You Don’t Have to Publish Both Sides When One Side Is Fascism

From The Nation:

Elite media still hasn’t figured out how to cover the Trump presidency.

The Trump administration and its Republican enablers are fighting a series of wars directed at targets inside the United States. A partial list would include immigrants, African Americans, Jews, poor people, middle-class people, people with student loan debts, the environment, voting rights, fair elections, blue-state taxpayers, the rule of law, honest elections, and all forms of accountability for Donald Trump, his family, and the criminals who helped him get elected. Because these are by and large unpopular causes, and it is the job of the press to let the public know what is going on, journalists are also a necessary, if ancillary, target. That explains Trump’s frequent use of the phrase “enemies of the people,” which had been the go-to charge of dictators and mass murderers, as well as his incessantly parroted mantra “fake news.”

Those running the country’s elite media institutions have no experience with a situation like this and still cannot figure out how to handle it. Historically, media machers have seen themselves as collaborators with government officials to ensure that things run smoothly for whoever is in power. They do this, in part, because they believe in the cause and, in part, to obtain access, quotes, and the public pretense of respect. When James Reston, who was then The New York Times’ most influential columnist, published an op-ed in 1979 titled “By Henry Kissinger With James Reston,” he did so not with shame but pride.

Reston was flacking for a man who directed a secret, unconstitutional war in Cambodia and Laos and illegally wiretapped journalists and the members of his own staff to determine who leaked the news to Reston’s paper. US government officials, especially but not exclusively Republicans, have been lying to the American people about matters of life and death for a long time. The mainstream media eventually righted itself under President Richard Nixon’s assault on our democratic institutions, but its ability to do so today under Trump, an even greater threat to American democracy, is considerably diminished. The reasons for this are complex. Some are economic, others technological. But during the present crisis, the biggest problem is that the leaders of the mainstream media cannot make up their minds about the fundamental question of the Trump presidency: “Which side are you on?”

The top editors of almost all of America’s mainstream media institutions have explicitly rejected the notion of a journalism of opposition. While The New York Times and The Washington Post, for instance, have tallied Trump’s untruths—separate from the articles in which they are repeated verbatim—neither has proved willing to reconsider its commitment to the mindless both-sides style of reporting in which Republican lies and incitements to fascist violence are given equal weight to Democratic attempts to tell the truth and defend democracy.

Thanks to Trump’s response to the protests against police brutality, however, the jig is up. Military leaders past and present and even a few Republicans have had enough. It is not OK for Trump to demand a military attack on our own citizens and then lie about having done so. And yet at this moment, New York Times opinion editors offered American journalism’s most prestigious real estate to Senator Tom Cotton to make the case for Trump’s proposed assault.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on You Don’t Have to Publish Both Sides When One Side Is Fascism

J. K. Rowling and her inaccuracies about trans youth

From Openly:

The “Harry Potter” author has misinterpreted studies about transgender young people, but any opportunity for dialogue is being lost amid understandable anger

by Scott Leibowitz | Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Sunday, 14 June 2020

As a physician who has worked with transgender youth for over a decade, one might imagine the content of my social media feed when one of the most famous authors in the world, J.K. Rowling, published her recent piece about gender identity.

With news of U.S. federal healthcare protections being rolled back for trans people only a few days later, it is not hard to imagine why there is so much anger and hurt from a group that has been stigmatized in so many areas of life.

Full disclosure: I have never read a Harry Potter book, nor have I seen the movies—a slight source of shame for me considering many of my patients are fans.  For me, Dumbledore sounds like the name of a city in a foreign country. So it feels odd to me that the first writings I have read from Rowling are her views on sex, gender, and trans youth.

I must also disclose: I am a cisgender white man. That is, not trans nor a woman in any sense.  So, part of me wonders: who am I to weigh in on the definition of a woman?  Who am I to weigh in on what constitutes transphobia?

However, as a child and adolescent psychiatrist working with trans youth, I have treated many of the people she referred to. I am also trained to view a situation through multiple lenses.

