Cecilia Chung, transgender health advocate

From SF Gate:  http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Cecilia-Chung-transgender-health-advocate-4189493.php

Heather Knight
Saturday, January 12, 2013

Transgender patients seeking medical care face discrimination even in liberal, cutting-edge San Francisco.

But this being liberal, cutting-edge San Francisco, they also have a champion: Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman serving on the Health Commission.

Appointed to the commission overseeing the Department of Public Health by Mayor Ed Lee in April, Chung made news by pushing the department to pay for gender reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender patients – making San Francisco the first city in the country to do so.

Now, she’s developed and is leading sessions for staff members throughout the department called Transgender 101, designed to help everybody – from doctors to nurses to receptionists to janitors – create a respectful atmosphere for transgender patients, increase sensitivity, and understand policies and laws related to medical care for transgender patients.

“We want to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to cultural competency,” said Chung, 47, an Excelsior resident who works internationally as a health care consultant and advocate. “This is really walking the walk in terms of cultural competency and inclusion and making sure all of our community feels safe.”

Eventually, it will lead to more advanced courses for specialists that she’s developing called, you guessed it, Transgender 102 and Transgender 103.

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Portugal passes trans hate crime law

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/portugal-passes-trans-hate-crime-law210113

Portugal’s parliament has voted to include ‘gender identity’ as a category of hate crime law

By Dan Littauer
21 January 2013

The Portuguese parliament approved a revision of the country’s criminal code which will ban discrimination and hate crime against transgender people.

This addition to the criminal code was approved unanimously, following a proposal by the Portuguese Socialist Party.

Hate crimes against trans people in Portugal have been recorded in the recent past, transphobic violence made headlines with the murder of Gisberta Salce Júnior in 2006.

However, gender identity was absent from hate crime legislation.

Portugal’s parliament has now added ‘gender identity’ alongside ‘sexual orientation’ to articles relating to aggravated homicide and assault.

It also stressed the reprehensibility of these acts (and consequently strengthening the penalties) in case their motivation is based on the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim.

The inclusion of ‘gender identity’ in the Portuguese criminal code was a long-standing demand of ILGA Portugal.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/portugal-passes-trans-hate-crime-law210113

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Growing anger over religious exemptions

From Gay News Network Australia:  http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/northern-territory/10388-growing-anger-over-religious-exemptions.html

Serkan Ozturk
January 21, 2013

As a Senate committee prepares to hold public hearings in Sydney this week on Labor’s draft national anti-discrimination laws, there’s growing outrage within the LGBTI community and elsewhere over the wide-ranging exemptions offered to religious bodies and other groups that will allow them to continue to legally discriminate against people on several grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lobby group GetUp, the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Greens have also all criticised the Bill for not offering proper protections against discrimination for LGBTI people after media reports suggested Prime Minister Julia Gillard had already promised the Australian Christian Lobby religious groups will have the freedom to discriminate against homosexuals and others under any new laws. The reports have led Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich to challenge Gillard to “justify” her stance.

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 Bill, introduced by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon late last year, seeks to consolidate five separate pieces of legislation into a single Act and will provide federal protections for sexual orientation and gender and sex diversity for the first time.

In effect, the Bill will make it unlawful for persons and companies and others in “public life” to offer unfair treatment in service provision or employment opportunity on 18 grounds listed as protected attributes; including sexual orientation, gender identity sex, religion, political opinion, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, immigrant status, and social origin. People who believe they have been discriminated against will have the option to have complaints heard by the Human Rights Commission or in court.

Continue reading at:  http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/northern-territory/10388-growing-anger-over-religious-exemptions.html

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Russia moves to enact anti-gay law to protect minors from Western ‘homosexual propaganda’

From The Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/russia-moves-to-enact-anti-gay-law-to-protect-minors-from-western-homosexual-propaganda/2013/01/21/b0a6abcc-63ca-11e2-889b-f23c246aa446_story.html

By Associated Press
Monday, January 21, 2013

MOSCOW — Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia’s parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention and the equivalent of a $16 fine on a charge of “hooliganism.” But if a bill that comes up for a first vote later this month becomes law, such a public kiss could be defined as illegal “homosexual propaganda” and bring a fine of up to $16,000.

