5 March 2021

Trans rights: a major issue in American politics

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The American Democratic Party is torn apart by the affaire Andrew Cuomogovernor of the state of New York accused of harassment by three women, and other major issues such as the diatribe between the moderates and the left wing Sanders on not raising the minimum wage. But rhe is united on the issue of transgender rights to which Joe Biden has been devoting extraordinary attention since the very first hours of his term in office.to the point of threatening sanctions against countries that do not respect them. Paradigmatic is the question of women's sports opening up to transwomenphysically much more imposing (significantly, at the moment, there is no evidence to the contrary, i.e. of transmen wanting to go and hurt themselves in men's competitions). So after the 'toilet war' at the time of the Obama administration, The T issue is once again a major political issue in the United States, with the rejuvenated conservatives in this battlefield, female athletes forced to mobilise to save their sports, American citizens forced to pretend that they are the only that there is nothing strange about an 80 kg, 1.80 metre tall T-woman competing with a woman of much lesser size, the sports commentators forced to avoid the subject in order not to lapse into the grotesque. And Kamala Harris who is - bizarrely - silent.

Here is an article from Washington Post

On his first day, President Biden signed an executive order increasing protections for transgender students. On the sixth day, he revoked the rule that prevented transgender people from joining the army. On the sixteenth day, he threatened sanctions against countries that suppress the rights of transgender people.
And on the 37th day, his nominee for assistant secretary of health went to a confirmation hearing to become the first openly transgender federal official officially approved by the US Senate.
Biden is pursuing a wide-ranging attempt to redefine transgender rights in America; an attempt that, although it tends to go unnoticed, has triggered a conservative backlash and has fuelled Republican efforts to portray Democrats as extremists on social issues. Among other arguments, conservatives are increasingly citing the much-discussed argument that espousing transgender rights threatens women's sports.
"You can't win against men," said Janel Brandtjen, state representative of the Wisconsinwhere this week a new bill to ban transgender athletes from women's sports. "This is biology, reality. And honestly you risk ruining women's sports forever. Why should you compete if you know you cannot win?".

Diritti trans: tema di primissimo piano per la politica americana

Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign, replied that these claims are unfounded and mask other political aims.
"It's not news that in 2021 transgender people will be participating in sports consistent with their identity - this has been happening for decades," David said. "Ask yourself: why is this only an issue now? It's a problem because the anti-equality forces understand that their fallacious rhetoric no longer works. They need a target and an enemy to mobilise their base".

