WIN: NCTE Celebrates Failure of Attempt to Repeal Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

August 4, 2014

Mayor-Annise-Parker

Houston, TX  Mayor Annise Parker held a press conference today to announce that a petition effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) has failed to gather the required amount of signatures. This victory comes after a similar victory earlier this year in Maryland, where opponents of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act also failed to gather enough signatures for a repeal effort of this statewide bill.

Assuming any court appeal fails, Houston will no longer be the largest U.S. city without explicit anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. The National Center for Transgender Equality congratulates local Houston advocates and celebrates this string of victories. People’s basic rights against discrimination should never be put up for a public vote. NCTE will continue to press for nationwide protections for transgender people.


New WHO Report: Decriminalize Sex Work, Drug Use to Prevent Spread of HIV

July 31, 2014

A World Health Organization (WHO) report issued this month details guidelines to address policies on and treatment of HIV among vulnerable populations including transgender people. Notably, the report urges governments to decriminalize behaviors to more comprehensively and competently address the spread of HIV:

“Countries should work toward decriminalization of behaviours such as drug use/injecting, sex work, same-sex activity and nonconforming gender identities, and toward elimination of the unjust application of civil law and regulations against people who use/inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people​.

Improving policies that aid in HIV prevention and improve treatment requires, as the report notes, a combination of efforts. These efforts include making access to contraception, testing, and health facilities available to vulnerable populations; ending violence and stigma against vulnerable populations like transgender people and sex workers; and eliminating laws and policies that criminalize behaviors, which instill fear in these populations and deters individuals from seeking care.

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NCTE Commends Introduction of Health Equity and Accountability Act

July 30, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality commends the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) for reintroducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2014 on Capitol Hill today. The bill’s lead sponsor is Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), along with Congresswomen Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Donna Christiansen (VI).

The Act was first introduced in 2003 and has provided a principled, comprehensive, and strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of communities of color. This 2014 version of the bill expands upon the original by providing more federal resources, policies, and infrastructure to eliminate health disparities, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities as well as subpopulations that face additional barriers due to gender identity and sexual orientation, immigration status, age, disability, sex, and proficiency in English.

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New Rule Codifies Sex Discrimination Protection for Trans Federal Workers

July 25, 2014

Today, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published new regulations that protect transgender federal workers under federal sex discrimination laws. Coming on the heels of an executive order signed by President Obama that made protections for transgender federal workers explicit across the government, the OPM rules makes clear that trans federal workers not only have legal protection but are also entitled to all the same rights and procedures as other workers complaining of sex discrimination. Specifically, the rule states throughout that federal workers are protected from bias based on “sex (including pregnancy and gender identity).”

Though specifically focused on the federal workforce, the rules are another indication of the increasingly solid legal consensus that all banning sex discrimination necessarily ban anti-trans bias. The Department of Education recently issued similar guidance under the federal Title IX law, and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor have both announced in recent months that they intend to take a similar approach in forthcoming rules or guidance on job and health care discrimination.

NCTE and other advocates are pressing all of these agencies to provide more detailed guidance on how sex discrimination protect trans people in common situations in schools, workplaces and health care settings.​

Learn more about the workplace rights of federal workers here.


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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Win: Maryland Drops Insurance Exclusions for State Employees

July 22, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) celebrates a Maryland resolution ending transgender health care exclusions for state employees. The case, brought forward by FreeState Legal, settles a complaint on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh, a transgender state employee who was denied medically necessary care. FreeState filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint as well as a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, alleging the denial of health care coverage for a transition-related procedure was discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Today’s settlement includes reimbursement for the employee’s surgery, but also requires removal of transition-related care exclusions from all state employee health plans. The settlement also creates a new comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Benefit in state employee health plans. The benefit covers all medically necessary transition-related treatment, including hormone replacement therapy and various surgical procedures.

“We applaud Maryland and the administration of Governor O’Malley for becoming the fourth state to ensure coverage of transition-related care for state employees, joining Massachusetts, Oregon and California, along with the District of Columbia,” said National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling.  The decision follows enactment of the Fairness for all Marylanders Act earlier this year, explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

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Justice Dept. Calls for End of HIV Criminalization Laws

July 18, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) welcomes Monday’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that calls upon states to eliminate or reform their antiquated HIV criminalization laws, which criminalize conduct by HIV-positive individuals that would be legal if they were not HIV-positive or did not know their status. The DOJ’s guidelines, “Best Practices Guide to Reform HIV-Specific Criminal Laws to Align with Scientifically-Supported Factors,” explain how these laws are contrary to the science of HIV today and how these laws harm individuals and public health by reinforcing HIV stigma.

Over the decades, states have enacted or used existing criminal laws and policies, in the name of public health and safety, to effectively criminalize and silence persons living with HIV/AIDS. For example, state laws have been used to prosecute persons living with HIV when they failed to inform consensual sexual partners of their status—regardless of the actual risks involved or the precautions taken. In other examples, individuals have faced serious criminal charges based on actions like spitting that have no real risk of transmitting the virus.

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