Today, we honor and celebrate the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities. Transgender Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world.
Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically. This hard-fought progress is also shaping an increasingly accepting world in which peers at school, teammates and coaches on the playing field, colleagues at work, and allies in every corner of society are standing in support and solidarity with the transgender community.
In spite of our progress in advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, too many transgender people — adults and youth alike — still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality. Transgender Americans of all ages face high rates of violence, harassment, and discrimination.
Nearly one in three transgender Americans have experienced homelessness at some point in life. Transgender Americans continue to face discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and public accommodations. The crisis of violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, is a stain on our Nation’s conscience.
To ensure that the Federal Government protects the civil rights of transgender Americans, I signed, on my first day in office, an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.
Today, we are proud to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility alongside barrier-breaking public servants, including the first openly transgender American to be confirmed by the United States Senate, and alongside patriotic transgender service members, who are once again able to proudly and openly serve their country.
We also celebrate together with transgender Americans across the country who will benefit from our efforts to stop discrimination and advance inclusion for transgender Americans in housing, in credit and lending services, in the care we provide for our veterans, and more.
“I was really disappointed because their own website had a point for LGBTI people, and so I felt very welcome,” Monro told the Washington Blade last month during a Zoom interview from her home near the city of Cologne. “It was a government institution.”
Germany as of January has officially amended Police Service Regulation 300 (PDV 300) that was used to prevent openly trans and intersex people to work as police officers.
PDV 300 specifically mentioned men and women, but not trans or intersex people.
Joschua Thuir, a police inspector who is an instructor at a German Federal Police center for basic training and further education, is the trans ambassador of VelsPol Deutschland, an NGO that represents LGBTQ police officers in the country. Thuir, who is a trans man, has also written a diploma thesis about the experiences of trans and intersex people who have applied to become police officers in Germany.
Thuir described PDV 300 as “a list that includes different physical and psychological criterion of exclusion.” He also told the Blade that he transitioned after his 3-year probation period ended to make sure he wouldn’t jeopardize his job.
Brett Parson, an openly gay man who previously led the Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, is among those who Thuir considers a mentor. Bee Bailey, a member of the Gloucestershire Constabulary in England who is a founding member of Trans Cops Europe, is among the other police officers who have also supported Thuir’s work.
Policy change ‘sends a strong signal’
Monro reached out to Thuir when she wanted to change the policy.
Thuir, for his part, spoke with different equal opportunity officers in the German Federal Police, among others. Thuir also connected with other VelsPol Deutschland members across Germany.
“I asked the contact officers to get in touch with the medical services of the different police units to ask how they handle the medical examination for trans and intersex applicants, and to make them see that we need new regulations,” he said. “Together we achieved that just a hand full of trans men got a special admission for exceptional cases, to start the police basic training in 5 years.”
Monro told the Blade that she spoke with German politicians who told her it would take the government “a long time” to amend PDV 300. Thuir also met with members of the German Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament.
“The government answered on an interpretation in 2019, that the PDV 300 needs to open up for trans people because different criteria cause discrimination for trans men,” Thuir said, noting he spoke to the Blade in his capacity as VelsPol Deutschland’s trans ambassador. “They didn’t reform the PDV 300 only for trans and intersex people. The progress of the revision of the PDV 300 started years before.”
Thuir said he was invited to ask questions about the criteria that “caused discrimination explicit for trans women.” Thuir told the Blade he also had the chance to ask the government about “the binary construct that also excluded intersex people” in 2020.
The new policy took effect in all of Germany’s 19 police departments in January.
“We wanted to make a positive report so that a lot of transgender people can now take their chance to go to the police,” said Monro. “We wanted to show the police is a good institution for transgender people to work.”
Monro said there has thus far been no backlash against the new policy. She told the Blade she is not sure whether she will once again apply to become a police officer, but added the new regulation sends a positive message to trans and intersex Germans.
“It sends a strong signal out to the community that it’s always worth fighting for something,” said Monro. “This process took me almost three years, and if you stand together with your community and you focus on your target while you fight and be patient, then you will get victory in everything you want.”
