Several Problems Weekly #7: 7–20 April 2024

The statue of Sigmund Freud in front of the Tavistock Clinic, the now-former home of the NHS Gender Identity Development Service. Photo by Mike Peel, 2010.

We’re back! I went off to go and write an article for another outlet. One could argue that this isn’t a Weekly because I’m not consistently publishing it every week, to which I say: shut up.


Index

  1. Witzel et al.: new insights into mpox in men
  2. Christensen et al.: transfem veterans’ thyroid cancer rate tends to norm
  3. Shaw et al.: Tommy and Emma are at it again
  4. Catholic Church: Dignitas infinita: Red meat for the faith
  5. Elston v eSafety Commissioner: Billboard Chris can’t take the L-ston
  6. Aotearoa NZ: Psychology board reviewing its LGBTQ+ guideline
  7. Australia, NSW: Dragons forfeit against Bats; Binary makes hay
  8. Australia, WA: Cook Government finally pulls its finger out on GRA
  9. Germany: Self-determination Act passed; self-determination to come
  10. India, Maharashtra: Kumar to trans Punekars: Drop dead
  11. Sweden: SoU2023/24:22: Gender recognition law now slightly less bad
  12. England: Cass Report drops
  13. Scotland: Holyrood declines Tory invitation to hate
  14. Scotland: NHS Scotland decides it’s easier to collude
  15. US: NAIA bans transfems for fairness (actually Christianity again)
  16. US: American Immigration Council: Abolishing ICE is trans business
  17. US: Labrador v Poe: SCOTUS to Idaho trans kids: Drop dead
  18. US: BPJ v Board: You can’t hide, but you can run (for now)
  19. US: DoEd: Curse your inevitable, not-at-all sudden betrayal (redux)
  20. US: WaPo openly platforming the hydra now
  21. US, CA: Calexico recalls its whipping girl
  22. US, ID: HB 421, 538: The machine demands blood
  23. US, KS: Kelly delays FACT Act, lets state KOSA through to keeper
  24. US, ME: LD 227: Maine passes trans shield law, Republicans predictably object
  25. US, MD: Heads up: Arrested potential shooter possibly rotten egg
  26. US, MT: Kalarchik v Montana: Stop breaking the Constitution, assholes
  27. US, OH: Moe v Yost: SAFE Act enjoined, too unsafe
  28. US, OK: OSAC feels threatened by trans boxers
  29. US, TN: Hammond v Nashville: Judicial Watch says “fuck them kids”
  30. US, VA: Powhatan School District adopts 2023 Model Policies

International

Academic

Witzel et al: new insights into mpox in men

On 12 March, eClinicalMedicine published an article, “Experiences of mpox illness and case management among cis and trans gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in England: A qualitative study,” by T. Charles Witzel et al. (2024). I’m not going into a great deal of depth about it here because the total number of transmascs in the sample was 1 but trans men and transmascs in my readership might still find it worth reading.

Christensen et al.: transfem veterans’ thyroid cancer rate tends to norm

On 27 March, the Journal of the Endocrine Society published an article, “Thyroid cancer prevalence, risk exposure, and clinical features among transgender female veterans,” by John David Christensen et al. (2024). The study’s key finding was that among trans women veterans, the prevalence of thyroid cancer is nearly 2× as high as in cis men veterans, consistent with the elevated rate of thyroid cancer among cis women in general (Kurek, 2024).

Shaw et al.: Tommy and Emma at it again

Wembley Stadium, symbolising Britain (therefore transphobia) and sports. Photo by Mitch Rosen on Unsplash.

On 16 April, the Journal of Sports Sciences published an article, “The perspective of current and retired world class, elite and national athletes on the inclusion and eligibility of transgender athletes in elite sport,” by A.L. Shaw et al. (2024). The article’s key finding appears to be that the elite athletes it surveyed, on the whole, favour transmasculine inclusion but not transfeminine inclusion.

I was curious about the motivation behind this because the research topic and the concept behind the study design seemed strange to me — this is essentially a peer-reviewed opinion poll. I had a look at the methodology. It’s blatant junk. I don’t know if they assume their audience are completely naïve to this kind of scientific fraud but none of it is new junk. I would characterise it as Littmanesque — most of these tricks are signatures of another anti-trans disinfo promoter, Lisa Littman. In particular:

  • The study was conducted by anonymous online survey.
  • The study had a year-long response window, raising concerns about data integrity.
  • The study used snowball sampling “via personal networks and social media platforms”. As has previously been noted (Leveille, 2021), snowball sampling is problematic when dealing with politically contested issues because it selects for people with the same politics as the study’s authors.

