Beating Bans On Gender-Affirming Care | Crooked Media
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August 20, 2023
What A Day
Beating Bans On Gender-Affirming Care

In This Episode

  • Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall in Mexico’s Baja California region yesterday and the center of the storm officially moved into Southern California Sunday evening. It’s expected to have a major effect on the region, where it could drop more than a year’s worth of rain in parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona.
  • Twenty states have enacted bans or restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors so far, and at least five states have now permanently or temporarily blocked those measures from taking effect. We’re joined by Lyra Foster, founder of the Trans Family Network, to discuss the legal battle against bans on life-saving care across the country.
  • And in headlines: Donald Trump is officially skipping out on the first GOP presidential debate of the election cycle, Ecuadorians headed to the polls to vote for their next president, and students at West Virginia University are planning dual walkouts to protest proposed program and staff cuts.


Show Notes: 



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Monday, August 21st. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What A Day where we know we’ve lost Logan Paul as a listener. Because well, we’re just talking. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, Logan Paul said he walked out of Oppenheimer because, quote, “everyone was just talking,” honestly, pretty valid take. I didn’t go see the movie, but that’s pretty much what it seemed like to me. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Today is the first day I’ve ever agreed with Logan Paul. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show. Donald Trump is officially skipping out on the first GOP presidential debate of the election cycle. Plus, students at West Virginia University are participating in dual walkouts today to protest proposed cuts. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, Tropical Storm Hilary hit land Sunday in Mexico’s Baja California region and was making its way up the California coast as of record time. On Sunday, the center of the storm officially moved into Southern California and was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. It is expected to have a major effect on the region where it could dump more than a year’s worth of rain in parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Jeez. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I know. Unbelievable. More than a year’s worth. And according to forecasters, could cause serious and life threatening flooding across parts of the southwest. The storm has already killed at least one person in Mexico. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is really scary and very extreme. Not, you know, what this region is used to seeing. So how has the state of California prepared for this storm? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, the governor, Gavin Newsom, proclaimed a state of emergency on Saturday for much of Southern California and has deployed, quote, “more than 7500 boots on the ground,” to manage the storm and then any damage that it may cause. Meanwhile, schools in L.A. will be closed on Monday. The L.A. Unified School District stated that while it was, quote, “not an easy decision, the unique and unprecedented nature of the storm led them to conclude that it was better to just close in advance,” which makes sense to me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, feels like that shouldn’t have been that hard of a decision– [laugh] 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But okay. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Totally. Totally. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If that wasn’t enough, though, the area also experienced another natural disaster yesterday. This is all wild, so please fill us in on what is going on. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So on Sunday, Southern California also experienced a magnitude 5.1 earthquake as it was dealing with a tropical storm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is really wild. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, really crazy. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injury or anything, but the timing is obviously not ideal. Right. They’re already deploying all these resources to deal with the storm. And then there’s an earthquake. It’s really a lot hitting the same region at one time. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And then what’s more, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for San Diego County on Sunday afternoon and also predicted a possible hail storm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [?] like four different things. So when it rains, it not only pours it uh tropical storms, tornadoes and hails and earthquakes. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is giving the plagues. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s giving end times. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So obviously places around the country have been experiencing increasingly serious weather events, many of which, you know, we’ve been reporting on on the show. But hurricanes and tornadoes in southern California takes things to a whole new level. Like this is not stuff we are used to seeing that is like– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –routine in this area. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. I mean, it goes without saying I think that these are very unusual weather events in the region, minus the earthquake, which is slightly more common. Right. L.A. hasn’t seen a tropical storm since 1939. And according to officials, we haven’t even seen the worst of it as of record time at 9:30 Eastern. Things are supposed to get bad on Sunday night when the wind is expected to pick up and the rain will continue. Obviously, the people most at risk here, too, are unhoused people, of which– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: As you know, Southern California and really the southwestern states in general have many. Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: There are many unhoused people in those areas. So we will keep you posted as things continue. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s a really scary situation. And, you know, hoping for the best for, you know, all people in the region, including– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –you know, so much of our team is based in Southern California. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Exactly.


Priyanka Aribindi: So really just–


Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –worried for our friends and hoping for the best. But thank you so much for filling us in there. I want to switch gears a little bit now to an update on the wave of anti-trans legislation in the U.S. We’ve been covering, you know, these hateful laws that have been passed through several red state legislatures on the show for some time now, particularly the bans on gender affirming care for trans youth. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, we’ve been following this, like you said, for so long, and it’s just been unbelievable what has happened in the past few years, especially how many states have– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: –passed legislation like this so far. 


