2012 Election Roundup and What’s Next for Trans Equality Part I

November 15, 2012

President Obama’s re-election bodes well for transgender advocacy at the federal level. But President Obama’s victory is not the only sign for maintaining our optimism. This year’s Election results include a lot of good things for transgender equality:

  1.  New Hampshire elected the first openly transgender state lawmaker, Stacie Laughton, in addition to electing an all-female delegation of Congressional members.
  2. The election of Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to the U.S. Senate is good for transgender equality. Baldwin became the nation’s first openly LGBT senator, and she championed LGBT equality during her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  3.  The U.S. Senate has more pro-equality Senators than ever before. Congress now also has the highest number (seven) of openly LGBT elected officials in Congress’ history including the first out bisexual elected official, Representative Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and the first LGBT person of color, Representative Mark Takano (D-CA)
  4.  Maryland, Maine, and Washington state each passed ballot measures to approve the freedom to marry. Minnesota blocked the passage of a constitutional amendment banning the freedom to marry.
  5.  The election outcomes cement health care reform over the long term, ensuring that the practice of denying health care insurance for “pre-existing conditions” ends for good.

Read the rest of this entry »

NCTE Releases Trans Job Discrimination “Know Your Rights” Guide

May 30, 2012

Following the groundbreaking U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruling protecting transgender people under the Title VII sex discrimination law, we now know that the EEOC will take seriously and work to resolve claims of anti-trans discrimination. To help individuals understand and assert their rights in the workplace, the National Center for Transgender Equality is releasing Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination and Transgender People, a new resource outlining the laws protecting trans people in the workplace and steps for reporting job discrimination. The resource details how individuals can file a complaint with the EEOC, as well as through a state or local civil rights agency or their union.

The EEOC’s ruling is a tremendous victory but despite its broad coverage it does not eliminate the need for clear workplace laws that explicitly include gender identity and expression. Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE Policy Counsel, said “Our friends at the Transgender Law Center did incredible work to facilitate the EEOC ruling, which provides real protections, right now. But we’ll continue to work with TLC and other advocates to advance laws that send a definitive message to businesses and workers that transgender and gender nonconforming people are protected on the job.”

Read the rest of this entry »

USAID encourages contractors to prohibit job discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation

November 1, 2011

Winning an Executive Order from the President banning discrimination against transgender and LGBT people has been a top federal policy priority for NCTE. While we continue to push for this mandatory ban on discrimination across all federal contractors, it’s nice to see another agency making progress on this front.

Last week, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a policy encouraging its contractors and grant recipients to have policies prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories.

Federal law currently prohibits most federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of certain categories, including race, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.  With this new announcement, USAID contracts and grants will now include language stating that although it is not mandatory,

“the Agency encourages all organizations performing under USAID contracts, including those performed solely overseas, to apply these same standards of nondiscrimination to other categories, including sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, and any other conduct that does not adversely affect performance.”

This policy represents an impressive step forward.  But because it is not mandatory and does not carry the force of law, employees with organizations contracting with USAID have no remedies if the policy is violated.  To protect the rights of employees like these, NCTE continues to urge President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting all federal contractors from discriminating on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

Gender Rights Maryland Launches to Fight for Transgender Equality

July 7, 2011

The next stage in the fight for transgender civil rights in Maryland began recently with the formation of Gender Rights Maryland. The organization launched on June 23rd with the goal to pass state legislation protecting transgender people.

Dana Beyer, volunteer executive director of GRM and board member of NCTE, spoke in an interview with the Washington Blade about what seems to be a strong beginning for the new group: “There was a nice broad spectrum of people there and it was very inspiring. There was definitely a sense that this was a historic event. There’s never been a trans-focused politically directed organization in Maryland before.”

The formation of Gender Rights Maryland comes at an important time. A recent bill aimed at ending trans discrimination in Maryland failed by only one vote, and the beating of a young transgender woman in a Baltimore McDonalds has shown our country the tragic consequences of transphobia. This is a time when a strong push could ensure the increased protection of transgender people and the furthering of the movement as a whole.

Read the full story here.

Quick Hit: Sen. Kerry Denounces Discrimination Against Trans People; Urges Passage of Massachusetts Equal Rights Bill

July 1, 2011

In The Rainbow Times, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) came out in strong support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, currently on the docket in the state legislature. Senator Kerry called on Massachusetts voters to continue leading the nation on LGBT equality. The Transgender Equal Rights Bill adds “gender identity and expression” to the existing state non-discrimination policy. Senator Kerry emphasized the unjust discrimination and violence that transgender people often face just for being who they are:

 “Discrimination against transgender people is widespread and ignoring it is simply not an option.  It’s an especially serious problem in our schools, where we’ve all witnessed the tragic and sometimes deadly consequences of bullying. But discrimination against transgender people isn’t limited to certain age groups and certain environments.  It’s everywhere.”

