Tag: Matter

Puberty blockers case is a matter of life or death for some trans teenagers

Puberty blockers case is a matter of life or death

Mermaids at Pride in London, 2019. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Daminee Budhi is the legal policy officer at Mermaids. Writing ahead of this week’s landmark court battle over trans children’s access to puberty blockers, she argues that a positive ruling for the claimants could affect access to healthcare for all children.

A judicial review has been brought against The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which houses the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) clinic, and which supports young people, and their families, who are experiencing difficulties around their gender identity.

The claimants are a 23-year-old former Tavistock patient, Keira Bell, and a ‘Mrs A’, the mother of an autistic 15-year-old who is on the GIDS waiting list. Their argument goes that that those under the age of 18 are unable to give informed consent for affirmative medical treatment, specifically puberty blockers.

If successful, the case threatens to set a far-reaching and regressive legal precedent, undermining the landmark case of Gillick v West Norfolk (1986), which has given young people the right to make important decisions about their own bodies without the need for parental consent. Gillick competence recognises “the evolving maturity and individuality of children”. All children. Not certain children with certain needs. Ending Gillick competence for trans teenagers seeking puberty blockers would fly directly in the face of international best practice and effectively class them as being incapable of making decisions like anyone else their age.

Being transgender is not a psychiatric disorder.

The World Health Organization reclassified gender incongruence last year, stating correctly that it is not a psychological or psychiatric disorder. But what is seemingly nodded to in this case is that trans young people are presenting as gender-diverse due to some form of mental instability, or lack of competence. In fact, studies have shown that, far from affirming or consolidating mental-health issues, puberty blockers can and do have a positive effect on trans young people because they delay of the onset of a puberty that is likely to cause them immense distress. 

Puberty blockers can and do have a positive effect on trans young people.

As one example, puberty blockers have been described as ‘life savers’ by a study published in the medical journal Paediatrics in January 2020, which showed that the treatment significantly reduces a trans child’s likelihood of experiencing mental-health issues or suicidal thoughts. 

Make no mistake: The outcome of this judicial review is a matter of life or death for some trans teenagers. 

Puberty blockers now, contraception and abortions next?

Not only would this judicial review, if successful, question young trans people’s ability to consent to medical treatment, it would also require such an intensely personal medical decision to be handled by an often intimidating and impersonal judicial system – rather than a medical team, who are trained to support young people in making such important medical decisions. 

Meanwhile, this case has far-reaching implications beyond trans lives. As a cisgender woman as well as a trans ally, I want to explore the broader implications of this case to all women. What might the judicial review mean, more generally, for young people and their right to make decisions about their own bodies? 

This case has far-reaching implications beyond trans lives.

The case goes right to the fundamental core of Gillick competency and how it should be applied to different demographics of young people. I see a very real risk that this case challenges the rights of all those under 18 who rely on Gillick competence in order to make their own informed decisions about their bodies. That includes women under 18 who require access to the pill and even abortions without parental consent. 

We cannot view the rights of trans children in a vacuum; to do so would be a dangerous mistake. If this claim were successful, it would be a huge loss for anyone who believes that children should have the right to decide, when appropriate, what happens to their bodies.

Gillick competency – as well as the Fraser guidelines that refer specifically to advice and treatment about contraception and sexual health was created to protect young people, at the same time identifying that they have the right to be their own advocate once they have an ability to understand what the consequences of treatment may be, or importantly, what the consequence of not having treatment may be. 

If we deny trans young people the ability to consent to medical treatment, who will be next?

What would be next? In my opinion, it’s a slippery slope: if we deny trans young people the ability to consent to medical treatment, who will be next?

We are all as vulnerable as the most vulnerable people in society, and right now, with constant misinformation spread online, in politics and in traditional media including the UK’s largest newspapers and the BBC, trans people are very vulnerable indeed. If a positive claim does have a domino-effect, we are looking at a potential mass rollback of child rights across the board. This undermining of Gillick competence nods towards a future where the right to abortion and pro-choice decisions are restricted for all, destroying freedoms long fought for by women’s rights activists. 

The rights of all children are at stake in this case – not just trans kids.

At Mermaids we support young people and families no matter the journey they are on. We offer no medical advice, but we do bear witness to young people being provided with vital information, such as the purpose and nature of the treatment, the likely effects and risks attached to undergoing such treatment (and the effects of not), the chances of success, as well the availability of other options that are out there, given to them by NHS medical professionals. 

The rights of all young people – transgender or otherwise – are at stake here.

I would ask people not to let the rhetoric around trans issues blind them to the truth lying barely beneath the surface of this case. The rights of all young people – transgender or otherwise – are at stake here. If young people have the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies, then surely we must accept that transgender and gender-diverse children cannot be excluded from that right. 

Black Lives Matter condemns claim it wants a ‘lesbian, Marxist revolution’

Black Lives Matter condemns claim it wants a ‘lesbian, Marxist

Patrisse Cullors at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Patrisse Cullors, the artist, activist and prison abolitionist who co-founded Black Lives Matter, has condemned televangelist Pat Robertson’s for suggesting the movement is anti-Christian because it is LGBT-inclusive.