Priyanka Aribindi: As of now, it’s 20 states that have enacted bans or restrictions on gender affirming care for minors, like really different from– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –where we were at just a little while ago. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But just last week, court proceedings began in Texas over a lawsuit that was filed by five families with trans kids in the state. The families, along with three doctors, are suing the state of Texas over Senate Bill 14, which is a law that would prevent trans youth from receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapy in Texas and would bar health care professionals from providing this type of care. Take a listen to Brian Klosterboer, an ACLU lawyer representing the families in this case who spoke to reporters last week about why challenging these bans is so important. 


[clip of Brian Klosterboer] This health care is considered life saving by every major medical association. This type of law has been resoundingly blocked by courts across the country. It’s clearly discriminatory and unconstitutional. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The families and doctors suing the states are requesting a temporary injunction to block the law before it goes into effect on September 1st. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s worth noting, like you say, families and doctors who are the only people who should be involved in a decision like this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And who obviously know better than Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or whoever the fuck– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Precisely. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s really, truly unbelievable that they have to fight ideologues who have no background in any of these issues. They have no understanding of gender. They have no medical expertise. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No business in any of it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And they are just– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: –making these moral panicked decisions on behalf of people who are directly affected by this issue. It’s just unbelievable. So– 


Priyanka Aribindi: 1000%. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is also worth noting that, as Brian said, these are pretty clearly unconstitutional laws. And so– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We’ve unsurprisingly seen some of these bans on gender affirming care shut down. Is that also right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So measures in at least five states have now been permanently or temporarily blocked from taking effect. Arkansas, which was the first state to enact a ban on gender affirming care for minors, also became the first to have this kind of ban struck down permanently when a federal judge ruled it to be unconstitutional. As a result of legal challenges, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida and Indiana have also had their restrictions on gender affirming care rolled back in recent months, too. So we’ve actually seen a good chunk of these laws losing in court. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Which is really good news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s not always clear that even unconstitutional stuff loses in court, given how many Trump judges are on the bench. So this is good news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You recently spoke with someone about the legal battle against gender affirming care bans across the country. So tell us about that conversation. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So I recently spoke to Lyra Foster. She is the founder of the Trans Family Network, which is an organization that connects trans folks with legal assistance and resources. She’s also one of the first openly trans lawyers to join a major U.S. law firm. I started by asking her where laws banning gender affirming care are being passed most frequently. 


Lyra Foster: Well, when you see a map of the states that have bans on affirming care or anti-trans laws, it maps one to one with red states, there’s a little bit more of an avoidance and aversion to it in purple states, because that tends to be where the more moderate arguments will win out in elections and not necessarily kind of the big scare tactics, but it is like almost to a T just the Republican states are the ones pursuing anti-trans laws. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Okay. And many of these have been challenged in court. So various ones are in different phases of being active. But what have judge’s been ruling so far about the constitutionality of these kinds of laws? 


Lyra Foster: Most of the bans look the same from state to state because largely it’s the same organization or organizations putting them forward. But we have seen in other states temporary injunctions keeping the laws from going into effect. And I think there’s a lot of optimism in most states and in most of the the federal circuits that ultimately those laws will be struck down as unconstitutional. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I want to talk a little bit about those groups and the people behind these laws. The enactment of these laws can be traced back to a relatively small group of individuals, including groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom. Can you explain who these people are and what their role is? 


Lyra Foster: They have the same role in legislatures with the anti-trans laws as they’ve taken with critical race theory, as they’ve taken with book bans in libraries. It’s a very socially conservative, focused movement, and it’s also a very niche organization because polling has shown you know that trans hate is not particularly animating to Republican voters, that transphobic Republican politicians don’t typically outperform the Republican politicians that are not especially transphobic. You know, it’s more of this like niche group picking these fights in a lot of ways, hoping to get this up to the Supreme Court and get these victories in court so that they don’t really have to necessarily have them in legislatures nationwide. But they can have those victories without there ever being popular support, that it’s something that they can enact without being a particularly animating issue for Republicans. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. What do you think about one of these cases making their way to the Supreme Court in the near future? Do you think that that is something that’s possible and they’re going for? 


