Archive for the ‘reproductive justice’ Category
This video is a speech given by Katherine Cross (who blogs here occasionally and often at Nuclear Unicorn and The Border House) of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project on the topic of liberation, reproductive freedom, and the impact on trans people:
As usual, I cannot easily transcribe videos. If someone would like to, or point me to a transcription, I will be extremely grateful.
Transcript provided by TAL9000:
Video opens on a text screen, reading “from Abortion Rights to Social Justice, Building the Movement for reproductive freedom 26th annual conference CLPP & PopDev, Hampshire College, April 13-15.”
(fades in to Ms. Cross standing behind a lectern adjusting the microphone. On-screen text: Katherine Cross, Sylvia Rivera Law Project)
Audience: “Hi! Hi! Hey!” (from various people)
“So. Just what is a right? You see, there is something about rights, those things we keep fighting and dying for, those amorphous evanescent phantoms of liberty that keep us striving toward the infinite horizon of change. Rights are what movements like ours are built on. And so what are they? The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income trans people and trans people of color in New York City, has a rather novel idea of what rights are.”
“We believe that a right is something that you can touch. Can taste. Can live and breathe. It is something tactile, material, with a size and shape that is known and something that is more than a phantom of a whisper of a thought on parchment, a right is the recognition of your humanity.”
(applause from the audience. Katherine pauses)
“For SRLP, this has meant one thing. Rights require justice in order to be exercised. In order to be something more than theoretical. If a woman has a right to reproductive choice, but cannot afford it, then for all practical intents and purposes she has no right to reproductive choice. That is reality, and it is reality that the Sylvia Rivera Law Project has attended to. Human dignity requires material conditions, it requires economic justice, and it requires the power that knowledge brings. There is a reason that Know Your Rights brochures are our most popular offerings. Unknown rights are no rights at all.”
(Brief pause for applause)
“We see in all of our fellow sisters, brothers, and siblings a member of a wider human family that has been denied that humanity. At Sylvia Rivera, we take the cases few others will. We take the cases that strive for humanity where prejudice and petty hatred has most forgotten it, because their rights matter and because we count”
“What are these rights, however, that I keep talking about in the airy abstract? The rights of transgender people of color. Of low-income trans people. Of immigrant trans people. Of trans women who society has forgotten. My sisters. Sex workers. Our incarcerated family members. We make humankind our business. A humankind that is holistic, that forgets no one, that celebrates the love and joy of humanity within us all, that elevates our art, our poetry, our struggles, and our quotidian joys in the midst of an oppressive society where patriarchy pushes down. From the smallest name change case to the largest Appellate Court case on access to medicaid, we are there, fighting for rights that are real.”
“A right on paper is no right at all. A right that is coupled with economic liberty, however, a right that comes with the material resources needed to access it, is a right that can be exercised. A right that is known, that is understood, can be struggled for and it can be won. That is why we at Sylvia Rivera have struggled against the doubts, the fears, the worries and the hand-wringing that attend a law project’s work and seem to only promise death by a thousand cuts. We have fought through these doubts because we know that our clients are more than clients. They are sisters, brothers, and siblings, they come from the communities that we serve and that we are a part of, that we know, they live and breathe with us too, and they are artists, poets, lawyers, teachers, and activists. There is no bright red line between activists and clients, lawyers and plaintiffs, service providers and the served.”
“Whither the link to reproductive justice, however? If a trans woman cannot legally change her name, she loses access to the rights that she supposedly has. The name she has given her own body is not recognized by authorities that then wield the structural power over her to name her as they wish and not as she wishes. If a trans woman must be sterilized before she can legally change her gender, where are her reproductive rights? If she is considered an unfit parent purely by dint of her being trans, where are her reproductive rights? If a genderqueer person who is undocumented finds themselves at the mercy of the INS or other institutions that continually discriminate against undocumented and immigrants in this country, where are their reproductive rights? How can a sex worker who is transgender access health services without enormous risk simply because of their profession and their gender? Where are their reproductive rights?”
