Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique

original article: The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique
April 22, 2015 by Carlos D. Flores

By now we are all undoubtedly familiar with the tragic suicide of Joshua Alcorn, the transgender teenage boy who, in late December, walked onto a freeway with the intention of ending his life. In an apparent suicide note, Joshua cites a host of reasons for why he was led to end his life, most prominent of which were his parents’ attempts to discourage his identifying as a girl and his being sent to therapists in an attempt to relieve these feelings. All of the problems that ultimately culminated in his suicide, writes Joshua, stem from the fact that, from the time he was a small child, he felt like a “girl trapped in a boy’s body.”

No sooner had Joshua’s heart stopped beating than the story of his suicide was seized by LGBT activists and pruned to advance a familiar narrative of a sexual minority fighting cultural oppression. Joshua’s parents immediately began to be chided as “repressive” and “bigoted” and even began to receive various threats from LGBT internet crusader-activists.

Transgenderism and Gender Identity

I have not referred to Joshua by using female pronouns or by using his self-invented female name of “Leelah.” The reason I am not doing this is simple: Joshua was not a girl—he was a boy—and to address males with female pronouns or females with male pronouns is to contribute to our culture’s confusion about sexuality and the nature of the human person, which is literally leaving casualties in its wake. No amount of surgical mutilation of body parts, effeminate behaviors, or artificial female appearances can make a man a woman.

LGBT activists will respond in various ways to this. They might first respond by saying: “Okay, true enough: Joshua was biologically a male. But you have misunderstood our claim: we contend that his sex was male, yes, but his gender was female because he ‘identified’ as female.” The idea here is that people have a sex, which is either female or male and which one cannot choose. In addition to this, however, there is “gender,” or what sex one is more comfortable “identifying” as. The response to this is simple: Why think that what one “identifies as” is significant at all, especially to the extent that others should actively recognize or cater to such an identity, and especially when the identity one adopts is contrary to reality?

Consider the following analogies. Suppose that a Caucasian man from Finland—call him Gunther—suddenly decided that he identifies as being of Sub-Saharan African descent. Suppose further that, in light of this, Gunther undergoes unusual procedures to have his skin darkened and his skull’s bone structure re-shaped so as to resemble that of individuals of Sub-Saharan descent. Would we think that such a person has suddenly become of Sub-Saharan descent through such procedures? Of course not, and his identifying as such does nothing to change this. His appearance as someone of Sub-Saharan descent might be very convincing. But, again, this doesn’t change the fact that he is not of Sub-Saharan descent.

Similarly, suppose that a seventy-year-old man—call him Bob—comes to identify as a sixteen-year-old. Wouldn’t we think it absurd if people considered it “rude” or “bigoted” to tell the man: “You are not sixteen years old. Your identifying as such doesn’t change this fact, and we will not indulge you in your strange delusions by not calling attention to your old age and by pretending that you really are sixteen years old”?

The cases of Gunther and Bob and the situations of individuals who believe themselves to be transgender are perfectly analogous. In the case of the transgender individual, he identifies as something he is not—someone of the opposite sex—and seeks to undergo harmful surgeries and hormonal treatments in order to have his physical state match his identity of himself as someone of the opposite sex.

Our mental faculties, like our physical ones, are ordered toward various ends. Among these ends is the attainment of truth. To this extent, it is perfective of our mental faculties to recognize how we truly are (and thus apprehend a truth). It is for this reason that we can make sense of mental disorders such as anorexia nervosa as disorders: they involve persons’ having persistent, false beliefs about their identity or how they really are. In the case of the anorexic, someone who is dangerously underweight believes falsely (but tenaciously) that he is really overweight. It would be a proper procedure of medicine, then, for a therapist to help an anorexic individual to do away with his anorexia, restoring the individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state.

