It’s time for the media to change the record on trans healthcare

From Pink News:

In a comment piece for PinkNews, Sarah Brown says the media needs to make substantial improvements in the way it covers health stories involving the trans community.

11 January 2013

Transgender healthcare is in the news again. It’s been widely known amongst trans people for some time, but on the 6th of January, Guardian journalist David Batty reported that the General Medical Council is investigating private trans healthcare specialist, Dr Richard Curtis. In his article, Batty paints a picture of misdiagnosis, patient regret, and inappropriate prescribing.

Those of us who follow this stuff might be forgiven for experiencing a sense of deja-vu. Dr Curtis took over the private practice of Russell Reid from 2005. In 2007, Dr Reid faced a General Medical council fitness to practice hearing which was reported on by no other than Guardian journalist, David Batty. In his reports, Batty spoke of misdiagnosis, patient regret, and inappropriate prescribing.

It’s entirely proper for the GMC to investigate allegations of misconduct, and for the press to report on it, but it’s difficult for trans people not to notice how terribly one-sided it all seems to be. The doctors who seem to end up in front of the GMC seem to be those ones who are generally well regarded by trans people, and who have a reputation for helping us when nobody else will.

Press reports concentrate on regrets about procedures which have satisfaction levels beyond the dreams of most other fields of medicine, where much larger regret rates are regarded as par for the course. They rigidly stick to a narrative about a dangerous procedure which gullible people are tricked into by reckless doctors and end up bitterly regretting.

The reality experienced by trans people ourselves is not recognisable from the press reports. In reality large numbers of us are used to being ignored, abused and ridiculed by doctors when we seek treatment. We are denied referrals, denied funding, denied prescriptions and humiliated by a medical establishment which many experience as institutionally transphobic.

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Transition Deconstructed

From Huffington Post:


Recently I read pieces on The Huffington Post that gave the viewpoints of two people: One is transgender and transitioned after getting married, and the other is her former spouse. Many of the themes were very familiar to me because of my own recent history. Married for almost 13 years. Three children. Feelings of hurt, anger and betrayal. Almost everyone who knew me was shocked when I came out, because of the extremely masculine persona I had carefully cultivated since I joined the Navy in 1993.

The comments section below the HuffPost piece about Chiristine Benvenuto is very long, with more than 750 comments. A number of themes in the comments section kept jumping out at me, over and over again. Many people observed that each piece only represented one side of the story, and that it was difficult to discern what really happened. As someone who has remained married through transition, I saw an opportunity for us to give a more unified perspective. After I drafted this article, Janis, my spouse, edited and added to what I wrote. She made sure it reflected her viewpoint accurately when answering the most frequent themes, questions and opinions expressed in the comments.

“Does the spouse/partner have a right to be angry?”

Yes. She is grieving for all the dreams of a future she once had. She is grieving for a person who no longer exists, or perhaps never did at all. She is grieving for the loss of a marriage, of a husband, of a father, and all the possibilities that went with it. Simple things are lost, too. Holding hands in public went from being a harmless sign of affection to an act of societal defiance. All this is a normal part of the grieving process, as are bargaining, denial and, hopefully in the end, acceptance.

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Makers of Violent Video Games Marshal Support to Fend Off Regulation

From The New York Times:

Published: January 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — With the Newtown, Conn., massacre spurring concern over violent video games, makers of popular games like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat are rallying Congressional support to try to fend off their biggest regulatory threat in two decades.

The $60 billion industry is facing intense political pressure from an unlikely alliance of critics who say that violent imagery in video games has contributed to a culture of violence. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. met with industry executives on Friday to discuss the concerns, highlighting the issue’s prominence.

No clear link has emerged between the Connecticut rampage and the gunman Adam Lanza’s interest in video games. Even so, the industry’s detractors want to see a federal study on the impact of violent gaming, as well as cigarette-style warning labels and other measures to curb the games’ graphic imagery.

