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Seven HIV/AIDS activists arrested inside Kevin McCarthy’s D.C. office

Protesters demanded House Republicans approve PEPFAR funding

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HIV/AIDS activists protest inside U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Sept. 11, 2023 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police on Monday arrested seven HIV/AIDS activists who refused to leave House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

Housing Works CEO Charles King, Housing Works President Matthew Bernardo and Health GAP Executive Director Asia Russell are among the seven people who entered McCarthy’s office shortly after 11 a.m., sat down in the lobby and demanded the California Republican to “pass PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) now.”

(Washington blade video by michael k. lavers)

Capitol Police officers removed the activists from McCarthy’s office less than 15 minutes after their protest began. They handcuffed them in the hallway and brought them to Capitol Police headquarters.

Officers also arrested Housing Works Community Health Center Medical Director Archie Jao, Housing Works Case Manager Rosalind Casillas, Housing Works client Darnell Smith and Housing Works Human Resources Vice President Jewel Allred. A Capitol Police officer after the protest told reporters the activists would be charged with incommoding or obstructing.

(Washington blade video by michael k. lavers)

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters is among those who have also criticized McCarthy and House Republicans over their proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Waters, a Democrat who represents California’s 43rd Congressional District, in a Sept. 6 speech at the U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS in D.C. noted the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2024 Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill would cut $767 million from domestic HIV/AIDS programs.

Waters said the measure would cut funds to fight HIV/AIDS among underrepresented groups by 53 percent and “completely eliminates” funding for “Minority AIDS Initiative activities within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” She also noted the appropriations measure “eliminates funding” for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and community health centers.

Waters further criticized House Republicans for “refusing to authorize” PEPFAR, noting ending the program “would endanger the lives of millions of people around the world who are living with HIV and endanger the lives of millions more who are at risk.” 

“Speaker McCarthy is a strategic target because he’s the leader of the Republican Party in the House,” Aly Bancroft, associate director of U.S. policy and advocacy for Health GAP, told reporters after the activists were arrested. “When it comes to both the domestic cuts and the failure thus far to reauthorize PEPFAR in its current form, we’re seeing the issues come from the Republican caucus, so we really need leadership when it comes to both the domestic and the global front because it’s still a really big, significant issue and he needs to get its caucus in order.”

The Blade has reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment on the protest.

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California Politics

Influential lesbian political couple killed in San Diego car crash

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt a month prior to same-sex marriage being legalized in California

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Oakland political leader Peggy Moore, left, and her wife, Hope Wood, were killed Friday night in a vehicle collision in Southern California. (Photo: Moore/Facebook)

By Cynthia Laird, News Editor | SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Oakland political leader Peggy Moore and her wife, Hope Wood, died late Friday night, May 10, following a head-on collision on State Route 76 in unincorporated San Diego County. The news brought a flood of tributes on social media, as friends and colleagues remembered the couple.

According to multiple media reports, Moore and Wood were passengers in a Jeep Gladiator that was traveling westbound on the highway at 11:17 p.m. when a Chrysler 300 that was driving east swerved into the westbound lanes, striking the Jeep.

In addition to Moore and Wood, the driver of the Jeep was killed as was the driver of the Chrysler, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A third car, a Toyota Camry, which was behind the Jeep, was involved in a minor side-swipe, according to the reports. It is not known why the Chrysler veered into oncoming traffic.

Moore, 60, had long been involved in Oakland politics. She managed the successful 2014 mayoral campaign for Libby Schaaf and served as a senior adviser to her. In 2016, she unsuccessfully ran for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council, facing lesbian incumbent Rebecca Kaplan. Moore also worked as an organizer for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter Monday, Schaaf said that she was devastated by the loss of Moore and Wood. During her 2014 mayoral campaign, Schaaf said that she and Moore “spent all day, every day together for a year.”

“She molded me into the mayor I became — in the most beautiful ways our democracy needs more of,” Schaaf said. “She was centered in love.”

Schaaf said that she hosted a gathering at her home Saturday evening with her former campaign and City Hall staffers. “I was so shocked. I wanted to create a space to celebrate her and Hope,” she said. “It’s a devastating loss for me personally and for democracy.”

Schaaf added that Moore was the only member of her campaign team to come to work for her in City Hall as a senior adviser. Moore stayed until she launched her own City Council campaign, and then Schaaf said that she came back to City Hall for the last few months of Schaaf’s tenure. (Schaaf had been reelected in 2018 and left office in January 2023. She is currently running for state treasurer in 2026.)

Schaaf said that recently, Moore and Wood had been mostly living in Orange County to be closer to Wood’s family. Moore maintained an apartment in Oakland, Schaaf said. Moore had also been spending time with her family in Oklahoma City, which is where she celebrated her 60th birthday.

“I was on a Zoom call with her days ago,” Schaaf said.

Kaplan stated that Moore was a “dedicated community leader.”

“May her memory be a blessing,” she wrote in a text message. “Her death is a shock and a great loss.”

Congressmember Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) knew both women.

“I’m heartbroken to hear of the tragic loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood,” Lee wrote on X. “Peggy was a friend, an activist, and one of the best organizers I knew. Her passion and fight for justice and equality is what brought her and Hope together.

“Together they organized, changed hearts and minds, and helped to create a world where who you love doesn’t limit your freedoms,” she added. “Both Peggy and Hope made an impact on our community, on our city, on our state, and on our nation that will be felt for generations to come.”

“It is always tragic to lose a loved one, but the loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood is not just a personal loss to me, but a huge loss for our community. The dynamic duo have always fought to ensure there was representation and equity in every arena they worked within. We mourn the loss and appreciate their legacy, because their work will live on in the lives that they touched,” Shay Franco-Clausen, Political Director Equality California, said in a statement.

Started consulting firm

In 2019, Moore and Wood, 48, started Hope Action Change Consulting. On the site, they wrote that they fell in love while working on the 2008 Obama campaign.

“As women of color, we are experts at the dance of values in the workplace,” they wrote on the site. “We have lived outside the main streets of society in the intersections of our gender and our race, and we have learned to navigate a path through many streets where we have not been welcome. Despite the difficulties of this journey, we are full of optimism for where our path leads.”

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt on July 29, 2013. It was a month prior that same-sex marriage returned to being legalized in California after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision that Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in 2008, was unconstitutional.

On Facebook, friends remembered the couple.

“We want you to know how much we loved you both,” Brendalynn Goodall, a member of the Alameda County Democratic County Central Committee, and her wife, Nancy Hinds, wrote. “The news of your passing has left us feeling shocked, numb, and incredibly sad. It’s hard to believe you are no longer here. You were more than just friends — you were family.

