Connect with us

homepage news

Wiener’s Intersex human rights bill killed in 1st Senate committee 

Published

on

Having a Democratically controlled California state legislature does not guarantee passage of progressive legislation. But the shoulder-shrugging killing of a human rights bill that LGBTQ lobbying group Equality California marked as a top priority should jolt LGBTQ and allied voters into an awareness that even endorsed Democrats require ongoing scrutiny.

When out State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced his Intersex Autonomy bill, SB 201, last year, cosponsored by Equality California, interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth and the ACLU of California, it seemed like the logical extension of Wiener’s SCR 110, passed in Aug. 2018. The resolution denounced medically unnecessary surgeries for intersex children that Human Rights Watch recognized as a human rights issue. The international human-rights organization applauded passage of Wiener’s resolution, saying it “signals the state’s respect for people born with variations in their sex characteristics.

“California’s leadership on the protection of intersex children’s rights is not only an expression of solidarity and dignity, but a reminder that doctors take an oath do no harm,” Kyle Knight, a Human Rights Watch researcher and author of two reports on intersex issues, said in a statement to NBC News. “Medical professional associations should draw a hard line saying that unless surgery is medically necessary, intersex children have the right to grow up and participate in the decision to undergo surgical procedures.”

The United Nations agrees. “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. In many countries, intersex children are subjected to repeated surgery and treatment to try to change their sex characteristics and appearance, causing terrible physical, psychological and emotional pain – and violating their rights,” says the UN’s Free & Equal campaign, which recognizes Oct. 24 as Intersex Awareness Day.

“Intersex children don’t need to be ‘fixed;’ they are perfect just as they are! The United Nations is calling on governments and parents to protect intersex children from harm.”

In fact, the UN convened its first meeting in Sept. 2015 to discuss medical intervention on the genitalia of intersex babies as a human rights violations similar to the outrage of female genital mutilation.

Buzzfeed News reported on Sept 19, 2015:

“The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights meeting, held in Geneva, builds off a 2013 report by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture calling on the world’s nations to outlaw ‘genital normalizing’ surgeries on intersex individuals.

 

This week’s meeting also discussed human rights violations such as infanticide and widespread discrimination that occurs against intersex people around the world. But the issue of how to end the practice of intersex surgeries was front and center.

 

“Too many people assume, without really thinking about it, that everyone can be fitted into two distinct and mutually exclusive categories: male or female,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, in his opening remarks.

 

“Such violations are rarely discussed and even more rarely investigated or prosecuted,” Hussein said. “The result is impunity for the perpetrators, lack of remedy for victims, and a perpetuating cycle of ignorance and abuse.”

…..

An estimated 1 in every 2,000 babies are born with traits that doctors would classify as intersex, though some experts say the real number is even higher.

 

When these babies are born, in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s common medical practice to operate on them to make their genitalia appear more typically male or female.

 

The surgeries have been the subject of fierce debate for several decades. Many activists argue that they are medically unnecessary, based on social fears about ambiguous genitalia, and can cause physical or psychological harm — all without the patient’s consent. For this reason, many activists refer to the surgeries as “intersex genital mutilation,” drawing a comparison to the cultural practice of female genital mutilation that has been outlawed in many countries.”

 

Not everyone agreed. “These are social interventions on your genitals — if we’re going to use that language about Africa, we’re going to have to use it here,” Alice Dreger, a historian of medicine and intersex patient advocate, told BuzzFeed News. “The parallel that they’re done for social reasons is very clear. But it’s going to be very difficult to convince most doctors that the surgeries constitute a human rights violation.”

Wiener, Equality California and the ACLU of California side with interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth. “The bill does not prohibit treatment or surgery when it is medically necessary; it will simply delay elective surgeries often performed on babies in an attempt to ‘normalize’ their bodies until they have the ability to make their own informed decision,” at least until age six when children start more intense self-awareness, Equality California said in a press release.

Advocates also drew the distinction between the needs of the transgender and intersex communities.

“Transgender has to do with your gender identity. Whereas intersex has to do with your biological characteristics,” says Emily in a Buzzfeed-produced video.

“Often intersex people get surgeries that they don’t want and transgender people have to fight for surgeries they do want,” Cypher says in the video.


“These surgeries should be performed only with informed consent by the person whose life will be permanently impacted,” Wiener told NBC News in a statement. “A baby cannot provide that consent.”

He added: “These surgeries can have significant negative impacts on people’s lives, particularly if the gender chosen by the physician and parents is different from the child’s ultimate gender identity.”

