The new transgender inclusion guidelines for sport in Britain have been broadly welcomed by a number of sports and women’s organisations, including Women in Sport. However they have also faced criticism from LGBT+ groups, such as Pride Sports and Stonewall.
The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the five sports councils in the UK – which invest hundreds of millions of pounds in sport every year – had concluded there was no magic solution that balances the inclusion of trans women in female sport while guaranteeing competitive fairness and safety. That, says the new guidance, is because the latest science “makes clear” that trans women retain significant physique, stamina and strength advantages, even when they reduce testosterone levels.
The guidance concludes by suggesting to sports that they will have to prioritise between trans inclusion and fairness – while also urging them to come up with “fresh ways” to be inclusive.
Transgender people and their supporters gather in Parliament Square to protest against potential changes
NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
A new report has revealed that one in seven transgender people have been refused care or treatment by their GP because they are transgender.
Carried out and published by TransActual UK, Trans lives survey 2021: Enduring the UK’s hostile environment has found that nearly half of GPs (45%) don’t have a good understanding of transgender healthcare needs. This rises to 55% for non-binary experiences.
It’s leading to six in ten transgender people to avoid asking for medical help when they are unwell.
TransActual says it’s more evidence of the high levels of daily discrimination faced by trans and non-binary people in the UK.
“These findings are shocking but in no way unexpected,” Chay Brown, director of TransActual, says. “They merely put figures to a perilous situation that almost every trans person in the UK is well aware of. Transphobia feels unescapable, whether we’re at home, at work or when we go to the doctor’s.”
Despite progressive laws on broader LGBTQ rights, the UK has now been downgraded in a number of reports that track human rights laws because of growing anti-transgender sentiment.
The latest, released this week from The Council of Europe, noted the “marked increase” in anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech and hate crime in the UK. The report names the UK alongside countries like Hungary, Poland, Turkey and the Russian Federation, where it is becoming increasingly challenging to be LGBTQ.
It follows the wider trend of how much transgender healthcare in the UK has been impacted over the last two years.
Last week i News reported not a single person under the age of 17 seeking treatment from a hormone specialist through England’s NHS trans youth service from December last year has been referred.
While life-changing surgery for transgender men has not resumed since the pandemic. Rules preventing elective surgery during Covid-19’s height were lifted in April. Trans Actual says patients still don’t have a timescale for when this will restart.
Last year the Good Law Project announced plans to take on NHS England with legal action for “persistent and long-standing breaches of the law,” within Gender Identity Development Services.
Also in the report is a focus on the overwhelming nature of anti-transgender sentiment in the UK media.
Because of this, it found practically all (99%) of transgender people had face discrimination on social media, with nine in ten saying the bias in the news is transferring to hate from strangers in the street.
“The real scandal here is how comprehensively the media have conspired to ignore this situation,” says Jane Fae, chair of Trans Media Watch. “They prefer, instead, to produce tens of thousands of words on the largely imagined consequences of reform to the Gender Recognition Act.”
“The bottom line is transphobia impacts all aspects of daily life for trans people, from relationships with our friends and families to healthcare, and even listening to the radio.
“Your actions (and inactions) have a profound impact on all of us.”
A return to homecoming tradition brought with it a first at Olympia High School in Orlando — the students elected she school’s first transgender student to the homecoming court and then crowned her queen.
Evan Bialosuknia is a queen proud of her crown. For her, it symbolizes something richer than royalty.
“It made me feel like I actually belonged,” Bialosuknia said. “Not just like a joke. Cause that was one of my fears, I was in bed one night like, ‘What if they were just doing this to laugh at me?'”
Bialosuknia is 17, and in her first year living the way she wants and feels.
“I still have a long way to go and more change is coming,” she said.
Just a few months ago, she started her transition.
“Looking back it doesn’t even feel like that’s me?” Bialosuknia said. “I played football for like 6 to 8 years and I remember during practices I would stare at the cheerleaders because I wanted to be with them.”
She says she couldn’t be her confident self without the love from her family.
She didn’t know quite what to expect at Olympia when she decided to try to become homecoming queen.
“I wanted to have that moment of glory,” she said.
She’s grateful the homecoming game’s halftime brought a show of support from her friends and classmates and the crowned king.
“There’s only good energy (from him), just a great person. He just made me feel like any other girl.”
Through all the excitement comes a certain comfort.
“It just made me realize I was not alone and don’t have to go through this alone,” Bialosuknia said.
She hopes she can share that comfort with others who may struggle finding their way as she continues a journey of her own.
“I have to just keep my head up and know that it’s going to take time and it’s going to take patience,” she said.
Certainly, the support from her classmates at Olympia is clear to see, but national data does show many LGBTQ teens continue to suffer higher health and suicide risks compared to their peers — especially transgender teens.
A recent CDC report says 43 percent of transgender youth have been bullied on school property and 29 percent have attempted suicide.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – In July, Trey Lowery, a transgender man, said a nurse asked him to take a pregnancy test before getting surgery at Highland Hospital.
“I told her ‘why am I taking a pregnancy test when you know I’m a male and I’m fully trans?’ She said I’m just doing my job,” he said. Lowery was about to get bariatic sleeve surgery. URMC screening for pregnancy before surgery is one of the hospital’s policies, which includes transgender people as they may reproductive organs.
Lowery says nurses continued to refer to him as “she” even though he corrected them and his driver license said male. When Lowery was sharing his story, he learned met Cori Smith, a transgender male who had a similar experience in 2014. Smith went to the emergency room at Highland for ovarian pain. He recalls an OBGYN and hospital staff treated him differently because Smith was transgender.
“They gave me a female wristband, they put my prior name on the wristband, even though I showed them my ID and my ID says male.” Smith continued, “”Immediately upon getting there, they didn’t treat me with respect. [The doctor] flat out laughed and called me “it”, “she”, “they”. They weren’t taking the amount of pain I was in seriously at all.”
URMC issued a statement in regards to Trey Lowery’s case:
“Highland Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality, compassionate, and safe care to all of our patients. Likewise, we take patient concerns very seriously and, when issues are brought to our attention, we conduct a thorough review to determine whether staff members took all appropriate steps to care for the patient. Upon completion of our review of this patient’s case, we believe that his care was medically appropriate and compassionate. However, we will continue to reflect on this individual’s experience to see if there is anything we can do better.”
In 2018, UR Medicine and Highland provided a statement in regards to Cori Smith’s case:
“UR Medicine believes that Mr. Smith received appropriate medical treatment at Highland Hospital in response to his need for emergency care in November 2014. This is based on a thorough review of the medical record by clinical professionals on Highland’s patient safety team, a review which included interviews with Mr. Smith’s attending physicians and other caregivers.
Leaders of UR Medicine’s quality and patient satisfaction teams reached out to Mr. Smith last summer after he raised a separate concern not specifically related to Highland Hospital. They spoke about his entire experience as a transgender patient in the UR Medicine system. Mr. Smith’s input helped significantly to inform efforts we have already implemented, and others currently underway, to make systems and practices at our hospitals more sensitive to and affirming of the needs of transgender and gender diverse patients, without compromising quality or safety of care.”
In the past five years, URMC says they have taken steps to support transgender and gender nonconforming patients at Highland Hospital. Some of the steps are removing gender from patient wristbands and updating gender, name and pronouns on medical and billing records.
Tessa Ganserer, member of the German Green Party and transgender candidate for the German Bundestag elections walks from her office to the Parliament during a Reuters TV interview in Munich, Germany, July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
BERLIN, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Two German politicians from the Greens have made history by becoming the first transgender women to win parliamentary seats in Sunday’s national election.
