Not So Elementary: A Trans Student’s Fight With Her School

From The Advocate

When a Colorado school told a 6-year-old transgender girl she could no longer use the girls’ bathroom, her parents fought back.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
April 05 2013

A family in colorado has filed a complaint with the state Civil Rights Commission against the Fountain–Fort Carson school district, alleging an elementary school discriminated against a 6-year-old transgender girl when she was forbidden to use the girls’ bathroom after a year of doing so.

Coy Mathis is a first-grader enrolled at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, a suburb of Colorado Springs. Although Coy was assigned as male at birth, she has identified as female since she was 18 months old. Coy dresses in girls’ clothing, and teachers, classmates, and her family use female pronouns to refer to her.

Since 2011, when she was in kindergarten, Coy has been using the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside without incident. But last December Eagleside principal Jason Crow informed her parents, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, that their daughter would no longer be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. Coy could only use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or a single-stall restroom in the health center.

Kathryn Mathis says that when she and her husband challenged Crow on the reasoning behind the sudden policy change, the administrator had no coherent response.

“The first inkling of an answer we got was when their lawyers responded [to the initial request],” says Mathis. She calls the district’s written response “heartbreaking” and says school district lawyers repeatedly referred to Coy as a boy, used male pronouns to describe her, and even discussed how “as she gets older, how her male genitals are going to grow—which isn’t appropriate at all for them to be discussing, because they’re a school system, not her doctor.”

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Trans women 49 times more likely to have HIV

From Gay Star News:

Using multiple studies and assessing over 11,000 women from around the world, a study has found HIV is highly prevalant among trans women

By Joe Morgan
05 April 2013

Transgender women are 49 times more likely to have HIV than the general population, a new study has found.

Suggesting nearly a fifth of all trans women worldwide have HIV, the study involved over 11,000 women in 15 different countries from around the world.

Published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the authors say: ‘Our findings suggest that transgender women are a very high burden population for HIV and are in urgent need of prevention, treatment and care services.’

The data, conducted between 2000 and 2011, was only available from ‘male-predominant HIV epidemics’ including the US, three European countries, five Latin American countries and six Asia-Pacific countries.

The investigators believe many of the infections will have been acquired via unprotected anal sex, and trans women are more likely to engage in sex work.

‘Few health-care workers, from HIV counselors to nurses and physicians, have received any training on addressing the specific health needs of transgender women,’ they note.

Dr Stefan Baral, who led the study, told The Huffington Post it does not seem like it is a ‘priority’ for governments or health care providers to care about the needs of trans communities.

When treatment programs attempt to care for trans women the same as gay men, they do not take into account trans-specific risk factors.

According to Baral, trans women are almost always the receptive partner in anal sex, and a lack of resources for hormone treatments may lead to sharing dirty needles.

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Masen Davis discusses transgender rights on MSNBC

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What’s Behind Criticisms of Those Red Equal Signs in Your Facebook Feed?

From Huffington Post:


What in the world could be wrong with it?

It’s been all over Facebook and Twitter as part of a wider social media campaign for marriage equality. If you’re especially savvy, you’re aware that it’s a spin on the Human Rights Campaign’s logo (which they’ve self-promoted). And if your Facebook and Twitter friends/followers are anything like mine, you’ve probably seen a variation of profile photos and status messages critiquing it.

Keeping it 100 percent honest here, there’s an air of uneasiness implied by all the commentary about a seemingly innocuous red photo of an equal sign.

Should marriage equality become law of the land, I’m sure hordes of us will celebrate a historic moment — that our nation’s highest court ruled in favor of the right to marry the person we love. But after the drinks clink and the confetti gets swept away, what will come next?

Allow me to be blunt.

Not everyone appreciates how the HRC has been lent high legitimacy as the organization representing the entire movement when their actions have consistently proven otherwise. Going further, some people have reservations that a large number of people — especially economically well-off, able-bodied, gender conforming, non-immigrant and white (read: relatively privileged) gay and lesbian Americans — will disengage from the many other institutional and social changes necessary for full inclusion of LGBT communities.

That may very well not be the case. But who comprises the majority of the Human Rights Campaign’s staff and donor base? The same white, gay and lesbian people previously described. For many of these folks and some others, marriage equality is the last major step to becoming “fully privileged” citizens relative to their heterosexual peers (well, save perhaps for employment protections).

Just the sight of the HRC logo recalls that scary possibility of broader disengagement given how the organization has represented itself so far — and what’s below only scratches the surface.

The HRC has appeared more concerned with praising corporations and financial institutions that continue to oppress the poor and play reverse Robin Hood to screw many folks (LGBT* included) out of homes and livelihoods.

The HRC has yet to make a strong, substantive appeal on youth homelessness, which disproportionately impacts LGBT communities.

The HRC has a long history of throwing trans* people under the bus. Many folks still remember them dropping the “T” while attempting to push the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress in 2007… and it still failed to capture enough votes to pass in the Senate and become law. They’ve since reverted to supporting a trans-inclusive bill, yet many still feel the sting.