“We shared so many unforgettable memories and experiences together — from life’s ups and downs to discussions about politics, community, family, relationships, careers, and even our beloved pets,” added Goodall. “We were always there for each other, through thick and thin.”

Longtime DJ Page Hodel was also stunned by the news. “I am still doubled over … literally speechless over hearing the news of the tragic passing of our beloved Peggy Moore and her wife Hope Wood,” she wrote on Facebook.

Moore is also remembered for co-founding Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride, which took place in Oakland beginning in the early 2000s. Kaplan mentioned it as one of Moore’s accomplishments. For a decade, it brought the East Bay’s diverse queer women’s community together in celebration during the last weekend of August. Up to 2,000 queer women attended the event at its peak, Moore told the B.A.R. in 2011, the last year of the march.

The event had started as the East Bay’s version of the dyke march held in San Francisco and took place in conjunction with the old East Bay Pride. When that event stopped in 2003, Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride stepped up, so to speak, to make sure there was a queer presence in the East Bay.

The new Oakland Pride started in 2010. Last year, a combined Oakland Pride and Pridefest parade and festival were held in early September.

Wood was a former teaching fellow for Harvard Kennedy School’s Leadership Organizing, Action: Leading Change course and a UCLA teacher education program alumna, according to the couple’s consulting website. She had devoted more than two decades of her life to organizing across California and the United States.

Moore and Wood’s friend Lisbet Tellefsen organized an impromptu memorial Sunday, May 12, at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater where Moore and Wood were married. Schaaf said that she attended.

“There were lots of [people wearing] Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride and Moore for City Council T-shirts,” Schaaf said.

“She was an amazing leader for the LGBTQ+ community,” Schaaf added. “She brought her full self to everything she did.”

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

U.S. Rep. Young Kim’s support from far-right extremist Jack Hibbs

Hibbs, a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, & commentator has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, & Charlie Kirk

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Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs. (Photo montage: Media Matters)

By Eric Hananoki CHINO HILLS, Calif. – Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs, who has repeatedly told followers to vote for her and hosted Kim at his California church to call for “her sweet and glorious victory.”

Those interactions also include Kim telling him that he’s done an “awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation” and praising Hibbs on the day he delivered a sermon attacking LGBTQ pride. 

Hibbs is a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, and commentator who has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, and Charlie Kirk’s program. He also has a lengthy record of toxic commentary, which became a source of controversy earlier this year when House Speaker Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) invited him to serve as the House of Representatives’ guest chaplain.

Hibbs has criticized in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a process where people “throw away 500 children” to get one child. He said that Jewish people need to abandon their religion. He’s told his congregation that “violent” LGBTQ people will go door-to-door and threaten “to sodomize people who disagree with them.” And he’s advised his followers that their Muslim neighbors are going to turn on them “very soon” and side with terrorists.

Hibbs has a long history of bigoted and far-right rhetoric

IVF: Hibbs is staunchly anti-abortion and has also criticized in vitro fertilization. During a 2013 sermon, he said

HIBBS: The Bible says that God opens and closes the womb according to his will. There are people who can’t get pregnant, and they get pregnant through artificial insemination. I would never judge that. And I don’t have an up vote or a down vote on it. I leave that in the hands of God. OK?  […]

For me personally, my conviction is it does concern me about the disposing of a fertilized egg. For this, my reasons are purely theological. I understand the scientific part of it. That’s a done deal. It was life before it was fertilized. So the issue becomes to get one child, do we throw away 500 children? See our culture says, who cares? It’s just nothing. I understand that, but you can’t tell that to a scientist. A scientist will tell you that little nothing you just threw in the trash can is just as technically advanced and powerful and meaningful as if it lived to be 99 years old on the scientific level.

You see, it becomes an ethical, moral issue, doesn’t it? So you have to be [INAUDIBLE] in your own heart and your own mind, and just leave it at that. It’s a tough thing to answer. Be personally convinced, and let the Lord lead you in that.

Jewish people: Hibbs stated that people must look past “the sins of the Jew and give them the hope of Jesus” and claimed that “true Jews” are those who don’t “get bogged down in Judaism, which … cannot save you.”

LGBTQ people: After the Supreme Court approved marriage equality, Hibbs told his congregation in a 2015 sermon: “God is telling us, ‘Jack, church, don’t put your hope in man, you’ll be disappointed. Hope in me because it’s going to be like it was in the days of Lot. Violent homosexuality, knocking on doors, threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them.’” 

In September 2019, Hibbs said of people “who practice homosexuality”: “The Bible says it is destructive against nature. It destroys your body and it ruins your psyche, and it ravages your soul. I have all the Scriptures here to back that up.”

He has also stated that “transgenderism is actually a sexually perverted cult” and claimed transgender people are evidence of the “last days.” He supports dangerous and discredited conversion therapy as he issued guidance telling people how they can supposedly change their sexual orientation.

Muslims: Hibbs has warned his congregation about the alleged danger of Muslims by invoking the ISIS caliphatetelling them during a 2015 sermon: “If your friends are devout Muslims, they have a horrific day of reckoning coming very soon for them. They are going to have to choose between the caliphate and being a nice neighbor to you. Think of that. They have no choice one way or the other. I’d like to side with Patrick Henry. Give me liberty or give me death.” 

In a 2007 sermon about “The Rise of Islam,” he falsely said: “Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist has been a Muslim.” Speaking on Charlie Kirk’s radio show last year, Hibbs said of Islam: “It is violent, it is deadly, it’s a death cult.” 

Hibbs’ church also released a companion guide that unabashedly portrays Muslims as a threat to the country, including stating: “Muslims are mandated to expand where ever they are. They must convert you and or your children. And they must kill those who do not convert.” 

An excerpt from an anti-Muslim guide from Jack Hibbs’ church.

Kim has had a years-long history with Hibbs

Kim, a former member of California’s State Assembly who currently represents the state’s 40th Congressional District, has spent years relying on the support of Hibbs. 

On February 23, 2020, she appeared with Hibbs at his church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, during her second campaign for California’s 39th Congressional District. A broadcast posted to the church’s Facebook page identified Kim as a “congressional candidate” (Hibbs is currently under criticism for using his church for electioneering). 

Hibbs began: “On the local ballot for us here, we’re going to bring out three candidates who we support, we pray for, and we want to honor for their commitment. The first is no stranger to us. She’s not only been here before, but she’ll attend service from time to time. She’s running for the 39th District, which we need her to win this time. I think she won last time, personally. That was up against Gil Cisneros. I’m talking about Young Kim.” 

While on stage, Kim thanked Hibbs for talking about the election, stating: “Pastor Jack, you’re doing an awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation to really understand why it is so important to find out who the candidates are with biblical values so we don’t have the legislation, the sex education that is passing while we were sleeping.” 

