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July 27, 2012

News Briefs

Psychiatric manual to drop ‘gender identity disorder’

Arlington, Va.--The new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will have a change that may have major repercussions for transgender people.

“Gender identity disorder,” which is used as a broad diagnosis, will be removed and replaced with “gender dysphoria.”

Gender identity disorder is defined as “a strong and persistent cross-gender identification,” and denotes a mental illness. Gender dysphoria, however, will be used to denote people with “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender,” which could be a transitory state.

“All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context,” said psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who is part of the subcommittee working on the change. “We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize.”

There are, however, possible drawbacks to the change. First, it might make it more difficult for a transgender person who believes they were discriminated against to sue, without the weight of the medical community behind them. Also, it might make it more difficult to convince insurance companies to cover gender reassignment surgery and other medical costs associated with transitioning.

The APA removed homosexuality from the list of disorders in the DSM in 1973.

Sally Ride comes out in her obituary

San Diego--Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away on July 23 from pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old.

In an obituary put out by her company Sally Ride Science, she became the world’s first astronaut publicly known to be gay or lesbian. The announcement, written with her before she died, says she is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, who is also the company’s vice president.

The youngest American in space at the age of 32, she flew on the Challenger space shuttle in 1983 and 1984. She was the only person on both panels investigating shuttle failures, that of the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.

She was preceded into space by two other women, Russian cosmonauts, one of whom was greeted in their space station by a compatriot saying a kitchen and apron were ready for her.

After retiring from NASA, Ride continued to work in science, at the Center for International Security and Arms Control and at Sally Ride Science, which seeks to interest youth in science and engineering.

That Ride was lesbian was an open secret among her NASA superiors, who had her grow her hair out and pushed her into a show marriage with a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley. After she retired, they amicably divorced.

She is survived by O’Shaughnessy, her mother, Joyce Ride, and her sister, Bear Scott.

Troops march in uniform at Pride

San Diego--With the demise of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy last year, this year’s Pride celebrations featured something new: active-duty personnel in uniform marching in the San Diego Pride parade.

In San Diego Pride last weekend, dozens of servicemembers marched alongside an Army truck with a “Freedom to Serve” banner and rainbow flags, along with scores of their fellow service men and women in regular clothing.

The Defense Department relaxed its general ban on marching in uniform in parades for San Diego Pride because it was getting national attention after organizers encouraged personnel to march in uniform.

“Now that I can march freely in uniform, I think it’s a great display for the Navy,” Commander Kent Blade, a 26-year veteran of the Navy, told the Huffington Post.

Democrats to put marriage in platform

Washington, D.C.--The Democratic Party platform this year will likely include a plank calling for full marriage equality, according to Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Talking to Sarah Blazucki of the Philadelphia Gay News, Wasserman Schultz, a Florida representative, spoke about what was likely to make it on the platform at the Democratic National Convention in early September.

“I expect marriage equality to be a plan in the national party platform. President Obama has declared his support for it,” she said. “Now, our platform committee process is a people-powered process. We have a platform committee and the platform is developed by our Democratic activists and the platform committee members, so they’ll go through a process.”

“I hope that marriage equality, and expect that marriage equality, will be part of our platform,” she noted.

She also said any movement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was unlikely while the Republican majority held the House of Representatives, but said a Democratic majority in the chamber would have ENDA as a priority.

13 out candidates for Congress

Washington, D.C.--As many as 13 out LGBT people will be on the ballot for Congress in November, a record high.

In 2010, five out candidates ran for Congress and four won.

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado has no serious challenge in the November election, but Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island faces a tough primary in September. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is leaving the House to seek a Senate seat, and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts is retiring.

Among the non-incumbents running are Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, bisexual woman Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Mark Takano of California, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts. Pocan and Sinema still have primaries coming up.

Nicole LeFavour in Idaho has passed her primary, but faces a strong Republican incumbent. Still facing primaries are Trevor Thomas of Michigan, Jeff Anderson of Minnesota, and Matt Heinz in Arizona. Stacey Gray in Pennsylvania is running as an independent, but must submit 2,000 signatures in August to get on the ballot.

Boy Scouts will still kick out gays

Irving, Texas--“Morally straight” still means heterosexual, according to the Boy Scouts of America, who secretly took a two-year internal review that seemed to completely disregard public opinion and the decreasing government subsidies brought about by their ban on gay members and leaders.

The Scouts won a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that, as a private organization, they were entitled to freedom of association, and thus could ban gay or atheist members and leaders. However, after that decision, a number of municipal governments cut off sweetheart deals for local Scout councils, saying they violated local and anti-discrimination protections.

In Philadelphia, the city is trying to evict the Cradle of Liberty Council from a Beaux Arts building that it rents for $1 a year, but could bring as much as a million dollars a year in rent on the open market.

The Northern Star Council in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which has 75,000 scouts, said it will reject the national organization’s policy and welcome gay and lesbian leaders and gay members in its troops.

“We’re a reflection of the community,” spokesman Kent York told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Our commitment has been to reach out to all young people and have a positive influence.”

He said that his council has had a 12-year practice of leadership selection that is inclusive.

The Girl Scouts allow lesbian members and troop leaders, and Scouts Canada, according to their website, “does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation.”

Asteroid named for Frank Kameny

Washington, D.C.--There’s a new star in the sky, and its name is Frank Kameny.

All right, it’s not a star, it’s an asteroid, formerly designated Minor Planet 40463, and it is now called Frankkameny.

A Canadian amateur astronomer submitted a request to name the heavenly body after Kameny, a gay rights activist who passed away last year. Kameny was an astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service until he was fired in the 1950s for being gay. He fought unsuccessfully all the way to the Supreme Court to get back his job.

A citation was published on July 3, officially naming the asteroid. The citation notes Kameny’s status as a gay rights pioneer.

Frankkameny is located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and can be seen with a telescope. It was discovered in 1999.

Gay education law repeal fails, again

Sacramento--A law requiring public schools in California to teach students about the contributions of LGBT people is safe for another year, after a petition drive to repeal it fell short of the over 500,000 signatures needed to put it on the 2014 ballot.

It is the second time the Pacific Justice Institute’s attempts to put the issue to voters has failed. The law went into effect in January, but has not been implemented by most school districts yet.

The ballot initiative, if passed, would leave sexual minorities off of the list of groups whose historical and social contribution must be taught in schools.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.








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