Gender Reassignment Surgery Is Not Medicine

Those in favor of transgenderism also (naturally) support gender-reassignment surgery as a perfectly legitimate medical procedure for individuals (including children) with gender dysphoria. Now, put to one side the fact that 70-80 percent of children who report having transgender feelings come to lose such feelings. Ignore, for the moment, the fact that individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Instead consider the following question: Can we reasonably categorize gender reassignment surgery as a medical procedure in the first place?

Before we answer this question, we might venture to ask: what is medicine? Here is a plausible answer: medicine is the enterprise of restoring bodily faculties to their proper function. Our bodily faculties are ordered toward certain ends. This seems impossible to deny. Eyes, for example, are ordered toward (i.e., their function is) seeing, the stomach is ordered toward breaking down food, the heart is ordered toward pumping blood, etc. So if, say, someone’s eyes were not able to achieve their end of sight well, it would be rightly considered a medical procedure to seek to restore this individual’s eyes to their proper function. Similarly, it would be a medical endeavor to seek to restore an individual’s defective heart (one that has arrhythmia, say) to its proper function. All well and good.

But what are we to make of this “gender reassignment” surgery? Insofar as such a surgical procedure involves the intentional damaging and mutilating of otherwise perfectly functioning bodily faculties by twisting them to an end toward which they are not ordered, such a thing cannot, in principle, possibly be considered a medical procedure. And because love compels us to seek the good for another, it is thus a grave evil to condone such surgical procedures.

On Gender Identity Disorder Therapy

A similar point can be made about gender identity disorder therapy. Transgenderism activists are seizing Joshua’s tragic death to insist that such therapy ought to be criminalized. A petition is floating around the internet to ban so-called “transgender conversion therapy,” a procedure that involves, presumably, an attempt by a professional to help a person who is experiencing a gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria). If the progress of the homosexual movement is a guide to what will come next, we can expect that laws will soon be passed criminalizing individuals’ receiving therapy to help them do away with transgender identities or desires—even for those who want to relieve themselves of such identities and desires.

Recall our earlier discussion of anorexia. Like the anorexic, the transgendered individual tenaciously holds to false beliefs about his identity or how or what he truly is: he believes that he is a sex that he is not. Dr. Paul McHugh’s words here are particularly incisive:

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

It would thus be a perfectly proper procedure of medicine for the transgendered individual to visit a therapist to seek his professional help to relieve himself of his disordered transgender identity insofar as this would amount to a restoring of the transgendered individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state. The suggestion, then, that gender identity disorder therapy should be criminalized is as absurd as the suggestion that therapy to eliminate anorexia should be criminalized.

Some Common Objections

Now, an apologist for transgenderism might retort in the following way: “You’re missing a key point: the brains of, say, men who ‘identify’ as women have been shown to resemble those of women. This shows that there is a biological basis to their identifying as such.” In response, we might begin by asking for empirical evidence that this dubious claim really is true. But even if this were the case, this doesn’t show that men whose brains “resemble that of a woman’s” (whatever that means) are truly women after all. If we are to say that the person simply is the brain, as the one who espouses this objection seems to suggest, then, because presumably even males who identify as women have brains with male DNA, it follows that they are men after all.

But we don’t even need to grant that the presence of such-and-such brain states is relevant at all. For example, we may suppose that, through habitually behaving as a sixteen-year-old, the brain activity of the seventy-year-old mentioned above “resembles” that of a sixteen-year-old’s. Does it follow, then, that the seventy-year-old really is sixteen years old? Or that he is really a sixteen-year-old trapped inside a seventy-year-old’s body? Of course not. The most rational conclusion is that such an individual has some sort of cognitive or psychological defect associated with identity and self-perception. The same can be said for the transgender individual.

Indeed, it should not come as a surprise to find out that our daily activities shape our brain-states or alter the way our brains behave. After all, it is more or less common knowledge that, say, the process of learning to play an instrument has the effect of establishing new neural pathways, thus causing a change in brain-states. Thus Dr. Norman Doidge comments: “Now we know the brain is ‘neuroplastic,’ and not only can it change, but that it works by changing its structure in response to repeated mental experience.”

