Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found that death records of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers. The researchers reviewed nearly 10,000 death records of youth ages 10 to 19 who died by suicide in the United States from 2003 to 2017. The findings are published in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics

While LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and to report suicidal thoughts and behaviors than non-LGBTQ youth, this is believed to be the first study showing that bullying is a more common precursor to suicide among LGBTQ youth than among their peers. 

We expected that bullying might be a more common factor, but we were surprised by the size of the disparity,” said lead author Kirsty Clark, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Public Health. “These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying.”

Death records from LGBTQ youths were about five times more likely to mention bullying than non-LGBTQ youths’ death records, the study found. Among 10- to 13-year-olds, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youths’ death records mentioned that they had been bullied.

Bullying is a major public health problem among youth, and it is especially pronounced among LGBTQ youth, said the researchers. Clark and her co-authors used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-led database that collects information on violent deaths, including suicides, from death certificates, law enforcement reports, and medical examiner and coroner records.

Death records in the database include narrative summaries from law enforcement reports and medical examiner and coroner records regarding the details of the youth’s suicide as reported by family or friends, the youth’s diary, social media posts, and text or email messages, as well as any suicide note. Clark and her team searched these narratives for words and phrases that suggested whether the individual was LGBTQ. They followed a similar process to identify death records mentioning bullying. 

Bullies attack the core foundation of adolescent well-being,” said John Pachankis, the Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and study co-author. “By showing that bullying is also associated with life itself for LGBTQ youth, this study urgently calls for interventions that foster safety, belonging and esteem for all young people.”

Other authors on the study include Anthony J. Maiolatesi, doctoral student at Yale School of Public Health, and Susan Cochran, professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

The study was supported by the American Public Health Association and the CDC.

The Supreme Court on Thursday night refused to stop court-ordered surgery for a transgender prisoner in Idaho.

Adree Edmo is scheduled for what the state calls “sex reassignment surgery” and Edmo’s lawyers call “gender confirmation surgery” in July. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, over the objection of its conservative members, said Idaho corrections officials had violated the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment by withholding the treatment.

As is common, the Supreme Court did not give a reason for refusing Idaho’s request for a stay of the lower court’s order. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have granted the stay.

The state has separately asked the court to take up the case for review, but it warned that without the stay, the case might become moot. Medical preparation for the surgery has been underway for months.
 
In court papers, Idaho and Edmo’s lawyers had debated the importance of the case for other transgender prisoners. Idaho said it was a case with national implications, and that the 9th Circuit had become the first court to hold that there had been a violation of a transgender prisoner’s rights because the state had not conformed with guidelines issued by a transgender advocacy group.

“Idaho will sustain irreparable harm because Idaho taxpayers will have been forced to fund a controversial surgery that Edmo’s treating doctor determined in good faith was not medically necessary,” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden wrote in his application to the court.

“Edmo, an indigent prisoner, does not have the financial ability to reimburse Idaho taxpayers for the expenses associated with the surgery.”
 
Edmo’s lawyers said the surgery would be covered by the contract Idaho has with a private company to provide health care to prisoners. But more importantly, they told the court that the 9th Circuit’s ruling did not carry national implications.

“This case is a fact-intensive dispute about whether a particular treatment is medically necessary for one individual” and whether the state’s expert treating Edmo was “deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs and ongoing risk of harm,” wrote lawyer Lori Rifkin.

Edmo, 32, was imprisoned in 2012 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a sleeping 15-year-old boy. In prison, she has been treated for gender dysphoria, a psychological condition caused by the disconnect between a person’s experienced gender and the one assigned at birth.

In prison, Edmo has twice attempted to self-castrate to remove her testicles and eliminate testosterone in her body. A prison psychiatrist, Scott Eliason, treated Edmo with counseling and hormone therapy but said surgery should wait. Edmo could be released next year.

A panel of the 9th Circuit said that a diagnosis of gender dysphoria will not always be enough to secure a mandate of surgery. But looking specifically at the facts in Edmo’s case, the panel wrote that “responsible prison officials [denied] such treatment with full awareness of the prisoner’s suffering” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Conservatives on the 9th Circuit lost an attempt to have the case reconsidered. Judge Daniel P. Collins was among those who said the panel “strayed far from any proper understanding of the Eighth Amendment.”

WASHINGTON — A transgender Navy officer is now permitted to serve openly as her preferred gender, the first such waiver since April 2019 when a Pentagon policy began to restrict transgender individuals in the military.

