Can a Fired Transgender Worker Sue for Job Discrimination?

From The New York Times:

By Adam Liptak
Nov. 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — In 2013, a funeral director who had been known as Anthony Stephens wrote to colleagues at a Michigan funeral home, asking for patience and support.

“What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,” the letter said. “I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.”

“I will return to work as my true self, Aimee Australia Stephens, in appropriate business attire,” she wrote. “I hope we can continue my work at R. G. and G. R. Harris Funeral Homes doing what I always have, which is my best!”

Ms. Stephens had worked there for six years. Her colleagues testified that she was able and compassionate.

“He was a very good embalmer,” one said. “He was very, very thorough. Had obviously had a lot of practice prior to coming to the Harris Funeral Home. Families seemed very pleased with his work. He did a good job.”

Two weeks after receiving the letter, though, the home’s owner, Thomas Rost, fired Ms. Stephens. Asked for the “specific reason that you terminated Stephens,” Mr. Rost said: “Well, because he was no longer going to represent himself as a man. He wanted to dress as a woman.”

Mr. Rost also said he did not want to address Ms. Stephens as Aimee. “I’m uncomfortable with the name,” Mr. Rost said, “because he’s a man.”

The case went to court, and Ms. Stephens won in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. Discrimination against transgender people, the court ruled, was barred by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.

“It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” the court said. “Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”

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The Blue Wave Swept Many Of The GOP’s Anti-Gay Bigots Out To Sea

From Huffington Post:

Michelangelo Signorile

Dana Rohrabacher, the 15-term Republican incumbent washed away by Democratic challenger Harley Rouda when the blue wave came ashore in Southern California’s 48th Congressional District last week, isn’t your average homophobic extremist.

He is, in fact, an architect of the decades-long battle against LGBTQ rights and a politician, among many others, whose bigotry is partly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people from AIDS.

Rohrabacher was a lieutenant of President Ronald Reagan throughout his two terms as a speechwriter and special assistant, helping Reagan court the evangelical right, which Reagan has been credited with bringing into politics. Reagan, bowing to the zealots from whom he helped amass enormous power (power they still wield with President Donald Trump), was among the most anti-gay presidents in history, ignoring the AIDS epidemic until far too late.

Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress in 1988, at the end of the Reagan administration, representing a district in Orange County, a bastion of conservatism in the ’80s and beyond. He was among a trio of California right-wing Republican congressmen ― including Bob Dornan and William Dannemeyer ― who demonized people with AIDS in that era, voted against efforts to stem the epidemic and battle discrimination and pushed legislation that was discriminatory against LGBTQ people.

Rohrabacher also teamed up with the virulently anti-gay Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina in attacking government grants to queer artists. Rohrabacher railed against the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990 ― even as George H.W. Bush’s White House tried behind the scenes to get him to pull back ― for supporting artists who created “drawings of homosexual orgies, bestiality and a Statue of Liberty turned into a transvestite, complete with male sex organs.”

Over the years, Rohrabacher twice backed a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage, voted against preventing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment and voted against legislation extending hate crime coverage to LGBTQ people. In 2009 he said allowing people with HIV to enter the country, even on tourist visas, was “humanitarianism gone wild.” And this year, Rohrabacher, who became a national embarrassment as a Vladimir Putin apologist in the Trump era, caused a national uproar when he supported allowing homeowners to turn away gay buyers.

Now, after 30 years, this bigot has finally been booted.

And he’s not the only one.

here has been much discussion in the aftermath of last week’s midterms about the rainbow wave, a record number of LGBTQ candidates elected in races across the country ― over 150 at last count. But on the other side of the coin, many ardent homophobes and anti-gay candidates were taken down too.

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National populism is unstoppable – and the left still doesn’t understand it

From The Guardian UK:

It’s not about immigration, the financial crisis, globalisation or inequality, but evidence of a broader, older social fragmentation

Thu 8 Nov 2018

For a number of years Europe has been in the midst of a significant challenge from national populism, as a succession of recent elections have shown in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Sweden. Yet this is a movement that remains poorly understood. Parties on the radical left and Greens are also making gains in some countries, but they are having nothing like the electoral or policy impact of the far right. It has emerged in democracies that were always thought to be immune to this political force. When I first started working on the subject in the late 1990s, an unwritten law of sorts was that there were four democracies that would never succumb. They were Sweden and the Netherlands, because they were historically liberal, the UK because of its strong political institutions and civic culture, and Germany, because of the stigma left by the events of the second world war.

