HALIFAX – A transgender activist has filed a human rights complaint against the Nova Scotia Department of Health, saying it’s unfair the province covers breast removal surgeries for transgender men, but not breast augmentations for transgender women.Serina Slaunwhite has spent the last year-and-a-half fighting the provincial medicare program after she was denied breast implants in April 2017, on the grounds the surgery is not considered to be medically necessary.She filed the human rights complaint after she felt her concerns went unanswered.“This should be included along with the rest of the surgeries that are publicly funded by the province for sex reassignment surgery …. It’s gender discrimination,” Slaunwhite said Thursday.“Why is that not covered? If you’re going to do masculinization surgeries and breast removal for trans men, then they should be able to do the opposite for trans women.”She said Nova Scotia’s MSI program wouldn’t give her a “clear cut answer.”In an email, Department of Health spokeswoman Tracy Barron said transgender women usually develop breasts through hormonal therapy, which is covered by provincial pharmacare programs, while the only way for transgender men to permanently masculinize their chest is through surgery.“Implants are not covered for any individuals who would prefer larger breasts,” she said.“Breast implants are covered in Nova Scotia for severe congenital or developmental asymmetries and also in breast cancer reconstruction.”But Susanne Litke, a lawyer at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service who represents Slaunwhite, said in many cases breasts grown during hormone therapy aren’t substantial enough for transgender women to feel at home in their bodies.She said this kind of surgery can help transgender women “pass” — a term referring to their ability to be perceived as the gender they identify as — which can, in turn, mean being able to avoid hurtful comments and harassment from others.“It doesn’t always develop the size and volume of breast that they would be comfortable with in terms of the passing issue,” said Litke about transgender women being able to grow breasts during hormone therapy.“When that breast development isn’t enough for the person to be comfortable in their body, then it’s a medical necessity.”Litke said the province’s sex reassignment policy is a “simple regulation” that could be easily changed by the government if they wanted to and that B.C. and Saskatchewan have already chosen to fund breast augmentation surgery for transgender women.“Nova Scotia can take a lead here in Canada, we can be ahead of the rest of the provinces who don’t have the surgeries added,” she said.Without coverage, breast augmentation can cost several thousand dollars.Greater access to this service could also help transgender women avoid gender dysphoria, according to Kate Shewan, executive director of the Youth Project, an organization dedicated to supporting young people struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.Gender dysphoria, recognized by the Canadian Psychological Association, is a condition where people feel a disconnect between how their body appears and how they identify.Shewan said the condition can be mitigated through gender-affirming surgery.“For some trans people, the chest or the breasts can be an area of significant distress or discomfort,” she said, noting that failing to “pass” can result in harassment or violence toward a transgender person.“When you’re experiencing that level of discomfort for an extended period of time … it can cause people to have difficulty interacting in society.”Michael Davies-Cole, a local transgender man and activist, said it would be relatively simple for him to walk into a doctor’s office and get a referral to get a mastectomy or chest masculinization surgery, while transgender women aren’t afforded the same right.He said cisgender people — those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth — don’t realize the kinds of steps transgender people need to take in their everyday lives.“We get up in the morning and we literally spend more time than you can imagine deciding what to wear so we can pass for that day,” he said Thursday.“And the irony is, we’re asked to pass for something we already are.”Slaunwhite and Litke said they are waiting to hear back from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
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Share Being deported to an El Salvador he hadn’t seen in more than three decades was a trauma Hugo Castro recalls clearly.The 51-year-old said Monday that his country must begin preparing now to receive the nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who may have to return following the Trump administration’s decision to lift their temporary protected status next year.“The main problem for deportees is that they’re made invisible. They’re rejected, there’s no work. They don’t help us,” said Castro, who was deported from the U.S. in 2015.The U.S. announcement brought fears that a major source of income for this poor Central American nation will be cut off and that families could be separated. But there was also a hint of optimism that Salvadorans with many years of experience in the U.S. could bring expertise and investment to spur the economy.Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Salvadorans who have stayed in the U.S. with temporary protected status — only a fraction of the estimated 2 million Salvadorans living there — would have to leave by Sept. 9, 2019, unless Congress came up with a solution allowing them to stay.Twitter via @MaryknollFrsBrsThe temporary protected status program has been offered to citizens from a number of countries fleeing natural disasters or other instability. The affected Salvadorans received the status after earthquakes in 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. Thousands more who arrived in the United States in recent years fleeing gang violence were not eligible.Castro went to the United States as a teenager to study at a college in Atlanta. During his junior year his family back home lost nearly everything when the bank seized their coffee operation. Dropping out, he worked at a country club and a book store and became manager of a Mexican restaurant. Then a run-in with police led to more than two years in immigration detention as he unsuccessfully fought deportation after living in the U.S. for three decades.His first three months back in El Salvador were the worst, he said. He suffered from depression and didn’t want to leave his mother’s home. People told him a 49-year-old man should not depend on his mother to support him, so he started looking for work.“I went everywhere, to restaurants. I told them I had a lot of experience and that I spoke English, but they rejected me,” he said.Eight months after arriving, Castro finally found work at the Salvadoran Immigrant Institute. The non-profit group recognized the value of Castro’s bilingualism and the experience he had gained through the deportation process and it put him to work helping other deportees reintegrate into society.Castro said programs like his are very limited and more needs to be done for returnees.