Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Around The Nation

Colorado Transgender woman denied free breast cancer screening
DENVER --  A 62-year-old Transgender Denver woman is suing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Women's Wellness Connection after she was denied a free breast cancer screening. Jennifer Blair told Denver television station KUSA that Women's Wellness Connection, a state-run healthcare program, recently turned her away because she is "not genetically female."
According to Blair, she had gender reassignment surgery nore than a decade ago and takes a daily maintenance dose of Estradiol, a doctor-prescribed synthetic estrogen.
"That dose also does put me at an elevated risk for a variety of tumors, including breast cancer," Blair said.
After she noticed unusual breast growth, Blair went to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver for a mammogram, paid for by Women's Wellness Connection. The state-run program offers free cancer screenings for low income women.
"I don't have any health insurance," Blair said.
Although meeting all the requirements, she said she was denied coverage and an exam.
"I was shocked. I was hurt," Blair said.
An source for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, speaking to LGBTQ Nation Tuesday on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing legal suit, confirmed that the program is federally funded by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however at issue is that guidelines from the CDC stipulate that the exams only cover clients who are "genetically female."
The CDC offices in Atlanta are closed due to the current Federal Government shut down and LGBTQ Nation was unable to contact the CDC for a statement.
Denver based attorney Sarah Parady, who is representing Blair says that the legal definition of "female" is at the center of a new lawsuit she filed, alleging the refusal to provide a screening violates the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. "It's discrimination based on her transgender status. I think that's pretty black and white," said Parady. 
Legal analysts note that issues surrounding Transgender healthcare are complicated. But Parady pointed out that it all boils down to a simple question: "If someone is born a man, but has surgery to become a woman, are they entitled to same free healthcare as other women?"
"I'm just a person like anyone else," said Blair. "I have the same hopes, the same dreams, [and] the same concerns as any other woman."
Only Blair wasn't born a woman. She spent almost 50 years living as a male.
"It was not really an authentic life," Blair said.
The Colorado Civil Rights Division did issue a written response to the Denver station Monday, saying the state program is only following CDC guidelines.

North Dakota
North Dakota issues tax form for married same-sex couples because of state ban
BISMARK -- The Office of State Tax Commissioner's  Lorie Bowker, Supervisor for the Individual Income Tax division, said Monday that North Dakota now has a tax form for married same-sex couples because the state doesn't recognize such marriages.
The Internal Revenue Service had announced in August that it would allow same-sex couples to file as a married couple if they were married in a state which legalised such unions. The IRS ruling stipulated that its ruling included same-sex couples legally married but who were residing in states that don't recognise same-sex marriages.
Bowker said that the compromise state revenue officials came up with as North Dakota has a constitutional ban was the form ND-1S, which was posted online about a week ago.
According to Bowker,  like the federal government, there is a “marriage penalty” built into the North Dakota tax code, so filing as individuals could be beneficial to same-sex couples. For example, a couple earning $75,000 together would owe the state $1,341, but if they filed as two individuals earning half that amount, they would together owe $151 less. "It’s basically a work form for divvying up a couple’s federal tax filing so they can file as individuals in North Dakota, she said."
The new form hasn't been widely publicized, but she said the tax department has had a few inquiries, probably from tax preparers whose clients are in same-sex marriages.
She said she doesn't believe the state will print any physical copies of ND-1S, unlike some other tax forms, because taxpayers can just download it online.
Some of the other states which ban same-sex marriages have created work forms as a way to deal with same-sex filings. Wisconsin, for example, has a Schedule S that appears to be similar to ND-1S.
National advocacy groups for same-sex marriage say the discrepancy between federal and state tax filings are grounds for federal lawsuits based on the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.