Showing posts with label Transgender Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transgender Rights. Show all posts

October 25, 2019

A Transgender-themed Street Mural Has Provoked a Backlash in Baku(Azerbaijanis Got Heart Palpitations)

A mural in Baku which fell foul of the country's “national values and mentality,” 
2019. Photo by Turxan Qarishga / Hamam Times. Used with permission.
It was just a contemporary art festival.
From September 17 to 27, fans of art, film, and poetry were invited to take part in “Maiden Tower. To Be a Woman,” a festival organized by the European Union's Delegation to Azerbaijan and several diplomatic missions. The festival, named after a famous landmark in Baku, was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the liberation of Azerbaijani women. The initiative was launched and curated by the artist Sabina Shikhlinskaya, who founded a contemporary art forum of the same name in 2009.
One of the festival's events was an exhibition of murals and graffiti held at Kombinat, a derelict workshop in the Azerbaijani capital once used by the artists’ union during the Soviet period. The organizers hoped that the works would remain there after the festival.
But something quite different happened. One mural by Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt, depicting the body of a transgender person, drew so much attention that it was painted over once the festival ended — in a not so artistically friendly way.
In fact, it has provoked a backlash, a discussion about the public visibility of sexuality, and even a government response in defense of the country's “traditional mentality.” 
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In an interview with, a local government-affiliated news agency, Shikhlinskaya said she fought hard to preserve the mural, but was unsuccessful. “The wall where the artist painted her mural was facing a residential complex, residents of which complained to the police. After a series of complaints from people appalled by the drawing, it was decided to partially paint over Falkholt's work,” explained Shikhlinskaya, adding that, as this was a public artwork, one could not ignore the opinion of residents.
Falkholt's other works are as explicit as the one featured in Baku. The Swedish artist challenges conventional gender stereotypes and portrayals of the female body. In traditionally-minded Azerbaijan, where women's rights are still in their infancy, this did not go down well:

April 27, 2019

In About 9 Days Trump Plans to Roll Back Protections For Transgenders


The Trump administration is preparing to roll back protections for transgender patients while empowering health care workers to refuse care based on religious objections, according to three officials with knowledge of the pending regulations.

The long-expected rules have alarmed patient advocates and public health groups, which have warned the health department that the rules could harm vulnerable populations’ access to care. Meanwhile, the rules have been eagerly anticipated by religious-rights groups and conservative states that have lobbied for the changes.

The controversial rules — which the Trump administration has been scrutinizing for more than a year to prepare for expected legal challenges — have been closely guarded inside the administration, following several media reports on the efforts that sparked backlash and complicated officials’ strategy. Officials say the two health department rules are now expected within the next 10 days.

One rule would replace an Obama administration policy extending nondiscrimination protections to transgender patients, which have been blocked in court. A second rule would finalize broad protections for health workers who cite religious or moral objections to providing services such as abortion or contraception, a priority for Christian conservative groups allied with the administration.

The Obama administration issued transgender patient protections as part of a rule enforcing Obamacare’s Section 1557 provision banning discrimination in health care based on sex, but they were halted in 2016 by a Texas federal judge who found Congress didn’t intend to protect gender identity. The Justice Department this month told the judge it agreed with the ruling and signaled that the administration would soon issue a replacement rule.

HHS declined to comment on the forthcoming rules, citing ongoing litigation and the confidential rulemaking process. HHS officials have said the heightened conscience protections are necessary because religious discrimination in health care is significant and overlooked.

“HHS is committed to fully and vigorously enforcing all of the civil rights laws entrusted to us by Congress, to ensure that people are not subject to unlawful discrimination in HHS programs and in the provision of health and human services,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley.

Officials told POLITICO the forthcoming conscience regulations build on an administration proposal from last year, but they declined to offer more details. That proposal would give HHS “a lot more authority and power” to effectively remake and enforce existing conscience protections, said Katie Keith, a Georgetown University law professor who’s studied the regulations.

