The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: transgender

At Hearing On Equality Bill, Republicans Spew Anti-LGTQ Bigotry

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held a historic hearing on the Equality Act, a bill that would legally “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.”

And while Democrats on the committee asked thoughtful questions of the witnesses — including two people who had been fired or denied medical care because of their sexual orientation or gender identity — Republicans instead built straw men arguments about why transgender individuals shouldn’t receive the same protections as everyone else.

There was GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert, the Texas crackpot who argued that allowing transgender women into women’s shelters with cisgender women (women who are not transgender) was a “war on women.”

“Women they seem to have more post-traumatic stress disorder on sexual assault, and yet we’re going to force them to have men in confined spaces in shelters where they’re seeking a refuge away from men inflicting violence on them?” Gohmert said, grossly misgendering transgender women. “And because we’re going to stand up here and say, ‘Well it’s just too bad we’re going to force men to be into your spaces and you’re going to have to like it I think is a war on women that should not be allowed.'”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who has gone to great lengths to protect Trump, suggested there are “bad actors” who would somehow pretend to be transgender to “exploit the provisions of this law for their own gain.”

“Consider this possibility, if President Trump were to say, ‘I am now the first female president.’ Who would celebrate that?” Gaetz said, eliciting boos from onlookers in the hearing room. “Would those who support the legislation think that was a good thing? Or would they be dismayed?”

Of course, this is a ridiculous straw man argument. Transgender individuals are discriminated against and subjected to violence at higher rates than cisgender individuals. And the thought that someone would pretend to be transgender to get rights that everyone else already had makes absolutely zero sense.

If you thought that was the worst of the comments from Republicans on the committee, well, you thought wrong.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) made possibly the most insane and offensive remark of the day.

He asked Jami Contreras — a lesbian whose infant daughter was refused medical care by a doctor because the doctor didn’t want to treat the child of a same-sex couple — whether a Jewish doctor should be forced to treat a Nazi.

Yes, Buck — who was just elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party — compared a child of lesbian mothers seeking medical treatment to a Nazi.

Contreras was clearly caught off guard by such a hateful question, comparing her gender identity to a Nazi, that she asked other experts on the panel to weigh in. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, a Jew himself, piped in to remind Buck that Nazis are not a “protected class.”

Of course, at the end of the day, this bill would simply provide the same equality protections to LGBTQ individuals and women that cisgender men have enjoyed for centuries. And Republicans reverted to such patently absurd and vile hypotheticals because there is no good reason not to codify those rights into law.

“No one is hurt when trans people live authentically,” the ACLU tweeted as Republicans spewed their vile bigotry. “Not in the restroom. Not in the locker room. Not on the court, field or track.”

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Trump Decrees On Twitter That Transgender People Are Now Banned From Military Service

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Wednesday morning that transgender people are banned from serving in the U.S. military.

According to a 2016 study by the Rand Corporation commissioned by the Department of Defense, there are about 11,000 transgender people in active duty and the reserves. Despite Trump’s claim that transgender people are a “burden” to the military, the Rand study found that allowing transgender people to serve openly “would have a minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.”

The study estimated about 30 to 140 hormone treatments per year in the military along with an estimated 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries for those in active service. The cost of these medical procedures, the study found, could range from $2.4 million to $8.4 million, which the study said would be “an exceedingly small proportion of total healthcare expenditures.”

Trump’s announcement has drawn criticism from a number of LGBT-rights and civil rights organizations, including the ACLU. A number of politicians have also come out against Trump’s ban. California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said in a statement that Trump’s exclusion of transgender people in the military is “based on naked bigotry,” not facts.

“I know because I served on active duty,” Lieu said. “The military doesn’t care what your sexual orientation or identity is, or who you love. It cares about whether you can shoot straight and complete the mission. The president’s discriminatory decision harms our military readiness for our volunteer-based military. Thousands of transgender Americans are already in the military. Why? Because they are qualified, patriotic and willing to die for their country. There is zero evidence a transgender sniper would be any less qualified than a gay sniper or a straight sniper. Today is a sad day for America.”