Wiener turned SB 201 into two-year bill last year in response to concerns expressed by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, where it was first heard as part of oversight and regulation of the medical profession. He also modified the bill   this month but the amendments failed to appease the California Medical Association and other doctors’ groups “that vehemently opposed the legislation as a threat to their expertise and the safety of some of the patients they serve,” the Sacramento Bee reported.

“SB 201 treats every child the same, ignoring the potential impact of treatment,” Hillary Copp, a pediatric urologist at UCSF, told the Bee. “We’re not for or against surgery and we’re not performing the surgeries that are being insinuated. We’re offering all medical treatment options and when we’re unsure of diagnoses, the majority of times, we are not offering surgery.’

Committee chair Sen. Steve Glazer –backed by Sens. Richard Pan, Jerry Hill and Bill Dodd — said that while the issue of sex-assignment surgery must be addressed, “SB 201 would have consequences that…could violate the medical community’s pledge to ‘first, do no harm,’” the Bee reported.

On Jan. 13, without negotiation or compromise on further amendments, the committee killed the human rights bill by a vote of 4 to 2.  Democratic Sens. Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, a member of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, and Connie Leyva of Chino voted in favor of SB 201 while Sens. Glazer, Ling Ling Chang (Republican Vice Chair) and Bob Archuleta abstained, presumably to avoid having an anti-LGBTQ/ anti-human rights vote on their records. Sens. Dodd, Hill, Pan and Republican Scott Wilk had no such qualms and voted NO.

“I’m very disappointed that the Committee voted down this civil rights bill,” Wiener said. “Intersex people deserve legal protection, and we are committed to ensuring that protection under California law. Today’s vote was a setback, but this is only the beginning. We aren’t giving up on protecting intersex people from non-consensual, invasive, dangerous surgery. As with many civil rights struggles, it sometimes takes multiple tries to prevail. We will be back.”

“Four members of the California Senate Business and Professions Committee voted today to continue allowing pediatric surgeons to cause documented, irreversible harms against children born with diverse sex traits,” said Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, after the Jan. 13 vote. “Our fight for bodily autonomy is far from over. I’m heartened by the conversations SB 201 started, and by the increased awareness and concern for harmful medical interventions on intersex children.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the committee’s decision not to affirm the legislature’s respect for the bodily autonomy and human rights of this marginalized population of children,” said Elizabeth Gill, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of California. “California already prohibits certain other practices with high risks of irreversible harm from taking place during childhood. SB 201 would have been in line with this approach and helped center care on the needs of patients themselves, not the ‘normalization’ of their bodies.”

But Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur nailed what really happened.  “Today, California stumbled as a leader on human rights and LGBTQ equality,” he said. “Today’s vote by the California Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee means that the Golden State will continue to subject infants every year to medically unnecessary, harmful and often irreversible procedures aimed at ‘normalizing’ their bodies. We’re grateful to Senator Wiener for leading California — and the country — on this important issue, and we urge senators who voted against protecting human rights today to learn from his example. This fight is not over, and we remain committed to this legislation and ensuring that California affirms and respects the bodily autonomy of all people.”

Will there be any consequences? Equality California has already endorsed incumbent Glazer in his reelection bid for Senate District 7.

But might Equality California’s PAC revisit that endorsement after Glazer’s abstention – which is tantamount to a NO vote? The organization has withdrawn endorsements in the past over a key vote.

Also to consider is the interesting note that three days before the committee killed the intersex human rights bill, the California Medical Association contributed $50,000 to an independent expenditure supporting Committee Chair Glazer’s reelection?

And Glazer has a progressive challenger in Marisol Rubio,  is a scientific researcher, health care provider and disability advocate who is worth a serious look.

After all, though the California Democratic Party could achieve no consensus on a candidate for Senate District 7 at their Nov. convention, she beat Glazer handily at a pre-convention conference a month earlier.

“Glazer finished second in his district in Saturday’s endorsement voting, well behind Marisol Rubio, founder of San Ramon Progressives and a disabled rights activist. The vote was 52% to 34%, with the rest voting for no endorsement,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

On Jan. 16, Rubio received the endorsement of the East Bay Stonewall Democrats.

The fact that – without allowing for the opportunity to negotiate amendments – a Democratically-controlled committee in the California Legislature killed a human rights bill protecting intersex children in 2020 should be a wake up call to all equality-minded voters.

This article has been corrected to indicate that Ling Ling Chang and Scott Wilk are Republicans. 

 

a&e features

NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

Published

on

Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

Published

on

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

Continue Reading

Health

HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”

Published

on

HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
 
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
 
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Trending