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.
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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.

Jon Neiderbach & Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor

I support both Cathy Glasson and Jon Neiderbach for Iowa Governor. I believe that both are great candidates and both have bold progressive agendas.

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes in education and ensuring everyone has an equal chance to get ahead.

My budget will include $100 million dedicated to make post-secondary education and training available and accessible. Students who agree to stay and work in Iowa after graduation and are enrolled at any of Iowa’s community colleges and public universities will qualify for this new program. My budget will also include funding to reduce debt owed by students. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he understands that every Iowan must have affordable high-quality health care.

I support keeping the ACA – with needed “fixing” legislation – until there are enough votes to replace it with single-payer universal coverage. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that Iowans need lower drug prices right now.

I believe Iowa should in cooperation with other states negotiate drug prices for our residents, and press hard for the Secretary of HHS to do the same for all Americans. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that every Iowa regardless of gender identity must have access to high-quality comprehensive health care.

I will work with the Board of Medicine and the relevant professional societies to educate providers and stamp out discrimination and bias toward transgender and intersex individuals. Iowa should require health insurance policies written in the state to cover medical and mental health services in association with gender identity issues. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he wants to combat bullying and harassment in Iowa and especially against LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) students.

Every principal should be required to attend training, with follow up training for the teachers in their building. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he knows that discrimination against LGBTQIA people continues to happen in Iowa even with marriage equality and the amended Iowa Civil Rights Code.

I will propose additional funding for the Iowa Civil Rights [Commission] for timely investigations and enforcement actions, and I will embrace the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQIA Youth. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports common sense gun reform.

I support applying universal background checks to all sales including those at gun shows, and I favor using technology to make it easier for law enforcement to link bullets to specific weapons. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Iowa needs more people in our workforce, and welcoming immigrants including a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals is an excellent way to increase our population. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports a living wage.

I support increasing the state minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately, with a provision that it will increase indexed to inflation. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he supports “too-big-to-fail-to-big-to-exist” legislation.

We need aggressive federal oversight to financial institutions to ensure that none get so large their failure would jeopardize the banking system. Banks want capitalism when they are profitable and socialism when they are in danger: unacceptable. – Jon

I support Jon Neiderbach because he believes that we need a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.

The bottom line is we need legislation to ensure the stability of the financial system, limit the power of the financial system and any individual institution, and make sure the financial system works to help hardworking American families. – Jon

I also support Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor. Cathy has been an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for over 20 years, she is the president of Iowa SEIU 199 and lives in Coralville Iowa.

I am supporting Cathy because she believes as do I, that the primary job of a Governor is to raise peoples’ standard of living.

As Cathy says, 381,000 Iowa households are struggling to pay their bills because two-thirds of the jobs in our state pay less than $20 an hour. Parents working two and three low-wage jobs are still scrambling to come up with $900 each month for childcare, to pay the rent or mortgage, to put food on the table and gas in the car.

Cathy understands that we must provide for those who have the least. She understands that Iowa must increase the minimum wage to a living wage and that Iowa must do more to make childcare affordable for all families.

I support Cathy because she believes workers must have collective bargaining rights. She believes that it should be easy to form unions not harder.

As a nurse, I believe healthcare is a right and holding Iowans’ care hostage is wrong. – Cathy

As she says, healthcare is a right, it is not a privilege for a few.

I support Cathy because she understands that education is a right and Iowa must fully fund our public schools, make community college free, and freeze tuition at Iowa’s public universities.

It is time for a bold progressive, please support Cathy Glasson and Jon Neiderbach for Iowa Governor and join the campaign.

Go here to join Jon Neiderbach’s campaign: click here
Go here to join Cathy Glasson’s campaign: click here
Not endorsed by any candidate, candidate’s committee, or political party.

I am a Socialist

I am a socialist. I believe in socialism because I believe in equality for all. I am a socialist because I believe it should be common sense that we have democracy in the workplace and in schools. I am a socialist because I believe in basic needs, including housing, food, healthcare, education and energy and I believe they should be affordable to all and not the means for profit.  I am a socialist because I believe in full federal equality for LGBTQIA individuals, including amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” I am a socialist because I believe that gender is a social construct and the government should remove gender/sex from government forms, state IDs/licenses, and voter registration. I am a socialist because I believe in universal access to child care, family leave, paid sick and vacation. I am a socialist because I believe in a universal basic income and a living wage of at least $20 per hour.

We need socialism because capitalism is failing. The U.S. is failing its citizens when it comes to healthcare. Even with the ACA, many Americans cannot afford the copayment, deductibles, payroll deductions and denial. Many people skip their prescription medications and avoid going to the doctor because they do not have the money to cover the deductibles. Further, of the 1.4 million Americans who file for medical bankruptcy each year, 75 percent have health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), did help and did increase the number of insured Americans. Unfortunately, according to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2023 31 million people will still lack coverage. However, having insurance does not solve all the problems because having insurance does not guarantee access to care or protection from financial ruin due to health care costs.

Just look at this example, one of my medications, Procysbi, costs over $72,000 for a 30-day supply. This is a 3,000% increase compared to the original drug, Cystagon.

