The last of the anti-transgender bills died Tuesday at midnight when HB 29 failed to get the third reading in the House of Representatives.
The final bill to fail, a priority of Gov Greg Abbott would have codified and further toxified Texas scholastic rules. These rules were punitively emplaced by Dan Patrick after the entire state banded together to kill his bathroom bill in 2017, hence the moniker bathroom bill 2.0.
Rachel, wife of Frank and mother bear to her wunderkind daughter Libby, told us this on the morning after:
“This has been the most difficult session for the trans community in Texas. While I am still heartbroken that legislators across the state continue to use our children as political pawns and invite the public to debate the legitimacy of our children’s existence, the relief we are feeling today is immense.”
“Our children know they are loved and that their community along with members of the Texas House will fight for their right to a life free from government-endorsed discrimination,” said Rachel in a statement this morning to planet Transgender.”
It wasn’t just the Democrats who reigned victorious at midnight! It was a combined bipartisan effort of both houses when Republican members rebelled against Abbott’s draconian measures in other areas. Two issues rubbed the Republicans the wrong way, his Trumptonian attempt to censor anyone with opposing views and his overruling local control when the Pandemic started, affecting thousands in the spring.
People were apprehensive when Rep Dutton, a Democrat from Houston, motioned to postpone the third reading for SB29 until 11:30 pm. But not to worry. That gave all of the other bills, from both sides of the aisle a fair chance for a hearing.
Did Gov. Abbott know that we stopped listening to him months ago? He should have since over 70% of Texas Republicans agree that trans Texans’ lives actually matter.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youth and their families as well as two doctors challenging an Arkansas law that prohibits health care professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care. The bill also bars any state funds or insurance coverage for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse coverage for gender-affirming care for people of any age. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that House Bill 1570 violates the U.S. Constitution.
The ACLU says today’s lawsuit is the first of many legal challenges in response to a record-setting year of legislative attacks on transgender people, particularly transgender youth, across the country. Trans youth should not have to fight so hard to live.
The parents in our lawsuit are considering leaving the state to ensure their family has access to gender-affirming care.
The doctors in our lawsuit will no longer be able to provide life-saving care their patients rely upon.
“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect. No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves — but this law would do both. We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their families.”
The plaintiff families include Dylan Brandt and his mother, Joanna Brandt; Brooke Dennis and her parents, Amanda and Shayne Dennis; Sabrina Jennen and her parents, Lacey and Aaron Jennen; and Parker Saxton and his father, Donnie Saxton.
Dr. Michelle Hutchison and Dr. Kathryn Stambough are also challenging the law on behalf of themselves and their patients because it impairs their ability to treat their transgender patients with medically necessary health care or even refer them to other providers for treatment. Every major medical association supports treating transgender youth with gender-affirming medical care and opposed House Bill 1570 because it runs counter to science and medicine and will cause severe harm to transgender young people, their families, and all those who love them.
Amanda and Shayne Dennis’ daughter, Brooke, who is 9 years old, is fearful about what will happen to her if she cannot get gender-affirming medical care when puberty begins.
“Our child has known exactly who she is since she was 2 years old,” said Amanda Dennis, Brooke’s mom. “She was a happy child and felt comfortable expressing herself but when she began to feel pressure at school to pretend she is a boy, she began to really struggle. It was painful to watch our child in distress. Last year, when she told us she is a girl and would like to be called ‘Brooke’ and referred to using she and her pronouns, we supported her immediately and the cloud of sadness lifted and her smile came back.” She added, “We have told all of our children that we will always protect them, but this law stands in the way of our child getting the medical care she will desperately need.”
The Dennis family may move out of the state if the health care ban takes effect. Uprooting their family from their community, schools, and jobs would not only be a hardship for Amanda, Shayne, and their children but also their extended family, as they are caring for aging parents.
“This is who I am, and it’s frustrating to know that a place I’ve lived all my life is treating me like they don’t want me here,” said Dylan Brandt, a 15-year-old who lives with his mother Joanna Brandt. “Having access to care means I’m able to be myself and be healthier and more confident — physically and mentally. The thought of having that wrenched away and going back to how I was before is devastating.”
“I worry about what might happen to my patients if these bills are passed and worry about going to jail myself.”
Dr. Stephanie Ho, a family medicine physician in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said she’s had state legislators in her exam room before.
