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April 17, 2015

Justice Dept: Give trans inmate hormone treatment

Washington, D.C.--The Justice Department filed a brief on behalf of a transgender prison inmate saying that denying her hormone treatment was cruel and unusual punishment.

The brief, filed on behalf of Ashley Diamond on April 3, notes, “The United States has a broad interest in ensuring that conditions of confinement in state and local correctional facilities are consistent with the Constitution and federal law. To that end, the Department of Justice has previously exercised… its authority to investigate jurisdictions for issues similar to those presented in this case, such as access to adequate medical and mental health care and protection from harm for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex prisoners.”

The Georgia Department of Corrections has a “freeze-frame” policy, which bars treatment for gender dysphoria unless it was identified at intake. However, despite telling authorities that she was transgender, and presenting as female and having been on hormone therapy for years, the Department of Corrections “did not refer Ms. Diamond for additional evaluation or treatment. Instead, GDOC terminated Ms. Diamon’s hormone therapy and confiscated her female clothing and undergarments before placing her in a male facility.”

“Multiple GDOC clinicians later confirmed Ms. Diamond’s gender dysphoria. Those GDOC clinicians recommended treatment, including hormone therapy and allowing Ms. Diamond to outwardly express her female gender identity through dress and adherence to female grooming standards,” The Department of Justice wrote. “GDOC never provided this recommended treatment. When Ms. Diamond requested treatment consistent with her clinician’s recommendations, GDOC officials told her that such treatment was either not available or prohibited by GDOC’s freeze-frame policy.”

New York scouts set up showdown with national

New York City--The local affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America is hiring a gay Eagle Scout who is currently an Ohio college student to work its summer camp this year.

The Greater New York Councils announced that 18-year old Pascal Tessier, raised in Maryland and now attending the College of Wooster, will be working in their summer camp. Last year, the Boy Scouts of America revoked their policy against gay scouts, but maintained a ban on gay leaders and staff.

Greater New York Councils board member Richard G. Mason pointed out that his body has had a non-discrimination policy for years, so when Tessier’s application came in, they judged it on its merits, not on his sexual orientation.

The national group said that it was looking into the matter.

The Greater New York Councils represents scout troops in the five boroughs of New York City, and over 46,000 scouts.

Simpsons hope their Springfield isn’t the one in Missouri

Springfield, Mo.--Last October, the Springfield City Council passed a measure barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. After a push by right-wing religious conservatives, voters in the city repealed the measure on April 7.

It was the largest voter turnout in the area since 2001, but the repeal only passed by a 51-49 percent margin.

Both sides spent national money in their efforts, roughly $37,000 between the Human Rights Campaign and the Gill Foundation trying to keep it, and an almost identical amount from a group supporting clergy activism.

The anti-gay side decried the measure as one that would open good, decent Christian businesses to frivolous lawsuits.

Across the state, in the heart of the Bible Belt, 14 other cities have antidiscrimination laws that include at least sexual orientation.

Daddy issues go musical

New York City--One of the greatest graphic novels in the history of the LGBT community, not to mention the history of the medium, is now a Broadway show.

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home opens April 19, and follows the graphic novel’s story of a young Bechdel and her relationship with her father, an enigmatic and mercurial gay man who married a woman and had three children.

The musical is written by Lisa Kron, with music by Jeanine Tesori, and has an adult Bechdel, portrayed by one actor, looking back at her childhood and her college years, played by two other actors.

Bechdel went to Oberlin College and her strip, “Dykes to Watch Out For,” used to run in the Gay People’s Chronicle until she ended it to begin working more on her autobiographical graphic novels.

She has also won a MacArthur Foundation grant, proving that she really is a genius.

Military sees first out, active-duty trans person

Honolulu--Sgt. Shane Ortega may now be the first out, active duty transgender person serving in the United States military, following a Washington Post profile on being transgender in the military.

Ortega, a helicopter crew chief in the Army, spent two tours as a woman before transitioning while on active duty. A few weeks ago, a voluntary psychiatric evaluation found that he no longer suffered from gender dysphoria, and is fit for service.

A physical found elevated testosterone levels, so he was taken off of flight duty, but that was due to the transition, so he should be cleared to fly again.

He’s still listed in the Pentagon computer system as female, and his command has asked for clarification as to whether that can be changed.

However, since gender dysphoria is considered a mental illness and that is the official justification for why transgender people cannot serve, his psych evaluation means that he should now be able to continue serving.

The Pentagon is currently evaluating whether it should lift the ban on transgender servicemembers. The Army put authority for deciding whether transgender soldiers can serve in the hands of a civilian appointee, and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has indicated that she is in favor of allowing people to serve, regardless of gender identity.

When anti-gay cabbies attack!

Chicago--Cabbies in two of the country’s largest cities are in trouble for their anti-gay reactions to same-sex couples kissing.

In Chicago, Shadi Ramini and Seth Day were booted from Mahdi Hared’s hack after the couple, on their first date, kissed. They had booked the ride through Uber, but the app used Blue Ribbon Taxi.

Hared ordered Ramini and Day out of his cab, pulling away while Day was still getting out. Hared told the police the men had attacked him, while Day and Ramini made a separate police report, showing officers Day’s bruises.

Hared has been charged with aggravated assault and battery, and can no longer drive for Uber.

In New York City, another cab driver will have to shell out $10,000 for telling a lesbian couple to stop kissing or get out of the taxi.

Christy Spitzer and Kassie Thornton were riding in a Yellow cab driven by Mohammed Dahbi when he told them to save it for the bedroom or get out of his cab. They left, refusing to pay, and he called them bitches, cunts and whores.

Judge John Spooner of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings ordered Dahbi to pay the women $10,000, fined him another $5,000 and ordered him to attend anti-discrimination training. The Commission on Human Rights must approve Spooner’s decision before it takes effect.

Spitzer and Thornton’s encounter with Dahbi was in 2011, and the decision came down last month.











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