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    In the News: 12.21.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Know Your Rights in 2018

    In 2017, California enacted new laws, many of which will go into effect in 2018. SB 219 enacts the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, strengthening anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals living in long-term care facilities. Among other things, SB 219 makes it unlawful to willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun or to deny admission to a long-term care facility because of gender identity or sexual orientation. Facilities are required to post a notice about the protections and to follow recordkeeping requirements. AB 1556 revises California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by deleting gender-specific personal pronouns in California’s anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, pregnancy disability and family/medical leave laws by changing “he” or “she,” for example, to “the person” or “the employee.” SB 179 will allow California residents to choose from three equally recognized gender options—female, male or nonbinary—on state-issued identification cards, birth certificates and driver’s licenses. For changes to birth certificates, the law is effective on September 1, 2018. For changes to driver’s licenses, the law is effective on January 1, 2019. The bill also makes it easier for individuals to change their gender on legal documents, effective on September 1, 2018. For information on several other laws enacted in 2017, see the document at the provided link.

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee’s Life Celebrated

    Services celebrated the life of Mayor Edwin M. Lee on Sunday, December 17, in the Rotunda of City Hall. The hall was filled to overflow for the public celebrating Mayor Lee’s life. A prelude was played by members of the San Francisco Symphony, followed by Presentation of Colors by the San Francisco Public Safety Color Guard. Invocation was given by Rabbi Beth Singer, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu-El. Opening remarks were by the Honorable London Breed, Acting Mayor of San Francisco. Additional remarks were by the Honorable Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator. There was an interlude by singers of the GLIDE Ensemble. Lee’s daughters, Tania and Lee, shared their experiences growing up with their father. They were followed by remarks from the Honorable Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California; the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives; and Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, Chief of Protocol of San Francisco. A tribute was made by Misa Malone, Beach Blanket Babylon. The Honorable Willie L. Brown, Jr., spoke of being a former mayor and knowing Lee. A benediction was given by the Right Reverend Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of California. And a postlude was offered by Preston Turner and Pure Ecstasy.

    GMHC Alarmed About Banning of Specific Words in Trump Administration Budget Documents

    Directives reportedly sent by the current administration to the Centers for Disease Control and other sectors of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ban the use of seven words or phrases in budget documents as an alarming example of the administration’s focus on placating its conservative base at the expense of good government and public health. The fact that keywords such as “diversity,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “science-based,” and “evidence-based” have been flagged is an assault on the health and well-being of all Americans, says Gay Men’s Health Crisis CEO Kelsey Louie. He cautions that this kind of terminology is crucial to proper communications about public health issues and underserved populations. “Budget priorities, public policies, and administrative guidelines must be able to accurately reflect diverse populations, health disparities, and science- and evidence-based interventions, or public health initiatives will not be effective.” Louie continues, “For example, transgender women have one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C of any subset of the U.S. population. Without the ability to address this community by name, or talk about science- or evidence-based interventions, we cannot adequately mount education, prevention or treatment campaigns to reach this vulnerable group. Additionally, we know that homophobia and transphobia not only cause health disparities, but also contribute to a lack of equity in accessing basic protections, as well as protections from stigma, discrimination, and even violence.” He concludes, “In this case, as in so many other public health cases, Silence = Death.”

    New Study Finds Gay Relationships Are Often Happier Than Heterosexual Ones

    A study, titled “Sexual Identity and Relationship Quality in Australia and the United Kingdom,” examined the relationship quality of bisexual, gay, lesbian and heterosexual people in Australia and the United Kingdom. According to author Professor Janeen Baxter, the quality of intimate relationships of gay and lesbian people was high, if not higher, than the quality of heterosexual couples’ relationships. Baxter concluded, “Our results provide robust evidence to combat deep-rooted and erroneous social perceptions of same-sex relationships being conflictual, unhappy, and dysfunctional.”

    Plans Move Forward to Establish Leather Cultural District in Western Part of SOMA

    The San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance has set up a website to support community-wide efforts to create a “Cultural District” in the SOMA area of San Francisco, to honor, support, and protect the unique and special culture that has flourished in this area. Organizers say they feel it is critical to this effort that anyone with interest in the leather or kink community have a chance to learn about this project, and an opportunity to participate and offer their input and their opinions. At the website, they are posting key documents, announcing meetings and events, and inviting discussion in forums.

