DC Poised to Repeal Discriminatory “Prostitution-Free Zone” Law

July 8, 2014

Since 2006, the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had the power to designate any public space in D.C. as a prostitution free zone (PFZ), which has in turn given MPD officers the right to disperse or arrest anyone they believe to be meeting in the space for the purpose of prostitution. The Alliance for a Safe and Diverse D.C. noted in a 2008 report that PFZs enabled police officers’ existing inclination toward profiling people as sex workers based on personal appearance, race, and gender presentation.

NCTE Policy Director Harper Jean Tobin Attends Rally

NCTE Policy Director, Harper Jean Tobin, attended an April 2014 rally in D.C. in support of repealing prostitution free zones in the District.

The MPD stopped designating areas as PFZs in 2012 because of concerns that the zones were unconstitutional. However, the PFZ law is still on the books, and other municipalities around the nation have based their own similar laws on it. There have even been efforts by some businesses to revive use of the law.

Earlier this year, NCTE was part of a coalition of LGBT groups that reviewed how the DC MPD’s relationship with the LGBT community and its handling of hate crimes. Our report concluded in part that MPD had lost the trust of the LGBT communities, primarily because of the perception of profiling of transgender people and perceived indifference toward crimes against trans people. The report noted that these problems were connected in part to the trans people being perceived as being criminals and less worthy of respect and protection due to being involved in sex work.

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Reflections on the 2014 Black Trans Advocacy Conference

May 13, 2014

by Theo George, Online Communications Manager, National Center for Transgender Equality

The 2014 Black Trans Advocacy Conference (BTAC) kicked off in Dallas, Texas last month. The conference is three years old and included six days of activities, workshops, and seminars. This year’s theme was “One Earth. One People. One Love”.

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Photo: Esperanza Brown

I had no idea that this type of event existed until doing some of my own research earlier this year. These types of opportunities are desperately needed in Black trans and gender non-conforming spaces. As disturbing as the general findings were for the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), they were even more so when looking at respondents of color:

  • 34% of Black trans people live in extreme poverty, reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year.
  • Half reported having attempted suicide.
  • 50% who attended school expressing a trans identity or gender non-conformity faced harassment.

I remember reading the results of this survey nearly a year ago or so, a little after I began my own transition process, and being completely overwhelmed. It’s quite overwhelming for anyone to try and comprehend these types of discouraging statistics. Black transgender and gender non-conforming people seem to face tremendous obstacles in virtually all areas of life from employment opportunities to attending school.

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Step Forward: PGPD Abandons Live Tweeting Prostitution Sting

May 7, 2014

Yesterday evening, the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) in Maryland released a statement after conducting a prostitution sting operation. The PGPD relented to community advocacy and chose not to live tweet during the raid. An announcement last week promised to live tweet photos of those arrested, but in the end there were no live tweets and no arrests.

The PGPD faced criticism from organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), HIPS and other sex worker rights groups after announcing they would tweet pictures of clients of sex workers at a planned sting operation. That sting operation took place on May 6th with no arrests.

“We’re glad PGPD abandoned the unwise plan of live tweeting after community concern,” said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin,  “However, police should focus on protecting sex workers from those who assault or rob them instead of engaging in broad stings and public shaming. We hope PGPD will collaborate with community members, including advocates for sex workers themselves, on more constructive solutions to violence against sex workers.”

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NCTE Celebrates CeCe McDonald’s Early Release

January 13, 2014

FreeCeCeToday, CeCe McDonald, an African American transgender woman serving a 41-month sentence in the self-defense death of her assailant, was released early from St. Cloud Minnesota Correctional Facility. McDonald, a student in Minneapolis, and her friends survived a violent transphobic and racist attack on June 5th, 2011. While the perpetrators initiated the confrontation, CeCe McDonald was the only person to be arrested and charged, and in spite of the fact that her actions were defensive.

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling welcomes CeCe McDonald’s early release, “No transgender person should be punished for surviving a hate crime. NCTE welcomes and celebrates CeCe’s early release from prison. We’re also mindful that CeCe’s release is not freedom; her ability to control her life is now severely limited because a couple of intoxicated strangers believed that CeCe and her friends didn’t belong in the neighborhood. CeCe’s story is a window into understanding how our country treats transgender people of color and young people.

