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

January 28, 2020

South Dakota On Its Way To Be The 1st State to Jail Doctors that Treat A Transgender Child

By Neda Toloui-Semnani
South Dakota could soon become the first state to jail doctors for treating transgender minors.
Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, a chiropractor turned lawmaker, is the main sponsor of House Bill 1057, which would make it a misdemeanor for doctors to “change or affirm the minor’s perception of the minor’s sex” by treating patients with puberty blockers, hormones, or surgical procedures. Any interventions by a medical professional would be punishable with a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail.  This measure, to begin debates in the state House Monday, would not apply to a young person “with a medically-verifiable genetic disorder.” It’s specifically written for doctors treating transgender youth.
“The procedures listed in the bill are not health care but criminal acts against vulnerable children,” said Deutsch, during opening remarks of a committee hearing last week. The bill was voted out of committee, 8-5, and in a state where Republicans have a supermajority, it is expected to pass both chambers and land on Gov. Kirsti Noem's desk for her signature. But at a press conference Friday, the Republican governor said she has some concerns about the bill and will be watching the debates
A study published three years ago found that people with gender dysphoria between the ages of 13 and 17 account for 0.7 percent of the transgender population in the U.S., and more recent studies suggest there's a rise in gender dysphoria among youth, though this might be because it’s an under-researched demographic.
South Dakota is a testing ground for anti-transgender legislation. In 2016, its bathroom bill — also sponsored by Deutsch — was the first in the nation to gain traction, but it was vetoed by Noem’s GOP predecessor, Dennis Daugaard.
Like the bathroom bill, this is the first of its kind to start to move the legislative process, though at least five other states including Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado have introduced similar measures, and other states like Georgia have had bills drafted for months.  
As written, all the bills would do the same thing: penalize the medical professionals who treat minors with puberty blockers and hormones — the standard of care recommended by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and the Endocrine Society. 
In Missouri, eight bills have been introduced since the start of the year that focuses on how transgender youth are treated in schools and in adoptive and healthcare services. One would make it felony child abuse for a parent to treat their child for gender dysphoria. 
Deutsch says he’s been working on the South Dakota version of the Vulnerable Child Protection Act for months. He credits Kelsey Coalition, a national organization that compares the recommended treatment for gender dysphoria with full-frontal lobotomies and forced sterilization, with helping him draft the measure, but he says it's a “home-grown” effort. 
“I don’t think that’s true at all,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “Most of the witnesses for the law were from out of state and testified over Skype.” Meanwhile, all the witnesses testifying against the bill were from the state. 

‘Conservative solutions’

In early October, the Heritage Foundation and the Family Policy Alliance held the half-day Summit on Protecting the Sexualization of Children. Its goal: to bring together “policy experts and practitioners [to] help us work together to advance conservative solutions to protect children from sexualization in culture, education, and healthcare.”   
In a newsletter about the activities of the South Dakota Legislature, Deutsch is reported to have been at the summit. He said that “an idea or solution discussed at the meeting that could benefit South Dakota was to establish legislation to criminalize doctors that provide sex-change operations in children. [emphasis mine]”
Stephanie Curry, a policy manager for Family Policy Alliance, said the event aimed to equip parents and educate them on how their children are “exposed to sexual ideology in school, medical healthcare, mental healthcare.”
Curry said there will be more legislation coming to places like California and Washington State. “As long as a child is a child, their parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit,” she said. 
When pressed about parents wanting to make sure their transgender children were treated by doctors, she backtracked. “This legislation isn’t about parental rights at all,” she said. “It’s about helping and protecting kids.” 
Deutsch’s bill, the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, was introduced in January with language similar to bills drafted in Georgia in November and another introduced in Florida this month. The bills would do the same thing: criminalize the medical professional who treats children with gender dysphoria.
Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a principal sponsor of Florida’s House bill, said he wasn’t able to go to the Heritage Foundation and FPA summit. He also said that the language of his bill was taken from the Florida Senate version and that he’s not married to it.  “My only motivation,” he said, “is to protect children.” 
A study published in the journal Pediatrics on Thursday shows that transgender children who receive medical interventions like hormones and puberty blockers are less likely to have suicidal ideation over their lifetime. 
Dr. Madeline Deutsch, MD, MPH, the director of transgender care at the University of San Francisco and not related to the South Dakota representative, says if young people can’t get treated by doctors, they might turn to unregulated hormones bought on the street or online.
“These laws will harm children,” she said. “These laws will not only be harmful, because of denying children access to treatment, but laws like this will discourage many providers from providing treatment anywhere and could result in people who are treating adults to think twice.”
Cover: Young doctor giving medical consultation - stock photo, Getty Images

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.” 
Image may contain: table

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:

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