LGBTQ

I’m a pediatrician who cares for transgender kids — here's the truth about their treatment

by Mandy Coles, Boston University

When Charlie, a 10-year-old boy, came in for his first visit, he didn't look at me or my colleague. Angry and crying, he insisted to us that he was cisgender – that he was a boy and had been born male.

A few months before Charlie came into our office, he handed a note to his mother with four simple words, “I am a boy." Up until that point Charlie had been living in the world as female – the sex he was assigned at birth – though that was not how he felt inside. Charlie was suffering from severe gender dysphoria – a sense of distress someone feels when their gender identity doesn't match up with their assigned gender.

I am a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist who has been caring for transgender youth for over a decade using what is called a gender-affirmative approach. In this type of care, medical and mental health providers work side by side to provide education to the patient and family, guide people to social support, address mental health issues and discuss medical interventions.

Getting on the same page

The first thing our team does is make sure our patients and families understand what gender care is. We always begin initial visits in the same way. “Our goal is to support you and your family on this journey, whatever that may look like for you. My name is Mandy and I am one of the doctors at CATCH – the Child and Adolescent Trans/Gender Center for Health program. I use she/her pronouns." Sharing pronouns helps transgender people feel seen and validated.

We then ask patients and families to share their gender journey so we can better understand where they are coming from and where they hope to go. Charlie's story is one we often hear. A kid may not think much about gender until puberty but begins to experience worsening gender dysphoria when their body starts changing in what feels like the wrong way.

Social transitions with family help

Transgender and gender-diverse youth (those whose gender identity doesn't conform to the norms expected of their assigned sex) may face transphobia and discrimination, and experience alarmingly higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers. One option can be to socially transition to their identified gender, both at home and in the outside world.

An important first step is to help parents become allies and advocates. Connecting parents with one-to-one as well as group support can help facilitate education and acceptance, while helping families process their own experience. Charlie's parents had been attending a local parent group that helped them better understand gender dysphoria.

In addition to being accepted at home, young people often want to live in the world in their identified gender. This could include changing their name and pronouns and coming out to friends and family. It can also include using public spaces like schools and bathrooms, participating on single-gender sports teams and dressing or doing other things like binding breasts or tucking back male genitalia to present more in line with their gender identity. Though more research needs to be done, studies show that youth who socially transition have rates of depression similar to cisgender peers.

Many young people find that making a social transition can be an important step in affirming identity. For those that still struggle with depression, anxiety and managing societal transphobia, seeing a therapist who has knowledge of and experience with gender-diverse identities and gender dysphoria can also be helpful.

However, most young people also need to make physical changes to their bodies as well to feel truly comfortable.

Gender-affirming medical interventions

When I first met Charlie, he had already socially transitioned but was still experiencing dysphoria. Charlie, like many people, wanted his physical body to match his gender identity, and this can be achieved only through medical interventions – namely, puberty blockers, hormonal medications or surgery.

For patients like Charlie who have started experiencing early female or male puberty, hormone blockers are typically the first option. These medications work like a pause button on the physical changes caused by puberty. They are well studied, safe and completely reversible. If a person stops taking hormone blockers, their body will resume going through puberty as it would have. Blockers give people time to further explore gender and to develop social supports. Studies demonstrate that hormone blockers reduce depression, anxiety and risk of suicide among transgender youth.

Once a person has started or completed puberty, taking prescribed hormones can help people match their bodies with their gender identities. One of my patients, Zoe, is an 18-year-old transgender woman who has already completed male puberty. She is taking estrogen and a medication to block the effects of testosterone. Together, these will help Zoe's body develop breasts, reduce hair growth and have an overall more female shape.

Leo, another one of my patients, is a 16-year-old transgender man who is using testosterone. Testosterone will deepen Leo's voice, help him grow facial hair and lead to a more male body shape. In addition to testosterone, transgender men can use an additional short-term medication to stop menstruation. For nonbinary people like my 15-year-old patient Ty, who is not exclusively masculine or feminine, my colleagues and I personalize their treatments to meet their specific need.