Bailey in an email to the Blade praised Thuir and his efforts to change the policy.
“This is absolutely down to the phenomenal hero we know as Joschua Thuir and his efforts made to encourage greater change of the outdated PVD300 regulation within the Polizei(police) in Germany,” said Bailey.
“All our public desire from police and policing is that we are capable of doing our role as police to ‘protect and serve,’” added Bailey.
Thuir said a labor union plans to unveil a photo project on March 31 in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Visibility. Thuir added the German government’s implementation of the new policy remains slow, in part, because police officials lack the proper information about it.
Half of Generation Z thinks that traditional gender roles and labels related to the gender binary are outdated, according to a refreshing new study.
As issues of gender equality continue to challenge societal norms and influence public opinion, US-based ad agency Bigeye sought to understand consumers’ perception of gendered products and advertising.ADVERTISING
For the 2021 Gender Study the agency polled 2,000 adults from a range of ages, incomes, locations, and gender identities. Questions included the kinds of clothing they wear to their opinion on gender-neutral children’s toys and education.
They found that 50 per cent of Generation Z-ers are pushing back against the gender binary, and that sentiment is even higher among Millennials at 56 percent.
More than half (51 per cent) of all respondents agreed that, in a decade, we will associate gender with stereotypical personality traits, products, and occupations much less than we do today.
“While the majority of Americans are cisgender, a significant percentage of younger generations believe the notion of identity is fluid and decidedly non-traditional,” said Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye and the leader of the research team.
“This study provides a snapshot of the broad, generational spectrum of opinions and beliefs held toward gender identity and expression within the media we consume daily through TV, ads and online platforms.
“While the majority of older generations remain skeptical of advertising’s ability to change perceptions of traditional gender roles, Gen X and younger are leading the charge and challenging brands to portray more diverse audiences and expressions.”
It seems women are more likely to embrace gender-neutrality than men, as nearly three-quarters of cis female parents encourage gender-neutral play for their children (73 percent), a figure significantly higher than cis male parents (59 per cent).
And fifth of female respondents believe that none of the consumer product categories benefit at all from being gendered.
“Toiletries are constantly gendered and it is completely unnecessary. They should be labeled with the qualities of the product and the fragrance, if any. No mention of male or female is needed,” one Gen Y respondent wrote.
In another positive finding, LGBT+ participants were more likely to have faith in the next generation, with 82 per cent of queer millennials and 88 per cent of queer Boomers believing that Gen Z is better educated about non-binaryand transgender identities.
Republican lawmakers in Tennesseehave introduced a bill that would allow cisgender students to sue a school if they are ‘forced’ to share school facilities with trans students.
Jason Zachary, a Republican congressman from Knoxville, introduced House Bill 1233 at the same time Mike Ball, a Republican senator from Riceville, introduced its sister bill in the Senate, SB 1367.
The bills would effectively allow students the ability to refuse to share facilities – such as bathrooms, locker rooms and dorms – with trans students. Cisgender students could then sue publicly-funded schools that do not provide them with “reasonable accommodations”.
Zachary argued his bill arose from schools’ confusion over handling bathroom access to students based on their gender identities. He told The Tennesseanthat his bill would provide protection for “all children” and present a “clear path forward” for schools to follow.
Zachary described how one high school reached out to him after dealing with a “problem with boys using the girls’ restroom”. He said the school felt “handcuffed” and that there’s “not much they can do about it”.
“This bill takes care of that,” Zachary said. “It stops all that and just provides absolute clarity.”
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told The Tennessean that the state’s legislature is “going on the attack against trans students and youth”. He added: “Now, the legislature comes along and says ‘hey everybody, there’s this category of people that we will protect you from if you want to be protected from’.”
Under the bill, cisgender students would be allowed to submit a written request for reasonable accommodation if they say they’re not comfortable with sharing school facilities with trans people.
If they later “encounter a person of the opposite sex in a multi-occupancy restroom” or other facilities, a cisgender student could sue the school for not providing them with reasonable accommodations.
