Saturday, January 26, 2019

Supreme Court Bans Transgenders in the Military

On Tuesday, January 22, 2018, The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to impose a ban on Transgendered adults in the military.  But it's more complicated.  Previously, lower courts had placed injunctions on the ban, but on the 22nd, some of these injunctions were put on hold so the ban can't go into effect yet.

Nefarious History

In July, 2017, our Commander-in-Chief Trump tweeted: " our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail."  Myth:  The military, according to Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post, July 26,2017, states that " the military spends four times as much on Viagra (even for retired military) as it would on transgender troops' medical care. Annually, the military spends 41.6 million on Viagra alone.  

One month later, The White House put out an actual policy.  Trump would return to pre-2016 era  (before Obama's policy that transgender adults could serve in the military) in which trans troops could not serve openly.  And that wasn't the only stipulation: it would also ban the military from paying for gender-affirming surgeries, with some exceptions such as "protecting the health of someone who had already begun transitioning."  It also allowed the Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland, "some wiggle room," to decide what to do with already serving trans service members and let them advise the President on reversing the ban.

The Federal Courts halted the ban from going through, finding in part that trans service members were able to joining the military.  Starting on January 1, 2018, the military has already paid for some trans-inclusive medical services, including gender-affirming surgeries.

In March, 2018, The White House, following a Pentagon review, rescinded the previous ban.  This move was expected to ban most trans people from openly serving in the military with exceptions for people who already begun serving as trans prior to the memo and trans people "who have been "stable for three years in their biological sex prior to accession."  The Lower Courts put the ban on hold.

Some Wiggle Room?

Stanley McChrystal, a retired **** Army General, who lead the Joint Special Operations Command and NATO Forces during the War in Afghanistan, says that the ban on transgender people serving in the military is a "mistake." Kristin Beck, retired transgender Navy Seal, who has multiple Service awards, agrees.  Shane Ortega, 1st U.S.A. transgender soldier, now retired, told MSNBC that the ban perpetuates the "cycle of dehumanization."

McChrystal, Beck and Ortega all prove that transgenders in the military can be what the Pentagon calls "combat effective."  Trans troops, who stay in the closet, will have mental health issues.  It's dangerous for their service and their personal health and safety.  If they are allowed to live openly, they will perform better in the military and not feel as if they are erased.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

GENDA to ENDA discrimination & Ban Conversion Therapy in New York State

 New York parents will sleep better knowing that GENDA and Ban on Conversion Therapy passed the New York House and Senate on January 9, 2019.

GENDA or Gender Expression Non-Discrimination bill added gender identity and expression to the state's anti-discrimination laws as a protected class in housing, employment and public accommodations.  Legally, it declares that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.  

This passage in the Assembly (134-3) and Senate (57-4) is quite a victory for LGBT rights because since 2003, GENDA has been put forward in the New York State Legislature, but died in the Republican-controlled New York Senate.  The bill was sponsored by all new 39 Democratic senators in the new Democratic majority and was sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, the only openly member of the Senate.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign this bill as well as the Conversion Therapy ban the week of January 21st.  The ban on conversion therapy would prohibit licensed therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation that The Human Rights Campaign refers to as a "fraudulent practice." (For more information about conversion therapy, see my blogpost Supporters said these two pieces of legislation are the most significant civil rights bills specifically impacting the state's LGBTQ community since same-sex marriage passed in 2011. 

It would be great if ALL states could have these laws, but there is no FEDERAL law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.  Because there is ambiguity in the courts regarding the definition of sex, LGBT citizens are at the mercy of municipal and state law.  In over half the U.S. states, you can still expect discrimination.  Let's hope New York State will serve as a beacon for others.