“All of these people are united in seeing their bodies policed by authorities that think they know how to manage our lives better than we do. Sound familiar? Just as the Hyde Amendment ensures that Roe v Wade is merely theoretical for millions of American women, so too does heteropatriarchy more generally ensure that trans people’s bodies are not our own. I share with my cisgender sisters the painful fact that my body is public property, and that my rights are contingent on that fact. Sylvia Rivera, the namesake of our organization, said enough is enough. We, as a collective, continue that cry.”
“Liberation is a collective process, goes our popular slogan. What that means is that none of us wins unless everybody wins. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Citizenship realizes its promise only when humanity is universally recognized and is not contingent on gender, skin color, or national origin. Equality is not just a word. It is not a soundbite. It is no benighted slogan. It is a truth, a thing with substance, with real dimensions, that can be felt, and that can be lived. Transgender people cannot live their lives without a measure of reproductive justice, and reproductive justice cannot exist in a world where trans people’s bodies are not our own. When we fight for the right to name ourselves we are fighting for the right to control our bodies and our existence. When we fight for healthcare access, we are fighting for our bodies and the right to live. When we fight prison injustice, we are fighting against an oppression that criminalizes us for existing. When we fight, we share the cause of reproductive justice. Our bodies, our choices.”
(Applause continues as she concludes) “Thank you very much for sharing this space with me”
(Fade out to a similar screen to the opening one. The url clpp.hampshire.edu/conference is shown on it)
This is the right wing political movement in the United States today:
A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.
Jensen did not return calls to his home or his office requesting comment on the bill, which is cosponsored by 22 other state representatives and four state senators. UPDATE: Jensen spoke to Mother Jones on Tuesday morning, after this story was published. He says that he disagrees with this interpretation of the bill. “This simply is to bring consistency to South Dakota statute as it relates to justifiable homicide,” said Jensen in an interview, repeating an argument he made in the committee hearing on the bill last week. “If you look at the code, these codes are dealing with illegal acts. Now, abortion is a legal act. So this has got nothing to do with abortion.” Jensen also aggressively defended the bill in an interview with theWashington Post‘s Greg Sargent on Tuesday morning. We have more on Jensen’s position here.
“The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers. Since 1993, eight doctors have been assassinated at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, and another 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes have tried to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials. “This is not an abstract bill,” Saporta says. The measure could have major implications if a “misguided extremist invokes this ‘self-defense’ statute to justify the murder of a doctor, nurse or volunteer,” the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families warned in a message to supporters last week.
I don’t know if this is the actual logical outcome of that bill, but the wording does strike me as leading and suspicious.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the longtime leader of efforts to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s funding that goes towards women’s health programs, has released a statement saying that the videos produced by Lila Rose’s radical group Live Action should push Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. The Religious Right has consistently tried to demonize Planned Parenthood in order to strip the organization of its federal funding, and Live Action’s videos have encouraged anti-choice groups to step-up their activities. While Planned Parenthood notified the FBI of a possible sex trafficking ring promptly after members of Live Action tried to scam clinic workers, anti-choice leaders embraced the discredited videos anyway. Pence is now calling on Congress to pass his legislation that would end federal funding of Planned Parenthood:
The recent release of an undercover video exposing duplicity and potential criminality by an employee of Planned Parenthood is an outrage.
Every American should be shocked that an employee of the largest recipient of federal funds under Title X has been recorded aiding and abetting underage sex trafficking.
The time to deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood is now. In the wake of yet another scandal involving Planned Parenthood, I urge Congress to move the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act to the floor for immediate consideration.
This is it. Right now, Congress is considering a provision to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers.
This is truly an emergency for Planned Parenthood and women’s health. Call now and tell your U.S. representative to vote NO.
Anti-choice leaders in the House are forcing a vote that would deny Planned Parenthood health centers every dime of federal funding.Without this funding, many people would lose access to their only source of basic health care.
We need you to act now by calling your representative. Click here to be connected, or just dial 202-730-9001 and tell your representative to vote NO on any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
Critical public health programs including Title X provide funding for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care for those who can’t otherwise afford it — and all of this funding is in danger. For many women, Planned Parenthood clinics are theonly source for these services.
The consequences of passing this bill are clear — and they would be devastating. More women would have unintended pregnancies. Cancer would develop, undiagnosed, in countless women. There is no doubt: cutting off millions of women from care they have no other way to afford places them at risk of sickness and death.
