BROADview in Brief
I toddled off to Oregon for a relaxing family Thanksgiving but unfortunately had no magic words to turn off the unceasing flow of gender drama in the news while I was away. Now my gender bookmark folder on Twitter/X is abrim, and I’m looking in dismay at the pages and pages of gender headlines that Alejandra Q. has sent along. I’ve also realized that I can’t remember what reporters talked about fifteen years ago, in the days before deadnames, pronouns, trans children, and battles over biology. Where to begin??
Let’s start off in Portland, where I got to meet Holly Hart, one of Lisa’s subscribers who is a former restauranteur, long-time lesbian activist, and one of the founders of the Portland Gay Liberation Front. She was a leader in Portland LGBT activist circles over many decades so was shocked to find herself completely out of step with her community when she first posted on social media a few years ago that transwomen were males. Whoops! Who knew? Her fall from grace was painful, but no amount of re-education could convince her she was wrong. Once an activist, always an activist, though, and Holly now works on behalf of LGB Alliance USA and the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), two sex-based advocacy networks.
I was curious whether she’d attended a recent women’s rights event in Portland hosted by Women’s Declaration International that turned violent--the incident was covered quite thoroughly by Genevieve Gluck for Reduxx. Frankly, I was a bit baffled as to why any sex-based group would have a public meeting in Portland, land of Antifa, political division, and poor policing. I believe all Americans should have the First Amendment right to speak on any topic, anywhere, but surely the security risks are too high in some locations. And yet, should women ever be too frightened to speak their minds in public? Certainly, that’s come up repeatedly with Kellie-Jay Keen and Standing for Women. So, readers, what are your thoughts on balancing the risk/benefit ratio for public activism?
For the record, Holly did not attend, precisely because she was concerned that the risks outweighed the rewards. Cheers, Holly--it was lovely to meet you!
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As we’ve been recovering from our Thanksgiving excesses across the States:
McKenzie Beard wrote a terrific round-up in the Washington Post’s weekly healthcare policy column of US court decisions that are pushing the Supreme Court to address state conflicts in gender medicalization policies: “For several years now, the Supreme Court has been “basically dodging transgender constitutional rights cases,” said Katie Eyer, a professor at Rutgers Law School who is an expert on LGBTQ rights. “But I think it’s reaching a point where the court may have difficulties avoiding doing so [moving forward].” As a side note, I particularly appreciated that Beard clearly defined gender-affirming care as including “puberty blockers and hormone therapy, as well as surgery in limited cases.”” Some physicians, including SEGM pediatrician Dr. Julia Mason, have stated that it’s likely that practitioners and medical lobbies will redefine that term as it becomes clear that the evidence base does not support current practice. Indeed, you could see that shift happening in an Austin American-Statesman opinion piece this week, “Gender-Affirming Care Is Essential to Letting Kids Be Kids: A Physician’s Perspective.”
In more Austin news, local TV station KXAN reported that activists are calling on the Austin City Council to designate that town as a “transgender sanctuary city” to shield it from some aspects of Texas’ new or proposed state laws on minors at drag shows, youth medicalization, and more. “Randy Erben, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said he anticipates state leaders will watch closely how this effort proceeds and what the city decides to do — even potentially setting up another fight over local control at the statehouse.”
Arizona made the headlines, as Mesa Public School District board member Rachel Walden sued her own district for its transgender student policies, including hiding student transitions from parents. It is incredibly rare for a school board member to take this type of step. Yet, it’s the second time this year in Arizona (the other is a First Amendment case where a school board member is accusing the district of trying to block her from reading scripture during board meetings. NB to possible school board candidates: you have the right to read scripture or rant about the CIA at your board meetings, but don’t steal any ketchup). At the same time, a trio of trans-identified minors is suing the state for making the process of changing the sex marker on their birth certificates too difficult.
In Alabama, State Attorney General Steve Marshall has prevailed in his legal demand for Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Admiral Rachel Levine’s emails and other records pertaining to Boe v. Marshall, a parent lawsuit fighting Alabama’s recent state law blocking the gender medicalization of minors.
Speaking of Health and Human Services, the Federalist Society noted that agency is proposing new foster agency placement rules that will require foster families to “utilize the child’s identified pronouns, chosen name, and allow the child to dress in an age-appropriate manner that the child believes reflects their self-identified gender identity and expression.”
In Indiana, a Catholic women’s college in Notre Dame is facing a backlash for updating its admission policy to allow transwomen to enroll.
