Georgia Lawmaker Wants to Make Treatment for Trans Youth a Felony

From Out Magazine:

Ginny Ehrhart justified her bill with mischaracterizations and a quote from a homophobic fringe group.

By Matt Baume
October 31 2019

If a Georgia state representative has her way, doctors who help minors with gender transitions could be charged with a felony.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart is currently drafting a bill that would criminalize treatments related to gender transition for youth, including surgery and puberty blockers. “We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia but can be castrated and get sterilized,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Specifically, Ehrhart’s proposed bill would ban “mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization [sic]” for the purpose of gender transition. Doctors could also be jailed for prescribing “puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy.”

Ehrhart’s characterization of treatments isn’t backed up by science. Puberty-blocking medication delays puberty, but doesn’t cause any permanent change. Gender-affirming surgery for minors is very rare and only occurs when doctors deem that it’s medically necessary.

A review of current research in the June 2019 edition of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology supports medical treatments for youth. 

“Several preliminary studies have shown benefits of gender-affirming surgery in adolescents, particularly regarding bilateral mastectomy in transgender adolescent males,” reports the study.

And a paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in April 2017 indicates that it may actually be beneficial to perform surgery before minors leave home.

“Younger patients who have the support of their families, support of their parents, and can have the operation while they are still at home, as opposed to being alone at school or at work, anecdotally tend to do much better than someone who is alone and doesn’t have appropriate support,” that study said.

“This legislation would criminalize decisions that are made carefully within families in consultation with medical professionals and mental health professionals,” Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBTQ+ rights organization Georgia Equality, told the Journal-Constitution. “Supporting children in recognizing their gender identity is not only

humane, it saves lives and strengthens families.”

Ginny Ehrhart’s husband, Earl Ehrhart, served in the same seat for the previous 30 years, and exhibited similar transphobia. In 2016, he tried to block the passage of civil rights legislation, objecting to terminology that he said would protect transgender citizens.

Ginny Ehrhart’s opponent in last year’s election was Democrat Jen Slipakoff, who is the parent of a transgender daughter.

When announcing her proposed bill, Ginny Ehrhart issued a press release that quoted Dr. Quentin Van Meter, president of an organization calling itself “The American College of Pediatricians,” not to be confused by the The American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports gender-affirming care.

Despite the similar names, The American College of Pediatricians is not a respected medical organization. It was founded to oppose adoption rights for same-sex parents, and is estimated to have just a few dozen members, compared with 64,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Decades of free-market orthodoxy have taken a toll on democracy

From The Guardian UK:

After 40 years of neoliberalism, the verdict is in – the fruits of growth went to the few at the top

Tue 5 Nov 2019

At the end of the cold war, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote a celebrated essay called The End of History? Communism’s collapse, he argued, would clear the last obstacle separating the entire world from its destiny of liberal democracy and market economies. Many people agreed.

Today, as we face a retreat from the rules-based, liberal global order, with autocratic rulers and demagogues leading countries that contain well over half the world’s population, Fukuyama’s idea seems quaint and naive. But it reinforced the neoliberal economic doctrine that has prevailed for the last 40 years.

The credibility of neoliberalism’s faith in unfettered markets as the surest road to shared prosperity is on life-support these days. And well it should be. The simultaneous waning of confidence in neoliberalism and in democracy is no coincidence or mere correlation. Neoliberalism has undermined democracy for 40 years.

The form of globalisation prescribed by neoliberalism left individuals and entire societies unable to control an important part of their own destiny, as Dani Rodrik of Harvard University has explained so clearly, and as I argue in my recent books Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited and People, Power, and Profits. The effects of capital-market liberalisation were particularly odious: if a leading presidential candidate in an emerging market lost favour with Wall Street, the banks would pull their money out of the country. Voters then faced a stark choice: give in to Wall Street or face a severe financial crisis. It was as if Wall Street had more political power than the country’s citizens.

Even in rich countries, ordinary citizens were told: “You can’t pursue the policies you want” – whether adequate social protection, decent wages, progressive taxation, or a well-regulated financial system – “because the country will lose competitiveness, jobs will disappear, and you will suffer”.

In rich and poor countries alike, elites promised that neoliberal policies would lead to faster economic growth and that the benefits would trickle down so that everyone, including the poorest, would be better off. To get there, though, workers would have to accept lower wages, and all citizens would have to accept cutbacks in important government programmes.

The elites claimed that their promises were based on scientific economic models and “evidence-based research”. Well, after 40 years, the numbers are in: growth has slowed and the fruits of that growth went overwhelmingly to a very few at the top. As wages stagnated and the stock market soared, income and wealth flowed up, rather than trickling down.

How can wage restraint – to attain or maintain competitiveness – and reduced government programmes possibly add up to higher standards of living? Ordinary citizens felt like they had been sold a bill of goods. They were right to feel conned.

We are now experiencing the political consequences of this grand deception: distrust of the elites, of the economic “science” on which neoliberalism was based and of the money-corrupted political system that made it all possible.

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Why Billionaires Don’t Really Like Capitalism

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Monday, November 11, 2019

Billionaires are wailing that Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s wealth tax proposals are attacks on free market capitalism.

Warren “vilifies successful people,” says Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Rubbish. There are basically only five ways to accumulate a billion dollars, and none of them has to do with being successful in free market capitalism.

The first way is to exploit a monopoly.

Jamie Dimon is worth $1.6 billion. That’s not because he succeeded in the free market. In 2008 the government bailed out JPMorgan and four other giant Wall Street banks because it considered them “too big to fail.”

That bailout is a hidden insurance policy, still in effect, with an estimated value to the big banks of $83 billion a year. If JPMorgan weren’t so big and was therefore allowed to fail, Dimon would be worth far less than $1.6 billion.

What about America’s much-vaulted entrepreneurs, such as Jeff Bezos, now worth $110 billion? You might say Bezos deserves this because he founded and built Amazon.

But Amazon is a monopolist with nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce retail sales in America, and e-commerce is one of the biggest sectors of retail sales. In addition, Amazon’s business is protected by a slew of patents granted by the U.S. government.

If the government enforced anti-monopoly laws, and didn’t give Amazon such broad patents,Bezos would be worth far less than $110 billion.

A second way to make a billion is to get insider information unavailable to other investors.

Hedge-fund maven Steven A. Cohen, worth $12.8 billion, headed up a hedge fund firm in which, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department, insider trading was “substantial, pervasive, and on a scale without known precedent in the hedge fund industry.” Nine of Cohen’s present or former employees pleaded guilty or were convicted. Cohen got off with a fine, changed the name of his firm, and apparently is back at the game.

Insider trading is endemic in C-suites, too. SEC researchers have found that corporate executives are twice as likely to sell their stock on the days following their own stock buyback announcements as they are in the days leading up to the  announcements.

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