Trump’s announcement reverses a policy introduced during the Obama administration and approved by the Defense Department that would allow transgender people to openly serve in the military. Implementation of the policy, which was still under final review, was delayed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis last month. The delay, requested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would last six months with a review due by December showcasing how allowing transgender people to serve in the military “would affect the military’s lethality,” according to the Washington Post.

Mattis said in a memo about the decision that the six-month delay “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but that more time was needed to finalize a decision.

“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” Mattis stated in the memo. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military services.”

Trump’s announcement marks another blow against the transgender community. In February, the Trump administration reversed another Obama-era guideline instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Upon revoking the directive, Trump invoked states’ rights and said public schools should be able to establish their own decisions regarding the issue.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

White House to Public Schools: Let Students Use Whatever Bathroom They Want

Published with permission from Alternet.

The Obama administration issued a directive to all public schools Friday, instructing school officials to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, the AP reports. A copy of the letter, which was sent to every public school district in the country from the Department of Justice, was posted on the DOJ’s website.

The letter said that “a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity,” adding that the DOJ’s interpretation is “consistent with courts’ and other agencies’ interpretations of Federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.”

The directive comes less than five days after North Carolina governor Pat McCrory ignored a deadline imposed by the U.S. Justice Department to refuse to enforce HB2—the controversial “bathroom bill” that blocked city and local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections. McCroy sued the federal government, accusing the Justice Department of “baseless and blatant overreach.” The Justice Department responded by suing North Carolina for discrimination.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch—who gave an impassioned speech on transgender equality this week—said, “there is not room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex.”

Though it does not impose any new legal requirements, the guidance clarifies expectations for schools to comply with Title IX, which requires schools receiving federal funding to ensure that no person is subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex. The Obama administration is also releasing a 25-page document with specific suggestions on “ways schools can make transgender students comfortable in the classroom and protect the privacy rights of all students in restrooms or locker rooms.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffen heralded the administration’s directive. “This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools,” Griffin said in a statement.

In recent years, the Obama administration has thrown its support behind the LGBT community. Earlier this month, President Obama indicated plans to declare the Stonewall Inn—site of the legendary Stonewall Riots that kickstarted the modern gay rights movement—a national monument. Still, if history (and North Carolina) is any indication, we still have a long way to go in eliminating gender discrimination.

Elizabeth Preza is an AlterNet staff writer focusing on politics, media and cultural criticism. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama returns to the White House in Washington after a visit to Flint, Michigan, to address that city’s water crisis, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan 

Trump Supports Transgender Bathroom Access… For Now

In an appearance on The Today Show this morning — immediately after confirming to one audience member that her relatives would be deported should he take office — Donald Trump announced his support of the Charlotte, North Carolina law that would have protected the right of transgender people to use whichever bathroom fits their gender identity.

Shortly after Charlotte’s city council passed that measure, the North Carolina state legislature passed their own discrimination law — one that overrides all local laws on the issue and explicitly leaves out protections based on gender and sexuality.

When asked about the controversial state move, Trump failed to explain his own views on whether transgender people deserve legal protections, but argued instead that the economic costs North Carolina has faced for the discriminatory bill — dozens of corporations have made efforts to divest their business from the state in past weeks — were reason enough to “keep things the way they are,” presumably referring to the legal authority of Charlotte’s LGTB-friendly bill.

“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” he said.

The problem now in North Carolina, Trump said, was “the strife” the state’s law had caused. He also said, answering a question from GMA’s Matt Lauer, that he would be fine with transgender people using whichever bathroom they wanted to in his buildings.

This all sounds promising. But, like most stances in his political career, Trump’s views on LGBT rights seem largely dictated by circumstance and opportunism. This time, he was asked on a national morning show about a pointless and ineffective law, but his beliefs seem to change each time he’s asked about them.

In 2000, he said he was for amending the Civil Rights Act to include protections based on sexuality… in an interview with The Advocate, a LGBT-interest magazine. He was also consistently opposed to legal marriage equality… until the Supreme Court decided in its favor. Then, he said the court had made its decision and he would accept it… and then he said he would nominate justices who pledged to reverse the court’s ruling, a position he still holds.

He’s also been for and against Kim Davis, for and against so-called “religious liberty,” and for and against allowing transgender beauty queens to compete in his pageants.

