Beilue: Bathroom bill is runaway fear at its worst

From Amarillo Globe News:

By Jon Mark Beilue
July 28, 2017

I’m not a liberal. I’m part of a growing group I’d call “embarrassed conservatives” — a large faction growing by the day who admired and voted for Ronald Reagan and wonders what in the world happened to sane, reasonable conservatism in the wake of the election of Donald Trump and what has drifted down further to the statehouse.

I give you Texas Senate Bill 3, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill,” that the Senate passed 21-10 after much debate and rancor on Tuesday. It is a bill that targets the small group of transgender people under the overhyped and exaggerated excuse of public safety.

The bill states that people will be required to use bathrooms and changing rooms at public and charter schools, and buildings overseen by local governments, based on the sex listed on their birth certificate or state-issued ID card. It would strike down parts of city laws that protect transgenders from using a public restroom based on gender identity.

In other words, that bearded fella who changed sex to a man 25 years ago may have to line up with the women. And that transgendered woman? Well, it’s going to be tricky, but she might have to navigate the urinal.

This bill is commandeered by — who else? — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans. They aren’t the late great Reagan Republicans, but an alt-right group that lives in perpetual fear that the boogeyman is coming after its citizens as they cling to one worst-case scenario after another.

Remember when Obama’s election was supposed to be the end of home ownership of guns and all the run it caused on buying ammo and handguns? Adults acting like tin-foil-hat fools. How did that work out? Do you still have them?

Now we have Senate Republicans, who usually preach limited government, throwing down the Big Government hammer in the face of all kinds of rational arguments that span the gamut from business leaders to school districts, from chambers of commerce to police chiefs.

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The Texas Hate Group Behind Dan Patrick’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Keeps Up Its Attacks on LGBT People

From Texas Freedom Network:

by Dan Quinn
July 25, 2017

Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick fellow lawmakers continue to claim that the Texas “bathroom bill” isn’t about attacking and discriminating against transgender people. But the hate group that has played a leading role in trying to pass this cruel, discriminatory bill has made the real agenda behind it very clear — attacking the very existence of transgender people and, more broadly, the LGBT community. Check out this week’s hate screed from Steve Hotze, the head of Conservative Republicans of Texas, headlined: “There Is No Such Thing as Transgender.”

“Men who claim to be women and want to be able to enter women’s and girls’ bathrooms, showers and locker rooms are participating in disgraceful, shameful conduct. They need to be told, ‘Stop it!’ These individuals should be ostracized.”

“When [the ‘bathroom bill’] passes, the Texas economy will prosper. There will be tens of thousands of families across America who will move to Texas because our state government has stood up for women’s and girls’ privacy, and not caved in to the homosexual political movement which is determined to create moral and sexual anarchy in our society.

The homosexual political movement, comprised of individuals who practice and promote deviant and perverted sexual activity, want to use the power of law to force you, churches, schools, business, and civil governments to accept, affirm and celebrate those who practice and promote homosexuality and other debauched sexual activities.”

“There is no such thing as a ‘transgender.’ There is no such thing as ‘trans-Species’ or ‘trans-Racial.’ ‘Transgender’ is a made-up term. The people that promote this type of thinking are promoting wickedness.”

“There are, though, perverted men and boys, who claim to be women. They live in a sexual fantasy world and they want right minded, God fearing people to believe their fantasy too. Just because a man thinks or feels that he is a woman, does not make him one, any more than if he thought that he was a dog, and barked and chased squirrels with the best of them, would make him a dog.”

Let’s be clear: the “bathroom bill” — which is set for a vote in the Texas Senate today — isn’t about protecting women and children. It’s about attacking transgender people and forcing them out of public society by barring them from something as simple and necessary as using public restrooms. And Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick have aligned themselves with a hate group to pass it.

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Trump’s Transgender Crisis

From UC Press:

by Jack Halberstam
July 27, 2017

At a time when the visibility and acceptance of transgender people has never been higher, when high school students openly discuss issues of gender variance and businesses boycott states without transgender bathroom policies, President Trump tweeted his intention to ban transgender people from the military. Perhaps, President Trump decided that he needed to make this bold move to win back conservative backers. No doubt even devout Trump supporters in the USA might be eyeing Trump’s health care policies with bewilderment right now and wondering why they are in bed with a one-percenter with strong ties to Russia and little interest in US businesses. For those supporters, Trump offered an olive branch yesterday—by proposing to ban transgender people from the military, he happily sacrificed a gender ambiguous lamb to the mercurial gods of conservative family values.

