In a second attack on transgender rights over the holiday weekend, guidance protecting transgender people in the workplace was removed from the website of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
The previous version of the page, created during the Obama administration, provided detailed guidance on transgender employees.
The page is now replaced with a more generic one, removing content regarding transgender people.
The previous version included a detailed breakdown of terms surrounding transgender people, and useful policies for employers to treat their transgender employees with dignity and respect.
All of the terminology section has been removed, and much of the directives specific to transgender-specific policies has been removed or reworded.
For example, a section on “Dress and Appearance” suggested changed to gender-specific dress and appearance rules, and allowing a transgender person to use a dress code appropriate to their gender identity.
The new version of that section simply states the following: “Agencies are encouraged to enact policies that lead to efficient and effective mission delivery. Policies should require employees to follow dress and appearance rules consistent with the professional standards of their occupation.”
Of particular note is language buried in the section titled “Workplace assignments and duties.” In the previous version, it was noted that, “for a transitioning employee, once he or she has begun working full-time in the gender that reflects his or her gender identity, agencies should treat the employee as that gender for purposes of all job assignments and duties.”
The new version is far stricter on such, and includes a statement on “biological sex.”
“Individuals should be hired for, and stationed for assignments and duties, in accordance with the individual’s biological sex, consistent with the plain meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as articulated by the Attorney General memo of October 4, 2017,” reads the section.
That directive seeks to bar protections under title VII from applying to transgender people.
This is the second move against transgender people this week. The Trump administration has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a quick ruling on their policy barring transgender people from serving in the military.
A ban on transgender troops was lifted under President Barack Obama in 2016, but Donald Trump declared his intent to reverse that via Twitter, leading to an executive order to ban transgender service.
The Trump administration has not won in any court challenge to the order, leading to the push to take it to the Supreme Court.
It was estimated in 2014 by the Williams Institute that approximately 15,500 transgender people are serving in the military, either on active duty or via the National Guard or Army Reserve. An additional 134,300 transgender people are veterans or retired from service.
It is one of the largest employers of transgender people in the country.
The Supreme Court, with the addition of Trump-appointed judges Gorsuch and Kavanaugh has swung to the right, and may uphold such a ban. This could also pave the way for future groups being banned from service by this administration.
It is unknown at this time if the Supreme Court will accept the administration’s unusual request in this case.
Image by Laurel Wreath of Victors [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons.
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Confirmed US Coronavirus-Related Deaths Surge – Double in Just Two Days
The number of confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the United States has doubled in just two days, The Washington Post reported Saturday evening. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 now stands at 2000.
It was just over one month ago when President Donald Trump told the American people there were just 15 cases and “within days” the number would drop to “close to zero.”
Trump on that day said: “that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
“It took about a month from the first confirmed death for the United States to record 1,000,” the Post adds. “That toll has risen rapidly as officials have been warning the worst is yet to come.”
The National Security Council Gave Trump a 69-Page Pandemic Plan Three Years Ago — He Ignored It
On Wednesday, Politico reported the details of a 69-page pandemic response playbook given to President Donald Trump’s team by the National Security Council, outlining key steps the federal government should take to coordinate a response and contain the crisis — and revealed how the White House was catastrophically late to implement the plan’s major suggestions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk,” wrote Dan Diamond and Nahal Toolsi. “But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago.”
The report continued: “‘Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?’ the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. ‘If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?’”
This playbook, which was devised in 2016 in the wake of the government’s attempts to contain Ebola just years before, reportedly “also stresses the significant responsibility facing the White House to contain risks of potential pandemics, a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s delays in deploying an all-of-government response and President Donald Trump’s recent signals that he might roll back public health recommendations.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services maintained this plan was never formally adopted and said, “The HHS COVID-19 response was informed by more recent plans such as the foundation of the National Biodefense Strategy (2018), Biological Incident Annex (2017), and panCAP (2018) among other key plans provided by the CDC, White House Task Force, FEMA, and other key federal departments and agencies.”
Nonetheless, according to Politico, the existence of the plan undercuts Trump’s narrative that the coronavirus disaster was unforeseeable: “Trump’s aides were told to expect a potential pandemic, ranging from a tabletop exercise that the outgoing Obama administration prepared for the president’s incoming aides to a ‘Crimson Contagion’ scenario that health officials undertook just last year and modeled out potential risks of a global infectious disease threat. Trump’s deputies also have said that their coronavirus response relies on a federal playbook, specifically referring to a strategy laid out by the Centers for Disease Control.”
“It is not clear if the administration’s failure to follow the NSC playbook was the result of an oversight or a deliberate decision to follow a different course,” continued the report.
You can read more here.
Trump Will Be a ‘One-Man Death Panel’ if He Sends People Back to Work Amid Pandemic: Medical Experts
President Donald Trump’s stated desire to get America back up and running by Easter despite the continued threat from the coronavirus pandemic is running into a wall of criticism from medical experts.
In interviews with the New York Times, several medical experts said that pushing Americans to return to work in the middle of a pandemic would make the spread of the disease vastly worse than it is right now.
“The virus will surge, many will fall ill and there will be more deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells the Times of Trump’s push to ease social distancing restrictions.
“Nobody voted in Donald Trump thinking he would become a ‘one-man death panel’ empowered to dispense with American lives like cannon fodder,” Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, tells the paper. “It would be political suicide for him and murder for many others.”
Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, the acting director of the University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Disease Preparedness, similarly tells the Times that there are no shortcuts in dealing with the virus.
“The lesson from China is that aggressive measures to reduce the spread of the virus, continued for two months, have led to a reduction in new cases,” he says.
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