The authors were only listed by surname and initials, which seemed odd to me, so I went digging. To the best of my ability to determine given the available information (initials, surnames, affiliations), they are:

  1. Alexandra L. Shaw;
  2. Alun G. Williams;
  3. Georgina K. Stebbings;
  4. Marie Chollier;
  5. Andrew Harvey;
  6. Shane M. Heffernan.

Shaw and Harvey I know little about. Chollier appears to have no experience in any relevant field perhaps save sexology, the nature of whose relevance to trans affairs is, of course, rather grim.

Heffernan, Stebbings, and Williams have form in legitimising transphobic pseudoacademic work. Stebbings was lead author, and Heffernan and Williams were co-authors, on the British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences’ summer 2021 position statements on trans (Stebbings et al., 2021b) and intersex (“DSD”) athletes (Stebbings et al., 2021a); the relationship of those statements to reality is, at best, contested. Heffernan and Williams were signatories to an anti-transfeminine open letter led by Tommy Lundberg earlier this year attacking the IOC Fairness Framework (Lundberg et al., 2024), which was also signed by such luminaries as Emma Hilton and Jon Pike.

In short, I’m assessing this as basically just more nominally peer-reviewed quotemaking by the Hilton–Lundberg clique at one degree of remove.

Catholic Church

Dignitas infinita: Red meat for the faith

St Peter’s Square. Why do they call it square when it’s round? Photo by Caleb Miller on Unsplash

On 8 April, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s executive department for doctrine and discipline, published a statement, Dignitas infinita (“Infinite dignity“). The document is signed by the DDF’s prefect, Victor Manuel Cardinal Fernández, and the secretary of its doctrinal section, Monsignor Armando Matteo; it is noted as having been approved by Pope Francis on 25 March.

Dignitas infinita‘s central theme is the Church’s conception of “human dignity”. On the basis of that conception, Dignitas infinita concerns itself extensively with transness. It proclaims:

  • that “Desiring a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes, apart from this fundamental truth that human life is a gift, amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God”
  • that “gender theory … intends to deny the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference”
  • that transness “envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family,” and therefore that “all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected”.
  • that “the body … is endowed with personal meanings, particularly in its sexed condition,” and that “any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception”.

While there are obvious limits on how liberal the head of the literal Catholic Church can be, Francis has been perceived during his pontificate as relatively progressive on LGBTQ+ affairs. Catholic media, both within (Keenan, 2024) and outside (McNulty, 2024) LGBTQ+ formations within the Church, certainly seem to have seen Dignitas infinita as a sharp move in the other direction.

Other

Elston v eSafety Commissioner: Billboard Chris can’t take the L-ston

On 17 April, “Billboard” Chris Elston filed an appeal with the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal concerning a notice issued in the name of the Australian eSafety Commissioner under the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) s 88. The s 88 notice ultimately compelled X Corp to take down a Tweet by Elston that was smearing and attempting to humiliate an Australian citizen, a trans community advocate who I am choosing not to name. I’m also not linking Elston’s complaint because it republishes some of the material covered by the s 88 notice; entirely apart from the fact that I don’t want to harm Elston’s target further, given that I’m also Australian I don’t know if it would be legally wise.

Summarising the complaint and its context: Australia has fairly limited speech protections; for instance, there is no explicit protection in the Constitution of Australia for freedom of expression. However, since at least Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Wills (1992), Australian courts have held that there exists an implied freedom of political communication, and sought to define it. Elston’s complaint, prepared with the help of the Free Speech Union of Australia (McKenzie, 2024), appears to be framed around the argument that removing the Tweet unlawfully constrains that freedom. Offhand it looks like a bit of a reach to me but I’m not a lawyer. We’ll see how it plays out.

Aotearoa New Zealand

Late: Psychology board reviewing its LGBTQ+ guideline

Ngā whare Paremata/the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Photo by Koon Chakhatrakan on Unsplash

I became aware this week — courtesy of alarmist coverage in The Spectator Australia (Stanley, 2024) — that te Poari Kaimātai Hinengaro o Aotearoa/the New Zealand Psychologists Board, the state regulator of psychologists in Aotearoa, has been revising its Best practice guidelines for working with clients with diverse sex, sexuality and gender since sometime before 18 September 2023 (Te Poari Kaimātai Hinengaro o Aotearoa, 2023).

I initially had no idea whether this was good or bad, seeing as The Spectator seemed to think it was a valuable opportunity for te Poari to pull an RANZCP. However, I understand from a source with knowledge of the matter that there’s no cause for concern.

Australia

New South Wales

Dragons forfeit against Bats; Binary makes hay

Previously: SP Weekly #5.17, #6.05.

