In This Episode
- Russian and Ukrainian delegates agreed to what’s being called “humanitarian corridors” so trapped Ukrainian citizens can leave the country. But after a phone call with Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly believes that the “worst is yet to come” as the invasion heads into its second week.
- A Texas judge issued a restraining order to halt the state’s investigation of a family that supported their trans kid’s gender-affirming health care. But an appeal by state Attorney General Ken Paxton put that order on hold, as well as a hearing that could’ve extended protections to more families. Adrí Perez with the Texas ACLU, which represents the family under investigation, explains how trans kids, adults and their families are all being harmed by the state’s anti-trans policies.
- And in headlines: a jury acquits the only officer on trial in the death of Breonna Taylor, Idaho advances its own Texas-like anti-abortion law, and Harvey Weinstein is caught with contraband Milk Duds.
Transgender Education Network of Texas – https://www.transtexas.org/
Equality Texas – https://www.equalitytexas.org/
ACLU of Texas LGBTQ Equality – https://www.aclutx.org/en/issues/lgbtq-equality
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, March 4th, I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, the podcast that when playing at 5% speed lasts about as long as the new Batman movie.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. And if you play them at the same time, the news syncs up perfectly with the action.
Tre’vell Anderson: And at one point, Paul Dano and I say the same line at the same time, and it is super powerful. On today’s show, we hear from ACLU of Texas, which is defending a family against the state’s anti-trans policy that punishes parents for giving their kids the health care they need. Plus, there was a major $6 billion settlement in the country’s opioid crisis.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but first, there are obviously more updates from Ukraine as we go to record around 9:30 Eastern on Thursday night. So to start on the ground, reports said that Russian troops have been shelling the city of Mariupol. The mayor of the city said that that has resulted in a loss of power, water, and heat. The AP also reported later that Russian troops had been shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine. This was all over social media. A fire broke out and shortly before we went to record, American and European officials were in touch about it but there was reporting that Ukrainian authorities said the situation was under control, as we were speaking. In the midst of all of this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave his first press conference since the invasion started. He talked about the resilience of Ukrainian people, requests for more support from Western allies, and his desire for a no-fly zone over the country. Russia, however, has rejected Ukrainian demands for a withdrawal and an end to the attacks on the country. And to add to that, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday as well. A French official told The Washington Post that the conversation left Macron with the impression that the quote, “worst is yet to come,”—yikes—and that Putin wants to control the entirety of Ukraine.
Tre’vell Anderson: So what can you tell us about the civilians on the ground who’ve been trying to flee the country?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, this is still developing, but Russian and Ukrainian delegates agreed to what is being called quote unquote “humanitarian corridors” so that trapped Ukrainian citizens can leave the country. Local cease fires are going to operate in those areas for limited times, and both sides agree to work out the details at some point in the future. Meanwhile, the European Union announced on Thursday that Ukrainians who are fleeing would be granted the ability to live and work in the EU for up to three years. Notably, though, according to The New York Times, the same protection was not extended for non-Ukrainians, who are also fleeing—foreign students, migrant workers, for example, there have been a lot of reports about that. The Biden administration also announced that it is offering temporary protected status to Ukrainians who have been living in the U.S. without legal documentation since March 1st or earlier. An estimated 30,000 Ukrainians could be eligible for those protections, and they would be allowed to stay and work in the US for 18 months. So a lot has happened. Those are just some of the many updates in the last 24 hours or so, but as our listeners know, things are changing rapidly. We are going to be back with a lot more on this in the days ahead.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m sure there will be many new developments in those days. So also making big news this week across the U.S. that we wanted to tell you about is some anti-trans foolishness.
Gideon Resnick: As always.