As I read Rowling’s piece, I felt it came more from a place of fear rather than intentional hate. Her open disclosure of past experiences of domestic and sexual violence demonstrated vulnerability. But that was overshadowed by the fact that she did not seem to appreciate the influence of her platform and the potential harmful impacts to the lives of young people I encounter every day.

Should this excuse Rowling from being insensitive to the way transgender people define themselves?  No. Do we have more insight about her underlying perspective? Yes.  Do I wish that people who aren’t doctors —especially celebrities with millions of followers—spoke to medical providers like me with thousands of hours of direct clinical experience with these families before interpreting research studies? Absolutely.

Often in this field, individuals hone in on research that confirms their original beliefs.  In her piece Rowling said, “60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria.”

But the longitudinal studies Rowling referenced have been widely misinterpreted and have significant methodological flaws. They included only pre-pubertal children, not teens – while Rowling conflated children and adolescents. They also included children who were not necessarily gender dysphoric in the first place. Some of the earlier studies looked at children who were feminine boys or masculine girls, many who never said they were, in fact, a different gender.

Someone of her status needs to understand the inaccuracy of this statement and the harm associated when someone like her makes absolute claims about controversial research. For a trans young person wanting acceptance from family members, a statement like this can give skeptical parents a reason to reject this aspect of them, thinking they will “grow out of it”, because a famous person said so.

Rowling mentioned that she might have been considered a trans man had she grown up in this time. However, clinicians such as myself spend a lot of time with patients and families, comprehensively understanding who they are, in order to ensure that appropriate clinical recommendations are made.

A similar point could be made for another study she cites, related to a survey of skeptical American parents. The study is thought to have been very overreaching in its conclusion that there is a new diagnostic entity entitled “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”. Typically new diagnostic categories are developed over years of replicated research, not from one online survey that did not even assess the experiences of the youths themselves.

Rowling mentions the change in the sex ratio of youth coming to gender clinics, with more females-at-birth attending clinics.  The implication that sexism is causing more young people to identify as male is based in fear that negates other possibilities for young people – such as the visibility of trans people giving meaning to an experience that previously could not be defined. Or perhaps we are living in a time with evolving sociocultural definitions of masculinity and femininity.  The focus on one element of a larger multifaceted conversation is similar to narrowing the complexity of “Harry Potter” into what I would call “Scary Fodder”. That is dangerous.

Continue reading at:

Black Trans Women Murdered in Philadelphia, Cincinnati

From Gay City News:

June 12, 2020

Two Black transgender women were murdered in back-to-back killings on June 8 and 9 in Philadelphia and a suburb of Cincinnati, adding to an ongoing rash of deadly violence disproportionately targeting Black trans women nationwide.

Riah Milton, 25, was murdered allegedly by teens seeking to rob her in the Cincinnati suburb of Liberty Township, Ohio, on June 9, while the severed body of Dominique Rem’mie Fells was discovered the previous day in the Schuylkill River in the Bartram Village section of Philadelphia.

According to WLWT5, a local news outlet in the Cincinnati area, Milton was shot early in the morning in the 6600 block of Spruce Creek Drive. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones announced on June 10 that two people had been arrested in connection with Milton’s death. The pair and a third unapprehended suspect allegedly lured Milton to a location where they sought to rob her, but wound up shooting her to death. No details regarding whether the alleged killers knew Milton or how the interaction that led to her death played out have been announced.

One suspect, 18-year-old Kaelb Marshall Tooson, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery. A 14-year-old girl, whose identity remains private, was also arrested and charged with complicity to aggravated battery, complicity to murder, and tampering with evidence, according to WLWT5. Cops are looking for a third suspect, Tyree Jeffrey Cross, for complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

As in many previous murder cases of transgender women, media outlets misgendered Milton, and her sister, Ariel, who is also transgender, said in a Twitter post that Sheriff Jones did the same thing.

“Seeing the news completely dead-name and misgender my sister was like seeing someone just wipe her existence clean away,” Ariel wrote before directing her attention to the sheriff, who, she said, refused to correct himself after he misgendered her late sister.

