Time for a Rapprochement Between the Trans Community and HRC

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/time-for-a-rapprochement-between-the-trans-community-and-hrc_b_2980936.html


This past week saw historic events at the Supreme Court of the United States, not only for gay and lesbian couples but for all Americans. And “all Americans” includes trans Americans. I and many of my trans colleagues have labored for years on the particular civil rights issue that is marriage equality. Sometimes that is recognized; many times it isn’t. But so many people work without recognition; that is not a real problem.

What continues to be a problem is the cold war that is ongoing between the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the trans community. I don’t remember a time when there was an absence of conflict, and having served as an HRC Governor during the last decade, I was present for some of the worst of the confrontations. It is true that HRC was late to the community’s acceptance of trans inclusion, adding the “T” to “LGB” only in 2004. The worst experience was the 2007 debacle over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), when virtually the entire LGBT community organized for trans inclusion, leaving HRC alone in support of an exclusive ENDA. HRC’s support for marriage equality has been robust and intense, but not so much its support for trans equality. Internally HRC has no trans staffers and only one trans board member. Worse, it has rarely been any better than that, and this is an organization with nearly 50 board members. Being tasked with increasing national trans board representation, I know that HRC does not stand alone as an outlier. But given that HRC is unofficially the national voice of the entire LGBT community, a role embraced by the organization, that lack of representation does stand out. This needn’t be the case.

This past week there was an event that reopened the scab of the past two decades of wounds. It was reported by Matt Comer that a trans flag was removed from an event at the steps of the Supreme Court by an HRC staffer. I don’t know the facts, though I lean toward supporting Jerame Davis, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats, and his take on the incident. Maybe there were only American flags planted at the podium, in which case the trans flag would have been inappropriate. Maybe there were other rainbow flags, in which case the action would not have been appropriate. Regardless, this is just one more instance of institutional bad blood between the two communities.

It’s time to resolve this problem, and this is a very opportune time to do so. The trans community has scored many great victories recently, the most recent being the reconsideration by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of coverage for genital reconstruction surgeries. The gay community has also scored impressive victories, both last November, with the marriage referenda, and this week, with the oral arguments in the Supreme Court. We can come together in strength and equal standing.

It’s also an opportune time for a rapprochement because of the recent changes in senior staff at HRC. Regardless of where one wants to place blame, those changes with a new team in place allow for a fresh look and a fresh start. I know that President Chad Griffin is committed to better relations with the trans community, as is his newest hire, Jeff Krehely, formerly of the Center for American Progress.

This effort need not be only morally grounded, in that it’s the right thing to do for all of us. Yes, many trans persons are gay, and many gay persons are gender-nonconforming. There is so much overlap that it becomes silly at certain points to be arguing. Just as self-interest has propelled the gay community to focus primarily on gay issues, the increase in exposure of the trans community and the rise of our particular issues means that not only do we need the support of our gay friends and allies, but they also need us to remain relevant and a part of the ongoing civil rights discourse.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/time-for-a-rapprochement-between-the-trans-community-and-hrc_b_2980936.html

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Maine Principals’ Association Issues New Policy on Transgender Athletes

From Maine Public Broadcasting Network:  http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3475/ItemId/27138/Default.aspx

Transgender high school students in Maine will now be able to play for sports teams that match their gender identity. The Maine Principals’ Association yesterday gave final approval to the new policy.

By: Samantha Fields

Until now, students in Maine could only participate on sports teams according to their biological gender. There were certain exceptions that allowed girls to try out for boys’ teams when there was not an equivalent girls’ team. But Dick Durost, of the Maine Principals’ Association, says that if a transgender athlete who identified as male wanted to swim or play basketball, his only option was to play for a girls’ team.

“Within the last year or so I’ve had a couple requests from transgender students to consider looking at present policy to see whether we might be able to address some of their needs and concerns,” Durost says.

Durost found that there are only a handful of states that have policies designed to accommodate transgender student-athletes. Those include Vermont, Colorado and Washington state. Durost says the Maine Principals’ Association drew on those states’ guidelines and experiences in putting together its Transgender Participation Policy, which was approved overwhelmingly by schools that are members of the MPA.

