Tag Archives: transition

ACLU files Freedom of Information request for Trump documents

The American Civil Liberties Union has taken legal action seeking documents on conflicts of interest and violations of the Constitution and federal law posed by Donald Trump and his family’s business interests.

The organization also released a plan laying out how it intends to challenge other Trump policies and protect the Constitution.

The efforts are made possible by the organization’s new Constitution Defense Fund, which was established following the election.

The first legal action, filed yesterday, is a Freedom of Information Act request asking several government agencies to turn over all documents relating to President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest to his business and family connections.

The request seeks legal opinions, memoranda, advisories, and communications from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of Government Ethics, the General Services Administration, and the office of Personnel Management from Nov. 9, 2016, to Jan. 20, 2017. The request includes email and all other communication to and from the presidential transition team.

“We are bringing this first legal action using the Freedom of Information Act to underscore the fact that President Trump is not above the law. Trump took the oath, but he didn’t take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family’s business interests comply with the Constitution and other federal statutes,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Freedom of information requests are our democracy’s X-ray, and they will be vitally important to expose and curb the abuses of a president who believes the rules don’t apply to him and his family. We also know that more legal action will be needed when the new administration attempts to enact some of their unconstitutional proposals. The ACLU’s charge, laid out in our Seven-Point Plan, is to stand ready to confront any unconstitutional elements of the administration’s agenda — today on day one and for the next four years.”

The ACLU’s plan details potential legal challenges to the Trump administration’s enacting of unconstitutional policies, including:

• Demanding government accountability and transparency
• Protecting the rights of immigrants
• Defending reproductive rights
• Securing the First Amendment
• Advancing LGBT rights
• Defend core civil rights and civil liberties from erosion
• Mobilizing Americans to defend our Constitution

Over the next four years, the ACLU will implement its plan by adding up to 100 full-time employees across the country, paid for by its Constitution Defense Fund, which has attracted nearly 400,000 donations since Election Day.

The FOIA request https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/trump_conflicts_foia_request.pdf

Uber, SpaceX, Tesla, PepsiCo execs join Trump team

Elon Musk, the chairman and chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, as well as Uber Technologies CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick and PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi have joined President-elect Donald Trump’s advisory council.

Trump’s transition team announced the development on Wednesday.

The group, which includes numerous other top business leaders, aims to give industry input on the private sector to Trump, according to the transition team.





A look at who was expected to attend a gathering of leaders of some of the largest technology companies at Trump’s New York headquarters on Wednesday.

The session was being billed as an introductory meeting.

Those expected to attend include:

* CEO Larry Page of Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company

* Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook

* Facebook Inc COO Sheryl Sandberg

* Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos

* Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk

* Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella

* Oracle Corp CEO Safra Catz

In addition, the technology news website Recode reported that Intel Corp executives were invited. An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported Palantir Technologies Inc CEO Alex Karp would also attend the meeting.

Minnesota court overturns ban on transition-related surgery

A Minnesota district court ruled this week that transgender people on the state’s Medical Assistance program deserve access to medically necessary services related to gender transition.

Since 2005, surgical treatments for gender dysphoria have been excluded from coverage even though equivalent treatments were covered under the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans.

In December 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the ACLU of Minnesota, filed a lawsuit on behalf of OutFront Minnesota and Evan Thomas, a transgender man, challenging Minnesota’s ban on coverage.

Thomas was denied coverage for transition related surgery, despite being diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

In a statement to the press released on Nov. 16, Thomas said, “I’m so happy we’ve won. The judge’s ruling is a forceful statement that transgender people deserve equal treatment under the law. Right now, when we’re suddenly facing a path that’s so much rougher than it looked a few days ago, this victory looks even more important, and I’m proud to have been part of this case. I thank the ACLU for taking it on and winning such a good ruling — it’s been a privilege to work with these wonderful, dedicated people.”

OutFront, Minnesota’s largest LGBTQ rights organization, also was a  plaintiff.

“OutFront Minnesota is delighted by this ruling, confirming what we knew all along: targeting transgender people like this is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and wrong.  Since filing this suit, we have been contacted by many individuals and families whose access to health care has been unjustly harmed. At last we can provide some hopeful news that the care they need may now be within reach,” Phil Duran, legal director of OutFront Minnesota, said in a news release.

