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.
The Biden administration put Arkansas on notice today that the state is in violation of the law by denying transgender children healthcare. The HHS through the revitalized Office of Civil rights is open for business to take complaints from LGBTQI people who have been denied healthcare.
“The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
Discrimination in health care impacts health outcomes. Research shows that one-quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.
“The mission of our Department is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. All people need access to healthcare services to fix a broken bone, protect their heart health, and screen for cancer risk,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health. “No one should be discriminated against when seeking medical services because of who they are.”
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) is responsible for enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557) and regulations issued under Section 1557, protecting the civil rights of individuals who access or seek to access covered health programs or activities. Covered entities are prohibited from discriminating against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“OCR’s mission is to protect people from all forms of discrimination,” said Robinsue Frohboese, Acting OCR Director. “OCR will follow Supreme Court precedent and federal law, and ensure that the law’s protections extend to those individuals who are discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020). The Bostock majority concluded that the plain meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII necessarily included discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Id. at 1753-54. Consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock and Title IX, beginning today OCR will interpret Section 1557’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This interpretation will guide OCR in processing complaints and conducting investigations, but does not itself determine the outcome in any particular case or set of facts.
In enforcing Section 1557 as stated above, OCR will comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq., and all other legal requirements. Additionally, OCR will comply with all applicable court orders that have been issued in litigation involving the Section 1557 regulations, including Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Azar, 414 F. Supp. 3d 928 (N.D. Tex. 2019); Whitman-Walker Clinic, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Hum. Servs., 485 F. Supp. 3d 1 (D.D.C. 2020); Asapansa-Johnson Walker v. Azar, No. 20-CV-2834, 2020 WL 6363970 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2020); and Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Azar, No. 3:16-CV-00386, 2021 WL 191009 (D.N.D. Jan. 19, 2021).
OCR applies the enforcement mechanisms provided for and available under Title IX when enforcing Section 1557’s prohibition on sex discrimination. 45 C.F.R. § 92.5(a). Title IX’s enforcement procedures can be found at 45 C.F.R. § 86.71 (adopting the procedures at 45 C.F.R. §§ 80.6 through 80.11 and 45 C.F.R. Part 81).
If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, you may file a complaint at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.
Washington D.C. – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. The update was made in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions.
The Notice may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr-bostock-notification.pdf – PDF.* **
* This HHS-approved document is being submitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication and has not yet been placed on public display or published in the Federal Register. This document may vary slightly from the published document if minor editorial changes are made during the OFR review process. The document published in the Federal Register is the official HHS-approved document.
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard must overcome a horrific physical injury she suffered in 2018 in order to have a chance at the Olympics. But it’s more than that. Laura’s success has led to an onslaught of transphobic diatrades like the world has never seen. It’s going to take encouragement to empower her.
The Kiwi governing body has not only helped her overcome obstacles in her push for Olympic selection, wrote Sports Bible, but they also supported her through a devastating arm injury in 2018 that threatened to derail her dream of competing in Tokyo.
“Best of luck Laurel Hubbard,” wrote LGBTI Rights Australia.
“It means Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 world championships and was sixth after a severe injury in 2019, is almost certain to become the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics…
Under IOC guidelines, issued in November 2015, athletes who transition from male to female can compete in the women’s category without requiring surgery to remove their testes provided their total testosterone level in serum is kept below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months – a rule followed by the IWF
In 2015 the IOC made amendments to their qualifying guidelines which ultimately allowed for trans athletes to compete in women’s events depending on their testosterone levels.
As long as the athlete’s levels of testosterone were 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months prior to competition, then they were eligible to compete.
For the Olympic Games, Hubbard’s inclusion will serve as a landmark moment.
But for Hubbard herself, she’ll be purely focused on coming away from Tokyo with a medal wrapped around her neck.
She is currently ranked fourth overall out of the 14 other qualifiers in the super heavyweight class, meaning she has a genuine shot of clinching gold.
“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”
Years ago, I donned a white coat and uttered these words. I gathered with other young doctors and pledged to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for all my patients.
Now the state of Alabama, where I practice, is on the verge of passing a bill that would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide essential care to transgender youth. This is unconscionable, especially in the middle of a public health crisis that has killed half a million Americans.
