Things That Matter

This Trans Inmate Was Denied Access To Gender Reassignment Surgery But That Could Change With This Recent Court Ruling

In a surprising turn of events, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Friday that the state of Idaho must provide gender confirmation surgery for its transgender prison inmates. This upheld the original decision made by the US District Court: that denying inmates the surgery amounted to a violation of the US Constitution. While this is definitely a momentous step forward for trans rights, despite the rise of conservatism in today’s America, the story doesn’t end there. No, that would just be too simple. 

It’s worth knowing the background to the case.

Facebook / Black and Pink

The decision didn’t just appear out of nowhere. The original ruling came as a result of a lawsuit an inmate of Idaho State Correctional Center, Adree Edmo, brought to the Idaho Department of Correction and its medical provider, Corizon, in 2017. Having struggled with her gender identity, attempted suicide and also tried to castrate herself, Edmo contended that the state’s refusal to provide her with the gender confirmation surgery she needs amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Ultimately, it’s a contravention of her Eighth Amendment rights.

Edmo has been forced to live as a male in an all-male prison.

Instagram / @kneffertiti

Despite the fact that Edmo has been living as a woman for years, she has been housed in a men’s prison during that time, and so far been denied what is clearly needed medical care. “They certainly would treat a prisoner with cancer, they treat a prisoner with diabetes, or other chronic conditions,” Deborah Ferguson, an attorney for Edmo, said in a recent interview. “So, we have a medically recognized condition that’s very treatable and we have been trying to get her the treatment that she very much needs.”

Nevertheless, the state says that it’ll take the case to the US Supreme Court.

Instagram / @governorbradlittle

“The court’s decision is extremely disappointing,” Idaho Governor Brad Little said in response to the decision. “The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals.”

With this verdict, Edmo could be transferred to a women’s prison.

Youtube/ 6 On Your Side

Granted, it would seem that this statement flies in the face of other known facts related to the case. So, let’s clear it all up, now. Firstly, Edmo was diagnosed with gender dysmorphia back in 2012. Considering that she has been living as a woman for years, now, despite the risks this would pose while she is being detained in a men’s prison, would suggest that she is in need of support and treatment. In other words, as the decision determined, Edmo should undergo gender confirmation surgery and be transferred to a women’s detention center afterwards.

The state government doesn’t want to pay for the surgery.

Instagram / @7pmfortune

As far as costs to the state go, that’s a little more complicated. The contract that the state currently has with Corizon sees that necessary medical care is already covered. And, naturally, that contract was paid for with money collected from taxes. But, the contract is also designed to provide for the healthcare of many other prison inmates, too. Because, at the end of the day, imprisonment isn’t designed to violate an individual’s constitutional rights. And you know what? If Little was so concerned about taxpayer dollars, then maybe the state wouldn’t have forked out over $300,000 to fight a procedure that, at most, would cost $30,000.

But wait a minute … Edmo is a sex offender?

Instagram / @projectfluxdance

Yeah. She pled guilty to charges that she sexually abused a 15 year old when Edmo herself was about 22 years of age. The fact of the matter is that, simply because she committed a crime – and a heinous one at that – doesn’t mean that she waives any and all needed medical care. This case is about upholding the tenets around basic human rights.

This court decision could lead to more inmates getting the care they require.

Instagram / @crazyfactorypiercing

Part of the problem with Little’s statement to the media isn’t just that he has provided inaccuracies. It also ties into a larger narrative concerning the LGBTQI community that paints queer people as pedophiles and predators. Recent reports of people posing as gay men on Twitter in an attempt to associate queerness with pedophilia continue to propagate that false narrative. And this isn’t a new thing, either – last year a fake LGBTQI account was set up to promote pedophilia at an Oregon Pride Parade.

Chances are Governor Little is less concerned about the current case, and more worried about the precedent it sets for the future. Currently, five other inmates in the state of Idaho have requested for gender confirmation surgery. As Edmo is set to be the first person to undergo gender confirmation surgery while in custody, her victory may forge a pathway forward for others in a similar position.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Things That Matter

Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Argentina has long been a progressive bastion in Latin America. It was one of the first countries in the region to allow same-sex marriage and also has anti-discrimination laws in many cities. It’s also been a beacon of hope for the transgender community, with the government long allowing individuals to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex.