On the topic of sexuality more specifically, consider the fact that habitual porn use seems to result in (or correlate with) decreased gray matter in the brain, and that habitual porn use changes the sexual tastes of men. If habitually watching pornography can change a man’s brain so significantly, then it should hardly be surprising that through intentionally and habitually behaving like a woman a man’s brain would too change to some extent. But again, this does not thereby show that such a man is a woman after all; all it shows is that through habituated action of some sort, the man’s brain behavior has changed.

Another response might be to ask rhetorically: “Well, what about intersex individuals?” The implication is that the existence of intersex individuals somehow shows that the nature of sex is up for grabs for everyone, intersex or not. But this doesn’t follow at all. In the genuine case of intersex individuals, it may very well be appropriate to express puzzlement or ignorance as to what to make of such an attribute, metaphysically speaking, and perhaps leave it as an open question whether such individuals are either male or female or whether they should be encouraged to undergo surgical procedures in the interest of their health. Cases in which an individual is intersex, however, are exceedingly rare. Indeed, even granting the point, it would not be unfair to say that in 99.99 percent of cases (and even this might be too low a percentage), a person is either male or female. And unsurprisingly, most of the individuals who believe themselves to be transgender have perfectly functioning male or female reproductive systems. This question is both irrelevant and fruitless.

Finally, the LGBT activist might retort by asking: “but how will a man identifying as a woman affect you?” If these were simply private issues, this might be a valid point (though a concern for the physical and mental well-being of individuals struggling with their gender might obligate us to reach out to them in such a case). But, alas, LGBT activists are actively working to make it the case that the state and private businesses cover “gender-reassignment” surgeries, that men who identify as women be able to use women’s restrooms, that girls who identify as boys be able to play on male sports teams, that we consider it immoral to refer to infants as male or female lest we insidiously impose upon them a “gender” they might not identify with, that we ban therapy to treat gender dysphoria, and that we generally co-opt language and social norms to reflect pernicious falsehoods about the human body.

How a man’s identifying as a woman will personally affect me, you, or John Doe is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether we will make public policy and encourage social norms that reflect the truth about the human person and sexuality, or whether we will obfuscate the truth about such matters and sow the seeds of sexual confusion in future generations for years to come.

conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

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Intel community raced to unmask Trump team

original article: Former Obama Official: Intelligence Community Raced To Pump Out Classified Info About Trump Team
March 30, 2017 by Ben Shapiro

While the media fulminates over supposed connections between the Trump Team and the Russian government, the only scandal of which we have real evidence – members of the Obama intelligence community leaking classified information about American citizens – continues apace.

And the media don’t seem to care.

Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Obama said on March 2 on MSNBC that she was telling members of the intelligence community as well as Democrats in Congress to gather as much information as possible on the Trump transition team.

She explained:

I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy … that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their … the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence….So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were trying to also help get information to the Hill.

In other words, there’s a hint here that Team Trump may have been targeted by Obama intelligence officials specifically; there’s definitive testimony here that the Obama team tried to distribute material on Team Trump as widely as possible, likely leading to the outing of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador and then his firing.

This squares with reporting from The New York Times the day before Farkas’ appearance that, “In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.”

It’s not illegal for intelligence officials to do that. It is illegal for intelligence officials to unmask American citizens needlessly, or to disseminate such information to the press. Yet somehow The Washington Post’s David Ignatius ended up with such information in January prior to Trump’s inauguration, quoting a “senior US government official” who said “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on December 29…” How did he get that information?