Ho, who has provided gender-affirming care to transgender people in the state since 2015, is also an abortion provider, so she is familiar with lawmakers’ restricting the care she provides. She said she wasn’t surprised when the Legislature overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill last month that would ban puberty blockers, hormones and surgery for transgender minors.
“I think that it’s kind of ridiculous that we’ve gotten to the point that we’re letting politicians dictate how health care is delivered and what kind of care can be given to whom,” said Ho, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health.
“I think the last thing I’ve ever wanted, being an abortion provider or somebody who provides gender-affirming care, is to have a politician in the back of my mind in the exam room making me think about ‘Oh, I wonder if I should do this, if it’s OK,’” she said. “They’re essentially trying to practice medicine without a license. And that’s incredibly wrong.”
Arkansas was the first state to pass a ban on transition care for minors. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee last week signed a similar bill barring prepubertal youths’ access to transition care like hormone therapy. Advocates say no doctors in the state provide hormone therapy for prepubertal youths, The Associated Press reported.
So far this year, state legislatures have considered 35 bills to ban or limit gender-affirming care for trans minors, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Physicians say that the bills negatively affect their patients’ health before they even become law and that they require doctors to go against medical standards of care. Legal experts say the bans could also open providers and hospitals up to lawsuits or put them at risk of losing federal funding.
Ho is trying to support her patients as best she can until Arkansas’ law takes effect this summer.
“It’s just a matter of making sure that my patients know that, whether I can provide them hormones or not, we’re still here for them to support them in any way that we can,” she said. “Of course, I’m going to practice within the bounds of the law, whether I agree with it or not, because me being in jail doesn’t help any of my other patients at all.”Creating ‘contingency plans’
Some physicians, like Dr. Izzy Lowell, who founded a telemedicine practice called QMed in Atlanta in 2017, started planning for the bills months ago.
In April, Alabama’s Senate passed a bill that would have made it a felony for doctors to provide minors with gender-affirming care. The bill died Monday after the House missed the deadline to vote on it. Lowell said that when it first passed, the minor patients she treats in Alabama were scared and frustrated.
“It was clear that the state of Alabama was coming after transgender teens, and we talked about some contingency plans,” she said. “Based on each case, I tried to give them as many refills as possible and told them: ‘Go pick up as much of your medicine as you can. I don’t know when I’ll see you again.’”
Lowell is licensed and practices in 10 states via telemedicine, so she also talked with her legal team and with patients in states considering bans about how her patients could continue care should their states ban it. She said her patients’ parents would have to drive to other states, which would “place an extraordinary burden on these families.”
“If they were, for example, able to get over the border into Tennessee or South Carolina and sit in a parking lot somewhere, I could see them technically with my South Carolina license or Tennessee license or my North Carolina license and perhaps find a local pharmacy there and have them pick up the prescription, but it would be a day’s worth of driving for them to get somewhere where I could see them legally,” she said.
Many minors whose parents don’t have the time or money to drive out of state would be forced to stop transition care if their states passed laws like Arkansas’, which comes with potentially life-threatening health risks, physicians say.
Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society and the American Psychological Association, support gender-affirming care for trans youths and oppose efforts to restrict access.
Supporters of the Arkansas bill argue that transition care for minors is “experimental” and that trans minors often change their minds about their genders and detransition later in life. Medical experts say neither of those claims are backed by scientific evidence. On the contrary, research has found that access to gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers reduces the risk of suicide among trans youths.
Ho said the danger is evidenced by what happened when Arkansas’ bill passed through one legislative chamber. Dr. Michele Hutchinson, a physician at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Gender Spectrum Clinic, testified before the state Senate in March that there were “multiple kids in our emergency room because of an attempted suicide, just in the last week,” after the House passed the bill.
Ho said that “since then, I have had one of my own patients attempt suicide,” adding that she has talked to her patients about what would happen if a judge doesn’t block Arkansas’ law from taking effect. The law also bars her from referring her patients to other physicians who provide gender-affirming care. Unless her patients were able to leave the state, they would be likely to lose access to hormones, so she talked to them about what that would mean.
Lowell said forcing people who were assigned female at birth to stop testosterone would cause them to suffer symptoms of low testosterone, which include inability to concentrate and low energy. “They would start doing badly in school most likely, until their bodies started producing estrogen a few months later, and then they would restart their periods, restart breast growth, and it would undo all of the changes that we tried to achieve with testosterone.”
If people assigned male at birth were forced to stop taking estrogen, it “would be like going through instantaneous menopause,” Lowell said. For about a year, they could have symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and mood swings, among other issues, such as negative impacts on emotional well-being.
