- The South Dakota House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would bar doctors in the state from providing treatments to transgender youth.
- Republican Rep Fred Deutsch, who introduced the bill, compared gender confirmation surgeries to experiments performed by Nazi scientists in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
- On Monday, Deutsch said he regretted making the comparison but said he still supports the bill.
As South Dakota state representatives prepare to vote on a bill that would prohibit doctors from providing treatment medicine to transgender youth, the bill’s sponsor is backtracking on a previous statement where he insinuated that those doctors perform experiments similar to Nazi scientists.
The bill in question—HB 1057—would only block doctors from providing trans treatment services to patients under 16. Specifically, it would make it illegal for doctors to treat transgender youth with hormones, puberty blockers, or gender confirmation surgery.
The major argument among supporters is that the bill is a step to protect “vulnerable” children from making permanent, life-changing decisions to their bodies.
“If you care about kids, I think you have to prioritize them,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Fred Deutsch, said in a podcast with the Family Research Council. “And in South Dakota, we don’t allow mutilation of our children. I don’t care if it’s doctors. I don’t care if it’s parents. You know, these kids on the Internet, they share pictures of themselves that just blow you away—of all these surgical scars, and it’s terrible.”
Deutsch said he drafted the bill after discovering sites like Reddit, where he said he read stories from people who regretted transitioning. Since its introduction on January 14, it has been referred to and passed through the House State Affairs Committee.
Nazi Experiments Comparison
Deutsch was made a subject of further attention during the FRC podcast, where he sat down with FRC President Tony Perkins. In it, Deutsch compared gender confirmation surgery (also known as sex reassignment surgery) to experiments performed on Nazi concentration camp prisoners.
“To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors, you know, that dance on the edge of medicine,” Deutsch said last week on the podcast. “I just don’t think it should be done. You know, I’m a son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz. And I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”
Deutsch’s comment also came at an especially sensitive time because this week marks the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation.
However, Deutsch is not alone in his comparison. When the State Affairs Committee voted on the bill last week, others used similar language.
“Examples in the United States, the despicable Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African-Americans. The entire German medical establishment was behind atrocious human eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany, including untold numbers of children,” California endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw told the committee.
Deutsch Backtracks His Comparison
On Monday, Deutsch backtracked on the statement he made in the podcast, telling the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that he never meant to equate doctors who provide treatments to transgender youth as being the same as Nazis.
“I’ve been to a whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world. It’s very personal to me,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me.”
In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Deutsch further added that he regrets making the comparison.
“I regret saying anything at all,” he told The Post. “It was pretty stupid.”
“You look at photos of the Holocaust and they’re gross,” he also added. “And then you look at the scars of these children and they’re equally—I don’t know if they’re equally—they’re also gross. Sometimes you see a picture, you hear a sound, you smell something that reminds you of something else and that’s all it was.”
Will the Bill Pass?
The House had been expected to vote on HB 1057 on Monday, but that vote was delayed until Wednesday afternoon. As far as whether or not it will become law, that’s unclear.
Last year, the House passed a bill that would have barred transgender students from playing on athletic teams that match their gender identity, but it ultimately failed in the Senate by a single vote.
Back in 2016, Deutsch proposed another bill related to trans rights, this one a “bathroom bill” that would require public school students to use the restrooms and lockers rooms of their biological sex. That later passed the state legislature but was unexpectedly vetoed by then-governor Dennis Daugaard.
Regarding HB 1057, Governor Kristi Noem has expressed concern about the bill, though she has not indicated one way or the other if she will veto it.
“When you take public policy and try to fill parenting gaps with more government, you have to be very careful about the precedent you’re setting,” she said.
Also, even though the bill won its committee vote 8-5, that victory was not along party lines. Of the five representatives that voted “no,” three were Republican.
If the bill were to become law, doctors would face a Class 1 misdemeanor for helping treat transgender youth, with the maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Trans Advocates Call Bill Misinformed
On the other side of the debate, trans advocates have called the bill, and its justification, misinformed and dangerous to trans youth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes puberty blockers, which the bill would ban, are both reversible and can lower the risk of those children developing mental health conditions.
Additionally, though the bill would outlaw gender confirmation surgeries for trans youth, most doctors rarely ever recommend that children under 18 undergo the operation. Usually, doctors advise that youth wait until adulthood for permanent procedures.
If an trans adult does want to later undergo surgery, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the use of puberty blockers can reduce the amount of surgery needed. This is because they prevent the sex-specific development of features like Adam’s Apples, male pattern baldness, voice changes, breast growth, etc.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Rolling Stone) (KSKY)
Video of Man Punching Woman’s Reclined Airplane Seat Sparks Debate
- When a woman on an American Airlines flight reclined her seat, the man behind her responded by repeatedly punching the back of it.
- After a flight attendant was called to help, she allegedly sided with the man and offered him a free cocktail.
- The woman, Wendi Williams, took to social media to share her side of the story and express her frustration. The video she posted of the incident has since gone viral.
- Some have admonished Williams for reclining her seat in such tight quarters, while others have publicly condemned the man for his behavior.
Tensions Rise in the Sky
An airplane passenger went public with her story of a man punching the back of her seat when she reclined it during a flight, and the Internet has had a lot to say on the matter.
Wendi Williams took an American Airlines plane from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 31 — a flight that lasts around two hours. The man behind her couldn’t recline his own seat, as he was sitting in the last row of the plane. Williams said he asked her to put her seat up because he was eating, which she says she did. Then when he was finished she reclined it again. That’s when the trouble started — the man responded by hitting the back of William’s seat.