Tre’vell Anderson: More anti-trans foolishness. And another huge blow to the trans community. Yesterday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law that bans transgender girls and women from competing on sports teams that align with their identities at Iowa schools, colleges, and universities. Iowa is now the 11th state that has limited trans students’ ability to play in sports in some capacity. South Dakota, you’ll remember, enacted a similar law back in February.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and the deeply saddening thing is, I don’t think 11 is where it’s going to stop. We’ve also been reporting about Texas investigating the family of a transgender teen and the parents supporting their need for and use of gender-affirming health care. Something’s happened there on Wednesday, but first, can you remind us a little bit Tre’vell about the background here?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so it’s a little complex, so bear with me here. Last week, Republican Governor Greg Abbott directed officials to look into reports of such lifesaving care as child abuse. And by the way, Abbott’s directive came after the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said in a legally non-binding opinion that gender-affirming care could constitute as child abuse under the Texas Family Code. Now, the first known family under investigation by the Department of Family and Protective Services sued the state. They are the parents of a 16-year old girl. One of those parents also is an employee of the very department that conducts these investigations. All right? But on Wednesday, a district judge temporarily halted the investigation, saying that the family quote, “faces the imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care, and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.”
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So this sounds like great news that the investigation was halted, but it’s unfortunately more complicated than that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh yes, the rabbit hole goes a little bit deeper. So the judge’s order only applied to this one family and one investigation. It did not and does not stop the state from investigating other families. That judge had also set a hearing for next week to rule on whether a broader order was appropriate to protect more families. That’s what all of the outlets have been reporting. But Gideon, I talked yesterday with Adri Perez, a policy and advocacy strategies at Texas’s ACLU. The Texas ACLU, along with Lambda Legal, they’re the ones who have been defending the family that’s currently under investigation. Perez said that almost immediately, Ken Paxton filed an appeal leading to next week’s hearing being put on hold and that family that they’re representing no longer being protected by the restraining order.
Adri Perez: Forty nine minutes later, the state filed an appeal, putting a stay on that temporary restraining order, so it is no longer in effect.
Tre’vell Anderson: So for us regular people who aren’t involved in the legal stuff, that means that the investigations can continue going on until the hearing that’s been set?
Adri Perez: We are still asserting that this is not an enforceable opinion or a directive from the attorney general or from the governor. Texas families should continue to prepare themselves with resources and legal counsel to ensure that if a CPS investigator does come knocking on their doors, they are prepared to protect themselves and their families. But care should continue on in the state of Texas, as it has.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, OK. So now you mentioned that it was a temporary restraining order. A lot of the reporting on this issue says that it’s actually unclear whether or not Abbott’s directive would actually hold up in court. I’m wondering, in your view, what seemed to be the odds that these investigations will lead to actual charges against parents who are, you know, supporting their kids’ gender journeys?
Adri Perez: This isn’t an empty threat. Our plaintiff just last Friday, a CPS investigator come knocking on her family’s door requesting medical records, requesting to speak to her child and to her and to her husband. And so these investigations are happening and they are extremely harmful and they cause irreparable harm to the family units and to the children in these homes. Supporting and loving your transgender child is not a crime and it should not be seen as one. I think above all, this is life-saving care and we should not be denying it to transgender youth under any circumstance.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Could you talk a little bit more about what the broader implications are of charging a parent with child abuse for supporting their trans children? Like, what are these like harmful effects that this would have, not only for these families, but for other trans people in Texas?
Adri Perez: The broader effects of this Attorney General opinion and the Governor’s letter is that it scares families out of supporting their kids. It scares the families that are supporting their kids. It scares the kids because they fear that they are going to be ripped away from their gender-affirming parents. And it scares doctors out of providing this care. We’ve already heard from a number of hospitals and clinics and providers that have started to refuse to fill out prescriptions for their patients because they fear criminal and civil charges under this directive. One thing I think that I would like to add is that all of these legislative attacks on trans youth have resulted in a very real increase of bullying and harassment of trans kids on the ground. And we live in a state where the murders of trans women of color has been the highest for several years in a row now. So we are in a crisis not only for trans youth, but for trans adults, and the ability for the government to continue to denigrate and dehumanize trans youth translates directly into very real and severe consequences for trans adults.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which is unfortunate and absurd. I’m also reminded of a lot of advocates who have been noting that these investigations are just a piece of the state’s broader attacks on on trans kids, on LGBTQ kids as a whole, on queer people, and trans people. There’s been reporting that Texas has been removing LGBTQ+ suicide prevention resources from the state websites. Can you give our listeners an idea of the gravity of how much trans and queer folks are like facing and dealing with this political establishment in Texas?