“Your ignorance is noted,” Ariel said. “I need you, for a second, to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine someone who you loved died in a tragic way and you find out that the very people who are supposed to ‘protect’ and ‘serve’ completely misgender them and call them an entirely different name, how would you feel?”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Black Trans Women Murdered in Philadelphia, Cincinnati

Flags and Statues

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Flags and Statues

Daniel Radcliffe Responds to J.K. Rowling’s Tweets on Gender Identity

From The Trevor Project:

By Daniel Radcliffe
June 8, 2020

I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in-fighting between J.K. Rowling and myself, but that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now. While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment.

Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.

I am still learning how to be a better ally, so if you want to join me in learning more about transgender and nonbinary identities check out The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth. It’s an introductory educational resource that covers a wide range of topics, including the differences between sex and gender, and shares best practices on how to support transgender and nonbinary people.

To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.

Love always,

Civil Rights Law Protects Gay and Transgender Workers, Supreme Court Rules

I really wish I wasn’t surprised when people in power actually do the right thing.  I sometimes think the line between those who are privileged and those who are not is one of social expectations.  Those who are privileged, expect those in power to act in such a way as to protect their lives and dignity, while those with lesser privilege dread the possibility of those in power acting in a manner which destroys those hard won rights and deprives them of their rights and dignity.

From The New York Times:

The court said the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

June 15, 2020

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.

The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.

The decision, covering two cases, was the court’s first on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions.

Those decisions were grounded in constitutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation.

Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law.

Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex.

The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work.

The cases concerning gay rights are Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623.

The first case was filed by Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from a government program that helped neglected and abused children in Clayton County, Ga., just south of Atlanta, after he joined a gay softball league.

The second was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who also said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had expressed concerns about being strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100 percent gay.”

Mr. Zarda died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case.

Most federal appeals courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. But two of them, in New York and Chicago, have ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is a form of sex discrimination.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Civil Rights Law Protects Gay and Transgender Workers, Supreme Court Rules

NCLR Applauds Historic Supreme Court Rulings Affirming LGBTQ Employees’ Right to Work Free of Discrimination

From The National Center for Lesbian Rights:

June 15, 2020

Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
415.365.1337 |

NCLR Applauds Historic Supreme Court Rulings Affirming LGBTQ Employees’ Right to Work Free of Discrimination

“For the first time, this historic decision ensures that LGBTQ people have nationwide employment protection and represents a monumental step that will help to create a safer working environment for everyone”

WASHINGTON, DCThe National Center for Lesbian Rights applauds today’s rulings by the Unite States Supreme Court that federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against LGBTQ workers. In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court ruled that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination because a person is gay or transgender. The historic rulings in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia reaffirm the opinion of a broad percentage of the American public that no one should be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“For the first time, this historic decision ensures that LGBTQ people have nationwide employment protection and represents a monumental step that will help to create a safer working environment for everyone,” said NCLR Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon. “During a global health crisis and a growing nationwide movement to focus on supporting and protecting Black Lives – particularly Black transgender lives – against systematic racism and violence, this historic ruling is both uplifting and encouraging. However, we know that our work is far from complete, and the fight for fullLGBTQ equality continues.”

“This is a huge victory not just for LGBTQ people, but for our country, which benefits enormously when LGBTQ people are permitted to participate and contribute on equal terms,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. “Today’s decision will be remembered as a watershed in the history of LGBTQ rights, even as our country continues to grapple with the brutal legacy of racism. The transgender movement owes a particular debt of gratitude to Aimee Stephens, who courageously fought this battle in the months of her life.”

While today’s ruling provides critical federal protections for LGBTQ people, most states still permit discrimination in public accommodations – including stores, restaurants, and hotels – based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additionally, the Trump Administration continues to target LGBTQ people in federally-funded programs that provide basic necessities such as healthcare, housing, and education. To achieve full equality for LGBTQ people, the National Center for Lesbian Rights urges Congress to pass the comprehensive Equality Act to ensure all LGBTQ Americans are protected from discrimination in every aspect of their lives.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on NCLR Applauds Historic Supreme Court Rulings Affirming LGBTQ Employees’ Right to Work Free of Discrimination