Trump administration: transgender are not people

Donald Trump had claimed during his run for the presidency that he would be good for the LGBT community. It was just another of his innumerable lies:

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.

The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged civil rights protections for the group embedded in the nation’s health care law.
Several agencies have withdrawn Obama-era policies that recognized gender identity in schools, prisons and homeless shelters. The administration even tried to remove questions about gender identity from a 2020 census survey and a national survey of elderly citizens.

One of the Trump administration’s first decisive policy acts was the rescission by the Education and Justice Departments of Obama-era guidelines that protected transgender students who wanted to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
Since the guidance was rescinded, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has halted and dismissed discrimination cases filed by transgender students over access to school facilities. A restrictive governmentwide definition would cement the Education Department’s current approach.

If you live in Massachusetts you should vote Yes on question 3 which keeps transgender rights passed two years ago.

Trump supports the troops some more

President Trump continues to support the troops:

Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.

Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

To become citizens, the service members need an honorable service designation, which can come after even just a few days at boot camp. But the recently discharged service members have had their basic training delayed, so they can’t be naturalized.

and support them some more:

Nicholas Bade showed up at an Air Force recruiting office on an icy morning in January, determined to be one of the first transgender individuals to enlist in the military.

He was in top shape and had earned two martial arts black belts. He had already aced the military aptitude test and organized the stack of medical records required to show he was stable and healthy enough to serve. So he expected to be called for basic training in a month, maybe two at the most.

Six months later, he’s still waiting. And so are nearly all other transgender people who have tried to join since a federal court ordered the Trump administration not to ban them from the military.

Civil rights groups immediately sued, claiming that a blanket ban was unconstitutional, and the courts blocked the new rules. Three federal judges hearing separate cases issued injunctions against the ban last fall that cleared the way — in theory at least — for transgender individuals to start enlisting Jan. 1.

Since then, scores have applied — but it appears almost none have been accepted.

The Defense Department refused requests for statistics on transgender enlistments. But Sparta, an organization for transgender recruits, troops, and veterans, says that out of its 140 members who are trying to enlist, only two have made it into the service since Jan. 1.

MA Family Institute wants discrimination back

Massachusetts added gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in 2016. That’s very upsetting to some people so they’re trying to get it overturned by ballot:

A November ballot question asking voters whether to keep or repeal the state’s 2016 antidiscrimination law is expected to be the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, taking the national temperature on a fiery hot social issue.

Leading the repeal effort are conservative and religious activists and some of the same groups that tried unsuccessfully for years to prevent or stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Their Keep MA Safe campaign — whose website features the bathroom video — suggests that the rights afforded by the state’s antidiscrimination law are infringing upon others’ privacy and potentially endangering women and children.

“A man can enter a woman’s space at any time, without any proof of any sort of medical or psychological condition, merely based on his internal sense of self if he says he identifies as a woman,” said Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

I have no problem with transgender people being in the same bathroom as me.  I’d be much more worried if Beckwith was in a stall next to me, he seems overly conscious of exactly who is in the bathroom with him.

Conservatives and women

Via here, we get this:

The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

The report is here and its interpretation is much more circumspect:

The Texas data are puzzling in that they show a modest increase in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2010 (slope 0.12) followed by a doubling within a 2year period in the reported maternal mortality rate. In 2006, Texas revised its death certificate, including the addition of the U.S. standard pregnancy question, and also implemented an electronic death certificate. However, the 2006 changes did not appreciably affect the maternal mortality trend after adjustment, and the doubling in the rate occurred in 2011–2012. Texas cause-of-death data, like with data for most states, are coded at the National Center for Health Statistics, and this doubling in the rate was not found for other states. Communications with vital statistics personnel in Texas and at the National Center for Health Statistics did not identify any data processing or coding changes that would account for this rapid increase. There were some changes in the  provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

The study is actually much more scathing in regards to something much more basic:

It is an international embarrassment that the United States, since 2007, has not been able to provide a national maternal mortality rate to international data repositories such as those run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.22 This inability reflects the chronic underfunding over the past two decades of state and national vital statistics systems. Indeed, it was primarily a lack of funds that led to delays (of more than a decade in many states) in the adoption of the 2003 revised birth and death certificates. This delay created the complex data comparability problem addressed in this study. The lack of publication of U.S. maternal mortality data since 2007 has also meant that these data have received a lesser degree of scrutiny and quality control when compared with published vital statistics measures such as infant mortality. For example, had the National Center for Health Statistics and the Texas vital statistics office both been publishing annual maternal mortality rates, the unusual findings from Texas for 2011–2014 would certainly have been investigated much sooner and in greater detail. Accurate measurement of maternal mortality is an essential first step in prevention efforts, because it can identify at-risk populations and measure the progress of prevention programs.

The study notes the same thing as the WHO does here, the US is one of the few countries in the world where the mortality rate for pregnant women is going up and it has one of the highest in the developed world (for example it is double that of Canada). That’s pathetic.

 

Let’s propose something obviously unconstitutional

You go Oklahoma:

The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind.

The bill would strip doctors who perform abortions of their medical licenses unless the procedure was necessary to save a woman’s life. The felony provision does not include that exception.

Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a Constitutional right, this law is going nowhere. I do love the fact that a doctor can go to jail for performing an abortion even to save the woman’s life, religious conservatives are so compassionate.

One thing you might want to know:

Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.

So they pass this bill which will probably cost the state millions:

In an open letter on Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal group based in New York, urged Ms. Fallin to veto what it said was a “blatantly unconstitutional measure.”

Noting that it has sued Oklahoma eight times in the last six years, blocking lesser restrictions like the state’s effort to ban the second-trimester surgical method, the center said that “this bill will almost certainly lead to expensive court challenges that the State of Oklahoma simply cannot defend in light of longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

Of course, Oklahoma doesn’t really care about schools–at least not as much as oil profits:

After intense lobbying, Oklahoma’s oilmen scored a victory two years ago. State lawmakers voted to keep in place some of the lowest taxes on oil and gas production in the United States – a break worth $470 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.

The state’s schools haven’t been so fortunate. In Newcastle, 23 miles from the capital of Oklahoma City, John Cerny recently learned that the school attended by his five-year-old granddaughter, Adelynn, will open just four days a week next year. The Bridge Creek school district will slash spending because of a projected $1.3 billion state budget shortfall next year.

Shale regions are hurting across the country. Since 2014, the U.S. energy industry has shed more than 100,000 jobs. But during the drilling spree of 2008 to 2014, oil-rich states like North Dakota and Texas saw a sharp rise in oil-and-gas tax revenue and salted away a chunk of it for education. Over the same period, Oklahoma’s oil and gas production tax revenue slid 32 percent, in spite of soaring oil prices and a doubling of oil output.

Oklahoma’s education spending per pupil fell by 24 percent between 2008 and 2016, the biggest drop in the country, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C. group that tracks budget and tax issues on behalf of low-income people.

There’s this saying that conservatives only care about a fetus until it’s born. I always thought this was hyperbole, but it seems it’s true for Oklahoma conservatives.

Tipping

Hmm, I missed this article about tipping when it came out. It’s not a pretty picture:

The restaurant industry is the second largest and fastest growing industry, and yet the Department of Labor reports every year that seven of the 10 lowest paying jobs are restaurant jobs. And, in fact, of those seven lowest paying jobs in America, four are tipped occupations. So even including tips, restaurant workers make up four of the ten lowest paying jobs in America.

But even in places like New York and D.C., seventy percent of tipped workers are actually women, largely working at casual restaurants, like Applebees, IHOP , and Olive Garden, earning a median wage of $9 an hour when you include tips. These people suffer three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, use food stamps at double the rate, and, the worst part, suffer from the absolute worst sexual harassment of any industry in the United States.

Well, the law has always said from the very beginning that the employer has to make up the difference between the lower tipped-minimum wage and the regular tipped minimum wage, but the U.S. Department of Labor reports an 84 percent violation rate in regards to employers actually ensuring that they make up that difference.

There is still a $4 per hour wage gap between what white workers and workers of color make in the restaurant industry, and it’s because workers of color are relegated to lower level positions. In fine dining, they work as buses and runners, instead of as server and bartenders. They also work in lower level segments, at places like Olive Garden instead of at places like Capital Grille. They work in places where you make less money.

For our most recent report, which came out in 2014, we asked hundreds of restaurant workers to answer this question: ‘Have you experienced sexual behavior in the restaurant industry that is scary or unwanted?’ And 90 percent of workers, both male and female, said yes.

More broadly, the data show that the restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States. It’s actually five times the rate of all other industries. Seven percent of American women work in restaurants, but thirty percent of sexual harassment complaints from women come from the restaurant industry. It’s the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints of any industry in the United States.

What’s ironic is that the idea of tipping in the US came out of Europe and then there was a movement in the US to get rid of tipping in the mid 1800s which spread to Europe. The movement mostly succeeded in Europe but not in the US, which is why tipping is far less common in Europe.

Threats for terrorism way up

The number of threats of terrorism for one thing was up a lot in 2015 but you probably won’t hear much about it, because it’s about abortion:

According to the federation, death threats targeting abortion providers increased from one in 2014 to 94 in 2015, while incidents of vandalism at clinics rose from 12 to 67.

The most violent occurred in November, when a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people and wounding nine. The man accused in the attack, Robert Dear, has described himself as a ‘‘warrior for the babies.’’

The abortion federation — alarmed by the heightened hostility — has for the first time hired an outside security firm to track online threats. Saporta said the firm began its work in mid-November and in a six-week span identified more than 25,000 incidents of hate speech and threats.

The report is here and includes:

Additionally, the number of hoax devices or suspicious packages found in or around abortion facilities increased four-fold in 2015.

These levels are far below the 1990s when Operation Rescue was in full swing but it’s still troubling.

If you don’t think this is terrorism, go back to the report to find that since 1977 there have been: 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 185 cases of arson. All to try to get a political goal, outlawing abortion.

Oh, the amount of threats is up mainly because of videos targeting Planned Parenthood. The man who made those videos is now being investigate in a second state because of suspected criminal activity. So far, none of the investigations have found any crime committed by Planned Parenthood.

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