“There was one vote opposed to the policy, so that’s the kind of support that it had,” he says.

Under the new policy, transgender students will have to submit a request to the school, along with documentation that their gender identity differs from the biological sex they were assigned at birth. The school will then request a confidential hearing before an MPA Gender Identity Equity Committee.

“The request will be granted unless the committee determines that it’s not a bona fide or legitimate request, or if there is the danger of an undue athletic competitive advantage, or the risk of harm or injury to others,” Durost says.

Continue reading at:  http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3475/ItemId/27138/Default.aspx

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Maine: Teen accused of threatening to shoot East Millinocket transgender student

Hopefully any guns this kid could have access to were confiscated.

From Bangor Daily News:  http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/29/news/penobscot/teen-summoned-for-threatening-to-shoot-east-millinocket-transgender-student/

By Nick Sambides Jr
March 29, 2013

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — An East Millinocket teenager has been suspended from Schenck High School and is being evaluated by juvenile court authorities after he was issued a summons for threatening a transgender student, officials said Friday.

The boy, 15, was issued a summons for terrorizing on March 5 after he allegedly threatened to shoot the 18-year-old senior, who was born female and identifies as a male, because he objected to the way the transgender student dressed, police said. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the accused boy because he is a juvenile and is not naming the transgender student because he is allegedly a victim.

“There were some comments made towards [the transgender student’s] sexual orientation, I guess you could say,” said East Millinocket police Officer Kevin Giberson, who investigated the incident. “There were some threats toward [the student’s] life. It rose beyond what you could call typical bullying toward the [student] – if there is such a thing as typical bullying — and that is when we stepped in.”

The threat occurred during a bus ride home on Feb. 15. The transgender student told his parents, who alerted police the following week, Giberson said. Giberson interviewed a half-dozen people, including some present when the alleged threat occurred, before issuing the summons, he said. The interviews took several weeks.

“February [school] vacation kind of got in the way of it,” Giberson said of the interview process.

The East Millinocket School Committee voted unanimously during a meeting about two weeks ago to suspend the student until the end of the school year, AOS 66 Superintendent Quenten Clark said Friday. The issue took several meetings to resolve.

Continue reading at:  http://bangordailynews.com/2013/03/29/news/penobscot/teen-summoned-for-threatening-to-shoot-east-millinocket-transgender-student/

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Transgender Day of Visibility vs. Arizona’s ‘Bathroom Bill

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robyn-carolyn-montague/transgender-day-of-visibility-vs-arizonas-bathroom-bill_b_2975058.html


Today, March 31, is not only Easter for those of faith but also Transgender Day of Visibility. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we remember those we have lost to violence, Transgender Day of Visibility is a day of positive reflection for the trans* community.

Though the primary focus this past week has been on the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, there is legislation moving forward in Arizona — S.B. 1045, the so-called “Bathroom Bill” — that would allow business owners to deny transgender individuals access to bathrooms that match the gender with which they identify. The bill would affect anyone trans* who is living in, traveling to or passing through Arizona. It would also affect masculine-appearing women, feminine-appearing men and anyone who is gender-nonconforming, whose bathroom access would be at the discretion of business owners.

Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, the Republican lawmaker behind the bill, is apparently concerned that trans* people using bathrooms that match their gender identity will upset non-transgender people. He seems to feel that people outside his idea of societal normalcy should be kept out of bathrooms, locker rooms and showers. But what is normal? Even as I look around the LGBTQ community, I do not see the stereotypical feminine gay men I was told about as a child. I do not see the overdressed trans women I was warned about when I came out as trans. All I see are people. In the past, flying a rainbow flag outside one’s home was considered “brave,” but now they fly everywhere.