Trump has always been right about the danger of intelligence community leaks. He’s slathered that real scandal in the evidence-less stupidity that he was personally wiretapped at Barack Obama’s behest. But just because Trump’s twitter feed is filled with gossipy silliness doesn’t mean that the media have a right to ignore the burning scandal of intelligence coordination to damage the Trump White House.

abuse, bias, bureaucracy, corruption, cover up, criminal, ethics, government, politics, scandal, victimization

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Examining the redefinition of gender and sexuality

original article: Blurred Lines: Understanding The Effort To Redefine Gender And Sexuality
March 22, 2017 by B. Christopher Agee

While civil-rights movements of decades past were met with fierce resistance, the current effort to promote tolerance of wide-ranging sexual and gender identities faces unique challenges.

Numerous advocacy groups have dedicated a large part, if not all, of their resources to LGBT issues; meanwhile, even some of those who marched alongside these activists in previous movements believe the current push is a bridge too far.

The only consensus, it seems, is that the topic of sexuality and gender identity in America is one fraught with polarizing points of view.

A generational shift

Studies continue to show younger Americans are more likely to identify as something other than strictly heterosexual. Even between the young adults of the Millennial generation and their mostly teenage counterparts in Generation Z, there exists a significant gap in sentiment regarding gender roles in general.

While nearly 7 in 10 Millennials, broadly defined as those in their early 20s to mid-30s, are comfortable describing themselves as heterosexual, less than half of those in the younger generation are willing to make such a distinction.

Teens are also far more likely to identify as transgender, research indicates. According to one study, almost 150,000 teenagers living in the U.S. would describe themselves as something other than their gender at birth. In some states, that number is believed to be about 1 in 100. Last year, analysts determined the number of transgender Americans to be about twice as high as previously estimated at approximately 1.4 million adults. That study found young adults — between the ages of 18 and 24 — were more likely than older adults to identify as transgender.

As with many aspects of the topic, there is plenty of debate among experts and academics regarding the cause of this generational shift.

Artist and designer Pablo Solomon is a longtime civil-rights activist who said he and his wife “were active in gay rights in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before it was either hip or safe to do so.”

He told Western Journalism, however, that he believes the current incarnation of the movement has been influenced heavily by “several generations in which sex requires no boundaries, no responsibilities, no feelings — only immediate pleasure.”

That hedonistic lifestyle, he posited, has led each passing generation to see less behavior as off limits.

Others, including social worker and LGBT-rights advocate Brieanna Scolaro, believe the gender identities being expressed today have been felt all along by generations of people with no mechanism to process them.

“Before recent times,” she told Western Journalism, “we didn’t have these ways to think about gender identity and expression, nor did society allow for it.”

She went on to suggest people generally identify “on a spectrum, somewhere between straight and gay as well as somewhere between male and female.”

As society has become more accepting, Scolaro concluded, “it makes complete sense that an increasing number of Americans choose to express somewhere in between.”

Silencing opponents

While advocates in academia, politics and pop culture have aided in ushering in a society more tolerant of gender issues, those on the other side of the debate often describe a growing intolerance aimed at their viewpoints.

Reports last year, for example, indicated landlords and employers in New York were at risk of incurring fines up to $250,000 for failing to use an individual’s preferred pronoun. Furthermore, business owners have been hit with huge fines for refusing service to individuals based on a personal objection to their lifestyle.

A growing sector of the American population has begun advocating for laws and policies that dictate individual behavior related to the LGBT community. A vocal group of detractors, however, continues to insist such compulsory rules run afoul of the First Amendment.

Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for policy studies, told Western Journalism he does not believe “anyone should be fired or disciplined for declining to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns.”

Furthermore, he said his organization’s position is that sexual orientation and gender identity should not qualify as protected classes for the purpose of non-discrimination laws.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity involve behavior factors which — unlike race or sex — are not inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous or in the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “However, even in states which have included these as protected categories, we do not believe that declining to participate in the celebration of a same-sex wedding, for example, constitutes sexual-orientation discrimination.”

Allowing Americans to freely express their opinion on the subject, Sprigg said, clearly falls under the umbrella of constitutional liberty.

