March 7, 2014
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Transgender Law Center (TLC) express disappointment in the final standards published today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address the severe problem of sexual abuse in immigration detention. While the final standards contain some valuable provisions, they fall short of the minimum steps needed to address the ongoing crisis of sexual abuse in immigration detention. In particular, the standards–which are, in key respects, weaker than those adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2012 for prisons and jails–lack critical protections for transgender immigrants, who are among the most highly vulnerable to sexual abuse.
“The rules released by DHS today are not adequate to protect the safety of tens of thousands of real people who are at risk in detention every day,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “While NCTE will work with our allies to see that the positive steps that did make it into the DHS rules are fully implemented, far more needs to be done to reform and ultimately end mass detention.”
Olga Tomchin, Soros Justice Fellow at the Transgender Law Center said, “It is a cruel irony that trans immigrants who flee persecution and believe they will be safe in the U.S. are then often met with state violence and further retraumatized by horrific treatment based on their trans status.”
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March 4, 2014
Today, the District of Columbia City Council will have their second and final vote on the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Act of 2014. And last week, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) issued the following letter to City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with all the other city council members, urging them to end mass arrests of DC residents for possession of small amounts of marijuana by voting to support this bill.
The letter states:
“[E]xtremely high rates of incarceration reflect a cycle of societal discrimination and economic marginalization faced by many transgender people, both flowing from and contributing to disproportionate rates of job loss, poverty, and homelessness. Prosecution and a criminal record for mere marijuana possession, with all the collateral consequences it carries, robs many individuals of the opportunity to overcome these social and economic barriers.”
“Though we’re pleased that the proposal is expected to pass the council’s vote today, we’re disappointed that new language in the bill doesn’t adequately address the criminalization of public smoking,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “Other states like Colorado and Washington recognize that tracking people down for public smoking is a misuse of public dollars, and have therefore handled this issue appropriately. The DC City Council today has the opportunity to do the same.”
Read the letter below.
February 28, 2014
A 51-page report released by the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force (HCATF) issued over two dozen ways the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) can better respond to bias-related crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Key recommendations in the report stressed the importance of the MPD building trust with transgender people, improving training for MPD officers, identifying leaders within the MPD who can help train officers, and reviewing cold cases of transgender murders. In addition to releasing the report, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier included the steps her office will take to implement the HCATF’s recommendations and notes “no one should fear being the victim of crime because of hatred and bias, whether because of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or other circumstances. Perhaps more importantly, everyone should feel comfortable working with the police and reporting crime and victimization to us.”
Read the full recommendations and report below along with Chief’s Lanier’s response:
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February 27, 2014
Today, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced that public and private health insurance plans that the D.C. government regulates–including Medicaid, D.C. government employee insurance, and private plans sold on D.C.’s health exchange–are required to cover transition-related care.
The new announcement makes D.C. healthcare coverage the most comprehensive plans for transgender Americans in the United States, a direct result of concerted advocacy from local activists, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or NCTE, and the Center for American Progress and other allies.
“This victory reaffirms growing agreement among advocates and the medical community that D.C.’s healthcare nondiscrimination laws require that insurance cover medically necessary transgender healthcare,” said Andy Bowen, NCTE Policy Associate.
“This policy will make D.C.’s healthcare programs and insurance coverage the most comprehensive in the country for the full scope of health care that transgender people need throughout their lives,” said Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst at CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project. “But more importantly, this announcement tells transgender people in the District that their health matters.”
In a bulletin released today, D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, or DISB, explains that it will view “attempts by companies to limit or deny medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, to be discriminatory.” Beyond that, DISB affirms, “it is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit…”
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February 25, 2014
An estimated 80,000 people are in solitary confinement in the United States at any given time. Today, the US Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing on the human rights, fiscal and public safety consequences of solitary confinement. This is a follow-up to a hearing held in 2012, and since that time there have been further actions by state and federal officials to reassess, limit, and in some cases eliminate the use of solitary confinement. The head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons will testify today about his agency’s promise to review the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. Senators will also hear from the head of Colorado’s prisons, who—charged by that state’s governor with limiting the use of solitary—penned an unsettling New York Times op-ed about spending a day in solitary himself.
Read our testimony here:
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February 24, 2014
A final tally of collected signatures reaffirmed California voters’ belief that all students, including transgender students, should succeed in school. Consistent with federal regulations, this law underscores school’s mandate to ensure that all students have their needs met by school administrators and teachers.
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the failure of the referendum effort but remains vigilant of legal challenges to the signature count. In response to this developing news, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:
“We are very happy with today’s outcome upholding the majority of Californians’ belief that transgender students deserve a fair shot at doing well in school. School administrators and teachers in California had already been making the appropriate adjustments to achieve that even before this law took effect. And our view, along with the views of many parents, administrators and teachers in California, is that transgender kids should have the same education as all our kids. Doing that means making the right tweaks in school programs and functions so that transgender students can be who they are in schools without fear or limitation. NCTE celebrates this important step and we’ll closely monitor legal challenges to the vote count as they develop.”
Pro-repeal efforts needed 504,760 valid signatures in order to qualify the law for the November ballot, however only 487,484 were found to valid.
February 13, 2014
The Associated Press reported today that the social media giant, Facebook, will provide 50 different terms for people to use to identify their gender in addition to three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them. The changes go into effect on Thursday, February 13, 2014 and the options in the list will evolve based on user input.
In response to this development, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “At a time in which transgender people still face high rates of bullying, disrespect, harassment, and violence, this welcome change is another step in the recognition of transgender and gender non-conforming people. As one of the most visited sites on the Internet, it’s a significant sign of progress to have the realities of transgender and gender non-conforming people reflected on the platform. “
To update your gender, follow these steps:
- Click the “edit” button for Basic Information
- In the pop-up menu, select the “custom” option
- In the field that appears below that, type in your gender and a list of options will appear
While NCTE celebrates this development, we encourage Facebook to consider other policies that help maintain the privacy of transgender people. For example, the “Groups” function has, in the past, outed LGBT young people to parents and friends because Facebook does not require consent from a user to be added into a group. NCTE also encourages Facebook to make LGBT-specific privacy and security information available to users.