'We're stripping all product from our shop windows to take a deep dive into the discrimination faced by transgender people in North America'
Grace Dolan-Sandrino, a 17-year-old transgender high school student, was prepared for the Department of Education to let her down.
The federal agency had done so already a year ago, she says, when it rescinded an Obama-era guidance advising schools to allow trans students use of bathroom facilities that matched their gender identity.
Dolan-Sandrino, however, didn't expect the department to openly abandon students like her by refusing to investigate or take action on complaints filed by children and teens whose schools implement discriminatory bathroom policies. But, as of Monday, that became the agency's official position. Read more...More about Social Good, Transgender, Transgender Rights, Transgender Bathroom, and Betsy Devos
A federal judge ruled Friday that it was unconstitutional to deny hormone therapy to an inmate in a Missouri prison, issuing a preliminary injunction to ensure that she receives medically necessary care.
Jessica Hicklin, 38, was first diagnosed with gender dysphoria in March, 2015, twenty-two years into her life sentence. Her psychiatrist recommended she be referred to an endocrinologist to be assessed for hormone replacement therapy — except she wasn’t, because a Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) policy didn’t allow for it.
As a result, her distress and anxiety never improved. A new psychiatrist again diagnosed her with “gender dysphoria with associated panic secondary to current body characteristics” that December, recommending both hormone therapy and an electrolysis hair removal devise.
By September, 2016, Hicklin was expressing thoughts of self-harm — the onset of male-pattern baldness further agitating her gender dysphoria. She had still been given no treatment beyond talk therapy. As of the following January, her treatment plan still did not include any hormone therapy, hair removal, or even access to gender-affirming canteen items. Her psychiatrist diagnosed her with an anxiety disorder, and the record shows that she has had a history of suicide attempts and also once tried to remove her own testicles.
Nearly three years after her initial diagnosis of gender dysphoria and prescription of hormone therapy, Hicklin still had not received any treatment to assist in her transition. And according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Noelle Collins, that’s a violation of her constitutional rights.
“The Court finds that Plaintiff has met her burden to show the threat of irreparable injury,” she wrote. “Plaintiff asserts that she has and will continue to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction because she suffers from depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts of self-castration as a result of Defendants’ conduct.”
Hicklin demonstrated a serious medical need and the prison showed “deliberate indifference” by refusing to provide the treatment multiple doctors requested for her on multiple occasions.
The entire reason for that denial of care was what Collins describes as a freeze-frame “policy of unknown origin.” According to the “blanket rule,” if an inmate were already on hormone therapy when she entered prison, she would be allowed to continue receiving that treatment in prison. But the policy arbitrarily prohibited an inmate from beginning hormone therapy while in prison. “The Department believes the initiation of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not appropriate in a prison environment,” it read. “An attempt at such transition in the prison venue severely compromises the safety of the offender and places them at substantial risk of sexual abuse and harassment.”
Defending their decision not to treat Hicklin, the MDOC cited a highly biased report by anti-transgender researchers Paul McHugh and Lawrence Mayer to argue that “there is a legitimate disagreement in the scientific community about what treatment is or is not appropriate for a patient with gender dysphoria.” That report cherry-picked and distorted studies in an attempt to contradict the consensuses of every major medical organization endorsing affirming treatment for transgender people.
Hicklin was first taken into the prison’s custody at the age of 16 and is serving a life sentence with no parole. In a blog post published by Lambda Legal, which represented her, she wrote about how she had always experienced gender dysphoria. “I had felt I was a girl since I was very young, even though I was assigned the male sex at birth,” she wrote.
A victim of childhood abuse and multiple sexual assaults in prison, it took some time for her to process what she was experiencing and acknowledge it for what it was. “Although I have struggled for years to name what I was experiencing, and I sought treatment for depression and anxiety, it wasn’t until several years later that I realized that I am a woman who is transgender.”
Collins ruled that MDOC’s decision to try to treat Hicklin’s depression without treating her dysphoria was inadequate. “[W]hile Defendants are correct in their assertion that Ms. Hicklin is not constitutionally entitled to the treatment of her choice, the treatment must nevertheless be adequate to address the prisoner’s serious medical need,” she wrote. “In light of treating physicians’ recommendations, psychiatric care and counseling alone are constitutionally inadequate to address Ms. Hicklin’s gender dysphoria.”
The preliminary injunction will ensure Hicklin can begin receiving the appropriate treatment while her case proceeds. Collins wrote that Hicklin is likely to succeed on her claim that her Eighth Amendment rights were violated. The Eighth Amendment protects against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Responding through Lambda Legal, Hicklin said the decision made her feel like she could finally breathe after feeling like she’d been drowning. “Today’s decision is like someone threw me a life preserver,” she said. “It has saved my life.”
Courts across the country have arrived at different conclusions about how to treat transgender inmates. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against a Massachusetts inmate who was similarly denied treatment, but a federal judge in California ruled that a trans inmate deserved the treatment she was prescribed.
The Senate voted 51 to 46 against a 20-week abortion ban on Monday, narrowly defeating a law that would have had serious repercussions on reproductive rights around the country. A few Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) all voted to limit patients’ access to abortion after just 20 weeks.
