Letters to the Editor for Jan. 20

Thanks to Denise Klint for 18 years of service

To the Editor:

I would publicly like to thank Denise Klint for the 18 years that she served as our city council member in Coon Rapids Ward 1.

She has done an excellent job to run this great city. Denise also gave us a huge slice of her life working for us those 18 years.

I know Denise as an honest, caring and hardworking council member who did her homework on issues before the votes took place. Then she would vote according to what she felt was in the best interest of the Ward 1 residents. She was not afraid to be the only one or two to vote against an issue she did not feel was right for us. She also was available when residents contacted her to share ideas or problems.

I had been planning to send a thank you note to Denise, but hadn’t got around to it. Low and behold I open the UnionHerald Jan. 13 to page 4A and there is a letter from Denise thanking the residents of Coon Rapids for entrusting her for the past 18 years to run the city of Coon Rapids. That speaks very highly of the kind of person Denise Klint is!

I have lived in Coon Rapids for 47 years and I am so happy to say how much I have enjoyed living here and being active in so many areas. The people here are wonderful. I have known Denise most of this time and I appreciate all the kind things she said about Coon Rapids. I want to wish Denise Klint and her family many blessings in the years ahead. Have fun! We will miss you.

Bernice Olson
Coon Rapids

Premium relief needed now

To the Editor:

It’s certainly exciting to finally be at work as the new State Representative for District 37A. We live in a terrific state, but many Minnesotans are facing challenges. One of these issues requiring urgent attention is that of rapidly rising health insurance premiums faced by those in the individual market. These folks – about 125,000 of them – are seeing increases in the neighborhood of 60 percent, and are looking to us for relief.

I support the only proposal which would give premium relief to Minnesotans right away. Governor Dayton’s plan would provide these individuals a 25 percent rebate on their premiums, and I think we should pass this right away. The House GOP plan would not get relief to Minnesotans until 2018, and would create a $20 million bureaucratic system that would be used for just one year.

Longer term this session, we should consider reforms to decrease costs and increase accessibility to health insurance. For my part, I’d like to see a “public option,” where Minnesotans could buy into a program such as MinnesotaCare.

It wouldn’t be responsible to rush significant changes like this though, and major reforms can’t come at the expense of premium relief right now. Some colleagues of mine have sought to attach sweeping, controversial changes to a bill providing this relief, including permitting for-profit insurers to operate in the state. Our approach on this needs to benefit regular Minnesotans, and not the corporate special interests who stand to gain from such a hurried proposal.

My colleagues and I will definitely have disagreements when it comes to sweeping policy changes to our health insurance system. What we can agree on though is that Minnesotans need premium relief and they need it now. With deadlines quickly approaching, they shouldn’t face this financial uncertainty. I’m hopeful we can reach a bipartisan consensus to get this done very quickly.

Erin Koegel
State Representative

Our job is to protect children

To the Editor:

After reading another letter from Barb Anderson where she has once again set her sights on ostracizing LGBTQ students and families, I wonder what the payoff is for her.

She often refers to the constitution as justification for what she is saying but ignores it when others do the same. She argues about her right to religious freedom, and uses her faith as justification for her words and actions yet ignores the rights of others myself included, when we say it is our faith that compels us to stand up with, and for the oppressed.

Now after listening to the President last night I believe the biggest threat facing us as a nation is our disconnection to one another. He mentioned that despite our differences and debates we all want the same things. Safety and security for our families, good health and happiness for all and for our country to go back to being the shining example of how to be by living by our founding principles of “liberty and justice for all”.

I know that my dear friend whose son is trans worries every day that something bad will happen to him for no other reason than people fear him. A fear fueled often by the kind of misguided rhetoric Barb is sharing. Trans people are no threat to CIS (people who were born and live as the gender they were at birth) and in fact the statistics show it is trans people who have a much higher risk of being victims of violence again, often as a result of the fear imposed by misinformation.

I hope that those who are tasked with helping kids whether that’s teachers, paras, nurses, doctors, bus drivers or police that they all remember their job is to protect the children and not to allow others to guilt or shame them into hurting them. If you truly live by your faith, regardless of what that faith is I trust you will know that to do no harm is the only way to treat LGBTQ people.