Earlier this month, the National Center for Transgender Equality co-led a citizen lobbying training with Gunner Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Lisa Mottet, Transgender Civil Rights Project Director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The training brought community members and activists together in preparation for MTPC’s lobby day.

Read the full story here.

Read the factsheet explaining the bill produced by our friends at MTPC.

View this document on Scribd

Quick Hit: Houston Independent School District Pass Trans Inclusive Non-Discrimination Policy

June 27, 2011

On June 23, 2011, the 7th largest school district in the country passed non-discrimination protections that include gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. The measure passed with a 7-0 vote, with 2 abstentions.

Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed off on an anti-bullying bill that protects against all forms of bullying. However, the law has received criticism for leaving out explicit protections based on gender identity, sexual orientation and other protected classes like race, sex, and religion.

A 2009 report from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network found that 2 in 3 students in the state experienced harassment and sometimes violence because of their gender expression. Absent of a state non-discrimination law that protects LGBT people and a fully enumerated state anti-bullying law, the school district’s new policy comes as a relief to transgender students. Cristan, a transgender woman and former Houston school district student, wrote on her blog:

My experience in school was fairly horrific. The bullying I endured inspired thoughts of suicide each and every day. There were days when I would beg – on my knees with tears rolling down my face – to not be sent to school. School was a living hell and staff did nothing to make it better.

Anna Eastman, a Houston School Board Member, told The National Center for Transgender Equality:

For me adding Gender Identity and Gender Expression to the list of protected attributes became imperative after learning the reality of not only gay teens, but also trans teens.  After getting to know just a couple of people who lived the reality of trans identity, any (even subconscious) resistance I might have had fell away […] I have three children and while I know they and their peers will still struggle through developmental milestones, I do believe there will be many supports in place to hopefully make adolescent coming of age more universal for all children rather than the incredibly different and difficult journey LGBT kids have faced in the past.

Juliet Stipeche, another Houston School Board member, said:

These crucial civil right protections enhance the educational and work environments for HISD’s students and employees. The HISD Board of Education’s unanimous vote sends a clear message that HISD embraces diversity and equality and is dedicated to ensuring that our schools are safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all children, educators and support personnel. I am extraordinarily proud of my colleagues on the Board and the administration for pushing forward this critical change.

Watch video of the meeting here.

Quick Hit: Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Launches “I AM: Trans People Speak” Campaign

June 23, 2011

As Massachusetts’ gender identity and expression nondiscrimination bill makes its way through the state legislature, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition ramps up public education efforts with this multi-media campaign “I AM: Trans People Speak.” Today, nearly 300 people descended on Boston to lobby for the bill.

While a Williams Institute report shows that 76 percent of transgender workers in the state have been discriminated in the workplace, the same percentage of voters in the state know that this is wrong, and believe that transgender people deserve employment protections.

Check out this powerful video:

Read or view other stories from the campaign here.

h/t feministing.com.

Quick Hit: Bethlehem, PA Unanimously Passes Inclusive Nondiscrimination Ordinance

June 22, 2011

Yesterday Bethlehem, Pennsylvania became the 21st municipality in Pennsylvania to add a non-discrimination policy covering gender identity and sexual orientation in employment and public accommodations.

From the Bethlehem Patch:

The celebration in the gallery was muted but audible. Dozens of bill supporters, many of whom are members or friends of the gay and lesbian community in the Lehigh Valley, were seated and awaiting council’s decision for nearly three hours. It almost sounded like a sigh of relief.

Adrian Shanker, the Vice President of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network told NCTE:

“In a state like PA where we don’t have a statewide law protecting LGBT people, local laws have been the only recourse for people now in 21 municipalities across the state. The city of Bethlehem is no longer the largest city in the state to not protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Shanker coordinated the coalition effort with allies from the AARP of Pennsylvania, Equality Pennsylvania, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, 13 labor unions and local businesses, leading to a unanimous vote in the City Council. Shanker adds, “Hopefully the legislature in Harrisburg sees this and takes a stand for transgender people [...] This sends a strong message to other municipalities that if you do this, then you need to do this right.” Mayor John Callahan is expected to sign the law very soon.

Read the full story here.


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