Lyra Foster: I mean, it’s definitely terrifying. And there was a time, you know, 5 to 10 years ago where you would say these laws are absolutely unconstitutional. There’s no chance of them going into effect. Now, everything is just up in the air. Luckily, even some of these Trump appointed and fairly conservative Federalist Society judges have you know put injunctions in place on letting the laws go into effect because there’s just simply no evidence justifying them that even under the very low standard of the conservative jurist that the state can’t meet it’s very low burden and saying that, you know, we’re actually protecting anyone from harm, that there’s a justification for this. So I think a lot of people are cautiously optimistic that the chances would be okay at the Supreme Court.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I want to ask you about these temporary injunctions. Are these things that give you hope?Or are these victories, you know, outweighed just by the sheer number of attempts legally here to attack trans people? 


Lyra Foster: It gives me a lot of hope and a lot of the judges in their opinions and rulings on the injunctions have telegraphed that they think that the laws may be unconstitutional, and that includes even some pretty conservative judges where even if they are going to allow the laws to go into effect, that they think ultimately it will be struck down. The issues litigating a preliminary injunction like this are whether there is an immediate harm. So there’s kind of a higher standard with that. Right. That maybe these laws are unconstitutional. But is it going to kill anybody? Is it going to cause irreparable harm if allowed to go into effect at all, which in Tennessee and Kentucky, we have seen those injunctions denied for those reasons. But generally it’s a higher standard, even if it’s a temporary one, putting those into place. And you know that trends toward finding that those laws ultimately unconstitutional. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I just want to ask you about some of the arguments that people who are against gender affirming care often reference. I think one that we’ve been seeing more and more lately is this idea of these stories about trans people who detransition later in life. I just want to know what is your response to this argument? 


Lyra Foster: I think that detransitioners, as they’re known, there are a few very public ones that are often flown in by Alliance Defending Freedom. The big problem here is that even though there are these visible cases of regret, it’s a fraction of a fraction of a percent. And then even among detransitioners, most detransitioners don’t stop transitioning because they’re not trans. They stop transitioning because there’s a lack of social acceptance or because of stigma or discrimination, which of course you don’t fix that problem by making it so that it’s harder to be trans. The regret rate for gender affirming care is lower than chemotherapy, lower than most medical procedures that people don’t even think about. You need uh very visible examples of detransitioners to draw people’s attention away from how effective the medication actually is and how rare regret is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I just am wondering now what you see coming on the horizon. Are you seeing more successful legal challenges from other states? Do you see just a continuation of these laws and attempts by these states? Just want to know what your outlook for the near and I guess not so near future as well. 


Lyra Foster: You know, I’m cautiously optimistic about these cases. You know, these laws are so clearly unconstitutional that I think we will see them struck down in a lot of instances. But there’s this tenacity with the legislatures pushing these that as soon as the one was struck down, there was already movement on other laws in the legislature that would sort of be tailored to avoid the constitutional arguments that struck down the first law. And really, where my hope will start to turn around is when this just stops being a winning issue for Republicans. I’ve heard anecdotes about focus groups of Republicans like laughing about scare ads with trans people because they’re just so ridiculous. The idea that the biggest threat to you as an American right now is some ten year old trans girl playing soccer. You know? 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Lyra Foster, the founder of the Trans Family Network. And huge shout out to our WAD intern, Ryan Cochran for connecting me with Lyra. This is the special interview segment that he worked on for the past several weeks as his final project for Crooked. I really enjoyed our conversation and we all really enjoyed working with Ryan, so thank you so much, big shout out to him. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We love Ryan. Huge fan of Ryan. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And all of his work. We love him. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Former President Trump is officially skipping out on the first GOP presidential debate of the election cycle. Instead, he is planning on doing an exclusive interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, who now hosts his very own political talk show on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Multiple news organizations have reported on the possibility of Trump doing some counterprogramming, while the GOP candidates duke it out this Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What a lovely reminder for me that my Wednesday is going to suck. And according to multiple sources who spoke to The New York Times, the former president was reportedly considering attending the debate at first, but has ultimately decided not to. According to The Times, the interview has already been taped, but it’s unclear when it will go live or if the interview will even be hosted on X. But it is officially on the books. Listen, kind of weird that um a man who has major financial stake in some ways, in Truth Social, if this does ultimately get aired on X, feels like a real conflict of interest. [laugh]


