Monday, March 29, 2010

A Little Personal

Something significant happened this year and I wanted to share it. A case went to tax court, an independent body from the IRS. It took 10 years for Glad and their associates to get this case through. The IRS had been rigid and fanatical about disallowing any medical deductions for transsexual women (though many states medically researched and allowed it the IRS did not ) and here is what they said:

""Whether gender reassignment surgery is a treatment for an illness or disease is controversial. For instance, Johns Hopkins Hospital has closed its gender reassignment clinic and ceased performing these operations. See, Surgical Sex, Dr. Paul McHugh, 2004 First Things 147 (November 2004) 34-38. In light of the Congressional emphasis on denying a deduction for procedures relating to appearance in all but a few circumstances and the controversy surrounding whether GRS is a treatment for an illness or disease, the materials submitted do not support a deduction. Only an unequivocal expression of Congressional intent that expenses of this type qualify under section 213 would justify the allowance of the deduction in this case. Otherwise, it would seem we would be moving beyond the generally accepted boundaries that define this type of deduction." -IRS

This year Glad ( Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ) after 10 long years won a significant court case . Feb 2, 2010 the the U.S. Tax Court ruled that Rhiannon O’Donnabhain , a transsexual woman , should be allowed to deduct the costs of her treatment for gender-identity disorder (keep in mind virtually no insurance companies cover any costs and after surgery you will never get individual medical insurance again ) , including sex-reassignment surgery and hormone treatments stating:

"In its decision yesterday, the tax court said the IRS position was “at best a superficial characterization of the circumstances’’ that is “thoroughly rebutted by the medical evidence.’’

Their denial and threats to audit anyone trying to claim medical costs was based on a religious zealot Paul McHugh, an influential conservative Catholic ideologue ,a transphobic psychiatrist (then adviser to the Vatican on sexual matters) . He convinced the Vatican in 2000 to declare that transsexualism "doesn't exist" and is a mental pathology instead . McHugh fabricated a study and published it in the catholic rag ( an ecumenical journal that claims to "advance Christianity" ) called “First Things”. And this was what the IRS based their ruling on. The religious magazine of a church that allows it's priests to wholesale molest children and hides the perpetrators from the law. Does that sound realistic to you ? Not to me.

The tax court basically said the IRS interpretation was a shallow interpretation and completely refuted by the medical facts. In 2007 McHugh had been ordered by Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison to stop making public statements about physician George Tiller’s work. McHugh disapproved of Tiller’s work providing abortion services. Tiller was later murdered by a fanatic who was influenced by public statements made about Tiller. McHugh is also known for his work defending Catholic priests against sex abuse charges. He was a founder and board member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, and he was named to a lay panel assembled by the Roman Catholic Church in 2002 to look into sexual abuse by priests, which led to protests from victims’ rights groups. That's right, basically he was there to PROVE that the molestation of all these children WAS A FALSE MEMORY. The hellish and unstoppable world wide tsunami of accusations from almost every single part of globe is on McHughs head as well as he had an active part in the attempted cover up by attempting to discredit victims.

So we won , but this was more than about the significance of the refund I received though ( and yes I did receive it ) more it was about the religious prejudice that is endemic in the entire political system. How it can turn truth into lies and lies into truth based on religious desires. Though religious people practice medicine their diagnosis must be secular or they are treating people with their religion and not with their medical knowledge.

To Rhiannon O’Donnabhain and the people at Glad who suffered 10 years of fighting a religious ruling from the IRS thank you so much. This was not just a step forward , it was a historic reversal for ignorance in an age of ignorance. Perhaps one day present day insurance monopolies will allow for medical costs for kids afflicted. Till then to all the wonderful trans activists who take the brutal punishment upfront for all of us , Lynn Conway , Andrea James, Calpernia Addams, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Donna Rose, Deirdre McCloskey, Dr Becky , Meghan Stabler and all of the young ones coming up that burn with a fire for justice like Ashley Love. We do not choose who we are but is an easy mistake for our detractors to make because honestly given the credentials of all these women it would be a damn easy choice.