Panel Releases Recommendations for DC Police on Treatment of LGBT Community

February 28, 2014

A 51-page report released by the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force (HCATF) issued over two dozen ways the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) can better respond to bias-related crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Key recommendations in the report stressed the importance of the MPD building trust with transgender people, improving training for MPD officers, identifying leaders within the MPD who can help train officers, and reviewing cold cases of transgender murders. In addition to releasing the report, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier included the steps her office will take to implement the HCATF’s recommendations and notes “no one should fear being the victim of crime because of hatred and bias, whether because of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or other circumstances. Perhaps more importantly, everyone should feel comfortable working with the police and reporting crime and victimization to us.”

Read the full recommendations and report below along with Chief’s Lanier’s response:​

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Facebook Opens Gender Options for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Users

February 13, 2014

The Associated Press reported today that the social media giant, Facebook, will provide 50 different terms for people to use to identify their gender in addition to three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them. The changes go into effect on Thursday, February 13, 2014 and the options in the list will evolve based on user input.


In response to this development, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “At a time in which transgender people still face high rates of bullying, disrespect, harassment, and violence, this welcome change is another step in the recognition of transgender and gender non-conforming people. As one of the most visited sites on the Internet, it’s a significant sign of progress to have the realities of transgender and gender non-conforming people reflected on the platform. “

To update your gender, follow these steps:

  1. Click the “edit” button for Basic Information
  2. In the pop-up menu, select the “custom” option
  3. In the field that appears below that, type in your gender and a list of options will appear

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While NCTE celebrates this development, we encourage Facebook to consider other policies that help maintain the privacy of transgender people. For example, the “Groups” function has, in the past, outed LGBT young people to parents and friends because Facebook does not require consent from a user to be added into a group. NCTE also encourages Facebook to make LGBT-specific privacy and security information available to users.

NCTE’s Mara Keisling Talks CA Equal Access Law on NPR

January 7, 2014

Today, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling joined Michel Martin of NPR’s Tell Me More to discuss issues facing transgender kids in public schools, and California’s law allowing transgender students fair and equal access to school activities and facilities. Keisling was joined by Gayle Trotter, a conservative columnist and Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum; Melanie Mason, a reporter covering this law for the LA Times; and Jennifer Savage, a parent of a gender non-conforming child.

Though Trotter agrees that efforts should be made to accommodate transgender and gender non-conforming students fairly, she repeated outdated talking points on the unfairness of the law for student athletes and for maintaining a sense of modesty for children in restrooms.

Trotter said:

“I think there’s also a really important part of school is being to teach the truth and to understand bodily integrity. And when we have this type of ideological law that’s trying to push these types of ideas to young children, who are still very impressionable, trying to understand the world, then it’s harmful not only to the children who are dealing with these sensitive issues, but also the other children who are trying to draw truth from school and to understand how the world works.”

Keisling responded:

Well, the NCAA has looked at this really carefully. They have really good guidelines, they have studied and studied and studied that. And, you know, I just have to kind of call out Gayle’s use of the word truth. What she’s talking about is her truth. And in her truth, gender nonconforming children, like the 7-year-old we just heard about, don’t really exist. And transgender people don’t really exist. Transgender people are perpetrating some sort of fraud in that version of the truth. And, you know, in reality, we have these kids who don’t fit in who can’t follow that false truth, that discriminatory old-fashioned non-truth truth. So you have to be able to get to the point where you understand that a transgender girl is a girl.

And if you’re not willing to accept that even though her parents have accepted it, the medical community has accepted it, everybody in the world has accepted it, you’re never going to understand that the school districts aren’t bothered by this law. They like how it is. Several of the largest school districts had already had these policies in place – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and some others – and more and more have implemented them because the truth for these schools is there are transgender kids and they want transgender kids to have access to programs and facilities so they work on it. They work on it on a case-by-case basis with the students and sometimes the parents because that’s the real truth.

Learn more about the effort to keep this law on the books here.

Listen to the full interview here.

NCTE Commends CDC’s Clarified Breast Cancer Screening Policy

December 20, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) commends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for clarifying that its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program will cover screening for eligible transgender women and men.  The CDC deserves credit for consulting medical experts and community members and adopting an approach that is both fair and fact-based.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “Under the clarified policy, all transgender women who have taken hormones may receive breast cancer screening under the program, subject to other eligibility standards. Transgender men and gender non-conforming people with a female history continue to be eligible for breast and cervical cancer screening, if applicable.”

The CDC’s clarified policy comes in response to an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who, in October 2013, was denied access to a breast cancer screening under a federal program administered by the CDC. Her provider pointed to an earlier CDC newsletter stating that its program excluded women who are “not genetically female.”

NCTE and the Human Rights Campaign swiftly condemned the provider’s actions and called on the CDC to investigate the case. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “We applaud the CDC’s clarified policy and urge other public health programs, private insurance plans, and health care providers to adopt similar approaches.”