Tessa Ganserer and Nyke Slawik stood for the Greens party, which came third in the election, increasing its share of the vote to 14.8% from 8.9% in 2017 and is set to play a pivotal role in the building of a new three-way coalition government.
“It is a historic victory for the Greens, but also for the trans-emancipatory movement and for the entire queer community,” Ganserer, 44, told Reuters, adding that the results were a symbol of an open and tolerant society.
Topping the priority list for Ganserer, who was elected to Bavaria’s regional parliament in 2013, is an easier procedure for ratifying a sex change on identity documents.
Ganserer, who has two sons, also wants legislative changes to allow lesbian mothers to adopt children.
Slawik, 27, said the results were unbelievable. She secured a seat in parliament through the Greens list of candidates in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
“Madness! I still can’t quite believe it, but with this historic election result I will definitely be a member of the next Bundestag,” Slawik posted on Instagram.
Slawik has called for a nationwide action plan against homophobia and transphobia, a self-determination law, and improvements to the federal anti-discrimination law.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Germany in 1969 and same-sex marriage legalised in 2017. But hate crimes against LGBT+ people jumped by 36% last year, according to police figures that highlight a rising trend of homophobia in parts of German society.
Enduro racer and Gnarly Nutrition athleteBlake Hansen shares her journey as a transgender athlete, her motivation to overcome apprehensiveness, and the pursuit of her passion for downhill mountain biking. Growing up transgender in the nineties, Hansen struggled to express herself without fear of judgement. Bikes became her tool for freedom, and her relationship with them became the one honest connection she had. Today she takes great pride in being a representative for women and the LGBTQ+ community in mountain biking and the outdoors.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Advocates for transgender rights say Tennessee’s trio of anti-gay and anti-transgender laws passed this year have led to a surge in calls from educators and students with concerns about harassment in schools.
“The incidents that we’ve seen that have involved students have definitely felt more extreme,” said Aly Chapman, the GLSEN Tennessee policy coordinator. “This year has been remarkably intense.”
In one viral incident, Fulton High School senior William Watson said he got in trouble for standing up for a transgender friend who was being bullied in the school hallways.
“They were telling that she was going to hell, they were telling her that she will never be a real woman,” he said. “It’s definitely a problem.”
Knox County Schools disputed the allegations in the video and said it provides resources for LGBTQ+ students.
Since posting the TikTok, Watson said he’s heard from students across the state reporting similar incidents of harassment at their schools. “It’s kind of disheartening to hear that because I feel like people should be able to express themselves and be who they want to be without the fear of repercussions,” he said.
Chapman blames Tennessee’s newly-passed anti-transgender laws which restrict bathroom use and sports team participation for the increase in harassment and confusion from educators.
She said GLSEN has received numerous inquiries from educators across the state asking how to champion and support their students while following the law.
“Overwhelmingly, the majority of teachers in Tennessee want to do right for these kids,” she said.
Her organization is working with the ACLU and others to develop a guide for students and teachers about their rights under the new laws. In the meantime, LGBTQ+ students like Watson continue to show up to class.
“Sometimes it feels like you have to pretend to be someone that you’re not,” he said. “You have to kind of like hide, you have to put on a façade if you will.”
In a statement, Knox County Schools spokesperson Carly Harrington said the district offers LGBTQ+ support groups in schools, including at Fulton. Counseling is available for students and they said teachers are allowed to address students according to their preferred pronouns.
“KCS continually seeks to have every student feel safe and respected at school and connected to their educational experience,” Harrington said. “Earlier this year, the district hired a Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Officer, and part of her role is to provide support mechanisms for students who have concerns regarding discrimination.”
Alejandra Caraballo, 30, spent three years and countless hours after work — which “felt like a second part-time job” at times — putting together hundreds of documents to get her health insurance to cover her facial feminization surgery.
She even planned to sue her nonprofit employer, the New York Legal Assistance Group, or NYLAG, and the insurance company it used, UnitedHealthcare, in the spring of 2019 for denying the coverage.
