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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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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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.


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