For instance, a medical school receiving federal funds could not deny admission to applicants who refuse to perform abortions; providers could not require staff to inform patients about services like sterilization procedures or advance directives rejecting end-of-life care, and doctors and nurses would gain further protections to refuse to provide services like vaccinations.

The forthcoming HHS nondiscrimination rules are the latest example of President Donald Trump violating a campaign pledge to protect the LGBTQ community, advocates for transgender people say. The administration’s ban on transgender troops took effect just weeks ago, and the health department reportedly tried to effectively eliminate the federal definition of “transgender.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality and other advocacy organizations believe the rules will make it easier for providers or insurers to refuse transition-related care based on religious beliefs. They also worry the rules could make it easier for providers to refuse routine care for patients based on their gender identity.

Transgender patients say they often face discrimination when seeking medication, check-ups or other routine procedures. The liberal-leaning Center for American Progress in 2018 obtained documents, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that the bulk of transgender patients’ complaints to HHS between 2012 and 2016 focused on discrimination when seeking general care, rather than being denied complex procedures like gender transitions.

The Obama-era anti-discrimination rule also sought to protect women who were seeking an abortion or had previously undergone one. Advocates expect the Trump administration’s rewrite will curtail those protections, based on what the Justice Department this month told the Texas judge overseeing the lawsuit against the rule.

Anticipating backlash over the provisions affecting transgender patients, the administration will emphasize that its overhaul of Obamacare’s anti-discrimination rules will reduce the industry’s regulatory burden and save billions of dollars in time and paperwork, officials said. For instance, they point out that insurers have sought to ease the rule’s requirement to publish most communications to patients in 15 languages.

The Trump administration also will argue that the new rules collectively strengthen religious liberty protections in health care, an administration priority that resulted in the creation of a conscience division within the HHS civil rights office last year.

That division, which is overseeing the upcoming rules, has quickly grown to at least 10 staff and contractors who include a mix of former Hill GOP staff and Christian conservatives. The Office for Civil Rights’ budget request last month sought a $1 million raise and six more staffers for the conscience division, even as it proposed cuts to other parts of the office that much more frequently respond to complaints.

Of the approximately 7,600 civil rights complaints HHS received in the fiscal year 2018, just 10 of those involved conscience rights protections that required a formal investigation, according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress. HHS said more than 700 conscience-related complaints from that year remain open.

February 8, 2019

For The First Time EVER Transgender Candidates Will Run For The National Parliament

A group of “Hijras” in Bangladesh. Image via Wikimedia Commons by USAID Bangladesh

For the first time in Bangladesh's history, transgender candidates who identify as women can vie for the 50 seats reserved for women in the upcoming elections in the Jatiya Sansad or National Parliament. The election schedule is due to be announced on 17 February, and so far, eight members of the transgender community have been confirmed as running on the Awami League party ballot, which is the first and only political party in the nation to allow this.
The Bangladesh National Parliament has 50 seats among a total 350 reserved exclusively for women, according to the article 65 of the national constitution. In Bangladesh, transgender people are categorized as “hijra” (a term referring to a member of the third sex) on their national identity card. However, there is no specific provision in the constitution that prevents members of the hijra community from running for the 50 reserved seats. According to Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed, any eligible woman, including hijras who identify as women, can qualify for the reserved seats.
For Falguni, one of the eight transgender candidates, running for office means representing the whole transgender community:
We are citizens of Bangladesh but we have no representation in the parliament. There is no one from our community who can understand and raise our concerns. That is why we are running for the seats.
Of the 16 million people in Bangladesh, an estimated 10,000 to half a million belong to the transgender community. Although there is legal acceptance of the transgender community by the Bangladeshi Government, transgender people have faced discrimination and a tremendous amount of disapproval, often falling victim to hate crimes and violence. In the past, employment was denied and many people tried earning money by begging or by singing during weddings and childbirth.
“When my parents came to know about my sexual orientation they beat me every now and then and forced me to give up my feminine qualities.”
“They said I was bringing shame to the family. Finally, I decided to leave my house and live with other transgender people,” said Pinky Shikder, chief of Badhan Hijra Sangha.
“My father used to tell me that I am abnormal. He used to say abnormal people do not need any treatment; he said it would be better if I died,” said Rupa (not her real name), one of the many survivors of child abuse, to a reporter of The Dhaka Tribune.

