Stigma Against Gay People Can Be Deadly

L.G.B.T. people experience a range of social, economic and medical disparities that jeopardize their long-term health.

I’ve never been sure what to expect when meeting someone who’s just tried to take his own life. But I’ve learned to stop expecting anything.

Sometimes, the person in front of me barely speaks, staring right through me, lost in a deep catatonic depression. Sometimes he or she can’t stop talking, breathlessly describing what happened as if we’re gossiping at brunch after an hour of SoulCycle.LGBTQ

Yesterday, my patient, a 20-something graduate student, swallowed a jumble of unmarked pills, hoping to die, after his father told him never to come home again. Today, he greeted me with a soft smile, his delirium starting to clear, his heart beating normally again.

“Whoops,” he said.

He’d been a happy kid who aimed to please. He once felt so bad for lying about having done his homework before playing video games, he told me, that he’d grounded himself. Sociable but square, he didn’t drink until he was 21, even though he’d gone to a college with a reputation for partying. Deeply religious, he was gay but desperately wanted not to be.

Now his father’s disavowal pushed him over the edge, capping a string of stigmatizing experiences at home, at school and at church. He’d had enough.

For decades, we’ve known that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals experience a range of social, economic and health disparities — often the result of a culture and of laws and policies that treat them as lesser human beings. They’re more likely to struggle with poverty and social isolation. They have a higher risk of mental health problems, substance use and smoking. Sexual minorities live, on average, shorter lives than heterosexuals, and L.G.B.T. youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and nearly five times as likely to attempt suicide.

Some of these disparities have interpersonal roots: social exclusion, harassment, internalized homophobia. But often they stem from an explicit denial of rights: same-sex marriage bans, employment discrimination, denial of federal benefits. Discrimination in any form can have serious health consequences: Sexual minorities living in communities with high levels of prejudice die more than a decade earlier than those in less prejudiced communities.

But civil rights advances and growing public acceptance of L.G.B.T. individuals in recent years are among the more transformative social changes in modern American history. And evidence increasingly suggests this shift has measurably improved health care access and health outcomes for L.G.B.T. populations.

The halting, patchwork nature of L.G.B.T. rights expansions across the country has allowed researchers to study the effects on health and well-being by comparing states that expanded rights to those that failed to introduce protections, or actively curtailed them. Since Vermont became the first state to formally recognize same-sex partnerships in 2000, many other states either legalized same-sex marriage, or conversely, passed constitutional amendments banning it — until the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges required all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage.

By Dhruv Khullar, M.D., NYTimes.com, October 9, 2018

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Major Climate Change Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040

A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.climate change

The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris agreement, the 2015 pact by nations to fight global warming.

The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty. Previous work had focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by a larger number, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), because that was the threshold scientists previously considered for the most severe effects of climate change.

Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion. But while they conclude that it is technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to avoid 2.7 degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically unlikely.

For instance, the report says that heavy taxes or prices on carbon dioxide emissions — perhaps as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 — would be required. But such a move would be almost politically impossible in the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China. Lawmakers around the world, including in China, the European Union and California, have enacted carbon pricing programs.

New York Times – October 8, 2018 by Coral Davenport

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Do IVF And Other Infertility Tech Lead To Health Risks For The Baby?

When patients come to Dr. Molly Quinn for infertility treatments like IVF, they usually aren’t too interested in hearing about the possible downsides, she says. They just want to get pregnant.

Still, she always discusses the risks of procedures such as IVF. For example, there’s an increased likelihood of twins or triplets — which increases the chances of medical complications for both moms and babies. And stimulating the ovaries to ripen extra eggs can, in a small number of cases, cause the ovaries to rupture.IVF

Quinn, an infertility specialist and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, now has a new hazard to consider. According to research published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, children conceived through certain infertility treatments may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

Parents shouldn’t panic, the study’s authors say: The findings are preliminary, and the study cohort was fairly small. Still, they say, it means that families who used infertility treatments like IVF should be particularly vigilant about screening for high blood pressure in their children and help them avoid other cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

“Fertility clinics should really … counsel about potential risks for their kids,” says Dr. Urs Scherrer, a visiting professor at the University of Bern in Switzerland and a senior author of the study.

Scherrer and his colleagues followed the health of children conceived through assisted reproductive technology for more than a decade. ART is an umbrella term that covers a number of different types of procedures, including in vitro fertilization, in which sperm and eggs are mixed in a lab dish, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which sperm are inserted directly into eggs. Today, roughly 2 percent of all births in the U.S are conceived via ART.

In 2012, the same team of scientists published a major paper showing that 65 healthy kids born with the help of ART were more likely than their peers to have early signs of problematic blood vessels. The current study, comparing 54 of those original children with 43 age- and sex-matched peers, shows those early irregularities — signs of “premature vascular aging”, the scientists say — persist into adolescence and young adulthood.

Kids in the study who were conceived via ART are now 16 years old, on average, but have blood vessels resembling those of middle-aged adults, the scientists found.