The health risks from taking hormones are incredibly small – not significantly different, in fact, than the risks a cisgender person faces from the hormones in their body. Some prescribed hormone effects are partially reversible, but others are more permanent, like voice deepening and growth of facial hair or breasts. Hormones can also impact fertility, so I always make sure that my patients and their families understand the process thoroughly.

The most permanent medical options available are gender-affirming surgeries. These operations can include changes to genitals, chest or breasts and facial structure. Surgeries are not easily reversible, so my colleagues and I always make sure that patients fully understand this decision. Some people think gender-affirming surgeries go too far and that minors are too young to make such a big decision. But based on available research and my own experience, patients who get these surgeries experience improvements in their quality of life through a reduction in dysphoria. I have been told by patients that gender-affirming surgery “literally saved my life. I was free [from dysphoria]."

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Ongoing gender care

In March 2021, nearly five years after our first visit, Charlie walked into my exam room. When we first met, he was struggling with his gender, anxiety and depression. This time, he immediately started talking about playing hockey, hanging out with friends and making the honor roll. He has been on hormone blockers for five years and testosterone for almost a year. With the help of a supportive family and a gender-competent therapist, Charlie is now thriving.

Being transgender is not something that goes away. It is something my patients live with for their entire lives. Our multidisciplinary care team continues to see patients like Charlie on a regular basis, often following them into young adulthood.

While more research is always needed, a gender-affirmative approach and evidence-based medicine allows young transgender people to live in the world as their authentic selves. This improves quality of life and saves lives, as one of our transgender patients said about his experience receiving gender-affirming care. “I honestly don't think I would be here had I not been allowed to transition at that point. I'm not always 100%. But I have hope. I am happy to see tomorrow and I know I will achieve my dreams."The Conversation

Mandy Coles, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

​Florida pushes ban on trans girls in sports — including a disturbing 'reproductive anatomy' exam provision​

Florida House Republicans have passed legislation that bans transgender girls from participating in girl's sports, and allows anyone to dispute a student's gender, which would legally result in an examination of "student's reproductive anatomy."

HB 1475, the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," passed along party lines in a 70-44 vote, Law & Crime reports.

"Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex," the legislation reads. The intent is to ban transgender girls or women on the "basis of students' biological sex."

The bill also says that if there is any "dispute" about a student athletes' "biological sex," it "shall be resolved by the student's school or institution by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student's personal health care provider which must verify the student's biological sex."

"The health care provider may verify the student's biological sex as part of a routine sports physical examination by relying only on one or more of the following: The student's reproductive anatomy; The student's genetic makeup; or The student's normal endogenously produced testosterone levels."

The legislation does not define "dispute," who gets to file a dispute, or by what method a dispute should be filed or with what entity, or who has to pay for the exam. It leaves all that up to the State Board of Education.

In theory, a student who didn't make the team and were to blame anyone who did could file a dispute and force that student athlete to have a genital examination.

House Republicans killed 18 proposed amendments, including one that would have removed the section providing for examination of a student's reproductive anatomy.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kaylee Tuck must now go to the Senate, which also has a 24-16 GOP majority. If it passes, 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, Governor Ron DeSantis, would have to sign it into law.

Powerful anti-LGBTQ GOP congressman calling it quits after a quarter century

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, a member of Congress since 1997, will be retiring at the end of his term next year. The 66-year old powerful Texas Republican will have served a quarter-century in the House, after serving in his state legislature for six years.

Brady, whose active Twitter feed is daily filled with partisan falsehoods echoing the latest GOP talking points, chaired the Ways and Means Committee for four years until 2019. He is now its Ranking Member.

Brady, a hard-core conservative, has voted against LGBTQ people at every turn.