CeCe McDonald’s arrest and imprisonment underscores the need to reform the criminal justice system. Because of a number of contributing factors including police profiling, poverty, and anti-transgender violence, transgender people, and particularly transgender people of color, experience disproportionate rates of imprisonment. According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 16% of transgender adults have been in a prison or a jail for any reason, compared to only 2.7% of all adults who have been in prison.

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Why I am Fasting for Immigration Reform

December 3, 2013

by Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Last evening, I began fasting in solidarity with the brave and resolute activists participating in the Fast4Families effort, who have been fasting for 21 days (since November 12). They are fasting to call for Congressional action on immigration reform. I join them in asking that my country pass a common sense reform law that will allow millions of families to stay together, families who are just as deserving as mine to feel safe and welcome.

My fast comes after several years of thinking about immigration and the people it affects. As a fourth generation American, I can’t help but see what our broken immigration system is doing to families– families who are just like mine, except that they live each day in fear knowing that they can be separated at any time, be sent away from their homes, be abused by criminally immoral employers, be placed in solitary confinement, or be sent back to a country that is unknown and unsafe for them.

My fast grew from meeting transgender immigrants who came to the U.S. because they were transgender and not physically or economically safe where they were. Once here, they are unsafe in our broken immigration system because they are transgender. Our flawed enforcement programs funnel vulnerable transgender immigrants into our inhumane immigration detention system, and because they are transgender, they are routinely assigned to the torture of solitary confinement for an average of 9-12 months.

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LGBT Coalition for Immigration Reform Stands in Solidarity with Fast For Families on National Day to Act, Fast and Pray

December 3, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations applauded the strength and courage of the men and women who have been fasting for more than 20 days to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

The LGBT community offered their support to the brave Fasters and several LGBT leaders fasted in solidarity, including:

  • Heather Cronk and Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, GetEQUAL
  • Ben de Guzman, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
  • Sharita Gruberg and Laura Durso, Center for American Progress
  • Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with the courageous fasters later this week, as I fast for immigration reform myself,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL. “The fearlessness of the immigration fasters stands in stark contrast to the political cowardice of House GOP leadership, who continue to stand defiantly in the way of reforming our broken immigration system. We continue to look to Republican leadership in the House to not only end the fast, but also end the pain of millions of families across the country who live in fear each day because of this broken system.”

The LGBT community is committed to passing compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a roadmap for citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men, women and children living in our country, including at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants.

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“Orange is the New Black” Actor Laverne Cox Speaks Out for Transgender Workplace Protections

November 1, 2013

Today, breakout actor on the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black joined the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in pressing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In light of the scheduled votes for ENDA, Cox told NCTE:

“Getting to play Sophia Burset in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a dream come true for me. As an out transgender woman of color, I don’t take the enormity of me being able to live my dreams lightly. This is not the case for so many of my transgender brothers and sisters. Everyone should have the same chance to get ahead, to support themselves and their families and to live their dreams. They should have the same chance to build a career doing something that they love to do. Having explicit federal laws like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will make that possible for transgender people and I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass this bill.”

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “Laverne and I are examples of what could happen for each member of our community if every transgender person had the same shot at succeeding in their jobs while doing what they love.” Keisling added, “But in a country where 78% of transgender people face disrespect, discrimination or harassment at work, the promise of the American dream becomes disappointingly distant. I join Laverne in strongly urging all Senators to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

The decades-old bill is slated for a cloture vote on Monday, November 4th, 2013 with a final vote expected later next week. The forthcoming vote marks the first time a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act receives a vote in U.S. Congress.

Sign the petition to tell your Senators to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Share Laverne’s statement on Facebook. 

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Trans Lobby Day Debrief

June 27, 2013

Over 100 people joined the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Trans People of Color Coalition on Monday, June 17th to speak with their Congressional representatives about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and immigration reform. Thirty-two states were represented, from Arkansas to Nevada to Alaska.

Lobby Day participants were everyday trans people and allies who came to let their representatives know trans people and advocates, and understand that trans people are in their states and districts, need these bills, and demand that action be taken to get them. One Alaskan trans woman, for example, told NCTE after her lobbying visits that she felt incredibly empowered by being given the opportunity to come to Washington, DC and speak up for equality.

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