Robertson, 90, made the comments last week on his The 700 Club chat show. He claimed that the Black Lives Matter movement will lead to a “lesbian, anti-family, anti-capitalist Marxist revolution”.

Calling Robertson’s comments “outlandish”, “inflammatory” and “dangerous”, Cullors said that his insinuation that Black Lives Matter is anti-religion is “disgraceful” and offensive to Christian campaigners against racial injustice.

“People are hurting all across this country due to the carelessness of comments made by individuals like Pat Robertson,” Cullors said in a statement on the Black Lives Matter website.

“At what point do those individuals who walk alongside him stop and say, enough is enough with the sexist, misogynistic, and supremacist way of displaying the bigotry that continues to flow from the souls of many of our leaders.

“Christianity was built on empathy; not hate. Until hate and racism is eradicated, America will continue to be a divided nation.”

An unprecedented number of global protests against police brutality and racism began in May, after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck, and have continued over the summer.

Robertson had also criticised Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback whose football career was effectively ended when he knelt during the US anthem to highlight police brutality and racism during the 2016 NFL preseason.

“Athletes used to be terribly admired by all of society, but their rating has gone to negative because of their association with Black Lives Matter,” Robertson said, citing no actual sources.

“Of course Black lives matter, but that legitimate thing has been hijacked by these radicals.”

These “radicals”, Robertson claimed, aim to “destroy the nuclear family” and paint “Christianity as being racist”.

In her statement, Cullors concluded: “It is our hope that Pat Robertson and anyone else who believes we are destroying Christianity with our work, would join us in our movement as we will continue to galvanise these moments of division and false character accusations as fuel to move our country and world forward.

“Every day, we are surviving — if we do. We will continue to rise up until all Black lives are valued and matter across this world.”



Student battles homophobic anti-Black Lives Matter protester…with a trombone / Queerty

Student battles homophobic anti-Black Lives Matter protester…with a trombone /

Meet Trey Hogan, a freshman at the University of South Carolina. Hogan has elicited cheers after he stood up to a demonstrator spouting racist and homophobic garbage by drowning out his comments with a trombone.

The protester appeared on the UofSC campus last week. True to form, he carried a sign that read “BLM are racist thugs,” and wore a “Make America Great Again” hat. As the demonstrator began to spout his hate, Hogan stepped up to do his part.

“I just had the idea to drown his sound out with mine, so I got my trombone and … I was kind of hesitant at first, but then everyone supported it,” Hogan told WLTX News. “He was saying some pretty hateful stuff, and I just didn’t agree with any of it.”

Related: MAGA loser gets a$$ kicked for threatening to sodomize woman then slapping another across the face

Video of the incident went viral, depicting Hogan blowing out loud wails every time the protester tried to speak. The counterprotesters went nuts, cheering him on each time.

“I didn’t really expect so many people to react the way they did but it feels really good, and it feels really nice to know that people are so supportive of what I did and they want to show their support to me,” Hogan added.

The viral video of the incident has brought Hogan all kinds of acclaim, including praise from Bob Caslen, President of the University of South Carolina.

The demonstrator on Greene St. today may have a constitutional right to be there & say what he wants, but his words do not reflect the values & principles of our university,” Caslen said via Twitter. “I applaud our @UofSC students who peacefully voiced their opposition to the hate he was spewing.”

Ultimately, Hogan played for two full hours until the Trump-supporting protester’s megaphone died. After that, a local pizzeria reached out to Hogan, offering him free pizza for the remainder of his college years. Hogan also got a shout-out from Gayle King of CBS News, who said “I love Trey Hogan.”

For Hogan though, the notoriety he has received from the protest doesn’t overshadow the pushback against hate. “It shows that we support everyone here. It’s just not okay, and we don’t want that on this campus,” Hogan declared.

Hey Trey, you can blow your horn in front of us anytime.

Trans Black Lives Matter protester suffers shattered jaw after thugs beat him mercilessly

Samson Tequir. (Facebook)

Samson Tequir. (Facebook)

In the latest flare-up amid the Black Lives Matter protests continuing to seize major US cities, a Black trans man was left with his jaw and eye socket shattered after two men brutally beat him up.

Samson Tequir, 30, who helps organise demonstrations in Rochester, New York, was assailed last Friday afternoon (July 31), law enforcement said.

Surveillance footage from a nearby storefront captured the rattling moment when two males hurl anti-LGBT+ slurs at Tequir outside Big Town Grocery at Denver Street and Parsells Avenue on the city’s east side, then, while walking home with bags of groceries, everything went dark.

He was unconscious. Medics said he was likely struck more than once. Tequir awoke to the sounds of his friend yelling, the dialling of police.

Tequir, now wearing a black eyepatch in his home, told Democrat & Chronicle that, following the attack, he now needs titanium plates inserted to repair a broken eye socket and suffered multiple fractures to his cheekbone.

Trans Black Lives Matter demonstrater brutally beaten by two men: ‘My story is not new.’