Added Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project: “The victory will bring immediate relief to the scores of transgender people living in Minnesota being denied the medical care they need. Singling out groups of people and denying them medically necessary care for no legitimate reason is wrong and harmful. We are glad the court agreed with respecting the dignity of people.”

The case was filed in Ramsey County District Court against Emily Johnson-Piper, the commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services.


DOD removes barriers to transgender troops serving openly

The Defense Department on June 30 announced an end to the ban on transgender people serving openly in the Armed Forces.

“Today, our nation has taken another important step forward by ensuring that qualified, transgender Americans can openly serve the country they love,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. “Breaking down this barrier is a historic action for transgender service members, who will no longer be forced to serve in silence. I applaud Secretary Ash Carter for his leadership in taking this step to make our Armed Forces stronger and staying true to our American values of fairness and equality for all.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement on the last day of LGBT Pride month. He set forth a yearlong process for implementing the DOD’s plan and said “Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so.”

At a news conference, the secretary said, “Our mission is to defend this country and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission.”

By Oct. 1, transgender troops serving in the military will have access to full medical care, including surgery, and begin formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon personnel system.

In a year, Carter said the services would be prepared for transgender individuals to enlist.

The AP reported that people with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who have had reconstruction surgery, may be disqualified as military recruits unless a medical provider certifies they have been clinically stable in their gender for 18 months and are free of significant impairment. Also, transgender troops receiving hormone therapy must have been stable on their medications for 18 months.

The policy provides broad guidelines for transgender service members in active duty. They will be able to use the bathrooms, housing, uniforms and fitness standards that correspondence with their gender identity only after they have made a legal transition.

Eighteen other nations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel, allow transgender people to serve openly in their militaries.

“Today, we join in celebration with the thousands of brave transgender patriots who will now be able to serve our nation openly and with the deep respect they deserve,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “Ending this discriminatory policy not only brings long-overdue recognition to transgender service members, it also strengthens our military and our nation. Our military will now be able to recruit the very best candidates, and retain highly-trained, talented transgender service members once facing discharge for no other reason than who they are. History will remember Secretary of Defense Ash Carter for his leadership in taking this historic and necessary step forward.”

According to the Williams Institute, there are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense the largest employer of transgender people in America.

Unlike the statutory ban that interfered with lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from serving — known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — the ban on transgender military service was a policy and required only action by the DOD to update.

“Today’s victory is a tremendous one for a nation that once denied women, African-Americans, and gay and lesbian individuals the opportunity to serve,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “An integrated military, now inclusive of all LGBT service members, is not only a sound military approach but a moral imperative for our nation. This was true in 1948, when this country first allowed women and African-Americans to serve in the military; in 2011, when the ban was lifted on gay and lesbian service members; and remains true today.”

Billie Jean King: Caitlyn Jenner helps transgender tolerance

Billie Jean King says Caitlyn Jenner has given people clarity about transgender issues beyond the progress already made four decades after they shared the international sports spotlight.

“The interview … really helped people to be clear in understanding, especially about gender vs. sexuality,” the 71-year-old former tennis star told The Associated Press. She was referring to Jenner’s interview on ABC’s Diane Sawyer in April. “Everybody’s always getting very confused with that. Then they finally realized they have nothing to do with each other.”

King won the last of her 12 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 1975, a year before Jenner, now 65, earned the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete” by winning gold in the decathlon at the Montreal Olympics.

“Finally Caitlyn will be,” King said. “It’s been a long journey for Caitlyn, and I’m really happy for her.”

King occasionally traveled in the same circles with Jenner, given they were two of the most recognizable athletes in the 1970s.

King said, “We actually did a commercial together, but I don’t think they ever showed it.”

King was 29 when she defeated former professional tennis player Bobby Riggs, 55, in the famed “Battle of the Sexes” match in 1973, putting gender issues in the spotlight.

When she started the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973, King helped pros accept a transgender player in their ranks — Renee Richards, who was denied the opportunity to play as a woman in the 1976 U.S. Open.