“For someone who sincerely believes that maleness and femaleness are biological characteristics that are immutable from birth, being forced to use the pronouns of the opposite sex for someone amounts to being forced to lie,” he said. “no one should be put in that position.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb generally agrees with Sprigg’s assessment, telling Western Journalism it is “problematic” to enact such laws.

“If the use of pronouns is simply reflecting the reality of a person’s sex, without intent to harass or otherwise harm the other, it should not be punished,” he told Western Journalism. “Importantly, Title IX [of the Education Amendments Act of 1972] does not regulate the content of speech, and the First Amendment is hostile to compelled speech.”

McCaleb asserted the Constitution also “forbids the government from forcing creative professionals to promote messages, produce art, or celebrate events against their will.”

Where Scolaro wants to see “federal and state law [mandating] the provision of services, which would tell these business owners how they should behave when faced with a question of morality,” Solomon wants to see laws protecting those on the other side of the debate.

“Any group from Black Lives Matter to gay rights to KKK who threaten any business with boycotts or anything else for not supporting their events should be libel for resultant damages and possibly face criminal charges,” he said.

Identity vs. biology

A primary source of disagreement within this societal debate relates to whether gender is determined by biology or a person’s individual identity. This fundamental disagreement has been on full display as governments and businesses wrestle with whether to allow individuals to use restrooms corresponding with the gender of their choice.

Another realm in which this debate frequently rages is organized sports. Where many LGBT-rights activists insist transgender athletes should be allowed to compete according to their gender identity, many others believe biological differences between the genders works to the obvious disadvantage of female competitors.

“If biological males compete against biological females,” Sprigg said, “in the vast majority of sports females will be the losers.”

He went on to assert the “fundamental reality of human nature that the average biological males is taller, heavier, stronger and faster than the average biological female.”

These differences, Sprigg said, were behind the creation of gender-specific sports.

McCaleb agreed, pointing to “well-established physical characteristics, which reflect real differences between male and female skeletal development, musculature, endocrine systems and so on” as reason to maintain separate leagues based on gender.

Scolaro represents the competing view that the issue “isn’t about biological males or females” but “how a person chooses to identify.”

She said transgender athletes should be allowed to compete on the teams of their choice, calling the “psychological harm” of excluding them “far worse than the potential harm of inclusion.”

This issue is being hashed out across the nation with a few states, including Oregon, issuing guidelines to allow transgender students on sports teams corresponding with their identity.

Cyd Ziegler wrote this week on Outsports about a higher-stakes platform on which the transgender athlete issues is being debated.

New Zealand weightlifter Larel Hubbard, who was born male and competed in the sport as a man before transitioning, recently broke a national record while competing as a woman. Hubbard also has dreams of entering the 2020 Summer Olympics, which is already sparking controversy among those who believe such an appearance would be inherently unfair to rivals who were born female.

Cultural influences

The spike in gender fluidity and sexual nonconformity among younger generations has corresponded with a notable increase in references to these lifestyles across much of the cultural landscape.

Some believe the entertainment industry is simply acting as a reflection of changing societal norms while more cynical observers believe there is a deliberate effort to introduce and normalize lifestyles many Americans believe to be immoral.

“I think the producers of popular entertainment have been promoting an agenda more than they have been responding to any change in consumer tastes,” Sprigg said.

Solomon took the thought a step further, declaring the entertainment industry has already “achieved the goals of their leftist agenda,” noting it has “destroyed the family, any sort of morality and any sort of responsibilities connected to sex.”

According to Scolaro, the increased sexual and gender diversity on television and elsewhere is a result of America’s changing culture.

“As society has grown, so has our portrayal of stories and the characters involved,” she said.

She later noted advancements in broadcasting, such as popular content-streaming services, have also led to a wider representation of LGBT groups.

“Networks such as Netflix and Amazon are not bound by as many restrictions as ABC, NBC and so on,” Scolaro explained. “With shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent, viewers across all gender identity and sexual orientation spectrums are finding characters like themselves on television.”

