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Sunday News Round-Up

March 27, 2011

Assorted items of interest collected over the last week or so; as usual, the Sunday round-up is more socially than medically oriented, this week with several items on transgender women and related rights, issues, and prejudices as I’ve been trying to read more about these topics.

Scientific American has an excerpt from a new book, Demand Better! Revive Our Broken Health Care System. It’s a pretty clear explanation of how little doctors apply the best, most current evidence to medical treatment, and might be pretty shocking for folks who are not involved in evidence-based medicine issues. For example:

Even though clinical guidelines exist…physicians get it right about 55 percent of the time across all medical conditions. In other words, patients receive recommended care only about 55 percent of the time, on average…. How well physicians did for any particular condition varied substantially, ranging from about 79 percent of recommended care delivered for early-stage cataracts to about 11 percent of recommended care for alcohol dependence. Physicians prescribe the recommended medication about 69 percent of the time, follow appropriate lab-testing recommendations about 62 percent of the time and follow appropriate surgical guidelines 57 percent of the time. Physicians adhere to recommended care guidelines 23 percent of the time for hip fracture, 25 percent of the time for atrial fibrillation, 39 percent for community-acquired pneumonia, 41 percent for urinary-tract infection and 45 percent for diabetes mellitus.

Friends and family members who I encourage to question your physicians, to find out more, to not accept decisions based on simple authority? See above.

Renee at Womanist Musings calls out Bitch magazine for their focus on middle class white women in an article on “mommy bloggers” and their inclusion of women of color only as (literal) footnotes in the piece. She points out that in general women of color are not thought of when people thing of “mommy bloggers” and “mommies,” and that white women who blog on these topics are much more likely to receive recognition, book deals and other rewards – and it’s not because they’re just inherently better writers or more experienced moms.

Apparently some obstetricians in Tennessee are upset about a plan to have the state’s Medicaid program reimburse cesareans at the same rate as vaginal deliveries, in part to influence physicians to do fewer cesareans that are not medically indicated.

One physician interviewed tries to make a claim that physicians have to do more cesareans now because physicians are doing more cesareans…making a distinction between elective procedures and elective procedures done so physicians can avoid risks without working patients into that equation:

“It is very true that the rate of cesarean deliveries is increasing, but it is not increasing just because of convenience. It is increasing because of the repeat cesarean deliveries that occur…Many doctors now don’t want to face the liability of doing a vaginal birth after a cesarean section.”

Some repeat cesareans are obviously going to be medically indicated, but repeat after me: physician’s desire to avoid potential legal liability /= medical indication.

Becoming Johanna — A Trans Youth’s Story (VIDEO) – video focuses on an adolescent transgender Latina kid Johanna whose mother committed her to a mental hospital in order to prevent her from transitioning. A trailer is available; they’re part of a larger project.

Guest Post: Transmisogyny is Misogyny Against All Women at Transarchism. Includes discussion of what a woman’s body “should” have in order to be considered “woman” by other people:

What the hell does a woman’s body possess that makes it a woman’s body? What does it NEED to have to be female. Did you immediately think of breasts, ovaries, vaginas? Gross. Think about that for more than two minutes and you’ll see why it’s gross. Still don’t get it? Well then go down to the nearest breast cancer walk and tell every single woman with a double mastectomy she’s not a woman. When you’re done with that, go down to your local hospital, ask the nurse where the OR is, and wait outside until you can find a woman fresh out of her hysterectomy surgery, and tell her the news. Yeah, that sounds evil, doesn’t it? Well it’s basically what you’re doing when you’re policing trans women’s bodies. You’re telling all women what they have to have on/in their bodies to be a woman. Which, obviously, is totally gross.

Monica at TransGriot notes that while white feminists called out George Lopez for his body size-related remarks on Kirstie Alley, they were silent about transphobic comments directed at woman of color Wendy Williams. You don’t have to be a fan of any of those three to note the difference in handling.

The blogger at Lollygagging and Lassitude reacts to the reaction to the misogynistic, ableist, and ageist nonsense of Scott Adams of Dilbert by talking to feminists about picking targets – “But do not forget there are women who will die for reasons that have nothing to do with Scott Adams’ words” – including trans women. I have noted my dislike of “shouldn’t you be focused on more important things?” arguments in the past, and they are often cited as a derailing tactic when employed by external parties. In this case, though, it’s worth talking amongst ourselves about whether there are systemic privileges that focus what we talk about as feminists – nobody’s saying we shouldn’t talk about Scott Adams, I think the author is saying that we can talk about Scott Adams but we need to also remember not to use all of our fighting energy on people like him.

Audacia Ray explains that “You” probably couldn’t be arrested in New York City under provisions that allow condoms to be counted as evidence of sex work, that “Policies like this one exist solely to uphold the ability of police to harass people of color, poor people, and often trans women who are profiled as being sex workers or nabbed for ‘walking while trans.'”

Queerty has a bit on challenging the New York City requirement that trans men and women have genital surgery in order to change their birth certificate.

TransTalk points to the “Two Spirits” documentary to be aired by Independent Lens (PBS) in June. The website for the film is at

Rep. Henry Waxman demands answers from Ther-Rx about Makena – There’s a drug meant to help prevent preterm birth that was approved by the FDA as an “orphan drug” at which point the company that got the approval hiked the price from about $10-$20 a dose to $1500/dose. There is also commentary on the March of Dimes’s response, and a call to boycott Makena in favor cheaper compounded preparations.

AARP has a piece on inaccuracies in translated drug labels, citing a study (I haven’t read yet) that “Fifty percent of all prescription labels translated from English to Spanish are wrong or incomplete.”

The FDA may start regulating mobile medical software/apps.

Women’s eNews has a bit on maternal deaths in New York City.

Ron Paul introduced the Sanctity of Life Act for 2011 (HR 1096), which would define human life and personhood “from the moment of conception.” I hardly need to get into the fetus>woman, miscarriage, detectability of non-implanted fertilized eggs, and gross misogyny issues, right?

Some things from libraryland:
We need to work together to save the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

And the Nashville Public Library is compiling a digital history of our May flood.

For emergency responders, WISER has been updated – it’s “a system designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents” from the National Library of Medicine.

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