Trump’s pro-LGBT stance was only the latest campaign posture to find its way to the trash heap of broken promises. While fending off charges of collusion with Russia, treason, rigged elections, and incompetence, Trump has found an issue to rally his right wing fringe supporters while confusing and enraging his many detractors. In the wake of his announcement, many transgender people fired back on twitter to remind Trump and his cronies that they do not want to serve in the military anyway. Others, service members who have been honored in combat, emphasized their intention to stay right where they are, ban or no ban. America’s most famous transgender soldier, Chelsea Manning, accused Trump of cowardice and of creating a distraction with his announcement, but she also suggested that the US military had an inflated and bloated budget anyway, which should be redirected to health care. Hear, hear!

Trump’s tweeted policy change exemplifies how confused conservatives are about transgender issues. While running for office, Trump clearly stated his intentions to protect LGBT communities and to defend the rights of transgender people to use whatever bathroom they deem appropriate and, one assumes, to serve in the military. So, why this ban, why now? Is it related to the health care bill that President Trump has been trying unsuccessfully to put in place—a bill that will dispossess hundreds of thousands of people of their current health care policies? Is it part of an economic retrenchment, an attempt to cut away all unnecessary spending? Trump himself gave an economic rationale for his decision saying that the military spends millions on transgender surgeries. This is nonsense, as many journalists and researchers have pointed out—sex reassignment surgeries are a miniscule part of any military budget and in fact, as the BBC reports: “the US military spends almost $42m a year on the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra—several times the total estimated cost of transgender medical support.” By comparison, the Rand corporation estimates that expenses related to transgender soldiers fall between $5-8 million annually.

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‘First They Came For …’

From The New York Times:

July 27, 2017

It is no longer sufficient to brand Donald Trump as abnormal, a designation that is surely applicable but that falls significantly short in registering the magnitude of the menace.

The standard nomenclature of normal politics must be abandoned. What we are witnessing is nothing less than an assault on the fundamentals of the country itself: on our legacy institutions and our sense of protocol, decency and honesty.

In any other circumstance, we might likely write this off as the trite protestations of a man trapped in a toddler’s temperament, full of meltdowns, magical thinking and make believe. But this man’s vindictiveness and mendacity are undergirded by the unequaled power of the American president, and as such he has graduated on the scale of power from toddler to budding tyrant.

This threat Trump poses — to our morals, ethics, norms and collective sense of propriety — may be without equal from a domestic source.

Everything he is doing is an assault and matters on some level.

His desecration of the Boy Scouts’ national jamboree matters. Not only did he turn his appearance before the boys into a political rally in which they booed both former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he seemed to be appealing to their basest instincts.

What exactly did Trump mean when he regaled the boys with the story of the real-estate developer William Levitt, who, as Trump put it:

“Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did.”

As the boys start to make noise, Trump responds, “Should I tell you? Should I tell you?” and then proceeds to say:

“You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.”

Is this a version of Trump’s “locker room talk,” that phrase he used to excuse his genital-grabbing comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape? This may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme, but it matters. The fact that its shelf life felt like only a few hours before the next outrage underscores the degree to which our national consciousness is being barraged by the man’s violations.

But yes, it matters too, just as Trump’s obsession with Obama and Clinton matters.

Also, his public trolling of Attorney General Jeff Sessions matters. The fact that he’s enraged at Sessions for taking the appropriate ethical step and recusing himself from the Russia investigation matters. The fact that Trump essentially told The New York Times on the record that he would not have chosen Sessions if he’d known Sessions wouldn’t have stood firm in protection of him, matters.

Trump’s continuous attacks on the media matter.

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After Dyke March Scandal, SlutWalk Chicago Bans ‘Zionist Displays’ From Upcoming August Protest

From The Algemeiner:

by Ben Cohen
July 20, 2017

After the scandal involving the ejection of Jewish women carrying Star of David pride flags at Chicago’s Dyke March on June 28, a sister organization in the city has announced that it will follow suit by banning “Zionist displays” from its upcoming protest against sexual violence and “rape culture.”

The ban was announced this week on social media by the organizers of SlutWalk Chicago — part of an international protest movement that “fights rape culture, victim blaming, and slut shaming.” The Chicago event is set to take place on August 12.

“We still stand behind Dyke March Chicago’s decision to remove the Zionist contingent from their event, & we won’t allow Zionist displays at ours,” the organizers tweeted last Sunday — beginning several days of exchanges with other users over the policy. These were distinguished by the organizers’ continued insistence that anti-Zionism is a legitimate progressive belief, and that any linkage with antisemitism should be dismissed as a discrediting tactic.

In one exchange defending the Dyke March decision to exclude the Jewish women, the SlutWalk organizers aggressively justified the action, declaring: “They were kicked out after a discussion where they made their Zionist beliefs known and refused to back down.”

The Star of David flag was banned, they continued, “because its connections to the oppression enacted by Israel is too strong for it to be neutral & IN CONTEXT it was used as a Zionist symbol.”