On 21 April, a scheduled North West Sydney Football (NWSF) Women’s Premier League First Grade association football match between Macquarie Dragons FC and The Flying Bats FC was pre-empted by a forfeit from the Dragons (Dribl, n.d.).

Vigilant readers will recall that the Dragons and the Bats’ last matchup, in the NWSF Beryl Ackroyd Cup grand final in late March, became the subject of international attention because the Bats, who won, fielded a squad including 5 transfem players, and copped an international firehose of hate as a result.

Binary Australia have noticed the cancellation and are running with it, asserting that the Macquarie Dragons are pointedly forfeiting out of principle because they refuse to play against trans women (Smith, 2024). The tactic is not unheard of and is being used by right-wing activists in the United States. However, I’m unconvinced.

At press time, neither the Dragons nor the Bats had responded to a request for comment, but that’s to be expected as I sent it over the weekend. Any comments I do receive will be printed in SP Weekly #8.

Western Australia

Cook Government finally pulls its finger out on GRA reform

Previously: SP Weekly #4.07, #6.06.

On 17 April, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment (Sex or Gender Changes) Bill 2024 (WA) was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on behalf of the Government by John Quigley MLA (ALP–Butler), Attorney-General for Western Australia. If adopted, the Bill will:

  • repeal the Gender Reassignment Act 2000 (WA) and the Gender Reassignment Regulations 2001 (WA).
  • abolish the Gender Reassignment Board and establish a new process for people born in Western Australia to change their legal sex and gender through the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • establish a new process for WA residents born outside Australia to apply for a document acknowledging their sex or gender.

The explanatory memorandum (Government of Western Australia, 2024) suggests the new process will be able to be launched approximately six months after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

Certain groups of people who have been convicted of crimes will need the approval of various relevant government officers to change their registered sex or gender. In particular, while promoting the Bill, Quigley referred to how it prevented people convicted of violent offences from accessing women-only spaces. This was, in my opinion justifiably, heard as a transmisogynistic dogwhistle by LGBTQ+ advocates (Watson, 2024a).

Germany

Self-determination Act passed; true self-determination yet to come

The Reichstag Plenary Building, at Platz der Republik 1, in the Tiergarten, Berlin. The Reichstag has been the seat of the Bundestag since 1999. Photo by Moritz Lüdtke on Unsplash

On 12 April, the Bundestag (“Federal Diet”) passed the Selbstbestimmungsgesetz (SBGG; “Self-determination Act“). The SBGG establishes a new, less restrictive German federal gender recognition regime, superseding the regime provided for by the Transsexuellengesetz (TSG; “Transsexual Act“) of 1980.

Under the SBGG, trans people 14 years of age or older (Associated Press, 2024) can change their registered first name and gender by giving 3 months’ notice to a registry office (“Gender identity law passes,” 2024). This replaces the TSG regime, which required the approval of 2 psychiatrists and a court order.

§§ 13–14 also provide that after a change of name or gender registration is made, neither the person’s assigned gender nor their deadname may be published without their consent, subject to a fine of up to €10,000 (approx. AU$49,600, US$32,000 at press time).

However, the SBGG also has several caveats:

  • Per § 5(1), name and gender changes are followed by a cooling-off period of one year before additional changes can be made.
  • Per § 6(3), gender recognised under the SBGG explicitly does not necessarily apply to the recognition of sporting achievements.
  • Per § 9, trans women in particular will not be allowed to change their legal gender during a state of tension under Article 80a of the Basic Law, or during compulsory military service should it be reintroduced.
  • Per § 10(2), a trans person is only entitled to have updated documents issued “soweit ein berechtiges Interesse glaubhaft gemacht werden kann” (“provided that a legitimate interest can be credibly demonstrated”) in the judgment of state authorities.

For reasons including some of these and some others, one German trans political content creator, UnrulyJuli, described the SBGG as “das reaktionärste selbsterklärungsbasierte Gesetz zur Änderung von registriertem Geschlecht weltweit” (“the most reactionary self-ID-based gender recognition law in the world”) (UnrulyJuli, 2024).

The SBGG was passed with 372 votes in favour, 251 votes against, and 11 abstentions, with 100 absences. The bill was supported by (Bundestagsverwaltung, 2024):

  • the current Government parties, who are an Ampelkoalition (“traffic-light coalition”):
    • the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD; “Social-Democratic Party of Germany”);
    • the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP; “Free Democratic Party”);
    • Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (B90/Grüne; “Alliance ’90/The Greens”);
  • Die Linke (“The Left”).