When I first took the Hippocratic Oath, I understood the obligation I was assuming. I knew I would become responsible for fellow humans’ lives and be a harbinger of the worst or best possible news a family could hear.
Never though, in all of my training, did I imagine that those in our highest offices of power would work to subvert our solemn oath, using their positions to make determinations about who can and cannot receive care. Yet here we are. If this law is enacted, I could face up to 10 years in prison just for doing my job.
The Alabama bill would be one of the most harmful pieces of anti-trans legislation in our nation’s history. But it’s far from the only attempt to discriminate against trans people and punish those who provide them care. Trans rights, and specifically trans children’s rights, are under brutal attack by state legislatures across the country. State lawmakers have proposed a record number of anti-transgender bills this year — from banning trans kids from playing on sports teams in nearly 20 states to criminalizing doctors who provide trans youth essential healthcare in a dozen.
Compounding these legislative attacks, COVID related clinic closures and travel restrictions have further limited access to medically necessary, gender-affirming care for transgender patients during the pandemic.
Moreover, about two-thirds of LGBTQ adults have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or HIV, conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Access to essential care for trans Americans is more imperative than ever.
Even without this law in place, trans people face rampant discrimination in healthcare settings.
In Alabama, one in four transgender people who visited a healthcare provider had a negative experience related to being transgender, according to a 2015 survey. More than a third did not see a doctor when they needed to because they feared being mistreated as a transgender person. And 17 percent experienced issues with their insurance because of their gender identity.
The barriers to care for trans people are extensive and dangerous.
The evidence is irrefutable. Transgender children who receive gender-affirming care such as puberty-delaying medication and hormones when they are young have better mental health outcomes and report fewer cases of depression and suicidal ideation. As COVID-19 continues to take an enormous toll on the mental health of children, access to this care is critical.
The passage of this bill would make it nearly impossible for trans youth in Alabama to receive the care they need and jail doctors like myself who are committed to treating all people. And it’s not just Alabama. Bills like this are proliferating all across the country, and trans youth are relying on healthcare providers to fight for their rights.
“May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
I write today to uphold this oath — to preserve this fine tradition and fight back against hate. So to the lawmakers who insist on legislating intolerance, quit standing in the way of healthcare professionals who only seek to help.
Dr. Izzy Lowell is a family medicine physician whose clinic, QueerMed, specializes in transgender medicine and treats trans patients in Alabama and across the Southeast.
A judge in Britain has ruled against LGB Alliance’s Ann Sinnott effort to exclude trans people from the 2010 Equality Act, as first reported by Vic Parson. The LGB alliance is somewhat akin to the US Alliance Defending Freedom in that works hard to erase all evidence that transgender people ever existed.
And just like the ADF, the LGB Alliance couldn’t name a valid reason to do so.
Throwing out the attempted judicial review today, Mr Justice Henshaw, sitting in London’s High Court, said the case was “unarguable” and that its interpretation of the Equality Act 2010 is “wrong in law”.
The failed judicial review was sought by LGB Alliance co-founder Ann Sinnott, who crowdfunded more than £96,000 in legal fees. It concerned the EHRC’s guidance on the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act 2010, which allow women’s single-sex spaces, like prisons or refuges, to only exclude trans women in certain, specific circumstances.
Sinnott argued that any women’s single-sex space with a trans woman becomes a mixed-sex space and therefore that the EHRC’s Code of Practice was unlawful, because it told service providers to treat trans women as women in most situations. Her argument was that trans women, with or without legal gender recognition, should always be excluded from women’s single-sex spaces.
Justice Henshaw had heard from Dan Squires QC, representing the EHRC, that “there is no evidence that on the basis of the Code of Practice someone has acted unlawfully”.
“It is not appropriate for a court to say that trans women should always be excluded,” Squires argued. “If there is a problem then it can be challenged and the court can judge if a service provider has done it wrong.”
While throwing out the attempted judicial review, Henshaw said: “The Code of Practice seeks to give concise and practicable advice.
“The claimant has shown no arguable reason to believe the Code has mislead or will mislead service providers about their responsibilities under the Act in order to place women or girls at risk.”
Attempts to contact Ann Sinnott for comment on Twitter were unsuccessful since she is a TERF and blocked us long ago.
It began with “get the L out” but when we said fine, it became get the T out, which is not fine at all.