She then told the congregation that “we need to elect elected leaders who share our Christian biblical values.” 

After Kim spoke, Hibbs said: “We love her. We thank you for her, and God, we pray that come election night that there would be no angel or demon able to tamper with the results. That Lord, you would bring her sweet and glorious victory.” 

Kim has repeatedly praised Hibbs online. After that February 2020 endorsement, she shared photos of her appearance with Hibbs and wrote: “Had a blessed Sunday visiting Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and Agape Church OC in Yorba Linda. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my testimony. I am so grateful and encouraged by your prayers!” 

She also wrote in August 2018: “Great to meet with Pastor Jack Hibbs … Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and all you do for our community!” 

And on June 5, 2022, she praised Hibbs for delivering a sermon, stating: “Great to hear Pastor Jack’s sermon and see friends this morning at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. Thanks for the warm reception!” 

While Kim did not specify the content of the sermon, or what she heard, that June 5 sermon had criticism of Pride Month, with Hibbs stating

HIBBS: Some people are saying that it’s Pride Month. And so I had a thought about that. Look, it’s a free country. Our Constitution protects everyone’s views and stuff like that. You know? It’s a free country. That’s their, that’s — they said it’s their month.

And then I thought, you know what? We ought to start — by the way, I’m joking. But could you imagine? Let’s start a Christian pride month. Now, what what no. Don’t clap. Don’t clap. That’s not good.

Where do you go to church? You should not clap at that. Christian and pride should never come together. Right? That’s important. Of all the sins listed in the Scriptures, the sin of pride is the original, the Bible says.

In addition to endorsing Kim at his church, Hibbs has frequently praised her online:

  • He wrote in August 2018: “VOTE PRO-LIFE. I had a great sit down with YOUNG KIM. We discussed issues our biblical worldview and prayed together.” 
  • He wrote in February 2020 that he “just voted for Young Kim” and posted a picture of a Kim campaign sign. He stated a few days later: “If you attend Calvary Chapel Chino Hills then you most likely live (as I do) in the 39th. District and If you do then I am asking you to support and vote for Young Kim. SHE HAS 100% OF MY SUPPORT – – VOTE YOUNG KIM in the 39th.” 
  • He wrote in April 2020 regarding a coronavirus op-ed she penned for right-wing outlet The Epoch Times: “A BIG THANK YOU from our very own Young Kim. And if you her Op-Ed, remember to vote for her this coming November (if we have elections).” 
  • He wrote in January 2021 regarding Kim’s support for anti-abortion legislation: “We are so proud of our very own congresswoman Young Kim. God bless you Young keep up the fight we’ve got your back.” 

Additionally, Hibbs invited his followers to a 2018 “Meet and Greet with Young Kim, Candidate for the 39th Congressional District,” adding, “I want to encourage you to pray and vote Young Kim on Tuesday.” He also donated to Kim’s campaign in 2020. 

In a post in February, Hibbs again endorsed Kim for Congress.

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The preceding article & research study was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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American Academy of Pediatrics responds to Cass, reject bans

In recent weeks, the Cass Review has been used to argue for bans on trans care. The American Academy of Pediatrics rejecting such arguments

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UK Pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass. (Screenshot/YouTube The Times and The Sunday Times)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Over the past few weeks, Dr. Hillary Cass has begun giving interviews in the United States to defend her report targeting transgender care. The Cass Review has faced criticism for its alleged anti-trans political ties, biased findings, promotion of conversion therapists, and poor treatment of evidence regarding transgender care.

In an interview with NPR, Dr. Cass claimed that transgender individuals’ care should be judged by their “employment,” rather than their satisfaction with the care received. Later, during an interview with The New York Times, Cass misleadingly stated that she had not been contacted by any lawmakers or U.S. health bodies, despite having met with political appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss banning trans care before her report was published.

In response, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society have categorically rejected the review as a justification for bans on care and have challenged many of its alleged findings.

In a statement released by the Endocrine Society, they reiterated that they stand by their guidelines around the provision of gender affirming care for transgender youth: “We stand firm in our support of gender-affirming care. Transgender and gender-diverse people deserve access to needed and often life-saving medical care. NHS England’s recent report, the Cass Review, does not contain any new research that would contradict the recommendations made in our Clinical Practice Guideline on gender-affirming care… Medical evidence, not politics, should inform treatment decisions.”

The Endocrine Society defended its guidelines, highlighting that they cite over 260 research studies to support their recommendations on transgender care. Moreover, the guidelines were developed with input from more than 18,000 members who had the opportunity to comment.

This process is notably more transparent than the Cass Review, whose advisory members have been kept secret. Investigations have revealed that several members are part of an anti-trans lobbying organization, SEGM, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as “the hub” of an “anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience network.”

“Although the scientific landscape has not changed significantly, misinformation about gender-affirming care is being politicized. In the United States, 24 states have enacted laws or policies barring adolescents’ access to gender-affirming care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In seven states, the policies also include provisions that would prevent at least some adults over age 18 from accessing gender-affirming care,” the Endocrine Society Letter reads, “Transgender and gender-diverse teenagers, their parents, and physicians should be able to determine the appropriate course of treatment. Banning evidence-based medical care based on misinformation takes away the ability of parents and patients to make informed decisions..”

You can see the Endocrine Society’s release here:

Endocrine Society response to Cass Review.

Similar sentiments were shared by Dr. Ben Hoffman, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who responded to the Cass Review, “What we’re seeing more and more is that the politically infused public discourse is getting this wrong and it’s impacting the way that doctors care for their patients. Physicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence, freely and without the threat of punishment. Instead, state legislatures have passed bills to ban and restrict gender-affirming care, which means that right now, for far too many families, their zip code determines their ability to seek the health care they need. Politicians have inserted themselves into the exam room, and this is dangerous for both physicians and for families.”

Transgender care saves lives. A Cornell review of more than 51 studies determined that trans care significantly improves the mental health of transgender people. One major study even noted a 73% lower suicidality among trans youth who began care.

In a recent article published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in April of 2024, puberty blockers were found to significantly reduce depression and anxiety. In Germany, a recent review by over 27 medical organizations has judged that “not providing treatment can do harm” to transgender youth.

The evidence around transgender care led to a historic policy resolution condemning bans on gender affirming care by the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world, which was voted on by representatives of its 157,000 members.

Interestingly, Cass herself advocated against care bans in her most recent New York Times interview released today, where she stated, “There are young people who absolutely benefit from a medical pathway, and we need to make sure that those young people have access,” although she added a caveat that those young people should be forced to consent to research in order to access care, leaving many to question the ethics of such an approach.

related

Regardless of Cass’s statements, her review is being used to justify bans in the United States and worldwide. In the United Kingdom, her report has led to bans on puberty blockers in England and even inquiries into adult care.