Still, she sees a need for even more on-screen depictions of minority groups.

“As a cisgender gay woman, I see far more characters that look and feel like me than a transgender person of color,” she said. “But overall what we see is that of a white, straight, cisgender world.”

How young is too young?

With an increasing number of children, including some as young as preschool age, expressing a desire to transition to the opposite gender, activists and members of the medical community are left to determine which responses they believe are appropriate. Even among those who believe minors should be allowed to undergo some level of gender reassignment or transitioning, there is clearly no consensus on an appropriate age to begin considering such options.

Dr. Sherman Leis, who founded The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, told Western Journalism his practice generally only operates on individuals 16 year old or older.

“Parents and medical practitioners must take care before approving gender confirmation surgery, or transgender surgery, at an age that is too young,” he advised.

Scolaro, on the other hand, made the case for introducing hormones prior to puberty in some cases to avoid physiological changes that might make an individual more closely resemble his or her birth gender.

“Increased gender-based violence is seen when someone doesn’t pass for their desired gender expression,” she said. “When young males transition to female after puberty, they will have had their growth spurt, have their Adam’s apple, larger features, which can often put them at greater risk of violence and verbal assault.”

She suggested any “decision made involving a child should be considered carefully, and no overall age should be articulated that one should start transitioning.”

In Sprigg’s assessment, introducing hormones to pre-pubescent children is “fundamentally unethical” becasue of the lifelong effects such procedures have on young patients.

“Even a social transition to a new gender identity is unwise, in my opinion, for a minor,” he concluded. “I would recommend that young people wrestling with their gender or sexuality should wait until at least age 18 before making such a decision. Unfortunately, many parents have been influenced by the cultural messages of the LGBT movement on this subject, and are thus supporting their children in these unwise decisions.”

McCaleb also pointed to the permanence of certain gender-altering procedures performed on pre-pubescent children, noting “virtually all such children, left untreated, revert to their natal sex following puberty.”

The next frontier

The LGBT-rights movement saw significant achievements during the Obama era, most notably in a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

While Leis pointed to “the changing political climate” as the cause for “uncertainty among the transgender community and its advocates about the continuity and pace of this progression,” he said he believes activists will continue to advance their cause under a new administration. He cited a desire to see more specialized training in the field of transgender medicine as an area he would like to see progress in coming years.

As for what the future holds, Scolaro said activists “still have many other fronts, including workplace discrimination and provision of services to overcome.”

Sprigg offered his take on the viability of the transgender-rights movement in particular, predicting it will not gain widespread acceptance in America as quickly as prior efforts — including gay rights.

“Homosexuals were able to make a more libertarian argument that others should not care about what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom,” he said. “But the transgender movement is inherently about what people do in public, not just in private. I think there is much greater resistance to being forced to use certain pronouns, being forced to share locker rooms and showers with the opposite biological sex, and so forth.”

With a wave of college students choosing a major in gender studies or a related field, Scalaro envisions these “leaders of tomorrow” will influence further change in the nation’s opinions on gender and sexuality.

Solomon dismissed the idea with his assertion that graduates of gender-studies programs will be qualified to “teach gender education” — and little else. Sprigg echoed his sentiment, suggesting professors in the field are not providing graduates with a well-rounded education or a firm professional foundation.

“My impression is that while other academic fields such as political science or economics are capable of looking at contemporary issues from a range of perspectives,” he said, “it is difficult for any one in gender studies to take any view other than a strict pro-feminist, pro-LGBT approach. This limits its ability to be taken seriously as a truly academic discipline, rather than merely an activist one.”

While only time will tell what shape the LGBT-rights effort will take in the future, one thing seems clear: As Zeigler concluded in his report about Hubbard, “this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.”

Western Journalism reached out to Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization advocating on behalf of gay and transgender individuals, for comment. Representatives did not respond to our request.

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