That’s exactly what Congress is voting on this week. It’s up to us to tell them NO. It’s up to us to protect local health centers and the people who rely on them every day. It’s up to us to make it clear that we will not stand for these outrageous attacks on Planned Parenthood or any effort to undermine access to lifesaving care. Speak out now — demand that your U.S. representative vote NO.
Thank you for standing with us and helping to protect Planned Parenthood and the women, men, and teens our health centers serve.
Sarah Jaffe has started a series of posts at Alternet profiling the Democrats sponsoring the appalling HR3 and HR358 bills:
And the thing is, the DCCC and other organizations are blaming this on Republicans. But just like the Stupak-Pitts amendment to healthcare reform, this bill comes to us as a special gift from some Democrats, too. Ten of them cosponsor H.R. 3 and did so even with rape-redefining language; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women [people with uteruses] die.
Of particular interest (follow the money, always) is this paragraph:
The DCCC spent $231,112.63 on Shuler’s reelection this year in North Carolina’s 11th district. The Blue Dog PAC also kicked in $30,000, and Shuler’s largest individual donor was a company called Phillips & Jordan, to the tune of $56,150. (They contribute mostly to Republicans, but Shuler was by far the biggest recipient of their largesse–hmmm. They appear to get quite a few federal contracts, mostly for demolishing things in New Orleans post-Katrina. I’m not even going to get STARTED on that.)
Sarah links a post from Michael Whitney at Firedoglake, who notes that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Comittee (the DCCC, the “party apparatus whose sole purpose is to elect Dems to the House”) has funded the HR3 Ten to the tune of a total $3.3 million. Funding anti-choice politicians intent on removing rape, incest and health exemptions? Fuck no.
The left in this country does not have a Congressional majority. What it can have, and should have, is a united front on choice, which includes rejecting and condemning Democrats who cross party lines to create or pass legislation that violently harms pregnant people. If we have reached the point that Democratic politicians are going to start killing their supporters, then we have reached the point of no return. Aside from the fact that we deserve to live even if we have risky pregnancies, we are their base; it’s time they treated us that way. We can go back to the old ways: We can march, we can call, we can get right in their faces until they are too scared to act as if we don’t exist when they make our votes.
It’s what we did last time they were killing us. It’s what we have to do again.
By way of an update on my previous post about two trans men in Western Australia who won the right to change the sex marker on their birth certificates without having had hysterectomies, a decision which was then overturned by the state Attorney-General, ABC News today reports that the men will now appeal against the Attorney-General’s decision in the High Court:
The state’s Attorney General appealed against the decision, arguing it could mean a person could be legally male but still bear children.
The Court of Appeal said fertility would not prevent them being considered men but they were precluded because they did not have male genitals.
One of the appellants, who can be identified only as AH, says he’s not happy with the court’s decision.
“It seems to be this cosmetic assessment, how do people physically present in the world.”
“The two judges who’ve upheld the State’s appeal have decided that your external, physical presentation (including your genitals) is incredibly important to whether you’re male or female.”
AH says the decision means the only way for transgenders to be considered male is genital surgery which can cost up to $100,000.
“It’s surgery that has a pretty poor surgical result for a huge amount of money and a big chunk of your life missing,” he said.
“Very expensive, very dangerous and not actually available in Australia so they’ve come up with a decision that sets the bar so high that I’m not sure that any trans-men in Australia are actually able to achieve it.”
“The reality is that it’s just not feasible.”
Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Christian Porter, continues to hold to an astonishingly unenlightened essentialist justification for his decision: he says that a person cannot be considered male if they have functioning internal and external female reproductive organs.
For AH, though, it’s an administrative nightmare – “I end up with this really mixed-bag of documentation.“:
“Some of my documents, such as my passport, say that I’m male. My birth certificate currently says I’m female. I suspect that if myself and another man turned up to get married, the response would be “no, no, no, you can’t do that.”
“It just creates all of these bizarre inconsistencies and you end up spending half your life in court or in conciliation meetings or mediation meetings trying to decide whether for the purposes of this particular activity or this particular document, am I male or female?”
AH goes on to point out another crucial aspect of this confusion: he says that without legal recognition, transgender people are not protected by anti-discrimination laws.
