Gender Transition in Children: A Dialogue Continued

From The Huffington Post:


I had a very poignant experience in May when I taught Penn Med students during their first course on trans health, touching because 38 years earlier I had sat where they were sitting in the John Morgan building and had been lectured that I was mentally ill due to a sexual perversion. Now I was the one doing the lecturing, transmitting the science and lived reality of the trans experience of the past 38 years.

Since my medical school years, not only have the numbers of successful social and medical transitions skyrocketed in America and around the globe, but our understanding of human sexual development has exploded as well. Today all our medical associations, from the broad-based American Medical Association (AMA) to the brain-related mental health organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA), recognize the trans experience as a normal human variation and no longer characterize it in pathologizing terms. The process isn’t complete yet, even with the reconceptualization of the transgender experience in the DSM 5, the manual developed by the American Psychiatric Association and used widely throughout the medical and legal professions. It won’t be complete until there is no category of gender identity variance left in the DSM, just as gay people were not completely liberated until homosexuality was completely removed several decades ago.

So today we have professional medical acceptance of adult trans persons and increasing acceptance of trans adolescents. Gender clinics are flourishing in Boston (including the Gender Management Service Clinic, which was founded by Dr. Norman Spack), Los Angeles and Chicago, with new ones in development in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and elsewhere. The controversy in the profession is now focused on children, particularly gender-variant children assigned male at birth who desire to socially transition. Let me make it clear: There is no surgical intervention done in this country before the age of consent, at 18. And hormonal treatment, with puberty-blocking hormones, a completely reversible process, is not prescribed until the onset of puberty. The controversy relates fully to the social aspects of gender transition.

This past Sunday The New York Times published a letter from Dr. Jack Drescher, a renowned psychiatrist and specialist in gender issues, who served on the DSM 5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, relating to the case of Coy Mathis, an 8-year-old trans girl in Colorado. Coy’s case related to her use of the girl’s bathroom, which the school had banned out of fear that some parents would be concerned about her doing so. Steven Chavez, the division director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, ruled, quite emphatically, that telling Coy “that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment, and creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive.”

Dr. Drescher’s letter was the kickoff to a “dialogue” in the Sunday Times and includes an abbreviated letter from me. This is my unedited response:

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan Hid $57 Million From Church Sex Abuse Victims

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on July 2, 2013

Cardinal Timothy Dolan is under fire after news broke that he hid $57 million from the victims of the Roman Catholic Church’s pedophile priest sexual abuse victims. In 2007, then the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Dolan transferred $57 million into a cemetery trust fund after seeking permission from the Vatican. Dolan is now serving as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), making him the nation’s top Catholic.

So says the New York Times in a bombshell disclosure of after the release of “more than 6,000 pages of documents.” The Times reports that Dolan in the past refereed to these claims, made previously, as “malarkey” and “groundless gossip.”

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”

However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

Those files also show that “Milwaukee harbored some of the nation’s most notorious priest pedophiles, including the Rev. Lawrence Murphy, whom a church therapist assessed as having molested as many as 200 boys during his two and a half decades teaching and leading St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wis., and Sigfried Widera, who faced 42 counts of child abuse in Wisconsin and California,” the Times reports:

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See Also:

The New York Times: Dolan Sought to Protect Church Assets, Files Show

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Pro-Choice Texans Back ‘People’s Filibuster’ in Austin

From Common Dreams:

A ‘fuse has been lit’ against anti-choice measures

Jacob Chamberlain
Published on Monday, July 1, 2013 by Common Dreams

Thousands of Texans are rallying once again in Austin on Monday as lawmakers continue to debate a hotly contested anti-abortion bill that was blocked by a “people’s filibuster” on the state Senate floor last week.

Thousands of protesters on both sides of the debate are expected throughout the day in the city including over 5,000 people who signed up for the “Stand With Texas Women” rally.

The rally began at noon on the steps of the Capitol building.

Last week a large group of pro-choice activists performed a “people’s filibuster” in which hundreds of orange-clad abortion-rights activists in the legislature’s gallery “began roaring louder and louder until they literally shouted down the final minutes of the 30-day special session before Republicans could pass the bill,” the Texas Observer reported at the time.