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Trump’s Contempt for Transgender Heroes

From The New York Times:

July 26, 2017

Last year, there was a reunion of the crew of the U.S.S. Francis Scott Key. The submarine had been launched in 1966, and was part of the Navy’s nuclear fleet until its decommissioning in 1993.

Machinist Mate First Class Monica Helms was nervous about going to the reunion. She’d served on the Francis Scott Key as well as on another sub for eight years. But she’d come out as transgender since that time. It wasn’t clear how her shipmates would react.

She needn’t have worried. “It was an amazing experience,” she told me. “We were just shipmates, that’s all it was.” Thirty years later, there was still a sense of loyalty, not only to the country, but to the people with whom she had served.

“The fact that we were all doing the same work, experiencing the same stress, going through the same problems, that put you on the same level as them. They see that you are willing to do the job, and you can do it, and they are fine with that. They trust you.”

I spoke with Ms. Helms on Wednesday, about an hour after President Trump announced, in a series of tweets, that transgender people are not welcome in America’s military, reversing a movement toward open and unashamed service initiated during the Obama administration.

No, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for making it clear, once again, that you were lying during the campaign when you tweeted to L.G.B.T. people: “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

Transgender Americans have served and are serving courageously in our military. “I came from a long line of people who have served in this country,” said Ms. Helms. “To have someone say to me, I’m not worthy to be allowed to serve, simply because I’m different, is a horrible and bigoted way of looking at things.”

The statement isn’t just horrible and bigoted. It’s also inaccurate. Trans medical costs to the military are not “tremendous” — they are negligible.

A RAND study commissioned by the former defense secretary Ashton B. Carter found that transgender service members would “cost little and have no significant impact on unit readiness.” It estimated that paying for active-duty members to transition would cost $2.9 million to $4.2 million a year. The study also found that there are around 2,450 transgender active-duty service members (though other estimates go above 15,000). What will these people do now?

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Gay Republican withdraws name for DHS post over trans military ban

From Washington Blade:

by Michael K. Lavers
July 28, 2017

The gay former executive director of the Delaware Republican Party has withdrawn his name from consideration for a position at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military.

John Fluharty was in the running to become the agency’s assistant secretary of partnership and engagement.

Politico reported Fluharty interviewed for the position on Tuesday. The Washington Blade obtained an email from Fluharty in which he asked Luke Beckmann of the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw his name “from consideration.”

Fluharty sent the email to Luke Beckmann of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday at 11:06 a.m., roughly two hours after Trump announced the ban on twitter.

“As I mentioned during our conversation, I am a strong advocate for diversity, both in the Republican Party and in government,” wrote Fluharty. “The president’s announcement this morning — that he will ban all those who identify as transgender from military service — runs counter to my deeply held beliefs, and it would be impossible for me to commit to serving the administration knowing that I would be working against those values.”

Fluharty was executive director of the Delaware Republican Party from 2002-2015.

Fluharty came out as gay in 2013 during an exclusive interview with the Blade at a fundraiser for Equality Delaware, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, and their efforts to support the extension of marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state. The executive committee of the Sussex County Republican Committee later approved a non-binding resolution that called for his removal over his position on the issue.

Fluharty in a statement to the Blade also criticized the Justice Department for arguing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Trump’s Military Ban Will Leave More Trans Americans in Poverty

From Talk Poverty:

Mara Pellittieri
July 27, 2017

Yesterday morning, President Trump announced that he plans to reinstate the ban that prevents transgender Americans from serving in the military. It was a surprise for most of us—the Pentagon included—but the President managed to squeeze the announcement into his tweeting schedule between brags about the previous night’s rally and attacks on his own attorney general.

The reasons Trump cited to support his decision are pretty thin. He claimed that the military couldn’t possibly shoulder the medical costs, even though the military spends 50 times as much money on bands as it would on health care for trans servicemembers. He also noted that allowing transgender service members would be a “disruption,” which is a pretty weighty claim to make on behalf of a force of people who are trained to deal with actual explosions.

This announcement is, of course, a direct attack on the rights of trans Americans who are already serving in the military. It will force them back into the closet, make it impossible for them to get adequate health care, leave them vulnerable to assault, or rob them of their livelihoods. It’s also an attack on trans Americans who aren’t serving. It’s a clear statement about the value the government places on their skills, and on their lives.

American rhetoric tends to talk about servicemembers as if they’re all Captain America: Hyperpatriotic superheroes fighting evil for no reason besides their love of country. To be clear, servicemembers are often heroic, and they do a brutally difficult job. But at the end of the day, they’re doing just that: a job. And it’s a good job, with a livable wage that often provides housing and access to higher education. The catch—and it’s a big one—is that in exchange for that job, servicemembers have to be willing to trade the government their lives.