“If, for example, my employer found out that I had a trans-history, and my employer decided that they didn’t like the fact of my trans-history and they wanted to fire me, they could and that would be legal, I don’t have any protection.”
AH and his fellow appellant are confident that the appeal will succeed because of the inconsistencies of the state’s arguments:
“We’ve now had two rulings, from the State Administrative Tribunal and the Supreme Court saying that the issues of hysterectomies and fertility shouldn’t be an issue, so that, I think, has been pretty conclusively put to bed.”
“Now there’s this issue of whether trans-men should have to have surgery on their genitals.”
“It seems to me a bit farcical to have a law that is supposedly able to help people to amend their documentation, but that actually is impossible for anyone to meet.”
Further to Queen Emily’s post last November about two trans men in Western Australia who won the right to change the sex marker on their birth certificates without having had hysterectomies, it seems that their battle isn’t over yet. Via ABC News:
However, the state Attorney-General appealed the decision, arguing it could have unforseen effects on WA law because it would mean a person could be legally male and yet still bear children.
Now in a majority decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the Attorney-General’s challenge, ruling that because the two people still had all the reproductive characteristics of a woman, they would not be identified according to community standards as members of the male gender.
How is this not biological determinism – essentialism – being enshrined in law? The Court of Appeal seems to be using one of the oldest tropes against these two men despite the medical profession’s recognition half-a-century or more ago that sex and gender are different (if related) things.
To my mind, the fundamental, underlying issue is the social/cultural pressure on each and every one of us to conform to binary “norms” of sex and gender which are used as big sticks with which to beat anyone who falls outside of those narrow and inaccurate categories. Fixing that problem, though, requires a paradigm shift in attitudes of mainstream society and until/unless that happens, then I fear these injustices, these breaches of human rights, will continue unchecked and uncontrolled.
Cross posted at Hoyden About Town
Two and a half weeks ago, two trans men from Western Australia won the right to change the sex marker on their birth certificates without their having had hysterectomies. Though this may seem rather minor to the average cis person, the ruling by the Western Australian State Admin Tribunal was an important victory for transsexual and transgender rights in Western Australia, moving document change away from the usual expensive and painful genital surgery. Yesterday, however, the West Australian Attorney General Christian Porter announced that the State would be appealing the decision.
Why, you might ask? What is so important, so pressing, such a grave injustice that the WA Attorney General’s office would use taxpayers money to continue to fight a case they’ve only just recently lost? The scary transsexual men might breed. Of course.
After former West Australian attorney-general Jim McGinty decided to challenge the case in the tribunal, the state will argue that the possibility of pregnancy exists.
“The ability to bear children is plainly not a gender characteristic of a male,” George Tannin SC said in the State’s submission to the appeal.
“The retention of such an ability must necessarily result in the applicant not possessing the gender characteristics of a male.”
That’s right. It’s not whether they currently can bear children – because both are on testosterone and cannot – but the possibility that they might. One day. Maybe. Both men testified that they intended to take testosterone for the rest of their lives, but that apparently doesn’t suffice for the Attorney General’s office. What cannot be abided is the mere thought of a Thomas Beattie, of trans people having power over our own reproductive capacities.
Even the judgment of the tribunal victory for the two men two weeks ago makes clear that the document change was conditional on their infertility:
“Both applicants had undergone bilateral mastectomies and testosterone treatment as a result of which each had undergone extensive physical changes consistent with being male,” the tribunal said in its finding.
” … the tribunal accepted the evidence of each applicant that he intended to continue testosterone treatment for the rest of his life.
“It accepted the medical evidence that each was, and would remain, infertile for as long as he continued testosterone treatment”.
Now, the West Australian rules are inconsistent on this front with regard to trans women—our permanent sterility from estrogen counts for precisely nothing, legally speaking. This would have, I hope, given trans women a lever into another test case with non SRS based criteria. But no, first this case needs to be appealed again.
Also important to note is that this represents one half of heteronormativity—the clear exertions of the State to try to keep trans people from contaminating heterosexual reproduction with our. The other is the fact that trans people who marry pre-SRS cannot change their birth certificate either. The ostensible reason is that with the Federal ban on same-sex marriages, the State would be creating them. However, the Federal government in July suggested it would accept same-sex marriages with one transsexual partner. The point is then, that it is the West Australian State (the Gender Reassignment Board) that is working hardest, trying to “protect” the heterosexual institutions of marriage and childbirth from trans people.
