E. Winter Tashlin

Inadvertent Argument For Equality Edition [What You Need To Know]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | January 04, 2013 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: 113th congress, gender confirmation surgery, Illinois GOP gay marriage, Massachusetts, Representative Jim Lyons, Scott Lively, Tammy Baldwin, transgender health

Two Massachusetts state representatives have co-authored a ridiculous protest bill that seeks to give every "law abiding" Massachusetts resident $700k.
The bill is in response to a judge's ruling that the state had to pay legal expenses to a trans* woman in the prison system who successfully sued for the state to provide trans* related healthcare during her time in prison, including gender confirmation surgery. It's worth noting that both representatives voted against legal protections for trans* people in 2011.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Jim Lyons had this to say about their legislative stunt:

This is an issue of fundamental fairness," Lyons emphasized. "The hard working citizens who follow the rules and pay their taxes do not qualify for benefits like this. If we provide extravagant benefits like this to a vicious murderer, then why deny them to the law abiding citizenry? It's a simple matter of fairness and justice.

And truthfully, I couldn't agree more, though probably not in the way Representative Lyons would like.

Don't get me wrong, his proposal to give the residents of Massachusetts a cash sum equal to more than a quarter of the United States national debt is a joke and a waste of time.

But there is something fundamentally unjust about a system wherein a woman in prison can get access to medical care recognized as vital by medical authorities, while other women cannot, simply by virtue of not being incarcerated. Trans* people are disproportionately represented on the rolls of state medical care for the poor, and back when I lived in Massachusetts, I knew quite a number of trans* people for whom the various permutations of gender confirmation surgery was little more than a distant, bitter wish. Even minimum elements of care, such as hormone therapy, are rarely covered by medical insurance, state or private.

So yes, these two men have pointed out a real failure of equality. Which isn't to say that Michelle Kosilek, the prisoner whose lawsuit prompted this discussion, should have been denied appropriate care. However, it's a travesty that the state doesn't extend the same level of concern to law-abiding, if underprivileged trans* people, whose medical care the state is likewise responsible for, particularly in a state known for having a top-flight state healthcare program (by American standards at least).

None of which gets into the unfairness of "no trans* coverage" clauses found in the vast majority of private and employer-provided health insurance programs

But that issue is a bit beyond the purview and, almost certainly the interests of Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo, who would much rather waste taxpayer time and money taking cheap shots at trans* people from their positions in the State House.

Even if said shots did manage to inadvertently hit awfully close to the mark in terms of real inequality.

And now, here's what you need to know today:

  • Fellow LGBT politics and culture blog Towleroad, is blocked by Pentagon web-filtering software for "LGBT content," along with the progressive LGBT/politics oriented Americablog
  • In a valuable reminder of just how far out our opponents can be, influential right-wing Christian activist Scott Lively again compares LGBT people and the President to both the Weimar Republic and the Nazis, not to mention Anti-Christ and end of the world.
  • It's also worth noting that Lively is being charged in a Massachusetts federal court with having perpetrated crimes against humanity for his work on Uganda's so-called "kill the gays bill."
  • You won't want to miss this fabulous interview with two Oregon men reflecting back on their sixty years together.
  • A lesbian couple in France have the honor of being parents to the first French baby of 2013.
  • Same-sex marriage bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate in the state of Rhode Island.
  • On the first day of the new Congress, the GOP made clear their intention to continue spending time and taxpayer money defending DOMA in the courts.
  • Making the argument that hate-crimes legislation won't do nearly enough to shift the culture of homophobia and sexism in Puerto Rico.
  • Get to know a bit about the out LGB members of the 113th Congress.
  • Bank of American and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have reached a settlement in an anti-gay discrimination claim brought by HUD against the banking giant.
  • A same-sex marriage bill in Illinois has moved out of committee and will soon be voted on by the state Senate.
  • The chair of the Illinois state GOP has publicly declared his support for marriage equality, and is encouraging fellow Republicans to vote in favor of an upcoming same-sex marriage bill.
  • Conservative Christian leaders declare that "hate is a virtue."
  • Finally, in an historic moment, Tammy Baldwin is sworn in for her first term as a United States Senator, becoming the first openly LGBT person to do so:

(img src: Pictorial Antonym of Gender Equality by flickr user FeatheredTar and used under Creative Commons license)

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