“My own clients at NYLAG were getting it covered under Medicaid, no issue,” she said. “And I, having private insurance, was having it consistently denied and, not to mention, working at a place that prides itself on inclusion and diversity and being social justice-oriented in terms of providing direct legal services to low-income New Yorkers.”
She said that she had lobbied for policy change but that when she met with NYLAG’s general counsel, she was told that the organization didn’t view the explicit exclusions for certain gender-affirming operations and voice therapy for transgender people as discrimination.
“It felt really invalidating and just like I wasn’t being heard,” she said, adding that she is a lawyer who knows the case law that affects the issue.
She started preparing her lawsuit, but then, in May 2019, her employer told her that it would be switching insurance plans to Cigna, and she had to start all over again.
After the switch, in July 2019, Cigna approved the first part of her surgery, which took place in October 2019, but when she tried to get the second part covered in June 2020, it denied the claim, she said. The New York Department of Financial Services overturned the decision in August and forced Cigna to cover the surgery, which she had in October.
“I did quite an ordeal in terms of getting this covered, and I say this with the tremendous privilege that I’m an attorney who’s connected in the trans rights movement,” said Caraballo, who is now a clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s Cyber Law Clinic.
NYLAG said that Caraballo was “a valued member of our team” and that it advocates alongside its team members “as they may experience and navigate life’s systematic inequalities and inequities.”
“At NYLAG we aim to create an environment that supports all NYLAG employees during their employment, which includes making available the best options for insurance, qualified by the state of New York,” Jay Brandon, NYLAG’s director of external affairs, said in a statement. “We wish all our former employees the best in their personal endeavors and support Alejandra’s continued fight for equitable coverage from her insurance provider.”
A spokesperson for UnitedHealthcare said the company can’t comment on specific cases. The spokesperson said coverage for the treatment of gender dysphoria may include physicians’ office visits, mental health services, prescription drugs and surgical procedures.
“Our mission is to help people live healthier lives regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Our customer service advocates are trained to help people navigate the health care system by matching them with experts who guide them when they have questions, and we have a special gender identity team to support members through their transition.”
A spokesperson for Cigna said gender-affirming treatments “are covered in all of our standard commercial health plans when medically necessary.”
“As this field evolves, we’re seeing more of our clients opt to expressly include additional procedures like facial feminization surgery and voice therapy,” the spokesperson said. “We also regularly evaluate and update our gender dysphoria coverage policies, informed by the latest clinical guidance and expert consensus, including leading organizations like” the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, or WPATH, a nonprofit organization devoted to treating and understanding gender dysphoria.
Caraballo’s experience echoes that of many transgender people who have tried to get gender-affirming care, particularly operations, covered by their insurance — whether it’s publicly or privately funded. Trans people describe months and sometimes years of effort to get their insurance companies to cover care recommended by their doctors.
Majority report being denied care
Although many insurance companies and some politicians describe gender-affirming surgery as cosmetic, major medical organizations say it is medically necessary.
Surgical intervention is one of many treatments for gender dysphoria, which refers to the psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
WPATH, which is considered the governing body on the issue, wrote in a “medical necessity statement” in 2016 that “medical procedures attendant to gender affirming/confirming surgeries are not ‘cosmetic’ or ‘elective’ or ‘for the mere convenience of the patient.’”
“These reconstructive procedures are not optional in any meaningful sense, but are understood to be medically necessary for the treatment of the diagnosed condition,” WPATH wrote. “In some cases, such surgery is the only effective treatment for the condition,” and for some people, genital surgery, in particular, is “essential and life-saving.”
Despite the medical necessity of gender-affirming care as stated by physicians, many trans people who have insurance — about one-fifth have reported that they don’t — say they have struggled to get coverage.