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s very funny that he like won’t go back on X, I hate calling it X, by the way. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah it’s stupid. It’s Twitter. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He won’t go back on Twitter/X but he is going to do this interview on X. Obviously Carlson is getting less views than Fox News is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah I mean he’s posting a fucking Twitter clip like, I’m sorry. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I love the energy of him betraying anybody who has supported him. Tucker Carlson. All those texts came out of him saying like he actually secretly hates Trump. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Crawling right back. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Love that energy of screwing over a lot of other people I also hate. [laughter] Nearly 400 wildfires have been raging in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Around 30,000 people were told to evacuate the province over the weekend and another 35,000 were told to be prepared to evacuate. Authorities declared a state of emergency on Friday and the fires have already led to partial shutdowns of a major highway between the Pacific Coast and the rest of western Canada. Canada is grappling with its worst wildfire season to date, with at least 1000 fires burning across the country. In British Columbia specifically, officials have emphasized that the record temperatures, dry air, and drought conditions have all contributed to the intensity of the fires right now. On Friday, the West Kelowna fire chief told The Washington Post, quote, “We fought 100 years worth of fires all in one night.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s absolutely terrifying, I’m sure traumatizing for the people who are on the front lines of fighting these fires. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So devastating. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And so sad. British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places on this earth. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It really is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s so amazing. It’s really just devastating to think about what wildfires have done in the past few weeks to just– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –some of like the most special places on this planet. It’s really sad. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Really unimaginable. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Ecuadorians went to the polls yesterday to vote in a special election to decide who their next president will be amid a particularly violent campaign season for the South American country. Current conservative President Guillermo Lasso called the snap election after he dissolved the country’s parliament earlier this year, just a trend that needs to stop everywhere. Like, don’t do that, everybody. He made the move to avoid getting impeached over allegations of corruption. And the vote comes after a top candidate in the race was assassinated earlier this month. You’ll remember that former assembly member and journalist Fernando Villavicencio was fatally shot in the country’s capital of Quito while leading a campaign rally. He was one of three Ecuadorian political leaders who have been killed in recent weeks. And as a result, officials deployed more than 100,000 police officers and army soldiers on Sunday to guard voting centers as folks cast their ballot. The killings have heightened fears among residents who are afraid to leave their homes. It makes a lot of sense, so afraid that many considered not voting at all, even if it means breaking the law. In Ecuador, voting is actually mandatory for citizens, so people who don’t participate in elections are fined. Authorities pleaded with residents on Sunday, urging them to show up at the polls regardless. A full vote count is expected by next week. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Spain officially won the Women’s World Cup yesterday. The team, nicknamed La Roja beat England in a one nil victory in the final on Sunday night marking the country’s first ever women’s World Cup title. Olga Carmona scored the goal in the first half of the final right at the 29 minute mark, and it proved to be the winning goal for La Roja. The win comes after the team last year survived a near mutiny when 15 players said they were withdrawing themselves from the national team. Three of those players were at the World Cup. Sunday night’s win makes Spain the fifth champion in the nine total editions of the Women’s World Cup, and it makes the country one of just two to win both the men’s and the women’s tournaments. Really an amazing victory for Spain after such a hard year. And then– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Tragically, Olga Carmona, who scored the goal, learned that her father died shortly after. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: She scored the goal. It’s not clear when he died, but she didn’t find out until after. So a lot of joy and tragedy, obviously. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, students at West Virginia University are participating in dual walkouts today to protest potentially massive program and budget cuts in their university. Just last week, the university proposed that it would eliminate 169 faculty positions and cut more than 30 degree programs in an effort to close a $45 million dollar budget gap. These eliminations would include a program of world languages and literatures, as well as graduate programs and other degrees in mathematics and the arts. Interesting that math is in there. They don’t like usually come for STEM shit. It’s always like humanities, but– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I guess nothing is safe anymore. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, totally. 


Priyanka Aribindi: In the two walk outs students will be wearing red and reading their demands for the university, which include no program reductions or discontinuations, cutting wasteful administrative spending, reducing the salaries of university administrators and increasing state investment in higher education. WVU’s plan to get rid of these programs is part of a larger trend of a type of educational gerrymandering that makes humanities inaccessible to people in red states and low income areas. West Virginia has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation, and cuts like those proposed by WVU would ensure that much of the population there has no shot at getting a liberal arts education. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s really so tragic in a state that has been like depleted by austerity and obviously needs opportunities for people in the state. To see this happen, it’s just really, really devastating. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s really unfortunate. And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: And that is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, listen to us talk, not the Oppenheimer folks and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just about legal victories against anti-trans legislation like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter so check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And stay safe out there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Everybody. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Safe, dry, at home. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We love our California team. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. [laugh] We have nothing to add. [laugh] We love you guys. Um. I hope this storm is not as bad. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Not a good time for jokes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah no. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]