April 18, 2013
The “gang of eight” senators introduced their immigration reform bill yesterday. We applaud their efforts and we are optimistic that 2013 is the year we will address the needs of the more than 11 million undocumented, of whom more than 260,000 are LGBT and more than 20,000 are transgender.
Recently, NCTE joined more than 30 transgender organizations in setting forth a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. The initial bill that was just introduced includes some of those principles, but has important gaps and some problematic provisions. The bill includes many provisions that would benefit vulnerable trans immigrants and their families, including a much-needed pathway to citizenship, albeit a long and arduous one, a swift pathway for “DREAMers” who came to the US at a young age and have finished high school, and lifting the harsh one-year filing deadline for asylum-seekers.
The new bill also has significant gaps. As the legislation moves forward in the Senate, we must press to ensure that the final bill:
- Includes all families, including LGBT families, in the family visa system.
- Makes the pathway to citizenship realistic and accessible to transgender immigrants.
- Ensures that a new proposed employment verification system doesn’t violate the privacy of trans workers (such as by using unnecessary gender markers).
- Shrinks the wasteful and inhumane immigration detention system and sharply limits solitary confinement.
Share your immigration story so we can improve these provisions in the proposal.
Read our full analysis of what the immigration reform proposal means for LGBT people below.
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April 10, 2013
Broad coalition release Statement of Principles on Immigration Reform
As thousands gather in Washington, DC in support of immigration reform, the National Center for Transgender Equality and over 30 transgender service and advocacy groups released a Statement of Principles on Immigration Reform. The statement outlines fundamental policies critical for reform that affect the estimated 20,000 undocumented transgender adults in the U.S., and thousands of transgender youth who came to the U.S. at an early age and also lack legal status.
NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “For thousands of transgender immigrants and their families, the need for reform is especially urgent. They are frequently locked out of asylum protections when they come here fleeing anti-trans violence, denied recognition for their families, subjected to especially harsh and dangerous detention conditions, and often deported back into harm’s way. This goes to the core of what NCTE stands for.”
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Statement signatories include local and national transgender advocacy groups from across the U.S. including the Trans People of Color Coalition, Gender Justice Nevada, and The TransLatin@ Coalition urging Congress for a more fair and humane immigration system for transgender and non-transgender people alike.
Share an experience of how immigration laws affect you as an LGBT person.
Read the Immigration Reform Statement of Principles below or download it here.
April 9, 2013
Released today, the Trans 100 list celebrates transgender activists, artists, and legal advocates in the U.S. NCTE is honored that the inaugural Trans 100 list recognizes the contributions of current staff and board members Mara Keisling, Harper Jean Tobin, Marisa Richmond, and Avory Faucette, as well as former staff and board members Diego Sanchez, Masen Davis and Jaan Williams. The Trans 100 list will be released annually.
Trans 100 is an effort to change the media conversation around transgender people to highlight the positive changes transgender people are making in the U.S. Nominations were collected in an open nominations period and the effort to curate the list was co-directed by Toni D’Orsay, Executive Director of This Is How, and Jen Richards of We Happy Trans, and sponsored by GLAAD.
“The only sustainable self-interest is that which extends the sense of self to include the whole,” said Jen Richards at the Trans 100 launch event. “Look around: women, men, people of color, genderqueer people, crossdressers, showgirls, sex workers, academics, activists, artists, and allies. We are all one community.”
NCTE Board Chair Marcus Waterbury said, “NCTE is proud to have our staff and board be among those recognized in the Trans 100 and especially proud to be honored alongside many of our close friends and allies. As NCTE Board Chair, I have the pleasure of working with this profoundly effective team and these accolades only pushes our team to do more and to do it better.”
View the full list here.
April 2, 2013
In anticipation of immigration reform proposals expected this week, a strong consensus has emerged that immigration is a key issue for the LGBT community, which includes an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT adults. This is especially true for transgender immigrants and their loved ones, who are especially vulnerable to discrimination, violence, detention, and deportation.
In NCTE’s Blueprint for Equality, we noted that: “As our political system fails to deliver meaningful immigration reform, millions of individuals and families in the United States face unspeakable hardships, including the forced separation of families, escalating deportations of individuals with deep roots in their communities who have committed no serious wrongdoing, and indefinite detention in cruel and abusive conditions. The government’s failure to recognize LGBT families exacerbates the hardships on our community, and transgender people frequently find their relationships challenged regardless of the gender of their partner.”
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March 28, 2013
Yesterday, in a 7-4 vote, the unnecessary and discriminatory bathroom bill, SB1045, moved forward from the Appropriations Committee to the House floor. SB1045 renders local LGBT nondiscrimination laws unenforceable and protects businesses and other facility managers that choose to discriminate against transgender and gender nonconforming public restroom users.
In response to the committee vote on SB1045, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:
“The Arizona Appropriations Committee approved an incredibly discriminatory and hateful bill that specifically targets transgender people. Rejecting the thousands of people who’ve spoken out against SB1045 in Arizona and across the United States, Rep. Kavanagh and his six allies instead chose to defend discrimination and protect discriminators. SB1045 brings more shame to Arizona’s legislature for isolating and targeting another marginalized community. Transgender Arizonans and our allies stand stronger and more determined to put an end to Rep. Kavanagh’s anti-transgender campaign.”
March 21, 2013
This week, discussions about raising the federal minimum wage came to the forefront again after Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared that the minimum wage would currently be $22 an hour if it had kept up with worker productivity. Senator Warren points out that our current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour does not reflect the cost of living increases or worker productivity increases that we have experienced over the past several decades.
A wage increase would have a significant effect on transgender people. Compared to the general population, transgender people are four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This extreme poverty is directly tied to the widespread discrimination against transgender people in employment and other sectors, which force an outsized share of transgender people into minimum-wage jobs.
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March 12, 2013
This past Sunday, NPR’s All Things Considered feature story focused on the growing evidence against solitary confinement. According to NPR:
“An estimated 80,000 American prisoners spend 23 hours a day in closed isolation units for 10, 20 or even more than 30 years.
Now, amid growing evidence that it causes mental breakdown, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has decided for the first time to review its policies on solitary confinement.”
The federal review follows a Senate hearing last summer led by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Durbin was moved to call the hearing by surgeon Atul Gawande’s harrowing New Yorker article, “Hellhole,” on the psychiatric impact of solitary confinement. At the hearing, corrections experts testified that while there may be some limited usefulness for solitary confinement for short periods of time, over an extended period it is usually unnecessary and exacts huge costs, both fiscal and human. Senators heard how some states have sharply limited or eliminated solitary confinement, saving money and sparing suffering. As the NPR story notes, most inmates will ultimately return to their communities – and returning them broken from the trauma of solitary has costs for communities as well.
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March 8, 2013
This week, NCTE celebrated the hard-fought bi-partisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which, for the first time, contains explicit protections for LGBT people. This morning, NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling, addressed LGBT involvement in the reauthorization process on Democracy Now! More than a year ago, VAWA’s authorization was shamefully allowed to expire. Throughout the past year, NCTE has supported the work of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and many others in pressing for a comprehensive and LGBT-inclusive VAWA reauthorization.
An LGBT-inclusive VAWA is important because nearly one-fifth of transgender people have faced domestic violence from their families because they are transgender or gender non-conforming. Generally, transgender people are already at greater risk of experiencing acts of domestic and bias-based violence. Yet, despite this increased risk of violence and increased need for services, many trans people have experienced discrimination when trying to access these services. The reauthorization of VAWA with LGBT-inclusive protections not only provides the necessary funding to implement the law, but importantly provides trans people with access to services that protect them from abuse.