The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal nationwide to provide minors with information that is defined as “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.” It includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights. St. Petersburg and a number of other Russian cities already have similar laws on their books.

The bill is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and church see as corrupting Russian youth and by extension contributing to a wave of protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

Samburov describes the anti-gay bill as part of a Kremlin crackdown on minorities of any kind — political and religious as well as sexual — designed to divert public attention from growing discontent with Putin’s rule.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/russia-moves-to-enact-anti-gay-law-to-protect-minors-from-western-homosexual-propaganda/2013/01/21/b0a6abcc-63ca-11e2-889b-f23c246aa446_story.html

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Legal showdown over gay conversion therapy waged in 2 states

From American Medical Newshttp://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2013/01/21/gvsb0121.htm

At issue is whether states can ban the therapy on minors and whether counselors who conduct the therapy can be held liable for consumer fraud.

By Alicia Gallegos, amednews staff.
Posted Jan. 21, 2013.

The patient’s anguish was clearly visible to psychiatrist Jack Drescher, MD, as the man spoke about his experience undergoing so-called gay conversion therapy.

Such therapy often is rooted in the claim that poor parenting is the cause of same-sex attractions, and that patients can change if they truly wish to be heterosexual. Methods of “repairing” patients can include instructing them to beat effigies of their mothers, touch themselves while naked in front of counselors and be subjected to mock locker room scenarios in which therapists scream anti-gay epithets at them.

After attending a religious-based therapy six times a week and experiencing no change in his sexuality, the patient was left feeling ashamed, depressed and suicidal, Dr. Drescher said.

“I felt sad[ness] and also anger, because sometimes a therapist would say things that were very hurtful to the patient,” said Dr. Drescher, an author and medical expert on gay conversion therapy. He also is president of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, a think tank that analyzes issues in the field of psychiatry. “It’s distressing when you see professionals, regardless if they are well-meaning or otherwise, deliver intentional or inadvertent harm to a patient.”

Physicians and health professionals across the country have reported treating patients for the problems they have after conversion therapy. In recent years, physician organizations including the American Medical Association have developed policy opposing the use of “reparative” or “conversion” therapy that the AMA describes as “based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or … that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.” The potential serious risks of reparative therapy include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, said an American Psychiatric Assn. position statement.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2013/01/21/gvsb0121.htm

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Angela Davis: Now That Obama Has a Second Term, No More “Subordination to Presidential Agendas”

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In Historic Inauguration Address, Obama Takes the Fight to the Right

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/historic-inauguration-address-obama-takes-fight-right

From climate-change deniers to Confederacy buffs to Ayn Rand acolytes, Obama had a smack-down for every right-winger.

By Adele M. Stan
January 21, 2013

Before he uttered the first words of his second inaugural address on the national holiday that honors Martin Luther King, the nation’s first African American president made clear to his opponents on the right that he had a mandate, and he, Barack Hussein Obama, was done playing nice.

Offering the benediction was Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader, Medgar Evers. On the right, Medgar Evers is not celebrated as a hero. Now, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, servant of the Tea Party movement, was forced to bow his head in prayer as a living testament to the ravages of intolerance prevailed upon the Almighty to bless him.

Then came Obama’s first musical selection: The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which just happened to be the battle hymn of Union forces in the Civil War. Message to the right, which today is deeply rooted in the South: the Civil War is over, and your side lost.

And that was just the beginning of Obama’s assertion of his political capital, and his acknowledgment of the coalition that elected him: African Americans, Latinos, single women, and LGBT people — pretty much everybody on whom the right makes economic and civic war.