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Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages

From The New York Times:

Published: April 5, 2013

A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available, and said its actions had been politically motivated.

The decision, on a fraught and politically controversial subject, comes after a decade-long fight over who should have access to the pill and under what circumstances. And it counteracts an unprecedented move by the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, who in 2011 overruled a recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration to make the pill available for all ages without a prescription.

In a decision in a lawsuit filed by advocates, the judge, Edward R. Korman of Federal District Court, ruled that the government’s refusal to lift restrictions on access to the pill was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”

Judge Korman ordered the F.D.A. to lift any age and sale restrictions on the pill, Plan B One-Step, and its generic versions, within 30 days.

“More than 12 years have passed since the citizen petition was filed and 8 years since this lawsuit commenced,” the judge wrote. “The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition. Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster.”

He added, “The plaintiffs should not be forced to endure, nor should the agency’s misconduct be rewarded by, an exercise that permits the F.D.A. to engage in further delay and obstruction.”

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See also: Raw Story:  Federal judge strikes down age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception

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The new propaganda is liberal. The new slavery is digital

From The New Statesman:

As Leni Riefenstahl said: “Propaganda always wins if you allow it”.

By John Pilger
14 March 2013

What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her epic films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; her Triumph of the Will cast Hitler’s spell.

She told me that the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of the German public. Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? “Everyone,” she said.

Today, we prefer to believe that there is no submissive void. “Choice” is ubiquitous. Phones are “platforms” that launch every half-thought. There is Google from outer space if you need it. Caressed like rosary beads, the precious devices are borne headsdown, relentlessly monitored and prioritised. Their dominant theme is the self. Me. My needs. Riefenstahl’s submissive void is today’s digital slavery.

Edward Said described this wired state in Culture and Imperialism as taking imperialism where navies could never reach. It is the ultimate means of social control because it is voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom.

Today’s “message” of grotesque inequality, social injustice and war is the propaganda of liberal democracies. By any measure of human behaviour, this is extremism. When Hugo Chávez challenged it, he was abused in bad faith; and his successor will be subverted by the same zealots of the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the “human rights” organisations that have appropriated American liberalism and underpin its propaganda. The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism”. “All is normality on display,” he wrote. “For [Nazi] goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work [in the White House], planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Whereas a generation ago, dissent and biting satire were allowed in the “mainstream”, today their counterfeits are acceptable and a fake moral zeitgeist rules. “Identity” is all, mutating feminism and declaring class obsolete. Just as collateral damage covers for mass murder, “austerity” has become an acceptable lie. Beneath the veneer of consumerism, a quarter of Greater Manchester is reported to be living in “extreme poverty”.

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In our digital world you don’t own stuff, you just license it

This is why I buy books and CDs instead of mp3s.

From The Guardian UK:

Corporations and lawmakers have put us on course for a world where consumers do not own the things they buy, Friday 5 April 2013

A federal judge has reminded us of a fundamental reality: if it’s digital, we don’t own it. In an unfortunate but unsurprising ruling, District Judge Richard J Sullivan sided (pdf) with the Copyright Cartel – specifically, Capitol Records in this case – against an innovative startup that was providing a marketplace for used songs.

Had the users of the startup, ReDigi, been selling used CDs via any number of online stores, there would have been no issue. But the music in this case was stored in computer files, so the doctrine of “first sale” – your right to resell what you’ve bought – didn’t apply.

ReDigi tried hard to live up to the spirit of copyright law. It created a system where the uploader of a “purchased” iTunes song would lose access to the music after the file was transferred to the new “buyer’s” computer. Yeah, right, said the record company and the judge – there’s no way to ensure that the “seller” wasn’t keeping the song anyway.

The first-sale doctrine has been an essential part of American copyright law. If you buy a book, you can resell it or give it away (or even throw it away). The new owner, or your heirs, will have the same rights. First sale got a big boost recently when the supreme court rejected a publisher’s stance that a book it sold overseas couldn’t legally be resold in the United States.

But with digital material, as I noted in this space a few months ago, the original owners are only providing you a license to use the material. This creates a market condition they absolutely love, where your possession of the material lasts, essentially, only as long as you do. Less freedom for you, more sales – sorry, licenses – for them.

America’s top copyright official, Maria A Pallante, has at least noted the first-sale conundrum in a world where so much of what we read, hear and watch is born – and remains – digital. In testimony before Congress and in a recent speech, she recalled that the Copyright Office, which she heads, recommended in 2001 that Congress not change any laws to create digital first-sale rights. And she listed some of the choices lawmakers might make should they review the issue.

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Poll: Most Americans Not Buying Feds’ Drug War Propaganda

From Alternet:

As our views about marijuana’s harm potential change, an historic majority of Americans say pot should be legal.