A Christian school in Vermont is suing the state for banning it from all state competitions after it forfeited a girls’ basketball game against a team that included a transwoman/trans-identified male athlete: CNN’s Skylar Harris and Jillian Sykes reported that a representative from the school’s legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, said that Vermont has “repeatedly discriminated against Christian schools and their families for following their religious beliefs. Put simply, Mid Vermont Christian School believes that boys are boys and girls are girls. They have been punished for this belief. No school or parent should have to change their beliefs to participate in athletics or a state tuitioning program.” Say what you will about the culture wars, they have been good for the bottom line of the ADF. I do want to call out the misinformation from the Journal of Sports Medicine that Harris and Sykes shared when they wrote that “studies found “no direct or consistent research” on trans people having an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers.” There are many studies noting the persistent advantage of males over females in sport, no matter how they identify or to what extent they suppress testosterone. I’ll link just one of them here.
Thank you to subscriber Susan for sharing a recent US Office of Civil Rights investigation at Taft College, a community college in Kern County, California, where a male student complained that two faculty members repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed the student after a transition to a transfemme identity. The OCR found that “when employees or students refuse to use a student’s preferred names and pronouns or repeatedly misuse them, this may constitute harassment based on sex that can create a hostile environment under Title IX.” I can see how this might fit under the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, but I can also see how it could both conflict with an educator’s personal beliefs about gender identities and be taken to an extreme (see astrogender below).
Detransitioners continue to deeply disturb gender ideologues. From the Young America Foundation-sponsored Chloe Cole lecture at the University of Utah to detransitioner testimony at the Ohio state legislature, trans political advocates seem to be unable to rationally respond to detransition. I suspect it’s an extreme avoidance response due to cognitive dissonance, but I’m no psychologist—if you have other thoughts on this behavior, please share!
In international news, there’s been an important free speech ruling in Canada, as now-retired teacher Carolyn Burjoski’s defamation lawsuit against the Waterloo Region District School Board has been allowed to proceed. You may remember that back in January 2022, Burjoski was not only kicked out of an online board meeting for expressing concern about the age appropriateness of some of the books available in Waterloo elementary school libraries, but she was also accused of transphobia and disrespect by the then board chair and removed from her classroom by district administrators. The district tried to have Burjoski’s lawsuit tossed out, but the National Post wrote that Justice James Ramsay was having none of that. Ramsay stated, “What happened here should not happen in a democratic society…The chairman of the board acted with malice or, at least, with a reckless disregard for the truth. He had made an embarrassingly erroneous and arbitrary decision to silence a legitimate expression of opinion and he was widely criticized for it. It is not a stretch to infer that, realizing that, he tried to justify himself with the public by assassinating the plaintiff’s character.” Burjoski has been through absolute hell over this, and if you’d like to contribute to her legal costs, you can do so on her GoFundMe page.
Also in Canada, it is now much easier for college students to access sex change medications and surgeries such as phalloplasty through their university healthcare plans, thanks to the advocacy of the University of British Columbia Trans Coalition.
Elsewhere around the globe:
In both the Beautifully Inclusive and The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same Departments, a group of Italian transwomen had lunch with Pope Francis as part of the Vatican’s World Day of the Poor events last week. I haven’t been able to find any evidence of the Pope meeting with females who identify as transmen or as non-binary, but he does apparently know what that means.
Bernard Lane reported that Australian taxpayers are funding testosterone prescriptions for transmen/trans-identified females under the claim that they have a testicular disorder and are “androgen deficient.” In fact, female patients in Australia currently have testicular disorders at a rate of more than 3 to 1 over male patients. Many American state taxpayers subsidize testosterone for transmen, but it’s done as a treatment for gender dysphoria, not under the bizarre idea that some females are actually males with low testosterone.
Parents in New Zealand are speaking out with their concerns about the country’s 2020 sex ed curriculum, which recommends that students in grades 1-8 (ages 4 or 5 to ages 11 or 12) be taught about the option of blocking their puberty.
British papers say that the government’s long-awaited draft trans guidance for schools will be released next week. The Times of London covered some of the details, including that pronoun usage will be explicitly optional for teachers and peers of trans-identified students.
Meanwhile, the use of puberty blockers was supposed to have been severely restricted by the National Health Service in the UK, but Michael Searles revealed in The Telegraph that instead, their use has doubled over the past year.
Searles also reported that the NHS rolled out its new EPIC health management software from America at several British teaching hospitals this month, and it was suddenly no longer possible to record a newborn’s sex at the hospital, only its gender identity. His colleague Celia Warden suggested new mothers might want to double-check whether midwives have tongue-in-cheek registered their babies as aliengender or astrogender, meaning one’s gender fluctuates daily based on the stars. It was supposedly a glitch, but readers abroad, be concerned if your public health systems are buying American software.
It’s dark as I write this, so I’ll be stepping outside shortly to observe the night sky and determine what gender I’ll be in the morning as dawn breaks. I hope that however you express yourself this fine Friday, you have an excellent day. As always, please share your thoughts below and in this form.
With many thanks for the research work of Alejandra Q.