To administer the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden, the White House chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latin American to sit on the Supreme Court.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/historic-inauguration-address-obama-takes-fight-right

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The First Lady on the Launch of Organizing for Action

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Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2

by Peter Dreier
Published on Monday, January 21, 2013 by Common Dreams

Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.

So it is easy to forget that  in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.

In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system.  He was a strong ally of the nation’s labor union movement.  He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers’ strike.  He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country’s misadventure in Vietnam.

In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it,  King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice.

If he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget in order to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education, and health care.  He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of the Dream Act and comprehensive reform. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2

See also Common Dreams:  MLK Injustice Index 2013: Racism, Materialism and Militarism in the US

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MLK’s vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/21/king-obama-drones-militarism-sanctions-iran

His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression

guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 January 2013

The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.

King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work (“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.

In that speech, King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today“, as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long” (is there any surprise this has been whitewashed from his legacy?). He emphasized that his condemnations extended far beyond the conflict in Southeast Asia: “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” He insisted that no significant social problem – wealth inequality, gun violence, racial strife – could be resolved while the US remains “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift” – a recipe, he said, for certain “spiritual death”. For that reason, he argued, “it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.” That’s because:

“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/21/king-obama-drones-militarism-sanctions-iran

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Obama Goes Hawkish: Failure To Respond To Threat Of Climate Change, ‘Would Betray Our Children And Future Generations’

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/21/1475231/obama-goes-hawkish-failure-to-respond-to-threat-of-climate-change-would-betray-our-children-and-future-generations/

By Joe Romm
on Jan 21, 2013

Obama went all climate hawk on America in his second inaugural address (full text here).

These are, I believe, his longest and strongest remarks on the subject in any major national speech, let alone one of this import:

Article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/21/1475231/obama-goes-hawkish-failure-to-respond-to-threat-of-climate-change-would-betray-our-children-and-future-generations/

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140 countries agree mercury treaty

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/19/140-countries-agree-mercury-treaty

Delegates at UN talks approve measures to curb pollution, but some campaigners say they are not tough enough

Staff and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 19 January 2013

More than 140 nations have agreed on the first legally-binding treaty to curb mercury pollution.

Delegates at UN talks in Geneva approved measures to control the use of the highly toxic metal, which is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, in order to limit mercury emissions.

The executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, said: “To agree on global targets is not easy to do. There was no delegation here that wished to leave Geneva without drafting a treaty.”

“We have closed a chapter on a journey that has taken four years of often intense, but ultimately successful negotiations and opened a new chapter towards a sustainable future,” said Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan diplomat who chaired the negotiations.

A signing ceremony will be held later this year in Japan, and then 50 nations must ratify it before it comes into force, which UN officials said they would expect to happen within about three to four years.

But some supporters of a new mercury treaty said they were not satisfied with the agreement.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/19/140-countries-agree-mercury-treaty

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Is Genetically Engineered Salmon Safe?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/is-genetically-engineered_b_2522547.html


Frankenfish could be on your dinner plate by the end of the year.

On December 21, at the very end of the last business day before Christmas week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its environmental assessment that found “no significant impact” from the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. We’re now in a 60 day comment period that ends on February 25, at which time the FDA is widely expected to initiate formal approval.

What is the rationale behind genetically engineered salmon? Why have scientists spliced genes from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the genome of the Atlantic salmon? These genes crank out growth hormone year-round, resulting in a fish that grows faster, cutting the time to reach market weight almost in half. This could mean cost savings for fish farmers, leading to higher profits for the salmon farming industry and (they promise) lower prices for consumers.

But there are massively disturbing ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of Frankenfish highly controversial.

Corporations Given the Power to Create Life
Humans have been using natural selection for years to favor certain genetic expressions in animals and plants. But natural selection on the farm is entirely different than taking genes from two or more completely different creatures, and splicing them together in a laboratory.

Some people are concerned that the power to create new life now sits in the hands of corporate interests. Others are disturbed by the notion of eating genetically engineered animals when there isn’t even so much as a label to give them choice in the matter.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/is-genetically-engineered_b_2522547.html

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