The government of U.S. President Donald Trump is attempting to strip transgender people of official recognition by creating a narrow definition of gender as being only male or female and unchangeable once it is determined at birth, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
The Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken an effort across several government departments to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, the Times said, citing a government memo that it obtained.
That definition would be as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with, the Times reported.
Such an interpretation would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
It would also set back aspirations for tolerance and equality among the estimated 0.7 percent of the population that identifies as transgender. Most transgender people live with a profound sense that the gender assigned to them at birth was wrong and transition to the opposite sex, while others live a non-binary or gender fluid life.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declined to comment on what she called “allegedly leaked documents” but cited a ruling by a conservative U.S. district judge as a guide to transgender policy.
Ruling on a challenge to one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas found in 2016 that there was no protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
A leading transgender advocate called the government’s reported action a “super aggressive, dismissive, dangerous move.”
“They are saying we don’t exist,” said Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, in an interview.
The Obama administration enacted regulations and followed court rulings that protected transgender people from discrimination, upsetting religious conservatives.
The Trump administration has sought to ban transgender people from military service and rescinded guidance to public schools recommending that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.
A draft of the Trump administration memo says gender should be determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” the memo says, according to the Times.
Medical science seeking to explain what makes people transgender is in its infancy.
Psychiatrists no longer consider being transgender a disorder and several U.S. courts have found the Obama interpretation of protecting transgender people against discrimination as sound. But the Trump administration has chosen to abide by the ruling of O’Connor, the Times said.
“The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue,” Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
Voting Today Can Get You A Bunch Of Free Stuff
Today is election day in the US and with comes not only an opportunity to exercise your civic responsibility, right and privilege, but also to get a bunch of free food and services. Although ideally people would vote even if they didn’t get a free side of fries in return, it’s good that people are going to get to the polls somehow.
Uber and Lyft are both offering discounts today, taking their political rivalry to the next level. Uber, you may remember, has been boycotted after showing inadvertent support for Trump.
The company declined to participate in a work stoppage that New York taxi drivers were engaged in to protest Trumps travel ban. Lyft became the service of choice for many people after the #deleteuber movement took hold. Now, both companies are offering deals on rides to the polls.
Uber’s is a discount only for first-time users if they put in a special election day code and Lyft is giving across the board 50% discounts for those going to vote.
State Assembly Candidate from Bay Ridge Makes Ends Meet by Driving for Uber
Some politicians go home after a debate. State Assembly Candidate Adam Baumel gets in his car and does a shift with the ride share app Uber.
Baumel is running against incumbent Nicole Malliotakis to represent parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn. He started driving for the rideshare startup Uber in May 2016 while getting his bachelor’s degree through the G.I. Bill at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“I knew there was no guarantee I’d have a job immediately with a Political Science degree,” said Baumel, who moved from Harlem to Bay Ridge in May 2016, “So I made sure to set myself up to make income in some other way.”
Not long after, Baumel joined Stacey Pfeffer Amato’s state assembly campaign while continuing to supplement his income with Uber and has continued driving since. He said it gives him a particular perspective into what his potential constituents face.
“It shows I’m not just talk,” said Baumel, who has also driven for Lyft in the past. “I’m about the action that would benefit people who live the same sort of lifestyle I do.” He said he supports the legislation recently passed that would set a minimum wage for drivers of for-hire vehicles.
Baumel also said he identifies as an organized labor candidate and is frustrated by the amount of money politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken from union busters. “New York is a union state, and I see a lot of elected officials not acting like it.”
As an Uber driver in New York, he is in good company. The city has about 80,000 drivers who work for app-based dispatch companies like Uber or Lyft, according to a study co-authored by The New School and the University of California, Berkeley.
Baumel started driving a wheelchair-accessible vehicle nine months in and said it helped him to better understand the challenges many New Yorkers face when moving about the city.
Only 22 percent of New York subway stops are wheelchair accessible. Even then, the inefficiency of those stations keeps some wheelchair users from using them altogether. This is a hot topic in Bay Ridge, where the city recently renovated a station without making it accessible.
Liam McCabe, the president of the newly founded Verrazzano Republicans Club and a communication specialist at the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, drove for Uber last year during his own campaign for city council. He said he left his previous job working for Rep. Dan Donovan to avoid the possible conflict of interests working for an elected official might cause.
“I thought it was good to separate myself, and Uber allowed me to do that,” said McCabe.
Uber-driver candidates can also boast an endorsement that non-drivers cannot: their ratings. “My Uber rating is actually something I’m very proud of, Baumel said. “It’s a 4.96, and I’m about to hit 5,000 rides. I’ve been doing this for a while.”
“I think it’s kind of cool,” said Soha Said, who works at Mando Foods Mini Mart in Bay Ridge. “He’s just like us!”
Voters, You’re Being Manipulated
When the bigot who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue arrived at the local hospital emergency room to be treated for his injuries, he was shouting, “Kill all the Jews.” He was then promptly treated, very professionally, by three Jews.
The hospital president, Jeffrey K. Cohen, a member of the congregation that had been attacked, met there with the suspect to ask respectfully how he was doing. (I try to avoid using the names of mass shooters, to avoid giving them attention they sometime crave.)
“He asked me who I was,” Dr. Cohen told ABC News. “I said, ‘I’m Dr. Cohen, the president of the hospital.’”
Side by side with the worst of humanity we find the best. And in Pittsburgh, there was more of the best. The Muslim community promptly raised $214,000 for the victims of the synagogue shooting and offered to provide security for Jews in the area.
HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.
These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.
Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.
President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Channel, according to CNN.
This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!
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