“Connecticut has changed things,” Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia Republican and a frequent critic of what he terms the shocking violence of games, said in an interview. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re going to do something.”

Gun laws have been the Obama administration’s central focus in considering responses to the shootings. But a violent media culture is being scrutinized, too, alongside mental health laws and policies.

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The Delhi rape, Savile, Ohio – this violence will no longer be tolerated

From The Guardian UK:

Extreme acts of sexual violence seem to be everywhere. In response, a worldwide day of action has been called

The Guardian, Friday 11 January 2013

There seems to be two types of risings on the planet right now. One is a sexual violence typhoon that is impacting most countries in the world. It’s been happening forever but, like climate change, it’s suddenly impossible to ignore. I first noticed more ominous waves during the US elections, the extreme and ignorant anti-women policies perpetrated by the Republicans. Then, like climate storms, floods and fires, specific extreme manifestations began to gain attention. A group of boys allegedly raping a girl in Steubenville, Ohio; a 14-year-old girl shot in the head for insisting girls have the right to learn in Pakistan; the gang rape and murder of a girl on a bus in Delhi; and in Britain the revelations that Jimmy Savile was able to abuse hundreds of girls over six decades, while British institutions from the BBC to Broadmoor turned a blind eye.

And, like the response to climate change, first there was an attempt at denial, then there is the blaming of the victim: a woman raped in Dubai fined after telling police she had been drinking; a priest in Italy telling women they are beaten because they don’t clean the house well and wear tight clothes; women in the US military raped by their comrades who then use that as proof that they never belonged there in the first place; raped girls in Rochdale being ignored by police and social workers because they were seen as damaged goods who were “making their own choices”. It goes on and on.

Like climate change, only the patriarchs with power seem to be blind to the magnitude of the horrors. As a matter of fact they are engineering it. There is a rape culture – a mindset that seems to have infected every aspect of our lives: the raping of the Earth through ecological destruction by the corporate powerful, pillaging resources for their own coffers with no concern for the Earth, or the indigenous peoples, or the notion of reciprocity; the rape of the poor through exploitation, land grabs, neglect; the rape of women’s bodies through physical violence and commodification, where a girl can be purchased for less than the cost of a mobile phone. The modelling and licensing of this rape culture is done by those protected by power and privilege – presidents, celebrities, sports stars, police officers, television executives, priests – with impunity.

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Great Britain: Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party are split over handling of rape allegation

From The Independent:

Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

Friday 11 January 2013

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week when disaffected members leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the official accused of rape and sexual assault.

The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations.

Today Tom Walker, a journalist at the party’s paper, Socialist Worker, became the most prominent member to quit the party in disgust.

In a devastating critique published on the rival Communist Party of Great Britain’s website, Walker excoriated the SWP’s handling of the rape  accusations, alleging that the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and “amateur justice that was doomed from the start”.

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See Also:  The New Statesman:  What does the SWP’s way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?

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Where Are The Women, President Obama?

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Tanya Domi
on January 12, 2013

Things are shakin’ inside the Beltway and on many social media platforms as Democratic women are furious with the latest round of Obama cabinet appointments seemingly to be all white males.

Whatever happened to the old adage to “dance with the ones who brung you?”  Indeed, a two-digit gender gap among the voters is what delivered Barack Obama a victory in his historic re-election bid, but the President and his vetters appear to have forgotten those women voters, many, if not most, happened to be Democratic voters.

The optics are pretty bad:  in November just after the election, the White House allowed Ambassador Susan Rice to hang out in the wind, exposing her to a torrential downpour of Republican calculated attacks on her conduct and character for her appearance on the Sunday talk shows in defending the Administration’s explanation of the tragic events that took place in September in Benghazi, Libya. Rice used talking points prepared by the CIA, which Republicans charged was a word smithing cover-up and Rice should have known better than to use them (approved by at least three different agencies and the White House).  Ultimately, those attacks effectively tanked her anticipated nomination to become the next Secretary of State.

