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Puerto Rico Medicaid program now covers transition-related health care

Governor’s LGBTQ advisory council celebrates ‘historic’ move

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The government of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program will now cover transition-related health care.

The governor’s Advisory Council on LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender) Issues in a draft press release sent to the Los Angeles Blade earlier this week said Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program will specifically cover medications and hormones that transgender people use when they transition.

The press release notes the council has been working with the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration, which oversees the U.S. commonwealth’s Medicaid program, and medical experts for more than a year to develop the policy. Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, a member of Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party who lost her primary in August, also supports the new regulation.

The new policy took effect on July 1, which is the beginning of Puerto Rico’s fiscal year. The council did not publicly announce it until this week because it said Puerto Rico’s pharmacies needed time to update their systems to ensure compliance.

“The LGBTT Advisory Board identified, during these years of work, several important health needs for the LGBTIQ community,” said Johanne Velez, the council’s president, in the press release. “These high-profile needs included ensuring that the trans community, within their holistic transition management plan (social, psychological, spiritual and physical), had access to quality hormone treatment. After more than a year of continuous work, direct collaboration with the relevant agencies, and the strong support of the governor of Puerto Rico, Hon. Wanda Vázquez Garced, we achieved this approval for the next fiscal year.”

“We feel a great sense of satisfaction with this step that will result in better access and quality of health services for our trans community,” added Velez. “It is a historic day of advance for human rights on our island.”

Alberto Valentín, the council’s executive director, agreed.

“Today we move towards a Puerto Rico for todes (everyone), a Puerto Rico with greater access to health (care), a fairer, more inclusive and diverse Puerto Rico,” he said in the press release.

Trans Puerto Ricans remain vulnerable to violence, discrimination

The Movement Advancement Project notes 21 states and D.C. have Medicaid policies that “explicitly” cover “transition-related health care.” Uruguay is among the countries that include transition-related health care in their public health care systems.

Trans people in Puerto Rico since 2018 have been able to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. Advocates on the island with whom the Blade has previously spoken say a lack of access to health care, discrimination and violence are among the myriad issues that trans Puerto Ricans face.  

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, is among the activists who sharply criticized Vázquez in June when she signed a new Civil Code they say does not protect LGBTQ Puerto Ricans. The Puerto Rican government has also faced criticism over its response to the murders of Alexa Negrón Luciano, Serena Angelique Velázquez, Layla Pelaez and other trans people.

The body of Michelle “Michellyn” Ramos Vargas, a 33-year-old trans woman, was found along a highway in San Germán in southwest Puerto Rico on Sept. 30.

The Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday hosted a virtual roundtable that focused on these murders and the overall epidemic of violence against trans Puerto Ricans.

Alexandra Roman, a trans activist who is based in Mayagüez in western Puerto Rico, said a lack of education about trans Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rico Police Department’s inadequate response to the violence are among the factors that have exacerbated the problem.

“The police don’t take it seriously,” said Roman.

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Kansas

Anti-LGBTQ Kansas lawmaker who assaulted student given probation

In the classroom incident last Spring students recorded videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible

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Kansas State House Representative Mark Samsel (R- House District 5/Wellsville) (Photo Credit: Kansas House)

OTTAWA, Ks. – Fourth Judicial Circuit Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball sentenced Kansas House Representative Mark Samsel, (R- House District 5/Wellsville) to 90 days in jail (suspended) and probation for a year on Monday. Samsel was convicted of assaulting a male student after a physical altercation while he was substitute teaching at the Wellsville High School last April.

Samsel originally faced three misdemeanor battery charges following his arrest in April that involved two male victims, both approximately 16 years old.

The Kansas City reported that during a short hearing conducted over Zoom, Kimball in his ruling ordered that Samsel must apologize to his teenage victims. Samsel is also prohibited from using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms for personal use. An exception is included to allow social media for political and legislative purposes.

In the classroom incident last Spring that sparked four months of court proceedings according to the Kansas City Star, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.

In one video shared with The Star, Samsel tells students about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

“He’s a foster kid. His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay,” Samsel said.

The student videos additionally showed the lawmaker verbally targeting one student and encouraging other students to bully him.

The Star also reported: At one point, Samsel tells the student, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” He then pushes him, and the student runs to the other side of the classroom.

“You should run and scream.” In another video, he tells students, “Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls.”

Parents told The Star that Samsel “put hands on the student” and allegedly kneed him in the crotch. In a video apparently taken immediately after the incident, the student is shown on the ground. Samsel is standing over him and says, “did it hurt?”

He then asks him why he is about to start crying, pats him on the shoulder and apologizes, and then says he can “go to the nurse, she can check it for you.” Samsel addresses another student and says, “do you want to check his nuts for him, please?”

In another video, Samsel is shown telling the student about “distractions from the devil,” and then grabs him from behind and lifts him off his feet. In a different clip, he tells the student to go to the office. “You were not following — not my rules — God’s rules right now,” he tells the student. “You better take a Bible.”

“Keep denying God, keep denying God, see how it’s going to turn out,” he told the student.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal appeals court orders Trans professor fired in 2011 reinstated

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County

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U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Byron White Courthouse Denver Colorado (Photo Credit - Library of Congress Collections)

DENVER – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 55-page ruling issued Monday, ordered Southeastern Oklahoma State University located in Durant, Oklahoma to reinstate a Trans professor who was fired over a decade ago.

