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Women’s Health

How Tennessee’s Transgender Business Bathroom Bill Poses a Major Health Risk

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A sign on the wall for “All Gender Toilets”

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In August 2020, Lauren Jackson spent a summer day at Agate State Beach Park in Oregon. Then a routine visit to the women’s bathroom became dangerous. A man attacked Jackson. The stranger hit her and broke her jaw before escaping the park.

Jackson is transgender and the attacker confronted her about using the women’s bathroom.

Unfortunately, Jackson isn’t the only transgender person to have been molested or assaulted near a bathroom. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 60% of transgender people avoid a public bathroom because they fear being verbally abused or physically abused.

Almost a year has passed since Jackson was attacked and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new bathroom bill. Legislation would require all businesses in the state to publicly display a sign saying whether they encourage transgender customers to use the toilet of their choice. Nashville Attorney General Glenn Funk and the human rights campaign have spoken out against Lee’s law.

When Lee’s bill goes into effect in July, all companies welcoming transgender customers will be forced to promote this sign: “This facility has a policy of using toilets by biological sex regardless of the name on the toilet Local prosecutors would be responsible for overseeing the bill, and business owners who fail to comply could face fines or imprisonment.

No other state has used signs to clearly identify LGBT-friendly establishments.

Some members of the transgender community assume that these characters can be a helpful label for the businesses to support and avoid. Others fear that the bill could create further incidents of harassment and abuse.

Why could House Bill 1182 be more dangerous than allowing people to freely use the bathrooms of their choice? A similar bathroom bill in North Carolina can predict the impact.

In 2016, former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory banned transgender people from using the bathroom they felt most comfortable in. He said that transgender-friendly bathrooms “could also create major public safety problems by putting citizens at risk through deviant acts by those who inappropriately take advantage of bad policies.” These warnings of sexual abuse, of men dressing up to chase women in the toilets, were of no value. According to a study by the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, trans welcome bathrooms and locker rooms did not experience higher levels of assault or violence. However, this misguided fear led some community members to take on the task of monitoring bathrooms for people who might be transgender.

In July 2019, North Carolina agreed to end the ban on transgender bathrooms. Unfortunately, that settlement came too late for a transgender woman in Raleigh who was sexually molested and physically assaulted while using the bathroom.

Unlike the North Carolina bill, Tennessee’s 1182 Home Bill does not directly prohibit transgender people from using their bathroom. However, the mandatory labeling of transgender-friendly companies can still pose risks. Corporations, churches and health centers across the country have reported anti-LGBT + graffiti. In Tennessee, some business owners fear that putting up the required signs for their bathroom policies could result in anti-trans graffiti or property damage. Such vandalism is expensive to repair when many companies are struggling financially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with News Channel 5, the owners of Nashville’s Darkhorse Theater describe the bill as “mean”. “I’m not a doctor,” says co-owner Peter. “I am unable to examine each of our customers and determine which bathroom to go to.”

More importantly, transgender Tennesseans are concerned about their safety. Transgender customers can avoid using the toilet if they fear that other customers may question their gender. Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, said: “Denying transgender people access to a bathroom that matches their gender identity is demeaning and dehumanizing – and can have real health and safety consequences.”

If a transgender person avoids using toilets outside of their own home, they can hold their bladder for hours. Over time, holding the bladder can lead to several serious health problems, such as urinary tract infections and incontinence.

Readers concerned about this issue may consider petitioning Governor Lee or other Tennessee lawmakers, or supporting the following LGBT + organizations: Tennessee’s Chapter GLSEN, Tennessee Vals, PFLAG Nashville, Just Us at the Oasis Center or the Tennessee Equality Project.

Women’s Health

Israeli CEO seeks quantum of solace for women’s diseases – Sponsored Content

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Severe stomach pain. Nausea. Fatigue. Infertility. These are just some of the symptoms that millions of women with endometriosis suffer – an incurable disease caused when tissue that lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the abdomen.

Shahar Keinan, the Israeli CEO of Polaris Quantum Biotech, is working with another female CEO in the field to use superfast quantum computers to find a cure for endometriosis that doctors estimate affects around 10% of women worldwide.