The bill further says that sex is defined as a person’s biological sex at birth instead of their gender identity. As such, Zachary said trans students would have to, by default, use the facilities which are in accordance with their gender as assigned at birth.
“If they were born as a boy, they will use a single-occupancy restroom,” Zachary explained, referring to a hypothetical trans girl.
The major problem with Zachary’s bill is that it would go against federal law. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that banned discrimination in educational facilities based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Schools are within their right to demoralise children who support trans rights, according to a terrifying court ruling about a school in South Carolina.
A principal at an elementary school in Moore, South Carolina was in the right when she banned a student’s pro-trans essay from a school booklet, a federal appeals court has ruled.ADVERTISING
The child, named in court documents only as RRS, was 10 years old when she was assigned to write an “essay to society” in 2019. The court heard her maternal grandfather is part of the LGBT+ community, and RRS is a “proud advocate of LGBTQ rights”.
So she decided to write about LGBT+ equality for the assignment. Her essay, reprinted here verbatim, stated the following:
“I don’t know if you know this but peoples view on Tran’s genders is an issue. People think that men should not drees like a women, and saying mean things. They think that they are choosing the wrong thing in life.
“In the world people can choose who they want to be not being told that THEIR diction is wrong. I hope people understand that people can hurt themselves from others hurting their feelings. People need to think before they speak because one word can hurt someone’s feelings. We need to fix this because this is getting out of hand!”
The court heard Anderson Mill Elementary School principal Elizabeth Foster reviewed the essays submitted by the fourth grade class before they were compiled into an essay booklet. But she instructed RRS’ teacher to inform the child that her essay would not be included in the booklet because, in her view, the topic was “not appropriate”.
RRS then revised her essay, which addressed bullying instead of LGBT+ rights.
US circuit judge Stephanie Thacker, a Barack Obama-appointee, wrote in her judgment: “Principal Foster’s initial refusal to include [the student’s] essay in the fourth grade class’ essay booklet was actuated at least in part by her concern that the essay’s topic was ‘not age appropriate’ for fourth graders.”
Mother filed complaint against school after ‘abusive’ messages from principal
Hannah Robertson, the mother of RRS, filed a complaint against the South Carolina school on 6 March, 2019.
Shortly before she filed the complaint, Robertson said Foster had “defended her decision” to not include RRS’ LGBTQ-themed essay in the essay booklet through “a series of increasingly abusive, harassing, emotionally distressful and/or clearly unwarranted communications with” her.
During these conversations, Robertson said Foster provided the following justifications for her decision including: “the original paper would make other parents upset”; it “would create a [sic] undesirable situation at the school”; “was not acceptable”; “it was not age-appropriate to discuss transgenders, lesbians, and drag queens outside of the home”; and “due to the type of school this is, the people that work here and the students and families of the students that go here, the topic would be disagreeable”.
In a letter dated 15 March, 2019, Foster informed Robertson that she had decided that both of the child’s papers would be published in the essay booklet. In turn, Robertson cited concerns about the child’s privacy and said she no longer wanted the original essay to be in the booklet.
Robertson argued the South Carolina principal’s removal of the trans essay as part of the classroom assignment amounted to a violation of her child’s First Amendment rights, arguing Foster deprived RRS of her “right to engage in protected speech”.
But a lower court dismissed the student’s claim.
The family appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
However, on Tuesday (3 March), a three-judge panel for the appeals court upheld the original ruling. The judgement cited the 1998 Supreme Court decision in Hazelwood School District v Kuhlmeier, which declared that schools could censor students as long as it was “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns”.
The court held that the principal’s decision to ban RRS’ essay fell within the Supreme Court judgment because Foster was motivated, at least in part, by a concern that the topic was not “age appropriate”. As such, the court found the South Carolina school’s decision not to publish the trans essay did not infringe on RRS’ First Amendment rights.
Jasmine Rogers Drain, partner at Halligan Mahoney and Williams and who represented the school, did not wish to comment on the ruling.