Not everyone is failing with capitalism. Corporate American is doing great with capitalism, they are even providing slave labor to foreign workers all over the world. Furthermore, wages are stagnant or falling, costs of child care and college continue to rise exponentially, and full-time jobs are hard to come by.

Yet, political pundits are surprised when they learn that the American people do not support capitalism. According to an April 2016 Harvard University poll, 51 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 reject capitalism and 33 percent support socialism.

We need socialism because there should be no profit in health care. We need a health care system that works for all. We need a system where all people can get the care they need to maintain and improve their health when they need it regardless of age, color, creed, economic status, ethnic identity, familial status, gender identity/expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, physical disability, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

That system to solve all of these problems associated with health care is single payer health care and because the federal government appears unable to act, the State of Iowa must take a stand and protect their people.

We need socialism because no one should go into debt while trying to get an education. We need tuition free and debt free college. We need an education system that is a right to every citizen.

Go here to fight for single payer health care: IASinglePayer

Red and Black!

Courtney Rowe for Congress and her Interview with Mika

17798942_1840416086218309_2223149312025208280_nRecently, I interviewed Courtney Rowe who is running for Congress in Iowa Congressional District 1. 

Here are the questions I asked and her responses. Following them, I will give my thoughts on them.

Question 1: The average student-loan in 2014 was $28,950, representing a 56 percent increase from the 2004 average of $18,550. During that same decade, state funding for public colleges dropped from 62 percent to 51 percent. College is free in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, while in France, public universities are free for students from lower-income families, and those from higher-income families pay about $200 a year. What would you do or support to reduce the cost of going to college or make it tuition free as it is in many nations?

  • Courtney’s answer: Increase Federal funding to make state and community college (including trade school) essentially free (no more than $50-100 per class).

Question 2: The Republican-controlled Congress appears to be fighting for corporations, insurance companies and for-profit hospitals in their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Repeal would mean that 57 million senior citizens and disabled Americans with Medicare would see higher premiums and deductibles. Repeal would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over the next ten years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. Repeal would also take Medicaid away from nearly 17 million people. I am one of the Americans who benefits from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. The disease is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, and it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain. Do you support keeping the ACA?

  • Courntey’s answer: Yes, until we replace it with something better.

Question 3: The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one medication not including the 24 other medications I am taking. What do you propose which would correct the errors in the ACA?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support universal single payer healthcare. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.

 

In 2017, many transgender and intersex individuals still do not have access to high-quality comprehensive health care. Even when transgender and intersex individuals do access health care they are often faced with harassment and discrimination. Some of the issues that transgender and intersex  individuals face  include but are not limited to the follow, physicians and medical staff refusing to identify the individual by  their preferred name and pronouns (for many individuals it is difficult and sometimes even impossible for transgender and intersex individuals to correct their government documents to reflect their identities because of the cost and in some states a confusing process), insurance companies (including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and VA) refuse to cover gender conforming treatments including surgery, sometimes transgender and intersex individuals are even refused care by physicians and medical staff. What would you propose to correct these wrongs?

 

  • Courtney’s answer: I’m excited about the new TransCare clinic at Planned Parenthood in Cedar Rapids. I talked with Planned Parenthood about the deployment of this clinic. Even a place as progressive as Planned Parenthood needed training for their staff. My wife works as a Chaplain at Unity Point, and is working with their staff on making it a more inclusive environment, including designating gender neutral bathrooms. I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and would also support a Medical Non-Discrimination Act. As far as addressing people by the correct pronouns, we could set aside funds for medical facilities who want to get the training, and add a designation medical facilities could use to identify themselves.

Question 5: Over eight in 10 (85 percent) LGBTQIA students experienced verbal harassment based on a personal characteristic, and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination at school (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). Most LGBTQ students report that they’ve heard homophobic remarks (56 percent) and negative remarks about gender expression (64 percent) from school staff (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization were twice as likely to report they do not plan to pursue post-secondary education. Also, LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization and discrimination had lower GPAs, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). What would you do to protect LGBTQIA students? Federal Anti-discrimination law?  

  • Courtney’s answer: Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college. Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college.

Question 6: In 20 states and DC prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 19 states and DC prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 20 states and DC, they prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, the include sexual orientation but not gender identity. What will you do to ensure full federal civil rights for LGBTQIA individuals?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support a fully inclusive ENDA Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We can’t leave out our trans brothers, sisters, and gender non conforming siblings when we pass this legislation.

Question 7: Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week (https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/). Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. What gun laws and or reforms do you support?

  • Courtney’s answer: I think most gun laws approach this problem incorrectly. They focus on banning a type of weapon, which isn’t the cause of most gun deaths. We have to look at the people who cause these deaths to correctly address this issue. I propose a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law which would focus on gun safety education to address accidental shootings, minimum gun storage standards (all guns should be stored in a safe), gun buy back programs in cities to help remove guns from high crime areas, temporary gun holds for people charged with domestic violence (to prevent the high rate of current/former husband/boyfriend killings/shootings of wives/girlfriends), increased access to mental health care to prevent the high rates of suicide and murder suicides by guns.