Doctors worry that minors who already receive and rely on transition care would get hormones illegally if they had to. Dr. Ricardo Correa, a board member of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, treats trans veterans in Phoenix, where, he said, trans people have traveled to the border to buy hormones illegally when they can’t get them. He said state bans would worsen the problem.
“It will just create chaos in the system from black markets that are going to start selling this kind of medication in that state,” he said.
Lowell said that hormone therapy is safe when it is monitored by a doctor but that using it without medical supervision could cause health problems, such as liver failure, kidney failure or heart problems.
“There’s very serious consequences of completely unmonitored, sort of black market medication use in this situation,” she said.‘A form of medical malpractice’
Legal experts and advocates say that in addition to having dangerous health impacts, bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youths could expose health care providers to legal and regulatory problems.
Valarie Blake, a law professor at West Virginia University specializing in health care law, said there’s “a pretty strong case” that Arkansas’ law is discriminatory under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which protects against discrimination based on sex.
The Biden administration announced this month that it would interpret Section 1557 to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — reversing a Trump-era policy that cut protections for transgender people.
Hospitals and physicians receiving federal funding, such as Medicare and Medicaid payments, are required to comply with laws like Section 1557, Blake said; otherwise, they risk losing the funding.
Arkansas’ law could trigger that risk by allowing physicians and hospitals to prescribe puberty blockers and hormones to cisgender minors for precocious puberty but not transgender teens.
“If the reason that they’re not doing it for transgender teens is because of the fact that they’re transgender, then there’s a very good case that the reason that they’re refusing the treatment is based on the gender identity and not anything else,” Blake said.
“It really puts health care workers in an untenable position when the federal government makes it plain that this is discrimination and has the money to back it up to basically say, ‘We can pull away all of the resources,’ and yet the state persists,” she said.
“We don’t have clear precedent on the books yet to suggest that LGBTQ categories are fully protected in that manner, which is why we’ve been seeing various kinds of Equal Rights Amendment-type laws trying to work their way through Congress,” she said, referring to the Equality Act, a bill that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, education and other areas of life.
The bill passed the House in February, but it has stalled in the Senate. “If something like that passes, then suddenly Arkansas as a state is in big trouble,” Blake said.
Lowell said thinking about the potential legal issues “keeps me up at night.” Physicians are required to give patients several months’ warning when they can’t see them anymore and to do their best to find other providers who can see them if they’re unable to.
But laws like Arkansas’ bar physicians from referring patients to other providers for transition care. “In this case, I can’t do any of those things, and I just have to say, ‘Bye,’ and ‘I’m not allowed to see you anymore,’” she said. “That’s patient abandonment, which is a form of malpractice.”
Lowell said that when the first restrictions were introduced several months ago, she felt angry and anxious all the time.
“I worry about what might happen to my patients if these bills are passed and worry about going to jail myself,” she said. “I struggle with the question of what I would do: continue to support my patients and risk going to jail for years or follow these hateful laws? Thankfully, I have not had to answer this question yet, but I will never abandon my patients.”
Criminalization of Gender-Affirming Care — Interfering with Essential Treatment for Transgender Children and Adolescents
Simona Martin, B.S., Elizabeth S. Sandberg, M.D., and Daniel E. Shumer, M.D., M.P.H.
On April 6, 2021, the Arkansas state legislature overrode a veto by the governor to pass legislation making it illegal for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming treatment to patients with gender dysphoria who are younger than 18 or to refer them to other clinicians for such treatment. Several other states have similar legislation pending. As physicians and a physician-in-training who provide gender-affirming care, we are deeply concerned that these political actions threaten the health and well-being of transgender children and adolescents. We have found that such young people are courageous and resilient, yet profoundly vulnerable. Moreover, they already have higher-than-average risk for suicidality and are disproportionately likely to experience violence.
Gender identity — the deeply felt internal sense of oneself as male, female, or somewhere else on the gender spectrum — may or may not align with the sex one was assigned at birth. When it does not align, the umbrella term “transgender” is often used to denote this incongruence. Although not all transgender young people feel distress related to their gender identity, when distress is present and persistent, a mental health professional with experience in gender-identity evaluations may diagnose gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria can be treated with both nonmedical and medical interventions. The former may include therapy, coming out to loved ones, or using a chosen name or pronouns and dressing or grooming in a way that matches one’s gender identity (making a social transition); the latter may include hormonal or (when age appropriate) surgical treatments to bring the person’s physical characteristics more closely in line with their gender identity or to prevent developmental changes that don’t align with this identity. Decisions regarding the appropriate treatment for each individual patient are made by the patient, the parents, and the health care team and are guided by evidence-based standards put forth by organizations such as the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each person has their own gender journey, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this kind of care.