Eric Poston, managing partner at Chalmers Poston LLC, represented the family in this case. He told PinkNews: “It’s well known in the legal field that, with very few exceptions, appellate judges have already made their decision by the time the attorneys are able to argue their case in front of the judges themselves in what is known as ‘oral argument’.”
Poston explained this case’s oral argument “served only to perpetuate the stereotype” as it appeared the judges were unaware of basic facts about the case.
“When I asked if they had read the essay, I heard crickets – same result when I asked if they were aware that this girl’s mother and grandfather are active members of the LGBTQ community,” Poston said. “They also didn’t appear fully aware of the actual quotes from the principal as to why she banned the essay.”
He added the “most disappointing, preposterous question” he received was whether or not “I agreed that a teacher should be able to decide what they do and do not teach/allow in their classroom”. Poston told PinkNews: “What made this question so mind boggling is that it revealed how absolutely unaware the judges were of even the most basic facts of the case – that the teacher found the essay acceptable and planned to publish it until the principal single-handedly prevented her from doing so.”
This article was edited to include comment from Jasmine Rogers Drain, the attorney representing the school in this case, and Eric Poston, the attorney representing the family.
Tatiana Williams said she “adopted” her daughter Alexus Braxton about 25 years ago in Miami after the two met while doing sex work to survive.
“It was her and a group of friends, they would come hang out,” she said. “And I think they were looking for a sense of family.”
The two became each other’s chosen family, and Williams said “Lexus” — as she calls her — “would be my ear to the streets” and her source for gossip.
“She has a lot of people that feed her information, you know, and she was a good source when it came to information,” she said.
On Feb. 4, Braxton was found dead in her apartment. Miami-Dade Police are investigating her death as a homicide, and Detective Juan Segovia said in a Feb. 15 statement that she was killed in a “violent and vicious attack.”
Williams said she’s devastated. She’s familiar with cases like Braxton’s, both personally and as an advocate — she’s also the executive director of Transinclusive Group, a nonprofit in South Florida. In 1999, her friend Pilar was murdered in front of her. Now, more than 20 years later, she’s lost her adopted daughter.
“For once in my lifetime, all of the advocacy work that I do, in this case, I find myself being involved,” she said. “I’m more emotional, as opposed to my advocacy hat where I get to move to the other side.”
Braxton is one of at least 10 transgender people murdered so far in 2021 — a 233 percent increase from this point last year, when three trans people had been murdered. Half of the victims so far in 2021, including Braxton, are Black trans women.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, has called violence against transgender people “a national epidemic” and requested in a list of policy recommendations released in November that the Biden administration form an interagency working group to address anti-transgender violence.
Advocates say preventing anti-trans violence requires a comprehensive approach that spans many sectors, but it also requires governments and law enforcement to better understand the trans community.
‘The full scope of the problem’
It’s difficult to know with certainty how widespread violence against trans people is in part because the government doesn’t track it. That’s why the National Center for Transgender Equality would like the Department of Justice to do a comprehensive study of the violence, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the organization’s deputy executive director, said.
“We are left with a patchwork of state and local information that doesn’t really add up to giving us the complete picture,” he said. The center tracks the murders of transgender people largely through social media, local reporting, and by confirming information with other LGBTQ organizations.
But that method likely leaves people out. For example, advocates say that “at least” 10 trans people have been murdered in 2021 because police departments and local media often deadname and misgender trans people when reporting on their deaths.
“We are having to piece things together as best we can, but we don’t have the resources or the ability to cross-reference everything nationally that the federal government has,” Heng-Lehtinen said.
Another piece of the puzzle is sexual orientation and gender identity mortality data, said Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization. Brinton said law enforcement should be taught how to ask friends and family members about the deceased’s identity during death investigations.
For example, in 2019, Los Angeles County became the first jurisdiction in the nation to pass a motion to train medical examiners and coroners to investigate the violent deaths of LGBTQ people and to collect mortality data on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Asking affirming questions to family and friends and community members when you are doing a death investigation will give us actual whole and complete data,” Brinton said.
