most notable by its absence in the 2012 presidential race. But the environment may yet have an impact this election as campaign groups target the vulnerable congressional seats of Republicans who dismiss the dangers of climate change.

The present US Congress is generally considered the most unfriendly to the environment on record – with multiple votes in the House of Representatives to strike down or weaken environmental regulations, cut back funds for developing clean energy, and discount the existence of climate change.

Now, nine Republicans – all in tough re-election contests – are facing payback for their records on the environment.

In the congressional races, the League of Conservation Voters, aims to spend $2m before election day to defeat what the group calls the ‘Flat Earth Five’: Republicans who do not accept established science on climate change.

The League’s targets include: Dan Benishek of Michigan, Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Francisco Canseco of Texas, Dan Lungren of California and Joe Walsh of Illinois. The group is spending heavily on television ads as well as direct mail.

A parallel effort launched last week by the Sierra Club, Toxic Money, Toxic Votes, was aimed at punishing Canesco, Lungren and four other Republicans for their voting records. Collectively known as the Toxic Six, the group also includes Republicans Mike Coffman of Colorado, Chris Gibson of New York, Jim Renacci of Ohio, and Bobby Schilling of Illinois.

The Sierra Club sent out a direct mailer this week in Lungren’s district, accusing him of being too close to the industry and noting that the congressman received nearly half a million dollars from oil and gas companies.

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Fact vs. Fiction on Debate Night

From Huffington Post:


So, the first 2012 Presidential debate starts in a few minutes. I’m fairly sure Mitt Romney thinks he has an ace in the hole by using the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline against President Obama. In fact, he and his running mate Paul Ryan have said they’ll approve it on day one of their administration.

I think you might hear Romney repeat that during the debate and back it up with statements not even remotely based in fact.

So let’s take a quick look at what he might say and what are the actual facts:

Romney will tell you that there’s no good reason to block this proposal. The fact is that this proposal would mean opening the spigot for 900,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil to flow through sensitive sections of America’s breadbasket to the Gulf for export to foreign countries. It’s that simple.

Romney will make this sound like the biggest best jobs plan American has to offer its citizens. He’ll tell you it will create tens of thousands of jobs, 20,000 to be exact, as he’s been saying on the campaign trail.

The truth is, it creates a negligible amount of temporary jobs with some analysis saying overall it’s a wash. But even it you take the most optimistic projection from the U.S. State Dept. it’ll only be 5-6,000 jobs, with a mix being temporary.

The fact is, there are many, many more jobs being created today in the clean energy sector, one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy.

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Why Right Wingers Need Skewed Polls & Conspiracy Theories

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Chained to the Desk: How Workaholism Can Kill You

From Alternet:

Many people view “workaholism” as a virtue, or even a joke. But a spate of recent studies suggests the condition should be taken much more seriously.

By Chris Wright
October 2, 2012

You’re sitting at your desk, scrolling through the Alcoholics Anonymous website, when your boss walks up behind you. Not the best career move you’ll ever make, perhaps.  But let’s say you’re looking at the Workaholics Anonymous site instead, the section about how even when you’re not in the office you’re still toiling away. What then? Does your boss give you a talking to, or does he give you a raise?

This rather glib question captures something important about how society views work addiction. Recently, a business strategy website published an article with the headline “Four Famous Workaholics (And The Secrets of Their Success).” It’s hard to imagine any other addiction eliciting this kind of approach: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Junkies,” say, or “The Sipping Point.”

The fact is, people see workaholism in a different light from other dependencies. It’s known as the “respectable addiction,” but this doesn’t quite capture the prevailing attitude toward the condition. Indeed, many balk at the idea that it  is a condition. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—which lists caffeine as a dependency—doesn’t even recognize work addiction. Workaholism is something Bill Gates has, and surely no one’s going to suggest that this guy needs to go to a support group.

Support groups, nonetheless, exist. Founded in 1983, Workaholics Anonymous (or WA) currently has a little over a thousand members, and holds meetings around the world—Paris, Sydney, London, Reykjavík, Bangkok. Testimonials in its newsletter contain lines like “I was addicted to activity. How to grapple with this baffling malady?” Well, there’s the requisite 12-step program, for one, and the equally familiar appeal to a higher power. But, again, WA must contend with the fact that many people don’t view the malady as baffling so much as they do either virtuous or slightly comical.

“People don’t take this seriously—they either laugh at workaholics or dismiss them,” says psychotherapist and  Chained to the Desk  author Bryan Robinson, who is widely recognized as being one of the world’s leading experts on workaholism. “The work ethic is an ingrained idea in our society. What’s wrong with working hard? Hard work got us to the Moon!” He goes on to call this attitude “the glorification of an illness.”

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