Douglas N. McMillan, then interim vice president for academic affairs at the university reportedly said that the professor’s “lifestyle” offended his Baptist beliefs.

Dr. Rachel Tudor, a 54-year-old Native American member of the Chickasaw Nation, in a statement released after the appellate court’s ruling said that [she is] “looking forward to being the first tenured Native American professor in her department in the 100-plus year history of the Native American-serving institution that is Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

The 10th Circuit in its ruling overturned a lower District Court in Oklahoma City that had ruled “reinstatement would not be possible due to alleged hostility between Dr. Tudor and Southeastern.”

Tudor worked as a tenure-track professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University between 2004 and 2011. In 2007, she informed Southeastern that she would be transitioning and that her gender identity was female. Following this, she was denied tenure and terminated even though her own students and the English Department supported her tenure application.

In her appeal, Tudor was represented by the Washington D.C. based National Women’s Law Center and its private law firm counsel, Erica Lai, who argued for NWLC.

In a recap statement NWLC noted:

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, heavily citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which overruled previous 10th Circuit precedent and held that discrimination against transgender employees is sex discrimination under Title VII.  

 After fighting her case in the courts, she won her jury trial on November 20, 2017. Although the jury awarded her $1,165,000, the court both lowered this amount to $300,000 and then awarded her only front-pay wages in an amount of $60,040.77. This front-pay figure was calculated without the court undertaking any meaningful analysis as to her ability to return to a tenure job in English at Southeastern as she wanted, or what amount would make up for her lost future earnings.

[…] Also, courts have made clear that employers may not cite litigation-related hostility as a reason to refuse someone a job. Finally, as the jury found, Dr. Tudor was only denied tenure because of sex discrimination.

Tudor’s statement reflected her desire to return to the classroom and press on the Tulsa World reported:

As injurious as the sex discrimination and retaliation were to Dr. Tudor, she did not consider it merely personal. Rather, she was a symbol to those who discriminated against her. They wanted to create an environment where certain views and certain people are punished to create fear and shame instead of self-confidence and opportunity for all.

“They wanted people like Dr. Tudor to be afraid, and to go away. Instead of going away, instead of accepting a settlement — conditioned on never teaching in Oklahoma — she fought for the rights and dignity of her Native and LGBT communities.

“Dr. Tudor would like to thank her allies and colleagues for their support through 10 long years of fighting for justice. She is grateful and honored to be the recipient of their goodwill. She promises to repay their trust by being the best professor she can be.”

 

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Colorado

Anti-LGBTQ extremist Bob Enyart who spread COVID lies- dies from virus

Enyart proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host”

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Bob Enyart (Screenshot via KUSA9 NBC News Denver)

DENVER – The vehemently anti-LGBTQ preacher who made national headlines over his gleefully reading out the obituaries of AIDS victims on his cable television show, while cranking out the song “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen- whose lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died from that disease, has himself died from complications after contracting COVID-19.

Bob Enyart, 62, who had proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular self-proclaimed right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host” and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, died Monday after a short battle with the coronavirus. The news was confirmed by his longtime radio and podcast show co-host Fred Williams in a Facebook post Monday.

Enyart and his second wife Cheryl, had both contracted COVID-19 after refusing to take the vaccine citing pro-life reasons; “Bob and Cheryl Enyart have sworn off taking the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson vaccines because, as those firms admit, they tested these three products on the cells of aborted babies,” according to a statement in August on Enyart’s webpage.

In addition to falsely claiming that the vaccines were developed using fetal tissue, Enyart urged his followers to boycott the vaccines to “further increase social tension and put pressure on the child killers. (Remember, many institutions and celebrities who have been “pro-choice” all along are now also calling to legalize infanticide, what they call after-birth abortion.

In October of 2020, Enyart filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver asking to overturn the Colorado State Public Health order on facial masks at religious services, as well as rules limiting gatherings to 175 people amid the pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico, who was appointed by President Trump, granted a temporary restraining order against the health order.

A long time radical anti-abortion activists and a spokesperson for the pro-life Colorado Right to Life, Enyart in 2009 along with other antiabortion protesters were jailed over protest at Focus on the Family after the group accused Focus founder James Dobson of not being antiabortion enough.

After attempting to deliver a letter to Focus president James Daly deploring Dobson’s endorsement of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, American Right to Life Action members staged an hour long standoff with ministry security, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

In addition to his open hostility towards the LGBTQ community on air, in 2016 protesting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the previous year that granted same-sex couples the right to marry, the Huffington Post reported that he released a bizarre video as part of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) boycott of Starbucks, after the coffee-based chain announced its support of same-sex marriage.

As first reported by Good As You blogger Jeremy Hopper, Pastor Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church purchased a Starbucks coffee before proceeding to dump it down a sewer in protest.

“Jesus Christ said God made us male and female at the beginning of the creation,” Enyart proclaims. “Starbucks, in a move that’s not wise for eternity and not good for business here and now, has decided to promote homosexual marriage.”

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