Knowing the extent of the problem would allow advocates and lawmakers to come up with better prevention efforts, Brinton said, comparing the lack of mortality data in violent crimes to Covid-19 data. “We do not know how many trans people have died from Covid because we do not ask the questions,” Brinton said. “When you don’t ask the death questions, the life of the person and the life of the next generation is really at risk.”
Stigma leading to violence
Though a number of factors influence violence against transgender people, one of the most significant is stigma, according to Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
David said a number of Trump administration proposals contributed to stigma, such as proposals to allow homeless shelters to reject transgender people and allow health care providers to refuse to serve trans people. Those measures, as well as then-President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, “trickle down to ordinary citizens who think that transgender people are not human,” he said.
Anti-trans stigma affects trans people from a young age. Quentin Bell, executive director of the Knights and Orchids Society, an Alabama-based trans-led nonprofit, said many of the organization’s clients don’t have a high school diploma because they dropped out of school due to stigma and violence.
“I literally have a 17-year-old who’s currently in our program, and she could not be happier when school ends in May,” Bell said. “She feels like her life can start when school finally ends, and that the pandemic has been a good thing because she hasn’t had to face the violence and the ridicule every day.”
On Feb. 24, a city work crew found the body of Jenna Franks, who friends and family have described as a transgender woman and genderfluid, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, according to WITN. On March 3, police said they were investigating her death as a homicide, making her the 10th known transgender person slain in 2021.
Dennis Biancuzzo, executive director for the Onslow County LGBTQ Center, said the center had helped Franks find housing after she completed treatment for substance misuse. But in January, she relapsed and became homeless again. Biancuzzo said he tried to contact her about 10 times since then, but he never heard from her.
“She was a loving person,” he said. “She wanted to be able to do peer counseling and help people that have been through the situation she had been through.”
Biancuzzo said the community center started a program to support people experiencing homelessness, and through that program he helped Franks and others apply for health care. But, he said, someone at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services customer service center told him they would only be eligible for limited services.
“What each one of them was told, as an individual, they could receive North Carolina family planning health assistance, which consists of one physical a year, treatment for any sexually transmitted diseases and sterilization,” he said. “I blew a gasket with the woman I was speaking to from the state. When she said the word sterilization, my head exploded.”
When Franks completed her drug treatment program, Biancuzzo said she was put on the street. He said there’s no continuum of care, which would coordinate various services for people experiencing homelessness. “There’s no health care, there’s no food equity, there’s no housing, and those are things that have to be done if you take a person and put them in a treatment facility for 28 days. You cannot just put them out on the street when you’re done with them,” he said.
Bell said that many trans people who experience homelessness can’t go to shelters. He said he’s called every shelter in the Selma area, and even some in Montgomery, Alabama, to ask them if they provide services to trans people.
“They will tell you blatantly on the phone — they don’t care how discriminatory it is — they don’t house transgender people, or even worse, ‘We don’t have them, we don’t house those people,’” he said.
When trans people face job and housing discrimination, and then can’t even turn to shelters, they often engage in sex work to survive, Heng-Lehtinen said, which can put them in dangerous situations and lead to a criminal record.
The stigmitization surrounding sex work can also affect how the deaths of trans women — particularly Black trans women, who are more likely to engage in sex work — are investigated. For example, Williams said she was hesitant to share with Miami-Dade Police that Braxton was going to start an account on OnlyFans, a subscription platform that allows people to share adult content. “I was afraid if I gave too much information that he would get turned off from the case,” she said.
She said police departments need to have a better understanding of the trans community in order to adequately investigate murders of trans people. “I think that law enforcement doesn’t understand how often this is happening within the community, because they’re thinking like, ‘Oh, this is just a one-off,’” Williams said. “But if they were to do a little deeper research, they would see it’s not just a one-off, and what does that look like when you are working in regards to that community and solving these cases.”
She said she’d like to see policy reform at all levels of government that instills a “sense of urgency” in law enforcement when it comes to investigating and solving the murders of trans people.
