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Reversing Trump, Pentagon to release new transgender policy

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Reversing Trump, Pentagon to release new transgender policy

WASHINGTON— The Pentagon on Wednesday will sweep away Trump-era policies that largely banned transgender people from serving in the military, issuing new rules that offer them wider access to medical care and assistance with gender transition, defense officials told The Associated Press.

The new department regulations allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal decisions not yet made public.

The changes come after a two-month Pentagon review aimed at developing guidelines for the new policy, which was announced by President Joe Biden just days after he took office in January.

Biden’s executive order overturned the Trump policy and immediately prohibited any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin then gave the Pentagon two months to finalize the more detailed regulations that the military services will follow.

The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Their expected release Wednesday coincides with International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Austin has also called for a reexamination of the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment because of gender identity issues under the previous policy. Results of that review have not been released.

Until a few years ago, service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the Obama administration. In 2016, the Pentagon announced that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly and that by July 2017, they would be allowed to enlist.

After Donald Trump took office, however, his administration delayed the enlistment date and called for additional study. A few weeks later, Trump caught military leaders by surprise, tweeting that the government wouldn’t accept or allow transgender people to serve “in any capacity” in the military.

After a lengthy and complicated legal battle and additional reviews, the Defense Department in April 2019 approved a policy that fell short of an all-out ban but barred transgender troops and recruits from transitioning to another sex and required most individuals to serve in what the administration called their “birth gender.”

Under that policy, currently serving transgender troops and anyone who had signed an enlistment contract before the effective date could continue with plans for hormone treatments and gender transition if they had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

But after that date, no one with gender dysphoria who was taking hormones or had transitioned to another gender was allowed to enlist. Troops that were already serving and were diagnosed with gender dysphoria were required to serve in the gender assigned at birth and were barred from taking hormones or getting transition surgery.

The new policies being released Wednesday are similar to those developed in 2016.

As of 2019, an estimated 14,700 troops on active duty and in the reserves identify as transgender, but not all seek treatment. There are more than 1.3 million active-duty troops and close to 800,000 in the National Guard and Reserves.

Since July 2016, more than 1,500 service members were diagnosed with gender dysphoria; as of Feb. 1, 2019, there were 1,071 currently serving. According to the Pentagon, the department spent about $8 million on transgender care from 2016 to 2019. The military’s annual health care budget tops $50 billion.

All four service chiefs told Congress in 2018 that they had seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military. But they also acknowledged that some commanders were spending a lot of time with transgender people who were working through medical requirements and other transition issues.

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Penn State to replace ‘sexist and classist’ words like freshman

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Penn State to replace 'sexist and classist' words like freshman

Pigskin powerhouse Penn State has jumped on the woke wagon.

The sprawling public university will replace pronouns such as he/him/hers with they/them/theirs; replace traditional student designations such as freshman and sophomore with “first year” and “second year” and; replace “underclassmen” and “upperclassmen” with “lower division” and “upper division,” according to Penn State News.

The Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy was passed by Pennsylvania State University’s Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs on April 27.

“Terms such as ‘freshmen’ are decidedly male-specific, while terms such as ‘upperclassmen’ can be interpreted as both sexist and classist. Terms such as ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ are parallel to western male father-son naming conventions, and much of our written documentation uses he/she pronouns,” states the resolution. 

“It is time to close the loop and ensure that all people are not only able to choose their name & gender identity within our systems, but that these documents and systems are also structured to be inclusive from the start.”

The decision was mocked by some people on social media.

“I am at my wit’s end with all of this stupidity,” said one Penn State parent on Twitter.

Asked Bill Bressier on Twitter, referencing the school’s sports teams’ nickname: “How long is that until the ‘Nittany Lion,’ which is a male term, is replaced by the gender neutral, correct subspecies ‘Eastern Cougar?’”

Penn State will also no longer use the phrase “super senior” to denote those students whose studies last beyond the traditional four years. They will instead be called fifth-year (or beyond) students.

The term super seniors “does often carry a slightly negative connotation,” the resolution noted.

Penn State announced in 2018 that it was dropping the titles homecoming “king” and “queen.”

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New book reveals how to win friends and influence post-COVID

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New book reveals how to win friends and influence post-COVID

Prior to the pandemic, Jon Levy was best known as the founder of the Influencers Dinner, a regular roving dinner party of A-listers — strangers to each other — pulled from different industries. The location would be revealed shortly before the event, and there were a few ground rules: Everyone would cook dinner together, and no one could reveal their last name or where they worked. 

It was all very mysterious. 

“There would always be this moment where people arrive for the cocktail hour,” says Levy, a behavioral scientist and author of the new book, “You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence.” “And they invariably say, ‘Do you mind if I call my wife? I just want to tell her I still have my kidneys.’ ” Past guests have included Nobel laureates, Olympic athletes, executives, scientists, and the Grammy-winning voice of the bark from “Who Let the Dogs Out.” 

This past year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to their Zoom squares to socialize digitally, Levy realized that virtual events can be rewarding — they just have to be planned differently. 

“When TV came out, the answer to programming wasn’t to have people reading soap operas. The new platform created a new way to engage, and that’s the same with digital,” he explains. “When we design our events, we design the experiences to focus on you, the individual, so you feel you’re connecting with people. We start off by putting people in breakout rooms to meet each other. The key is not to leave people to interview each other. Humans do best when there’s a shared effort or activity. If I give you a puzzle to figure out or an icebreaker game, that’s really important. These games cause a shared investment of effort. Now you’re a team.” 

Levy’s work as a behavioral scientist focuses on influence and human connection, never more important than in the current times. 

“I really value bringing people together. And when you look at the research, people are getting lonelier and more isolated,” says Levy. “I’m all for people earning more money and having nice things, but it just doesn’t carry the day. And [by writing this], I was hoping that if I worked hard enough, we can begin to shift the cultural conversation about what gives people a higher quality of life.” 

Check out jonlevytlb.com/games for several different examples of activities to be played at virtual events. 

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Body of missing KPMG executive Alan White found in Texas

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Body of missing KPMG executive Alan White found in Texas

The body of a Dallas businessman who has been missing since October was found in a wooded area of the Texas city.

A survey crew working for Paul Quinn College found human remains near the campus Thursday, police said.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner identified the remains as Alan White, an executive at accounting firm KPMG who was last seen gassing up his Porsche after a gym visit on Oct. 22.

The 55-year-old’s vehicle was found about a week later, and there were no signs of a struggle or accident.

“Your mind goes through all these scenarios of what could’ve happened,” White’s husband Rusty Jenkins said at the time. “But it’s all just kind of guesses until we get some facts or some leads. But your mind plays games all day of what did happen, what could’ve happened.”

There is a $10,000 reward for information related to the case.

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