The people’s filibuster followed Senate Democrat Wendy Davis’s 10-hour filibuster of the same bill. The combined efforts blocked the controversial bill, SB 5, for the time being.

The legislation would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would have closed all but five of the state’s abortion clinics, similar to a law passed in Ohio over the weekend.

However, Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a new legislative session to push the bill forward directly following the filibuster.

As the Guardian reports, the bill is not expected to see results anytime soon but protesters on both sides of the debate are expected to rally throughout the day.

“Once again Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst are attacking the constitutional rights of women in Texas,” the group Stand with Texas Women said on their Facebook page.

They continued:

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Raw Story: Texas Abortion Fight Not Over

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WikiLeaks Blasts U.S. for Leaving Snowden “Stateless” as NSA Leaker Withdraws Asylum Bid in Russia

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US army blocks access to Guardian website to preserve ‘network hygiene’

From The Guardian UK:

Military admits to filtering reports and content relating to government surveillance programs for thousands of personnel

and in Washington, Friday 28 June 2013

The US army has admitted to blocking access to parts of the Guardian website for thousands of defence personnel across the country.

A spokesman said the military was filtering out reports and content relating to government surveillance programs to preserve “network hygiene” and prevent any classified material appearing on unclassified parts of its computer systems.

The confirmation follows reports in the Monterey Herald that staff at the Presidio military base south of San Francisco had complained of not being able to access the Guardian’s UK site at all, and had only partial access to the US site, following publication of leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Pentagon insisted the Department of Defense was not seeking to block the whole website, merely taking steps to restrict access to certain content.

But a spokesman for the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom) in Arizona confirmed that this was a widespread policy, likely to be affecting hundreds of defence facilities.

“In response to your question about access to the website, the army is filtering some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks,” said Gordon Van Vleet, a Netcom public affairs officer.

“The Department of Defense routinely takes preventative ‘network hygiene’ measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information onto DoD unclassified networks.”

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Privacy Is Lost, and We Are All To Blame

From In These Times:

Where will the next generation of Americans draw the line on surveillance?

BY Andrew Lam
July 1, 2013

When full-body scanners were introduced at American airports three years ago, there was a brief public outcry. But just as quickly, it died down. Travelers interviewed shrugged off the loss of privacy in the name of safety, using terms like “trade-off” and “compromise.”  One frequent traveler seemed to sum up the general attitude when he said he’d grown “immune to the procedures.”

In other words, Americans don’t want to be groped or scanned, don’t want our personal spaces invaded, but we’re willing to endure both in the name of security. Such is the contract between the people and the state in the new, post-9/11 America.

At airports, it is understood that you’re not allowed to exercise your rights—the Second Amendment explicitly and the First implicitly. It’s common sense that you don’t ever carry a gun on a plane. And since 9/11, don’t even think of saying the word “bomb” to a TSA agent, even if it’s a joke. Travelers have been routinely detained for doing just that. Passengers have even been kicked off planes for wearing t-shirts that were deemed offensive. One passenger was removed for wearing a shirt with an Arabic inscription that said, ironically, “We Will Not Be Silent.” He later sued Jet Blue and the two TSA screeners and won.

How you dress and what you say can be used against you at airports, where scanners and cameras and security guards are aplenty, and where you are constantly being monitored.

But what if, in the name of security, you were willing to give up more rights, not just at the airport, but everywhere else? What if the whole country were to slowly become a kind of mega-airport, a place where you had to watch your language and restrict your communication activities, all under the watchful, electronic eye of Uncle Sam?

That is increasingly becoming the scenario in America today, as the story of Edward Snowden versus the National Security Agency unfolds.

Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM, a government program that collects enormous amounts of data from the phone and Internet records of Americans, as well as others living outside of the U.S. Though PRISM’s existence has been known about for years, the sheer amount of data being mined is revelatory– 3 billion pieces of intelligence were culled from the computer networks of U.S. residents in March of 2013 alone.

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NSA officials ‘not always accurate’ in public statements over surveillance

From The Guardian UK:

Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, members of NSA oversight panel, question claims on scope and utility of programs

in Washington, Tuesday 2 July 2013

Two US senators on the panel overseeing the National Security Agency said intelligence officials were “unable” to demonstrate the value of a secret surveillance program that collected and analyzed the internet habits of Americans.