In the meantime, though, she is trying to cope with Braxton’s death. She said she also jokes with people, saying “So where am I going to get all my gossip from?”
“She would call you 2 o’clock in the morning and have me laughing, and so she brought a lot of joy and laughter to people, just because of her being wise, you know, her knowing a lot of people,” Williams said. “She would bring me joy and laughter in the process.”
She warned the ban would “drive the suicide rate up just astronomically high” and pleaded for parents to “get your children to safety”. Willa also called on the wider community to “help us”.
Alabama Senate votes to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth
On Tuesday (2 March), lawmakers in Alabama passed senate bill 10 (SB10), an anti-transgender bill that will prohibit medical professionals from providing critical healthcare and gender-affirming treatment to trans people under the age of 19.
The bill would bar medical professionals from administering hormones or puberty blockers to trans youth, in addition to prohibiting gender-affirming surgeries for trans minors.
If the bill passes into law, it would make it a Class C felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care to trans minors. This class of felony would result in a 10-year prison sentence or a $15,000 fine in Alabama.
Even if you consider yourself to be in good health, it’s important to keep up with…
The bill would also require teachers and staff at schools in Alabama to share with students’ parents if they learn that a “minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex”. In effect, it would require teachers to “out” trans students to their parents.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported SB10, dubbed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, passed by a vote of 23-4.
If the Alabama House of Representatives approves its companion bill, HB1, and the proposal is signed by governor Kay Ivey, Alabama would be the first state in the US to pass a bill of this kind.
Republican senator Shay Shelnutt proposed the bill. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, he said he wanted to “protect children” by passing the bill. Shelnutt said: “I don’t think the same way I did at 14 when I was 25.
“You know the male brain – I don’t know when it fully matures, but you know, the human brain is not fully mature, and you know they are going to think differently.”
But the ACLU of Alabama said the bill would “criminalise medical professionals who choose to support transgender youth’s identity, forcing them to choose between the possibility of government prosecution and adhering to the evidence-based clinical guidelines of their field”.
LGBT+ activist and actor Elliot Page called on lawmakers to protect trans kids and vote no on these bills. Page wrote on Twitter: “Efforts to criminalize trans kids are deadly and we need to fight back against Alabama’s HB1/SB10.
“Trans kids’ lives depend on stopping this bill.”
‘Make some noise’
Willa’s initial video received over 310,000 views on TikTok with many people in the comments asking how they could help the trans children and their families affected in Alabama. She posted a follow-up video calling on people to speak up against the oppression of trans and LGBT+ youth in Alabama.
“Silence and inaction of good people has always been the greatest tool used by oppressors of marginalised communities,” Willa explained. “So the best answer I can give you: Make some noise.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution rebuking conversion therapy on trans patients, correctly citing that being trans is not a “mental disorder”.
The APA is the leading scientific and professional organisation representing psychology in the US, with more than 122,000 researchers, clinicians, consultants and educators as its members. The prominent psychological association has decried the use of conversion therapy – the dangerous, discredited ‘treatment’ to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – for trans people.ADVERTISING
In a February resolution, the APA stated that “transgender and gender non-binary identities and expressions are healthy” and that “incongruence between one’s sex and gender is neither pathological nor a mental disorder”.
The American Psychological Association noted “many transgender and gender non-binary individuals lead satisfying lives and have healthy relationships”. It added conversion therapy only serves to promote “stigma and discrimination against transgender and gender diverse people”.
The resolution also emphasised that “individuals who have experienced pressure or coercion to conform to their sex assigned at birth or therapy that was biased toward conformity to one’s assigned sex at birth have reported harm resulting from these experiences, such as emotional distress, loss of relationships and low self-worth”.
Jennifer F Kelly, president of the APA, said there is a “growing body of research” that shows that transgender or non-binary gender identities are “normal variations in human expression of gender”.
“Attempts to force people to conform with rigid gender identities can be harmful to their mental health and wellbeing,” Kelly said.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) applauded the APA for denouncing trans conversion therapy. Alphonso David, president of the HRC, said there is “no question” that “denying a person’s gender identity is wrong”.
