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Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Today, Wednesday, May 15th, is the International Day of Families.

Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."

"Family" is undefined because of the vast diversity of families today. 



Top Stories This Week

  • A recent healthcare discrimination rule and the rolling back of legal protections for LGBTQ patients;  
  • Juno Mac and Molly Smith’s book on the fight for sex workers’ rights;
  • The horrific conditions of menstruating while incarcerated;
  • Queer Muslim women reflecting on navigating their faith and sexuality;
  • Trans actors’ efforts to rewrite the rules of TV casting;
  • The racist roots of denying incarcerated people their right to vote;
  • The imperative to destigmatize teen motherhood.


Trump Administration Finalizes Health-Care Discrimination Rule (Rewire.News)

On Thursday, May 2, the Trump administration issued the final conscience rule that allows “individuals and health-care entities to refuse care to patients based on religious or moral objections.” Jessica Mason Pieklo writes, “The rule permits providers to refuse to provide treatment, referrals, or assistance with procedures if these activities would violate their stated religious or moral convictions. The rule goes beyond refusing to provide health care; it also includes refusal for any health-related services, including research activities, health studies, or the provision of health-related insurance coverage.” Read more.


(Franck Chapolard/newzulu/Newscom)

Sex Workers’ Rights Are Workers’ Rights (Jacobin)

As Natalie Shure asserts, “Sex workers don’t need saving. They need what every other worker needs: the power to dictate the terms of their labor.” To obtain this power, decriminalization is essential: “Not only are carceral measures ineffective, they argue, but oppressive, further marginalizing and impoverishing the very people they pretend to protect. Justice won’t be found in locking up sex workers, ending demand for commercial sex, or ‘exiting’ sex workers into low-wage jobs in sweatshops. It will come from these workers themselves building power to gain control over their working conditions, and challenging the broader political context that pushes many of them to sell sex in the first place.” Read more.


(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Getting Your Period in Prison Is Hell. These Numbers Prove It. (Mother Jones)

Cis women are the fastest-growing incarcerated population, but as Samantha Michaels notes, “in many states, prisons only offer cheap pads that don’t stick or absorb well,” and many people are forced to buy their own sanitary products. Missouri Appleseed, a nonprofit seeking to improve human rights conditions in the U.S. justice system, decided to examine the extent of the situation. To put the findings in perspective, Michaels writes, “Missouri prisoners without a high school diploma can make just $7.50 a month in certain prison jobs. Those with a degree earn $8.50 in some jobs. [...] That means that for many prisoners, one box of tampons costs almost as much as a full month’s salary.” Read more.


(Fouad Maghrane/AFP/Getty Images)

Queer Muslim Women Reflect On Navigating Their Faith and Sexuality (them.)

Ahead of Ramadan, them. asked five young queer Muslim women about navigating their faith and sexuality. As L, an interviewee, says, “Regardless of my sexuality, I will continue identifying as Muslim and defending my community against bigoted assumptions and acts of terror that attempt to demonize Muslims for existing. I wish the LGBTQ+ community spoke out against Islamophobia more frequently and was more inclusive in their representation. I wonder if that would have empowered me to embrace my full identity at a younger age.” Read more.



How Trans Actors Are Rewriting the Rules of TV Casting (The New York Times)

As Nico Lang acknowledges, while television has made strides in LGBTQ+ inclusion, trans actors are often “only considered for parts specifically written for transgender people.” But recently, trans actors have succeeded in rewriting the rules of casting. Lang writes, “Trans actors say they want the ability to be seen as all kinds of people, even characters whose background isn’t part of the story. While casting cis actors in trans roles—Jared Leto in ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ for one—may suggest their identities are just a costume, allowing trans people to play everything from a helicopter pilot to Barista No. 2 sends a powerful message. It says that they are part of the everyday fabric of society, just like everyone else.” Read more.


(Amaal Said/The New York Times)

The Racist Roots of Denying Incarcerated People Their Right to Vote (Source)

Jeffery Robinson begins with a question: “why and when did America decide that people convicted of a crime should not vote?” Detailing the racist motivations for the denial of incarcerated peoples’ right to vote, Robinson writes, “In total, 2.2 million Black citizens are banned from voting. Thirty-eight percent of the disenfranchised population in America is Black. [...]  Justifications offered now regarding disenfranchisement ignore the undeniable fact that the practice in America is clearly connected to an attempt to deny Blacks full rights as citizens. We cannot change what happened in the past, but we are better than that now—we can fix it now. Restoration of voting rights to people in prison is a concept we should all support.” Read more.


(Juno Mac)

Bumped Off: What Will It Take to Destigmatize Teen Motherhood? (Bitch Media)

Natasha Vianna contends that teen parenthood is a reproductive-justice issue—not a pathological condition. Vianna continues, “Reproductive-justice advocates routinely criticize conservatives for shaming young women for their reproductive choices, but when these same advocates frame teen pregnancy and parenthood as a universally negative outcome of sex—to be avoided at all costs—they are contributing to a culture of shame. Well-established organizations, such as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP), have implicitly participated in the development of stigma for teenage parents. Framing teenage pregnancy as a pathological condition and focusing on the ‘public costs of teenage childbearing’ is degrading for both teen parents and their children.” Read more.


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