So what if there’s the unlikely event that one or both of these guys has a baby sometime? So what? They and all the rest of us deserve the right to the correct documentation. But I know, I know, I’m living in Magic Fairy Land, where populations don’t need to be sterilised in order to not be put at risk for discrimination and violence. Back in the real world, apparently it does seem like quite a threat to the State.
Apparently moral panics about the Northern Territory in Australia didn’t go out of style with the Howard government. The Northern Territory government has decided to make it mandatory for everyone to report underage sexual activity, and anyone having sex with a minor can be charged for –even another minor (that’s right, two minors could be found guilty of abusing each other).
This law has mostly been directed at doctors and health care workers, and it is there that we’ll see much of the results. From the ABC:
Until now, NT laws were similar to what operates in the other states; it was mandatory to report suspected child sexual abuse.
But now health workers must report sexual activity among under-16s to a team that includes police and staff in the Territory’s department of health and families.
Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to around $20,000. And it is not just doctors who will have to report.
“This applies to everybody,” Dr Bauert said. “Parents, brothers and sisters, mates.”
The legislation has been in place for months but it was only late last week that the Northern Territory Health Department told staff to comply.
They were told to report anyone under 16 who is sexually active, even if that person’s sexual partner is also under 16 or of the same age, and regardless of consent.
“Any person who has sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16 is guilty of a crime and liable to imprisonment for 16 years,” Dr Bauert said.
“There’s no age defence, so if the person who was having sex with somebody under the age of 16 is 15, that is no defence.
“We are going to have young people not prepared to come seeking help in terms of contraception advice; they won’t be coming seeking advice in early pregnancy, if themselves or their partner are likely to be charged with a crime.”
Dr Bauert says patients will also think twice before seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Though it lacks the specificity of the “intervention” targeted at indigenous communities (cos nothing helps health issues like sending in the army), this law is clearly targeted at indigenous teenagers, and given the already existing difficulty for indigenous people accessing proper health care in the NT, is only likely to make things much, much worse. Because why on earth would a teenager go to the doctor for contraception advice knowing that their partner would get locked up as a result? A substantial amount of teenagers are likely to have sex no matter what, all this does is make the chances of their having unsafe sex that much higher–and as with anything sex-related, girls are going to get the worse of it.
This is not a preventative law, it is punitive and it is aimed at policing indigenous teenagers’ sexuality. Not only that, it will be counter-productive and utterly pointless.
via cheshire bitten
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association has been sending out policy action alerts about new regulations proposed by the Bush administration that would greatly expand the range of health care that providers can choose to deny patients, based on the providers’ “conscience” or “moral beliefs.”
As someone who has personally been told by doctors’ offices, “we don’t treat people like you,” this rings a warning-bell I must share.
While the NFPRHA very clearly points out that these proposed regulations would gravely impact women’s access to reproductive health care options and full access to comprehensive sex education, there is also a threat to much-needed health-care for already-marginalized communities of people with very real health-care needs… whether they be minorities of religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Tell Health and Human Services that you oppose these regulations, and express your concerns about the significant impact these rules could have on access to family planning, and other health services for women and men. Just send your thoughts and comments via email to email@example.com and make sure that all submitted comments refer to “Provider Conscience Regulation” in the subject line. Full instructions for comment submission can be found in the Aug. 26 Federal Register (pdf).
The comment period for the recently proposed HHS regulations ends at 11:59 PM this Thursday, September 25, so be sure you make your opposition known to the administration. The ability of health care centers in your community to provide counseling, comprehensive sex education, contraception and preventive health services is at risk.
I’m so late on this, but everyone who reads this who hasn’t done anything go now and submit a comment opposing this. This rule will not just affect reproductive medicine, but will also extend to anything that a medical professional objects to. Like FlufftheBunny, I’ve been refused medical care (and even had a clinic drop an insurance carrier to get away from me – they didn’t know that going on the state plan meant they’d have to deal with trannies) just for being trans, and so I already know how arbitrary this can be.
So go make it count. I think there’s 8-11 hours from the time of this post.