Monday’s procedural vote on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” marks the third time in six years Congress effectively killed a 20-week abortion ban bill. But a lot has changed since Congress last took up the measure in 2015. And how members — particularly moderate Democrats — voted this go-around is especially critical.
The bill — first introduced in the House by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who recently resigned after allegedly asking female staffers to act as surrogates — is based on the dubious science that a fetus begins to feel pain 20 weeks after fertilization (22 weeks’ gestational age) if not earlier. Evidence-based research indicates a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until about 27 weeks, or the third trimester of a pregnancy — and many people who get abortions are trying to avoid fetal pain in the first place.
“Fetal suffering is not something that [pregnant people] should be worried about at this point of pregnancy,” said Dr. Bill Leininger, a California OB/GYN and fellow with the Physicians for Reproductive Health, of the 20-week abortion ban. He said lawmakers’ fixation on 20-week bans is especially concerning because this medically inaccurate information has real life consequences for patients. Seventeen states have already passed similar 20-week bans; federal judges have blocked some.
The bill needed 60 votes to clear filibuster and move forward with actual vote, so the chances of it passing on Monday were slim.
While some lawmakers will use this vote as political capital, anti-abortion groups like Susan B. Anthony List are using the vote to target Democrats who serve in states where Trump won:
— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) January 29, 2018
“Clearly, we need more votes, but at some point when you start to get closer and senators in vulnerable states start to feel the heat, then it starts to look very optimistic,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List told the Washington Examiner during a press call.
The bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) faces a primary challenge from his own party. His challenger — Marie Newman — has already received critical endorsements from progressive Senate Democrats and pro-choice organizations. A spokesperson for one pro-choice organization told ThinkProgress they didn’t endorse Newman just because Lipinski is anti-choice, but because Newman actually stands up for progressive values.
Three House Democrats voted in favor of the 20-week abortion ban last year — including Lipinski. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA) also voted in favor of the bill in 2015. They are the only Senate Democrats still in office who oppose abortion.
While Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have competitive seats in 2018, they effectively voted no on the measure. First timer Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) also voted no.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were the only Republicans to vote no. While Collins says she opposes late term abortions, she didn’t agree with the exemption language.
The 20-week ban has passed in the House three times and, as such, amounts to a significant legislative win for anti-abortion activists. The House’s passage of the bill last year may be anti-choice activists’ only federal legislative win in the Trump era, as every attempt to “defund” Planned Parenthood in Congress failed.
Still, Donald Trump’s presidency has ushered a slew of other victories for anti-abortion advocates — from symbolic gestures, like Trump speaking at the largest anti-abortion rally March for Life, to concrete policy decisions, like blocking federal funding for non-governmental groups that provide abortion counseling or referrals in other countries. There have also been an unprecedented number of Trump judges confirmed to serve on the federal bench, which is the last line of defense against anti-abortion policy at the state level.
Pro-choice advocates maintain the public is on their side and point to a recent poll that suggests Democrats shouldn’t run anti-abortion candidates in red states. “It’s a winning political strategy to be a party that supports what our voters support… but also if we’re talking about the base, Democrats base is women, it is minorities — it’s the people who these abortion bans impact at a real level,” one pro-choice, grassroots advocate told ThinkProgress. “It don’t make sense to say that their rights are negotiable.”
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There's no surprise that feminism was the word of the year in 2017. After 2016's political rollercoaster, people began using their voices, platforms, and actions to demand change.
However, the overwhelming demand to stay in touch with what's going on in the world can be exhausting especially when it comes to social media. But, there are many accounts using their online presence to spread more good than bad.
They've made it their job to promote empowerment, information and overall positivity for the next 12 months. Read more...More about Instagram, Culture, Feminism, Activism, and Social Media
From 1989, Fingers Inc.'s beautiful mix of "Can You Feel It" with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.
A Florida ICU staff faced a difficult ethical dilemma concerning a 70-year-old patient and a tattoo on his chest — ultimately reaching a decision that still doesn’t set a precedent for similar situations.
The patient was brought by paramedics to the hospital unconscious with a high blood alcohol level, along with a history of medical issues, according to a newly published article in The New England Journal of Medicine.
When the patient's health began to further decline, the staff was forced to consider the man’s “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo along with what was believed to be a tattoo of his signature underneath. The staff originally decided against following the tattoo's orders saying it was an “irreversible” decision that shouldn’t be left to potential body art or a drunken mistake.
Due to his inability to verbally communicate his wishes, the staff called for an ethics consultation, and in the end they decided to follow the tattooed request.
After the order was given, the hospital was able to locate the man’s out-of-hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order from the Florida Department of Health, which matched his tattoo. The patient later died without undergoing CPR or anymore life-saving efforts.
The doctors considered it a “relief” to find the written DNR order.
Via New England Journal of Medicine.
Despite the well-known difficulties that patients have in making their end-of-life wishes known, this case report neither supports nor opposes the use of tattoos to express end-of-life wishes when the person is incapacitated.
The Liljestrand family walked into the courthouse confident — if a bit nervous.
They’d come to get their eldest child’s name legally changed to Melissa Rose and her gender designation switched from male to female.
When it was finally their turn to be heard, the judge cleared the courtroom. Before...