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New poll shows Americans overwhelmingly oppose anti-transgender laws

Things will get better, and this legislation is just a momentary setback for trans acceptance

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By Matt Loffman | The rights of transgender Americans has been a growing topic of debate on sports fields, in state capitols and in Congress. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, says more than 30 state legislatures have proposed more than 115 bills that would limit transgender rights, from participation on sports teams to access to medical care. 

But two-thirds of Americans are against laws that would limit transgender rights, a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found. That opposition includes majorities of every political ideology from liberal to conservative and every age group. 

These proposed bills have emerged as a new culture war, with Republican state legislators introducing and voting for them amid Democratic opposition, while a majority of Americans who identify as Republicans are against such laws, according to the poll. 

“The parties are speaking to their base people,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts the poll. “The Democratic coalition is more diverse. It’s broader. The Republicans are speaking to a much narrower base, and that can put you against the overall public opinion within those jurisdictions.”  

About one half of one percent of U.S. adults are transgender, according to a recent Gallup survey. In the PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, more than half of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. That includes 53 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents. 

People under the age of 40 are more than twice as likely as older Americans to personally know someone who is transgender. Sixty-three percent of Gen Z and millennial voters said they do, while just 28 percent of people over 74 years old said the same.

Five years ago, less than a third of Americans said they knew someone who was transgender, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

“It’s really hard once you’re informed or you know a trans person to support one of these bills because it really strikes at the humanity of a trans person,” said Kate Sosin, who reports on LGBTQ+ issues at The 19th. “More than half of people do know transgender people and that number is only going to go up…and if that is the case, this is inevitably going to be a losing issue for lawmakers trying to make this a wedge issue, because even if you don’t support transgender rights, you don’t want to be the lawmaker pushing something that is seen as bigoted.”

Health care and trans youth

The most far-reaching bills introduced this year would limit transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care. Twenty-one state legislatures have considered such bills this year, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA, which also estimates more than 45,000 youth could be affected, including nearly 1,500 kids in Arkansas who will lose medical care after the state became the first in the country to enact such a law just last week. 

Fewer than three in ten people support state laws that prohibit gender-affirming care for minors or that criminalize providers of that care. Among Republicans, 26 percent support bills that prohibit this medical care, while 70 percent are opposed. That’s on par with where Democrats landed on the issue, with 26 percent in favor of such bills and 69 percent opposed. 

Republican support for criminalizing providing gender transition-related care for minors was markedly higher, at 38 percent, while only 19 percent of Democrats were in agreement. Forty-two percent of people who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election said they support criminalization.

“People aren’t eager to victimize the individual,” Miringoff said, comparing Republican support on these bills to similar shifts in opinion on abortion services. “Tolerance for the individual and not wanting to discriminate against the individual is different than providers for some of the services.”

Dr. Robert Garofalo, a pediatrician who treats transgender youth at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, said gender-affirming care, which can include puberty blockers and hormones like testosterone for transgender boys and estrogen for transgender girls, is considered best practice by most medical experts. 

“Who would want anything less for their child than the ability to live their lives with an element of authenticity? That’s what gender-affirming care is,” Garofalo said. “There’s no evidence to suggest that these treatments are experimental…There’s a common understanding within most mainstream medical organizations that access to gender-affirming care for these young people saves lives.”

Trans athletes

Bills that affect access to medical care might have serious health implications, but the legislation that is getting the most attention seeks to bar transgender people from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. More than half of the proposed legislation around transgender rights this year is about limiting sports participation, and governors in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have all signed bills into law. 

But nationally, these proposed laws are unpopular. Only 28 percent of Americans overall support bills to bar transgender youth from competing on teams that align with their gender, while two-thirds oppose the bills. Opposition is consistent across the political spectrum with two-thirds of Democrats, Republicans and independents all in agreement. People who know someone who is transgender are five-points more likely to oppose these efforts than people who do not.

But while Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree that states shouldn’t pass laws regulating trans participation in sports, they are more evenly divided on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete on teams that match their gender identity. For grade school, 50 percent of people said transgender children should be allowed to play on teams that match their gender identity, while 44 percent said they should not. In middle school, the split was 49 percent for, and 47 percent against. In high school, 47 percent were for and 48 percent against. And in college, 49 percent were in favor and 45 percent opposed. 

Support for transgender participation in sports is where American are more sharply divided along party lines. Seventy-five percent of Democrats say transgender high school athletes should be allowed to play on teams where they identify with their team mates, while more than 80 percent of Republicans say they should not. Independents are more closely divided with 44 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed. 

The statewide bans were tested last year when Idaho became the first state in the country to enact a ban on transgender women joining women’s teams. A judge temporarily stopped the law from going into effect. 

At the center of the lawsuit was Lindsay Hecox, a 20-year-old student at Boise State University and a transgender athlete. She was a track and cross-country runner in high school and hopes to one day join her university team.

“The legislation is basically being used as fear mongering against trans people, and I think trans athletes were an easy target,” Hecox told PBS NewsHour. “They word it so that I’m othered and made different when it doesn’t need to be that way.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and state athletic associations don’t track the number of transgender athletes competing, but a recent Associated Press analysis found only a handful of instances where such participation has led to a complaint, out of hundreds of thousands of high school athletes. Some of the lawmakers supporting the bans say they know of no transgender athletes competing in their states, but that they consider the bills to be proactive.

Advocates for the sports bans say transgender girls and women have an unfair competitive advantage, but medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, say there’s no evidence to support those claims.  

“There is nothing in these pieces of legislation that I think are supported by any element of truth or any element of science,” Dr. Garofalo said. “We’re not legislating sports participation based on the size of your shoe or based upon your height or other sort of immutable characteristics.” 

The International Olympic Committee first outlined its guidelines for participation of trans athletes in 2003. The NCAA has allowed transgender athletes to compete for nearly a decade, and in order to play college sports, transgender women must first complete a full year of testosterone suppression treatment, because after that time, medical experts generally agree any advantage in strength or endurance from previous testosterone levels would have disappeared. 

Protection from discrimination

The efforts in Republican-controlled state legislatures to limit transgender rights are in sharp contrast with the Democrat-controlled Congress and White House, which are pushing to expand protections for LGBTQ people. On his first day in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Last month, three Republicans joined House Democrats to pass the Equality Act, which would extend those protections in employment and housing discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Senate has not voted on the measure. 

Sixty-three percent of Americans in this latest poll support the Equality Act, but that support is sharply divided along party lines. While 90 percent of Democrats support the bill, just 32 percent of Republicans say the same. Support also drops significantly among older populations. Nearly eight in ten adults under the age of 40 support the Equality Act. Less than half of Americans aged 75 and older agree. 

Hecox said she hopes public opinion will continue to shift in favor of transgender rights as more people hear stories like hers. In the meantime, she said she’ll continue to fight anti-LGBTQ laws in the courts.

“Things will get better, and this legislation is just a momentary setback for trans acceptance,” Hecox said. “I don’t want to just fade from the world and not have any impact on it.”

Matt Loffman is the PBS NewsHour’s Deputy Senior Politics Producer

The preceding article was originally published by PBS NewsHour and is republished by permission.

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

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

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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.”

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Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

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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.

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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”

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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.

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