Pediatric gender clinics originated in the 1980s in Amsterdam. Dutch physicians recognized that transgender children tended to face mental health challenges during adolescence, as secondary sex characteristics developed, and that early intervention could be lifesaving. They also appreciated the value of delaying decisions that could have a permanent effect on a child. To resolve these conflicts, they created a protocol under which puberty would be paused using medications at Tanner stage 2 (the period during which signs of central puberty are first detected, most often between 8 and 15 years of age) if gender dysphoria had persisted, thereby forestalling the development of unwanted and potentially permanent secondary sex characteristics with a reversible intervention. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues, or “puberty blockers,” have been used by pediatric endocrinologists for more than 30 years for the treatment of precocious puberty. These agents have well-known efficacy and side-effect profiles, and their effects are reversible. In later adolescence, treatment with gender-affirming hormones could be initiated if gender identity remained incongruent with the sex assigned at birth.
The Dutch-developed treatment model was shown to result in long-term improvements in the well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria1 and was the basis for current guidelines formalizing the treatment of gender dysphoria. These guidelines recommend using GnRH analogues at Tanner stage 2 and prescribing hormone therapy later in adolescence if the patient, the parents, and the medical team all agree with this approach. Today, prescribing these therapies is coupled with education on the safe use of such medications and with close surveillance for potential risks associated with therapy — for instance, monitoring for changes in bone health in children taking GnRH agonists, for risk factors for blood clotting with estrogen therapy, and for polycythemia with testosterone therapy. With proper monitoring and education, the risks associated with these therapies can be mitigated, and the benefits are substantial: use of hormone therapy is associated with improved quality of life, reduced rates of depression, and decreased anxiety among transgender people.2
A recent survey of U.S. high school students conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1.8% of students identify as transgender. More than one third of transgender adolescents surveyed had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months.3 As clinicians caring for this population, we are alarmed by this statistic, but we see it as a call to action. We know that mental health disparities between transgender and cisgender children are not inevitable and that with support from their families and communities and access to evidence-based mental health and medical interventions, transgender children and adolescents can survive and thrive.
A multidisciplinary approach to treating transgender young people has been shown to alleviate gender dysphoria when treatment occurs in a supportive environment that attends to the patient’s mental, social, and physical needs. Young people who receive such gender-affirming care report improvements in their overall well-being, and their level of well-being is generally in line with that of their cisgender peers — and sometimes it’s higher.4 Having access to gender-affirming care in childhood and adolescence can have profoundly important mental health benefits: one study found that transgender adults who had had access to puberty suppression during adolescence had lower odds of suicidal ideation than those who wanted such treatment but hadn’t received it.5
Under the new Arkansas law, known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, physicians who provide gender-affirming therapy for transgender people younger than 18 will be subject to loss of licensure and could be sued. The law’s name implies that following evidence-based guidelines while working closely with patients and families is a form of experimentation. The law references inaccurate information about the care of gender-diverse young people, stating that genital surgeries are being recommended for people younger than 18. In reality, guidelines indicate that genital surgeries should be delayed until the person reaches the age of legal adulthood in their country, which in the United States is 18 years. The law also states that there are no long-term data on the use of puberty-blocking drugs for the treatment of gender dysphoria, when multiple studies have revealed long-term positive outcomes for transgender people who have undergone puberty suppression.4,5
The content of the Arkansas law, and that of similar bills that have been proposed in other states, is not based on data, medical literature, or correct information about the process of treating transgender adolescents. We believe these bills threaten the health, well-being, and survival of transgender children and young adults. By penalizing physicians for practicing evidence-based medicine, the legislation nullifies their expertise and interferes with therapeutic relationships among physicians, patients, and families. It strips power from patients and families who are already marginalized. And although the stated purpose of the legislation is to protect adolescents, we believe that criminalizing what has been shown to be lifesaving treatment will do the opposite — and that the consequences could well be tragic.