Melissa Thompson
Coon Rapids

  • tom

    “She often refers to the constitution as justification for what she is saying but ignores it when others do the same. She argues about her right to religious freedom, and uses her faith as justification for her words and actions yet ignores the rights of others myself included, when we say it is our faith that compels us to stand up with, and for the oppressed.” The quote above is from the posting of “Melissa Thompson.”
    I have a hard time understanding where the religious right stands due to their hate of all things free. Their God must be a vengeful and hateful God. Is that the same God who will send you to hell forever and ever if you do not conform to the beliefs? Yes it is. That type of religion is phony, unless God is a hater of all things not conservative and snooty? According to the Faux Christians in our society, God is that way. He’s greedy as well.

    Praise Trump for he shall lessen the burden of having healthcare!! Glory!!!

  • Mark Jensen

    My concern is that teachers are not psychologists, yet they are required to go through training to deal with conditions that are clearly psychological. Transgenderism is a psychological disorder/conditon. There has been no science to prove otherwise and to mandate teachers to go through training to deal with that is absurd.

    • RodKuehn

      Mr. Jensen, you and I have been through this before. I’ve given links to various genetic conditions that have a bearing on orientation and related issues. You reject my evidence but produce nothing to support yours. It’s simple obfuscation.

      We’ve seen this technique before. “There is no evidence linking smoking with cancer.” “There is no evidence that humanity is causing climate change.” “Separation of church and state is a hoax.” “I had the biggest inauguration turnout in history (paraphrased).”

      The consistent pattern with both you and Ms Anderson is that legitimate evidence is ignored or countered with obviously compromised science – either severely obsolete, distorted, or compromised by prior commitment to religious doctrine.

      There is no concern for discerning the facts. The only genuine – though hidden – criterion in this case is adherence to conservative “Biblical values.”

      The teachers are following the best available science. As they should.

      • Mark Jensen

        I have also stated that your links were to a birth defect and a college professor talking about a obscure study that was done a decade ago. The former Chief of Psychiatry at John Hopkins calls transgenderism a mental disorder and the World Health Organization has it classified as mental illness. Teachers are not psycologists. To mandate that they attend training to deal with gender dysphoria, which by the way affects less than 1% of the population, is not only a waste of time, but a waste of taxpayer dollars.

        • RodKuehn

          From the American Psychiatric Association:

          Position Statement on Access to Care for
          Transgender and Gender Variant Individuals

          Access to medical care (both medical
          and surgical) positively impacts the mental health of
          transgender and gender variant individuals.

          Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association:
          1. Recognizes that appropriately evaluated transgender
          and gender variant individuals can benefit greatly
          from medical and surgical gender transition treatments.

          2. Advocates for removal of barriers to care and
          supports both public and private health insurance
          coverage for gender transition treatment.
          3. Opposes categorical exclusions of coverage for such
          medically necessary treatment when prescribed by a
          physician.

          https://psychiatry.org/File%20Library/About-APA/Organization-Documents-Policies/Policies/Position-2012-Transgender-Gender-Variant-Access-Care.pdf

          Position Statement on Discrimination Against
          Transgender and Gender Variant Individuals

          The APA declares in its vision statement that it is, “the
          voice and conscience of modern psychiatry.” Thus, this
          position statement is relevant to the APA because
          discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to
          the mental health of transgender and gender variant
          individuals.

          Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association:
          1. Supports laws that protect the civil rights of
          transgender and gender variant individuals
          2. Urges the repeal of laws and policies that
          discriminate against transgender and gender variant
          individuals.
          3. Opposes all public and private discrimination against
          transgender and gender variant individuals in such
          areas as health care, employment, housing, public
          accommodation, education, and licensing.
          4. Declares that no burden of proof of such judgment,
          capacity, or reliability shall be placed upon these
          individuals greater than that imposed on any other
          persons.

          https://psychiatry.org/File%20Library/About-APA/Organization-Documents-Policies/Policies/Position-2012-Transgender-Gender-Variant-Discrimination.pdf

        • RodKuehn

          From the American Psychological Association

          http://www.apa.org/about/policy/transgender.aspx

          (Some points deleted in the interest of strict relevance)

          Therefore be it resolved that APA opposes all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity and expression and urges the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies;
          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports the passage of laws and policies protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all gender identities and expressions;
          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports full access to employment, housing, and education regardless of gender identity and expression;

