"A new study suggests that Congress’s level of discourse has dropped roughly one grade level since 1995, a finding that has prompted many to draw obvious parallels between what’s perceived to be the legislature’s increasingly partisan polarization and a playground fight.
But don’t expect to hear House Speaker John Boehner huff “No you shut up” to House Democrats anytime soon: the average grade level of congressional speech is the equivalent of a high school sophomore, down nine-tenths of a grade level since 2005 but still significantly above the 8th and 9th grade levels that Americans speak at on average."
They also found that extremists at either end of the political spectrum tended to get lower scores. Of course, “grade level” tests don’t tell the whole story: MLK’s “I have a dream” speech rates only a 9.4 grade level, but this doesn’t make the content any less incisive or compelling.
This is really good news:
According to a press release yesterday [September 15, 2011] from NCTE, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has confirmed that it has ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). This will result in the immediate cessation of SSA sending notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employee’s W-2 does not match Social Security records.
Commonly called “no-match letters,” these have resulted in outings of transgender employees, often causing unfortunate consequences.
Changing your gender with the SSA still requires surgery, but at least people whose gender assignment at birth doesn’t match their current gender won’t be forced to disclose that at every job. If you are FTM and have a surgeon who is willing to write you a letter that your top surgery constitutes “sex change” surgery, you may be okay, but otherwise, very often what is meant by such surgery is genital transformation of some kind. And not everyone 1) wants that or 2) can afford it.