This last case is especially interesting, as it highlights Trump’s manic focus on triangulating his own opinions.

When 23-year-old Jenna Talackova attempted to enter the Miss Universe Canada pageant — a branch of Trump’s Miss Universe franchise — she was initially barred from competing because she was not a “naturally born female,” as Trump’s rules dictated. Talackova had identified as female since age four.

Then, once Trump faced a massive public backlash (and a potential lawsuit) for his organization’s decision, he allowed Talackova to compete in the Canadian pageant in an agreement that acknowledged Canada’s national standards for “legal gender recognition requirements,” that contradicted his own organization’s rules.

Later, in an interview on Good Morning AmericaTrump said he regretted allowing Talackova to compete.

“I did not know that she had a lawyer and especially Gloria Allred,” Trump said. “In fact, had I known it was Gloria Allred, I probably would not have reversed my decision because, you know, Gloria is easy to beat.”

All of this to say, again: Don’t take Trump on his word. On anything.

Photo: The Today Show/ NBC.

‘I’m a Girl’

When Gabriel was nearly 3 years old, he told his mother, “I’m sad.”

“Why?” she asked.

“I want to wear beautiful clothes. I want to grow a baby in my body.”

Over and over, the mother heard this longing of her child’s heart. Every time, she tried to reassure. “You want beautiful clothes?” she said. “I can take care of that.”

As for the baby? “You can be a parent,” she said. “You can love your child as much as I love you.”

She knew her answers were not enough. A parent knows such things.

Soon, Gabriel started trying on some of his sister’s clothes. She is only 15 months older, so they fit well enough. Gabriel wore them only at home. When he did, he felt beautiful.

One day, while still in preschool, Gabriel asked his mother, “Can I wear a dress to school?”

She hesitated. Another boy at the preschool dressed in dresses. “The only thing everyone knows about that boy is that he’s the boy who wears a dress,” she told her husband.

They agreed that Gabriel should wait. “You can wear dresses at home,” they told their son, “but let’s not wear them to school yet.”

The parents talked to Gabriel’s teacher, who was thoughtful and kind. “I wonder if you’re sending conflicting messages,” she told them.

OK, they decided. If Gabriel asked again to wear a dress outside of home, they would talk about it.

Gabriel had a little brother by now. One morning, his mother said, “Let’s go to the park.” Gabriel paused and looked at her.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I was going to ask if I could keep this dress on, but I know the answer is ‘no.'”

That weekend, the family of five went shopping to buy Gabriel three little dresses. The parents focused on Gabriel’s happiness and tried not to dwell on their fears.

Is he going to be beat up?

Is she going to be killed someday?

She.

That came next, once Gabriel was ready to dress as a girl every day. Through kindergarten and first grade, her classmates still called her Gabriel, regardless of the outfit of the day. In December of second grade, Gabriel told her parents he was ready.

“I want to do a pronoun change,” Gabriel said. “And I want to change my name.”

Her mother let her teacher know over the holiday break. Her response: “Awesome.” There are benefits to living in a progressive community in California. Acceptance tops the list.

One of Gabriel’s cousins said, “I’m going to have trouble remembering to call you ‘her’ and ‘she.'”

Her reply: “Please try.”

Her aunts, who live on the East Coast, told her mother, “This would never fly at my kids’ schools.”

“Then we’re glad we live here,” she replied.

After the holiday break, 8-year-old Gabriel walked into school for the last time and signed up to speak during the special hour reserved that week for class discussion. Her close friend stood with her, holding her hand as she spoke.

“I know you’ve talked about whether I’m a boy or a girl,” she said. “I’m a girl. My name is Rebecca.”

One girl expressed concern. “Does that mean you’re going to use the girls’ bathroom? I’m not sure about that.”

“I’ll be in a stall,” Rebecca assured her. That was that.

Rebecca walked out of the school that day.

Her mother says Rebecca is happier. Calmer. “For the first time, she is comfortable in her skin,” she says. Rebecca has play dates and is invited to all the parties.

She’s 9 1/2 years old and a girl to everyone now, including strangers, and she no longer feels the need to wear dresses every day. “She doesn’t have to prove it so much anymore,” her mother says.