          Therefore be it further resolved that APA encourages legal and social recognition of transgender individuals consistent with their gender identity and expression, including access to identity documents consistent with their gender identity and expression which do not involuntarily disclose their status as transgender for transgender people who permanently socially transition to another gender role;

          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports efforts to provide safe and secure educational environments, at all levels of education, as well as foster care environments and juvenile justice programs, that promote an understanding and acceptance of self and in which all youths, including youth of all gender identities and expressions, may be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse;

          Therefore be it further resolved that APA recognizes the efficacy, benefit and medical necessity of gender transition treatments for appropriately evaluated individuals and calls upon public and private insurers to cover these medically necessary treatments;
          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports access to appropriate treatment in institutional settings for people of all gender identities and expressions; including access to appropriate health care services including gender transition therapies;
          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports the creation of educational resources for all psychologists in working with individuals who are gender variant and transgender;

          Therefore be it further resolved that APA supports the creation of scientific and educational resources that inform public discussion about gender identity and gender expression to promote public policy development, and societal and familial attitudes and behaviors that affirm the dignity and rights of all individuals regardless of gender identity or gender expression;

        • RodKuehn

          From Scientific American

          Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?
          Imaging studies and other research suggest that there is a biological basis for transgender identity

          January 1, 2016

          Some children insist, from the moment they can speak, that they are not the gender indicated by their biological sex. So where does this knowledge reside? And is it possible to discern a genetic or anatomical basis for transgender identity? Exploration of these questions is relatively new, but there is a bit of evidence for a genetic basis. Identical twins are somewhat more likely than fraternal twins to both be trans.
          Male and female brains are, on average, slightly different in structure, although there is tremendous individual variability. Several studies have looked for signs that transgender people have brains more similar to their experienced gender. Spanish investigators—led by psychobiologist Antonio Guillamon of the National Distance Education University in Madrid and neuropsychologist Carme Junqué Plaja of the University of Barcelona—used MRI to examine the brains of 24 female-to-males and 18 male-to-females—both before and after treatment with cross-sex hormones. Their results, published in 2013, showed that even before treatment the brain structures of the trans people were more similar in some respects to the brains of their experienced gender than those of their natal gender. For example, the female-to-male subjects had relatively thin subcortical areas (these areas tend to be thinner in men than in women). Male-to-female subjects tended to have thinner cortical regions in the right hemisphere, which is characteristic of a female brain. (Such differences became more pronounced after treatment.)
          “Trans people have brains that are different from males and females, a unique kind of brain,” Guillamon says. “It is simplistic to say that a female-to-male transgender person is a female trapped in a male body. It’s not because they have a male brain but a transsexual brain.” Of course, behavior and experience shape brain anatomy, so it is impossible to say if these subtle differences are inborn.
          Other investigators have looked at sex differences through brain functioning. In a study published in 2014, psychologist Sarah M. Burke of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam and biologist Julie Bakker of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience used functional MRI to examine how 39 prepubertal and 41 adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria responded to androstadienone, an odorous steroid with pheromonelike properties that is known to cause a different response in the hypothalamus of men versus women. They found that the adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria responded much like peers of their experienced gender. The results were less clear with the prepubertal children.
          This kind of study is important, says Baudewijntje Kreukels, an expert on gender dysphoria at VU University Medical Center, “because sex differences in responding to odors cannot be influenced by training or environment.” The same can be said of another 2014 experiment by Burke and her colleagues. They measured the responses of boys and girls with gender dysphoria to echolike sounds produced by the inner ear in response to a clicking noise. Boys with gender dysphoria responded more like typical females, who have a stronger response to these sounds. But girls with gender dysphoria also responded like typical females.
          Overall the weight of these studies and others points strongly toward a biological basis for gender dysphoria. But given the variety of transgender people and the variation in the brains of men and women generally, it will be a long time, if ever, before a doctor can do a brain scan on a child and say, “Yes, this child is trans.”

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

        • RodKuehn

          Transgender: Evidence on the biological nature of gender identity
          Date: February 13, 2015

          The article was led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

          Disorders of gender identity affect as many as 1 in 100 people. Transgender individuals are those who identify with a gender that differs from their natal sex. Different etiologies have been suggested as the cause of transgender identify however none have been proven definitively.