Williams began recording the punches and even called a flight attendant for help, but the employee allegedly brushed her off. Instead of reprimanding the man in the last row, Williams claimed the flight attendant offered him a cocktail and told Williams to delete the footage.
“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘What?’” Williams tweeted. “She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum!”
Williams has been posting about the incident to her Twitter page over the last week, calling the man’s actions an “assault.” She said that prior to the start of her video, in behavior not caught on camera, the man’s aggression was worse.
American Airlines responded to Williams directly on Twitter, asking her to direct message them with her contact information. Williams replied that she had reached out to them multiple times. Several hours later, she reported on Twitter that she had talked to an American Air representative but felt as if an adequate apology wasn’t given for their flight attendant’s actions. Williams threatened to “press charges” in the wake of her dissatisfaction.
In a statement, American Airlines said it was looking into what happened.
“The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said.
Williams also said that the man’s punches have caused her physical pain, and revealed that she has pre-existing back issues. She wrote that since the plane ordeal, she has “lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have [had] horrible headaches for a week.”
The debacle caught widespread attention and the video of part of the incident went viral, bringing in many mixed reactions.
After it was revealed that Williams was sitting in coach, some thought she shouldn’t have reclined her seat with such little room.
“Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far…” one person wrote. “Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.”
Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far. My issues have been with people playing those seatback touchscreen games. Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.— Vern Blanston (@VernBlanston) February 9, 2020
I’m 6ft 5 and cant stand inconsiderate people putting their seats back, being the size I am I still wont recline due to having courtesy for others. If it was me you wouldn’t have got your seat back so count yourself lucky this guy let you 😂— Boondocksaint 88 (@88Boondocksaint) February 8, 2020
While some did admonish the man for punching Williams, they still thought she was in wrong as well for reclining her seat.
“I’m calling a double technical,” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t recline. Especially into the poor sap in the last row of the plane which doesn’t recline AND is adjacent to the lav. But, also… don’t punch someone’s seat, dude.”
Others defended the woman, arguing that she has a right to recline her seat, especially because it was designed with that feature. There was also widespread criticism of the man for taking the approach that he did.
Things you are allowed to do on a plane: recline your seat.— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) February 13, 2020
Things you are not allowed to do in a polite society: punch someone’s seat.
Simple as that.
I hate flying. I take up too much space and it sucks when someone reclines into me but…they are allowed to do that!
How is this a debate. I’m 6’3” and often stuck in uncomfortable seats on a plane with the person reclined in front of me. But if I sat there punching the chair in front of me, I would expect a swift punch in the face back at some point. This is some entitled bullshit.— Usman Ally (@UsmanAlly) February 14, 2020
And some Twitter users even pointed to the gender dynamic, arguing the situation was extra problematic because it was a man punching the seat of a woman and a power imbalance.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (Fox News) (KRQE Media)
Chicago High Schoolers Stage Sit-In After Teacher Allegedly Tells Student ‘Go Back to Your Country’
- When a Latina student at Senn High School in Chicago refused to stand during the national anthem, her teacher allegedly said, “go back to your country.”
- Students complained to the principal but felt there wasn’t enough being done, so they staged a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
- Chicago Public Schools said they are investigating the teacher’s alleged comments and support students who are peacefully raising concerns.
- The teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.
Claims of Racism
Chicago high school students held a sit-in on Wednesday after a teacher allegedly told a Latina student “go back to your country” when she refused to stand for the national anthem last month.
When Senn High School held a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar and several other senior students remained seated for the national anthem. It was an act of silent protest against police brutality, U.S. immigration policies, and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
According to the students, two teachers approached them and asked one if she was eligible for free or reduced lunch. When she responded that she was, the teacher told her that she should stand because people had died for this country. The student left the auditorium.
The teacher then turned to Salazar, asking her if her legs were broken. She told him no and started to explain her reasons for sitting.
“Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: ‘Go back to your country.'” Salazar told NBC News.
Salazar, who is a U.S. citizen, was hurt by the remark.
“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be a part of this country,” Salazar told The Chicago Sun-Times.
The group of seniors complained about the incident to their principal, Mary Beck, but felt like the school’s response had been too slow. They held Wednesday’s sit-in, along with other students, to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
In several videos that have circulated on social media, students can be heard chanting, “we want justice, we want peace.”
Another video shows Beck addressing the students.
“I notified CPS. I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing, it is all time-stamped,” she said. “I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place.”
She is then interrupted as students start yelling, “So why is he still here?” referring to the teacher. Beck also receives some boos from the crowd.
This was not the only drama that unfolded during the sit-in. Chicago police reported that a 15-year-old student was arrested during the demonstration. She and another student began fighting, police said, and when a 55-year-old staff member tried to break it up, she pushed him to the ground.
Chicago Public Schools said they have launched an investigation into the teacher’s alleged national anthem comments, and spokesperson James Gherardi said they support students who are peacefully voiced their concern.
“CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district,” Gherardi said.
According to Block Club Chicago, the teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.
See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Time) (Chicago Sun-Times)
Should Freedom of Religion Protect Humanitarians Giving Food & Water to Migrants At The Border?
The U.S. federal government said that Humanitarians from the religious immigration reform group No More Deaths broke the law when they trespassed on a wildlife reserve to leave water for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Eventually, nearly all charges were reversed due to the religious freedom restoration act. The law says that even in circumstances where a law doesn’t mention religion, it can still violate peoples’ religious liberties, which was the case for No More Deaths. Check out this week’s video to learn more about who ruled in favor of the humanitarians and why their religious liberties were being violated according to one judge’s ruling.