"I am for equal rights, not special rights," he said in 2019 about the LGBTQ Equality Act, claiming it would "create greater inequality, undermine the fundamental rights and religious liberty of Texans, and penalize individuals for their personal views."

Responding to the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 marriage ruling Congressman Brady said his "strong, sincerely-held belief is that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court should have upheld the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, and left this principled issue to the voters and their elected representatives in each state."

Brady has voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and voted to constitutionally define marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Last year Brady said he was "honored" to accept an award fron the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council:

The Texas Tribune in announcing Brady's retirement calls his district a "potent Republican stronghold," and says it would be "difficult…to see any scenario in which this seat becomes competitive territory for Democrats."

Why Republicans are betting the farm on attacking transgender people

The GOP's latest culture war is focused squarely on the nation's transgender community, specifically transgender youth. It isn't a new war, simply a new front in an old war that can be traced back to the famed "bathroom bills" from some years ago that spread across dozens of states. Those bills were introduced in tandem with former President Donald Trump's targeted federal government-led attacks that included the overturning of anti-discrimination statutes protecting trans people and an outright transgender ban in the U.S. military.

Now, in the wake of Trump's humiliating electoral loss, Republicans have accelerated the state-level attacks to a breathtaking level. In just the first three months of 2021, GOP-led state legislatures introduced more billsaimed at transgender people, especially youth, than they did over the entire previous year. There are now more than 80 bills introduced this year alone that, according to Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, "are not addressing any real problem, and they're not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate."

I recently spoke with Jules Gill-Peterson, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of the award-winning book Histories of the Transgender Child, in an interview, and she echoed this claim, saying, "A lot of authoritarian political movements are using trans people as their scapegoats." She called the latest wave of anti-trans legislation "an unprecedented assault in terms of just the magnitude of the bills and the severity of what they propose to do in terms of criminalizing basic access to health care and equal access to education."

She explained that "due to perhaps their general political incompetency, a lot of [Trump's attacks on transgender people] didn't really end up making it into practice." However, "on the state level, as is often the case, the GOP is much more successful at pursuing an anti-trans agenda than they ever are at the federal level." Gill-Peterson sees this as a culmination of efforts that can be traced back to North Carolina's 2016 passage of a bill banning transgender people from using facilities of the gender they identify with.

On April 5, North Carolina Republicans continued what they began five years ago, introducing a bill called the "Youth Health Protection Act," which blocks transgender minors from accessing the health care they need upon deciding to transition. Just as the GOP has often couched its attacks on communities under the guise of protecting them (think of anti-abortion legislation presented as "fetal personhood" bills), this bill, like several others in states like Arkansas, purports to protect trans youth.

Republicans also claim they want to protect "fair competition," in the words of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, by banning transgender kids from sports. Lee, along with the governors of Arkansas and Mississippi, signed bills into law this year banning trans youth from playing sports in school. These transphobic bills are based on a theory that transgender kids, especially girls, have an unfair biological advantage over non-transgender girls.

Just as the GOP's stated war on voter fraud is based on an imagined assault on the nation's democracy in order to disguise the real war on voting, the conservative party's stated reason for going after transgender children's access to health care or participation in sports is based on an imagined crisis. Gill-Peterson said, "most of these lawmakers will admit, they've never heard of any issue with transgender participation in sports in their state, and they've never heard of any issue around trans health care in their state, and they don't actually know any trans children."

The GOP's war on voting offers another analog. If the GOP really cared about democracy, they would make voting easier, not harder. Similarly, if the party were truly interested in the safety of girls, it would offer up bills that protect transgender girls in particular, who face very real dangers. Gill-Peterson said, "young trans girls and trans women are extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence because it's not taken seriously." Instead, the bills banning access to health care and sports only fuel greater violence against them. Every year, dozens of trans women are killed, and more transgender people were killed in the U.S. in the first seven months of 2020 than all of the previous year. It's no surprise that the spike in violence has coincided with legislative attempts to dehumanize the community.