What is gender-affirming health care? Around the country, there’s a Republican campaign to legislate and regulate the lives of trans youth. The most destructive of these efforts would bar trans youth in certain states from accessing gender-affirming treatment. Dr. Izzy Lowell runs Queer Med, a private clinic that specializes in providing accessible health care to trans patients ranging from kids to adults. Her practice covers 10 states across the South – and half of those have anti-trans health care bills on the docket. If they pass, it would become criminal for her to provide this care to many of her patients. Dr. Lowell joins this week to break down what exactly we mean when we talk about gender-affirming care, how the decision is made for kids and teens ready to transition, and the potentially devastating impact this legislation would have on their lives.
Today is #IDAHOBIT the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Every May 17th we join together on the world stage to say no to those who oppress us.
Many people in the US aren’t aware of IDAHOBIT and wonder why the fuss so here’s the answer. Trump took us out of the UN because our united voices are powerful and louder than his.
This year in the United States we are experiencing an attack on transgender people like never seen before. Nationalists who remain loyal to the trump regime are trying to disenfranchise, discriminate against, and take essential life-saving medication from our children.
48 black and brown trans people have lost their lives since the Transgender Day of remembrance on November 20, 2020. at that rate this year we will have 96 transgender people to mourn on the 2021 TDoR.
These haters mean business. Republican Legislators across the country are promoting state-sponsored eugenics and efforts to ‘purify’ the population that hasn’t been seen since the civil war. At risk in their minds, is the future of mankind led by evolved species of humans that they just can’t fathom.
Alone we can fend them off for only so long. United with the world these transphobic, homophobic, biphobic, and xenophobic nationalists in the US don’t stand a chance and they know it. Hence the war on transgender children, the next gendernation.
Opinion By Eliana Turan,
Director of Development at The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
This article was first published at Cleveland Scene com “Op-Ed: Ohio’s Proposed Anti-Trans Sports Bills Are Dangerous State-Sanctioned Bigotry.”
On March 2, 2020, I was, invited by one of my favorite morning shows, The Sound of Ideas, to discuss HB527, which would have effectively barred trans students in Ohio from competing as their true selves. Joining as guests in favor of the bill were Beth Stelzer and Jena Powell. The former founded an organization she hyperbolically named “Save Women’s Sports.” The latter is an Ohio House representative.
Anticipating a civil conversation, I was stunned by the language of my co-guests, which I personally felt was aggressive, sexist, and transphobic. During the subsequent debate, I noted that Save Women’s Sports was collaborating with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group. I was so noticeably shaken from the exchange that show host Mike McIntyre even called me afterward to make sure I was ok (a gesture from the veteran journalist that I appreciated). After the radio program, Save Women’s Sports posted video of me from the show onto their social media, where my digital effigy may now be trolled into Internet oblivion.
HB527 failed to advance forward in the Statehouse last year, its supporters blaming the onset of COVID-19 as its reason for stoppage. That original bill was not truly dead, however. In 2021, it rose like a zombie to become the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would prevent trans female students from competing on female teams in Ohio’s schools and colleges, if passed. This time, the anti-trans Ohio bill is joined with a tidal wave of similar sports bans in other states.
In this way, the recent onslaught of sports bans mirrors similar transphobic legislative assaults of recent history, such as the bathroom bills. Both campaigns rely heavily on the unfounded and transphobic paradigm that inclusion of trans people into public life will preclude and necessitate the dissolution of public life itself. This, despite the trans community making up only 0.6% of the U.S. population and having peacefully co-habited with our cisgender neighbors since the beginning of humankind.
As a trans woman and advocate in the LGBTQ+ community, I feel that the dual anti-trans sports bills in the Ohio Statehouse would be extremely harmful if passed. These bills would hurt trans women and girls by invalidating our identities, normalize and promote transphobic bullying, and effectively prevent trans youth from partaking in the natural human right of athletic participation.
Trans people would lose opportunities and face greater dangers. Four out of 10 trans people already attempt suicide at some point in our lives. Half of us will be sexually assaulted. Trans people often face rejection by peers, authorities figures, and even loved ones. We are at heightened risk for many health perils including addiction, mental health struggles, homelessness, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19. Worse yet, Northeast Ohio is an epicenter of transphobic violence. Does a “public safety” bill really make sense when it targets our most vulnerable?
If we are going to talk about saving women and girls, let’s save all women and girls, trans females included. Athletic participation keeps kids safe by affording comradery, role models, friendships, and protections from life’s many dangers. Likewise, trans athletes strengthen their teams and act as positive examples for those around them – a valuable thing for kids who often feel unwanted.