President Obama defended her on two different occasions, but as one foreign policy reporter explained to me, the White House handling of the Rice situation was “tepid” at best.

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The President Should Nominate a Woman to be Chair of the Federal Communications Commission

From Change.Org:

Women’s Media Center

President Obama has the chance to democratize the media with one key appointment in the next few weeks. The President is about to nominate the next Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, and he should pick a woman. Maybe there is no easy fix to getting women into the top jobs in the telecom and media industries, but the government watchdog can and should be headed by a woman.

There has never been a female chair of the Federal Communications Commission – the independent agency that oversees America’s telecommunications and media policy.

The FCC is supposed to represent the American public. Half the public are women. It’s long past the time to close the gender gap in our nation’s leadership and in the media and telecom industries’ leadership, where only 28.4% of TV news directors were women in 2011, according to the Women’s Media Center’s 2012 Status of Women in the U.S. Media Report. And the post atop the FCC is one of the most important opportunities available to raise the bar for representational diversity and decision-making in the media and telecom sectors, which are the infrastructure of this generation and of the future.

Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem

Founders, The Women’s Media Center

Please click Here to Sign Petition

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We Offer More Than Ankles, Gentlemen

From The New York Times:

Published: January 12, 2013

PRESIDENT OBAMA ran promoting women’s issues.

But how about promoting some women?

With the old white boys’ club rearing its hoary head in the White House of the first black president, the historian Michael Beschloss recalled the days when the distaff was deemed biologically unsuited for the manly discourse of politics. He tweeted: “1/12/1915, U.S. House refused women voting rights. One Congressman: ‘Their ankles are beautiful … but they are not interested in the state.’ ”

Now comes a parade of women to plead the case for the value of female perspective in high office: Women reach across the aisle, seek consensus, verbalize and empathize more, manage and listen better. Women are more pragmatic, risk-averse and, unburdened by testosterone, less bellicose.

Unfortunately, these “truisms” haven’t held true with many of the top women I’ve covered in Washington.

Janet Reno was trigger-happy on Waco, and a tragic conflagration ensued. Hillary Clinton’s my-way-or-the-highway obduracy doomed her heath care initiative; she also voted to authorize the Iraq invasion without even reading the National Intelligence Estimate, and badly mismanaged her 2008 campaign. Condi Rice avidly sold W.’s bogus war in Iraq. One of Susan Rice’s most memorable moments was when she flipped the finger at Richard Holbrooke during a State Department meeting.

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What America’s Most Vulnerable Need: A Bill of Rights for the Homeless

From Alternet:

Paul Boden, a homeless rights advocate for 30 years, is helping groups around the country draft legislation to help the homeless.

By Evelyn Nieves
January 11, 2013

Homeless shelters began opening en masse three decades ago, but the crisis is only getting worse. In a survey of 25 cities from every region of the country, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found more than half are experiencing a spike in homelessness. A majority of the cities said families seeking shelter were turned away for lack of space and that they expect an increase in homeless families. Yet more and more cities are addressing homelessness not by creating housing, but by banning activities such as sitting, sleeping or lying down in public, effectively making being homeless illegal.

This year, advocates for the homeless are fighting back. Until new policies and programs address the causes of homelessness–a lack of affordable housing, lagging incomes that have not kept pace with rising housing costs and the severe cuts in housing assistance programs for the poor—the nation must stop treating our most downtrodden fellow humans like criminals.

Last June, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights, banning discrimination against homeless Rhode Islanders and asserting their right to use public parks, transportation and buildings like anyone else. In California, a Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (AB 5) was introduced last month by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, Similar bills are expected to be introduced in several other states, including Massachusetts and Oregon.

Paul Boden, an advocate for poor and homeless people for 30 years, helped draft the California legislation as organizing director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a coalition of homeless advocacy groups from several Western states. Boden will be criss-crossing the region and the country in the coming months, working with groups hoping to help draft homeless rights bills.

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