US Dept. of Agriculture Updates Nondiscrimination Regulations

July 25, 2014

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an updated version of the nondiscrimination regulations that guide their programs and activities. There were three important changes made to the existing regulations that include: an agency requirement to collect inform on race, ethnicity, and gender for all of its applicants and participants of programs, the establishment of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, and the establishment of explicit protection on the basis of political beliefs and gender identity.

NCTE welcomes the explicit nondiscrimination protection on the basis of gender identity USDA operated programs and activities. This added protection sets a clear standards for USDA offices and programs in every state in the nation, and gives customers who believe that they have been discriminated against due to their gender identity a basis upon which to file an administrative complaint. Due to continuing, widespread bias and discrimination, transgender people today face disproportionate levels of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and victimization. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, nearly one-third of transgender people report having experienced discrimination in a government office or program on at least one occasion. At present, many of the states with large rural communities served by USDA programs are the same states in which there is no explicit statewide nondiscrimination protection, and in which it is most difficult for transgender people to update state-issued identification.

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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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Ending Trans Exclusions: The Path To Inclusive Healthcare

June 18, 2014

Many of the existing inclusions for LGB—and particularly—T people have been hard won over the last 20 years. On Monday, June 16,  four major organizations met to take stock of the history and trajectory for LGBT inclusions in healthcare.

On the open community call, “With Medicare Done: How We Can Win the Rest,” NCTE’s Mara Keisling moderated the discussion among Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst for LGBT Progress with Center for American Progress (CAP), and Beck Bailey, Deputy Director of the Workplace Project with Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The discussion opened with a summary of the recent widespread progress, including the Obama administration’s announcement yesterday of his intention to issue an executive order to protect LGBT people employed by federal contractors and the Medicare decision issued 12 days ago.

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New Report: Transgender People Face High Levels of Violence

June 10, 2014

On May 29th, 2014, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released their National Report on Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities. The report, drawing on data from 14 anti-violence programs in 13 states and Puerto Rico, found that the frequency of incidents of hate violence remained constant from 2012 to 2013, with 2,001 reported incidents in 2013. However, the severity of incidents increased significantly, with a 21% increase in reports of physical hate violence.

Report-Cover

Transgender people, and especially transgender women of color, were found by the report to be among the groups most at risk for severe violence. According to the report, almost 90% of all homicide victims in 2013 were people of color, the overwhelming majority of whom (78% of the total) were Black or African American. Almost three-quarters of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds of homicide victims were transgender women of color, despite transgender individuals constituting only 13% of total reports to NCAVP.

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Seven UN Agencies: Surgery as a Condition of Legal Recognition is Forced Sterilization

June 6, 2014

WHO Report CoverIn “Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization – An interagency statement,” the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN agencies have recognized that sterilization without the “full, free and informed consent” of an individual is a violation of that person’s human rights.

The UN Health (WHO), Human Rights (OHCHR), Women’s (UN Women), Development (UNDP), Population (UNFPA), Children’s (UNICEF), and AIDS (UNAIDS) agencies issuing the statement recognized that transgender people have been historically, and are currently, discriminated against through policies requiring surgery, often resulting in sterilization, in order to obtain legal documents reflecting their gender identity and other forms of legal and social recognition. As the statement observes, “According to international and regional human rights bodies and some constitutional courts, and as reflected in recent legal changes in several countries, these sterilization requirements run counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity, and can cause and perpetuate discrimination against transgender and intersex persons.”

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BREAKING NEWS: New York State Modernizes Requirements for Birth Certificate Gender Markers

June 5, 2014

The New York State Department of Health, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, just announced it has modernized its policy regarding updating gender markers on birth certificates. New York joins several other states, as well as the federal government, in modernizing birth certificate policies and removing burdensome and unnecessary barriers so that individuals can obtain a birth certificate that reflects who they are. Department-of-health-logo Many New York-based organizations have been advocating for an updated policy over the last several years and NCTE is proud to have participated in these advocacy efforts. New York State’s previous policy, in place since the 1970s, required an individual to undergo sexual reassignment surgery as a condition to change the sex listed on their birth certificate. Now, the policy change allows individuals to update the sex on their birth certificate by submitting a letter from a licensed medical provider stating that the individual is undergoing appropriate clinical treatment. Read the rest of this entry »


NCTE Trains Job Centers Throughout the U.S. on Serving Transgender Job Seekers

May 19, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) recently trained staff from Job Centers on how to make their services transgender friendly and transgender competent.

What is a Job Center? State and local governments, with U.S. Department of Labor funding, run these Job Centers all over the United States where people can get help with finding and applying for jobs and getting job training, which is often free.  Known sometimes as One-Stop Centers or Career Centers, they are all designed to help people get work. There are nearly 3000 centers throughout the U.S.; you can find one in your area here.

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

NCTE was invited by the Department of Labor to give a presentation to officials from Job Centers on how to appropriately, respectfully and competently serve transgender job-seekers. Our curriculum included basic transgender terminology and cultural competency, and information about how transgender people are often locked out of the traditional workforce due to discrimination. We covered why trans people may have gaps in employment or education, why many have criminal records from survival work they have done on the streets, and how to work around these issues when trying to assist a transgender job-seeker to get employed.

Though there is much to be done, this training was a great first step with the Job Center system. NCTE has been pushing for Department of Labor to create a clear policy that all Job Centers and their affiliated training programs must not discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

Anyone who encounters discrimination in a job center should file a complaint. For more information on how to file a complaint, download NCTE’s resource on Employment Discrimination and Transgender People.


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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