Supporters of these bills claim they are meant to protect opportunities for cisgender women and girls. But that is not true, either. The Ohio High School Athletics Association (OHSAA) has affirmed that no evidence exists of trans athletes disrupting opportunities for their cisgender teammates in the state. Moreover, OHSAA’s governance framework that manages trans inclusion in sports is based on medical and scientific research, coupled with legal and human rights. In contrast, the proposed anti-trans bills are rooted in fear, prejudice, and ignorance.
Worse yet, these proposed sports bans actually hurt female athletes across the board, cis and trans alike. Supporters of these bills claim that female athletes are inherently inferior to male athletes. As an intersectional feminist, I find this proposition highly insulting. I believe that women can do anything just as well as men can. Invalidating female athletes undermines the broader push for female equality in sports. This is why Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Candace Parker, and nearly 200 other athletes have come forward in support of trans inclusion of athletics.
By claiming that female athletes aren’t as good as our male equivalents, proponents of these sports bans reinforce societal misogyny that robs women’s teams and leagues of needed resources, coaching, scholarships, compensation, and recognition. But it doesn’t stop there. Young women and girls who internalize such messaging will be less likely to pursue opportunities in STEM, law, public service, finance, and other male-dominated fields. Is it is any surprise then that these sports bans are being pushed by lobby groups with long histories of keeping women oppressed?
Female athletes have been unjustly maligned as less than compared to male athletes. Unparalleled champions such as Serena and Venus Williams, Candace Parker, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and many others will never be seen, valued, or remembered for their true magnificence due to gendered sports discrimination and collective misogynistic beliefs.
A cynical gamble by the supporters of the proposed anti-trans sports bills is that they can effectively sell such ongoing misogynistic oppression in sports as existing toward the protection of cis women. As such, they frequently quote statistical data underscoring performance disparities between female and male athletes. Lost in their analysis, however, is the influence of the gross imbalances of resources and prestige allocated toward boy’s and men’s teams and leagues compared to their female counterparts, coupled with the influence of widespread cultural expectation that boys enter into sports and girls do not. Ignoring such factors, the proponents of the anti-trans sports bans simply conclude that females are inherently inferior in athletics to males, and that a full blanket ban on trans girls and women – whom they wrongly equate as being biologically identical to cis boys and men – is now needed urgently, despite long-running positive relations between cis and trans female athletes statewide.
Across the country, cisgender people are now debating whether trans people should enjoy the same inalienable rights that they do. To my cis neighbors, I would implore you to consider the long-view of this crossroads. America has a long and shameful history of sports discrimination against oppressed communities. Black Americans were barred from competing against white athletes during the shameful Jim Crow era. Indeed, the struggle for racial desegregation in the U.S. played out in many of the same venues the fight for trans inclusion plays out in today: bathrooms, locker rooms, schools, military service, etc. Does Ohio really want to fall on the wrong side of a 21st Century civil rights issue?
Even now, in the absence of formal homophobic discrimination, very few LGBTQ+ athletes compete out of the closet at the collegiate and professional level. Many likely fear losing scholarships or promotional sponsorships if they are outed. With so much more work to do toward LGBTQ+ equality in sports, what effect would the formalized barring of trans athletes from public life have on the broader rainbow? Anti-LGBTQ+ groups like the ADF likely gamble that a strategic wedge issue like trans inclusion in sports may pit cis and trans women against one another, thus weakening the struggle for gender equality, while simultaneously striking a major blow to the LGBTQ+ empowerment movement.
And what are the likely consequences if Ohio chooses the wrong side of history? To be sure, they would be steep. The NCAA has already suggested that it may not hold events in states that pass such bans. Is Ohio really in a financial position to needlessly imperil such opportunities? Perhaps Ohio’s many small-government Republicans and Libertarians should consider their own messaging about how draconian government can drive businesses away.
But that is not likely all. If we are to learn from the failed bathroom bill campaigns of yesteryear, more commercial and economic interests will likely step forward to affirm their stated policies toward diversity and inclusion. In March 2016, North Carolina initiated a statewide bathroom bill, thus setting off a flurry of transphobic copycat bills across the U.S. For its role as the flashpoint, North Carolina may have lost an estimated $3.76 billion in diverted economic activity. Even a fraction of such losses could thwart Ohio’s fragile recovery from COVID-19 and prolong unemployment for untold numbers of our neighbors. As of this writing, 19,428 Ohioans have died of the disease. Shouldn’t this be the primary concern of our lawmakers, alongside putting people back to work?