The New York Supreme Court ruled in Richards’ favor, allowing her to join the women’s pro tour in 1977.

King said she called the players together after meeting with Richards for four hours. “I said `We’re going to have her on the tour, so get used to it.’ Some were unhappy, some were trying to figure it out. But it worked out fantastic,” King said. “The players ended up loving Renee.”

King played doubles with Richards, who reached the U.S. Open women’s doubles finals in 1977 with Betty Ann Stuart. Richards, who was also a renowned ophthalmologist, later coached Martina Navratilova and “really improved her backhand,” King said.

King marvels at how attitudes have changed since the early 1970s.

“Being educated, learning, having knowledge is so much better,” she said. “Usually things become less shame-based the more you know. An unknown is what people usually fear the most.”

Richards is still King’s eye doctor and “One of the best people I’ve ever known. She’s been a great role model.”

While Richards fought through the courts for acceptance, Jenner came out as Caitlyn via Twitter and was immediately named the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for the upcoming ESPY Awards on July 15.

King, who was outed as a lesbian in 1981, won the award for individual contributions that “transcend sports” in 1999.

“Caitlyn’s in for a whirlwind. She already has been, but it’s going to be crazy,” King said. “I think it’s really appropriate that Caitlyn’s won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.”

Vanity Fair introduces Caitlyn Jenner on cover

Vanity Fair magazine on June 1 published a 22-page cover story introducing Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner.

Speaking publicly for the first time since making her gender transition, Caitlyn Jenner compares her emotional two-day photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz for the July cover of Vanity Fair to winning the gold medal for the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics.

She tells Pulitzer Prize-winning V.F. contributing editor Buzz Bissinger, “That was a good day, but the last couple of days were better. …This shoot was about my life and who I am as a person. It’s not about the fanfare, it’s not about people cheering in the stadium, it’s not about going down the street and everybody giving you ‘that a boy, Bruce,’ pat on the back, OK. This is about your life.”

Jenner tells Bissinger about how she suffered a panic attack the day after undergoing 10-hour facial-feminization surgery on March 15 — a procedure she believed would take five hours. She recalls thinking, “What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?”

A counselor from the Los Angeles Gender Center came to the house so Jenner could talk to a professional and assured her that such reactions were often induced by pain medication, and that second-guessing was human and temporary.

Jenner tells Bissinger the thought has since passed and not come back: “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

Bissinger spent hundreds of hours with Jenner over a period of three months and also attended the photo shoot with Leibovitz at Jenner’s Malibu home.

Bissinger, in the story, apologizes to Jenner for repeated pronoun confusion and asks whether she is sensitive about it. “I don’t really get hung up,” she tells Bissinger. “A guy came in the other day and I was fully dressed — it’s just habit, I said, ‘Hi, Bruce here,’ and I went, Oh fuck, it ain’t Bruce, I was screwing up doing it.”

As part of the transition, Jenner started hosting small gatherings called “girls’ nights” with wine and food where Jenner could dress as desired and feel natural in the presence of women, and it was there that Jenner’s daughter Cassandra met Caitlyn for the first time.

“I was just nervous that I wouldn’t make her feel comfortable,” Cassandra tells Bissinger. “I was worried I wouldn’t say the right things or act the right way or seem relaxed.”

But almost all of it melted away when she got there. “We talked more than we ever have. We could just be girls together.”

Despite the renewed relationship with Jenner, the Jenner children have refused to participate in Caitlyn’s docu-series for the E! network, set to debut this summer. Initially, Caitlyn was “terribly disappointed and terribly hurt,” but has come to accept their decision. For her part, Caitlyn is prepared for the criticism that it’s a publicity stunt: “‘Oh, she’s doing a stupid reality show. She’s doing it for the money. She’s doing this, she’s doing that.’ I’m not doing it for money. I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people. If I can make a dollar, I certainly am not stupid. (I have) house payments and all that kind of stuff. I will never make an excuse for something like that. Yeah, this is a business. You don’t go out and change your gender for a television show. OK, it ain’t happening. I don’t care who you are.”

