An open letter on SDHB 1076

Transphobic legislation isn’t new to South Dakota. In 2020, 3 notable bills were put forward specifically targeting transgender youth. House Bill 1057 aimed to deny trans youth access to puberty blockers and gender affirming care. Senate Bill 88 attempted to require school counselors to out youth with feelings of gender dysphoria to their parents. Senate Bill 93 set out to empower transphobic parents to deny their gender non-conforming children medical care, including counseling and other psychiatric care.

Unsurprisingly, House legislators are starting right out of the session gates in 2021 with bill 1076. Essentially, this bill says the gender marker on a person’s birth certificate must match their sex assigned at birth. Read the full bill at https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/212531.pdf

My Letter to the House HHS

The following is a letter I wrote and sent to the Health and Human Services committee that will be voting on the bill at 8am on Tuesday, January 26th.
Feel free to copy any portion of it to write your own letter to the HHS committee.
I’ve added their emails to the end of this post.

Dear Representatives of the HHS Committee,
My name is Rachel, and I am writing today to urge you to vote NO on House Bill 1076.

This bill targets transgender individuals on the basis that a person’s sex assigned at birth should dictate their gender marker on their birth certificate. The justification for this argument is that a gender that does not match sex assigned at birth is “inconsistent with the science of biology and legislative intent, and therefore necessitates remedial legislation” (HB1076 line 21-22).I have a few corrections to this statement, with references for your convenience. 

  1. Sex and Gender are different. This article from the AP News explains it in detail, but the big takeaway is this: “Sex typically refers to anatomy while “gender goes beyond biology,” says Dr. Jason Rafferty, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, and lead author of the AAP’s transgender policy.”
  2. Science supports the existence of transgender people. For example, this study published in December 2008 finds, “transgender people appear to be born with brains more similar to gender with which they identify, rather than the one to which they were assigned” (Source).

With this information in mind, the justification for this bill no longer makes sense. Science supports the affirmation of gender identity even when it is different than sex assigned at birth. Therefore, the only educated vote on HB 1076 is a NO vote. 

Works Cited: 

Wu, Katherine J. “Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity”. Blog, Special Edition: Dear Madam/Mister President. 25 October 2016. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/

Alicia Garcia-Falgueras, Dick F. Swaab, A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity, Brain, Volume 131, Issue 12, December 2008, Pages 3132–3146, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awn276

Luders E, Sánchez FJ, Gaser C, Toga AW, Narr KL, Hamilton LS, Vilain E. Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):904-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.03.048. Epub 2009 Mar 31. PMID: 19341803; PMCID: PMC2754583.

Rametti G, Carrillo B, Gómez-Gil E, Junque C, Segovia S, Gomez Á, Guillamon A. White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Feb;45(2):199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.05.006. Epub 2010 Jun 8. PMID: 20562024.

House HHS Committee Emails

Aaron.Aylward@sdlegislature.gov,
Sydney.Davis@sdlegislature.gov,
Erin.Healy@sdlegislature.gov,
Kevin.Jensen@sdlegislature.gov,
Jennifer.Keintz@sdlegislature.gov,
Paul.Miskimins@sdlegislature.gov,
Carl.Perry@sdlegislature.gov,
Taylor.Rehfeldt@sdlegislature.gov,
Tamara.StJohn@sdlegislature.gov,
Kaleb.Weis@sdlegislature.gov,
Marli.Wiese@sdlegislature.gov

A Finale, But Not the Final Word

As an avid viewer of Sense8, my excitement for the finale kept me up last night until I realized I had to work in the morning. So, I was forced to wait until this evening to watch the conclusion of the psychedelic, confusing, groundbreaking, condensed final chapter of the beloved Netflix original series. It’s probably a good thing I waited though considering the amount of screaming and clapping I did while watching…

this is the best gif

SO, obviously, if you haven’t had a chance to watch the finale yet and you plan to, be warned that there are spoilers ahead!

First things first: I’m upset the finale had to be pared down to a 151 minute feature-length film style piece. One of the best things about the series is the carefully constructed plots in the short term episodes and their eventual piecing together to create a seasonal story arc. While attention was still given in this manner, the shorter story arcs were forced to develop and resolve themselves in a much more condensed time frame. I’m certain many avenues would have been developed over the standard hour long episodes if that were an option.

gimme more

That being said, “Amor Vincit Omnia” managed to include the staples of the first 2 seasons: Sun’s daybreak tai chi sessions on the roof, flashbacks through the cluster’s pasts, international jumps, and the manifestation of remarkable shared skills and the accompanying body swapping. Oh, and how could I forget the ORGY???? Girl, buckle up, the finale sexy-time scene rivals season one’s “Demons.” And by rivals, I mean takes to a whole new level of taking standard Hollywood taboos and doing literally the opposite. It is. SO. GOOD.

More in the realm of what watchers expect to see: BPO attacks, double crossing, rooftop chases, plots and counter plots, and random video game style new skill acquisition. That sounds bad, like all they did was reuse old scenes from the past seasons (coughStarWarscough), but Lana Wachowski and her co-writers kept the action fresh and the characters grew throughout the….episode? Still not sure what to call it besides finale.

Wachowski

The queer-friendly scenes and boundary pushing logic (for standard Hollywood at least) did not disappoint either. That’s really what Sense8 is all about, how people relate to each other. And relationships abound in the latest installment; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and polyamorous partners all make an appearance within the cluster. Some of them we already know, like Hernando and Lito or Amanita and Nomi, but others are new, like the (not-so) surprise twist in Kala’s love interests Wolfgang and Rajan. It’s so important to see non-heterosexual couples represented in mainstream media, and trans people too!

To the Sense8 team’s credit, they represent the queer community in a way that doesn’t add to the litany of ‘inclusive’ pieces that use the bury your gays trope over and over again. Remember the episode in season two, where Lito comes out in a big way at Sao Paulo Pride? Between the near death experiences with BPO, the show continues to impress with conversations like the ones in that episode among the cluster and their friends and family. They focus on accepting yourself as you are, and not being ashamed of what you want. Sense8’s quiet acceptance and inclusion of ‘alternative lifestyles’ juxtaposed to and folded into its radical (sexual) scenes is a step in the right direction and a model that other mainstream media outlets would do well to follow.

sense8 pride

The aural, visual and thematic plaudits given to the first two seasons of Sense8 remain applicable to the finale, perhaps even more so due to the shortened length. Best of all, “Amor Vincit Omnia” was released in Pride month and celebrates what it is all about: Love.

pride flag sense8