“My story is not new,” he reflected.

“It is not the last one, and I can look around the room I am in right now and find more of those stories just the same. The only reason you are hearing about it is because people happened to know my name.”

It was warm when Tequir and his partner left to grab Gatorade and water. Watching his partner go inside the grocers, Tequir described, he said two men down the street began to yell.

They lobbed abuse at him, saying “I couldn’t stand on the corner like that”, and shouted: “I had to get off his corner with that gay [expleitive].”

The men drew closer and “they told me that I shouldn’t be dressed like that, I had to get out of here with these gay clothes and all that.”

After Tequir said he would not leave until his partner was done shopping, the men, he said, then went into the Big Town Grocery and were hostile towards Tequir’s partner.

Tequir said that the pair focused on getting back home while the men lurked behind them, but the men struck Tequir’s head, hurling him into unconsciousness.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that the victims were approached by two suspects who engaged in a verbal altercation with the victims regarding one of the victim’s sexual orientation,” read a statement released by the Rochester Police Department.

“The Rochester Police Department is investigating this incident as a potential hate crime and is consulting with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.”

Supporting LGBTQ Families Requires that Black Lives Matter

Supporting LGBTQ Families Requires that Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter. Black LGBTQ lives matter. And we will never have a just world for LGBTQ families until we have racial justice.

Black Lives Matter

Black and Latino same-sex couples are roughly twice as likely as White same-sex couples to be raising a biological, step, or adopted child, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute. And 50 percent of children under 18 living with same-sex couples are non-White compared to 41 percent of children living with different-sex couples. (Statistics were not available for other LGBTQ identities) Even if the numbers were far less, of course, these families would still deserve equality and justice—but the numbers underscore just how many LGBTQ families are impacted by ongoing racism in our country.

Racism is a formidable enemy, though, sometimes overt but often subtle. I can only speak to it from my perspective as a White person with a White child, but here are some of the things I am trying to do—and resolve to do better—to help dismantle it. I offer them as suggestions for others engaging in this work as well.

Educate myself. My day job is with a nonprofit program focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which requires a fair bit of reading on the subject, but I’ve found there’s always more to learn about racism’s history, impact, and the perspectives of those impacted. I continue to read, consume podcasts and videos, and listen to colleagues and friends of color when they choose to share their thoughts.

There are a lot of good resource lists on racism going around right now, but I want to caution us White folks not to get caught up in feeling that we need to get through every article, book, movie, and podcast on a multi-page list before taking action. Educating ourselves on racism is an ongoing process. We shouldn’t feel we need to “finish” (no one ever can) before getting out into the real world and trying to make a difference. We should also not see resource lists as ends in themselves or view our progress through them as a sign of how “woke” we are. Read and listen humbly. Know there is always more.

I’m not going to offer my own list here, as there are many others already, but if you need a place to begin, I suggest the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s new Talking About Race portal.

Self-reflect and self-improve. I try not to act in racist ways, but as a White person, I know there are times when I am, albeit unintentionally. And simply by my privilege as a White person in our society, I am tainted by the systemic racism woven into its fabric, benefiting me in ways I may not even realize. This is not a reason to punish myself; instead, I need to ask what I can do to be more thoughtful about my words and actions, to use my privilege to be a better ally and accomplice, and to work towards a more just world.

Teach my son. One of the most important anti-racist actions parents can take, I believe, is to show our children how to be anti-racist as well. My spouse and I have tried to teach our son not only that people of all skin tones are to be valued and respected, but that his peers of color may have very different experiences in the world because of systemic racism. We want him to be thoughtfully color aware, not color blind. We’ve tried to expose him at every age to books, shows, and movies that not only include characters of color, but that are told from their perspectives.

Hand in hand with finding “diverse” media, however, we parents should talk with our children in age-appropriate ways when we find biases and lack of representation in any children’s media. Why don’t we see people of color here? How is this character a stereotype? And why might there sometimes be representation in one way but biases in another?

My suggested place for parents to begin is EmbraceRace, which offers not only resources but also a community of support for parents, teachers, and others of all racial identities. Additionally, award-winning author and Black queer mom Jacqueline Woodson has offered a list of recommended books on racism and race for children of all ages at the Oprah Magazine website. These are just starting points.

Take action in the world. First, we should each speak out any time we see racism, from overt slurs, to subtle microaggressions, to lack of representation in workplaces, schools, and other venues. That necessary work can be supplemented by attending rallies and vigils, signing petitions, contacting our elected officials, and donating money and time to civil rights organizations and others that work with marginalized communities, as we are able.

Yes, we may not always do or say the right thing; we may feel awkward; we may stumble. We should not let these fears keep us from doing anything, however. We need to come into the work knowing it is a process and being willing to listen, apologize, learn, and keep trying.

Pride was born from protest and resistance, led by people of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, and Stormé DeLarverie. Many of our LGBTQ families would not exist today if it wasn’t for the smoldering revolution that they sparked into open flame. May we honor their legacy as we work for inclusion, equality, and justice.

(Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.)