Jenner tells Bissinger that since the Diane Sawyer interview that aired on ABC “it’s exciting to go to the mailbox, because I get letters every day from all of these people from all over the world.” One of them was addressed “Bruce Jenner, Malibu, California,” as if she had become her own country.

Bissinger writes that Caitlyn seems happy and relaxed, with a sense of purpose and confidence. She can’t wait when she goes out now to tell the paparazzi to “make sure it’s a good shot,” instead of asking patrons to help shield her from them in the parking lot of the local Starbucks. She looks forward to more girls’ nights “where everybody is treating you the same way. You can talk about anything you want to talk about. You can talk about outfits. You can talk about hair and makeup, anything you want. It becomes not a big deal.” She says that on the E! series she will focus on ways of lowering the rates of suicide and attempted suicide in the transgender community, among other issues.

Jenner tells Bissinger that Bruce was “always telling lies.” She even describes doing public appearances after winning the gold medal, where “underneath my suit I have a bra and panty hose and this and that and thinking to myself, They know nothing about me. …Little did they know I was totally empty inside.” Caitlyn, she says, “doesn’t have any lies.”

“I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live,” Jenner tells Bissinger. She then jokes, “I’m not doing this so I can hit it off the women’s tee,” but she does tell Bissinger that on her E! show she plans to do a segment in which she sees if she can still hit a golf ball 300 yards off the tee, even with her very ample breasts.

Also in the story, Bissinger speaks at length with Jenner’s three ex-wives (including Kris about what she knew and when she knew it); with Jenner’s 89-year-old mother, Esther, about the possible motives behind Jenner’s transition; and with Jenner about how she was moved by Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, and how she reacted to the Diane Sawyer interview.

On the Web …

To get special early access to the story and photographs before the issue hits newsstands on June 9, readers can subscribe to Vanity Fair’s digital edition on the iPhone or iPad.

Dunkin’ Donuts sets goals for eggs from cage-free hens

Dunkin’ Donuts has set goals to eventually require all eggs to come from cage-free hens and also require that its pork suppliersnot use gestation crates.

The company said it mapped its international supply chain to best understand the feasibility of transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs globally and, based on the assessment, established immediate and longer-term goals.

As an immediate step, 10 percent of all eggs sourced for Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwiches in the United States will be cage-free by the end of next year.

Also, Dunkin’ Donuts will source only gestation crate-free pork in the United States by 2022.

The company announcement was made in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States, which said Dunkin’ Brands is working with suppliers and the animal welfare group to update policies and reach the goals.

Christine Riley Miller, senior director of corporate social responsibility for Dunkin’ Brands, said in a media statement, “Dunkin’ Brands and our franchisee community care about the welfare of animals and their humane treatment. We set a goal to source 5 percent cage-free eggs by 2013, an accomplishment we are proud to have achieved. Now, working with our suppliers and The Humane Society of the United States, we are setting new commitments to help the egg and pork industries eliminate cages to demonstrate our responsibility to animal welfare and sustainable, ethical sourcing.”

At The Humane Society, senior food policy director Josh Balk, stated, “Dunkin’s commitment to improve the lives of farm animals is taking another positive step. This new policy is further testament that consumers and companies are aligned in shifting the egg and pork industries away from confining animals in cages.”

The Humane Society said the company’s commitment to animal welfare will be included in the its corporate social responsibility report, which will be released later this spring.

AMA calls for modernizing birth certificate policies

The American Medical Association this week adopted a new policy supporting the elimination of any government requirement that an individual must have undergone surgery in order to change the sex indicated on a birth certificate.

Across the country, state laws governing changes to a person’s gender on a birth certificate is granted to applicants who change their sex by “surgical procedure” and provide a court order to that effect. Only a handful of states allow corrections to gender markers on birth certificates on the basis of “clinically appropriate treatment,” as opposed to surgery, according to the AMA.

“Surgery shouldn’t be a requirement to align a person’s gender identity with their birth certificate,” said AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven. “State laws must acknowledge that the correct course of treatment for any given individual is a decision that rests with the patient and their physician.”

The AMA rejected “gender affirmation surgery” as the guiding requirement for changing birth certificates as inconsistent with current medical standards.

