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gollygee's Journal
gollygee's Journal
June 9, 2018

How Birth Certificates Are Being Weaponized Against Trans People

Fascinating article- much more at link, including the racist history of birth certificates, and of course how they're now used as weapons against LGBT people just as they have been used against people of color.


As LGBT and transgender Americans have stepped out of the shadows, the birth certificate, and the rage for government-mandated identity, have surfaced again. The Supreme Court, in 2015, held that same-sex couples are entitled to marry “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples”; in 2017, the Court, in an unsigned opinion, announced those terms must extend to equality in the birth-certificate realm. When a woman married to a man gave birth in Arkansas, the man was automatically listed as the father, without regard to the biological fact of paternity—including where the child was conceived by artificial insemination. When two women married and a child was born under the same circumstances, the spouse was not so listed. The state argued its law was about “biological parentage”—but it was not; husbands were listed as fathers even when the child was conceived by sperm donation. Birth certificates, the Court said, are “more than a mere marker of biological relationships”—they are “a form of legal recognition” and thus must treat all couples equally. (Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented.)

The infamous “bathroom bills”—passed and partially repealed in North Carolina, and proposed in more than a dozen other states—were also birth-certificate based; they would make binding for life the assignment of sex performed at birth. In Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, decided last year by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Ash Whitaker, a transgender boy, was denied permission to use the boys’ bathroom despite two letters from his physician. At oral argument, the district argued instead that it would only accept “a birth certificate that designated his sex as male.” The appeals court, holding for Ash, noted the “arbitrary nature” of reliance on birth certificates.

Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board was decided last month by the Fourth Circuit; Grimm, a transgender boy, was blocked from use of the boys’ room after parent complaints. Even when a Virginia court granted him an amended birth certificate, the school board would not budge, saying that his “biological gender” was still female. “The board’s argument,” the appeals court wrote, “rings hollow.”

As of 2017, the Transgender Law Center lists four states—Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee—as barring transgender persons from changing their gender on a birth certificate. Since the list was compiled, federal judges in Puerto Rico and Idaho have struck down the no-gender-change policies. Lawsuits are pending in Kansas and Ohio. In some of the remaining states, the state’s vital-records division will make the change after receiving medical certification; in others, a transgender applicant must go to court. Sixteen of the states require transgender applicants to produce proof that they have undergone some form of gender-reassignment surgery.

June 4, 2018

I used to be a 911 dispatcher. I had to respond to racist calls every day.

This is an example of how institutional racism works. White people are afraid of people simply because they're black, and call the police, and the police policy is that they have to send someone out. The system - the police policy - perpetuates the racism.


The man gave me his address and then said, “There’s a woman pushing a shopping cart in front of my house.” This one stumped me. I worked in a large metropolitan area. Yes, the city where I worked was affluent, and most people used their cars to get groceries. But surely he’d seen a person using a personal grocery cart before.

“I’m sorry, I’m not getting it. What’s the problem?” I waited for more clarification as I racked my brain for the correct penal code under which this infraction might fall.

“You need to get out here now.”


The worst thing about it? I had to send someone out. Dispatchers usually don’t get to choose which calls lead to the dispatching of emergency personnel and which don’t.

June 2, 2018

Column: Why do whites oppose the NFL protests?

This is from September but it seems relevant to white people's opinions on how black people should protest, and we're talking about that again.


In a poll, whites were asked whether the NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem are helping or hurting the cause of racial justice. No fewer than 85 percent said they are hurting it.

Clearly, this offense to the anthem and the American flag is the worst possible way to change minds. Blacks need to find a less divisive means to register their discontent.

Oh, wait. I’ve got that wrong. Those figures don’t come from a new poll. They come from a survey taken in 1966 asking whites whether “the demonstrations by Negroes on civil rights have helped more or hurt more in the advancement of Negro rights.”

Only 15 percent of whites surveyed thought those peaceful protests would advance the cause of integration and equality. Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent methods are honored even by conservatives today, but in 1967, half of whites said he was harming blacks, with only 36 percent disagreeing.

June 2, 2018

What Are Active-Shooter Drills Doing to Kids?


There’s always at least one kid in tears, as they huddle under their desks in the dark. Still Beth Manias, an early-elementary literacy teacher outside of Seattle, tries to act upbeat and relaxed.

“I have them whisper about their favorite candy, dinner, books, movies—whatever, as a distraction,” Manias told me. She tells the kids they’re practicing to stay safe in case there’s ever a bear on campus. Though, she admits, “They always see through this. The older they get, the more savvy they become, probably because they are exposed to more of the news.”

At schools across the country, more children are taking part in mandatory “active-shooter drills.” Forgoing any pretense of a bear, sometimes a faculty member plays the role of a shooter, jiggling doorknobs as children practice keeping perfectly silent. Many parents, teachers, and students say that the experience is somewhere between upsetting and traumatizing.