But beyond our state’s immediate needs, the issue of trans inclusion in Ohio’s sports teams bears implications for generations to come. As we emerge from the seclusion of COVID-19 lockdown and re-enter the world, we will find a world quickly transformed by the forces of innovation and change. Ohio lost the last innovation wave, and we desperately need to win the next for our state and region to remain relevant. That innovation will come largely from a new generation of thinkers and entrepreneurs, a new generation with vastly different attitudes and understandings toward gender, sexuality, biology, and identity. Recently, Governor DeWine announced that “he wants to spend $50 million on a marketing campaign to convince East Coast and West Coast residents to live, work and spend their money in Ohio.” But will Ohio likely attract such talent by openly embracing state-sanctioned bigotry?
Nia Nal aka Dreamer, an original character from The CW’s Supergirl, just debuted in comic form in a new stunning preview. It sees Dreamer, played by Nicole Maines in the TV show, in action as she continues supering around National City. The Dreamer story, within the upcoming DC Pride anthology series, is written by Maines herself. DC Pride is an anthology series that will shine a light on DC’s roster of LGBTQIA+ characters, made by LGBTQIA+ creators. Along with Dreamer’s transition to the comics, other popular characters like DC’s newest Flash will be returning in their own stories.
“I love her so much, and this right here. This made me cry. Growing up there really wasn’t a role model in my experience who was trans, and to see Nia and know that for so many young people she can be that role model, she can be a beacon of visibility, it just makes me happy.”
Dreamer was introduced in Supergirl Season 4, she is the first transgender superhero on television. As an original creation from Supergirl, Nia has never been featured in any comic book. However, she is a relative to Nura Nal aka Dream Girl, a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the comics. With her family being linked to characters from DC Comics, it was only a matter of time before she would make the leap. With Supergirl ending, there has been an outcry for Nia Nal to continue past the show’s finale and this could be the conclusion that fans have been hoping for.
Today, 17 May, is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It’s a day to recognise that while the rights of the LGBTQI+ people have significantly advanced in recent decades, progress remains patchy and geographically uneven.
Corruption and discrimination are both significant barriers to achieving an equal and inclusive future, but have so far been studied in isolation from one another, with little research being done on the nature of the relationship between them.
The link between the two phenomena is painfully evident in Russia, which is one of the countries where LGBTQI+ people still live in fear.
In a case documented by the Russian LGBT Network, Fedor, a young man from Krasnodar, was subject to entrapment, physical assault and threats of criminal charges from police officers extorting bribes. Police officers were waiting for Fedor when he arrived at the apartment of a man he had met on a dating app. Claiming that the man he was meeting was a minor, the officers took Fedor to a police station where they assaulted and threatened him with criminal charges, unless he paid them off.
Fedor’s story makes up one of the several illustrative cases featured in a forthcoming study by Transparency International and the Equal Rights Trust. It investigates the interplay between corruption and discrimination, and the impact these dynamics have on individuals and groups subject to discrimination on different grounds, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
Greater exposure to corruption
Due to stigma against them in many countries, LGBTQI+ people are at a greater risk of becoming victims of coercive corruption – the kind where those in power use threats or force to extort money or even sexual bribes.
Sexual extortion, or sextortion, is a common but largely invisible form of corruption. It happens when people are coerced into paying a bribe with sexual acts rather than money. While women are disproportionally targeted, men, transgender and gender non-conforming people are also affected.THE DEAFENING SILENCE AROUND SEXTORTION
Consider contexts where people’s sexual and gender identities and behaviour are criminalised. When a person’s very identity, or perceived identity, becomes a crime, it creates an environment that leaves them greatly exposed to abuses of power. Discriminatory legal contexts enable unscrupulous officials – often the police – to abuse their power for private gain.
In contexts where their identities are criminalised, LGBTQI+ people already have limited ways of forming communities and meeting each other. Meeting people offline is significantly harder for LGBTQI+ people in many other settings due to the lack of welcoming queer spaces and visibility. In the United States, for example, the Pew Research Centre found that LGBTQ adults use dating apps nearly twice as much as straight adults. This makes the use of dating apps to harass LGBTQI+ people feel especially sinister.
Corruption preventing redress for discrimination
LGBTQI+ people are often unable to challenge the discriminatory corruption they face as a result of the same reasons that make them vulnerable to it in the first place. The very environment that enables discriminatory corruption, such as widespread anti-LGBTQI+ sentiment, prevents people from seeking and achieving redress.