The new AMA policy also supports that any change of sex determination on an individual’s birth certificate must not hinder access to medically appropriate preventive care.

Medical options for transgender people include a medically appropriate combination of mental health care, social transition, hormone therapy, in addition to the option of sex reassignment surgery, the medical group agreed.

“Depending on what gender is recorded in these records, certain treatments, screening and procedures may be disallowed, despite the fact that best medical practices require adequate screening and treatment of a person, regardless of the person’s gender identity or gender transition,” said Hoven. “The AMA seeks to ensure that transgender patients always receive appropriate preventive care regardless of whether or not it matches with the gender on the birth certificate.”

The new policy was adopted at AMA annual meeting during the first business session of the House of Delegates, the primary policy-making body of the nation’s largest physician organization.

D.C. announces comprehensive health care plans for transgender citizens

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Feb. 27 announced that public and private health insurance plans regulated by the D.C. government are required to cover transition-related care.

Local activists, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Center for American Progress and D.C. officials worked on the initiative.

“This victory reaffirms growing agreement among advocates and the medical community that D.C.’s health care nondiscrimination laws require that insurance cover medically necessary transgender health care,” said Andy Bowen, NCTE policy associate.

Andrew Cray of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project added, “This policy will make D.C.’s health care programs and insurance coverage the most comprehensive in the country for the full scope of health care that transgender people need throughout their lives. But more importantly, this announcement tells transgender people in the district that their health matters.”

D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking released an advisory on Feb. 27 that said it will view “attempts by companies to limit or deny medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, to be discriminatory.”

DISB also stated, “It is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit…”

Gray, in a news conference, said D.C. Medicaid and government employee plans will conform to DISB’s explanation of D.C. law.

“The insurance bulletin means so much to transgender people,” said Mara Keisling, NCTE’s executive director. “It means health care is affordable and means we can access that care without delay or limitation. Here in the nation’s capital, transgender people won’t be forced to choose between paying the bills or paying for health care.”

Other partners in the campaign included the D.C. Trans Coalition, Casa Ruby, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Whitman Walker Health and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.

The announcement follows similar policies in California, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado and Connecticut.

Visuals elevate trans epic ‘Laurence Anyways”

“Laurence Anyways” is an urban transgender epic set at the dawn of the new millennium and directed by Xavier Dolan, whose previous works include must-sees “I Killed My Mother” and “Heartbeats.”

The story centers around a pair of star-crossed outcasts – Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and Frederique aka Fred (Suzanne Clément, who steals every scene in which she appears).

We learn about the couple’s relationship during a mostly off-screen 1999 interview between Laurence and a journalist (Susie Almgren). Laurence and Fred “meet cute” on a movie set where Fred works in the late 1980s. Laurence is a college lit professor and writer. In fact, Laurence wins a prestigious literary award in his mid-30s.

The couple have an offbeat relationship that includes clubbing and quirky shenanigans in drive-thru car washes. But Laurence tells Fred he’s “dying” because he wants to become the woman he was born to be.

Thus begins Laurence and Fred’s transgender journey.

The people in Laurence’s immediate circle, including Fred, Laurence’s mother Julienne (Nathalie Baye) and her colleagues on the faculty all support her in their own ways. Fred, for instance, buys Laurence a wig. But shortly after she begins coming to class in women’s clothing, she’s fired. 

Fortunately for Laurence, she finds an extended community in the Pink Club gang, a group of people more marginalized than either she or Fred. While this is happening, however, Fred loses her grip. Perhaps the film’s most riveting moment is a scene in which Fred comes to Laurence’s defense against an obnoxious waitress.

But it’s not long afterward that Fred realizes the futility of their relationship and ventures out to reclaim her identity. She begins by making a Cinderella-like entrance at a ball, where she meets Albert (David Savard). Fred soon moves out of the home she shares with Laurence and ends up married to Albert.

But Laurence can’t leave well enough alone. Even though she moves in with Charlotte (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau), she remains obsessed with Fred and tries winning her back, with emotionally shattering results.

In addition to inventive and effective storytelling, Dolan also gives the viewer something stunning to watch. His expert use of lighting and other visual effects elevate the film to an artistic level. The performances, especially Clément’s, are fantastic.