Nevertheless, many trans* people prefer to remain in the shadows. The pervasive discrimination and hate toward trans* people is well-documented, and S.B. 1045 will not not do anything to help trans* people feel more welcomed in society. But just as gays and lesbians have put invisibility behind them, the trans* community must become part of the fabric of society, and only widespread visibility can accomplish that. Rather than being associated with woeful news stories about being improperly gendered, we need to become simply people.

Even facing hate like S.B. 1045, we must continue to move forward. While trans* activists and our allies fight that bill, for those trans* people who are comfortable enough and safe enough to do so, the time to come out of the shadows and present ourselves as who we are is now. If you are trans*, make a point to get out in public on Sunday, perhaps at a dinner or shopping with friends. You don’t have to carry a sign; simply be who you are. On Transgender Day of Visibility, walk out of the shadows and into sunlight. One day we will have to hide no more.

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The Campaign to Outlaw Abortion

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/opinion/the-campaign-to-outlaw-abortion.html

Published: March 29, 2013

Anti-abortion groups have been trying to re-impose restrictions on abortion rights for 40 years, but the Legislature and governor of North Dakota have taken this attack on women’s reproductive health and freedom to a shocking new low by passing a bill that they must know perfectly well is unconstitutional by any reading of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and others since.

Under those rulings, full abortion bans are allowable only after fetal viability, which the medical community generally considers to be around 24 weeks into pregnancy. But North Dakota joins a growing list of states trying to set that limit earlier, including Arkansas and its unconstitutional ban after 12 weeks, enacted just three weeks ago.

North Dakota’s Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed extreme laws that went even further, centering on a brazenly unconstitutional ban on nearly all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is “detectable.” That could be as early as six weeks into pregnancy, when some women do not even know they are pregnant, and requires testing with a transvaginal ultrasound.

The six-weeks ban stands little chance of surviving a court challenge. But bad ideas spread fast in this realm, and these kinds of actions show the rising influence of a formerly fringe element of the anti-abortion movement that is dissatisfied with its side’s considerable progress in incrementally curbing abortions. It is anxious to speed a case to the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

The campaign goes beyond abortion to the continuing Republican drive in Texas and other states to close down Planned Parenthood clinics that provide critical services like birth control counseling and cancer screenings. So far, nine states have acted to defund Planned Parenthood, threatening preventive care relied upon by hundreds of thousands of people. A pending bill in Arkansas takes the ultra-extreme approach of barring any company that contracts with a health center that provides abortions or gives women information about all their pregnancy options from receiving any state contracts or public funds.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/opinion/the-campaign-to-outlaw-abortion.html

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India tourist visits down 25% following fatal Delhi gang rape

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/31/india-tourist-visits-down-delhi-gang-rape

Tourism industry survey contradicts rosy government picture, showing tourists are shunning India over sexual assault fears

in Delhi
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 31 March 2013

The number of foreign tourists arriving in India dropped by 25% during the first three months of this year, largely because of fears about the risk of sexual assault, according to an industry survey.

The number of female tourists fell by 35% compared with the same period last year, with Indian tour operators reporting many cancellations from January to March following the fatal gang rape of a physiotherapist on a Delhi bus last December.

The figures from the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (Assocham) are based on a survey of 1,200 tour operators and contradict the government’s rosy picture of the tourism business.

For both January and February, tourism ministry figures showed an increase in the number of tourists and revenue from tourism, compared with the first two months of 2012. A month after the Delhi gang rape, the tourism secretary, Parvez Dewan, said: “So far there has been no adverse impact on tourism.”

Since then, however, at least six foreign women have complained to police about being attacked or traumatised by men, mostly at tourist destinations, leading several countries, including the UK, to issue travels advisories for India.

Delhi police figures show a dramatic rise in reported crime since 1 January, with molestation cases up by 590.4% over the same period last year and rape cases up by 147.6%. The front pages of Sunday’s newspapers carried a story about the gang rape of an 18-year-old male Delhi University student who had gone out to meet a Facebook friend.

