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Anthony Fauci, leader in HIV/AIDS and COVID epidemics, confirms plan to retire

WH adviser remembered by gay community

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Anthony Fauci has confirmed plans to retire from the U.S. government by the year's end. (Washington Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

Anthony Fauci, a leading epidemiologist who advised seven presidents and had a major role in the HIV/AIDS and COVID epidemics, has confirmed plans to retire from his role in the U.S. government.

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases and now chief medical adviser to President Biden, signaled he plans to retire in December in a statement Monday.

Fauci, however, is quoted in the New York Times as saying he’s “not retiring in the classic sense” but would devote himself to traveling, writing, and encouraging young people to enter government service.

“So long as I’m healthy, which I am, and I’m energetic, which I am, and I’m passionate, which I am, I want to do some things outside of the realm of the federal government,” Dr. Fauci was quoted as saying, reportedly adding he intends to draw on his experience in public health and public service to “hopefully inspire the younger generation.”

As noted in The New York Times, the announcement from the 81-year-old Fauci wasn’t unexpected because he had been hinting for some time he was thinking of stepping down.

Fauci, a leader in the U.S. government response to the coronavirus pandemic, was seen as a major antagonist of former President Trump’s, who was criticized for downplaying the threat of the disease — and even outright lying about its danger to the American public. In turn, Fauci drew the ire of conservatives, who blamed him for making Trump look bad and for the lockdown policies they opposed.

The gay community also remembers Fauci for the lead role he took in development of treatment for HIV/AIDS during the height of the epidemic in the 1980s. Although Fauci was once among the targets of protest groups like ACT UP, he later became close friends with now deceased activist Larry Kramer.

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Federal Government

Schools are the third most popular location for hate crimes, FBI says

Agency previously found anti-LGBTQ incidents increased significantly

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FBI Director Christopher Wray (Screen capture/NBC News)

Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday reveal that schools were the third most popular spot for bias-motivated hate crimes that were reported between 2018-2022.

Primary and secondary schools and university campuses accounted for 10 percent of all hate crimes reported in 2022, while the first and second most common locations were homes and residences and highways, roads and alleyways, the FBI said in its report.

Data comes from the agency’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. The FBI’s annual crime report from 2022, which was released in October, found that anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose precipitously from the previous year.

Specifically, there with a 13.8 percent increase in crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and a 32.9 percent increase in crimes motivated by the victim’s gender identity.

In the five years covered in the FBI’s report on Monday, anti-LGBTQ crimes were the third most common, behind those perpetrated against Black or African American victims and those targeting those from certain religious groups, most often Jewish people.

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Federal Government

Trans veterans sue the VA for coverage of surgeries

Case filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough (Screen capture/YouTube)

A group of transgender veterans on Thursday sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to compel the agency to cover gender affirming surgeries, following verbal assurances that it would begin providing these services.

The lawsuit, filed by the Transgender American Veterans Association, aims to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes that can result from lack of access to medically necessary healthcare interventions for people with gender dysphoria.

This includes suicides, depression and psychological distress.

In its complaint before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, the group argued gender affirming surgeries are often prohibitively expensive when administered by private doctors.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough in 2021 said the agency was engaged in a rule making process to provide these services to trans veterans such that they can “go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side.”

The process, he said, would take a few years to “develop capacity to meet the surgical needs.”

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Federal Government

HHS wins praise for rescinding parts of Trump-era ‘conscience rule’

Policy allowed providers to deny care for religious reasons

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra (Public domain photo)

The National Center for Lesbian Rights on Tuesday issued a statement praising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for rescinding “the the most harmful aspects” of the Trump-era “conscience rule.”

The policy, which passed in 2019, was blocked by three federal courts and never implemented. It would have allowed healthcare providers to deny care based on religious objections.

“The revised rule,” NCLR Federal Policy Director Julianna Gonen said, “is premised on the recognition that a proper balance must be struck between respecting conscience and ensuring that people get the health care they need.”

Gonen noted the persistence of discrimination against LGBTQ patients, adding “this new rule is a welcome development that will help protect our community.”

The final rule released on Tuesday by HHS reverses provisions of the previous policy under which federal funding would be stripped from facilities that required providers to administer care over which they had religious-based objections.

Namely, this largely meant abortions, contraception, and gender-affirming treatments.

“Some doctors, nurses, and hospitals, for example, object for religious or moral reasons to providing or referring for abortions or assisted suicide, among other procedures,” the agency wrote. “Respecting such objections honors liberty and human dignity.”

Likewise, HHS said, “patients also have rights and health needs, sometimes urgent ones.”

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