NPR.org, by Mara Gordon, September 19, 2018

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Lots of Successful Women Are Creating Frozen Eggs. But It May Not Be About Their Careers.

“Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career,” announced the headline of a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in 2014. It was the year that Facebook and then Apple began offering egg freezing as a benefit toemployees. Hundreds of think pieces followed, debating the costs and benefits of using frozen eggs in an effort to “postponing procreation” in the name of professional advancement.

In the years since, many more women across the world have  usedfrozen eggs. Many are highly educated. But the decision may have very little to do with work, at least according to a new study. In interviews with 150 American and Israeli women who had undergone one cycle, careerplanning came up as the primary factor exactly two times.

Instead, most women focused on another reason: they still hadn’t found a man to build a family with.frozen eggs

“The stereotype that these ambitious career women are freezing their eggs for the purposes of their career — that’s really inaccurate at the present time,” said Marcia Inhorn, a medical anthropologist from Yale University, and one of the authors of the study, which was presented Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s conference in Spain.

Most of these mid-to-late 30s women were already established in their careers by the time they got to the clinic, the study found.

“They weren’t freezing to advance; they were facing the overarching problem of partnership,” she said. This was the case, even among those who worked for companies that offered to pay for the procedure.

by Heather Murphy, New York Times – July 3, 2018

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Yet Another New Study Shows No Difference In Outcome of Children Raised By Gay Parents Or Straight Parents

A new study by Italian scientists says that the psychological adjustment in children of same-sex parents is the same for kids of heterosexual parents.

Professor Roberto Baiocco, PhD, and several of his colleagues from Sapienza University of Rome have conducted a survey to see the difference in how children grow up depending on whether their parents are gay men, lesbian women, or a straight couple.another study

The Study, titled With Same-Sex or Different-Sex Parents, Child Outcomes Linked to Family Functioning, was published by Wolters Kluwer and appears in the Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics.

The study included 70 gay fathers who had children through surrogacy, 125 lesbian mothers who had children through donor insemination, and 195 heterosexual couples who had children through spontaneous conception. In addition, the children were between the ages of 3 to 11 years old.

After obtaining the participants, the scientists split them up into three groups which were categorized by “child characteristics.”

From there, parents were asked a series of questions based on their ability to act successfully as a parent (self-agency), extent of agreement/adjustment between parents, family functioning, and the child’s psychological adjustment which the scientists defined as their “strengths and difficulties.”

by Devin Randall, InstinctMagazine.com, June 28, 2018

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Blood Test Might Predict Pregnancy Due Date and Preterm Birth

The blood test is far from ready for use, but research is promising. If it works in bigger studies, it could help prevent deaths of babies born prematurely.

Scientists have developed an inexpensive blood test to predict a pregnant woman’s due date and possibly identify women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely.

The research, which is still preliminary and involved small numbers of women, was led by a prominent pioneer in the field of genetic blood testing, Stephen Quake at Stanford University, who said the test could eventually provide a low-cost method of gauging the gestational age of a developing fetus.pregnancy blood test

The test, which detects changes in RNA circulating in a pregnant woman’s blood, estimated due dates within two weeks in nearly half the cases, making it as accurate as the current, more expensive method, ultrasound, and more accurate than guesses based on a woman’s last menstrual period.

Using a similar analysis of RNA in blood from eight women who delivered prematurely, the researchers were able to correctly classify six of their pregnancies as preterm. If much larger studies achieve comparable results, the test could become a tool to help prevent unnecessary induction of labor or Cesarean deliveries, and could possibly help save babies would have died because they were born too early.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. And 15 million babies a year are born prematurely around the world.

“I think it’s really a very exciting study that suggests an approach that may have a lot of potential for predicting preterm delivery,” said Dr. Louis Muglia, director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the University of Cincinnati. “It can certainly help you understand where the baby is in maturity,” he said, which could aid doctors in gauging when to deliver babies of women who go into unexpected early labor.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Science, the team, which was co-led by Dr. Mads Melbye, who runs the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark, analyzed the blood of 31 Danish women taken every week throughout their pregnancies, which were all full-term. The researchers studied genes linked to the placenta, the maternal immune system and the fetal liver, and found nine of those genes produce RNA signals that change distinctly as pregnancy progresses.

“RNA is what’s happening in the cells at any given moment,” said Dr. Quake, who is also co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which funded the study, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. “We had this idea that we could make a molecular clock to see how these things change over time and it should allow you to measure gestational age and see where things are in pregnancy.”

by Pam Belluck, New York Times, June 7, 2018

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New Report: Continued Attacks Against LGBT Families Harm Children

As the three-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nears, two more states have passed legislation allowing taxpayer-funded child welfare organizations to discriminate against prospective families.

new report shows that these state laws are just the tip of the iceberg, and outlines how stigma, discrimination, and systematic attempts to undermine marriage equality harm the estimated 300,000 children raised by same-sex couples and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.