It was opposed by:

  • the Unionsparteien (“Union parties”), the conservative long-term coalition which is Germany’s major conservative bloc:
    • the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU; “Christian Democratic Union of Germany”);
    • the Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (CSU; “Christian Social Union in Bayern”);
  • Alternative für Deutschland (AfD; “Alternative for Germany”);
  • Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW: “Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance”).

Votes other than party line include:

  • members of parties which supported the bill who
    • abstained:
      • Matthias W. Birkwald (Die Linke);
      • Friedhelm Boginski (FDP);
      • Leni Breymaier (SPD);
      • André Hahn (Linke);
      • Justina Hostert (SPD);
      • Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP);
      • Victor Perli (Die Linke);
      • Claudia Raffelhüschen (FDP);
      • Gerard Ullrich (FDP);
      • Sandra Weeser (FDP);
    • voted against:
      • Katja Adler (FDP);
      • Jens Beeck (FDP);
      • Ingo Bodtke (FDP);
      • Knut Gerschau (FDP);
      • Gero Clemens Hocker (FDP);
      • Christian Sauter (FDP);
      • Matthias Seestern-Pauly (FDP);
      • Linda Teuteberg (FDP);
      • Nico Tippelt (FDP).
  • members of parties opposing the bill who abstained:
    • Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU);
  • independents who voted yes: Stefan Seidler; the remaining independents voted no or were absent.

The SBGG will commence on 1 November 2024 (Associated Press, 2024).

India

Maharashtra

Kumar to trans Punekars: Drop dead

GM Road, in Pune, Maharashtra, India. Photo by onkar gotale on Unsplash.

On 10 April, Amitesh Kumar, Commissioner of Police for Pune City, issued an order under the federal Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s 144, banning trans people from begging at traffic signals, private residences, and public spaces including hospitals (Bhatt, 2024).

Sweden

SoU22:2023/24: Gender recognition law now slightly better

A photograph taken inside the Riksdaghuset (“Parliament House”) complex on Helgeandsholm islet in Stockholm. Photo by Oscar Nord on Unsplash

On 17 April, the Riksdag approved Socialutskottet (SoU) Proposition 22 of 2023/24 (2023/24:SoU22), Förbättrade möjligheter att ändra kön (“Improved access to gender change“). The bill provides that:

  • trans people 16 years or older in Sweden can now change their legal gender if they receive approval from a guardian, a doctor, and Socialstyrelsen (“the National Board of Health and Welfare”) (Rai, 2024);
  • a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is no longer required (Rai, op. cit.).

According to the Snabbsprotokoll — the Riksdag’s equivalent of Hansard dailies — the bill was passed with 234 votes in favour and 94 votes against, with 21 absences. The bill was supported by:

  • Socialdemokraterna (S; “the Social Democrats”);
  • Moderaterna (M; “the Moderates”);
  • Centerpartiet (C; “the Centre Party”);
  • Vänsterpartiet (V; “the Left Party”)
  • Miljöpartiet de gröna (MP; “Environmental Party the Greens”);
  • Liberalerna (L; “the Liberals”).

The bill was opposed by:

  • Kristdemokraterna (KD; “the Christian Democrats”)
  • Sverigedemokraterna (SD; “the Sweden Democrats”).

Votes other than party line include:

  • Patrik Björck (S–Västra Götalands läns västra), who voted against;
  • Ellen Juntti (M–Västra Götalands läns västra), who voted against;
  • Elsa Widding (Ind–Stockholms kommun), who voted against;
  • Jamal El-Haj (Ind–Malmö kommun), who voted in favour.

United Kingdom

National

Physios make no bones about trans allyship

On 11 April, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), the professional peak body for British physiotherapists, issued a position statement on transphobia (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Council, 2024). I find the language satisfyingly resolute, to the point of occasionally being borderline provocative.

England

Cass Report drops

On 10 April, NHS England’s Independent Review of Gender Identity Services for Children and Young People released its Final Report (The Cass Review, 2024). I’ve written a long-form piece for another outlet detailing the problems with the Cass Review and will hopefully publish more coverage here over time. The summary is as follows.

The Cass Report recommends, in effect, preventing people under 18 from accessing virtually any meaningful gender-affirming intervention whatsoever. It stipulates that:

  • NHS England should provide HRT on an extremely limited and case-by-case basis, and only where a “clear clinical rationale” exists, which seems to mean “beyond simply being trans”;
  • NHS England should provide puberty blockers on an extremely limited case-by-case basis to some trans girls, and to trans boys not at all;
  • trans kids should not be allowed to change their name or pronouns before the NHS says they can;
  • measures should be taken to prevent trans kids from accessing gender-affirming care on a private basis outside the NHS.

