NCTE, Kaiser Permanente Host First “Community Clinician Roundtable”

December 19, 2014

This month, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Kaiser Permanente co-sponsored a first-ever convening of over 30 Washington, DC area physicians, therapists, lawyers and advocates to share information with each other about providing comprehensive care for transgender people. Topics included recent changes in healthcare insurance coverage, Medicare and Medicaid rules, and specific ways providers can better treat transgender clients and patients.

Lisa Mottet, Deputy Director of NCTE, offered an overview of changes in laws and policies governing insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Mottet’s training included provider’s obligation to sign up to take insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Photo: Ted Eytan

Photo: Ted Eytan

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NCTE Joins 100+ Groups Calling on President to Stop Detaining LGBT immigrants

December 19, 2014

This week the National Center for Transgender Equality joined more than 100 LGBT, immigration, and allied organizations in sending a letter urging President Obama to keep LGBT immigrants out of detention centers except in extraordinary circumstances. Other organizations joined the letter include the American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Immigration Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force, and PFLAG National.

The letter highlights federal and state surveys finding that LGBT prisoners face rates of rape and sexual abuse behind bars at rates 10 to 13 times as high as other prisoners. It also highlights a federal report finding that of a sample of substantiated sexual assault cases in immigration detention, 1 in 5 victims was transgender.

Photo: Jason Morgan

 

The letter also tells the story of Johanna, a transgender woman who like many other LGBT immigrants fled life-threatening persecution because of her identity. Johanna fled to the US following a gang rape in El Salvador, only to be raped again in immigration detention. Conditions in detention were so bad for her that she abandoned her asylum claim and agreed to deportation, but soon returned. After a second detention and deportation, she was abducted from the airport in El Salvador and again gang-raped. Salvadoran policy told her her attackers should have killed her. After a third stint of months in immigration detention, Johanna won the right to stay in the US. Months in solitary confinement and reported deportations likely cost the government up to $50,000 and subjected her to repeated sexual assaults.

As recently as last month, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies have recognized that certain groups of immigrants should generally not be placed in detention centers because of their vulnerability. In light of federal reports finding LGBT people are at extraordinary risk behind bars, DHS should make clear that LGBT immigrants are one of those groups. NCTE will continue to press DHS and the White House to ensure that no LGBT immigrant is needlessly placed at risk of assault behind bars.​

Read the letter below.

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Federal Survey: 40% of Transgender Prisoners Are Sexually Abused Each Year

December 18, 2014

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) this week reported national statistics for the first time on sexual abuse of transgender people in US prisons and jails. BJS estimates there were over 3,200 transgender people in US prisons nationwide in 2011-12, of whom 39.9% reported sexual assault or abuse in the last year by either another prisoner or staff. BJS also estimated there were over 1,700 transgender people in US jails in 2011-12, of whom 26.8% reported sexual assault or abuse in the last year. Transgender prisoners were victimized at rates nearly ten times those for prisoners in general (4% in prisons and 3.2% in jails).

The findings are similar to previously released research, including a California study finding that of transgender women held in men’s prisons, 59% had ever been sexually assaulted by another prisoner. While BJS did not break down transgender statistics by gender or type of facility, most prisons and jails continue to house essentially all transgender women with men despite 2012 federal rules calling for individualized placements. Previously released statistics from the same surveys found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual prisoners also face very higher rates of sexual assault behind bars—though the transgender rates are the highest by far.

Prison Inmate

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Empire State Becomes Ninth to Ban Transgender Health Exclusions

December 11, 2014

New York State today became the ninth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to apply its existing laws to prohibit discriminatory transgender exclusions in many health insurance plans. New York joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, and DC, as well as the federal Medicare program in taking action over the last two years to eliminate these arbitrary exclusions.

Today’s letter from the New York State Department of Financial Services, addressed to all insurers in the state, declares that, “An issuer of a policy that includes coverage for mental health conditions may not exclude coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of gender dysphoria.” Notably, New York relied on state and federal mental health parity laws to arrive at this conclusion, and becomes the second state (with Massachusetts) to reach this conclusion without an explicit gender identity nondiscrimination law applicable to insurance. Other states have interpreted nondiscrimination laws based on sex or gender identity, or general prohibitions on arbitrary or unfair insurance practices, ban trans exclusions.

New-York-Victory

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NCTE Announces Law Fellowship and Award in Honor of Andrew Cray

December 10, 2014

By Mara Keisling, Executive Director, NCTE

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Andy Cray came to work at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) as a law fellow right out of law school. Coming from one of the handful of best law schools in the country, he really could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to work for the transgender community and he wanted to do it at NCTE. An even smaller organization at the time than we are now, we were unable to pay Andy; so he even brought his own funding from his law school. Less than a year later he found a permanent, full-time position doing trans health advocacy at the Center for American Progress (CAP). We continued to work with him, for which I will always be amazed, but less than two years later, after accomplishing a body of work that any activist would be proud of, Andy passed away this August from cancer, leaving behind an improbably large group of devastated but amazed family, friends and admirers—people who really were touched deeply by Andy.

In honor of that body of work, NCTE is so proud to announce our new Andrew Cray Law Fellowships. The NCTE Board of Directors has also initiated an annual recognition called the Andrew Cray Trans Health Advocacy Award, which we will give each year at our anniversary event to an activist who significantly advances trans health.

Andrew Cray was such a significant part of the rapidly advancing transgender health movement. He was a key player in the recent success in eliminating insurance exclusions for transition-related care through state insurance commission rulings. His work to get transgender and other LGBT people enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans caused President Obama to name Andy as a Champion of Change.

We know how lucky we are to have known and worked with such a beautiful and brilliant star, and we know too we are lucky for our exposure to everyone of the law fellows who has and will pitch in over the years. So, having future law fellows be called Andrew Cray Law Fellows just felt like a match about which Andy would have been pleased and honored and a bit embarrassed.

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Department of Justice Says Profiling Of Trans People Is Wrong, But Too Many Exceptions

December 8, 2014

Today, the US Justice Department will release revised guidance on racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies, extending protections for the first time on the basis of national origin, disability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, as well as race and ethnicity which were covered by guidance issued in 2003. The inclusion of protections for the LGBT community follows recent federal investigations finding unlawful police profiling of LGBT people, particularly in communities of color. However, the revised guidance contains large carve-outs for TSA airport and border security and certain anti-terror investigations, and will also not apply to most state and local law enforcement activities.

The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes the historic extension of protections against federal police profiling to the LGBT community, but decries loopholes that will continue to permit most discriminatory policing. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 46% of transgender people say they would feel somewhat or very uncomfortable seeking police assistance, while only 35% said they would feel comfortable doing so. One-fifth (22%) of all trans people and 38% of Black trans people report experiencing transphobic police harassment—while 6% of all trans people, 9% of trans Latinos, and 15% of Black trans people report having experienced a transphobic assault by police.

Attorney General Eric Holder

Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP Photo

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Federal Guidance on Single-Sex Classes Confirms Schools Must Respect Every Student’s Gender Identity

December 2, 2014

The US Department of Education issued guidance further confirming that schools must respect a student’s gender identity in matters such as taking single-sex classes. As in previous federal guidance, transgender students were addressed as part of a larger document dealing with a specific issue – in this case, when and how K-12  school may offer single-sex classes.

Consistent with prior actions by the Department, the guidance states:

“Under Title IX, a recipient [of federal funds, which includes most schools] generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

Department of Education building

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