“This will help bring drugs to market quickly, especially in areas that have long been neglected,” says Keinan of her company’s new partnership with Californian Auransa Inc., which is using artificial intelligence to find new treatments . “This really solves an unmet need.”

The two companies will also work together to find treatments and cures for ovarian and breast cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

“I believe that we will be able to combine our individual expertise in biology and chemistry to develop high quality solutions for these very difficult to control or neglected diseases that affect women’s health,” says Pek Lum, Auransa’s CEO.

Solutions to these diseases are just a fraction of what Polarisqb, a North Carolina-based quantum computing startup, is researching in the fast-growing field of computational chemistry, where scientists use computer models instead of laboratory equipment to identify new compounds that stop or prevent can disease.

The technology, which is dramatically accelerating drug development, holds great promise in areas that are still under-researched – such as women’s health – and rare diseases, where drug companies often have poor return on investment.

Polarisqb is currently conducting an investment round. Private investors can find out more about OurCrowd and participate.

Traditional laboratory-based drug development methods are now becoming more expensive. Each new drug costs about $ 1 billion on average, a price that includes the many failed trials and studies, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The costs are passed on to the patients.

The quantum computing used by Polarisqb calculates up to 10,000 times faster than conventional computers, helps to make more drugs available faster and at lower prices, and to reduce the average time to market for a drug from 10 to seven years, says Keinan.

To test the concept, Polarisqb’s scientists built on previous Novartis laboratory research on dengue fever, which it took about four years to identify molecules that could stop the disease that causes nausea, rash and limb pain, and in patients can be fatal about 25% of the cases. Although there is a vaccine for certain age groups, it can only be given to people who have had the virus in the past. The virus infects up to 400 million people worldwide every year.

“We were able to use our platform and identify the same molecules from a library of billions in less than a minute. We also use the system to identify new molecules in order to overcome the problems with the old ones, ”said Keinan. The company will now commercialize these molecules to pharmaceutical companies.

The same work can be done with conventional computers, but “it’s a long and complicated operation,” says Keinan, and it would not save much compared to laboratory research. “We were looking for something faster and more efficient to be able to scale.”

Quantum computers allow the system to do super-fast calculations to figure out which molecules are best to use and quickly eliminate those that don’t work.

The platform works by scanning computer models of billions of different molecules. It identifies the molecules that could treat a particular disease by attacking and stopping the activity of a particular protein that changes the course of the disease. In cancer, certain molecules could stop the cancer cells’ DNA from replicating. In viruses, certain molecules could stop the replication of the RNA.

“Finding these molecules will stop the disease,” says Keinan, adding that these molecules then become prescriptions or blueprints for drugs.

“We’re just trying to find the perfect molecule or key that fits exactly into the protein’s keyhole,” she says.

Polarisqb used a digital annealer, a quantum-inspired technology developed by Fujitsu that is able to perform parallel optimization calculations in real time with a speed, precision and size that is unmatched by classical computing. The collaboration with Fujitsu expands the number of molecules sought from 10 million to trillions of molecules and thus increases the probability of finding new, useful drug candidates.

“The new solution from Polarisqb and Fujitsu shortens the time frame for drug discovery and lead optimization from up to 48 months to just eight months,” says Alex Brown, Drug Discovery Consultant at Fujitsu.

Traditionally, scientists have done this in laboratories and conducted experiments to exclude molecules or find effective ones. But this process of trial and error is lengthy and costly, and one of the reasons why the average drug takes about a decade to develop.

“Either you do it slowly and very expensive,” says Keinan. “Or you find a new technology; and we do. “

You can find more information about investing in Polaris Quantum Biotech HERE.

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Women’s Health

Why a former Ro exec set out to start her own digital health startup

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Rachel Blank left Ro last year to start Allara. The startup focuses on helping women cope with PCOS and other complex diseases. Image credit: Allara

After serving two years as Director of Strategy for Digital Health Unicorn Ro, Rachel Blank set out last year to start a new company based on her own health experiences.

In September, she founded Allara Health with the aim of helping women treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects an estimated one in ten women. It’s a common cause of infertility, but it affects much more than that – a large percentage of people with PCOS are also insulin resistant, and the condition is also linked to anxiety and depression.