A report last year from the Center for American Progress found that 40 percent of transgender respondents — and 56 percent of trans respondents of color — said their health insurance companies denied coverage for gender-affirming care, which includes treatments like hormones and surgery. It also found that 48 percent of trans respondents, including 54 percent of trans respondents of color, said their health insurance companies covered only some gender-affirming care or had no providers in network.
Dallas Ducar, CEO and a co-founder of Transhealth Northampton in Massachusetts, said she was shocked by the “endless barriers that exist for patients seeking to transition.”
“For cisgender individuals, hormonal replacement, puberty blockers are really easily accessible, and they’ve been used in the past to treat precocious puberty,” she said. “Hormone replacement therapy has been beneficial for endocrine, cardiovascular conditions, and trans people are burdened with paperwork, psychiatric assessments, insurance pre-authorizations.”
She said that most of the people in power — clinicians, politicians and people who work for insurance companies — are cisgender, meaning they identify with the genders they were assigned at birth, and that they have created systems that have reduced access to quality gender-affirming care.
“Those barriers that exist and that numerous amount of paperwork or assessments that you have to go through are really, really harmful, and they add to the layers of discrimination that exists within the trans community,” she said.
Yearslong battles and hefty loans
Alex Petrovnia, 24, and his partner, who are both transgender men living in central Pennsylvania, faced barriers similar to Caraballo’s when they tried to get UnitedHealthcare to cover their hysterectomies. Petrovnia said that twice — in February and in April — United called them less than 24 hours before their operations and said their claims had been denied. The first time, Petrovnia said, the company said it was because Petrovnia and his partner hadn’t sent the required paperwork, even though Petrovnia said he had faxed it three separate times months in advance.
Petrovnia had received two letters — one from a doctor and one from a therapist — confirming that a hysterectomy was necessary for his gender dysphoria, but he said the UnitedHealthcare representative told him that he needed a letter from another therapist.
He said that the second time their operations were denied, UnitedHealthcare called them when they were on their way to the hospital — just hours before their scheduled procedures — and said they were required to have been on hormone replacement therapy for one year before they could get hysterectomies. Petrovnia said the policy he had at the time said the requirement was only six months. He wrote about the experiences on Twitter.
He and his partner have been on hormone replacement therapy for a year as of last month, so he said they plan to try to reschedule the procedures for December.
“If they’re willing to just make up the rules and contradict their own rules, it’s very difficult to have hope that it’ll work out, especially since it’s been canceled less than 24 hours in advance twice now,” he said.
MONROE, CT — Board of Education member Nick Kapoor is proposing a Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth Policy to support the safety and well being of those students.
But after two weeks of passionate letters from parents for and against the proposal, fellow board member Shannon Reilly said the issue is dividing the town and questioned whether a new policy is needed at all.
After Chairwoman Donna Lane read letters in favor of a transgender policy at Monday’s meeting, Reilly took strong exception to those who implied the Board of Education is not doing enough for the district’s students.
“The people here, including myself, have volunteered countless hours in these meetings because we passionately care about the transgender students and all of the students,” Reilly said. “We show up for the meetings and we give a lot of time away from our families, because we care about all of the students. It’s very presumptuous and disrespectful to say otherwise.”
Reilly asked Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza if transgender students are protected under the district’s current policies.
“Under current policies and State statutes, they are protected. Yes,” Kobza said.
“They are protected?” Reilly asked.
“Yes,” Kobza replied.
“So this really isn’t that they are not protected. It’s simply causing more divisiveness is what it is,” Reilly said. “It’s simply causing more divisiveness and it’s so sad for our children, all of our children, that that’s become the norm in society right now.”
Reilly wondered how much money the transgender policy proposal has cost the town in meetings, legal opinions, attorney fees and “divisiveness in our town.”
“It used to be, for a very long time at these board meetings, that you would not be political,” Reilly said. “Everybody was here giving up their time to all of the kids in our district, because we care. It wasn’t political. You would walk in and wouldn’t know if there was a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ next to their name. We worked together.”