“It’s detrimental to their mental health, their physical health and their overall sense of self-worth—and this includes young people,” David said. “The consensus from the [APA] further reinforces that we must rely on transgender people and their healthcare providers to determine treatment for gender-affirming care in accordance with current medical best practices — this is not the place for politicians.”
He also warned it is “incredibly dangerous when strangers can legislate personal healthcare decisions”.
The Trevor Project’s 2020 national survey found that 10 per cent of the over 40,000 LGBT+ youth who responded to the survey had undergone conversion therapy. Seventy-eight per cent of LGBT+ youth who had gone through conversion therapy said it occurred when they were under the age of 18.
Sixty-one per cent said they were forced into conversion therapy to change their sexual orientation, eight per cent said it was to change their gender identity and 27 per cent said it was to forcibly change both their gender identity and sexual orientation.SPONSORED CONTENT
Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, said the organisation is “extremely grateful” to the American Psychological Association for using its platform and expertise to “advocate for better health outcomes for all LGBTQ youth”.
“When transgender and non-binary young people are pressured to conform to the sex they were assigned at birth and abide by society’s rigid gender norms, it can be incredibly harmful to their mental health and sense of self and contribute to increased risk for suicide,” Brinton said.
“That’s why we must come together to end the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy and to stop these proposed bans on gender-affirming medical care from becoming the law of the land.”
Across the pond, conversion therapy is still legal, even though the UK government vowed to ban it
On 28 March, it will have been 1,000 days since the Tories pledged in 2018 to “eradicate” the abhorrent practice as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said conversion therapy “has no place in civilised society” last July, but he and equalities minister Liz Truss claimed the government would have to do more research before banning the practice, which has often been compared to torture.
Mental health professionals, faith communities and LGBT+ rights organisations have joined together in a coalition, organised by Stonewall, to urge the government deliver the ban, and end conversion therapy once and for all ahead of the 1,000 days mark of inaction by the government to stop conversion therapy.
“Being LGBT+ is beautiful, and there is no place in our society for any so-called ‘interventions’ which tell us otherwise,” said Stonewall chief executive Nancy Kelley.
“The UK government must stop dragging its feet and make good on its promise to bring in a full legal ban, and put a stop to conversion therapy in the UK for good.”
The coalition is encouraging people across the country to email their MPs and explain why the UK urgently needs a legislative ban on conversion therapy.
It is also campaigning for specialist support for LGBT+ conversion therapy survivors and victims.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., compared gender-affirming surgery to “genital mutilation” during confirmation hearings Thursday for Dr. Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of health.
If approved, Levine will become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Paul, a former ophthalmologist, was questioning Levine about transition-related care for transgender youth when he said that “genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because … it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.”
Erroneously claiming that Levine supports “surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia,” Paul asked Levine if she believed minors are capable of making “such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”
Levine, a pediatrician, responded that transgender medicine is “a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed,” and promised to discuss specifics if she is confirmed.
Paul continued his line of questioning, asking if she supports permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and “amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia.” Levine provided a similar response, leading Paul to accuse her of evading the question.
He further questioned criticism of prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 by the same people who support hormones for transgender teenagers.
Dr. Colt Wasserman, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, who provides gender-affirming care to trans minors, told NBC News that Paul’s questions and concerns are “not based in medical fact whatsoever.”
Wasserman said gender-affirming care is understood and supported by major medical associations and physicians “to be a life-affirming practice that, through an informed consent process, patients, parents and their providers come together to support gender-diverse youth in the medical environment in a wide range of ways, which typically doesn’t involve any kind of procedural intervention.”
“There’s a lot of concern about surgery or irreversible decisions,” when it comes to the health care that transgender youth receive, Wasserman added, but surgery is not a component of that care.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health states in its Standards of Care regarding transgender adolescents that surgery “should not be carried out until (i) patients reach the legal age of majority in a given country, and (ii) patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity.” The standards add, “The age threshold should be seen as a minimum criterion and not an indication in and of itself for active intervention.” The legal age of majority is at least 18 across the U.S.