Adri Perez: There are kids here in the state whose first memory is testifying at the Texas state capital against a bathroom ban in 2017. And those kids have grown up having to return time and time again to the state capital to defend their humanity against sports bans, against medical care bans. This has been constant since 2017 and it was constant in 2021 through not only one legislative session, but three special sessions that we kept showing up for. And immediately after that happened, books started being banned from Texas schools that contained LGBTQ content and characters. And so this is a full-fledged attack from the state of Texas to erase the existence of transgender people, both in the written form and in the lived reality.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Even with all of the efforts of the ACLU, I’m thinking about Biden’s State of the Union earlier this week, where he spoke briefly about what’s going on in Texas and around the country as it relates to anti-trans and anti LGBTQ efforts. And on Wednesday, his administration, under Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, announced some informational guidelines they’re sending to state child welfare agencies as a means of supporting and advocating on behalf of trans folks. But I’m wondering from your vantage point, and I’ve heard other advocates say that like courts won’t save us, the federal government won’t save us—is there more that you think people can be doing to get involved, to be activated, to support trans kids in the efforts that you and the ACLU are undertaking here?
Adri Perez: I will always say that the courts are not going to save us, and neither is the government. This government was designed and built by people who did not look like us, like trans people of color, in the state of Texas. And what we can always and have always relied on for decades is a support from within our own community to take care of each other. Whether that means helping each other get health care, helping each other access hormones, housing, food, all of those aspects of life, we have built up support for each other through mutual aid networks for decades now, and building up those systems of support is always going to be my fallback answer.
Tre’vell Anderson: I love that. And for the listeners out there who want to support, maybe they’ve got a little extra income that they can place somewhere. How can they get involved? What can they do?
Adri Perez: Well, I would suggest donating to trans-led organizations like the Trans Education Network of Texas, donating to Equality Texas. The ACLU of Texas is a great organization, but we are a large organization and we tend to take up a lot of space So focusing in on the trans-led organizations, those LGBTQ-focused organizations, the resource centers in cities across Texas, but also across the country who provide that direct service support to trans youth who are in crisis. Providing medically necessary best practice care that is supported by decades of evidence to be what is best for transgender youth and teens is not child abuse.
Tre’vell Anderson: So Gideon, that’s my conversation with Adri Perez from the Texas’s ACLU, which has been defending the family under investigation for supporting their trans child’s life-saving health care.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s a vital conversation, and we’re going to put links to all of those organizations they mentioned in our show notes. More on all of this to come, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Yesterday, a Kentucky jury acquitted the only officer on trial for the 2020 botched raid where police shot and killed Breonna Taylor. The now-former Louisville police officer, Brett Hankison, was found not guilty of quote unquote “wanton endangerment” for firing 10 rounds blindly into Taylor’s apartment. While he didn’t hit anyone, some of the bullets went through Taylor’s apartment and into a neighboring one where a pregnant woman and her son were sleeping. Jurors had to decide whether Hankison’s actions showed a disregard for the safety of Taylor’s neighbors. The jury deliberated for three hours before making its not guilty verdict. The state did not charge the two other officers whose bullets did hit and killed Taylor, but they could be charged in an ongoing federal investigation.
Tre’vell Anderson: Idaho is one step closer to rebranding as North Texas because the state is also trying to restrict what a pregnant person can do with their own body. Yesterday, Idaho’s state Senate passed a Republican bill that bans abortion after six weeks. It’s modeled after Texas’s SB8, which allows any private citizen to sue anyone connected to an abortion. But Idaho’s bill is more narrow. Only abortion providers can be sued and only by a patient’s immediate family or the fetus’ father. The bill now heads to the state’s House, where it’s expected to pass, while Governor Brad Little hasn’t yet commented on whether he would sign it into law, he did support last year’s attempt by Idaho Republicans to ban abortions after six weeks before that law got blocked by the courts.