Which may be worthwhile, if it were clear that the drills saved lives.
June 2, 2018

Seniors Are More Conservative Because the Poor Don't Survive to Become Seniors


But it is important to note that some generational disjunctions in political behavior are driven by demography. It’s well understood that millennials are significantly more diverse than prior generations. But there is something else driving the relative homogeneity of seniors: Poorer people are often hobbled by chronic illness, and succumb to premature death. A new academic study featured at the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog explains:

Political participation of the poor is overall lower because of poverty, bad health and many other factors, but millions of impoverished Americans across the country also die prematurely. For instance, in 2015, research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration revealed that, since 1990, among the bottom quarter of Americans with the least education, life expectancy has either stagnated or decreased. That’s for well over 40 million people.

Add to this negative trend the fact that mortality among the poor increases during middle age — which is when citizens generally get more involved in politics. The premature disappearance of the poor, then, occurs precisely at the moment when they would be expected to reach their “participatory peak” in society. But they don’t live long enough to achieve that milestone.

Since white people suffer proportionately less from poverty than nonwhite people, they do tend to live longer, and in better health, which is conducive to political and other civic activism. The most politically left-bent demographic racial group, African-Americans, has made progress recently in reducing the gap in life expectancy with white peers, but still lags in both lifespans and health, as a 2017 CDC study showed:

June 2, 2018

Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test


The marshmallow test is one of the most famous pieces of social-science research: Put a marshmallow in front of a child, tell her that she can have a second one if she can go 15 minutes without eating the first one, and then leave the room. Whether she’s patient enough to double her payout is supposedly indicative of a willpower that will pay dividends down the line, at school and eventually at work. Passing the test is, to many, a promising signal of future success.

But a new study, published last week, has cast the whole concept into doubt. The researchers—NYU’s Tyler Watts and UC Irvine’s Greg Duncan and Hoanan Quan—restaged the classic marshmallow test, which was developed by the Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. Mischel and his colleagues administered the test and then tracked how children went on to fare later in life. They described the results in a 1990 study, which suggested that delayed gratification had huge benefits, including on such measures as standardized test scores.

Watts and his colleagues were skeptical of that finding. The original results were based on studies that included fewer than 90 children—all enrolled in a preschool on Stanford’s campus. In restaging the experiment, Watts and his colleagues thus adjusted the experimental design in important ways: The researchers used a sample that was much larger—more than 900 children—and also more representative of the general population in terms of race, ethnicity, and parents’ education. The researchers also, when analyzing their test’s results, controlled for certain factors—such as the income of a child’s household—that might explain children’s ability to delay gratification and their long-term success.

Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success.
June 1, 2018

A County Where the Sewer Is Your Lawn


MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In Alabama’s Black Belt, along the road from Selma to Montgomery where civil rights activists fought for voting rights, there’s a glaring problem that’s all too often overlooked — a lack of working sewer systems.

The Alabama Department of Public Health estimates 40 to 90 percent of homes have either inadequate or no septic system. And half of the septic systems that have been installed aren’t working properly.

Many homes here rely on straight PVC pipes that carry waste from houses to open pits and trenches that often overflow during heavy rains, bringing sewage into people’s yards where children play.

The situation isn’t much better in towns connected to relatively functioning sewer systems. Heavy rains and floodings, which seem to be intensifying because of climate change, overwhelm weak sewer systems, forcing sewage to back up in people’s homes, and contaminating drinking water.

May 28, 2018

5 things Starbucks has to get right during its anti-bias training day

One of the five points copied below. Go to link to see rest.


Address not just racial bias, but also white privilege

Starbucks intends Tuesday afternoon's training to promote inclusion and help prevent discrimination, but the company has to be careful not to alienate certain employees or issue blanket statements about bias being universal, Lee Pacchia, co-founder and CEO of Mimesis, a strategic communications consultancy firm, told CNBC via email.

"I noticed a lot of complaints at the inherent unfairness of making Starbucks employees who happen to be racial minorities sit through these lengthy training sessions on a topic that they likely understand full well through their own experiences," he said. "I think there's a lot of merit to those complaints, but unfortunately I can't see how Starbucks can selectively apply this program to only a subset of its entire workforce."

Pacchia said Starbucks should speak plainly about the nature of racial bias and avoid "false equivalencies."

"While it might be tempting to frame this issue as 'bias can happen to anyone anytime,' I'd recommend against letting anyone come away from the program thinking that what happened in Philadelphia could have happened to two white customers," he said.

May 28, 2018

I hear people saying we shouldn't talk about racism because the GOP is using racism as a tool

The argument is that talking about racism divides us, and that is just what the Republican Party wants.

But I don't understand why the response to knowing the GOP is using racism as a tool isn't to fight racism even harder. The GOP as it is today can't exist without racism. Fighting racism = fighting the Republican Party.

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