Duke Health’s Center for Gender Care for Children and Adolescents, for example, will offer children under 16 therapies to delay puberty and provide hormone replacement therapy for those 16 and older.
“During this time, your child must meet with their local therapist weekly to manage the emotional changes that happen during hormone therapy,” according to the clinic’s website.
Access to gender-affirming care has also been found to have a positive impact on the mental health of trans young people. A studypublished in January 2020 found that transgender people who used puberty blockers had lower rates of suicidal thoughts as adults when compared to trans people who couldn’t access them.
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said Paul’s language was hurtful to Levine and all the trans people watching her hearing.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there about health care for transgender young people, in particular, but what’s really important to know is that all of the leading medical institutions have researched this and really recognize that it’s primary care,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “It’s different for every trans young person, just because any kind of medical care is different for any kind of individual patient, so it’s personalized, but this is legitimate health care.”
LGBTQ rights advocates swiftly condemned Paul’s comments and praised Levine’s testimony.
“While Rand Paul is a doctor, his own history makes it clear that he has no respect for science or medicine,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat and longtime Levine ally, told NBC News.
Sims, who is gay and recently announced his bid for lieutenant governor, called Levine “a world-class public-health expert.”
“While I remain excited about what Dr. Levine’s selection by President Biden means for her and the LGBTQ+ communities, I’m even more excited about what it means for the country.”
Later in Thursday’s hearings, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate health committee, called Paul’s remarks “ideological and harmful misrepresentations.”
But the American Principles Project, a conservative lobbying group that opposes gay marriage, transgender rights and abortion, defended Paul’s “immense courage” in challenging Levine.
“It is important that the American people are aware of just how extreme Joe Biden’s nominees are and what they are likely to support as members of his administration,” the group’s executive director, Terry Schilling, said in a statement. “Dr. Levine’s radical ideology ought to be a disqualifier for any position at HHS, never mind one as important as assistant secretary for health, and we urge the Senate to reject this confirmation when it comes up for a vote.”
She is also no stranger to transphobic attacks from conservatives. For example, in a Jan. 19 article about her nomination, the far-right media outlet Breitbart misgendered and deadnamed Levine repeatedly. (Deadnaming refers to using a transgender person’s former name.)
Shortly after the nomination, Pennsylvania state Rep. Jeff Pyle posted a picture on Facebook mocking Levine’s appearance. After widespread criticism, Pyle, a Republican, deactivated his Facebook page and claimed that he had “no idea” the post “would be … received as poorly as it was,” The Associated Press reported.
Levine is the first trans person to be nominated for a Senate-confirmed position, and “whenever you’re the first trans person, a target gets put on your back,” Heng-Lehtinen said.
“My heart really goes out to her for having to endure those attacks, and I’m grateful that she is so skilled at navigating it as she is, but she shouldn’t have to do that,” he said. “For Senator Paul to kind of blurt out these myths and misconceptions about trans people and try to use that against her, I think really shows how much transphobia is still out there. So as historic as it is for a trans person to be able to be up in front of the Senate, and that’s an important first step, it also reveals just how far we have to go.”
Paul’s questions come at the end of a long week for LGBTQ advocates. The House debated and passed the Equality Act on Thursday, and multiple states, including South Carolina and Utah, held hearings on bills that would ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports.
Nat Mulkey, a transgender medical student at Boston University who uses gender-neutral pronouns, said they had the privilege of being able to step away from the news “when it feels personally attacking and harmful,” but that not every trans person does. Mulkey said Paul’s language would negatively affect trans young people.
“It’s not a hyperbole, or an overstatement to say that it is deadly,” Mulkey said of the senator’s language. They said allowing young trans people an “authentic and private experience with their doctor to discuss these issues and not have the invalidation at such a national level is so important to fostering their health and their lives in general.”
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions must vote on whether to recommend Levine’s nomination to the full Senate. It is not yet known when that vote will happen.