The Report is heavily flawed. Here is why:

  • The Cass Review was known to be heavily compromised well before the publication of the Report. Its advisory group includes a narrow slice of professionals ranging from clinicians on the extremely conservative borderline-crank edge of nominal legitimacy to open, unashamed advocates of conversion therapy. It explicitly excluded trans people. In addition, the groundwork for the Cass Review, such as the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence’s “literature review” on puberty blockers, was similarly compromised.
  • The Report draws heavily on several systematic reviews carried out by the University of York at the request of the Cass Review. The methodology for all of the reviews was designed by Dr Trilby Langton, who has previously provided NHS staff with training materials recommending Genspect, an organisation which promotes conversion therapy. The methodology appears to have been designed to exclude as much evidence in favour of gender-affirming care as possible, while including as much evidence as possible to the contrary, in both cases regardless of the practical quality of the evidence.

A number of materials auxiliary to the review have also been published, including a 9 April editorial by Cass in The BMJ (Cass, 2024), and a 17 April Q&A session with Cass held by The Kite Trust, an LGBTQ+ support and advocacy group (The Kite Trust, 2024). The latter has attracted significant interest because Cass’ characterisation of the Cass Report seems to be pretty significantly at odds with what’s in it, to the point that you begin to wonder if she’s actually read what is nominally her own work.

Scotland

Holyrood declines Tory invitation to hate

The façade of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo by Chris Flexen on Unsplash.

Previously: SP Weekly #6.12.

On 17 April, the Scottish Parliament considered a motion, Repealing the Hate Crime Act (S6M-12855), moved by Russell Findlay MSP (CUP–West Scotland), which would if adopted have expressed the Scottish Parliament’s belief that the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 ought to be repealed. The motion would not actually have repealed the Act; a Bill is required to do that.

While the Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 11 March 2021, it did not commence until 1 April 2024. The Act extends hate crime protections under Scottish law to trans people, a prospect which attracts significantly more political hostility in 2024 than it did in 2021. Right-wing organisers including Elon Musk and JK Rowling have been mounting a furious hate campaign against the Bill since immediately before its commencement. The Act was also opposed by ADF UK, the British arm of US fascist legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, who published a media release in support of Findlay’s motion (ADF UK, 2024).

Ultimately, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens successfully amended Findlay’s motion to reverse its meaning, then put it to a vote and carried it. The Tories opposed it. Labour, the Lib Dems, and lone Alba Party MSP Ash Regan abstained.

NHS Scotland decides it’s easier to collude

On 18 April, it became public (Trans Safety Network, 2024; NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 2024) that the Gender Service at Sandyford, which provides gender-affirming care to people under 18 in Scotland, had stopped referring trans youth to endocrinology in mid-March. Endocrinology referral is a prerequisite to receive puberty blockers. As a consequence, while young trans people already on blockers though Sandyford will be able to stay on them, no further trans youth will be able to access them through the Gender Service.

The decision appears to have been made by Sandyford’s supervising health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in response to the Cass Report. It’s unclear why; the Cass Review was authorised by, and its scope was in relation to, NHS England, an agency of the UK Government operating within England. NHS Scotland is an entirely separate service administered by the Scottish Government. My understanding is that NHS Scotland has therefore not actually been compelled to take this action, but is taking it nonetheless.

United States

Federal

NAIA bans transfems for fairness (actually Christianity again)

On 8 April, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Presidents unanimously approved a new Transgender Participation Policy which functionally bans trans women from NAIA competitions (it also restricts trans men, but does not ban them).

While some media coverage (some included here, some not) has tried to play this off as an apolitical move based entirely on concerns of fairness, it isn’t, of course, because it never is. NAIA, a considerably smaller alternative to the mainstream National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), consists overwhelmingly of private institutions, and 17 of the 20 Council of Presidents members who endorsed the policy were from the 65% of NAIA member institutions which are explicitly faith-based (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, n.d.) — which is incidentally quite the apportionment; I wonder how that happened.

Media coverage has noted that the new NAIA Policy may be in violation of Title IX (Van Cleave, 2024). More immediately and practically, the policy is still compelled to rely on self-reporting by trans athletes. At least one NAIA-affiliated institution has chosen not to enforce the self-reporting requirement, and, thus, to functionally ignore the policy. Beyond NAIA institutions, the policy is opposed by the Transgender Network of Texas (Kennedy, 2024) and the National Women’s Law Center (Olson, 2024).

The NAIA Transgender Participation Policy will commence 1 August 2024.

American Immigration Council: Abolishing ICE is trans business

On 9 April, the American Immigration Council, the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project, and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network filed a complaint (American Immigration Council et al., 2024) with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on behalf of 5 trans and nonbinary (TNB) people detained at an ICE facility in Aurora, Colorado.