The acting Navy Secretary James McPherson approved the waiver to the transgender policy in this individual case, Lt. Brittany Stephens, a Navy spokeswoman, said in a statement. 

“This service member requested a waiver to serve in their preferred gender, to include obtaining a gender marker change in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and being allowed to adhere to standards associated with their preferred gender, such as uniforms and grooming," Stephens said.

The Pentagon’s policy does not allow the vast majority of men and women who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria to enlist in the military or continue to serve as the person’s preferred gender without a waiver. Gender dysphoria is the medical condition associated with individuals who do not identify with their birth sex.

The policy overturned a 2016 policy from former President Barack Obama’s administration that allowed transgender service members to serve openly. Transgender service members in the military at the time that the 2019 policy was enacted were grandfathered in to the new policy and were not subjected to its requirements.

The Defense Department has stated it based the policy change on data gathered during a 2017 study of transgender troops that showed their service brought “substantial risks” to the military, such as affecting readiness and burdening the military with additional costs. The department has declined to make any of that data public or describe it in detail.

It remains unclear precisely how many servicemembers on active duty identify as transgender. A 2016 Defense Department survey, which was anonymous, found about 9,000 servicemembers identified themselves as transgender men or women, said Tony Kurta, who was performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in April 2019 when the new Pentagon policy went into effect. Some 1,400 troops have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria since the 2016 policy was implemented, he said at that time.

In a joint statement Friday, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, legal organizations for LGBTQ rights and advocacy, said they had filed a lawsuit in March on behalf of the Navy officer who received the waiver. The government was going to file a response to the lawsuit next week, according to the statement.

"While we are relieved that our client, a highly qualified Naval officer, will be able to continue her service, there are other equally qualified transgender service members who have sought waivers and are still in limbo, despite being perfectly fit to serve,” Jennifer Levi, the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, said in the prepared statement.

The Navy officer, who has served two extended tours of duty in nine years, is seeking emergency relief from the policy in order to continue serving, according to a news release about the lawsuit. She had come out after the April 2019 policy was put into effect and needed a waiver to continue serving.

Requiring transgender service members to seek a waiver to serve is discriminatory, NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said in the statement.

“Being transgender has nothing to do with a person’s fitness to serve, and transgender individuals should be held to the same standards as other service members,” Minter said.

The waiver “is an important victory for this sailor,” Peter Perkowski, the legal and policy director for the Modern Military Association of America, a LGBTQ non-profit, said in a statement.

“Over the past year, we’ve continued to hear from qualified transgender patriots who want to serve their country but can’t because of the Trump-Pence transgender military ban,” Perkowski said. “As our nation faces unprecedented challenges, the last thing our military should be doing is rejecting qualified individuals who want to serve simply because of their gender identity.”

Modern Military Association of America represents six service members in a lawsuit challenging whether the ban is constitutional, according to the statement.

 

For the better part of the past decade, Aimee Stephens was fighting two battles: one against kidney disease, and another that went to the Supreme Court, a potential landmark case over her 2013 firing after coming out to her boss as transgender.

But on Tuesday, after having recently entered hospice care following years of kidney failure, Stephens lost one battle without living to see the end of the other.

She died at her home in Michigan at 59 - likely just days or weeks away from a Supreme Court ruling in her case.

Stephens' case is the first major transgender civil rights matter that the high court has heard, with potentially sweeping implications for transgender people nationwide seeking protections from being fired because of their gender identity. That Stephens will not be alive to witness its outcome has devastated her family, legal team and the countless people in the LGBT community she inspired, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Stephens, said in a statement.

GARDEN CITY, Mich — A Detroit-area woman at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case about transgender rights is in hospice care while awaiting a decision.

Aimee Stephens has kidney disease and was in a wheelchair when the court heard arguments in October, The Detroit News reported Monday.

“Aimee is now in hospice care at home. It is truly heartbreaking,” said Dana Chicklas, spokeswoman at the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Stephens worked as an embalmer and funeral home director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Home in Garden City. She was fired in 2013 when she told her boss that she wanted to be known as Aimee, not Anthony, and would report to work wearing a conservative skirt suit or dress.

Thomas Rost said Stephens’ dress would be a distraction for grieving families.

The issue for the Supreme Court is whether federal civil rights law, which bars job discrimination on the basis of sex, protects transgender people. A decision is expected by late June.

“Sadly it appears that Aimee will never see the result of her valiant and difficult fight for transgender rights,” according to a GoFundMe page set up to help Stephens and her wife pay for her care.

 

 

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