It was a glorious day Wednesday in Vermont as Republican Governor Phil Scott signed a bipartisan bill banning gay and trans panic defense. The bill cosponsored by first term trans woman Representative Taylor Small and veteran Representative Mari Cordes passed nearly unanimously with a vote of 144-1 in the house and 29-0 in the Senate.
“What this bill does is make sure a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity can’t be used to defend or justify a criminal act or to lower a sentence.”
“I want to thank Representative Small and the other co-sponsors of the bill as well as the house and senate judiciary committees for your leadership on this issue.”
“I also want to recognize those at the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont and the members of the pride center Vermont who’ve been advocating for change and equality for years. While this effort is a step in the right direction we know there is still more work to do to ensure all Vermonters regardless of identity feel safe and protected in our state and I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”
“So with that,” Gov. Scott said, “I’ll sign the bill and I hope to see folks in person very soon.”
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.comGEORGIA NEWS| May 1, 2021By Tamar Hallerman, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionProposals limiting medical care, sports options for trans kids have advanced across South
Throughout much of her childhood, P. felt like something was off. But she didn’t know exactly what.
“I felt at odds with myself,” the Decatur resident recounted. “Almost like my physical body was trying to push me in one direction but I wanted to go another.”
The breakthrough moment came on a family vacation in 2017, when she read a National Geographic cover story about Avery Jackson, a pink-haired 9-year-old who is transgender.
“I remember reading her story at like 1 in the morning, sitting in the Airbnb thinking, ‘oh my God, that sounds like me,’” said P., now 16.
There are no simple paths for transgender children, whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assignedat birth.ADVERTISING
Acceptance is not a guarantee. Gettingteachers, classmates and school administrators to call them by the correct names and pronounscan be a fight. Arrangements often need to be made for places as basic as locker rooms, school bathrooms and camp bunks — where bullying or traumatic moments could occur.
Many local parents and teens are even more on edge as upwards of30 states this year have considered — and several have passed — legislation that would affect transgender youths and their support systems. Arkansas took the most aggressive step in April, when it became the first in the country to criminalize physicians who help children under 18 transition genders.
Much of the legislative action is taking place across the South, including Georgia, where two sets of bills were introduced at the Capitol thisyear and could be picked up again when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
Such laws would limit the options available to teens like P., who rely on hormones to help align their bodies with their gender identities. Medical associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association say such treatments can be life saving for a marginalized population that’s already at a high risk of suicide and depression. Supporters of the proposals say they protect children from making lasting medical decisions before they are old enough to understand the consequences.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution agreed to identify two minors in this article by their first initials to protect the privacy of the children and their families, who feared being targeted by opponents of transgender rights and spoke on condition of anonymity. One teenager, with his parents’ blessing, chose to have his full name published.
Lawmakers zero in
Georgia’s transgender community is small yet significant. A 2016 study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated roughly 55,650 people in Georgia, or 0.75% of adults, identified as transgender, fourth among U.S. states in percentage terms. Among high school students, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated almost 2% nationwide identified as trans in 2017.
Even as public support for transgender rights has grown, trans kids increasingly have found themselves on the front lines of the nation’s culture wars over the last five years.
The first skirmishes involved restroom access. North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill,” passed in 2016 and partially repealed a year later, drew national headlines and boycotts, while closer to home, schoolboards from Decatur to Pickens County contended with the issue.
More recent proposals would require transgender kids to compete on sports teams that correspond with their gender assignedat birth rather than the one with which they identify. Supporters, which include socially conservative and religious organizations such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Duluth-based Faith and Freedom Coalition and Georgia Baptist Mission Board, have argued girls who aren’t transgendercould be crowded out of sports teams and scholarship opportunities.ExploreGeorgia Senate panel OKs bill limiting sports to gender identified at birth
Other bills floating around state legislatures wouldcreate criminal penaltiesfordoctors who help minors transition by performing gender confirmation surgery or prescribing puberty blockers or hormones.
Blockers delay puberty to give children more time to decide next steps without their bodies developing features they’d want to change later, such as facial hair or breasts. Their effects are reversible, while those from hormone treatments partially are not. The Endocrine Society recommends that doctors wait until a patient has “sufficient mental capacity to give informed consent,” usually by age 16, to prescribe estrogen or testosterone. Surgery, meanwhile, is exceedingly rare for children under 18.