The complaint asserts that

  • ICE has subjected the individuals detained to “needless delays in access to care, lack of communication regarding diagnoses and appropriate treatment options, and gaslighting from medical staff within the facility to fail to take their complaints seriously”;
  • “Gender affirming care is not categorically available within ICE detention, meaning people cannot access the treatment they require to manage their symptoms”
  • “in practice the Aurora facility systematically fails to adhere to its responsibilities, with potentially deadly consequences for TNB people detained at the facility”;
  • “TNB persons imprisoned at the Aurora facility who have disabilities are often punished for having a disability … Complainants’ experiences illuminate a pattern within the Aurora facility of placing persons with disabilities at risk of self-harm in solitary confinement”
  • in addition, complainants have variously been subjected to:
    • refusal under false pretences to house them appropriately;
    • threats under false pretences of placing them in solitary confinement for reasons related to their gender or gender expression;
    • interference with the HRT prescribed to them;
    • delays or outright lack of action on required supportive care such as serology labs;
    • physical assault;
    • sexual assault by guards;
    • facilitation by guards of sexual assault;
    • sexual harassment;
    • sexually violent humiliation;
    • forcible outing;
    • deadnaming;
    • misgendering;
    • destruction of personal property and personal hygiene items;
    • transmisogynistic violence;
    • refusal to enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

The complaint asserts ICE’s conduct constitutes impermissible discrimination in violation of:

The complaint requests that ICE take a number of measures to address the conduct at issue, including that ICE investigate the specific incidents detailed in the complaint, stop appealing immigration judge decisions granting relief to TNB people, implement new liability mechanisms for contractors who mistreat trans people, place TNB people in “community-based and not-for-profit alternatives for detention”, and ideally put an “immediate and permanent end to [its] practice of detaining TNB people in immigration custody”.

Labrador v Poe: SCOTUS to Idaho trans kids: Drop dead

The façade of 1 First Street, Washington, D.C., the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

On 15 April, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a plurality decision, stayed the US District Court for the District of Idaho’s 26 December 2023 order in Poe v Labrador enjoining enforcement of the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, Idaho Code Ann § 18-1506C, passed as HB 71 of 2023, which bans gender-affirming care for people under 18 in Idaho. The application to stay was made by the State of Idaho’s counsel, the Alliance Defending Freedom (Talukder, 2024). The Act will immediately take effect for everyone in Idaho except the plaintiffs.

The Supreme Court’s pretext for the stay was that the District Court’s injunction was overbroad in scope. Of the justices of the court, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas supported the stay; Gorsuch wrote the plurality opinion, which expressed concerns about overbreadth, while Kavanaugh wrote a separate concurrence with Barrett which focused instead on the State’s likelihood of success on the merits. The stay was opposed by Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief justice John Roberts did not write or join an opinion (Brown, 2024).

This has implications for similar cases going forward. If it can be assumed that SCOTUS will intervene to narrow the applicability of any injunction to the plaintiffs alone, future healthcare bans will be very difficult to hold off through the courts.

BPJ v Board: You can’t hide, but you can run (for now)

On 16 April, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order in BPJ v West Virginia State Board of Education, blocking West Virginia from enforcing its Save Women’s Sports Act, W Va Code § 18-2-25d, as amended by HB 3293 of 2021, against the plaintiff, Becky Pepper-Jackson, a 13-year-old trans girl who is a track and field athlete. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) has, naturally, indicated the State will challenge the ban (McElhinny, 2024; Yingling, op. cit.).

DoEd: Curse your inevitable, not-at-all sudden betrayal (redux)

On 19 April, the US Department of Education released the final version of Regulation 1870-AA16, Nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. As expected, per previous coverage in SP Weekly, the regulation does not include protections for trans athletes.

WaPo openly platforming the hydra now

On 18 April, The Washington Post published an opinion article, “A new report roils the debate on youth gender care,” by Paul Garcia-Ryan (2024). While I won’t dissect the article here, its publication is, in my opinion, independently newsworthy for SP Press readers. This is because of what it reflects.

Garcia-Ryan is an ideologically motivated detransfem activist who heads up Therapy First, formerly known as the Gender Exploratory Therapy Association (GETA). Therapy First is part of what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the “pseudoscience network” (Lamore et al., 2023) the unacknowledged anti-trans hydra whose currently most prominent heads include Genspect and the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine. Like its sisters, Therapy First promotes gender exploratory therapy, which, as Canadian jurist and expert Florence Ashley has pointed out, is literally just anti-trans conversion therapy (Ashley, 2022).