On November 11, 2013, the hijra community was officially recognized as a separate gender by the nation's government. This step was mainly taken as an aim to remove the socio-economic barriers to the community and to end their discrimination in education, health, and housing.
A year later, on November 11, 2014, thousands of Bangladeshi transgender people wearing colorful sarees marched the first ever Pride parade in the country to mark a year since their official recognition as a third gender. The streets of Dhaka were filled with colors and the sounds of joy as they carried a huge Bangladeshi flag and banners, one of which read: ‘The days of stigma, discrimination and fear are over’.
Celebrating ' Third gender (Hijra) Pride 2014' in Bangladesh. Image by Sk. Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (10/11/2014)
Celebrating ‘ Third gender (Hijra) Pride 2014′ in Bangladesh. Image by Sk. Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (10/11/2014)
Since then, the transgender community has been making strides towards carving out space for themselves in Bangladeshi society. On December 2014, the Ministry of Social Welfare invited the community to apply for government jobs.
On July 2015, after Labannya Hijra witnessed the murder of a secular blogger Washikur Rahman by Islamist radicals on the streets of Dhaka, and successfully helped in the arrest of the perpetrators, the Bangladesh Government announced plans to recruit and enlist hijras as traffic police officials.
On July 1, 2018, Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity became the first transgender official in Bangladesh's state-run human rights watchdog – the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
All these events have been widely rejoiced by not only Bangladeshis but by people around the world. Below Twitter users describe their support for the Bangladeshi transgender community:

January 22, 2019

Supreme Court Brings-back The Trump Ban on Transgender Soldiers


 The Supreme Court on Tuesday revived the Trump administration’s policy of barring most transgender people from serving in the military. In a brief, unsigned order, the justices temporarily stayed trial court decisions blocking the policy while litigation in the lower courts moves forward.

The vote was 5 to 4. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

The policy announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people from identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

Challenges to the policy have had mixed success in the lower courts. Trial judges around the nation issued injunctions blocking it, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is expected to rule soon on whether to affirm one of them. 

On Jan. 4, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a third injunction, that one issued by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a federal trial judge in Washington. The appeals court said its ruling was “not a final determination on the merits.” But it handed the administration at least a provisional victory.

The Supreme Court granted stays of two other injunctions, issued by Federal District Court judges in California and Washington State, both in the Ninth Circuit.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, representing the administration, had argued that the stays were needed to address a troubling phenomenon.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Mr. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” he wrote. “In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration, and domestic issues.”
The administration had also asked the justices to immediately hear appeals, an unusual request when an appeals court has not yet ruled. The court turned down those requests.

The Supreme Court’s rules say it will review a federal trial court’s ruling before an appeals court has spoken: “only upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this court.”

In a separate brief, Mr. Francisco wrote, “This case satisfies that standard.”

“It involves,” he wrote, “an issue of imperative public importance: the authority of the U.S. military to determine who may serve in the nation’s armed forces.”

He told the justices that prompt action was required to ensure that the Supreme Court could rule before its term ends in June. The alternative, he said, was to defer Supreme Court arguments in the matter to the term that starts in October, with a decision probably not coming until 2020.

But lawyers for current and prospective members of the military challenging the policy said there was no need to upend the status quo while the case proceeded.

“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” their brief said. “Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.”

“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality,” the brief said.

The hundreds of people grandfathered in under the new policy, the brief added, “cannot be squared with the government’s claims of urgency to eliminate all other transgender personnel.”

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