LGBT Americans have been making this trade with the government for generations. There isn’t much data on LGBT Americans in the military, at least in part because there isn’t much data on LGBT Americans at all. But many of us know there’s a home for us there, the same way we just know that Tegan and Sara’s new records will never be quite as good as “The Con.”

My high school best friend knew it. It wasn’t easy to be queer where we grew up—families tend to stick around our Rust Belt town for generations, and their old Catholic hearts are slow to change. Most folks meet social shifts with denial or quiet disapprovals, but his parents were the type of Christian who thought they could save us from ourselves. They tried to save him from his gayness every chance they got. First they tried sneaking up on him any time he left the house—including at least one incident that involved hiding in bushes—to manufacture public confrontations that were halfway between impromptu sermon and public exorcism. When they realized they couldn’t literally scare him straight, they cut him off financially. It was better to have no son than to have raised a queer.

He dropped out of college when his parents cut him off. He didn’t have the money he needed to get a degree, so he did what young Americans in need of a career have done for hundreds of years: He joined the military.

Trans Americans desperately need to have that option available to them. According to a report by the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress, half of transgender Americans earn less than $24,000 per year. One-third of black trans women earn less than $10,000 per year. Trans Americans are more likely to be rejected by their families, to be homeless, and to be forced into underground economies than the rest of the population. In some ways, that makes the military—a career that comes with a built-in family—a particularly good option for a lot of trans Americans. That option is something that trans Americans, as citizens of this country, are entitled to pursue. And it’s something that President Trump promised both LGBT Americans and veterans that he would support.

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Trans healthcare costs are actually a tiny proportion of the US military budget

From The Guardian UK:

Trump has argued the Pentagon cannot be ‘burdened’ with the ‘tremendous medical costs’ of covering trans military members – but a closer look at the numbers reveals a different reality

Wednesday 26 July 2017

On Wednesday, when Donald Trump tweeted that the US armed forces would not “allow or accept” transgender people into military service, he argued the Pentagon “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs” of covering transgender-related healthcare.

That’s been a common refrain for Republicans who oppose open service by transgender members of the military. In June, the congresswoman Vicki Hartzler of Missouri said that the cost of covering service members’ transition care was “over a billion dollars”.

But is the cost really “tremendous”?

A closer look at the cost of healthcare for transgender military members – these are treatments such as counseling and hormone replacement therapy – suggests it’s more like a drop in the ocean of cash that is the Pentagon’s annual budget.

According to a 2016 study by the Rand Corporation and commissioned by Barack Obama’s secretary of defense, transgender-related healthcare for active duty military would cost anywhere between $2.4m to $8.4m – not billions.

In fiscal year 2014, before the study was completed, the Pentagon spent $6.27bn on healthcare costs for all active-duty personnel. That same fiscal year, the Pentagon spend a huge $49.3bn on all healthcare costs – for members of the military, their family members, and retirees and their families.

These comparisons uses the high-end estimate of $8.4m, which is based on a scenario that members of the military are twice as likely to be transgender as members of the general public.

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Tony Perkins: FRC Worked With White House To Stop Transgender ‘Cultural Grenade’

From Right Wing Watch:

By Safiyah Riddle
July 28, 2017

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins appeared on “Breitbart News Daily” yesterday to boast of the his group’s far-reaching influence in the Trump administration, arguing that Trump’s recent announcement that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military was in part the result of FRC’s collaboration with the White House.

When Alex Marlow, the host of the program, asked Perkins if he saw President Trump’s Twitter declaration of the policy change—which took even many people in the Pentagon by surprise—coming, Perkins responded that he “was not surprised” because the FRC has been “working with the White House” in order to obstruct the “cultural grenade” of the Obama-era policy that paved the way for allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. While Perkins conceded that he “didn’t know what the exact action” was that the administration would take, he “knew they were going to do something.”

Perkins also credited FRC with Defense Secretary James Mattis’ decision earlier this month to delay the planned integration of openly transgender troops, saying that the organization had “been working with the White House and alerting them” about the transgender inclusion policy “and the implications of this, and so that’s when you saw the Secretary of Defense Mattis giving a six-month extension.”

“I was not surprised,” Perkins said, “I knew the president was dealing with this.”

Marlow praised the president and Perkins for the reversal on the transgender policy, stating that the president’s declaration “is a promise kept” to his supporters.

Perkins also described how his organization successfully “worked with the president and the White House to get the executive order out back in May” that undermined the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofits such as churches from making public political endorsements. He added that FRC is now working with the administration on the “second phase” of that plan, which will involve the Department of Justice developing guidelines for federal agencies to address the “loss of religious freedom” that has resulted from “this sexual anarchy.”

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