If I recall correctly, last time WaPo published a major anti-trans op-ed, they had to filter it through Laura Edwards-Leeper and Erica Anderson, who have frankly always been at least ideologically SEGM-adjacent but had the credibility of being part of the WPATH establishment. The fact that WaPo are now openly running a conversion therapist — even advertising the group he’s affiliated with at the top of the article — seems like a deeply concerning development.

California

Calexico recalls its whipping girl

The Hotel de Anza, in Calexico, California, United States, in December 2007. Photo by Omar Bárcena on Flickr.

On 16 April, the City of Calexico, Imperial County, held a recall election. Mayor Raúl Ureña and Councilmember Gilberto Manzanarez were recalled. Turnout for the recall was 23%.

Ureña, who came out as transfeminine after she was sworn in as mayor, told the Los Angeles Times she believed the recall was motivated by transphobia. Manzanarez said he thought Calexico’s political establishment scapegoated him and Ureña for existing systematic problems Recall organisers told the LA Times that the recall was primarily sparked by what the Times described as “concerns about rising homeless numbers and lagging economic development” (Branson-Potts, 2024).

Based on the Times‘ coverage and Equality California’s strident response (Equality California, 2024), I’m inclined to think Ureña and Manzanarez’s analyses are closer to the truth. This is not necessarily a judgment on the people of Calexico; with 23% turnout, it’s hard to treat the recall as representative. However, Ureña had already won one election a month after the publication of the audit which revealed the issues for which she was nominally recalled. She subsequently came out as trans and was served with recall papers two months later. Until I receive new information to the contrary, the causality here seems to me to be pretty clear.

Idaho

HB 421, 538: The machine demands blood

On 9 April, Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) signed 2 bills into law, HB 421 and HB 538.

HB 421 defines “sex” as being determined for all purposes of Idaho code exclusively by the type of gamete that is, was, will be, or “but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, would” be produced by an individual’s reproductive system.

HB 538 inserts a new section into Idaho Code, § 67-5909B, which provides that:

  • employees of the state of Idaho, including employees working in public educational institutions, as well as students in those institutions, may not be compelled by any means to refer to trans people, including trans kids where applicable, by the correct name or pronouns;
  • state employees may not refer to trans kids who are school students by the correct name or pronouns without written permission from a parent or guardian;
  • any person who is “harmed” for “violating the provisions of this section” will have a private cause of action, with a statute of limitations of 2 years.

Both measures commence 1 July 2024.

Kansas

Kelly delays FACT Act, lets state KOSA through to keeper

The Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Photo by Megan Burns on Unsplash.

On 12 April, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) actioned a number of bills passed by the Kansas Legislature.

Kelly vetoed SB 233, the Forbidding Abusive Child Transitions Act, which if adopted would have provided that:

  • any recipient of state funds may not use such funds to provide gender-affirming care, including social transition, for people under 18, or to “promote or advocate” the provision of such care, nor shall any “state property, facility or building” be used for such provision, promotion, or advocacy of care;
  • healthcare providers may not knowingly provide gender-affirming care to people under 18 in Kansas except to the extent required to withdraw care completely by 31 December 2024, on penalty of revocation of licensure;
  • if a provider administers gender-affirming care to a child who later experiences “any physical, psychological, emotional or physiological harm” as a result, that child can sue up to the day they turn 28;
  • professional liability insurers for healthcare providers shall not cover damages related to the provision of gender-affirming care;
  • the Kansas Program of Medical Assistance (“Kansas Medicaid”) shall not cover gender-affirming care for people under 18.

However, the bill has a notional veto-proof majority. Its failure to pass by a veto-proof majority on this occasion is because 2 Republican legislators who had previously voted in favour of the bill were absent.

In addition, Kelly did not veto SB 394, which provides that websites which serve content “harmful to minors” must require Kansas residents to provide ID verification. The definition of “harmful to minors” is as provided for in Kan Stat Ann § 21-6402, which includes “acts of … homosexuality”.

Maine

LD 227: Maine passes trans shield law, Republicans predictably object

On 12 April, the Maine State Legislature approved Legislative Document (LD) 227, which is a shield law for gender-affirming care and abortion: it bars Maine law enforcement agencies from co-operating in investigations of gender-affirming care or abortion services provided legally in Maine carried out by states where those healthcare services are not legal.