By Kristen Gwynne
April 4, 2013

As Washington and Colorado prepare to implement the legal, regulated sale of marijuana to adults, new polling data from the Pew Research Center reveals that a federal policy following the will of the people would loosen up pot laws all over the country. According to Pew, Americans not only want pot legal, but believe marijuana is more medically beneficial, and less potentially dangerous or morally wrong, than the federal government suggests.   According to the Pew Research Center’s data, a historic number of  Americans — a majority of 52% —  now support marijuana legalization, and even more — 60% of Americans — say the federal government should not intervene in state-sanctioned marijuana laws.  While younger Americans (65% of Millenials and 54% of Generation Xers) are the most likely to support marijuana legalization, Baby Boomers (50%) and the older Silent Generation (32%) are increasingly favoring marijuana legalization, too.

Public opinion has been rapidly shifting in favor of reformed marijuana laws,  with support rising exponentially in the past three years.  The Gallup Poll found that, over the past three decades, the belief that marijuana use leads to hard drugs has decreased substantially, from  60% in a 1997 survey to 38% in 2012. At the same time that fewer Americans are reporting marijuana is a “gateway drug”, fewer Americans are saying that marijuana use is a moral failure. According to Gallup, in a survey earlier this year, 32% of Americans said smoking marijuana is morally wrong — an 18 point decrease since 2006.

Perhaps this shifting attitude is why nearly three-quarters of Americans now say government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth. Similarly, most independents (64%) Democrats (59%) and Republicans (57%) agree that the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that allow the legal use of marijuana. While federal law classifying marijuana as a Schedule I substance maintains that it is a medically useless substance, 77% of Americans (with only modest partisan divides) say marijuana has legitimate medical use.

Advocates for drug policy reform are interpreting the data as a sign of changing times that demand a change in policy.  “I’ve always tended to be cautious in claiming that we’ve hit the ‘tipping point’ on marijuana legalization,”  Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the  Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release, “But we’re there now. And I’d say we’re trailing marriage equality by just a half-step, even if far fewer elected officials are willing to join publicly with us as yet.”

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AMAZING Aerial Footage of Arkansas Exxon Oil Spill!

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Third Major Oil Spill in a Week: Shell Pipeline Breaks in Texas

From Earth First:

April 5, 2013

Thousands of gallons of oil have spilled from a pipeline in Texas, the third accident of its kind in only a week.

Shell Pipeline, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, shut down their West Columbia, Texas, pipeline last Friday after electronic calculations conducted by the US National Response Center showed that upwards of 700 barrels had been lost, amounting to almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

By Monday, Shell spokespeople said inspectors found “no evidence” of an oil leak, but days later it was revealed that a breach did occur. Representatives with the US Coast Guard confirmed to Dow Jones on Thursday that roughly 50 barrels of oil spilled from a pipe near Houston, Texas and entered a waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehman said that Shell had dispatched clean-up crews that were working hard to correct any damage to Vince Bayou, a small waterway that runs for less than 20 miles from the Houston area into a shipping channel that opens into the Gulf.

The spill was contained, said Lehman, who was hesitant to offer an official number on how much crude was lost in the accident. According to Shell spokeswoman Kim Windon, though, the damage could have been quite significant. After being presented with the estimate that said as much as 700 barrels were found to have leaked from the pipeline due to an unknown cause, investigators determined that 60 barrels entered the bayou.

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After 46 years at NASA, climate scientist James Hansen retires

From Treehugger:

Michael Graham Richard
April 4, 2013

No plans to slow down his fight against global warming, though

Dr. James E. Hansen, who has been with NASA for 46 years and head of the Goddard Institute for Space Research since 1981, has announced that he was retiring from the space agency this week. But this doesn’t mean that he’ll take up gardening and spend his evening playing bridge. As a government employee, there were many things that he couldn’t do, such as testify against the government. He’s expected to keep up his activism and play a more active role in lawsuits against federal and state governments over greenhouse gas emission limits. I have no doubt that he won’t slow down any, and will keep sounding the alarm over this dangerous experiment that we’re playing with our only planet’s life-support system.

The scientific community owes a great debt to Hansen. Here’s how NASA’s GISS describes Dr. Hansen’s climate research:

“In his early research, Hansen used telescopic observations of Venus to extract detailed information on the physical properties of the cloud and haze particles that veil Venus. Since the mid-1970s, he has focused on studies and computer simulations of Earth’s climate, working to understand the climate system and human impacts on global climate. Hansen’s testimony before Congress in 1988 helped to raise the broad public awareness of the global climate change as an important issue for us all.

His research has been closely aligned with the development of increasingly sophisticated satellite platform measurements, such as the terrestrial radiation budget, ozone and weather-related data, and the need for increasingly sophisticated atmospheric models to assess and evaluate the information content and utility of these measurements. Current climate models are now able to reproduce the historical temperature record over the past century and to make climate change predictions for the future, keeping pace with NASA’s measurements of solar energy variations, sea level change and polar ice loss with unprecedented precision and accuracy.

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