In the United States, Senators in South Carolina used it to pass a total care ban for trans youth in the state. Now, major medical organizations have responded firmly against the idea that evidence around gender affirming care is weak, challenging states who use such misleading claims to ban transgender care as practicing politics, not medicine.

You can find the statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society here:

Endocrine Society Cass Statement:

Download

AAP Cass Statement:

Download

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Trump vows to reverse trans student protections ‘on day one’

The new rules prohibit schools from barring trans students from using bathrooms or pronouns that correspond with their gender identities

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Former President Donald Trump appearing in a New York courtroom Friday for the fourth week of his criminal hush money trial. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

NEW YORK – During a call-in interview Friday on a Philadelphia-based right-wing conservative talk radio show, former President Donald Trump said he would roll back transgender student protections enacted last month by the U.S. Department of Education “on day one,” if he’s reelected.

Reacting to a question by hosts Nick Kayal and Dawn Stensland, Trump said: “We’re gonna end it on day one. Don’t forget, that was done as an order from the president. That came down as an executive order. And we’re gonna change it — on day one it’s gonna be changed.”

“Tell your people not to worry about it,” Trump he added referring to the new Title IX rule. “It’ll be signed on day one. It’ll be terminated.”

In a campaign video released on his Truth Social account in February 2023, in a nearly four-minute-long straight-to-camera video, the former president vowed  “protect children from left-wing gender insanity,” some policies he outlined included a federal law that recognizes only two genders and bars transgender women from competing on women’s sports teams. He also promised that he would punish doctors who provide gender-affirming health care to minors.

Trump also falsely claimed that being transgender is a concept that the “radical left” manufactured “just a few years ago.” He also said “No serious country should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender. Under my leadership, this madness will end,” he added.

At least 22 Republican-led states are suing the Biden administration over its new rules to protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in federally funded schools, NBC News Out reported this week.

The lawsuits follow the U.S. Education Department’s expansion of Title IX federal civil rights rules last month, which will now include anti-discrimination protections for students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among other provisions, the new rules would prohibit schools from barring transgender students from using bathrooms, changing facilities and pronouns that correspond with their gender identities.

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California Politics

Newsom releases revised budget, cuts spending, state vacancies

The budget proposal — covering two years — cuts spending, makes government leaner, & preserves core services without new taxes

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom releases the revised state budget on May 10, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today released a May Revision proposal for the 2024-25 fiscal year that ensures the budget is balanced over the next two fiscal years by tightening the state’s belt and stabilizing spending following the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, all while preserving key ongoing investments. 

Under the Governor’s proposal, the state is projected to achieve a positive operating reserve balance not only in this budget year but also in the next. This “budget year, plus one” proposal is designed to bring longer-term stability to state finances without delay and create an operating surplus in the 2025-26 budget year.

In the years leading up to this May Revision, the Newsom Administration recognized the threats of an uncertain stock market and federal tax deadline delays – setting aside $38 billion in reserves that could be utilized for shortfalls. That has put California in a strong position to maintain fiscal stability.

“Even when revenues were booming, we were preparing for possible downturns by investing in reserves and paying down debts – that’s put us in a position to close budget gaps while protecting core services that Californians depend on. Without raising taxes on Californians, we’re delivering a balanced budget over two years that continues the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve, from getting folks off the streets to addressing the climate crisis to keeping our communities safe,” Newsom told an audience of reporters and officials.

Key Takeaways:

A BALANCED BUDGET OVER TWO YEARS. 

The Governor is solving two years of budget problems in a single budget, tightening the state’s belt to get the budget back to normal after the tumultuous years of the COVID-19 pandemic. By addressing the shortfall for this budget year — and next year — the Governor is eliminating the 2024-25 deficit and eliminating a projected deficit for the 2025-26 budget year that is $27.6 billion (after taking an early budget action) and $28.4 billion respectively.

CUTTING SPENDING, MAKING GOVERNMENT LEANER. 

Governor Newsom’s revised balanced state budget cuts one-time spending by $19.1 billion and ongoing spending by $13.7 billion through 2025-26. This includes a nearly 8% cut to state operations and a targeted elimination of 10,000 unfilled state positions, improving government efficiency and reducing non-essential spending — without raising taxes on individuals or proposing state worker furloughs. The budget makes California government more efficient, leaner, and modern — saving costs by streamlining procurement, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and reducing redundancies.

PRESERVING CORE SERVICES & SAFETY NETS. 

The budget maintains service levels for many key housing, food, health care, and other assistance programs that Californians rely on while addressing the deficit by pausing the expansion of certain programs and decreasing numerous recent one-time and ongoing investments.

NO NEW TAXES & MORE RAINY DAY SAVINGS. 

Governor Newsom is balancing the budget by getting state spending under control — cutting costs, not proposing new taxes on hardworking Californians and small businesses — and reducing the reliance on the state’s “Rainy Day” reserves this year.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, California’s budget shortfall is rooted in two separate but related developments over the past two years.

  • First, the state’s revenue, heavily reliant on personal income taxes including capital gains, surged in 2021 due to a robust stock market but plummeted in 2022 following a market downturn. While the market bounced back by late 2023, the state continued to collect less tax revenue than projected in part due to something called “capital loss carryover,” which allows losses from previous years to reduce how much an individual is taxed.
  • Second, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline for most California taxpayers in 2023 following severe winter storms, delaying the revelation of reduced tax receipts. When these receipts were able to eventually be processed, they were 22% below expectations. Without the filing delay, the revenue drop would have been incorporated into last year’s budget and the shortfall this year would be significantly smaller. 

The governor maintains that with his revised balanced budget, it sets the state up for continued economic success. California’s economy remains the 5th largest economy in the world and for the first time in years, the state’s population is increasing and tourism spending recently experienced a record high. California is #1 in the nation for new business starts, #1 for access to venture capital funding, and the #1 state for manufacturinghigh-tech, and agriculture.

Additional details on the May Revise proposal can be found in this fact sheet and at www.ebudget.ca.gov.

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Politics

Transition should be measured by “employment,” not satisfaction

Dr. Hillary Cass said that transition effectiveness should be measured by “employment” & “getting out of the house”

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UK Pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass. (Screenshot/YouTube The Times and The Sunday Times)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Dr. Hillary Cass gave her first American interview with NPR about the Cass Review. The review, which appears heavily politicized and lends credence to debunked theories about being transgender, such as “social contagion,” is being used as a pretext to ban care in the United Kingdom.

In the interview, Cass called for “other ways” of managing dysphoria besides transitioning and blamed being trans on factors such as autism and pornography. However, one particular point of note was her response to a question about the evidence supporting gender-affirming care, where she suggested that the real measure of transition success should be the employment status of transgender people.