    Cedars-Sinai Transgender Program Offers Surgery and Other Comprehensive Services

    The new interdisciplinary, research-based Transgender Surgery and Health Program is directed by Maurice Garcia, MD, MAS, a leading figure in the field who joined Cedars-Sinai from UC San Francisco Medical Center. The program is staffed by specialists invested in helping members of the transgender community at every stage of their journeys. “The bedrock of our program is that we’re as committed to follow-up care as we are to patients’ initial care, something for which an academic medical center is ideally suited,” said Garcia, a board-certified urologist. Cedars-Sinai is one of only two academic medical centers in the Western U.S. that offers gender-affirming genital surgery, Garcia said. The medical center currently offers male-to-female and female-to-male surgeries, as well as several other surgical options to best meet patient needs. Patients already have come from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Asia. The need for transgender services is evident. Recent federal and state population studies estimate that about 1.4 million adults, including 218,000 in California, identify as transgender people, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Few surgeons nationally are trained to perform the surgeries, making Cedars-Sinai a key center for this type of specialized care and research.

    SF Pride Committee Accepting Suggestions for Community Grand Marshals

    San Francisco Pride is now accepting suggestions for 2018 Community Grand Marshals. San Francisco Pride has a long history of recognizing generations of LGBTQI leaders and heroes who have led the way in the struggle for equal rights. With this year’s theme, “Generations of Strength,” they intend to continue that tradition. Community Grand Marshals are local individuals or organizations who have contributed in large part to the SF Bay Area LGBTQI community; or as openly LGBTQI-identifying to the broader society. Suggested nominees must live or be based in the nine county Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties. Submit your suggestions for individuals and/or organizations you feel are deserving of this recognition to online until the deadline at 7 pm on January 10.

    Senator Wiener to Introduce Net Neutrality Legislation in California

    Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has announced plans to introduce legislation to establish net neutrality protections in California after the Federal Communications Commission repealed national net neutrality regulations. Senator Wiener will introduce the legislation in January, when the State Legislature returns for session in Sacramento. “Net neutrality is essential to our 21st century democracy, and we need to be sure that people can access websites and information freely and fairly,” said Senator Wiener. “If the FCC is going to destroy net neutrality and create a system that favors certain web sites just because they can pay more money, California must step in and ensure open internet access.” Currently California does not have its own regulations on net neutrality, having deferred to the federal rules. Senator Wiener’s legislation will establish net neutrality regulations in California. There are strong arguments that states have the right to protect internet access.

    Scientists Link Birth Order to Male Homosexuality

    According to a recent study, having an older brother might make you gay. Results from a study published by the journal for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America show that gay men have, on average, a greater number of older brothers than do heterosexual men. The findings are consistent with what scientists have noticed in previous research. But the PNAS study suggests that there may be a biological explanation that begins outside of the mother’s body. Signs point to a Y-chromosome protein, which women don’t have, and that is linked to male brain development. Researchers in the study believe this Y-chromosome protein enters the mother’s bloodstream after she is pregnant with her first boy. Since the protein is a foreign substance, the mother’s immune system fights if off with antibodies. If the mother gets pregnant with a second boy, the antibodies can cross the placental barrier and effect the brain development of the second male fetus and perhaps alter attraction. The findings are consistent with another study published by PNAS in 2006 that found the most prevalent biodemographic correlate of sexual orientation in men is the number of older brothers (fraternal birth order). The 2006 PNAS study agreed with a Canadian study from the 1990s.

    Three Federal Courts Have Ruled Against Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

    A third federal court has ruled against the Trump administration’s attempt to ban transgender people from joining the military. It agreed with D.C. and Maryland courts in stating that policy should revert to the status quo prior to the ban, meaning trans people can begin enlisting openly with the start of the new year. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, in Washington state, ruled in Karnoski v. Trump, brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN. “Because defendants have failed to demonstrate that the policy prohibiting transgender individuals from serving openly is substantially related to important government interests, it does not survive intermediate scrutiny,” she wrote. Pechman stated that the ban likely violates equal protection and due process rights, as well as First Amendment rights. Pechman said that forcing trans members of the military to lie about their gender identity would hamper their speech.