“It’s a shame that that has changed — dramatically,” Reilly said. “That divisiveness that our kids are growing up with is causing anxiety that has been brought to the Monroe Board of Education. That makes me sad.”
Kapoor said he believes conversation around his policy proposal is sorely needed.
“As I said in my report, we have hard data, not from the State, not from the national level, from here at Masuk, from here in Monroe two years ago, that a large proportion, not a majority, a minority proportion of our students saw harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and that needs to be addressed,” Kapoor said.
“That’s part of our job as members of the Board of Education,” he continued. “This has nothing to do with Democrat versus Republican. This has to do with policies we should be implementing to be protecting all of our children.”
Kapoor said if a good policy creates controversy in town and people don’t want it, they have every right to say that. “But at the end of the day, it is up to us to make a decision about that,” he said.
Reilly asked Kobza a second time if a policy already exists to protect all students, including transgender students. Kobza said yes.
“I think I’d like to leave it on that,” Reilly said.
If any doubt remained that documentaries depend, for their emotional power, on the same sort of directorial artistry as dramatic features do, the French director Sébastien Lifshitz’s new documentary “Little Girl” (in limited theatrical release, including at Film Forum) would suffice to dispel it. The film is centered on Sasha, a girl who’s growing up in a town near Reims and who has been, from earliest childhood, aware of her gender dysphoria. Assigned male at birth, she expressed, in early childhood, her identity as a girl; her parents, after some initial incomprehension, have been strongly supportive of her, but she endures cruelly indifferent rejection, both social and official, because of her identity. At her school, the principal and her teachers insist on treating her as a boy, and “Little Girl” depicts the family’s effort to help Sasha gain formal recognition of her gender at school and social recognition by her classmates and their parents.
Lifshitz could have made a conventionally informative documentary, using sound bites, interviews, and film clips; the political significance of the subject nearly invites such an approach. Yet he has done nothing of the sort. “Little Girl,” instead, is an immersive, experiential film, a work of creative nonfiction that, above all, portrays Sasha’s experience with an ardent, dramatic attentiveness; its distinctive style seems uniquely crafted to the implications of her story. Lifshitz introduces Sasha as she chooses her outfit, putting on a glittery dress and then selecting between a plain, cloth headband and a tiara in the mirror. She sees herself and Lifshitz sees her, in a fixed and concentrated closeup that, in the movie’s wide-screen cinematography (by Paul Guilhaume), offers a resonant moment of self-contemplation that would be so in any child’s life but which gains power from the specifics of Sasha’s childhood.
Sasha’s mother, Karine, discusses the child’s situation with an empathetic psychologist from the family’s home town. She explains that Sasha described herself as a girl before the age of three—or, rather, all the more remarkable, said that she would become a girl when she “grows up.” The psychologist recommends that Sasha see a specialist with expertise in gender dysphoria, who’d likely be found not locally but in Paris. This scene, in combination with the closeup of Sasha at home, sets the tone for the movie. It features no formal interviews, except with Sasha’s parents, who are seen in long closeups or side by side, discussing their experiences at length while addressing the unseen and unheard filmmaker just off camera. Lifshitz doesn’t trim their remarks to significant snippets but lets voices be heard at length, observes discussions advancing in intricate detail as if watching thought in motion, and, above all, looks closely at Sasha, contrasting, with fierce cinematic clarity, the undue conflicts that she’s suggested and the crystalline integrity of her identity.
Sasha is identified as a girl everywhere she goes, except in school, where the stiff-necked administration refuses to honor her identity. As a result, Sasha is treated as something of a pariah there, and she’s deprived of the most ordinary sorts of self-expression that define French childhood. The school’s administration claims merely to be following bureaucratic dictates in continuing to identify Sasha according to her official documents, but her parents take the refusal for something more ideologically motivated. (Her father hints at the school’s, and the community’s, religious conservatism.)