When asked about “actual outcomes” for the effectiveness of cross-sex hormones in transgender youth, Cass sated that there was a need for long followups to see if transgender people thrive on hormones, and that the outcomes that she was most interested in included employment, “getting out of the house,” and relationships. See her answer here:

CHAKRABARTI: Regarding cross sex hormones, the systematic review authors said there is a lack of high-quality research assessing the actual outcomes of cross sex hormones.

CASS: Yes, because we need to follow up for much longer than a year or two to know if you continue to thrive on those hormones in the longer term. And we also need to know, are those young people in relationships? Are they getting out of the house? Are they in employment? Do they have a satisfactory sex life?

It is important to note that all of these potential outcome measurements may be heavily influenced by transphobic sentiments in society. Should transgender people be judged on their ability to be “employed” or their willingness to “get out of the house,” their own discrimination may then be used against their ability to access medication. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and three-quarters report experiencing workplace discrimination. Therefore, it is inaccurate to blame transgender people and their medication for what appears to be an issue with societal discrimination.

In recent years, many reports have emerged showing high levels of satisfaction and low levels of detransition for transgender people. A recent report in the 2022 US transgender survey shows that out of 90,000 transgender people, less than 1% report feeling less satisfied after beginning gender affirming hormone therapy, with the vast majority feeling “a lot more satisfied.” Detransition appears to be similarly rare.

One recent study out of Australia found complete data on 548 of 552 transgender patients and discovered only 1% of transgender youth detransitioned over several years before being transferred to adult services.

Another study showed that transgender youth are stable in their gender identity 5 years after transitioning, with only 2.5% reidentifying as their assigned sex at birth. Even Cass’s own report found less than 10 detransitioners out of the 3,000 trans youth patients in England, which led to her claiming that the real reason she didn’t find more detransitioners is because adult clinics refused to provide private patient data.

Nevertheless, there has been a recent push from those opposed to transgender care to discount the high satisfaction reported by transgender people in favor of outcome measurements that are conveniently impacted by anti-trans sentiments, which they may help foster.

Anti-trans writers Jesse Singal and Ben Ryan have both promoted the idea that transgender people may be lying about their own happiness and the positive impact of transition on their lives. Jesse Singal, when faced with rising evidence that detransition rates are actually low, stated, “There’s no good data suggesting anything one way or another. We have no idea how many American youth are happy with their decision to medically transition,” and that “what we need is more objective outcome data.”

Similar claims appeared in the highly editorialized and error-ridden “WPATH Files,” which stated that transgender people are “suspiciously happy,” seemingly arguing that there is no way transgender people could be so happy given the discrimination they face on a daily basis.

The idea that transgender people are “unreasonably” or “suspiciously” happy in the face of poor “actual life circumstances” has a long history in the mistreatment of transgender people. In 1979, Conservative Activist doctor Paul McHugh abruptly ended gender affirming surgeries at Johns Hopkins. He based the decision on a study that judged the effectiveness of transition with employment status, legal difficulties, and entering into relationships (notably, points were deducted for transgender people entering into gay relationships). Surgeries have since restarted, with Hugh’s history being described as “a long shadow” cast on Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In the interview with NPR, Cass appears to have been comfortable in openly reviving those old criteria used to deny gender affirming care for transgender people. These criteria allow those opposed to transgender people receiving their medical care to use their own discrimination against them. In advocating for such measurements, Cass can advocate against transgender people receiving gender affirming care while pushing the idea that her report and those who follow it are behaving in an “objective way.” We know from history and current attacks on transgender people that there is nothing “objective” about such proposals.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Commissioner Danny Hang is running for WeHo City Council

The nomination period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on July 15 and continues until August 9 at 5:00 p.m.

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Danny Hang - Photo by Mike Pingel

By Mike Pingel WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Business License Commissioner Danny Hang is throwing his hat in the ring in the race for two open seats for West Hollywood City Council in the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election.

Hang is a Southern California native who was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He is the proud son of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees who fled the Vietnam War in search of hope, freedom, and the American dream.

The son of a union worker, Hang saw firsthand how his father worked long hours as a machinist and became a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 725. Hang is a passionate advocate of professional growth and vocational equity. He believes that workers are the backbone of the most powerful economy in the world, and deserve a fair and equitable wage. Because when workers succeed, then EVERYONE succeeds.

As the son of an immigrant small business owner, Hang watched his mom’s nail salon succeed and slowly serve as an equalizer leading to a pathway to the American middle class for his family. He knows firsthand that small businesses are vital to creating local jobs and growing the West Hollywood economy. Immigrant-owned small businesses are centerpieces of their neighborhoods, and they contribute in a meaningful way to the diversity and vibrancy of the West Hollywood community. As such, Hang recognizes the economic and community oriented success that West Hollywood’s thriving Russian speaking community has continued to achieve throughout the years.

A first-generation college graduate, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University and kicked off his career in public service at the Social Security Administration, where he adjudicated Supplemental Security Income benefits for people with disabilities and older adults.​

Having fueled his passion for serving others, he returned to school to pursue a double master’s in Social Work and Gerontology from the University of Southern California. Hang now works in disability retirement for the county of Los Angeles.

His involvement with the community led to his appointment as an at-large member of the West Hollywood Disabilities Advisory Board. He worked hard to address issues affecting people with disabilities, including ADA compliance, transportation, housing, and access to City government and services for people with disabilities.

He was later appointed to the West Hollywood Business License Commission. Additionally, he was also appointed as an alternate member of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation by the State Bar Board of Trustees and he serves on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He also served on the Executive Board for Asian Democrats of Los Angeles County.

Hang is a proud member of the West Hollywood community where he resides with his cat Piper. His focus is on improving the community through servant leadership.

The Nomination Period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on Monday, July 15 and continues until Friday, August 9 at 5:00 p.m. The City Clerk’s Office will begin taking appointments to pull Nomination Papers on Monday, July 8.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Politics

Riley Gaines’ invite as commencement speaker angers some

She has no message to deliver other than she hates trans people. That’s her message. Would she give an uplifting speech?

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Riley Gaines, the ex-Kentucky swimmer on Feb. 15, 2023 at the Kansas Statehouse (Photo Credit: Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

By Jon King | ADRIAN, Mich. – The buzz is building for Adrian College’s commencement speaker this weekend, but the current is not all positive.

Both students and alumni of the private liberal arts school, located about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor, say the May 5 address by anti-trans activist Riley Gaines will be divisive and violate its own stated mission of being “committed to the pursuit of truth and dignity of all people.”

Among those is R. Cole Bouck, the creator of an LGBT and Ally Pride Scholarship at Adrian College, where he came out as being gay while a sophomore at the school in 1981.

