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Bathroom Bills

A bathroom bill is the common name for a piece of legislation that denies or restricts access to public facilities (usually specifically restrooms) to transgender people. These bills mandate that, rather than using those services and facilities that match their gender identity, individuals use the services and facilities that correspond to their sex as assigned at birth.

Restrictions on access to facilities based on sex assigned at birth experienced a resurgence after some protections for trans students that allowed them to use facilities based on their gender identity were rolled back. This has resulted in headlines like "transgender student separated during safety drill" and has impacted the quality of life of trans students nationwide.

Blood Donation Controversy

Blood Bans refer to prohibitions on donations of blood or tissue for transplants from men who have sex with men (MSM) and their partners of other genders. Many view donation restrictions as homophobic and based on stereotypes rather than valid medical concerns since donations are rigorously tested for viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. The FDA takes gender as self-identified and self-reported, but these bans are further complicated by gender identity which in America must be reported as either male or female.

AIDS in America

This timeline from the Department of Health and Human Services shows the history of the US Government Response to HIV/AIDS. Whether you start counting in 1981 with the first evidence of HIV/AIDS or from 1982 when the CDC first used the term "AIDS," the first public, presidential remarks on the epidemic were made in May of 1987. The following year, the Surgeon General Released "Understanding AIDS." AIDS has made a lasting impact on society, and while the UN pledged in 2016 to end the disease globally by 2030 it remains an ongoing crisis.

Gays in the Military: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Important Documents

DODD 1332.14 "Enlisted Administrative Separations" (Jan 28, 1982) describes when a member of the armed forces can be discharged on the grounds of homosexuality, specifically section H. It was updated on Dec. 21, 1993. Public Law 103-160, commonly known as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 contains section 571 titled "Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces" which was signed into law on Nov. 30, 1993.  DODD 1304.26 updates Qualification Standards for Enlistment, Appointment, and Induction to include the "Provisions Related to Homosexual Conduct," which became known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  This directive, which is a policy and not a law, went into effect on Feb. 28, 1994. Public Law 111-321 was signed Dec. 22, 2010 and struck the law banning homosexuality in the armed forces, which negated the need for Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The Military Ban in the Courts

On Jan. 22, 2019, the Supreme court denied requests for review of three lower court decision on the ban on transgender people serving in the military. Trump v. Jane Doe 2 came up from the District Court of the District of Columbia, Trump v. Karnoski came up from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Trump v. Stockman came up from the District Court for the Central District of California. This clears the way for the policy to go into effect while litigation continues.

Gender And Civil Rights

Headlines from the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House have brought legal protections for the civil rights of transgender people to the forefront of many people's minds. In particular, these headlines have brought up the difference between "sex" and "gender." The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has an excellent glossary of terms that explains the distinction. Another good resource is West & Zimmerman's "Doing Gender" (1987). This article was seminal in the modern understanding of gender expression.

The Lavender Scare

During the Lavender Scare of the 1950s, thousands of federal employees lost their jobs because of their sexuality. Bound up in the better known Red Scare, this wave of repression was fueled by anti-Communism and the new power placed in congressional investigation committees.

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