But fast forward only 20 years, and each of those countries has now experienced a major populist rebellion. Pim Fortuyn and then Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. The Sweden Democrats, who recently reached a new record share of the vote. Alternative for Germany, which has more than 90 seats in the Bundestag and seats in 15 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. And in the UK, Nigel Farage and the UK Independence party forced a referendum on Britain’s EU membership which voted for Brexit. Sometimes we forget how quickly radical change in politics can occur.

The left has always struggled to make sense of national populism which seeks to prioritise the culture and interests of the nation, and promises to give voice to a people who feel that they have been neglected, even held in contempt, by distant and sometimes corrupt or self-serving elites. And today’s thinkers, writers and groups on the left have subscribed to a number of theories, all of which are incorrect. They claim this volatility is simply a shortlived backlash against something – whether immigrants or “the system” – rather than a positive vote for what national populists are offering, not only more restrictive immigration policies but also a more responsive political system and more equal economic settlement.

Another misconception, building on Marx, is that the likes of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Matteo Salvini are driven by people’s concerns about economic scarcity, competition over wages or jobs, and, particularly today, by the effects of the post-2008 financial crisis and austerity. A third is the mistaken belief that all these awkward and troubling movements are essentially a reflection of lingering racism in society, and perhaps even latent public support for fascism. Others argue, again wrongly, that voters are being ruthlessly manipulated into voting for the populists by dark and shadowy right-wingers who control the media or big tech.

These ideas are not mutually exclusive, but they have dominated much of the left’s thinking about populism. Yet there isn’t much evidence to support any of them. Clearly, only a fool would argue that things like the financial crisis, social media and racism are not important. But they have been given a level of influence in the debate that is wholly disproportionate to their significance, and they distract from dealing with the actual grievances that are fueling the rise in populism.

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The ‘soy boy’ conspiracy theory: Why the alt-right believes soybeans are part of a vast left-wing plot against manhood

From Alternet:

It’s combined of misogyny and the warped world of nutritional pseudoscience.

By Alex Henderson
November 12, 2018

Nutritionists have had many debates about the health benefits of soy products; some are very pro-soy, others are critical of it. Their debates are scientific in nature, but on the alt-right, soy is being discussed in stridently political terms—and one of the leading alt-right conspiracy theories is the “soy boy” conspiracy, which claims that soy products are a vast left-wing conspiracy designed to emasculate men and turn their bodies estrogenic.

The alt-right has an abundance of vocabulary that one doesn’t find in more traditional conservatism. In 2018, the term “soy boy” is as common on the alt-right as “cuckservative” (right-wingers who aren’t right-wing enough) and “snowflake” (a hypersensitive liberal or progressive). “Soy boy” isn’t a term that one typically encounters in more traditional conservative outlets like the National Review and the Weekly Standard, but alt-right outlets—from Alex Jones’ Infowars to the misogynist Return of Kings website—have been a frequent source of anti-soy conspiracy theories.

Jones has long been promoting conspiracy theories involving government operatives and “The New World Order” using products to turn male bodies estrogenic. In 2013, Jones argued that juice boxes were feminizing male children, declaring, “After you’re done drinking your little juices, you’re ready to go out and have a baby. You’re ready to put makeup on. You’re ready to wear a short skirt….You’re ready to put lipstick on.”

Jones has asserted that left-wing male commentators are often “latte addicts” and “soy addicts” who lack masculinity—and earlier this year, Jones’ colleague, Paul Joseph Watson posted an eight-minute video describing the alleged attributes of a “soy boy.”

Watson asked, “What is it about soy that turns men into such spineless wimps? Soybeans contain high amounts of phytoestrogens: organic compounds that mimic the female hormone estrogen in the human body. This reduces testosterone and lowers male sperm count.”

Watson elaborated, “Men with high estrogen take on feminine traits. They find it harder to handle stress. They become less assertive. They become low-energy. Their voices get higher, their genitals shrink.”

According to Watson’s video, “environmental estrogens” are causing males to develop female-like breasts—and one of the most prominent “environmental estrogens” is soy. The use of soy baby formulas, Watson said, suggests that “rather than people with already preexisting left-wing beliefs being attracted to vegan-style tofu soy diets, we’re actually creating an army of soy boys from birth.”

Alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich is not only a leading proponent of the bizarre Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which in 2016, claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring in a Washington, DC pizzeria—he is also a strident critic of soy products, arguing that there is a correlation between liberal and progressive beliefs and use of soy products. And “soy boy” is one of his favorite insults.

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