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.

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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

#MeToo in Solidarity

A couple days ago, three courageous women revealed the dark truth that sexual harassment and assault cross political party lines.

I and many others, thank you. We acknowledge the heavy weight of being preyed upon, harassed, and exploited by those in positions of power. You are not alone in the fear that no one will believe you, the fear that you will look weak or the fear that you will be dismissed. You are not alone because I and many others have experienced those feelings as well. 

To every person who has had to face unwanted sexual advances and who are subjected to offensive behavior that we are expected to tolerate because it’s just “the way it is”: I and many others stand with you. Together we support you!

I want, no I demand that all survivors of sexual abuse and harassment, be heard, be believed, and be able to access justice and support.

Too many centers of power including the Iowa General Assembly lack gender parity and women including gender minorities have no equal decision-making power. Society’s inequality and imbalance of power create an environment where it seems normal for abuse and harassment to flourish. Thus, we need women to fill positions of power!

I and many others continue to fight for equal representation, opportunities, benefits and pay for all women, greater representation of women of color, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and transgender, bisexual and lesbian women. And yes, our experiences in life are often significantly worse than white, cisgender, straight people.

 

Mika for State Central Committee

I am running for the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee (SCC).

I am running because I have seen that the party still has many areas where we can improve. For example, the party treats those with money differently than those without money. We have fundraisers and events that exclude people who don’t have $50 to $75 to give to the party to participate in these events. Additionally, we seem to favor our incumbents and claim that primaries and open discussion of the issues are somehow divisive. Frequently, I hear party officials discourage the discussion and challenge to status quo.

I firmly believe that if we want change to occur we must step up to the challenge and create the change.

I believe that we need to consider and include ideas from everyone, not just those who have been involved in the party for years. As we know we must make our party more open and inclusive and we must face the fact that a greater number of young people and the next generation of voters are independents. Therefore, we need to listen to those voters especially since we rely on them to win general elections.

I know we need to reach out and bring back the 4.4 million Obama voters who voted in 2012 but stayed home in 2016. Of these 4.4 million, 43 percent were not contacted by any candidate in 2016 because it was believed they would be reliable Democratic voters.

I understand that we must update and modernize the way we are campaigning. We must put more emphasis on digital advertising and social media. We must follow the example of those already using social media and live streaming technologies to reach people. As Senator Bernie Sanders has done with live broadcasting his town halls. We are able to reach millions more than conventional online videos. We could use this tool to live broadcast many of our events and especially our fundraisers which in turn would include more people.

I believe that I am uniquely qualified to be on the SCC because of my work on issue and advocacy organizations such as the Cystinosis Research Foundation and the Cystinosis Research Network. And because of living with cystinosis I learned at an early age to be organized, to advocate for myself, and to be responsible especially when it came to managing my health and navigating health care coverage.

I hope I can count on your support at the Iowa Congressional District 2 Democratic Party Convention.

If you have any questions or concerns contact me at mika.j.covington@gmail.com

Nebraska Medical Center and the Dominant Narrative

I live with a very rare genetic condition called cystinosis which slowly destroys my organs including the eyes, kidneys, liver, muscles, and brain. Because of this, I needed a kidney transplant in 2011.

At the time, I lived in Republican-controlled Nebraska where I went to the Nebraska Medical Center to get the transplant. However, the dominant narrative got in the way. This narrative says that society does not need to treat transgender people with dignity and respect.

On several occasions, while sitting in the waiting room at the Nebraska Medical Center Holly Fox, the transplant nurse coordinator would call my name. Instead of calling me by the name I identify with or the gender pronouns I prefer she called me Michael and Mr. Covington. Many of the staff there fought with me over their issue with the dominant narrative that says those who are different do not deserve to be treated as a human being. They even made excuses for their behavior and they claimed that it was illegal for them to use my preferred name and pronouns.

There was little for me to do because I accepted the dominant narrative and let them demean me.

The dominant narrative led to me not fighting when the Nebraska Medical Center staff treated me like shit and refused to do the kidney transplant. They even pretended to get ready for the surgery by actually scheduling it and having me go through all of the pre-operative appointments. Then at the last minute, they canceled the surgery. All of this happened even though I had a living donor ready to do the transplant. All they needed to do was perform the damn surgery.

These medical professionals obeyed the dominant narrative that said I am not worthy of life.

Because I did not get the treatment that I needed I was forced to have a less effective treatment that did not benefit me and in the long run hurt me.

Thus, because I did not get the transplant I needed I was forced to go on dialysis to extend my life. And because I did not get the transplant several complications occurred that was 100 percent preventable.

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I had many surgeries that I did not need. Some of the surgeries were dialysis catheters that were placed in my chest for access to perform dialysis. I experienced many complications that led to me going to the hospital and having even more procedures. It led to needing to switch to another form of dialysis which meant more surgeries.

Everything I went through for three years was 100 percent preventable. None of this benefited me and I could have died waiting for the transplant.

Because of the medications, surgeries, and dialysis, years may have been cut off my life.

Who benefited from this and from me accepting the dominant narrative? The hospital, the medical supply companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and everyone who made a profit off my suffering. These people and institutions made hundreds of thousands of dollars off the unnecessary medical procedures and medications.

This happened because of the dominant narrative and because I and others were not fighting it.

Nevertheless, I have the power to change this and so do you. Together we can win the fight for universal health care as a human right and we can win basic human rights for all people regardless of your gender identity or gender expression.

Take action now!