Bathroom Bills and Your Right to Wee, According to Your Gender Identity(ee)

Bathroom bills are on the march across the United States.  Most of the states pursuing these “bathroom bills” are based in the South or Midwest of the country.  However, they may not be exclusive to these areas.  Either way, it is very disconcerting.

The gist of the “bathroom bills” is a ploy to allow discrimination against LGBTIQ based upon an exercise of “religious freedom”, “privacy issues”, and imaginary “safety issues”.  Most are sponsored by organizations that are virulently intolerant of anyone who is perceived as “not straight.”  Religion might be in their name, but it is historical patriarchal mechanisms which they are really supporting.  Thus, it is a structure that cannot tolerate any threat to loss of power or influence at it’s core.  This structure must constantly renew itself through immersion of people (aka students) into its values.  One way to do that is to engender fear and suspicion in the community (aka school) of anyone who is different.

This brings us to the issue of lawsuits and bathroom use for transfolk who are school-aged students, especially for middle and high school.  It brings up issues of support, rights, and safety, not only for the trans student, but for all students of every stripe, color, creed, race, gender, and orientation by restricting a student due to a trait or feature about said student(s).  Hence, it can be the beginning of a long and winding road of discrimination of class(es) of people.

One particular lawsuit in Virginia is winding its way to a possible Supreme Court showdown.  It is one in which there is a strong likelihood that the suit will be returned to the states due to the new Trump administration and their penchant for “traditional values”.

I don’t want to be a wet-noodle or a Debby Downer, but the efforts to secure a right to use the bathroom matching one’s gender identity is about to go on pause for a while in some states, and that would likely include Virginia.

I’m an old transwoman of over 20 years. I also counsel as an MFT those who are closeted or keeping secrets, or in an inquiry into their identity. These are not easy things to address.

Suing in federal court to identify a “right” to not be discriminated due to gender identity has moved forward by linking such suits to Title IX clauses prohibiting sex discrimination.  This linkage is thanks to the Obama administration creating rules with executive orders which altered the interpretation of sex to include gender identity.  A very logical and appropriate development, in my view.   But, forgive the pun, this area of law is still quite fluid. 

However, with this new Trump administration I believe it is extremely likely that these rules will be removed. In that case, pursuing nondiscrimination based upon gender identity does not necessarily have federal backing. And that means these battles against discrimination will return to the state level.

A law professor of mine once said, regarding suing for discrimination, that if you file suit, you better win. Because if you don’t win, you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but the entire class of people just like you.

Tread carefully. Work with the school districts to avoid going to court unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider accepting a compromise that does not demean, shame, or invoke suffering, especially if the motive of the school district is really about doing their best to protect and respect the trans student, as well as deal with other parents who act out of fears, not facts. Most of all stay safe.

Or as my father used to tell me, “It might be YOUR right. But don’t be DEAD right.” Good advice.

20 years ago when I came out, facing myself, and facing others, I made compromises in order to survive. There were no laws protecting Transfolk from any kind of discrimination.  In order to allay others’ fears. In order to keep my job. In order to have a place to live.  And in time people came around and wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t want any of us to go back in time. But I don’t want anyone hurt, injured or killed either.

Lastly, do not take this as surrender or appeasement.  One must pick their battles while also maintaining their ability to function in the greater society.  It is sometimes a long and slow trudging process.  Moving forward is often done in small steps, through being real and allowing people to know you, and you getting your message out there in how you live your life, and how you speak about your life.

HIV Infection Rates in U.S. Southern States is as bad as Sub-Saharan Africa

HIV-diagnosis-map-e1362145984877
Source: ThinkProgress.com

Yes, more bad news on the HIV front.  It appears that the rates of infection for both African-American and Latino women in U.S. southern states is as horrid as some places in sub-Saharan Africa.  I wish there were some sort of sick joke, but it’s not.

It appears that this growing issue has more to do with health policies of the states themselves, lack of adequate sex education, including prevention methods beyond abstinence, and certain possible cultural biases and mores within the affected populations themselves.

Either way, it is deplorable that something that can be prevented is NOT being prevented.

There is a very complete and comprehensive article in the Washington Post on this unfolding issue:

“But it’s not just money, or the lack of it, that accounts for the disproportionate number of people living with, and dying from, HIV/AIDS in the Deep South, experts say. The escalating HIV rates are the result of a perfect storm of social factors such as poverty, persistent anti-gay attitudesand a lack of transportation in rural areas. And in the South, AIDS often still has the taint of the plague. Fear of being judged and ostracized keeps some people away from clinics and the care they need.”

To read the complete article, go to this link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/southern-states-are-now-epicenter-of-hivaids-in-the-us/2014/09/22/9ac1525a-39e6-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html?tid=pm_national_pop

You Can Learn A Lot About America From Each State’s Internet Search History [blog.estately.com]

google-search-map2

by Ryan Nickum / estately.com

America’s fifty states have a lot in common, but if their internet search histories are any indication they also have significant differences. Estately ran hundreds of search queries through Google Trends to determine which words, terms, and questions each state was searching for more than any other. The results ranged from mildly amusing to completely disturbing. No doubt this information will come in handy for anyone trying to decide which state they want to buy a home in, especially for those curious how their potential neighbors spend their time online. The results on the map above are just the tip of the online search iceberg. Check out what other search queries each state performed more of than any other in the list below…

ALABAMA:  FOX News / God / Impeach Obama / Jesus / Jessica Simpson / Obama Is The Antichrist / Polka  / Satan

ALASKA:   Adult Friend Finder / AR-15 / Bestiality / Bird Watching / Couch Surfing / Mail Order Bride / Pull Tabs / Sarah Palin

ARIZONA:  Conjugal Visits / Hippies / Scorpion Sting / How are babies made?

ARKANSAS:  Atkins Diet / End of Days / Lap Band Surgery / Learn to Read / Walmart Jobs

CALIFORNIA: Alcoholics Anonymous / Bros Before Hos / Dandruff Cure / Food Poisoning / Google Glass / Kim Kardashian / Meat is Murder / Paris Hilton / Pokemon / Rogaine / What does Siri look like?

Click here to read the entire article… http://blog.estately.com/2014/05/you-can-learn-a-lot-about-america-from-each-states-internet-search-history/

 

Man tells senators transgendered people ‘lose their careers’ [latimes.com]

by Jamie Goldberg / latimes.com

WASHINGTON — When Kylar Broadus told his employer he would be making a gender transition from a woman to a man, he was harassed and ultimately forced out of his well-paying job at a financial institution, he said. It took him a year to find other employment.

“People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender,” said Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, who some senators said was the first openly transgender person to testify before theU.S. Senateon Tuesday.

Following a letter from Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions reopened discussion on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Forty-two percent of homosexuals and bisexuals reported employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey, a sociological survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Seventy-eight percent of transgender people reported harassment at work because of their gender identity, according to a 2011 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Among those who say they have faced discrimination are Jacqueline Gill, a temporary instructor at a community college in Texas, who was told by her supervisor that “Texas doesn’t like homosexuals” and Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who says she was fired from her job at the Georgia General Assembly for her gender expression.

“We have decades of social science research that tell us that those stories, which are just a sample of many, are repeated in workplaces all throughout America,” testified M.V. Lee Badgett, research director for the Williams Institute. However, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has had little success in Congress. ENDA has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994, and in 2007 a modified version, without protections for transgender individuals, passed through the House before dying in the Senate.

While committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) expressed a commitment to seeing the bill move quickly through committee, he could not give any time frame. No Republicans attended what was supposed to be a full committee hearing.

Freedom to Work, a national organization committed to banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) on Tuesday urging him to bring the bill to the Senate floor. Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida plans to continue to press Harkin to push the bill through the committee.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and it is illegal in 16 states and the District of Columbia for employers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

While Broadus finds himself lucky to be employed once again, he still hasn’t recovered financially and emotionally from the discrimination he faced.

“It will go with me to my grave,” Broadus said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-man-tells-senators-transgendered-people-lose-their-careers-20120612,0,6077678.story

Want some free, anonymous health care? Try your local U.S. Health Department. [io9.com]

by Keith Veronese / io9.com

Don’t have a job with health insurance benefits? Lose your job and can’t afford a COBRA plan? Regardless of the situation (and even if you are insured), you can still get care, and you should. What you may not have realized is that your local health department provides a level of basic care for a nominal (or free) cost – let’s take a look at what is provided in many cases.

No Insurance and Not much Money? You can still get medical care.

If you fall in the gap of not qualifying for Medicaid or other tax payer finance health care initiatives, you can still receive medical care at minimal cost at your local health department. The cost, if any, is often determined on a sliding scale based on your annual income, and is considerably less than the minimum of $100-200 dollars it would take to visit a for-profit walk-in clinic. Health departments are typically organized on the state and county level, and operated with tax payer dollars. In addition to health departments, some members of your community may offer free or “donation” clinics (like the Hope Health Clinic in Georgia) available, private clinics that rely heavily on volunteer resources from medical personnel in the community and donations from individuals to operate. They also provide great volunteer opportunities if you are so inclined. Health departments are a valuable resource for students and international travelers as well, as they can often obtain copies of your birth certificate and provide immunizations necessary for school or foreign travel, and they often have translation services.

NOT for Emergency Care

I do want to point out before going further, that if you are in need of emergency medical treatment; go to your local emergency room. Regardless of your financial situation, the hospital is required to stabilize you, as a patient, before discharging you. This is a U.S. Federal standard provided by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

Health Screenings, Mental Health, & STD Testing

Almost every health department provides general health screenings – so if you are concerned about a lump, a cut, the red striations along your back, or are just feeling under the weather, you can get checked out. Birth control and family planning services are also provided. In addition to general health screenings (and sometimes, full physicals), more specific care like cancer screenings are offered, either routinely or in certain parts of the year. Mental Health care has also become a major focus of many health departments in hopes of erasing the stigma attached to asking for help, and helping hundreds of thousands of individuals in the process.

One of your health department’s primary goals is preventing the transmission of communicable diseases, with sexually transmitted diseases being at the top of the list. If you are sexually active, you owe it to yourself and your partners to be tested at least once a year, and most health departments provide a battery of STD tests free of charge. This effort to curb communicable diseases extends into the world of vaccination as well, as many immunizations, including the battery of immunizations required for most schools, colleges, and some work environments are provided at little or no cost to the patient along with tuberculosis screenings.

Anonymity and Cost Efficiency

Most public health departments operate with a high degree of anonymity, as they routinely deal with more uncomfortable health issues. Waiting rooms are broken down by clinic, with more sensitive clinics often using an identification number instead of name. On-site pharmacies are also often present, with physicians taking cost into account in prescribing at times – a drug that is prescribed and taken by the patient that costs less and may be less efficacious is of superior value in comparison to an expensive pharmaceutical that is prescribed and never filled by a pharmacist.

Providing Less Routine Care Some community health departments offer dental care and eye exams along with general “wellness” classes on topics like smoking cessation and procedures like colonoscopies and ultrasounds. Local health departments often cater to children, and in some cases, even offer low cost insurance for children as well, regardless of the parent’s insurance status. This care often extends until the child is 19, taking them well into adolescence and the beginning of their college years.

Paid by your Taxes

If you are worried about the state of your body, it’s best to get it checked out, regardless of your financial situation. Check with your local health department, as the services offered provided can vary, and larger cities may have more beneficial programs. Your tax dollars pay for these opportunities, so if you need them, take use of them and keep yourself healthy. It is in their best interest to keep you healthy too – a healthy person is more likely to pay their taxes.

http://io9.com/5844718/want-some-free-anonymous-health-care-try-your-local-us-health-department