Progressive Political Organizing & Cystinosis

As you may be aware, I live with an ultra-rare disease called cystinosis. Cystinosis is a metabolic genetic disease afflicting more than 2,000 people worldwide. The disease impacts all the organ systems in the body leading to kidney failure, muscle wasting, diabetes, blindness, pulmonary deficiency, hypothyroidism, and neurological damage.

I was diagnosed with cystinosis at around 10 months old. Little did I or my family know that I would face a lifetime of poking, prodding, nagging, cutting, and examining. And because of living with cystinosis, I have been hospitalized many times in my 27 years on this Earth. I have even had about 13 surgeries some of which were major including my kidney transplant and some that were minor. Furthermore, several times throughout the year I have appointments with specialists including nephrology, neurology, cardiology, pulmonary and others.

Recently, I decided to do more for the cystinosis community and therefore I am volunteering with the Cystinosis Research Network (CRN) and joining their group Future by Design (FBD).

FBD is a group of adults living with cystinosis who’ve come together to pave a brighter future for the children, teens, and adults touched by cystinosis.

Along with my participation in FBD, I plan to continue to be an advocate and work to push people in power to recognize the importance of fighting for those who don’t have a voice and fight for equality.

However, living with cystinosis means that to create change and find a cure for cystinosis, I must be my own advocate and to do that takes time, effort, and money.

One example is an upcoming conference with the Cystinosis Research Network and Future by Design next year in Philadelphia.

At the conference, I will learn new research findings, receive updates from cystinosis organizations from around the world, have the opportunity to participate in research studies, and interact one on one with many of the world expert clinicians treating and researching cystinosis.

Nonetheless and in addition to my work with the FBD and on cystinosis, I plan to fight for Medicare for All, transgender equality, and Free College for All.

Therefore, I humbly ask you to make a small donation to help further my work on these causes.

To make a contribution please go to my gofundme page or if you would like to become a sustaining member of my work and make a small monthly contribution please visit my patreon page.

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Future by Design & Progressive Political Change

Hello Everyone,

As you already are aware, my name is Mika Jayne Covington.

I am 27 years old (which is an accomplishment in itself because of the cystinosis) and I live with cystinosis. I was diagnosed with cystinosis at around 10 months old. Cystinosis is an ultra-rare genetic disease that causes cells in the body to crystallize and die. Cystinosis slowly destroys the organs in the body especially the kidneys, eyes, liver, lungs, muscles, and brain.

Recently, I decided to do more for the cystinosis community and therefore, I am volunteering with the Cystinosis Research Network (CRN) and joining their group Future by Design (FBD)

FBD was created to help make the cystinosis journey easier. FBD is a group of adults living with cystinosis who’ve come together to pave a brighter future for the children, teens, and adults touched by our rare disease.

One major project of FBD is their Outreach program that works to connect individuals and build relationships within the cystinosis community.

Along with my participation in FBD, I plan to continue to volunteer and work for progressive political change.

As a transgender person, I plan to continue working to end anti-LGBTQIA+ bias and helping fill the education gap in Iowa on LGBTQIA+ issues and history. I plan to fight for Free College for All, Medicare for All, and transgender equality. 

Volunteering on these issues takes time, effort, and money. One example is an upcoming conference with FBD in Philadelphia and I will need to pay for travel. This is just one example of my need for support.

Therefore, I humbly ask you to make a small donation to help further my work on these causes.

To make a contribution please go to my gofundme page or if you would like to become a sustaining member of my work and make a small monthly contribution please visit my patreon page.

Transgender Equality & Progressive Wins @ Iowa Democrat’s State Convention

On Saturday, June 16, the Iowa Democratic Party State Convention stood strong and unanimously passed the resolution on gender identity and gender expression nondiscrimination. You can find the full text of the resolution here.

The Convention body officially took a bold progressive position on transgender and gender non-binary equality.

The Iowa Democratic Party officially supports the following:

  • the passage of laws and policies protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all gender identities and expressions;
  • full access to employment, medical and mental health care, housing, education, and restrooms regardless of gender identity and expression;
  • encourages legal and social recognition of transgender and gender non-binary 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 gender non-binary or transgender;
  • calls upon public and private insurers to cover gender transition treatments for appropriately evaluated individuals; and
  • amending the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States to ensure the full inclusion and non-discrimination of gender non-binary and transgender people so that they are not forced to choose between a binary gender of man or woman to run for Party offices such as State Central Committee or Democratic National Committee person.

The Convention also amended the Party Constitution to include all persons regardless of gender identity or expression. Specifically, the Convention amended the State Party Constitution to provide for the election of non-binary, agender, and genderqueer persons to Party offices.

Before the amendments, only people who identify as man or woman were allowed to be elected to Party offices. This does stand in opposition to the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States.

Additionally, the Convention adopted a platform that endorses LGBTQIA+ and progressive issues.

The following are the progressive platform planks that were adopted at the Convention:

  • We support:
    • Paris Climate Accords
    • electric-vehicle infrastructure
    • “living wage” replacing minimum wage
    • expanding Davis-Bacon Act to include publicly-funded projects
    • Dodd-Frank
    • 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act
    • national universal basic income
    • eliminating Social Security wage cap
    • taxing high-frequency trading
    • breaking up “too-big-to-fail” banks
    • minimum 6% Supplemental State Aid (SSA) for PreK-12 education
    • post-secondary programs tuition and debt free for at least 4 years, including vocational programs, regent state universities, and community colleges
    • state mandates requiring all public schools include instruction in physical, mental health, and sex-positive and comprehensive and research-based sexual and health programs (including LGBTQIA+)
    • student-loan forgiveness
    • 100% tax-deductible interest on post-secondary loans
    • automatic and same-day voter registration
    • legalizing cannabis
    • an updated version of the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, restricting: silencers and suppressors, bump-stocks, high capacity magazines, and fragmentary-rounds
    • mandatory safety and proficiency training
    • firearm transfer universal background checks
    • state and federal DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TVDL (Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License), and UAFA (Uniting American Families Act)
    • undocumented immigrant Driver’s License and vehicle registration
    • comprehensive, universal, single-payer healthcare for all
    • transgender healthcare
    • medical end-of-life options
    • full-service VA healthcare for LGBTQIA+
    • equal rights for LGBTQIA+ residents in all areas
    • all-gender restrooms
    • protection of all genders’ rights from discrimination/harassment/retaliation
    • expanding gender options, including opt-out, on government forms
    • ending violence against woman and sexual/gender minorities, including genital mutilation/honor killings/forced marriage/rape/property confiscation
    • equal human rights/health/welfare for Palestinians and Israelis
    • right to return/just compensation for displaced Palestinians
    • rights of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions)
    • Palestinian statehood/UN membership
    • peaceful efforts to achieve separate secure Israeli and Palestinian states respecting the rights of all persons
  • We oppose:
    • open-carry
    • discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people
    • sex-assignment surgeries at birth for intersex people
    • religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws, including LGBTQIA+ protections
    • racial/religious/sexual orientation/gender identity persecution

I would like to thank everyone who was able to attend the Convention and who advocated for and voted for the amendments, resolution, and platform.

Mika for Stonewall Vice Chair

I am a candidate for Stonewall Vice Chair and I would like to earn the privilege of serving you and lifting up your voices.

I am a student at the University of Iowa studying psychology and German. I have served on the Pottawattamie County Democrats Central Committee and as Affirmative Action Chair.

I grew up in Nebraska and six years ago I moved to Iowa to work for President Barack Obama, to attend college and to get a kidney transplant at the University of Iowa Hospitals.

I experienced significant discrimination and oppression growing up in Nebraska which is where my passion for politics and equality comes from. This past taught me that if you want to see change you must step up and create that change.

Since 2009 to 2014, I was involved with the Iowa Pride Network and from 2010 to 2013 I was on the College Leadership team, organizing and leading the Southwest Iowa GSA Network, fighting anti-LGBTQIA+ bias on campus and helping fill the education gap in Iowa and Eastern Nebraska on LGBTQIA+ issues and history.

Additionally, in Nebraska, I worked with State Senator Sara Howard to pass her bill LB 380, which would have allowed all couples to adopt regardless of marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

I firmly believe that we must consider and include ideas from everyone, not just those who have been involved in the Party for years. We must face the fact that a greater number of young people – the next generation of voters – are independents and therefore, we must ask ourselves why that is. Then, we must create an action plan to either bring them into the Party or open it up to them in other ways.

As a transgender person, I know that the Democratic Party has room to grow to become fully inclusive and welcoming of gender non-binary and transgender people.  Therefore, making the Party more inclusive and welcoming is a major priority of mine, second only to electing Democrats and ensuring that Democrats take back Iowa.

I know that I will be a powerful addition to the Stonewall Caucus and the Iowa Democratic Party because I have experience within my life, as well as through the work I have done on issue, advocacy, and political campaigns.

I would be honored to have your support and represent you as Vice-Chair of the Stonewall Caucus. I will be a strong, compassionate and dedicated voice for LGBTQIA+ Iowans.

Iowa Democrats State Convention & Transgender Equality

Iowa has a long history of leading the nation on social issues and civil rights including interracial marriage, admitting women to the University of Iowa, the right to free speech (e.g., John and Mary Beth Tinker in their protest of the Vietnam War resulting in Tinker v. Des Moines), Senator Tom Harkin fighting for the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Democratic Majority General Assembly amending the Iowa Civil Rights Code to ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruling that civil marriage is a right regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.

In Iowa, we have made great progress on civil rights FOR ALL, including for transgender and gender non-binary people. It is illegal here in Iowa to discriminate against transgender and gender non-binary people in the areas of employment, housing, education, public accommodations and services, and credit practices. This is in addition to civil marriage.

Nevertheless, and unfortunately, we (transgender and gender non-binary people) still face serious discrimination and stigma in our daily lives. Especially when it comes to accessing health care and updating our identity documents. Frequently we are denied appropriate gender transition-related medical and mental health care despite evidence that appropriately evaluated individuals benefit from gender transition treatments.

Additionally, we face harassment and discrimination when it comes to using a restroom. However, contrary to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) which has consistently held that people must be permitted to use the facilities in accordance with gender identity, a judge here in Iowa ruled that the Iowa Civil Rights Code does not require allowing a transgender person to use the facilities that match their gender identity.

Therefore, we have work to do and Iowa Democrats are in a position once again to lead the nation.

We must stand firm in our commitment to equality and justice for all by passing the resolution at the Iowa Democratic Party State Convention on June 16th on gender identity and gender expression nondiscrimination.

We as Iowa Democrats must state that we support

  • the passage of laws and policies protecting the rights of people of all gender identities and expressions,
  • full access to medical and mental health care and full access to restrooms regardless of gender identity and expression,
  • legal and social recognition of transgender and gender non-binary individuals consistent with their gender identity and expression, and
  • full access to identity documents consistent with their gender identity and expression that do not involuntarily disclose their status as transgender or gender non-binary.

Furthermore, that we support amending the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States to ensure the full inclusion and non-discrimination of gender nonbinary and transgender people so that we (gender non-binary and transgender people) are not forced to choose between a binary gender of man or woman to run for Party offices such as State Central Committeeperson or Democratic National Committeeperson.

Go here to view the resolution: Click here