NCTE Applauds Federal Protections for Transgender Survivors of Violence

April 11, 2014

Department of Justice Clarifies Police, Courts, Shelters, and Others Must Respect Gender Identity

This week the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) release long-awaited guidance on the 2013 law prohibiting discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity by entities funded under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA’s nondiscrimination protections provide broad protections, not only for LGBT survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, but for anyone else facing discrimination from law enforcement agencies, courts, or community groups that accept VAWA funding for any part of their operations. The guidelines clarify that refusing to accept a person’s self-identified gender when delivering services constitutes unlawful discrimination, and that in many cases segregating by gender in the first place is prohibited.

The guidance, from DOJ’s Office on Violence against Women, answers “Frequently Asked Questions” about the nondiscrimination law included in the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA, which for the first time explicitly prohibited discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in any program or activity funded in whole or in part by VAWA. Critically, the guidance clarifies that all VAWA-funded services must be open to all persons regardless of gender. Sex-segregated programs are permitted only when an agency can prove the services can’t be provided any other way—in which case, fully equivalent services must be provided to people of all genders.

 

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

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NCTE Celebrates Historic Healthcare Enrollments at the White House Rose Garden

April 9, 2014

Last week, NCTE celebrated the historic enrollment of over 7 million Americans in the Affordable Care Act with President Obama at the White House Rose Garden. President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, gave remarks on the incredible success of the healthcare reform bill, Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare.” To date, 7.1 million Americans have enrolled in health coverage through the marketplace exchanges, surpassing the Administration’s expectations they set the previous summer.

The President expressed his excitement for the 7.1 million figure as well as for the larger implications of ACA’s success, stating : “Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health care costs is down, and that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future.”

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Although the period for 2014 open enrollment has closed, plans can still be purchased through the exchange in the event of a qualifying change in life circumstances. People who attempted to enroll by the deadline but were unable to due to technical problems with the enrollment website, or because enrollment centers were backed up will receive extensions without facing the nominal tax penalty. M​edicaid plans are also available year-round for those who qualify, and eligibility is greatly expanded in 26 states.

Learn more about your healthcare rights here.

Learn more about LGBT-specific healtcare enrollment information here.


Victory: Social Security Admin Clarifies Benefits Applications for Trans People and their Spouses

April 1, 2014

NCTE thanks the Social Security Administration for issuing updated guidance that will simplify benefits applications for many transgender people and their spouses, and better ensure correct eligibility determinations.

Until now, all benefits applications involving couples with at least one transgender spouse required legal review by one of SSA’s chief regional attorneys, often adding significant delays. Without clear guidance on applicable law, many benefits applications also received incorrect denials and had to be appealed. With this new guidance, most claims now can be evaluated under the normal application process, without additional and inappropriate scrutiny of the marriage.

Under the new guidance, SSA recognizes that a gender transition does not affect the continuing validity of an existing marriage. Marriages that occurred after a transition will also generally be presumed valid, with additional review needed only for claims from a handful of states. Unlike many other federal programs, Social Security law requires that marriage-related benefits be determined based on the law of the state where you live. Accordingly, SSA still has to determine, in many cases, whether to treat a marriage as a same-sex marriage or a different-sex marriage.

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New Analysis Released on Suicide Among Trans and Gender Nonconforming People

January 29, 2014

On Tuesday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and the Williams Institute, released new analysis from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which was released by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011. This report uses the 6,456 accounts of discrimination from transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) adults (compiled in NTDS), to find unprecedented links between experiences of discrimination, and suicide attempts among transgender people. The comprehensive report is one part of new study being conducted by Dr. Jody L. Herman (Williams Institute), with Doctors Ann P. Haas and Phillip L. Rogers (AFSP).

Forty-one percent of respondents reported having attempted suicide at some point in their lives. This new groundbreaking analysis seeks to identify and understand the characteristics and experiences that factor into the prevalent suicide attempts among transgender and gender non-conforming people. The study outlines a somber relationship between the negative experiences transgender people face from anti-transgender biases, and the increased pervasiveness of suicide attempts in the transgender and GNC populations.

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9 Things President Obama Can Do to Address Trans Economic Inquality

January 28, 2014

Today, ahead of the annual State of the Union speech,  President Barack Obama took an important step addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage of new federal workers to $10.10, helping to ease the financial burden of more than 2 million employees. The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes this executive order and urges legislators to take action to raise wages for all low-wage workers in the United States.

However, addressing America’s deepening economic divide, especially for transgender workers who face twice the rate of unemployment as the general population, requires swift action on many other policy areas. The Center has compiled our list of 9 policy matters that the Obama Administration can address without Congressional approval that would go far in closing the economic divide of transgender Americans.

1) Sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among businesses that contract with the federal government. Doing so would protect 1 in 5 American workers from job discrimination.

2) The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter or re-enter the workforce.

3) Each federal department and independent agency should adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in its programs, activities, and funding.

4) The Department of Labor should include gender identity and sexual orientation measures in economic surveys including the Current Population Survey and the Survey on Income and Program.

5) The Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to help end sexual abuse of transgender people in jails, prisons, and police lock-ups, and ensure transgender inmates are treated safely and respectfully. Enforcement of strong PREA rules helps ensure formerly incarcerated transgender people can smoothly re-integrate into American society and find jobs.

6) President Obama should pressure House Speaker John Boehner to heed the call of a majority of Americans (80%) who support strong LGBT workplace protections by putting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.

7) Provide a path to citizenship for the estimated quarter of a million undocumented immigrants who are transgender or LGB by passing commonsense immigration reform.

8) The Department of Homeland Security should expand the use of alternatives to secure detention and end the detention of asylum-seekers, LGBT people, people with HIV, and other vulnerable groups.

9) The Department of Education should issue guidance clarifying the application of Title IX nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth, including the right of transgender students to dress, access school facilities, programs and campus housing, and otherwise be treated in accord with their gender identity in a respectful and confidential manner.

 


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.

MaraFast

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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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Jelly Belly Chairman Rowland: Meet With Us

October 25, 2013

In light of news that Jelly Belly Candy Company Board Chairman, Herman Rowland, Sr., donated $5,000 to repeal California’s Student Success and Opportunity Act, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Equality California invited Mr. Rowland, Sr. to meet to talk more about the real harms facing transgender kids.

The invitation states:

On behalf of thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming students around the country, we write in regards to your recent donation to the campaign to repeal the Student Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266). As the leader behind a brand as uniquely American as the Jelly Belly Candy Company, we urge you to adhere to the values that make this country strong: fairness and opportunity for all. These are the same values that helped you propel your family business from its modest beginnings, and California’s new law only affirms these values for transgender children. Your support of efforts to take that same
opportunity away is an attack on transgender children and is an offense to these values.

[...]

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), Equality California (EQCA), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) ask you to reconsider your support of the campaign by joining leaders from the transgender equality movement in a conversation about the real harms facing transgender kids. We extend this invitation in the spirit of openness and with the goal of helping all students succeed.

Read more at BuzzFeed here.

Sign the pledge to fight back against right-wing attempts to take back transgender rights.

Click here or the image below to share the pledge on Facebook.

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