“The government has to get ready, partner with businesses, with all of society, the nonprofits and create assistance programs,” he said.As an example, he noted that in 2016, the country received 52,000 deportees from the United States and Mexico. Meanwhile, a government program to give small cash grants to allow deportees to open their own businesses has only graduated 140 people, he said.The biggest worry among many Salvadorans is that their nation of 6.2 million people will see a big drop in the amount of cash sent home by countrymen working in the United States. Salvadorans transferred more than $4.5 billion from the U.S. in 2016, accounting for 17 percent of El Salvador’s economy, according to government figures.Luis Membreno, an economic analyst in El Salvador, said that fear may be overblown. He said Salvadorans who have protected status in the U.S. tend to be more long-standing migrants who have their families there and send less money home. Many more Salvadorans are not in the program, with growing numbers entering the U.S. illegally over the past decade fleeing violence and poverty.“I don’t think that family remittances are going to fall in the short term,” Membreno said.He also thinks some Salvadoran families in the U.S. could start sending more money back — something that started when Donald Trump was elected president — so remittance figures could rise.In addition, he said, many of those eventually returning could be skilled and have money to invest. “All of this could generate a certain dynamism in the economy,” he said.Cesar Rios, director of the nonprofit group where Castro works, is less optimistic. “Our country is not prepared to receive thousands of Salvadorans,” he said.Deportees are often targeted by gangs, because they believe they have money. Police also target them, because of the stigma that they are criminals.“There’s no work,” Rios said. “Between 200 and 300 Salvadorans continue leaving every day for the United States.”Ernesto Godoy, standing outside a Western Union money transfer office in San Salvador, said he receives money from relatives with protected status in the United States. He worried the decision could lead to bigger problems in El Salvador.“It’s going to affect us, not only me, but on a national level, because here in El Salvador we make ends meet with remittances from the United States,” Godoy said.
GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUTDell Seton adopted protocols to reduce opioid overdoses among new moms.Two-thirds of Texas hospitals offering maternity services are taking part in a statewide initiative aimed at reducing maternal mortality.Texas health officials this week kicked off a project called “TexasAIM,” an effort to get hospitals to use a set of protocols referred to as “safety bundles.” The goal is to standardize how doctors in Texas deal with pregnant women who are at risk of common complications during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth.The state plans to tackle hemorrhage, hypertension and opioid abuse first. All three are among the leading causes of maternal deaths in the state.“Our goal is to have as many hospitals participate that want to participate,” says Dr. Manda Hall, the associate commissioner for community health improvement at the Texas Department of State Health Services.So far, Hall says, 168 hospitals have joined TexasAIM – that’s out of the 242 hospitals in the state that offer maternity services.“We know that there is an opportunity here to really make a difference here in Texas as it relates to maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity,” she says. “So, we are very happy to see the number of hospitals that are here today and participating.”During a meeting in Austin on Monday, hospital leaders from across the state met to discuss how they plan to implement the protocols and what it would look like in their own hospitals.“What it looks like in one hospital may look different in another hospital and that’s OK,” Hall says.That’s especially true because some hospitals already have been using these safety bundles.“We didn’t wait for TexasAIM to come along,” says Dr. John Harkins, a professor at UT Austin’s Dell Medical School and physician with Seton hospitals. “We’ve had these because it is evidence-based, and being an academic teaching center, we were able to get these up and running.”And Harkins says he’s already seeing results.“From my own experience, these things work great,” he says. “They save lives.”A lot of what doctors do is repetitive, Harkins says, and these safety bundles create yet another routine – but this one is backed by science.“Physicians at times are loathe to adopt standardization,” he says. “And you hear things like that, ‘You know, well, each patient you have to treat it like an art, and they are all different’ and that kind of stuff. But in certain things, it’s not an art; it is a science.”Harkins also says there are examples out there in the world of strict routines being safer.“Airline pilots go through the exact same protocols and checklists every single time they land a plane,” he says. “They do the exact same thing every time because they know that that is the safest way to get things done.”Texas health officials say there is evidence that creating protocols in hospitals has curbed maternal deaths in other states. For instance, one of the big drivers behind California’s effort to reduce maternal mortality rates was using new protocols in hospitals. In just four years, the state cut its rate by half. Share
By Michelle Richardson, Special to the AFROA man who once spent time in prison for the death of his own son, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriends 18-month-old child; one of two children who died of murder on consecutive days (the other was seven-year old Taylor Hayes), in Baltimore.Francois Browne, 35, was taken into custody July 20 and charged with first degree murder, according to the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).Francois Browne, 35, was taken into custody July 20 and charged with the murder of his girlfriend’s 18-month-old baby. He spent three years in prison after being charged in the death of his son in 2012. (Courtesy Photo)According to police, Emergency Medical Services responded to the 2800 block of Forest Glen Road in West Baltimore on July 18, at approximately 9:30 p.m. for a report of an unconscious and unresponsive child. Zaray Gray was in the care of Browne at the time when his mother arrived home and found him not breathing. The baby was transported to Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead.According to police, doctors at the hospital told detectives that baby Zaray had visible injuries on his body and an X-ray confirmed at least one broken bone. In 2012, Browne spent three years in prison for the death of his biological son, seven-month old Kendall Browne. According to court documents, Browne was alone with his son on New Year’s Eve when he told police he played with his son before they both fell asleep. Browne allegedly told police that when he awoke he found baby Kendall not breathing and that he attempted to perform CPR on the child.Baby Kendall spent several days on life support before he died and his death was the first homicide of 2013, said Baltimore Police. Court documents show he sustained severe head trauma, bleeding on the brain and fractured ribs.Browne was being held at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center at press time.