In most cases, it takes years to diagnose and little is known about what actually causes the disease.

Blank found this out from personal experience. She was diagnosed with PCOS 10 years ago after dealing with unexplained health problems for years.

“That was not only a surprise, but especially for me because I grew up the daughter of a gynecologist,” she said in a Zoom interview. “Even when I was diagnosed, I didn’t feel like I ever made a good path in the healthcare system. I never knew where to go, which doctors to see, what to do. I found doctors very dismissive or said things like, ‘If you’re not trying to get pregnant, I don’t really know what to do for you.’ “

The pandemic spurred her to think more about her health and she started doing her own research. She found large communities of women on the internet trying to put together the same questions she was faced with.

“That was that big aha moment for me,” she said. “I can bring in not only my personal experience, but also my professional experience in the field of digital health and, to be honest, build something better.”

Blank is no stranger to women’s health. While at Ro, she ran one of the company’s direct-to-consumer brands, Rory, which offered prescription and wellness treatments for menopausal women. Before that, she worked as an investor for General Catalyst.

At Allara, her goal is to focus more on improving access to specialized treatments, an area that is often overlooked by other women’s health startups that are more focused on primary care or fertility.

“Where I saw this massive void was the specialty care,” she said. “What to do if you not only need contraception but are also not ready for IVF? There is really nowhere you can go in traditional healthcare or digital healthcare right now. “

The New York startup offers virtual visits to gynecologists and endocrinologists as well as nutritional advice and coaching. You also have the option of ordering diagnostics such as a blood test or medication if necessary. Allara currently charges a $ 125 monthly subscription model for all of its services, although going forward, Blank said the company plans to offer it as an employee benefit and offer more point solutions.

Allara currently operates in six states but hopes to be in all 50 states by the end of the year. The company has started visiting patients in the past few months. Around 35,000 women have either signed up for the service or expressed their interest.

In the longer term, Blank hopes to expand to other, often overlooked diseases such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

“This motivates me and motivates my entire team to understand the massive impact we have not only on a woman’s everyday life and her daily feelings, but also on her health outcomes,” she said, “.

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Women’s Health

County needs a trauma-informed facility for female inmates

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On Tuesday, June 15, the Travis County Commissioners Court will vote on whether or not to approve a $ 4.3 million design services contract for the proposed Travis County Trauma Informed Women’s Facility Project. The design of the project is influenced by the tremendous efforts of an advisory committee that issued recommendations based on months of work with interviews with female inmates and research into best practices.

The purpose of this project is not to increase detention capacity; Rather, it is about replacing outdated and inefficient facilities and building a holistic facility that houses female inmates in one building, with access to on-site gender-specific medical services, trauma-informed care and counseling, psychosocial support system, vocational training and other programs.

This project is the first of many outlined in Travis County’s current prison facilities master plan, which suggests that at least seven buildings in the prison complex are in disrepair and have been in use for longer than originally intended. I do not support the replacement of all of these buildings. I support the proposed women’s facility that addresses the needs of women from a trauma-informed perspective. If women were placed in a facility with only women and their medical needs attended to, the facility would be safer for women and the officials who protect them.

In addition, a facility that enables the continuous supply of mental health and vocational training services can begin to address the core issues related to the social determinants of health critical to the inmate’s rehabilitation and ensure successful re-entry into the to ease society after they have served their time.

Many prisoners have a background of poverty. The simple fact is that for people living near the poverty line, the prison is the primary place for mental health and medical care. I am not happy about this, but as a Travis County Commissioner, it is my duty to provide for the primary needs of the people who are in our care. I will not fail to improve the existing services without a specific program to replace these much-needed services.

The best of intentions without the appropriate resources can withhold necessary treatment options from members of the community. Lawyers who oppose the Women’s Facility Project fail to recognize the complexities of the issues or the fact that neither the state nor the local government has invested in the necessary resources to provide mental health services outside of prison. Travis County needs more access to drug beds and services for commonly diagnosed mental health problems.

I support parallel efforts to increase these services and provide more distraction, and I am ready to work with anyone who can help solve these complex problems; However, I cannot support pursuing this work at the expense of providing trauma-informed services to incarcerated women who, for various reasons, remain in our prison and under our care.

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