          The researchers conducted a literature search and reviewed articles that showed positive biologic bases for gender identity. These included disorders of sexual development, such as penile agenesis, neuroanatomical differences, such as grey and white matter studies, and steroid hormone genetics, such as genes associated with sex hormone receptors. They conclude that current data suggests a biological etiology for transgender identity.

          “This paper represents the first comprehensive review of the scientific evidence that gender identity is a biological phenomenon,” explains corresponding author Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP. “As such it provides one of the most convincing arguments to date for all medical providers to gain the transgender medicine skills necessary to provide good care for these individuals,” he added.

          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150213112317.htm

        • RodKuehn

          More to come later today on Johns Hopkins research Dr. Paul McHugh.

        • RodKuehn

          SUMMARY of DR. MCHUGH

          Dr. Paul McHugh, the man behind the opposition to trans surgery and LGBT rights at Johns Hopkins, is a genuinely impressive scientist. Unfortunately, he abandoned his scientific and personal integrity to advance a religious opinion under false pretenses. On LGBT issues, Dr. McHugh has become a dinosaur and the rest of the world, including Johns Hopkins, has moved on without him.

          His LGBT studies, conclusions and recommendations have been abandoned by the AMA, the American Psychiatric Society, the American Psychological Association, Health and Human Services, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health – pretty much every legitimate group that deals with the issue.

          As is generally true of religious right icons of history and science, he:
          1) Mischaracterizes important studies
          2) Ignores contrary studies
          3) Inappropriately injects hostile personal opinion into work that should be scientifically centered

          Naturally, he is supported almost exclusively by those with a religious axe to grind, including the Vatican.

          • Mark Jensen

            Let’s put Dr. McGugh aside. How does the World Health Organization classify gender dysphoria? They classify it as mental illness.

        • RodKuehn

          Dr. McHugh has disgraced himself and Johns Hopkins with his antics. The number of studies that he has mischaracterized is significant. Without those distortions, he has no case.

          I’ve presented the position statements of various groups who have discarded McHugh’s pseudo-science. If you’d like me to go over the specific distortions in the various studies, I’m prepared to do so.

      • Mark Jensen

        I’m sorry for you Mr. Kuehn, but the World is on my side. The WHO classifies gender dysphoria as mental illness. Sorry, mike drop, done. You can site all the studies you want and try to discredit anyone you want, but the World is on my side.

        Here is my challenge to you Mr Kuehn, how many body parts do you need to mutilate or augmentate before you change your DNA? That alone will tell you if gender dysphoria is psychological or not. It’s science, deal with it.

        • RodKuehn

          Mr. Jensen: you’re on the wrong side of this debate. Acceptance of sexual minorities is coming at breakneck speed. See the following article from the NYTimes, July 26, 2016.

          W.H.O. Weighs Dropping Transgender Identity From List of Mental Disorders

          The World Health Organization is moving toward declassifying transgender identity as a mental disorder in its global list of medical conditions, with a new study lending additional support to a proposal that would delete the decades-old designation.

          The change, which has so far been approved by each committee that has considered it, is under review for the next edition of the W.H.O. codebook, which classifies diseases and influences the treatment of patients worldwide.

          “The intention is to reduce barriers to care,” said Geoffrey Reed, a psychologist who is coordinating the mental health and behavior disorders section in the upcoming edition of the codebook, called the International Classification of Diseases, or I.C.D.

          Dr. Reed, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and an author of the new study, said the proposal to remove transgender from the mental disorder category was “not getting opposition from W.H.O.,” suggesting that it appears likely to be included in the new edition. The revised volume would be the first in more than 25 years, and is scheduled to be approved in May 2018.

          Removing the mental health label from transgender identity would be a powerful signifier of acceptance, advocates and mental health professionals say.

          https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/health/who-transgender-medical-disorder.html

          • Mark Jensen

            The current status of the WHO classifies gender dysphoria as “mental illness”. It isn’t until their next publication that they are anticipating changing it’s classification. Essentially, they are bowing to public pressure, not science. In fact, they are intending on making an entire new category of classification just because they feel bad labeling transgender people as being mentally ill even though they are.

            I saw an interview recently where a man went to the University of Washington campus and asked college students if it was okay if he identified as a woman. Everyone of them said “sure” and said they would support that 100%. Then he asked if it was okay if he identified as a chinese woman. It was pretty well split fifty percent saying it was okay and the other half saying it wasn’t okay because he clearly wasn’t chinese. Then he asked if it would be okay if he identified as a 6’5″ chinese woman and nobody was okay with that because he clearly was under 6 feet tall. They all said people would say he was crazy. Identifying as a woman was okay, but not a 6’5″ chinese woman. It was extremely telling.

