Keeping Score: VP Harris Becomes First Woman to Hold Presidential Power; Rep. Gosar Censured for Violence; 2021 Is Deadliest Year for Trans People

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

Lest We Forget

“Please open your hearts. If you allow yourself to feel it, the heartbreak and the injustice is hard to bear. The children are responsible for none, but they are bearing the brunt. We are the adults on this earth right now and it is our responsibility to ensure that the children have food and water. The decisions you make here will help determine whether children will have food and water. The children cannot live on words and empty promises. They are waiting for you to act. Please open your hearts and then act.”

—Elizabeth Wathuti, a Kenyan climate activist, speaking during the opening ceremony of the COP26 climate summit at just 26 years old.

“We do not recognize that people who are least responsible for historical emissions should be listened to. We should have these people in our minds and in our hearts, but that’s not happening. We’re not yet being inclusive enough. We do not yet have full representation of the people who should be on the front lines of the table, the ones who are on the front lines of the crisis. … I want them to understand that in Kenya, women are the most impacted by the climate crisis. Women are the ones who have to walk long distances, about 12 miles, to find food and water for their families. They’re the caregivers and the ones working on solutions at the grass-roots level. They’re not sitting there feeling hopeless or powerless. They are forming groups working on healing the land. They are showing world leaders how it is done.”

—Wathuti told The Lily in a recent interview on tackling climate change from Africa to the U.S..

“People pass it off as ‘Oh, he’s eccentric,’ or ‘What the hell was she expecting?’ If only it was a stage persona. He’s so much worse than his persona. … He’s been supported professionally by an entire industry and a ‘code of the road.’ There are so many men like him, and for some reason that reckoning hasn’t come yet.”

—British actor Esmé Bianco told the Los Angeles Times in the midst of a legal battle with singer Marilyn Manson over claims of sexual assault, sexual battery and human trafficking.

“Remember when Yoho accosted me on the the Capitol and called me a f—ing b—

Remember when Greene ran after me a few months ago screaming and reaching

Remember when she stalked my office the 1st time w/ insurrectionists & ppl locked inside

All at my job & nothing ever happens. …

White supremacy is for extremely fragile people & sad men like [Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)], whose self concept relies on the myth that he was born superior because deep down he knows he couldn’t open a pickle jar or read a whole book by himself.”

—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in a series of Tweets responding to Gosar, who posted an anime video on multiple accounts of him killing Ocasio-Cortez. The House voted to censure Gosar and strip him of his two committee assignments.

“The denial of safe abortions and subjecting women and girls to humiliating and judgmental attitudes in such contexts of extreme vulnerability and where timely health care is essential amount to torture or ill treatment. … Dismantling the U.S. framework that has protected abortion access for nearly 50 years will lead to further violations of women’s and girls’ human rights.”

—United Nations special rapporteur Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng in a brief filed against U.S. abortion restrictions.


+ The House passed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act on Friday, Nov. 19, paving the way for free pre-school education, affordable housing and environmental measures if the Senate approves.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the House passed Biden’s Build Back Better bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. (C-SPAN)

+ Students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are holding out hope that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will follow through on one promise to allot $45 billion to minority-serving institutions. The current draft of the Build Back Better bill would only grant $10 billion, with just $2 billion going specifically to HBCUs.

+ Harris became the first woman with presidential power for 85 minutes on Friday, Nov. 19, as Biden underwent anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy. Letters were sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) enacting Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, and eventually reversing the transfer of power.

+ American democracy has deteriorated since 2019, according to International IDEA, marking the first time that the U.S. has backslid in the think tank’s global assessment.

“The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy,” said the report’s co-author Alexander Hudson.

+ On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the International Olympic Committee released guidelines to foster an inclusive environment for women and LGBTQ+ athletes. Titled the “IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” it includes provisions on eligibility criteria, fairness and safety.

+ The Republican Party disavowed Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) for expressing criticism of former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection. The Wyoming Republicans central committee voted to no longer recognize Cheney, encouraging House leaders to remove her from committee assignments.

Trump attempted to block documents from the House’s investigation of the Capitol riot, but a federal judge rejected his request on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

+ As nearly 53,000 Afghan evacuees—half of whom are children—await next steps on American military bases, 180 Afghan students entered American public schools this fall in Fairfax County, Virginia; Austin, Texas and Fremont, California.

+ The United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, culminated in an agreement to hasten the global departure from fossil fuels, but still falls short of a goal established in the 2015 Paris climate accord to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.

How We’re Doing

+ There is some vaccine hesitancy among LGBTQ+ adults undergoing hormone replacement therapy or taking HIV medication, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign. LGBTQ+ Americans are still more likely to be vaccinated, but express concern regarding side effects and interactions. This is especially true among Black and Latinx respondents, who suffer disproportionately high rates of HIV.

+ More transgender people have been killed in 2021 than in any other year, with 45 homicides recorded to date. The majority of victims were Black and Latinx transgender people.

+ Seventy-six percent of survey participants believe that Facebook is worsening American society, according to a CNN poll. Only 11 percent think it improves society, and 13 percent said it has neither a positive nor negative effect.

+ By Nov. 8, just over two months after Texas implemented a ban on abortion after six weeks, at least 11 non-adjacent states and D.C. saw an increase in patients traveling from Texas for abortion care. These include Illinois, Washington, California, and other states far from the Texas border, the Guttmacher Institute reports.

+ U.S. adolescents are not receiving adequate sex education, to the extent that students 25 years ago learned more on key topics like contraception and STIs than students today. LGBTQ+ students receive even less relevant guidance than their cisgender, heterosexual peers.

+ The U.S. reached the highest number of drug overdoses in a single year between April 2020 and April 2021, surpassing 100,000 deaths. This was the first one-year period in which drug-related deaths reached six figures.

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Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a junior at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.