Her endocrinologist, a world-renowned expert for the transgender community, monitors Rebecca’s development and progress. Big decisions lie ahead. Her parents make clear that their love is unconditional, their support unequivocal.

“I am aware there will be hurdles,” her mother tells me. “I am aware that we live in a bubble right now.” The world, she says, can be a dangerous place for her Rebecca. For this reason, I am not using either of Rebecca’s real names.

If Rebecca were in North Carolina, the new anti-transgender law would force her to use the men’s room.

“It would be humiliating for her,” her mother says. “It could be dangerous, depending on who is in there.”

Even before she was wearing dresses, male strangers chased Rebecca out of men’s rooms because of her long hair, her pretty face.

Grown men yelling, “You don’t belong in here.”

“To my child,” the mother says. “They did this to my child.”

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Jenner’s Offer To Be ‘Trans Ambassador’ For Cruz Draws Some Fire

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Reality star Caitlyn Jenner’s offer to be a “trans ambassador” to U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz drew criticism on Friday from some members of the LGBT community, but major transgender rights organizations stayed out of the fray.

Jenner told gay and lesbian publication The Advocate in an interview posted this week that she admired Cruz despite the social conservative’s stance on transgender issues.

The 66-year-old Olympic gold medalist turned television personality called Cruz a “great constitutionalist” and said she would like to advise him on questions relating to her community.

“Yes, trans ambassador to the president of the United States, so we can say, ‘Ted, love what you’re doing but here’s what’s going on,'” Jenner, who last year became the most high-profile American to transition to a different gender, told The Advocate.

The muted reaction to Jenner’s support for Cruz appeared to show the high level of esteem she enjoys in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. But that did not stop some of its members speaking out.

“Doing my best to not send tweets to a woman I respect for her courage, but dang it, @Caitlyn_Jenner you’re killing me with Cruz support!” Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay, wrote in a post on Twitter.

Some in the LGBT community took a more pointed stand, citing Cruz’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his criticism of government efforts to allow students to use a bathroom that conforms to their gender identity.

In January, at a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz said “inflicting” transgender students on teachers by allowing them to use a faculty restroom in line with their gender identity was better than having them share a bathroom with other students, according to video from NBC News.

Zack Ford, the LGBT editor at ThinkProgress, a website affiliated with the left-leaning Center for American Progress, wrote in a post that Jenner’s support for Republicans like Cruz taints her “credibility.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said Jenner’s comments highlight the fact a significant share of transgender people are Republicans.

“One would hope that transgender people would support philosophies that are helpful and not harmful to trans people,” she said, adding that Jenner might have taken that into consideration before offering her support to Cruz.

A representative for the gay rights group GLAAD declined to comment and a spokeswoman for Cruz could not be reached.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Photo: Caitlyn Jenner arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

South Dakota Governor Considers Transgender Bathroom Bill

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – South Dakota would be the first U.S. state to dictate what bathrooms transgender students are allowed to use in public schools if Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard signs a bill into law.

The state Senate on Tuesday voted 20-15 to send a bill to Daugaard that requires transgender pupils to use restrooms and locker rooms in public schools that correspond to their gender at birth and not the gender that fits their current identity, legislative records showed.

“This bill is about protecting young children who are too innocent… to understand the complexity of life,” Republican Senator David Omdahl said before voting for the bill.

Staff in Daugaard’s office were not immediately available for comment. Daugaard has said that he will research the issue before deciding whether to sign the legislation, local media reported.

The bill also requires schools to provide “reasonable” accommodations for transgender students. Those accommodations include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room.

“South Dakota lawmakers are sending a message that it’s okay to segregate, humiliate, and bully transgender students,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in an online post on the organization’s website.

The passage of the bill comes two weeks after a U.S. appeals court heard arguments over whether a high school in Virginia should be ordered to allow a transgender student to use the boys’ bathroom, even though he was born a biological female.

In December, a suburban Chicago school district reached an accord with the U.S. government over locker room access for a transgender student after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found the district discriminated against the student.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Alan Crosby)

Photo: Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota listens to remarks during a “Growth and Jobs in America” discussion at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Theiler