The government sets a minimum age for getting tattoos and buying cigarettes, and life-altering medical care should be no different, said state Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, the lead sponsor of Georgia’s version, which would make it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for doctors assisting in a minor’s transition with blockers, hormones or surgery.
A dozen southeastern states have considered sports or medical care proposals this year, according to the Campaign for Southern Equality, despite legal threats from organizations like the ACLU and boycott threats from the NCAA.
Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee have already signed transgender sports legislation into law. And a dozen states around the country are considering an Arkansas-style ban on blockers, hormones or surgery for minors.
Dr. Izzy Lowell’s Queer Med clinic in Decatur would be directly affected by the latter.It serves transgender people in nearly a dozen mostly southeastern states. About 1 in 8 of its roughly 2,000 patients are under 18.
“There’s no medical reason for this bill,” Lowell said.“There are very significant, very real risks of not giving hormone therapy. In many cases that’s a very real risk of harm, both self-harm and harm from others.”
Six southern states are mulling proposals that would go even further: penalizing parents who help their children medically transition.
LGBTQ advocates argue that such legislation is inhumane, since research shows just how life saving so-called gender-affirming support, both from family members and medical treatments, can be. More than one in three transgender high school students have attempted suicide, at least four times higher than among non-trans students, according to recent CDC data.
But rates drop by more than 45% when a family is highly accepting of a young person’s gender identity, according to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention group. Use of puberty blockers and hormones are similarly associated with decreased behavioral and emotional problems.
For P., the physical changes were slow to come when she first started taking hormones two years ago. But she immediately felt a mental shift.
“It was kind of this innate psychological thing of like, ‘I’m getting there,’” she said. That “slowly but surely I’m on the right track.”
Her parents, Michelle and Dave, admitted they knew little about transgender people when P. came out to them at 14. They wanted to be supportive, but also quietly wondered whether it was just a phase. As P. began to transition socially and then physically, the couple quickly realized she wouldn’t change her mind.
They saw how elated she was the first time she wore a skirt outside the house at Oakhurst’s Porchfest, and how she blended right in at a Pride festival they stumbled across while on vacation in Vienna, Austria.
“As a parent, you want to shield your kid from all the dangers of the world as long as you can,” said Dave, who asked that the AJC withhold his family’s last name to protect his daughter’s privacy. “But you also have to recognize that this is the path that they’re going down and this is how they can live as their authentic selves.”
Peter Isbister leads the metro Atlanta chapter of the support group TransParent, which aims to help parents become “confident caregivers and advocates” for their trans kids. He said there’s no universal experience for the parents who show up at his meetings. Some mourn for the little boy or girl they initially raised, while others are quicker to adaptand eager to find ways to support their child.
“Like so many things, it is completely individual,” Isbister said.
In worst-case scenarios, parents become estranged from their children. Custody battles have been waged when one parent objects to a child’s transition. One such fight over a 7-year-old in Texas became a cause célèbre of the conservative media in 2019, drawing rebukes from prominent voices including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr., and helping inspire legislation in at least three states, including Ehrhart’s bill in Georgia.
It can be especially hard for families outside of metro Atlanta where LGBTQ people aren’t as visible. Lowell said she recently saw one patient who’d been turned away by nearly a dozen other physicians.
LGBTQ health is not taught comprehensively in medical schools today, according to Lowell, and even in metro Atlanta the system of primary care doctors, therapists and endocrinologists who provide gender-affirming care resembles a patchwork.
A few years ago, Suzanne Haerther of Atlanta spent hours on the phone with her insurance company trying to find a local therapist who could help her transgender daughter, who was then in high school. Even many of the counselors specializing in LGBTQ issues told her they weren’t experienced treating transgender patients.
“As a parent you have a child who’s going through a traumatic experience and you’re trying to find somebody who can professionally help them,” Haerther said.
At the statehouse, at least one prominent Republican has indicated he’s not interested in wading into the fight.
“Sometimes we have issues that come along that are almost solutions in search of a problem,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, when asked about the sports bill in April. He hasn’t weighed in on Ehrhart’s bill, but the measure did not advance past the committee stage last session.
Despite that, some young transgender Georgians have cast their gaze outside the state as they decide where they want to build their futures. Even without passage of the legislation, they feel like they’d be more welcome elsewhere.