Just as with anti-voter and anti-abortion bills, the GOP's tactic of pursuing transphobic legislation involves wasting legislative time and money by passing clearly unconstitutional bills that are invariably legally challenged, remain tied up in the courts for years and ultimately end up at the Supreme Court. Last summer, justices ruled against an attempt to legalize workplace discrimination against transgender employees, and then in the winter, they left in place a public school's accommodation of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

Whether the GOP wins or loses on this issue in the nation's highest court is almost beside the point because the party's goal is to distract its anxious base from the fact that their leaders do little to nothing about pervasive problems around inequality and depressed wages, a stagnant job market and the ever-rising cost of living.

Moreover, the GOP's anti-trans bills fulfill part of a larger conservative agenda to create evermore exceptions to government-provided services such as health care and education, whittling away at the state's responsibility for resources to be available to all and rights to be respected universally. If hormone treatments, abortions, and medical treatments for immigrants are exceptions to government-provided health care; if public education is for everyone but transgender kids; then those services are weakened in service of libertarian fantasies of how society should function.

How to combat this brutality and inhumanity? Gill-Peterson pointed out, "the folks who are on the same side of this debate as the Republican legislators include a wide swath of extremist groups: white nationalists, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-immigrant groups." To meet this threat will require an equally broad coalition of progressives to stand guard against attacks on transgender people.

The state of South Dakota has been a testing ground for state-level legislation aimed at trans rights. Bill after bill has failed in that state, thanks largely to a coalition that has stood firm at every turn to protest them. Alongside transgender activists are parents, teachers, and doctors as well as national organizations like the ACLU and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Having a president like Joe Biden who has reaffirmed the humanity and dignity of transgender people, rather than targeting them for violence as Trump did, is also a huge help. "We need to see trans rights as integral to a broader agenda for democracy, justice, and public good in this country," said Gill-Peterson.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of "Rising Up With Sonali," a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for Allproject at the Independent Media Institute.

A North Carolina bill exposes the real agenda of the anti-trans coalition

On Monday, legislators introduced a bill to the North Carolina Senate that would not only ban health care for trans people under 21. It would require schoolteachers to "out" students to their parents if they say they're trans, or if they exhibit, according to the bill's text, "symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrate a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor's sex."

While SB514 is unlikely to become law, it is among items on a wishlist for the most extreme anti-trans activists. The gender nonconformity proviso shows that the aspirations of the anti-trans movement go far beyond banning gender-affirming health care for minors. They seek nothing less than to give agents of the state the power to determine what constitutes "normal" or "appropriate" gender expression. The law gives teachers carte blanche to decide based on their own views, whims and prejudices. Boys who wear sparkles and girls who wear camo could find themselves written up.

Anti-trans activists claim they are champions of parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit. But bills like this one show that the commitment only goes as far as parents who already buy into their rigid model of child-rearing. This bill would take away the rights of parents who want to support their kids through medical transition.

The modern anti-trans movement is a lopsided alliance between religious conservatives and certain self-proclaimed radical feminists. It recalls the 1970s and 1980s when feminists and the religious right found a common cause in the fight against pornography. The radical Women's Liberation Front (WoLF) has co-authored anti-trans literature with a local affiliate of the evangelical group Focus on the Family. The factions attend each others' conferences. The Heritage Foundation even quotes radical feminists like Janice Raymond approvingly in anti-trans position papers.

Radical feminists are very much the junior partner. The religious right brings most of the power, money and people to the fight. However, these radical feminists, known derisively as TERFs (short for trans-exclusionary radical feminists), are useful for recasting anti-trans rhetoric in a form that's palatable to secular, liberal audiences.

As trans people gain visibility and acceptance, the anti-trans movement is fighting a losing battle. Anti-trans messaging is an increasingly desperate attempt to answer a simple question: What's it to you? Why should you, the American voter, give a damn how someone else's pronouns relate to their genitals? The anti-trans movement's rhetorical solution has been to present trans people as threats. So-called "bathroom bills" were an attempt to present trans people as threats to the safety of cis women. Proponents portrayed trans women as sexual deviants who wanted access to "women's spaces" for nefarious reasons. The great bathroom bill push failed in large part because a preoccupation with the genitals and bodily functions of strangers seemed creepy. Also, as the average person's understanding of trans women expanded to include women like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, the stereotype of the predatory trans woman has become less credible and therefore less useful as a political weapon.

Undeterred, the anti-trans lobby has found new hypothetical victims to defend: the children. They argue that most children who say they're trans are mostly gender nonconformists and budding gays and lesbians, who will eventually grow out of their gender dysphoria if left alone. These kids are supposedly at risk of being talked into unnecessary body modifications by "the trans lobby." (It's hard not to hear echoes of the old homophobic propaganda about gays and lesbians "recruiting" children.)

TERFs raise the specter of cis tomboys resorting to testosterone and mastectomies as a capitulation to gender stereotypes that say they can't be themselves and still be women. Sounding more like the World Wildlife Fund than social activists, these radical feminists, so-called, condescendingly warn that butch lesbians are an "endangered species" at risk of "going extinct" due to gender transitions. The recent flurry of legislation that aims to ban trans girls from girls sports is yet another example of anti-trans activism positioning trans people as a threat to cis children.

TERFs want us to see a zero-sum game in which the well-being of gender non-conformists and sexual minorities is set against that of trans people. They want us to believe expanding access to transition-related health care for kids is another way of pressuring gender nonconformists. The North Carolina bill shows why this argument is fallacious. The religious conservatives, who wield most of the power in the anti-trans coalition, aren't content with banning trans-affirming health care for youth. They want to give teachers to decide what constitutes "gender nonconformity." This is tantamount to giving state sanction to gender stereotypes. If kids don't conform to a teacher's idea of what is masculine or feminine, they'd be exposed to their parents. Such reporting could endanger kids, as some parents police gender norms violently.

The interests of gender-nonconforming cis people and those of trans people are not diametrically opposed. Expanding the rights of one group doesn't penalize the other. TERFs are presenting a false zero-sum game to scare progressives into backing off their support for trans kids and their families. The North Carolina bill shows the real agenda of the anti-trans coalition: empowering agents of the government to help conservative parents maintain a stranglehold over their children's gender expression.

Why one anti-trans bill went too far for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed Monday an anti-trans bill passed by an overwhelming majority. The Republican had already signed a bill banning trans girls from athletic competition against other girls, and one affirming the right of healthcare professionals to refuse treatment for moral or religious reasons. But HB 1570, which would have banned gender-confirming treatments for minors, was "indefensible."

Why?

First, we should stipulate that the surge in anti-trans legislation is a national phenomenon. None of this stuff was written in Arkansas. Dozens of state-level bills introduced in the aftermath of the 2020 election were written from cookie-cutter legislative templates originating from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC for short), a 501(c)(3) founded at the dawn of the culture wars in 1973.

Legislation and ballot initiatives defending traditional views of sex and gender have historically whipped up the conservative base. Since 1985, ALEC has been well-known for drafting legislative templates that seek to put a brake on expanding LGBTQ civil rights and liberties. In a memo the organization has since disavowed, articulating homosexuality as a choice linked to predatory sexual behavior and pedophilia.

Although it does not embrace gay rights, ALEC does not overtly oppose them either. Instead, the organization preserves traditional stances on gender, sexuality and family by elevating "moral conscience" and "protection." This is what may have put trans girls, even more of a minority than LGBTQ adults, in the organization's crosshairs.

This shift followed Obergefell, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across all 50 states. The conservative backlash was swift. By February 2016, the Human Rights Campaign identified an "unprecedented onslaught of legislation … targeting transgender children." More than 40 bills were introduced in two years.

Following the 2020 election, conservative legislators in multiple, mostly red, states introduced a blitz of anti-LGBTQ legislation. Sixteen establish the right of health care, clerical and government workers to refuse services on the grounds of moral conscience or faith. Three times as many prevent minors from gender confirmation treatments; and from athletic competition against, or sharing bathrooms with, other girls.

These bills present themselves as acts of conscience and fair play. Echoing the language of the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign, they "save" kids from harms inflicted by adults. The "Save Women's Sports Act" proposes to preserve female athletes from someone who, in the words of one advertisement, "claims to be a girl, but was born a boy." The "Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act" reinforces science skepticism, implying that gender confirmation care is untested and risky.

Anti-trans activists erroneously view gender dysphoria as a myth, identifying those who support transgender children as elevating unstable, youthful "feelings" over the biological "facts" of physical bodies. "Facts don't care about your feelings," a slogan propagated by conservative media personality and anti-trans activist Ben Shapiro.

Bodies are not the only reality conservative lawmakers are concerned about: keeping conservative voters attached to emotionally-charged cultural issues energizes them. Yet only 24 percent of Americans now believe that homosexuals do not deserve rights and equal treatment. Over half of Christian millennials support gay equality.

Even anti-trans bills can be toxic. While easy to pass in red states, they are a liability for any governor aspiring to recruit the corporate donors necessary to running for national office. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota threaded this needle. A potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, she vetoed an anti-trans sports bill opposed by the NCAA and by corporations. Noem then issued her own executive orders restricting women's athletics to those whose female gender is "reflected on their birth certificate or affidavit provided upon initial enrollment." That appears tough, but because birth certificates can be changed in many states, it creates a legal window.

Asa Hutchinson may have been in a similar position. In a public statement, he explained the bill banning gender confirmation treatment was "overbroad, extreme," and failed to "grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment." It was also government overreach, the governor said: "The state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue."

Cannily, Hutchinson supports conservative principles while avoiding conflict with a Biden administration determined to legally expand transgender protections. While affirming gender difference, he has also distanced himself from the anti-science wing of the GOP by subtly admitting that gender dysphoria is, in fact, a fact, not a feeling.

Finally, by gesturing to the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship, he has signaled support for another sexual right, one that white suburbanites value most: access to legal birth control and abortion. Hutchinson signaled that his support for a more moderate Republican when he declared he could not support another Trump candidacy. Now he has raised another question: Is he supporting himself in 2024?

Biden Justice Department reverses Trump's order on LGBTQ students

In a major reversal of Trump-era legal policies the U.S. Dept. of Justice has issued a memo declaring that LGBTQ students are protected from discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools.

It is a major win for some of the nation's most vulnerable people, and an interesting twist for the history books.

The memo, dated March 26 but just reported today by The Hill and Law & Crime, was authored by the same attorney who argued part of a major LGBTQ case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and won. That case paved the way for this new memo.

Pamela Karlan (photo) in 2019 argued in the landmark Bostock case, telling the Court in no uncertain terms: "When a employer fires a male employee for dating men but does not fire female employees who date men, he violates Title VII. The employer has…discriminated against the man because he treats that man worse than women who want to do the same thing. And that discrimination is because of sex."

The Court ruled 6-3 that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is sex discrimination and therefore illegal.

"After considering the text of Title IX, Supreme Court caselaw, and developing jurisprudence in this area, the Division has determined that the best reading of Title IX's prohibition on discrimination 'on the basis of sex' is that it includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation," wrote Karlan, who now serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

Karlan's memo, along with a broader Biden executive order, reverses a Trump executive order specifically stating that the Bostock ruling was to be narrowly applied only to employment.

Karlan is also the same attorney who testified during Trump's first impeachment, explaining why his actions constitute bribery.

As Slate's Joseph Michael Stern notes, "Pam Karlan is one of very few people to win a civil rights case at the Supreme Court then implement that decision as a federal civil rights official. That's gotta feel good."

For her, and for millions of LGBTQ students.

Arkansas governor vetoes bill banning medical treatment for trans youth – but there's a catch

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has just vetoed a bill that would ban physicians and other medical professionals from providing treatment to transgender minors.

Calling the legislation "off-course," Hutchinson suggested the legislation is not "necessary and defensible" in the culture war battle.

"Government under a conservative philosophy should be restrained. This is an example of where restraint is better than overbroad actions that interfere with important relationships in our society," Hutchinson said in a press conference, according to Slate's Mark Joseph Stern.

But he also acknowledges the legislature could override his veto. In Arkansas just a simple majority is needed to override a veto.

The ACLU's Chase Strangio:

Hutchinson has recently signed several other anti-LGBTQ bills into law, including sweeping legislation that would allow medical professionals, hospitals, insurance companies, and other medical providers – including students – the "right" to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs.

He also signed in to law a bill banning transgender girls from playing women's or girls sports.

Hutchinson says his veto today is for a bill that would make the state "the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients, and healthcare experts."

Pentagon to lift Trump-era ban on transgender troops

Reversing one of former President Donald Trump's most egregious civil rights rollbacks, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday—International Transgender Day of Visibility—that it would soon allow openly trans people to serve in the U.S. military.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that as of April 30, the Defense Department's Obama-era policy—which for the first time allowed trans people to serve—would be restored, "provided all appropriate standards are met."

Under the new policy (pdf), the military will bar discharge or denial of re-enlistment based on gender identity, as well as allow transgender troops to transition while serving. The Defense Health Agency will also establish clinical procedures for the treatment of troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

"These policies are based on the conclusion that open service by transgender persons who are subject to the same high standards and procedures as other service members with regard to medical fitness for duty, physical fitness, uniform and grooming standards, deployability, and retention is consistent with military service and readiness," the Pentagon said.

Emma Shinn, president of the trans troop advocacy group SPART*A and a captain in the Marine Corps, said in a statement that she is "elated that the approximately 15,000 transgender service members proudly serving across the globe can rest easier knowing that their service to our nation is seen, valued, and that they can continue to serve as their authentic selves."

Brock Stone, a petty officer first class in the Navy who sued the Trump administration, told The 19th that he is relieved by the policy shift.

"I joined the Navy in 2006 to serve my country, and my idea of patriotism includes speaking up for myself and anyone else who's being held down," Stone said. "No one in this country should be afraid to be themselves, to walk down a street, to apply for a job, to go out in public, or to exist."

LGBTQ advocates also largely welcomed the Pentagon's policy shift.

"We are thrilled the military is putting this ugly and shameful chapter in our nation's history behind us and once again embracing our nation's highest ideals of equal opportunity for all," Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights—which fought in court for trans troops to serve openly again—told Vox.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said in a statement that "President [Joe] Biden and the Pentagon have moved swiftly and certainly to undo the discriminatory and unjust transgender military ban put in place by the former president."

"This is a great day for America's service members, who deserve a commander in chief who understands the service and sacrifice that come with putting on the uniform of the United States military," added Ellis.

There were thousands of transgender troops openly serving in the ranks without fuss, fanfare, or financial burden at the time of the Trump ban. According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon, allowing trans people to openly serve would have a "minimal impact" on readiness and healthcare costs.

The RAND study estimated there would be but 30 to 140 new hormone treatments per year, and between 25 and 130 gender reassignment surgeries performed at a cost of $2.4 to $8.4 million dollars—less than the cost of one battle tank, or around 0.001% of the Pentagon's $824 billion budget at the time.

"So the biggest, baddest most $ military on Earth cries about a few trans people, but funds the F-35?" tweeted former soldier Chelsea Manning—who is trans—in July 2017, a reference to the $1.7 trillion fighter jet program. "Sounds like cowardice."

'The most extreme piece of anti-trans legislation': Arkansas lawmakers pass disturbing bill

Republicans in the Arkansas House and Senate have just passed a bill that would ban physicians and other medical professionals from providing medically-necessary treatment and services to transgender minors. If Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has already signed several anti-LGBTQ bills into law this month, signs HB 1570, experts warn transgender youths' lives will be at risk.

Calling it "one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country," the ACLU warned in a brief before the bill was passed that if signed, "it will be the most extreme piece of anti-trans legislation ever signed into law."

Lawmakers misnamed the legislation the "Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Monday's Senate vote was 28-7. The House bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, the Senate bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Alan Clark (photo).

"House Bill 1570 would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care," the ACLU explains. "It would bar any state funds for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age."

But that's not all.

"Doctors who provide medically necessary care to trans youth would risk losing their licenses and be subject to lawsuits by individuals and the state," the ACLU states.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio:

How Lil Nas X successfully trolled the right

The artist behind the inescapable 2019 earworm "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X, has successfully landed himself at the center of this week's predictable conservative outrage for the music video and promotional show accompanying his new single "Montero," even causing the corporate giant Nike to file suit.

The music video which serves as an anthem of queer acceptance portrays a heavenly Lil Nas X in what appears to be some version of the garden of Eden. As he sings about coming to terms with the fact that he has become infatuated with someone that is not deemed socially acceptable, he is seduced by a snake (also played by Lil Nas X) and ultimately chooses between heaven and hell by descending to the underworld via stripper pole.

The video has accrued over 37 million views since it initially premiered only days ago on March 26th.

"I know we promised to die with this secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist. You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say i'm pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people's lives and stop dictating who they should be."

Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) (Official Video) www.youtube.com

As expected, conservative talking heads, whose entire careers are based on creating identity politics hysteria, have found the video to be outrageous, completely missing the point about what the church and modern-day Christianity have said about the acceptance of queer people. Grifter extraordinaires like Candace Owens expressed their distress over the music video on Twitter.

Lil Nas X, who is possibly the greatest celebrity poster to have ever taken to Twitter, responded with a swift clapback:

Many on social media have praised the song and questioned criticism for the video that subverts the notion that the supposed 'eternal damnation' associated with queerness is something that queer people cannot reclaim for themselves.


Nike filed a lawsuit against MSCHF for misleading customers and tarnishing the Nike brand on Monday. The corporate giant alleged that MSCHF's "unauthorized Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike."

"Decisions about what products to put the 'swoosh' on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF," Nike said in its lawsuit, referring to its "swoosh" logo. "Nike requests that the court immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling all orders for its unauthorized Satan Shoes."

Others who have expressed their outrage include South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, who responded to a tweet promoting the shoes by saying, "We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win."

Most interestingly, Noem is dedicating her platform as a government official to Satanic Panic surrounding sneakers and the value of people's "god-given eternal souls" rather than addressing the fact that her lack of a response to the Coronavirus pandemic, one that included the peddling of conspiracy theories and Trump's hydroxychloroquine lies resulted in one of the worst transmission and death rates in the country at the tail-end of 2020.

Others incensed by the music video they did not have to watch included right-wing character Kaitlin Bennett, who at first shared her thankfulness for being blocked by the rapper. When he responded with an oft-cited (yet unproven) allegation of Bennett soiling herself at a college party, this was her response:

Bennett, who has gained a reputation as a provocateur for filming videos of herself harassing pedestrians in public settings received this prompt reply:

Ultimately the arguments that Lil Nas X is making a mockery of religion or the church fail to realize that as a queer man, he is embracing the narrative he has been fed about the implications of his mere existence. It's almost as if everyone that is digitally clutching their pearls about a music video and a sneaker design are more intently focused on generating empty outrage rather than focusing on issues that actually impact people's quality of life.

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