Weekend Review: Transgender Health Protections Reversed on Anniversary of Pulse Tragedy
On Friday, the Trump administration finalized the removal of measures meant to protect transgender people from health care and insurance discrimination.
In regards to medical discrimination based on sex, Former President Barack Obama’s administration had defined “gender identity” as “male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” The Trump administration has reversed the definition, saying the rule will again apply only to discrimination on the basis of “biological sex.”
This change means a transgender person could be denied basic or even life-saving care from a doctor who is contracted with their insurance provider, leading to higher costs for medical care or preventable illness and death due to lack of access to care.
The finalization of the change came on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the second-worst mass shooting perpetrated by a single gunman in U.S. history. A total of 49 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured during a rampage which led to a hostage situation and shootout with police. Pulse, a gay nightclub, was considered a space of social refuge, so the tragedy was particularly painful within the transgender community.
Critics of the Trump administration have little suspicion of coincidence over the timing of the finalization of the rule and say this decision will put transgender people even more at risk for discrimination and unnecessary suffering. The issue is expected to be challenged and eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Global Anti-Racism Protests
Again on Friday, a black man was gunned down by police officers who had responded to a call from a Wendy’s where he was reported to be sleeping in his car. Police in Atlanta confronted 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in his vehicle and attempted to arrest him when he failed a sobriety test. During a scuffle, Brooks managed to take an officer’s taser and was subsequently shot in the back.
Witnesses uploaded a video of the incident and the city’s citizens erupted in anger. The chief of police resigned, the officer who killed Brooks has been fired and another officer is on leave, and the Wendy’s where the killing occurred was lit ablaze.
Around the world, protests have formed in solidarity with the American Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. In Paris, protesters demanded justice for the death of Adama Traoré, a black man who died in custody of French police in 2016. In London, counter protesters clashed with demonstrators over monuments tied to racist practices.
Trump Rally Rescheduled
In spite of racial protests which have gathered outside of his home for weeks, President Trump claimed ignorance when he scheduled his first rally in months to be held on June 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma, date, and place which hold significance in (black) American history. The outcry was immediate and Trump has since decided to reschedule, citing new knowledge of racial sensitivities.
June 19th is also known as Juneteenth, the holiday which honors the end of slavery in the U.S. Furthermore, Tulsa, Oklahoma was the site of a race riot in 1921 when white mobs rampaged the district known as “Black Wall Street” on the ground and through use of private aircraft. They terrorized the community, looted businesses, and some murdered community members indiscriminately.
Trump said the decision was made to honor requests from many “African American friends and supporters” who have reached out with concern for the significance of the date and venue. However, a Twitter trend showed critics reserving tickets to the rally with no intention of attending, and some believe Trump cancelled to avoid ridicule or a low turnout.
Beijing Returns to Lockdown
Beijing, China has returned to partial lockdown as the city has reported a cluster of new symptomatic cases of COVID-19. The outbreak seems to be linked to a specific market and authorities have tested more than 5,800 people in connection. Over 40 symptomatic cases and an additional 48 asymptomatic cases were discovered among that group and all are being kept in quarantine under medical observation, according to Beijing health authorities.
Epidemiologists with the Chinese center for disease control theorized that the virus was carried into the market on seafood that was previously contaminated by an infected person. They report samples taken from the market were closer in similarities to the strain of the virus more commonly found in European cases as opposed to the variant more commonly found in China.
This resurgence lends support to expert theories that a second wave of heightened virus spread could initiate early in the summer. Beijing officials report they are confident in their ability to contain the spread and have urged residents of the city to remain calm during the partial lockdown.