P., a high school junior, is looking at colleges outside the South. Sam Schexnyder, a 16-year-old from Decatur, didn’t wait until graduation.
Within weeks of coming out as transgender in eighth grade, Schexnyder witnessed his local schoolboard get embroiled in a fight over its bathroom and locker room policies. So he was blown away when, on a trip to the West Coast, he saw how much more accommodating other states were to trans people.
He begged to move in with his aunt in Seattle, and upon starting school there almost two years ago, Schexnyder marveled at all of the gender-neutral bathrooms and multiple options on enrollment forms for pronouns. Teachers were used to trans students — there are a half-dozen in each grade in his new school — and there’s no risk of his classmates accidentally calling him by his old name or pronouns since they never knew him pre-transition.
“It’s just, it’s wildly better here,” said Schexnyder, a grin sprouting across his blond, bearded face during a recent video call. “I think that’s definitely the most important part of transition, just to know that other people are going to help you along in that period of your life where you’re figuring things out and trying to become a better version of yourself.”
Isbister, the head of TransParent, and his wife Robyn had resolved to provide that kind of support for their child, E., after he announced at 5 that he wanted to live as a boy. The proclamation didn’t come as a surprise.E. had signaled for years that he didn’t identify as a girl, eschewing dresses and at one point asking his family to call him Franklin for a month.
In the fall of 2018, the Decatur couple emailed their friends, neighbors and family members — pretty much everyone they could think of who regularly crossed paths with their children — with a request to call E. by his new name and pronouns.
“First and foremost in our minds these days is our ability to provide a safe and loving community for E. so that he does not have to grapple with hatred, shame, societal stigma, or feeling ‘less than’ at such a tender age,” they wrote.
They know they can’t shield their son, now 8, from the world forever, but they hope to insulate their happy-go-lucky child for as long as they can. Both parents are lawyers, and they say if Georgia lawmakers limit options for transgender minors, the family is willing to travel out of state to get treatment or fight such a statute in court.
“He has known from the beginning who he was,” Robyn said. “It would be a crime to have him living as a girl.”
Why we didn’t fully name some people in this article:
It is rare for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to not fully name people it quotes, because identity is an important factor as readers judge the credibility of information. Sometimes, after careful deliberation, the AJC makes exceptions. Several parents interviewed for this article wanted to protect their child’s privacy, citing their age and the sensitivity of the topic. The AJC decided it was important to share their experiences while safeguarding minors. Also factoring into the decision: Trans youths suffer higher incidences of bullying, depression and suicide, according to studies. In this article, minors in two cases are identified only by their first initial and some parents are not fully named to protect a minor’s identity. The reporter communicated with families several times through a combination of phone and video calls, emails and texts. The reporter, together with an editor, verified family details through online public documents and social media posts. Two editors also reviewed emails and texts between the reporter and families.
In a contentious session, Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the legislatures anti-trans sports bill was sustained by one vote Monday.
Three Republicans and an absent Democrat joined with others to continue allowing transgender girls the same opportunities afforded the rest of academia.
In a tense vote Monday, the Kansas Senate nearly garnered enough votes to move forward with overturning the veto, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. Members ultimately fell one vote shy of the 27-member threshold needed to override, with three Republican members opting to oppose the legislation.
But it was a Democratic senator, Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, Kan. who ultimately decided the bill’s fate. Haley said after the vote the potential economic impacts of the legislation were what prompted him to side with the opposition.
Justass can’t name a single gild trans athlete as a reason for signing the bill banning trans girls from sports. But he sure knows how to call black opposing girl basketball players the N-word and get away with it.
Justice repeated that he was the basketball coach at a white high school and tried to excuse his signing the bill that way. But Justice didn’t talk about the Sept 2020 game in which he called the opposing team “a bunch of thugs“.
So Right. Thug. What’s the big deal?
Gov. Jim Justice is the coach of the girls’ basketball team at Greenbrier East High School, a school that is 89 percent white and five percent black. He had used the word “thug” when describing the Lady Flying Eagles.
The Lady Flying Eagles is coached by two black men.
The word “thug” is regarded as a derogatory racial term in West Virginia [evidently]. Woodrow Wilson High School is one of the more racially diverse schools in the state, and the two girls coaches at Woodrow are black men.
Banning transgender girls from sports even though there isn’t any, is a step closer to banning thugs. Right, Jim Justice?