Gideon Resnick: I wish that there wasn’t a big copycat syndrome among all of these Republican governors. Like, let’s come up with something new.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Be original in your bigotry please. Like, just come on now.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, or spend time regulating how many sunflowers there are in the state. Something useful. Anyway. The family thought that it could buy back its soul by donating to art museums, the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma, reached a deal yesterday to pay up to $6 billion to settle lawsuits that allege that it sparked the opioid crisis by aggressively and dishonestly marketing its product OxyContin. The agreement comes after weeks of negotiation with a group of states that objected to a previous settlement that would have seen the Sacklers pay $4.3 billion. The deal still needs to be approved in bankruptcy court, but if it is approved, Purdue Pharma will cease to exist, the payout will go towards communities affected by the opioid crisis, and the Sacklers will be shielded from all present and future opioid-related civil litigation. That liability shield does not apply to criminal prosecutions—aha. Additionally, one judge is recommending that some of the Sacklers be made to attend a hearing where people who suffered from addiction to OxyContin can speak to them directly. The Sacklers issued a statement that is quite a masterclass in how to apologize without apologizing—I hope everybody is ready for this—they wrote quote, “While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities.” End quote.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm mm mm mm.
Gideon Resnick: No.
Tre’vell Anderson: After letting the tension build for months, the House Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection finally dropped the C-word on Wednesday, crime, in reference to Trump. In a court filing, the committee alleged that actions undertaken by the President and his lawyer, John Eastman, to compel former Vice President Mike Pence to obstruct Congress’s certification amount to quote, “criminal conspiracy.” These are the most serious accusations that the committee has made against Trump so far, and they’re being issued to further the committee’s goal of obtaining private communications between Trump and Eastman, which Eastman is blocking based on attorney-client privilege. Those documents would not be protected by attorney-client privilege if they contain legal advice given with the intent of committing a crime. The committee itself has no authority to charge the president with a crime, but this filing offers a clue that it could make a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Also in January 6th news, a member of the far-right extremist group called The Oath Keepers pled guilty to seditious conspiracy on Wednesday, becoming the first person accused of this crime to take a plea deal. He admitted in court that he and other members of his group stormed the Capitol with the explicit intention of stopping the certification of the election—which we already knew because we watched it, but glad that we have it on paper now.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, I feel very strongly with this guy, John Eastman, that there’s always like a new character that’s introduced in these every time, like a new guy connected to the crimes somehow. I just think that it’s impressive that there are so many people roped into such silliness.
Tre’vell Anderson: They brought it on themselves.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, you did. I hope you’re listening, John, we are disappointed in you specifically. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and for today’s Temp check, we are discussing what is definitely one of the more forgivable transgressions ever committed by known awful person, Harvey Weinstein. The disgraced film producer is currently imprisoned in an L.A. County jail while he awaits trial on charges of rape and sexual assault. And according to Variety, he was caught with contraband Milk Duds back in November, leading to a reprimand from jail guards. Weinstein claimed that he had the Milk Duds since entering prison in July, which would have made the candy’s jaw-breaking old. Guards disagreed with that timeline and said they would begin searching the possessions of Weinstein’s lawyer whenever he visits the facility. A different set of Weinstein’s lawyers made this statement quote, “we have been informed about this and are very sorry it happened. It had not happened before and never happened since.” So Tre’vell, what is your take on the story?
Tre’vell Anderson: Of all the candies you could have as contraband, OK? You going to go with Milk Duds?
Gideon Resnick: The Milk Dud thing is peculiar to me. Like, I wonder if these are loose in the lawyer’s pocket. If there are other movie theater candy items that are being delivered here?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, you know, some crunch, some Sour Patch Kids.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Harvey gets caught with Dots in prison.
Tre’vell Anderson: He could be hard stuff on the yard if he’s got the connect to a movie theater candy, you know?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t understand what is going on here. I’m confused. Just like that, we have checked our temps. They are normal because we have not tried to eat year-old Milk Duds. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, experiment with listening to our podcast at extremely slow speeds, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just the new names of art galleries formally named for the Sackler family like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And save Gotham, Batman.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s your only job.
Gideon Resnick: It’s your only job and you have three hours to do it. And if you do it in this one, you know, maybe that’s it. We don’t do this again?
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know. They like resurrecting Mr. Batman every couple of years or so.
Gideon Resnick: It’s true. Gotham is persistently in trouble. Troubled city, I would say. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.