I listened to the Supreme Court argue about my rights as a trans person. I have never felt more frustrated.

From Vox:  https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/10/10/20906610/supreme-court-transgender-discrimination

There was a lot of talk about bathrooms during cases about work discrimination.

Oct 10, 2019

At an early point in Tuesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments, I realized I had to pee. This was despite having just ducked into the ladies’ room to relieve myself before reporters were called into the press gallery. Maybe it was the large latte I drank on my walk to court. Maybe it was my anxiety, which was rolling through my gut as I prepared to listen to people argue over my civil rights as a trans person.

This, it turned out, was fitting. As soon as the first two of three cases over LGBTQ employment rights under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act got underway, it was clear to me that what was really on the justices’ minds was also what was on mine: my bathroom usage. The first hour of arguments were over two cases in which gay men had allegedly been fired for being gay, and though neither case had anything to do with gender identity, that didn’t stop even liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg from bringing up the most obsessed-over of all trans issues — bathrooms and who gets to use the ones labeled “women” and who gets to use the ones labeled “men,” an argument often led by conservatives.

The “big issue right now raging the country is bathroom usage. Same-sex bathroom usage,” Sotomayor said. According to the official transcript, the word bathroom was uttered nearly 20 times during arguments for a case that, again, had to do with work discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bathroom talk continued into the third case, which was at least about trans rights — but it was about the right to work free of discrimination as a trans person, not about where we pee.

While I get that Sotomayor knew bathrooms were bound to come up and perhaps wanted to beat everyone to the punch, this “raging” issue she described has long been dominated by conservative furor over “men in women’s bathrooms.” It was frustrating to hear cisgender justices argue about bathrooms and religious exemptions when what was at stake was my right to earn a living. The consequences of their decision could affect not just my livelihood but millions of people in the LGBTQ community.

The US trans community had been watching the trans rights case before SCOTUS, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, roll through the justice system for quite some time — and doing so with an imminent sense of dread. According to a 2015 National Center for Transgender Equality survey, 30 percent of all trans people have experienced discrimination in the workplace for being trans. Lack of employment opportunities has led to increased levels of poverty within the trans community and made access to gender-affirming health care more difficult. These numbers could get much better, or much worse, based on the justices’ decision.

On Monday, I spoke with Aimee Stephens, the trans woman at the center of the case who was fired from her job as a funeral director and embalmer almost immediately after coming out to her employer, and came away impressed with her cool optimism. But I’ve still been quite anxious about the outcome. Not this court, not with these five conservative justices, I thought. Trans people don’t ever get breaks in these situations.

Continue reading at:  https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/10/10/20906610/supreme-court-transgender-discrimination

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Rabbi, 77, arrested at Extinction Rebellion’s Bank of England protest

Republicans Only Pretend to Be Patriots

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/democrats-republicans.html

And Democrats need to expose them for what they are.

Sept. 23, 2019

Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners.

And Barack Obama faced constant, scurrilous accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers. Remember the “apology tour,” or the assertions that he had bowed to overseas leaders?

But now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance — we don’t know, for example, how much his policies have been shaped by the money foreign governments have been lavishing on his businesses. But even what we do know — his admitted solicitation of foreign help in digging up dirt on political rivals, his praise for brutal autocrats — would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had done it.

Yet almost all G.O.P. politicians seem perfectly fine with Trump’s behavior. Which means that it’s time to call Republican superpatriotism what it was long before Trump appeared on the scene: a fraud.

After all, a true patriot is willing to make some sacrifice, to give up some personal or policy goal, in the national interest. Can anyone point to any prominent figure in the modern Republican Party who has done that?

In fact, the periods in which Republicans worked hardest to wrap themselves in the flag and question Democrats’ loyalty were also periods in which the G.O.P. doubled down on its usual domestic agenda of making the rich richer. Even as George W. Bush’s administration was hyping the war on terrorism and leading America to war on false pretenses, the party was pushing for tax cuts: “Nothing,” declared Tom DeLay, the House Republican leader at the time, “is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.”

But if Republican superpatriotism has always been a fraud, why were so many Americans taken in? After all, polling suggests that except for a brief period after the extent of the Iraq debacle became clear, the public has consistently viewed the G.O.P. as stronger than Democrats on national security.

My guess, although I’d love to see some serious research from political scientists, is that for most of the past half-century the G.O.P.’s patriotic posturing dovetailed with its domestic political strategy, which centered on hostility to the Other.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/democrats-republicans.html

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How evangelical and right-wing media spread a false story about health care for trans youth

From Media Matters:  https://www.mediamatters.org/daily-wire/how-evangelical-and-right-wing-media-spread-false-story-about-health-care-trans-youth

Right-wing and evangelical websites, as well as their social networks, amplify misinformation and build outrage against the LGBTQ community

by Kayla Gogarty & Brianna January

Major right-wing and anti-LGBTQ outlets, in particular Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, posted content based on misconstrued data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to falsely suggest that drugs used to delay puberty are deadly for trans teens. The story — which began with debunked reporting from a U.K. tabloid — received high engagement on social media after right-wing and evangelical media apparatus boosted it.

The story was shared multiple times on Facebook by Daily Wire personalities like Shapiro, Michael Knowles, and Matt Walsh, as well as other popular conservative pages such as PragerU. The misinformation followed a familiar path of right-wing figures boosting lower-engagement content to higher-profile social media platforms so it reaches a larger audience.

Content pushing this anti-trans misinformation have accumulated at least 165,000 interactions in total, and anti-trans group The Kelsey Coalition is leveraging the same misconstrued data to fearmonger about gender-affirming medical care. In its September 27 report, NBC News noted that evangelical and right-wing outlets helped the story go viral, and the outlet debunked several of their claims.


Right-wing outlet Daily Mail published misleading information on puberty blockers that earned low Facebook engagement

On August 25, right-wing U.K. outlet the Daily Mail published an article that misleadingly claimed that England’s National Health Service (NHS) “is investigating issues around hormone-blocking drugs.” Also known as puberty blockers, hormone-blocking drugs “are medicines that prevent puberty from happening” to help transgender youths’ bodies “better reflect who [they] are.”

The article referenced comments Jackie Doyle-Price, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care, made to the U.K. House of Commons on July 23, which did not specify that the NHS was investigating any drug or raise alarm about puberty blockers. In fact, she said that “the treatments available on the NHS, particularly for children, are appropriate.”

The Daily Mail specifically pointed to Doyle-Price’s comments that she is “working with NHS England to do a proper review of the research around this service and the ethics of it to establish a proper framework for consent” for young people seeking assistance from NHS’ Gender Identity Development Service. An NHS spokesperson told NBC News that “no special review is being launched” into puberty blockers and “noted that all transgender health care services are regularly reviewed.”

The Daily Mail article earned less than 500 interactions on Facebook, according to Crowdtangle’s Google Chrome extension.

Conservative outlet National Catholic Register picked up the story and earned over 8,400 Facebook interactions

On September 18, conservative outlet National Catholic Register published an article that linked to a reprint of the Daily Mail article and repeated its false claim about an NHS investigation into puberty blockers. It also misleadingly claimed that “thousands of deaths” and “more than 41,000 adverse events” were associated with the drugs based on a misrepresentation of data from the FDA.

NBC News debunked that claim, noting that the “‘thousands’ of people who die while taking these drugs are likely the terminally ill cancer patients who receive hormone blockers to fight hormone-sensitive cancers, like prostate cancer, according to experts.” Joshua Safer, executive director of the Mt. Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, told NBC News that the conservative outlet was not relying on an individual study for its conclusions and was instead looking at “a big smorgasbord of reports and so the problem with that is you don’t even know that those deaths are connected to the agent they are reported to be connected to.” Safer noted that hormone-blocking drugs are also used to treat “infertility and certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer,” so any deaths connected to their use are “much more likely” to be associated with those conditions than the drugs themselves.

National Catholic Register also interviewed anti-trans endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw, who is a medical consultant for the Kelsey Coalition. The Kelsey Coalition is an anti-trans group for parents who advocate against accepting children’s gender identity. Laidlaw is one of the few public-facing members of the group and uses his position as a medical professional to give its arguments a veneer of credibility.

National Catholic Register’s article earned more interactions on Facebook than the Daily Mail’s, with around 8,400 interactions.

Continue reading at:  https://www.mediamatters.org/daily-wire/how-evangelical-and-right-wing-media-spread-false-story-about-health-care-trans-youth

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Transgender surgery linked with better long-term mental health, study shows

From ABC News:  https://abcnews.go.com/Health/transgender-surgery-linked-long-term-mental-health-study/story

By Dr. Danielle Weitzer
Oct 8, 2019

Surgery can be scary for anyone, but gender-affirming surgery for transgender people may provide better long-term mental health benefits, according to new research from the Yale School of Public Health.

Researchers looked at mood and anxiety disorder health care visits, antidepressant and anti-anxiety prescriptions and hospitalizations after a suicide attempt. These measures were assessed for 10 years before and after receiving gender-specific hormone and surgical treatment.

The study found that the likelihood of being treated for a mood or anxiety disorder was reduced by 8% for each year since the last gender-specific surgery.

“This study extends earlier evidence of associations between gender-affirming treatment and improved mental health,” Dr. Richard Bränström, senior author of the study and associate professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, told ABC News.

Compared with the general population, regardless of surgery or hormone treatment, transgender individuals are about six times as likely to have had a mood and anxiety disorder health care visit, more than three times as likely to have received prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and more than six times as likely to have been hospitalized after a suicide attempt, according to the study.

The study showed hormone treatment was not significantly related to any reductions in mental health treatment compared to surgery.

“The exact reason for this we don’t know, but the group diagnosed with a gender incongruence diagnosis receiving hormone treatment, but not surgery, is a very mixed group,” Bränström said. “The process of being diagnosed with a gender incongruence diagnosis and receiving gender-affirming treatment is a long process and it is likely that this process can be stressful.”

That finding puzzled Dr. Dana Rofey, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who added, “I am surprised by this and wonder if the right time points [with regards to the transition] were investigated.”

Rofey was not involved in the study.

Doctors say it may be important to first independently assess mental health problems affecting transgender individuals.

“We do not use gender-affirming treatments, either hormones or surgeries, to treat psychiatric disorders like clinical depression or anxiety,” said Dr. Hansel Arroyo, director of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery. “These mental health issues should be directly addressed by a mental health provider and can be independent of the presence of gender dysphoria.”

“We know that people who are clinically depressed will often have a bad surgical outcome including poor wound healing, longer hospital stays,” said Arroyo, who was not involved in the study. He suggested that physical healing may become impacted: “People will often have difficulty taking care of themselves post-surgery.”

Continue reading at:  https://abcnews.go.com/Health/transgender-surgery-linked-long-term-mental-health-study/story


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