Assocham’s secretary-general, DS Rawat, said that while the government was banking on tourist dollars to help reduce the country’s yawning current account deficit, the security situation was making foreign tourists bypass India for other Asian destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/31/india-tourist-visits-down-delhi-gang-rape

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Noam Chomsky: If Nuclear War Doesn’t Get Us, Climate Change Will

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The Coming Crash: Our Addiction to Endless Growth on a Finite Planet

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/coming-crash-our-addiction-endless-growth-finite-planet-photo-slideshow

Richard Heinberg talks about the new book “Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth,” a haunting look at our current energy path.

By Tara Lohan
March 27, 2013

If you want to understand how much energy costs, don’t look at your electric bill; instead get a copy of the new book Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. This massive coffeetable book contains hundreds of arresting images showing the effects of our energy choices, including oil spills, nuclear accidents, massive solar arrays, tar sands mines, fracking operations, transmission lines, and more. The photos are complemented by essays from leading writers like Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Sandra Steingraber, Douglas Tompkins, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown and many others, which put into context our growing energy problems and what we can do about them.

The book is a collaboration of great minds, including editors Tom Butler and George Wuerthner and contributing author Richard Heinberg. It’s also a partnership between the Post Carbon Institute and the Foundation for Deep Ecology, copublished by PCI and Watershed Media.

While the book delves greatly into different energy sources and their limitations, the heart of the book is really not so much about what kinds of energy we use but how much. To get a clearer understanding of this AlterNet spoke with contributing writer  Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at PCI and the author of numerous books including The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality (June 2011), Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis (2009) and Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007).

Tara Lohan: How did this book project come about? I know it started out as a book about tar sands, but then it evolved into so much more.

Richard Heinberg: The economy is all about energy. Almost all of our environmental issues relate to energy in one way or another. Certainly, climate change does. War and peace, it’s all about energy. Upping the energy literacy of the American people and thought leaders is a pretty high priority.

TL: Explain a little bit more what you mean by energy literacy, because I know you talk about that in the book as well.

RH: Well, surprisingly few people have really looked at or thought about or studied what energy is. It’s in all of our lives. We all depend on it for everything we do, but energy is pretty allusive. You can’t hold a jar of pure energy in your hands. Useful energy comes to us in various forms. All of these different forms of energy, whether it’s coal, oil, natural gas, wind, hydropower, nuclear, each has its own characteristics. Environmental characteristics. Economic characteristics. It takes a while to sort of wrap your head around all of that, and there are some basic concepts like the laws of thermodynamics. The ideas of energy density and return on energy investment that are absolutely fundamental to evaluating different forms and sources of energy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/coming-crash-our-addiction-endless-growth-finite-planet-photo-slideshow

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Deadly Diarrhea Will Increase on Hotter, Drier Planet

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/29-6

New study found that the second most common cause of death for children is bound to increase under global warming

Lauren McCauley
Published on Friday, March 29, 2013 by Common Dreams

It kills over 1.5 million children every year and is a topic completely shunned by media and politics alike.

Diarrhea is not only deadly but the scope of its devastation is only going to proliferate as global warming continues to cause widespread drought and drive worldwide temperatures higher and higher.

A new study published earlier this week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health uncovered a “surprising” correlation between diarrheal disease and hot, dry seasonal temperatures.

Examining data collected from Botswana health facilities over 30 years, the authors of Climate Change is Likely to Worsen the Public Health Threat of Diarrheal Disease in Botswana (pdf) found during these “dry season peaks,” a proliferation of fly activity and density.

“This is significant, as flies can be important in the transmission of diarrheal disease-causing micro-organisms,” said report co-author Kathleen Alexander, associate professor of wildlife at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

As global warming-induced drought continues to plague much of the world, the reality of a hotter, drier climate is undeniable.

The findings of the study are significant. The World Health Organization says that diarrhea is the second most common cause of death and the leading cause of malnutrition in children worldwide, primarily affecting children under two years old.

“Diarrheal disease is an important health challenge, accounting for the majority of childhood deaths globally and the second highest in Botswana,” Alexander said. “Our findings suggest that climate change will increase the occurrence of diarrhea and the burden of disease among vulnerable populations in Botswana and similarly affected regions.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/29-6

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