However, transgender workers still face immense discrimination and that has left a reported 95% of the community without formal employment. To help try and address this issue, the nation’s leaders have instituted a program to ensure that at least 1% of the workforce is made up of trans workers. It’s an ambitious task but the government is already making progress.

Argentina launched a program to ensure better transgender representation in the workforce.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree in September establishing a 1 percent employment quota for transgender people in the public sector. The law went into effect on January 1 and its aim is to bring more trans workers into the formal economy.

According to Argentina’s LGBTQ community, 95 percent of transgender people do not have formal employment, with many forced to work in the sex industry where they face violence.

“If all the institutions implemented the trans quota, it would change a lot for many of my colleagues. It would change the quality of their lives and they would not die at 34, or 40, which is their life expectancy today,” Angeles Rojas, who recently landed a job at a national bank, told NBC News.

There are no official figures on the size of the transgender community in Argentina, since it was not included in the last 2010 census. But LGBTQ organizations estimate there are 12,000 to 13,000 transgender adults in Argentina, which has a population topping 44 million.

Few countries in the world are stepping up to help trans workers quite like Argentina.

Argentina has long prided itself on its progressive policies. The nation was one of the first in the Americas to recognize same-sex unions and several cities have anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, Argentina adopted an unprecedented gender identity law allowing transgender people to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex. The law also guarantees free access to sex-reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments without prior legal or medical consent.

Worldwide, only neighboring Uruguay has a comparable quota law promoting the labor inclusion of transgender people. And a law such as this one has the potential to greatly impact the lives of transgendered Argentinians.

Despite the program, transgender people still face enormous challenges in Argentina.

A recent report by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People published in December said “the vast majority of trans women in the region have sex work as their sole economic and subsistence livelihood.”

It goes on to say: In Latin America and the Caribbean transgender people have their right to work violated along with all their human rights, and this takes place “in a context of extreme violence.”

Despite legal protections, Argentina’s trans community remains at risk. Many of the country’s trans citizens live in the Gondolín, a building in the Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, for protection and strength in numbers.

There have been advances in Argentina. This year, Diana Zurco became the first transgender presenter of Argentine television news, Mara Gómez was authorized by the Argentine Football Association to play in the professional women’s league and soprano María Castillo de Lima was the first transgender artist to go on stage at Teatro Colón.

However, the gap between the equality established by law and the real one remains large, warned Ese Montenegro, a male transgender activist hired as an adviser to the Chamber of Deputies’ women’s and diversity commission.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A Latina Nurse Named Helen Cordova Was the First Person to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in California

Things That Matter

A Latina Nurse Named Helen Cordova Was the First Person to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in California

Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images

On Monday, the first person in California was administered the COVID-19 vaccine and her name was Helen Cordova. Cordova is an intensive care nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. She is also a brave woman who deserves to be celebrated for her courage.

The doctors, nurses and elected officials (including California Governor Gavin Newson) applauded after Cordova received the vaccine.

“I’m very excited that we have the vaccine, because it provides hope for the future,” Cordova said afterward, according to The Los Angeles Times.

But after she got the vaccine, Cordova went back to work–business as usual. Four other healthcare workers received the vaccine after her, including a respiratory therapy technician named Raul Aguilar.

It is significant that the first Californian to receive the vaccine was Latina, as Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

Latinos make up 39% of California’s population and 40% of frontline workers in California. 58% of the California COVID-19 cases and 48% of COVID-19 related deaths have been from Latinos. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reports that California Latinos are more than twice as likely as white Californians to contract the virus.

To make matters worse, Latinos are more likely to be suspicious of the coronavirus vaccine. “In communities of color in particular, there is a real history of abuse by the medical system that creates a potentially higher level of skepticism,” said Dr. Robert Wachter chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco to the LA Times.

Hopefully, patients like Helen Cordova will inspire confidence in the Latino community that the vaccine is, indeed, both safe and effective.

Shortly after Cordova received the vaccine, Governor Newsome tweeted out: “History made.”

But earlier in the day at Kaiser Permanente, Governor Newsome was slightly more somber, as California (like every other state) is facing its most grim stretch of the pandemic so far. In the last week, the Golden State averaged 32,858 new COVID-19 cases a day.

“We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic,” he said. “So today is hopeful, and it’s reason to be optimistic, but let’s be mindful of where we really are.”

Three other California cities received shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, including San Diego, San Francisco and Eureka. According to reports, the vaccine will become available to the general public in the spring.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com