“Elevating this divisive and extremist symbol of hate with the largest megaphone and to the highest platform of an academic institution’s school year, their college graduation, as an alum, this is an embarrassing and hurtful decision. As a donor to the college, this is a bad investment decision,” Bouck told the Michigan Advance

 Adrian College | Facebook

Gaines has become one of the leading voices in efforts against allowing transgender women to compete in sports that align with their gender identity after the University of Kentucky swimmer tied for fifth place with University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas in the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA Women’s Championships in March 2022. 

Thomas had previously been a member of the university’s men’s swim team, and became the first openly trans woman to compete in the NCAA women’s division. She ended up finishing first in the women’s 500-yard freestyle, becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title. 

Gaines, who made the All-SEC First Team in 2021 and 2022 and was named the 2022 SEC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, immediately disputed Thomas’ participation in female competition, refusing to accept her as a woman based on her anatomy, referring to Thomas as a “fully intact male.” 

That basic premise, in which gender is defined solely on one’s reproductive organs, is at the heart of Republican efforts across the country to limit and/or deny rights to transgender individuals by declaring there only two genders, male and female, which are fixed at birth and “immutable.”

However, a strictly binary definition ignores the complexity of what determines biological sex in humans. Newly fertilized embryos have no indication of sex when they initially develop, with that process playing out over the next several weeks and involving precisely timed gene expressions. When that timing is off, as sometimes happens, reproductive organs can exhibit characteristics of the opposite sex, as seen in emerging evidence that gene variants play a role in transgender identity

The result is that, scientifically speaking, using visually observable signs of gender at birth as the sole basis for determining biological sex is simply not a reliable method.

Out of the pool and into politics

Gaines quickly used her experience and became a staple of anti-trans efforts across the country. 

Just weeks after her tie with Thomas, Gaines was present when the Kentucky Senate overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of a bill banning transgender females from competing in women’s sports. By September 2022, she appeared in a campaign ad for Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, in which she said the dream of girls like her “is being taken away” by trans athletes competing in women’s sports.

Since then, Gaines has testified in several other states in support of similar legislation to prevent trans athletes from participating in women’s sports, including West VirginiaKansas and Ohio, where the bill she spoke in favor also prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy. The bill was later passed by a veto override and will take effect April 23.

Gaines also campaigned in 2022 with failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon who centered her campaign against trans athletes competing in sports and a Florida-style “Don’t Say Gay” education law, telling a crowd in Taylor that people needed to open their eyes “to the irrefutable damage that is being done to women’s sports.”

“There is no equity. There’s no fairness,” Gaines continued. “There’s no sportsmanship, and there’s no opportunity for women to succeed at an elite level without sex-based categories.”

Gaines was the guest of U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Twp.) at the 2023 State of the Union address. The former college athlete has headlined Republican fundraisers, like one for GOP Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last year, and endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president. 

“Riley is fighting on the front lines of the most important women’s issue of our time,” Reynolds said. “She is not afraid to stand up for common sense and declare that biological men do not belong in women’s sports.”

Gaines also has become an ambassador for the conservative Independent Women’s Forum and joined more than a dozen college athletes who filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in March, accusing it of violating their Title IX rights by allowing Thomas to compete at the national championships in 2022.

 Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines speaks at a rally for GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon in Brighton, Nov. 4, 2022 | Laina Stebbins

But as Media Matters reported last year, Gaines’ arguments have moved beyond claiming that trans women possess an unfair advantage over cis women in athletic competition, but also now include increasing claims that trans women pose a sexual and physical threat to cis women, a position at odds with a study by the Williams Institute which found “transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime.” 

Despite that, the announcement by Adrian College that Gaines would be the guest speaker at their May 5 commencement was made in glowing terms.

“We look forward to providing Riley a welcoming atmosphere,” said Andrea Milner, Adrian College vice president and dean of academic affairs. “I’m excited to offer our graduates the opportunity to broaden their understanding of world issues and inspire them as they embark on their future endeavors.”

However, it was met with anger by many members of the college’s LGBTQ+ community. The same day that Gaines was announced, a petition to “disinvite” her as the commencement speaker was created at change.org.

Created by Safe Space, Adrian College’s LGBTQ+ student organization, more than 400 signatures were gathered on the first day. It now has more than 1,600.

“According to the Human Rights Campaign, 4 out of 10 LGBT students report being bullied at school (Human Rights Campaign). By inviting someone with controversial views on inclusivity, we risk further alienating these students and creating an environment that doesn’t respect their identities,” stated the petition. “We urge Adrian College administration to reconsider their choice of speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony. Let us ensure our graduation is a celebration that respects all students’ identities and values inclusivity above all else.”

A request for comment was sent to Gaines, but was not returned.

Alumni speak out

Leann McKee is a 1984 Adrian College graduate who later came out as a trans woman. She didn’t mince words about Gaines being selected to speak at her alma mater’s spring graduation ceremony.

“She has no message to deliver other than she hates trans people. That’s her message,” McKee said. “Would she give an uplifting speech? Could she do all the things that you expect a commencement speaker to do? She could, but so could any member of the faculty that’s already there. They don’t need to bring in a controversial figure.”

McKee says while Gaines or her supporters would likely dispute the notion that she hates trans people, the label does not require a literal statement to that effect.

“When we say somebody hates something, you don’t actually have to say the words to understand how somebody feels about it,” she said. “Her whole message is to minimize [trans people’s] experience, try to push them in the corner, and get public sentiment against them. ‘Let’s make laws to legislate trans people out of this. Let’s make up rules so that they can’t play sports. Let’s keep these people out of sight because ew, ick, we don’t like them.’”

Bouck sent a letter in that vein to Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking and the college’s board of trustees.

“Ms. Riley is not an otherwise LGBTQIA+ friendly person who merely has a strong position on a particularly singular issue,” he wrote. “Her ‘policy platform’ in public speaking is not a mystery, it is not unknown, it is not unclear. On the contrary, Ms. Riley’s notoriety arises solely from her established record of intolerance and hate against trans persons and the LGBTQIA+ community more broadly – not just controversy, but HATE.”

Bouck said “hands down” he would support Gaines speaking at a forum in which her controversial opinions could be presented along with an opposing point of view and students could in turn ask both speakers challenging questions, and be challenged themselves. 

Most importantly, he says only those students who wished to take part would participate, unlike at a commencement ceremony.

“This is of course an unkind thing to expect a graduating LGBTQIA+ or Ally senior and their family to have to consider for their college graduation ceremony,” he wrote.

An ‘uncomfortable’ commencement

Docking has been Adrian College’s president since 2005. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethics from Boston University, a master’ss of divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and a B.A. from Michigan State University. 

When asked by the Advance, how Gaines was chosen as the commencement speaker, he said the choice was entirely his own as he thought the issue of transgender women in athletics was substantive. 

Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking | Adrian College photo

“She seems to be at the center of the vortex because of her swimming career at Kentucky, and when she realized that she was swimming against a trans athlete, was willing to go public and say, ‘This doesn’t seem fair to me,” and in speaking up she then became the face of that point of view, so she seemed like the most logical person to bring to talk about this,” said Docking.

While he declined to say what his personal belief is about Gaines’ point of view, Docking insisted that Adrian College was not taking a position on the issue by inviting her to speak.

“First of all, this college is not endorsing her point of view,” he said. “Secondly, I think on college campuses sometimes people debate topics like this. Other times topics like this are presented.”

As to whether a commencement address was the appropriate venue to feature such a polarizing figure as Gaines, Docking had no concerns it was not.

“My feeling is with the amount of tuition that people pay to go to college, whether it’s here or somewhere else, that they should expect to be challenged, presented with thoughtful topics, things that need to be considered from the day they arrive until the day they leave, and so I don’t think that a commencement address is necessarily a time that should be solely focused on just making everybody feel comfortable. I think that making people feel uncomfortable during a commencement address is very consistent with what colleges should be doing.”

In many ways, Docking’s reputation is one based on not letting people, especially at the collegiate level, get too comfortable.

In 2015, he co-authored a book called, “Crisis in Higher Education: A Plan to Save Small Liberal Arts Colleges in America,” which focused on an “admissions growth” strategy that has more than doubled enrollment at Adrian College since his arrival. 

That strategy favors prioritizing the funding of athletics and upgraded facilities over the arts, foreign languages or library holdings as those were not viewed as being a draw for new students. While the book received generally favorable reviews, Steven Mintz, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, writing for Inside Higher Ed, noted the college’s enrollment growth depended largely on a high tuition discount rate and dubbed Docking’s strategy as “an example of how to destroy an institution in order to save it.”

Supporters, on the other hand, say the results speak for themselves with an enrollment of over 1,850 students compared to less than 900 when Docking arrived. The college’s endowment has also tripled to over $70 million, while seeing a fivefold increase in applications.

But that growth has come with some pains along the way. In 2020, the college tried to quietly implement a plan to cut the history, theater and joint religion, philosophy and leadership departments as a cost-cutting move. However, the pushback from faculty and alumni eventually convinced Docking to cancel the plan, saying he had “received a significant amount of feedback from alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College” about the decision and that the “input overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the majors and minors in these departments and the need to keep the liberal arts at the center of all we do as an institution.”

When asked about the feedback on the decision to bring in Gaines, Docking admitted it had created negativity.

“We’ve gotten some angry phone calls,” he said. “We’ve gotten some threatening phone calls. We’ve gotten some alums [who] have been upset about it. I’ve been out of town quite a bit, so I haven’t had a chance to read some of the articles that have been written, but presumably given that this is a very debatable issue and one that people like to weigh in on, I assume that there’ve been a whole lot of people out there that both agree and disagree with the decision.”

Despite that, Docking was clear that no amount of negative feedback would change his mind to invite Gaines and he expected commencement to go on as usual.

“I always say that the second most important thing that we do at Adrian College is educate students, but the first most important thing we do is to try to keep them safe during their time here,” he said. “I’m always concerned about student safety, whether it be large events like this, safety of visitors to campus, et cetera. And so we will certainly take all precautions possible to make sure that it’s a safe environment, a civil environment for people to attend a commencement address.”

Bouck, however, says inviting Gaines is pushing the envelope of what a commencement address should be.

“I am gravely concerned about the safety and security of the students, the college, the public in attendance, and (based upon some of her past experiences) even Ms. Gaines,” he wrote. “Extreme violence against trans people and incidents of mass violence have both skyrocketed over the past years and continue climbing. Why is Adrian College so interested and willing to stoke that fire so publicly?”

Courting controversy on college campuses is nothing new for Gaines. When she spoke at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in April 2023, she claimed that she was assaulted by protestors, although university police eventually suspended the investigation after “reviewing available video footage found that claims of crimes committed were unfounded.”

 Gov. Jim Pillen, at right, speaks next to Riley Gaines on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in La Vista. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

The SFSU event was hosted by Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a right-wing organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has linked to white supremacist groups, as well as the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has conflated homosexuality with pedophilia.

TPUSA has sponsored Gaines on a national tour of college campuses, although they are not involved with her appearance at Adrian College.

Docking, however, says he sees the controversy surrounding Gaines as being one-sided and often missing the point.

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that some people see her as anti-trans,” he said. “I think there’s other people that see her as pro Title IX, pro supportive of women in athletics, pro-supportive of fair competition.”

NCAA transgender policy

It is the question of fairness that the debate over Lia Thomas, and of trans athletes in general, is often waged. 

In that regard, Docking says he has experience and insight on collegiate athletics having served as chair of the Division III Presidents Council of the NCAA, the NCAA Board of Governors, and a member of the five-person NCAA Executive Committee. 

“I am very aware of the NCAA’s point of view, and I think that it’s very clear to the public that the NCAA has a point of view, which is … I’m not a medical doctor, but I believe it’s the sort of drugs that suppress testosterone, if they’re taken for enough time, that they will allow trans athletes to compete with their new identity.”

At the time of the NCAA Women’s Championships in February 2022, in which Gaines and Thomas tied for fifth, the policy in place by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) required transgender student-athletes to provide documentation that they had undergone one year of testosterone suppression treatment. At that point, Thomas had been on such treatments for more than two years.

It also required a one-time serum testosterone level that fell below the maximum allowable level for the sport in which the athlete was competing, which in this instance was USA Swimming. At the time, USA Swimming deferred to the medical criteria of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which required a testosterone level of below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the competition. 

But just six weeks before the championships, USA Swimming announced new rules for elite swimmers that would require Thomas and other transgender women swimmers to maintain a testosterone level of below 5 nanomoles per liter for at least 36 months before the competition. However, the NCAA declared that it would not adopt the new threshold for the upcoming winter championship. 

Instead, the new standard of 5 nanomoles per liter would be phased in so that by Aug. 1, 2024, transgender student-athletes would have to provide documentation “no less than twice annually (and at least once within four weeks of competition in NCAA championships) that meets the sport-specific standard (which may include testosterone levels, mitigation timelines and other aspects of sport-governing body policies) as reviewed and approved by CSMAS.”

In other words, what started out as a protest of what were essentially temporary rules specifically regarding trans women swimmers, has blossomed under Gaines persona as a movement to ban trans athletes from women’s athletics altogether.

She has no message to deliver other than she hates trans people. That’s her message. Would she give an uplifting speech? Could she do all the things that you expect a commencement speaker to do? She could, but so could any member of the faculty that’s already there. They don’t need to bring in a controversial figure.