Conservatives express indignation, for example, at the fact that toy manufacturer Hasbro has decided to remove the title 'Mr' from its Mr. Potato Head brand, leaving it gender neutral.. Republicans criticised the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop publishing several of the author's books that contain offensive racist images.
But Biden's pressure to expand the rights of transgender people is emerging as a key shared point in a party that remains divided on a number of other issues.
Nearly half of the states have bills ready that, like Wisconsin's, would ban transgender athletes in women's sports. House legislators in Mississippi on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing women's public sports. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves, who last month criticized Biden's transgender policies, saying they would harm female athletes like his daughters.
In the Senate, the Republicans raised the issue several times during the confirmation hearings.with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) questioning Biden's nominee for health secretary, Rachel Levine, on transgender medical treatments, saying that puberty blockers can cause irrevocable changes.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) raised concerns about this with Education Secretary Biden, citing his grandchildren as an example.
"I have pictures of my eight grandchildren behind me," Romney said during a video hearing. "They shouldn't have to compete with people who are physiologically in a completely different category."
Last Sunday, the former president Donald TrumpIn his first major speech since leaving the White House, he said Biden's policies would 'annihilate' women's sports. "If this does not change, women's sports as we know them will die." Trump said. "They will end."
Conservatives do not hide the fact that insisting on women's sports is for them a more advantageous way of framing the debate.rather than discussing the right of transgender people to be treated like everyone else.
Terry Schilling, executive director of theAmerican Principles ProjectHe has long tried to build a message about transgender politics for Republican candidates. Polls over the past year, he said, suggest that Many voters - including Biden supporters and those who normally support LGBTQ rights - oppose the idea of allowing biologically male athletes to compete in women's sports.
"We found that the issue of women's sports was not only exceptionally powerful, but also had the advantage of not being exclusionary," Schilling said. "Our organisation could persuade politicians to promote it."
But transgender advocates say that in the 16 states that allow full inclusion of transgender students in high school sports, the dire warnings are not borne out by reality. "The last time I checked, women's athletics didn't disappear," said transgender advocate Gillian Branstetter.
Less than 2 per cent of high school students in the United States identify as transgender, according to data published in 2019 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Virginia Del. Danica A. Roem (D-Prince William), one of the first openly transgender elected officials in the country, said the Republicans' focus on transgender rights is a change of strategy after they failed to block same-sex marriage. "When they start losing on one front of the cultural conflict, they switch gears," he said.
The message, he added, threatens an already vulnerable group. "The more they do it the more ... what happens?" said Roem "What happens is that they exacerbate an already toxic environment for children."
Transgender rights emerged as a national issue and exponentially so in 2016, when North Carolina enacted a law restricting the use of bathrooms for transgender people. This created problems for businesses across the country, and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) boycotted North Carolina until the law was repealed.
White House officials say Biden took office determined to change the government's approach to transgender rights, maintaining the promises made during the campaign. He has been a close ally and family friend of Sarah McBride, who in November won the Delaware contest and became the country's first transgender senator.
Catherine Lhamon, deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council of the White House, said that most of Biden's initiatives were aimed at restoring rights that had previously existed.
"Rights have always existed - rights are not new," explained Lhamon, who works on racial justice and equality at the Domestic Policy Council. "We have had an administration that for four years has turned its back on some among us in a reprehensible and horrible way. This administration will not do that."
The rights of transgender people enjoy growing support, polls suggest. In a 2020 survey by the Kaiser Family FoundationHalf of US adults believe that society has not been able to sufficiently recognise the rights of trans people, while for 15% society has already done too much.
But polls indicate a partisan divide, with Democrats more likely to believe that gender can be different from biological sex. Democrats are also much more likely to allow transgender people to use a bathroom that matches their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth.
Changes in public opinion could make the issue sensitive for Republicans. A Republican strategist - who decided to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic - said that the increased acceptance of the LGBTQ community by Americans indicates that the debate about transgender people is an "effective message" only within socially conservative or religious communities. 
Republicans plan to target districts with a high density of Hispanics, especially south Florida and Texas, who have supported Trump's message of keeping America and American families safe, the strategist said.
Republican officials are convinced that an ad launched in Texas against Democratic House candidate Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian, helped sink her campaign in a largely Hispanic, border district. The ad allegedly highlighted the candidate's support for the idea that transgender soldiers could serve in the armed forces.
Republicans are also building their program to reach out to suburban women and mothers. Schilling's group is planning to focus on Democratic congresswomen who are former athletes - including Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), a college basketball and volleyball player - arguing that they would be less successful if they took on transgender women.
A coalition of LGBTQ advocates is planning to launch a campaign to counter some of the Republican rhetoric, saying that will lobby some conservative senators to pass theEquality Acta federal law protecting LGBTQ rights.
Their belief is that the Republicans' focus on women's sports is nothing more than the latest version of arguments already used - equally invalid - about same-sex marriage and transgender bathroom use. "We are really looking for the most effective ways to engage with this narrative. This narrative is simply not true. It's based on fear."
Studies on transgender athletes are limited so far and based on small and restricted samples. LGBTQ advocates and health experts say that talking about the biological advantages of transgender athletes does not take into account discrimination, trauma and other social barriers that may affect a transgender athlete's ability to compete.
Transgender advocates and paediatricians also say that the medical treatments that many young transgender people receive, including puberty blockers and hormones, can mitigate any physical disparity.
NCAA guidelines currently require at least a full year of testosterone suppression before a transgender woman is allowed to compete with other women. Those guidelines, published in 2011, noted that transgender women show a "significant physical difference, just as there is a significant natural difference in size and ability between women and non-transgender men".
Much of the current debate has focused on the drive to pass theEquality Actwhich would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed the House by 224 votes to 206, with three Republicans joining the Democrats in support. Now it's on to the Senate where, should all Democrats support it, the bill would still need 10 Republicans to pass.
During the House debate, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called the legislation "an attack on God's creation" and said that if the bill passed it would mean that "men who dress up and think they are women will have rights over all real girls and women."
Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.), whose office is next to Greene's and who has a trans daughter, has put a transgender flag outside his office, which prompted Greene to hang a poster outside his office that read: "There are TWO genders: Male and Female. Trust the science!"
The Biden administration recently withdrew from a lawsuit in Connecticut calling for transgender athletes to be banned from women's sports. The lawsuit was filed by several female athletes who claim that they would have won state titles and had other opportunities, but had to compete against two transgender sprinters. The Trump administration had signed on in support of the cause.

Matt Viser, Marianna Sotomayor and Samantha Schmidt 

(translation by Angela Tacchini). The original article here

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