Senators Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) and Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado), the chief inquisitors of US intelligence officials during the current surveillance scandal, added a sharp warning late Tuesday that senior intelligence officials “are not always accurate” in their public statements about the scope and utility of their wide-ranging surveillance efforts.

Wyden and Udall were specifically reacting to a program, revealed last week by the Guardian, that gathered and analyzed bulk internet “metadata” records from Americans, such as the subject lines of their email communications and their internet protocol (IP) addresses, detailing where their devices accessed the internet. Senior intelligence officials told the Guardian that the program ended in 2011.

“We were very concerned about this program’s impact on Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights, and we spent a significant portion of 2011 pressing intelligence officials to provide evidence of its effectiveness,” Wyden and Udall said in a statement late Tuesday, the first senators to acknowledge the internet metadata collection. “They were unable to do so, and the program was shut down that year.”

Shawn Turner, the chief spokesman for director of national intelligence James Clapper, who is currently under congressional fire over the truthfulness of his testimony on the surveillance efforts, told the Guardian last week that the Obama administration unilaterally ended the program for “operational and resource reasons”.

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Glenn Greenwald on Fox and Friends: New NSA Bombshell Story Coming Soon and Talks Stolen Laptop

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Time for the Dirty – Greedy – Oil Industry to Pay for its Sins!

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“Extinction Crisis”: 21,000 of World’s Species at Risk of Disappearing

From Common Dreams:

Latest update to Red List of threatened species provides “further evidence of our impact on the world’s threatened biodiversity”

Lauren McCauley

An “extinction crisis” is at hand. Roughly 21,000 species, ranging from shrimp to pine trees, are at risk of complete extinction according to an update released Tuesday to an ongoing risk assessment of the world’s 1.82 million species.

According to the Red List of Threatened Species, 20,934 of the roughly 70,000 species assessed thus far are threatened with extinction. This year saw an additional 4,807 species to the list.

Calling the news “alarming,” Jane Smart, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is behind the list, said, “We must use this knowledge to its fullest – making our conservation efforts well targeted and efficient – if we are serious about stopping the extinction crisis that continues to threaten all life on Earth.”

This update “is further evidence of our impact on the world’s threatened biodiversity, further evidence that extinction is real, and that we must all act, and act now, if we are to prevent this most tragic reality for many more of the world’s species,” added Richard Edwards, Chief Executive of Wildscreen, a partner of IUCN.

Among this year’s addition are the results of the first-ever global assessment of freshwater shrimps—animals vital to freshwater ecosystems—of which 28% are threatened with extinction. According to the list, one such species, the Macrobrachium leptodactylus, was declared extinct after it fell “victim of habitat degradation and urban development.”

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Let’s Not Braise the Planet

From The New York Times:

July 1, 2013

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

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EPA sends revised greenhouse gas emissions rule for new power plants to the White House

From Daily Kos:

Meteor Blades
Mon Jul 01, 2013

Faced with more than two million public comments to review and continuing objections from industry, the Environmental Protection Agency missed its April deadline for completing its proposed rule restricting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions for yet-to-be-built power plants.

But Monday, less than a week after President Obama made his first-ever speech devoted entirely to climate change, the EPA passed along the rule. It will now be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies before it is returned to the EPA for tweaking. The deadline for that is Sept. 20.

The hold-up in April added nearly three months to what had already been years of delay since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the agency could curb carbon emissions as pollution under the Clean Air Act. In fact, the EPA is not merely authorized to regulate pollution under the act, it is required to do so.

The new-plant rule was first unveiled after long delays in March 2012. It immediately collided with strong objections from politicians and the coal industry. Its proposed limit of 1,000 pounds of greenhouse gases per megawatt hour of generated electricity would be no problem for new power plants fueled by natural gas, but coal plants using the newest commercially available technology would be hard-pressed to keep emissions below the limit. (Although it varies widely from region to region, the average U.S. home nationwide consumes about 11 megawatt-hours of electricity each year.)

Opposition to the proposed rule at the time was ferocious:

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