In many countries, there are also no channels for queer people to seek redress. And in places where such channels exist, other barriers can stop people from using them, such as having little trust in public officials, having little hope that justice will be done and, most importantly, having to disclose their LGBTQI+ identities and private life in a potentially queerphobic environment.
These concerns are not unfounded. Fedor, for example, filed a formal complaint with the help of the Russian LGBT Network, but the authorities have reportedly so far refused to open an investigation.
Leaving no one behind
We already knew that corruption and discrimination were two major obstacles to the achievement of sustainable and inclusive development. Our upcoming study with Equal Rights Trust aims to demonstrate that discrimination and corruption are not just correlated but that, in fact, there is a causal and a mutually reinforcing relationship between the two. It shows that corruption is impeding progress towards equal treatment and remains a vehicle for discrimination, and investigates how this affects communities at risk of discrimination across nine countries.
These findings bring home the need to tackle the two phenomena together, if countries are to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by the commitment to leave no one behind.
To achieve a world free from corruption, we must fight discrimination too, and vice versa. Otherwise, we risk leaving the people who are most vulnerable to abuses of power – LGBTQI+ people, but also women, racial and ethnic minorities at risk of discrimination and other marginalised communities – further behind and perpetuating structural inequalities. We cannot have fair and just societies unless everyone can enjoy equal rights and protection.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill denying medical care but said there is nothing he can do. This is heartbreaking for the children and families affected as they realize their State Government doesn’t want them there.
Dylan Brandt, 15, is a transgender teen from Arkansas who has been taking testosterone but will no longer be able to receive the hormone once a new state law takes effect this summer that bars gender-affirming medical care for minors.
If the Brandt family is forced to leave they will join a growing exodus of the gender diverse from states controlled by the extreme right.
The Spurriers, a family of three in Central Arkansas took note of legislation introduced and passed by the Arkansas General Assembly that has directly targeted our son’s healthcare, education, and mental well-being. As a result,” the Spurriers wrote on their gofundme, “we are making a serious effort to relocate to a state that is more friendly to the LGBTQIA+ community”. Keeping closeness to family, post-secondary educational opportunities, and our own health in mind, we have determined that New Mexico is the best fit for us.
We’ve lived in Arkansas since 2005. Our child has grown up in that time, learning kindness, humor, and empathy. A year and a half ago, he hesitantly came out to us as transgender. Despite the love and acceptance, we have tried to embody, he was terrified of how we might react. He had heard horror stories of trans youth whose families responded with cruelty. We assured him of our unchanged love and understanding. Following that conversation, we reached out to his existing therapist and the wonderful staff at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Gender Spectrum Clinic to begin the long journey to help him transition into an identity that felt right for him.
Counselors and clinicians confirmed his conviction that this new course was right. The medical staff at ACH-GSC helped our son take the first step toward easing his dysphoria, by administering common birth control injections to reduce or eliminate the monthly trauma of his periods. In most transgender males, two doses of such drugs achieves the completely reversible cessation of monthly cycles for a period of time. For our son, the duration and frequency of periods increased substantially, which made what was already traumatic an absolute hell for him. After a third Hail Mary dose, which failed to produce the desired effect, the doctor suggested that moving on to testosterone injections would be the best option.
We are a month and a half into weekly T shots, which our needle-shy teenage son has been self-administering (the surest testament to his commitment to this transition). His confidence and comfort have increased by leaps and bounds, and it is clear that he is elated with his progress so far. He has gone from being on the verge of suicide to excitement for his future.
The Arkansas General Assembly has taken action to return him, and his transgender male and female peers, to that brink of self-destruction. House Bill 1570 , explicitly prohibits not only gender reassignment surgeries—which are not performed on minors in Arkansas in the first place—but the puberty-blocking medications and hormone replacement therapies that help ease gender dysphoria in teens until they reach the age of majority and can make their own independent choices regarding surgery. Lacking a “grandfather clause” to exclude active hormone/blocker patients, the bill would cut off these teens…our teen…from their therapies, doing irreparable physical and mental harm.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has vetoed HB1570, but members of the General Assembly have already pledged to see that the legislature overrides his veto. Even if the bill dies, it is but one of at least four (SB289, SB354, HB1570, & HB1749 so far) such bills, three of which have already been signed into law.
The Texas legislature is will likely pass a bill today denying transgender healthcare to minors. Not to be outdone by Arkansas the punishment for parents would be a sentence to prison as child abusers.