The bill has already been opposed by the Republican attorneys general of Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. In a letter (Skrmetti et al., 2024) to Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) and several other officers of the Maine executive, they claim LD 227:

  • embodies “unique constitutional transgressions” — more specifically that it violates the Constitution of the United States art IV § 1, the Full Faith and Credit Clause;
  • “seeks to contravene the lawful policy choices of our States’ citizens by imposing on the rest of the country” — ! — “Maine’s views on hotly-debated issues”;
  • is a “novel effort at state-sanctioned culture war litigation tourism” and an “ill-considered attempt to influence and intimidate officials in other States”;
  • “could … trigger a rapid tit-for-tat escalation that tears apart our Republic”.

The letter ends with a promise to “vigorously avail ourselves of every recourse our Constitution provides,” which is facially a threat to pursue litigation, but, given the place of “constitutional rights” in American right-wing discourse (Franke, 2023), likely also a plausibly deniable threat of violence.

Maryland

Heads up: Arrested potential shooter possibly rotten egg

On 17 April, the Montgomery County Department of Police arrested and charged an 18-year-old with threats of mass violence (Montgomery County Department of Police, 2024). The arrestee appears to be transmasc, so this may or may not snowball into a larger story.

Montana

Kalarchik v Montana: Stop breaking the Constitution, assholes

The Montana State Capitol in Helena. The First Judicial District Court is also located in Helena, but that’s way harder to find pictures of so you get this instead. Photo by eric diaz on Unsplash.

On 18 April, in the Montana state First Judicial District Court, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana filed suit (Kalarchik v Montana) on behalf of 2 plaintiffs, both trans women, against the State of Montana.

The filing is concerned with 2 particulars of Montana law:

The plaintiffs, Jessica Kalarchik and “Jane Doe,” attest having faced harassment and discrimination as a result of the direct and indirect effects of SB 458 and the 2022 Rule. They claim that the two together constitute unlawful discrimination in violation of the Constitution of the State of Montana, in particular the following sections of Article II:

  • § 4, the equal protection clause;
  • § 7, the free expression clause, which must also be interpreted to bar compelled speech per SCOTUS’ ruling in Wooley v Maynard (1977);
  • § 10, the constitutional right to privacy.

They are seeking:

  • declaratory relief utilising Montana Administrative Procedure Act powers to invalidate MAR 37.3.811(5) and invalidate the use of SB 458 as described in the filing;
  • injunctive relief preventing the State from enforcing any of the invalidated particulars, or any new superficially different particulars intended to get around them;
  • class action certification.

Ohio

Moe v Yost: SAFE Act enjoined, too unsafe

A flag reading “Ohio Against the World” flying at an unkonwn large crowd event. Photo by Dana Lewin on Unsplash.

Previous: SP Weekly #5.36.

On 16 April, the Ohio state Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County issued an order in Moe v Yost blocking enforcement of Ohio Rev Code sections enacted by HB 68 of 2024 (WKRC, 2024).

Per previous coverage, the action is being brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on behalf of two young trans girls, “Madeline Moe” and “Grace Goe”. While the point of the action is obviously to get rid of the law, the specific argument in this case is that HB 68, the Saving Adolescents From Experimentation Act and Save Women’s Sports Act, violates the Constitution of the State of Ohio, specifically the single-subject rule, which stipulates that laws must concern themselves only with a single subject.

Oklahoma

OSAC feels threatened by trans boxers

In undated news reported 18 April by KOKH, the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission has warned All Elite Wrestling not to hold measures between cis and trans competitors of the same gender in the state again. The warning is based on OSAC’s rule against intergender matches, which is intentionally drafted to falsely classify matches between a cis and a trans athlete of the same gender as “intergender” (Wilson & Chasanov, 2024).

Tennessee

Hammond v Nashville: Judicial Watch says “fuck them kids”

On 16 April, the Tennessee state Chancery Court for Davidson County heard Hammond v Nashville. The action was filed by Judicial Watch, a right-wing activist litigant group, against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Judicial Watch seeks to compel the Metropolitan Government to release documentation, allegedly including a manifesto, seized from the estate of the 2023 Covenant School shooter. The shooting is of interest to fascists because the culprit was a trans man.

While the Metropolitan Government’s own attitude to defending the case seems fairly ambivalent, intervenors the Covenant School and the Covenant Presbyterian Church argue the documents should not be released because they have the potential to “trigger more hatred and violence toward children and Christians,” as The Daily Wire put it (Lindquist & LeMahieu, 2024).

Virginia

Powhatan School District adopts 2023 Model Policies

On 17 April, the Powhatan School District adopted the Virginia Department of Education’s 2023 Model policies on ensuring privacy, dignity, and respect for all students and parents in Virginia Public Schools (Davis, 2024). The 2023 Model Policies, which are framed around “parental rights,” enforce anti-trans bathroom use provisions, and stipulate that school staff may only use correct pronouns for trans students if their parents provide written permission.


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