Coauthored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the Family Equality Council, Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children examines two overarching strategies to undermine marriage for same-sex couples and protections for LGBT parents, and shows how these coordinated efforts pose a profound threat to the children in LGBT families. First, some government officials, state legislators, and courts have refused to fully recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and their relationship with their children. Second, there is an increase in individuals, businesses, child welfare providers, healthcare providers, government contractors, and even government employees claiming they have a right to discriminate not just against LGBT people, but also against the children of LGBT people, because of their religious beliefs. These license to discriminate efforts are reflected in legislation, court cases, and agency guidance around the country.

Just this year, two states – Oklahoma and Kansas – have passed laws allowing child welfare agencies to discriminate against adopting families, leaving the nation’s most vulnerable children with fewer prospective families. And later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which has the potential to undo decades of nondiscrimination laws by allowing businesses to pick and choose which customers to serve. For children raised by LGBT parents in particular, the stakes are high. A same-sex couple could be refused pregnancy and birth healthcare services, a child with two mothers could be denied entrance to their local preschool, a child could be refused critical medical treatment because she was denied an accurate birth certificate listing both parents, or a qualified, loving same-sex couple could be rejected from fostering a child in need. In fact, as outlined in the report, all of these scenarios have already happened.

“It’s a sad day when laws prioritize politics over the well-being of children,” said Ineke Mushovic, MAP executive director. “Instead, we’re seeing a focus on laws that allow doctors to refuse to treat infants if they disapprove of the parents, that allow childcare facilities to discriminate against and kick out toddlers, and that would rather see kids move from foster home to foster home than be permanently placed with a loving, qualified same-sex couple.”

by The Seattle Lesbian, June 4, 2018

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Transgender People’s Brains Are Wired Like Those of Gender They Identify With, New Study Shows

The brains of transgender people are wired in a way that matches the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex, according to a new study. 

Researchers found that whether a person identifies as transgender could be tied to how their brains develop in the womb. A person might identify as transgender when the gender they are assigned at birth according to their sex does not match how they feel inside. For instance, a person with a penis who is told they are a boy at birth could later grow up to identify as a woman. trans

To arrive at their findings, researchers at the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands analyzed the brain activity of young transgender people using MRI scans. Around 160 young people were involved in the small study, including adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria.

The team assessed how their brains changed in response to a pheromone that prompts gender-specific activity in the organ. They found that the transgender adolescents had parallels with the brain activity of cisgender participants of the same gender. Cisgender is the term used to describe a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Professor Julie Bakker, an expert in neuroendocrinology at the University of Liege and lead author of the study, told Newsweek: “The earlier it [being transgender] is detected, the better the outcome of the treatment.

by Kashmira Gander, Newsweek.com, May 22, 2018

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All Evidence Shows That Children of Gay Parents Do Just as Well as Their Peers

Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, countless research has been carried out and endless debates have been had, all to show one thing.

That the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents. The myth that kids need a mum and a dad to have a fulfilled childhood has been repeatedly, conclusively disproved – so why is it still so pervasive?studies show kid of gay parents do great

Such views are ultimately rooted in outdated notions of what constitutes a good upbringing, stemming from conservative ideals of the ‘nuclear family’, with a mum, a dad and 2.4 children. In many cases, objection to LGBT families is motivated by homophobia as well – a belief that there is something different, and therefore undesirable or lacking, about same-sex parenting. But last year, researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies into same-sex parenting that has ever been carried out.

Scientists looked into more than three decades worth of peer-reviewed research into how the children in same-sex-parented families did in comparison to their peers from opposite-sex-parented families. The wide-ranging study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October 2017, found what had already been shown in multiple previous studies – that the kids do just as well.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School in the US, which itself looked at 79 studies investigating the well-being of children raised by gay parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which found that children fared just as well in a number of areas; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ review from 2013, which found that there was no evidence of harm.

Researchers behind the study, titled ‘The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children’, said at the time: ‘The findings of these reviews reflects a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships in the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.’

They added that studies that had shown poor outcomes for LGBT-parented children had been widely criticised for their limited methodologies.

by Ashtitha Nagesh, February 18, 2018 – Metro.co.uk

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Transgender Woman Breast-Feeds Baby After Hospital Induces Lactation

When a transgender woman told doctors at a hospital in New York that she wanted to breast-feed her pregnant partner’s baby, they put her on a regimen of drugs that included an anti-nausea medication licensed in Britain and Canada but banned in the United States.

Within a month, according to the journal Transgender Health, the woman, 30, who was born male, was producing droplets of milk. Within three months — two weeks before the baby’s due date — she had increased her production to eight ounces of milk a day.three-parent baby

In the end, the study showed, “she was able to achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks,” according to the journal.

Dr. Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner, of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York, say the case illustrates that, in some circumstances, modest but functional lactation can be induced in transgender women who did not give birth or undergo surgery.

“We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman,” said the study’s authors, Dr. Reisman and Ms. Goldstein, a transgender activist and program director at the center. They were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

New York Times by Ceylon Yeginsu, February 15, 2018

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