            Being a 6’6″, blond haired, blue eyed man, if I were to walk around saying I believed I was a 5 foot chinese woman, people, and rightly so, would say I was mentally ill because clearly am none of those. There are people who go through self mutilation all the time. There’s a woman who thinks she’s a cat and has gone through countless surgeries in order to look like one. Another woman thinks she’s a barbie doll and has had several surgeries to look like one. People with anorexia look in the mirror and see themselves as fat and starve themselves to death. Like men who think they are women and vice versa, they are all mentally ill.

            Let’s be honest here, the big push out there to change the classification of gender dysphoria from mental illness to something else is just an effort to get insurance companies to pay for gender transformation surgery. Most teenagers who call themselves “transgender” eventually come to the realization that they really are their biological gender. There is a reason that people who go through with the surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than those that don’t because someday, after it’s too late, they come to the realization that they made a huge mistake and they really were the gender they were born as.

          • Mark Jensen

            I concede the WHO is moving toward declassification of gender dysphoria as a “mental illness”, But as of today, transgenderism is classified as “mental illness” by the WHO at least until 2018. The question is whether or not the WHO’s move to reclassifiy gender dysphoria is based on science or not. The fact that the WHO is creating an entirely new reclassification further proves that this is not science driven, but politically driven. It’s all about insurance and who’s going to pay for it. It is all about feeling bad that people are inflicted with this mental disorder. From your own article, “The intention is to reduce barriers to care,”

            It is not about science. It is about who is going to pay for psychiatric help and gender transformation surgery, period. Again, I ask you, how many body parts do you need to mutilate or augmentate before you change your DNA? That is biological science. The rest is psychological.

          • RodKuehn

            You’re dodging. Admit it. Evidence is irrelevant in this matter.

            All the evidence is against your position. The entire scientific community is moving to support sexual minorities. You have no credible evidence. Your knowledge level is obviously low. You have no credentials for even offering an opinion.

            (btw, I also have no credentials and simply do my best to follow the science.)

            Instead of honestly acknowledging that world opinion, compassion, and scientific studies are against you but that you still choose to support your religious doctrine, you simply discount all contrary views as “political.”

            Worse yet, the illicit substitution of dogma for science is destroying both the credibility of religion and science. It also feeds national polarization because opposing sides no longer share a definition of “fact”. Nor do the two sides place the same value on honesty.

            The distrust fostered by conservative religion and conservative politicians is a national disaster.

            Run as fast as you will from the evidence, your doctrines are headed for the dustbin of history.

          • RodKuehn

            “The question is whether or not the WHO’s move to reclassifiy gender dysphoria is based on science or not.”

            No, the question is whether there is good reason to deny people their basic civil liberties or not. Even if there were no biological factors involved, it is still a basic human right to determine how best to live one’s own life.

            The problem is that classifying sexual minorities as mental disease was itself the political decision. Science merely verified that the original bad decision was religiously based, not psychological. The solution is to educate society, not fix the patient.

        • RodKuehn

          Mr. Jensen, judging from your note and my discovery that WHO is siding with the trans folks, I presume that you will go with science and drop your objections.

          Unless your objections are really religious.

          • Mark Jensen

            I do not deny that the WHO intends on creating an entirely new classification to deal with trans folks. They are bowing to public pressure to open doors to insurance companies paying for this mental disorder. That is true. As of now, according to the WHO, gender dysphoria is classified as mental illness.

            So, until mid 2018, the WHO classifies gender dysphoria as a mental illness as it is. If not for the denial of insurance benefits, everyone would be in agreement. Transgenderism is a mental illness. Heck., the WHO had to create an entirely new class to deal with the public pressure.

      • Mark Jensen

        I have presented this purely scientific question to you before. How many body parts does one need to mutilate or augmentate before they change their DNA from male to female or vice versa? It’s a simple question and it’s the answer as to if gender dysphoria is psychological or biological.

        Today, science clearly states gender dysphoria is a mental illness and not biological. The World Health Organization states gender dysphoria is a “mental illness”. It’s obvious you can’t change your DNA. Gender dysphoria is not boiological it is purely psychological.