“The bottom line is that if you have a body part that needs screening, it ought to be screened regardless of your identity,” Keisling said.

Melissa Harris-Perry Show Addresses Trans Prison Issues

August 5, 2013

Laverne Cox MHP

Yesterday, Laverne Cox, a trans actor on the new hit series “Orange is the New Black,” joined a panel on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show to discuss issues faced by transgender people in incarceration. Cox is the first trans actor of color to play a trans character of color.

On “Orange is the New Black,” Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, faces a medical problem all too common among transgender people in prison: losing access to hormones. On the MHP Show, Laverne Cox describes the health consequences of being cut off from this basic medical care.

Despite this struggle in Burset’s story line, she is markedly safer than most transgender women in the U.S. prison and jail system. On the MHP Show segment, Cox points out that transgender women are rarely housed in women’s facilities, or are placed in prolonged solitary confinement. Medical experts agree that solitary confinement contributes to severe physical and mental health problems.

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NCTE Joins LGBT Groups in Banning Police Profiling of LGBTQ People in NYC

July 30, 2013

Today, the National Center for Transgender Equality, along with over a dozen other local and national LGBTQ equality organizations, submitted a letter to the New York City Council urging them to prohibit police profiling based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The statement reads:

From Stonewall to stop and frisk, LGBTQ people – and particularly LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ youth and transgender and gender nonconforming people – have long been targets of profiling and other forms of discriminatory policing. These consequences have ranges from death to deportation, assault to arrest, homophobic harassment to humiliation.

The New York Times highlighted the significance of this problem when they reported on the experience of Yhatzine Lafontain, a 24-year-old gay man. In March of this year, Lafontain and a friend of his were arrested for being suspected of prostitution because they were dressed in drag.

A Make the Road New York study of a single NYC neighborhood earlier this year found that, of the more than 300 survey respondents, 54% of LGBT respondents experienced some form of police profiling compared to only 28% of straight respondents.

Read the full letter below:

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NCTE Joins Laverne Cox, Dr. Kortney Ziegler to Discuss “Orange is the New Black” on HuffPost Live

July 26, 2013

Today, National Center for Transgender Equality Program Manager Andy Bowen joined actor Laverne Cox on HuffPost Live to talk about the new hit show “Orange is the New Black.” The show features, for the first time, a transgender character played by a transgender actor.

Watch the interview here.

The show centers around Piper Chapman who is incarcerated for a drug offense committed 10 years earlier. The show is novel for a number of reasons, well outlined by the Washington Post, but for those keeping tabs on popular media’s portrayal of transgender women, it is particularly significant.

Few mainstream TV shows or movies have portrayed transgender people at all. And when transgender people are depicted in media, they are often type-casted as powerless victims. Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, instead, is a self-assured and strong character who, as Dr. Ziegler notes, bucks perceptions of transgender women of color.

In addition to touching on other problems in the prison system like sexual assault, solitary confinement and mental health issues, Orange is the New Black highlights injustices facing transgender people. A key part of Sophia’s plot line is when prison authorities take away Sophia’s hormones, an unfortunately common experience for transgender people in incarceration. As found in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people in incarceration are often denied routine health care (12%) or hormones (17%). These numbers reflect two sadly common attitudes: 1) hormones aren’t recognized as essential medical care, and 2) people in prison are not valued enough to be provided with proper medical treatment.

Despite the barriers to medical care Sophia faces and the harsh conditions facing all the women of Litchfield Correctional Facility, Sophia is far safer than the vast majority of transgender women in our nation’s prisons and jails, because she is housed with other women. While this is becoming more common, many systems still automatically house trans women in men’s prisons – and then, realizing just how vulnerable to abuse they are there, put them in long-term solitary confinement that amounts to torture. New standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) are meant to end these cruel practices, and NCTE continues to work alongside many other advocates to see that trans people are housed with safety and dignity.

Only released a few weeks ago, the show continues to inspire conversations around race and transgender issues and garner accolades from mainstream viewers. And fortunately, as Orange is the New Black enters its second season, viewers across the country will have the chance to learn more about transgender people through Sophia.

WATCH: NCTE’s Mara Keisling on Obama’s LGBT Agenda

January 22, 2013

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NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Advocate Magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Breen joined the Melissa Harris-Perry show this past Sunday to discuss what’s next on the LGBT agenda in President Obama’s second term.

Notably, Keisling discussed the critical need for an inclusive approach to comprehensive immigration reform. She said, “there are zillions of DREAMer youth who are LGBT, and we want to make sure there is a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants including LGBT immigrants.”

Keisling also noted the continuing need for the Obama Administration to engage with LGBT advocacy groups around expanding access to Medicare particularly for transgender people.

Watch the full segment here.


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