Question 8: Do you support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship?

  • Courtney’s answer: Yes. When people are not documented, they no longer have access to law enforcement to report other crimes. This makes it easier for crime to persist, and it affects everyone. We need to document everyone who is here. If people are here, not criminals, and have established a productive life here, we should document them and get them in the tax system under their own SSN. There should be a path to citizenship for those who meet the above qualifications, but it should not be a direct amnesty program.

Question 9: Do you support the DREAM Act (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)?

  • Courtney’s answer: I’m not familiar with the specifics of each of these acts to say I support them in their current form. I support the concepts behind these acts, which is documenting everyone, not punishing people who arrived in this country as children, and not breaking up families by deporting law abiding citizens who are productive members of society.

Question 10: Do you support replacing the minimum wage with a “living wage”?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Question 11: What is your stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

  • Courtney’s answer: I oppose the TPP because it would prevent America from making it’s own laws if they negatively impacted any multi-national corporations profits. It also establishes free trade with not similarly situated nations (Mexico (already there under NAFTA), Malaysia, and the Philippines). Free trade with similarly situated nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) is a good thing. It expands our economy. However trade with countries with drastically lower wages and few worker protections, creates slave labor countries. This reduces the value of labor in our own country, and allows multi-national corporations to oppress workers in poorer countries. We can trade with these countries, but we need to carefully craft the trade to ensure labor is valued.

Question 12: Do you support “too-big-to-fail” legislation?

  • Courtney’s answer: I support creating a hard barrier between investment and consumer banking. I did support the bailout, because we had to do that to prevent the economy from crashing. Now we need to create the necessary regulations to prevent that situation from occurring in the future.

Question 13: Do you support a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act?

  • Courtney’s answer: Yes.

Following her answers, I had a couple follow-up questions and here they are.

Question 3 you said, “I support universal single-payer health care. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.” I support Medicare for All as well. However, it is something that will take time to get to. Thus, in the meantime what do you propose to curb the cost of prescription drugs? 

  • Courtney’s answer: I support Sen Sanders effort to allow for the importing of prescription drugs from reliable countries, like Canda. I myself am on an autoimmune prescription that costs around $650 per month. In Canada it is only around $100. Furthermore, although I would like to see Medicare for All or Single Payer healthcare, and if elected would work tiresly toward that goal, I would support any legislation that would make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all Americans.
Question 5 you said, “Federal Anti-discrimination law. Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college.” I agree with you. However, I do not support ENDA because of HRC’s debatable ethics of compromising away our rights through religious exemptions. I do support adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the 1964 Civil Rights Act without any religious exemptions in the form of the Equality Act. Would you support such legislation?
  • Courtney’s answer: #5 There have been many versions of the ENDA, which is why it can be hard to offer support of a particular draft of legislation. I think we should be careful in offering religious protection beyond the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment already protects religious institutions and offers people the ability to practice their religion. It is important to ensure that the language of a law does not violate the 1st Amendment protections, but we should not attempt to provide additional protection. I personally helped the committee of my denomination, the United Church of Christ, in the wording for our 2015 resolution at Synod against ‘Religious Freedom’ laws that are used to legalize discrimination. This resolution was passed, and the text can be found here:

My responses to her answers.

Question 1: I support what she is saying here but I am unsure if she supports tuition-free debt free college and universities from her answer. It seems to me that she only supports increasing funding to higher education and making community college tuition-free. But again, I am not sure what she is saying.

Question 2: I support and agree with her.

Question 3: I agree with her answer, however, I would hope she also supports adding further regulations on prescription drugs and allowing the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid) to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Question 4: I understand what she is saying. Nonetheless, I would hope that she would require health care professionals to add individuals to be referred to as they prefer including recognising their gender however they identify.

Question 5: I would hope that she supports a fully inclusive federal anti-bullying and anti-harassment bill. Which by the way we do not have.

Question 6: Well, that is great that she supports employment protections and the first amendment allowing religious protections. However, does she support protections in public accommodations, housing, and credit? This all would be provided by the Equality Act which she has not stated whether she supports.

Question 7: I am sorry but guns are not the cause of most gun deaths!? What the hell!? I do support her idea as a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law but I still believe that some kinds of guns must be banned, like an assault rifle, and high capacity magazines.

Question 8: I do support an amnesty program, with some restricts for instance on persons who have committed serious crimes. Not drug convictions or traffic violations. I do not believe that having a drug conviction or traffic violation should result in losing your immigration status or citizenship.

Question 9: I am glad that she supports these laws and bills.

Question 10: Awesome! We need more people who support a living wage.

Question 11: I am glad she opposes TPP, but I also am opposed to free trade. It should only be fair trade ensuring equal protections for all workers no matter what country they live in.

Question 12: I was hoping she would be in favor of Sen. Sanders “Too-Big-To-Fail-Too-Big-To-Exist” Act.

Question 13: Awesome!

If you wish to learn more or ask her question please visit her page here: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyroweforcongress/