The National Center for Transgender Equality Reacts to Ferguson, MO Grand Jury Decision in Michael Brown Case

November 24, 2014

Michael BrownTonight, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) expresses solidarity with Mr. Brown’s family and wishes for them peace and healing, and joins their family in a moment of silence to memorialize Brown’s life.

Transgender people know all too well that profiling of certain types of people by the police happens, especially to people of color, lower income people, young people and, of course, transgender people. Extensive violence against transgender people and others really happens—and sometimes at the hand of police. Trans people—particularly trans women of color—are frequent targets of both profiling and violence by police officers and others.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “We need to do better than we have been doing as a society. If we live in a society where people do not object to a young unarmed Black man being killed, we can’t expect that people will object when a transgender person is targeted. We believe no one in any community is disposable and we believe that the authorities need to take every act of violence seriously, whoever is the victim, whoever commits the violence, and whatever the circumstances.”

Keisling added, “St. Louis native Dr. Maya Angelou once wrote that ‘there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’ Hopefully this tragedy will help us all understand that so many people in America have an untold story that much of America has been unwilling to hear, a story of stereotyping, disrespect and violence. We believe that America needs to hear the story that Black America, transgender America and other marginalized people are trying to tell. And citing another well known Angelou quote, America ‘should believe them the first time.'”

NCTE does believe the people of Ferguson and around the country who feel targeted for suspicion and violence.

NCTE will continue to advocate for greater oversight and accountability for law enforcement and for policies to end racial profiling and all forms of police bias and abuse.


President’s Bold Immigration Action Welcomed But Could Leave Out Most LGBT Immigrants

November 20, 2014

National Center for Transgender Equality Calls for Further Action

Tonight, the White House announced executive actions that will halt deportations and provide legal status for nearly 5 million immigrants. However, the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses deep concern that the relief does not go far enough to benefit most LGBT immigrants.

“We welcome these positive steps and the much-needed relief they will provide for so many people,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The President needed to act because Congress would not. At the same time, the action announced today will not reach most LGBT people who need it. Those for whom relief remains out of reach will continue to live in fear of dangerous detention and deportation. Though the President has been a champion of LGBT equality, he still must do more to protect LGBT immigrants.”

President Barack Obama

Photo Credit: Time

The limitation of relief to parents of US citizens or permanent residents, and to others who can meet strict criminal background checks, disproportionately exclude LGBT immigrants. Only about one-third of LGBT people are parents. Of these, many will be excluded because they are parents of Dreamers or other non-US-born children, or are not recognized as parents in the state where they live. LGBT immigrants are also much more likely to be excluded from relief because of a minor criminal record. More than one in four transgender undocumented immigrants has had to engage in low-level survival crimes, such as sex work, shoplifting, or turnstile jumping, at some point in their life. Categories of relief tied to work history or marriage may also exclude LGBT immigrants who have experienced job discrimination or who cannot marry where they live.

 

As a result, only a fraction of an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants will likely be eligible for relief under today’s announcement. NCTE urges the Administration to take further action to ensure LGBT immigrants are not left behind—and most urgently, to end the detention of LGBT immigrants who are at extreme risk of abuse in detention centers.

“Many LGBT immigrants have fled life-threatening persecution because of who they are and who they love, to make this country their own and contribute to its success. Once here in the U.S., they are subject to horrific conditions in immigration detention, and the constant fear of deportation to face further violence or death.” said Keisling. “Today, too many are still waiting to live lives free of fear. We will continue to work with the President and Congress to ensure everyone who contributes to this nation has a chance to achieve it.”


NCTE Mourns Loss of Trans Advocate and Icon Leslie Feinberg

November 17, 2014

Photo: Leslie FeinbergThe National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) family is saddened by the passing of Leslie Feinberg, a true revolutionary for transgender rights, workers rights, and social justice. Feinberg was influential to many transgender and gender non-conforming people, and will be remembered as a foundational architect of the advances we reap today and tomorrow.

In reacting to Feinberg’s passing today, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Leslie was strong and fierce and someone I looked up to. Leslie’s writing helped make a home for a generation of trans and queer people. In particular, Leslie’s depiction of Jess, a character in their acclaimed novel Stone Butch Blues, helped me see myself both as an advocate fighting economic injustice and as an individual seeking recognition for being queer and trans. I last saw Leslie at CeCe McDonald’s trial in Minneapolis in 2012, where Leslie, always aware of the intersection between gender and race and class and the criminal justice system, stepped up to support CeCe and the community that had her back. Trans people and our cause have been greatly strengthened that there was a Leslie Feinberg and we are diminished at their passing.”

 


NCTE’s Mara Keisling Named an Out 100 Honoree

November 13, 2014
Photo: Out

Photo: Out

This week, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling was named in Out magazine’s annual listing of 100 influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cultural and political icons. Keisling was honored for her decade of advocacy for transgender people with NCTE.

Out says Keisling “has been instrumental in making outdated government policies more inclusive. The organization’s efforts have improved the process of updating gender on government records, increased access to trans-related health care, and strengthened non-discrimination stances in businesses, housing, and schools.”

Pictured with Keisling is Laura Erickson-Schroth, editor of the groundbreaking collection of essays of the experiences of transgender people, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves“.

Other honorees this year include Scout and Liz Margolies, Samira Wiley, Calpernia Addams, Zachary Quinto, Sam Smith, and Angel Haze. NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin was an Out100 honoree in 2013.

See the full list of the Out100 2014 honorees here.


New Federal Plans Take Modest Step On Trans Health

November 13, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality expresses our disappointment that virtually every Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plan has failed to update their coverage to stop excluding medically necessary healthcare for transgender federal employees. Disregarding OPM’s June 2013 invitation to insurance companies to drop discriminatory trans health exclusions, the majority of FEHB plans that were announced have retained these outdated and wrong trans health exclusions.

NCTE calls on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take stronger proactive steps to end discrimination against their transgender employees and cover trans health care needs. We urge federal employees who have been denied necessary care due to an exclusion to immediately file an EEO complaint with OPM.

In June 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided notice to insurance companies who have Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans that OPM will no longer require insurance carriers to have blanket exclusions on trans-related care.  Advocates, including NCTE, celebrated this change, which gave insurance companies the opportunity to modernize their health benefits ahead of open season that begins this month.

Office_of_Personnel_Management_in_Washington_D.C._2012

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President Obama Honors Five Year Anniv. of Hate Crimes Law

November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 marked the fifth year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Lauded by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates and racial justice organizations, and signed into law by President Obama, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strengthened law enforcement’s ability to track, respond, and combat bias-related crimes on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and national origin.

The White House convened advocates and officials to celebrate the law’s impact. At the event, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling addressed the guests. “When the Mathew Shepherd Hate Crime Prevention Act passed five years ago,” Keisling said,”it was the first time in American history that Congress had acted in a positive and productive way for transgender people. That in itself is a significant victory and benefit. Working to pass the Act provided a great opportunity for us to educate Congress about transgender people and the violence we face. And implementation has been a similar opportunity to educate law enforcement.”

Credit: White House

Photo Credit: White House

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Ed Dept. Resolves Title IX Trans Student Discrimination Case

November 4, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Downey Unified School District for its resolution of a Title IX discrimination complaint filed by a transgender student against the school district. This resolution marks another crucial step towards ensuring that all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression, are afforded the same rights and protections in their schools.  

The student, a young transgender girl, filed the original complaint alleging that the school failed to respond to her complaints regarding verbal harassment, she was subjected to, disciplined the student for wearing make up, discouraged her from speaking about her gender identity to her classmates, and suggested that she transfer. Under their agreement, Downey Unified School District will ensure that the student is able to access the same facilities as other female students, and continue her education without fear of being disciplined based on her gender identity and expression. Additionally, Downey Unified has committed to ensure that all gender nonconforming and transgender students have access to a safe learning environment. 

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