Doctors Using a Transgender Patient’s Correct Pronouns Is a Life-or-Death Matter

From Teen Vogue:

This is why transgender people deserve better from the people who treat them.

September 27, 2019

In this op-ed, Sam Dylan Finch recounts his experience of being misgendered by doctors after attempting suicide, showing why it’s critical that doctors do better for transgender patients.

It was seven words, haphazardly scrawled on a piece of paper, that landed me in the emergency room: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.”

Social workers, nurses, doctors would all ask me what I meant by “this,” but how does one explain the feeling you get when you look in the mirror and start searching for the zipper along your spine, fully convinced you must step outside of your body? As if I could explain how I was sure that zipper should be there each and every time someone uttered the words “she” or “woman” to describe me. As if I could capture the obsessive thoughts, the conspiracy theories that I tried to ward off by knocking on wood 30 times, hoping to quell the panic overtaking me.

The note was found by a roommate who wasn’t supposed to be home that day. This is tidily summarized in the paperwork created when I was involuntarily committed. “REASON: Suicidal ideation. Gender Dysphoria.”

After they found the note, I was taken by ambulance to a psych ward in a town I’d never heard of. “That’s one of the nice ones,” the ambulance worker told me. “They’ll take care of you.”

They didn’t.

The first morning in the ward, I was woken up by a nurse standing over me with a small cup of pills. She didn’t tell me what they were, and I didn’t ask. Instead, I stared at the bandage wrapped around the crook of my elbow.

“Did someone draw my blood while I was asleep?” I asked.

She shrugged. “My shift just started,” she said. “I don’t know.”

The nurse shifts rotated every 12 hours or so, which means as soon as the staff learned my pronouns and managed to use them, an entirely new team would clock in, and the process would begin all over again. I told everyone who would listen that I was transgender, that my pronouns were he/him — not because I enjoy disclosing this, but because I cannot stand the thought of being misgendered in a place I can’t leave.

“It’s important for my sanity,” I told them. “Please.”

This was not an exaggeration. In a study looking at transgender people in Canada who had contemplated suicide, a gender-affirming environment — in which people abide by a transgender person’s pronouns and chosen name — was shown to reduce suicidal ideation by a staggering 66%, and among those with ideation, the rate at which they attempted dropped 76%.

For trans people receiving psychiatric care, then, transphobia is literally a matter of life or death.

Still, my request for a basic dignity was met with mixed reactions: sympathetic nods, raised eyebrows, but for most, it was like the words disintegrated the moment they came out of my mouth, swatted away like fruit flies.

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How a Texas Custody Case Became a Terrifying Right-Wing Talking Point

From Rolling Stone:

For the far-right, a Texas custody battle over a seven-year-old child has become the battleground for its fight against transgender rights. But according to experts, that’s only hurting trans kids more

By  EJ Dickson
October 28, 2019

If there’s one thing the right loves, it’s to wring their hands and concern-troll over the welfare of transgender children. It’s not uncommon for right-wing pundits and politicians to accuse parents of using their children as pawns and ignoring their children’s welfare in service of their so-called left-wing agenda — and in so doing, ignore the very real, very urgent health crisis facing transgender youth today. A recent court case in Texas has generated rabid backlash from right-wing pundits and politicians alike, and is serving as a lightning rod in the right’s larger effort to erode transgender rights — while simultaneously putting actual transgender children at tremendous risk.

Last Thursday, a Dallas judge ruled that Anne Georgulas and her ex-husband Jeffrey Younger, who have been embroiled in a years-long custody battle, should have joint custody over their 7-year-old transgender child, who self-identifies as female. (Rolling Stone has chosen not to name the child to protect her privacy.)

Georgulas and Younger have been publicly vying for custody for two years, with Younger alleging that Georgulas, a pediatrician, “manipulated” their child into believing that the child self-identified as a girl, and that the mother pushed for the child to undergo medical transition at a young age. Georgulas’ defense has countered that this is untrue, and that she was not requesting sole custody of the child nor to medically transition her, but for Younger to use the child’s correct pronouns and otherwise affirm her gender identity. Judge Kim Cooks ruled that both parents will have equal say in their child’s medical care, and that they will attend mandatory counseling with their children. (The child at the center of the custody dispute has a male twin.)

Judge Cooks’ ruling is notable because it came just a few days after a jury previously ruled 11-1 in favor of Georgulas, granting her sole custody. The jury’s ruling had struck a nerve among conservatives, many of whom have spent months rallying in support of Younger. Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that the jury’s decision in favor of Georgulas was “horrifying and tragic,” adding, “For a parent to subject such a young child to life-altering hormone blockers to medically transition their sex is nothing less than child abuse.” Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in, tweeting: “This is child abuse. People need to start to stand up against this bullshit. Enough is enough.”

Texas legislators also responded with outrage. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that the Texas Attorney General’s office and the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services would be launching an investigation into the case, including probing claims of “possible child abuse” against the child. In a letter sent last week to the Department of Family and Protective Services, First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer inaccurately accused Georgulas of proposing “chemically and surgically altering [the child’s] biological sex based on her belief that he may identify as a girl,” which would lead to “permanent and potentially irreversible harm.” (As Jezebel notes, Mateer has a history of using transphobic language, including describing transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan” in 2017.)

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Hasidic rabbi who can’t ‘pray the girl away’ transitions to female activist

Full Disclosure:  I’m Facebook Friends with Abby and this is a shameless plug of her book. I think she is really very cool and a good spokeswoman, breaking down doors.

From The Times of Israel:

Abby Stein was a mischievous yeshiva boy who had an arranged marriage – and son – in her enclave in Brooklyn. Her newly published book, ‘Becoming Eve,’ details her unusual journey

By Cathryn J. Prince
13 November 2019

NEW YORK — Each night, five-year-old Abby Stein lay in bed and prayed: “Holy creator, I am going to sleep now, and I look like a boy. I am begging you, when I wake up in the morning I want to be a girl. I know that you can do anything, and nothing is too hard for you, so please, I am a girl, why can’t I look like a beautiful little girl?”

Stein, now 27, writes about reciting that prayer in her just published memoir “Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman.” The book gives readers a frank look at what it was like to come of age misgendered in one of the world’s most gender-segregated societies. More so, it’s about Stein becoming the woman she is and about her finally being able to embrace Judaism on her terms.

Born and raised in the Hasidic community of Williamsburg, New York, Stein is a direct descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism. Her parents hoped their sixth child would become a great and learned rabbi. They also thought their sixth child was a boy. But Stein knew otherwise.

She writes about how at age three she sobbed through the ritual haircut that established her payos (side locks), how after she turned six she could no longer play with or speak to girls with whom she longed to play with dolls and trade pink Hello Kitty stationary — in Yiddish, of course.

As she grew she turned ever more inward, looking for solace and answers in her faith — both of which proved elusive. One particularly affecting passage of “Becoming Eve” describes how at 18 Stein met the woman she was to marry and how that, as much as she respected Fraidy, she knew she “also wanted to be her. Not her, exactly, but I wanted to be the woman — I wanted to be the wife.”

Stein’s memoir describes the crushing depression that came with trying to suppress her true self, and how she hoped that perhaps after marriage her “feelings would magically go away… I guess it was my own version of ‘praying the gay away,’ although it was more like ‘praying the girl away.’”

And while much of the book occurs before Stein started the process of transitioning. Stein was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi in 2011 and readers learn that Stein divorced her wife, with whom she shares a son, in 2013. With the help of the Footsteps organization she left the Hasidic community.

Today, she is a vocal activist on behalf of the LGBTQ community, a sought-after speaker at universities, synagogues and community centers, and was named by Jewish Week as one of the “36 under 36” Jews who are affecting change in the world.

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Suicide rates fall after gay marriage legalised in Sweden and Denmark

Life is hard when you are either an outcast or outlaw.  In the 1970s after I had SRS I lived in Los Angeles.  At first I was friends with a lot of sister, but I saw how they were very self destructive and kamikaze in their way of life  (Lots of hard drug abuse and high risk behavior.0

I really didn’t fit in.  I’m a bookworm and have derived great pleasure from taking classes and studying new things.  I assimilated into the feminist and lesbian feminist scene.

My family disowned me and I drank to ease the pain, the loneliness was a killer.

When I got together with Tina, nearly 20 years ago it saved my life and helped me get sober.  Stable relationships are good for people.  Having family is good for people.

Tina and I had a commitment ceremony with a bunch of other folks outside of Big Red (The famous beautiful old Dallas Court House) in 2011.

We were officially married after Marriage Equality was legalized in 2015.  My father had died.  I reconnected with my brother and other family members.

This year I started the process of conversion to Reform Judaism.

All these things are about having social connections and support for dealing with both good times and bad.

People with these connections and support tend to live longer and have better emotional health than people lacking in these connections.

From The Guardian UK:

Rate among those in same-sex unions falls by 46%, but still ‘worryingly high’, say researchers

Thu 14 Nov 2019

Suicide rates among those in same-sex relationships have fallen significantly in both Denmark and Sweden since the legalisation of gay marriage, according to a study, although whatever their marital status, homosexual people remain more likely to take their own life.

The joint study by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and researchers from Stockholm University compared suicide rates for people in same-sex and heterosexual relationships in the periods 1989-2002 and 2003-16.

Denmark became the first country in the world to allow same-sex civil partnerships in 1989, with neighbouring Sweden following six years later. Same-sex marriage, now authorised in 28 countries, became legal in Sweden in 2009 and Denmark in 2012.

The researchers found that between the two periods, the number of suicides among people in same-sex unions fell by 46%, compared to a decline of about 28% in the number of suicides by people in heterosexual relationships.

“Although suicide rates in the general populations of Denmark and Sweden have been decreasing in recent decades, the rate for those living in same-sex marriage declined at a steeper pace, which has not been noted previously,” the study, which followed 28,000 people in same-sex partnerships for an average of 11 years, concludes.

Annette Erlangsen, the lead author, suggested that along with other gay rights legislation, same-sex marriage may have reduced feelings of social stigmatisation among some homosexual people. “Being married is protective against suicide,” she told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But she noted that the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, still showed that more than twice as many people in same-sex marriages and unions killed themselves than those in opposite-sex marriages.

“Of course, it is positive to see that the suicide rate has almost halved. But it remains worryingly high, especially considering that the suicide rate may be higher among non-married people,” she told the Danish newspaper Information.

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