“This has all gone too far. Add your name to the open letter to athletic governing bodies and public servants to keep women’s sports female,” states Gaines’ website.

McKee, who was a competitive athlete for many years including playing women’s tackle football, says this issue is not one that is black or white.

“A lot of sports go by that testosterone level, and I think a lot of people would agree that’s a reasonable thing,” she said. “I think it’s reasonable that different sports have different concerns when it comes to mixing the men and women. So I do agree with the idea that I think each sport could look at it separately. But the tricky thing with testosterone being your measurement is that there are cisgender females in Africa who have been disqualified from their track events because their testosterone levels were naturally too high. Well, all women have testosterone. So we’re now saying women’s sports is meant for women, but only those that don’t have too much testosterone. Is that fair? No.”

McKee says that unfortunately, the atmosphere has become so poisoned with bigotry that a rational debate is almost impossible right now.

“There could be conversations that could be had on this topic. Absolutely. I always saw myself as an athlete, so to not play would’ve been a blow to me. But at the same time, I want to make sure I’m competing the way I’m supposed to compete. See? I’m not so radical that I’m saying, ‘If anybody says they want to be a woman today, they can play.’ But while it’s a political football, I don’t think any progress is going to get made,” said McKee. 

“It’s just very difficult to try to do it when people are just trying to score points and keep people uneducated about trans people.”

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Jon King

Jon King is the Senior Reporter for the Michigan Advance and has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2022 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Michigan Advance and is republished with permission.

Corporate media aren’t cutting it. The Michigan Advance is a nonprofit outlet featuring hard-hitting reporting on politics and policy and the best progressive commentary in the state.

We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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Politics

Republican state AGs challenge federal revised Title IX policies

“Biden is abusing his constitutional authority to push an ideological agenda that harms women and girls and conflicts with the truth”

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President Biden with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in the Roosevelt Room during a press briefing at the White House, Oct. 2023. (Photo Credit: Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – Four Republicans state attorneys general have sued the Biden-Harris administration over the U.S. Department of Education’s new Title IX policies that were finalized April 19 and carry anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ students in public schools.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday, which is led by the attorneys general of Kentucky and Tennessee, follows a pair of legal challenges from nine Republican states on Monday — all contesting the administration’s interpretation that sex-based discrimination under the statute also covers that which is based on the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The administration also rolled back Trump-era rules governing how schools must respond to allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which were widely perceived as biased in favor of the interests of those who are accused.

“The U.S. Department of Education has no authority to let boys into girls’ locker rooms,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement. “In the decades since its adoption, Title IX has been universally understood to protect the privacy and safety of women in private spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms.”

“Florida is suing the Biden administration over its unlawful Title IX changes,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote on social media. “Biden is abusing his constitutional authority to push an ideological agenda that harms women and girls and conflicts with the truth.”

After announcing the finalization of the department’s new rules, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters, “These regulations make it crystal clear that everyone can access schools that are safe, welcoming and that respect their rights.”

The new rule does not provide guidance on whether schools must allow transgender students to play on sports teams corresponding with their gender identity to comply with Title IX, a question that is addressed in a separate rule proposed by the agency in April.

LGBTQ and civil rights advocacy groups praised the changes. Lambda Legal issued a statement arguing the new rule “protects LGBTQ+ students from discrimination and other abuse,” adding that it “appropriately underscores that Title IX’s civil rights protections clearly cover LGBTQ+ students, as well as survivors and pregnant and parenting students across race and gender identity.”

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Politics

Four states to ignore new Title IX rules protecting trans students

Republican officials in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina have directed schools to ignore new Title IX rules

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March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy in Washington D.C. 2022. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Last Friday, the Biden administration released its final Title IX rules, which include protections for LGBTQ+ students by clarifying that Title IX forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The rule change could have a significant impact as it would supersede bathroom bans and other discriminatory policies that have become increasingly common in Republican states within the United States.

As of Thursday morning, however, officials in at least four states — Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina — have directed schools to ignore the regulations, potentially setting up a federal showdown that may ultimately end up in a protracted court battle in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley was the first to respond, decrying the fact that the new Title IX regulations could block teachers and other students from exercising what has been dubbed by some a “right to bully” transgender students by using their old names and pronouns intentionally.

Asserting that Title IX law does not protect trans and queer students, Brumley states that schools “should not alter policies or procedures at this time.” Critically, several courts have ruled that trans and queer students are protected by Title IX, including the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent case in West Virginia.

In South Carolina, Schools Superintendent Ellen Weaver wrote in a letter that providing protections for transgender and LGBTQ+ students under Title IX “would rescind 50 years of progress & equality of opportunity by putting girls and women at a disadvantage in the educational arena,” apparently leaving transgender kids out of her definition of those who deserve progress and equality of opportunity.

She then directed schools to ignore the new directive while waiting for court challenges. While South Carolina does not have a bathroom ban or statewide Don’t Say Gay or Trans law, such bills continue to be proposed in the state.

Responding to the South Carolina letter, Chase Glenn of Alliance For Full Acceptance stated, “While Superintendent Weaver may not personally support the rights of LGBTQ+ students, she has the responsibility as the top school leader in our state to ensure that all students have equal rights and protections, and a safe place to learn and be themselves. The flagrant disregard shown for the Title IX rule tells me that our superintendent unfortunately does not have the best interests of all students in mind.”

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz also joined in in instructing schools not to implement Title IX regulations. In a letter issued to area schools, Diaz stated that the new Title IX regulations were tantamount to “gaslighting the country into believing that biological sex no longer has any meaning.”

Governor Ron DeSantis approved of the letter and stated that Florida “will not comply.” Florida has notably been the site of some of the most viciously anti-queer and anti-trans legislation in recent history, including a Don’t Say Gay or Trans law that was used to force a trans female teacher to go by “Mr.”

State Education Superintendent Ryan Walters of Oklahoma was the latest to echo similar sentiments. Walters has recently appointed the right-wing media figure Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok to an advisory role “to improve school safety,” and notably, Chaya Raichik has posed proudly with papers accusing her of instigating bomb threats with her incendiary posts about LGBTQ+ people in classrooms.

The Title IX policies have been universally applauded by large LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the United States. Lambda Legal, a key figure in fighting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide, said that the regulations “clearly cover LGBTQ+ students, as well as survivors and pregnant and parenting students across race and gender identity.” The Human Rights Campaign also praised the rule, stating, “rule will be life-changing for so many LGBTQ+ youth and help ensure LGBTQ+ students can receive the same educational experience as their peers: going to dances, safely using the restroom, and writing stories that tell the truth about their own lives.”

The rule is slated to go into effect August 1st, pending any legal challenges.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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