NCTE Mourns Loss of Trans Advocate and Icon Leslie Feinberg

November 17, 2014

Photo: Leslie FeinbergThe National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) family is saddened by the passing of Leslie Feinberg, a true revolutionary for transgender rights, workers rights, and social justice. Feinberg was influential to many transgender and gender non-conforming people, and will be remembered as a foundational architect of the advances we reap today and tomorrow.

In reacting to Feinberg’s passing today, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Leslie was strong and fierce and someone I looked up to. Leslie’s writing helped make a home for a generation of trans and queer people. In particular, Leslie’s depiction of Jess, a character in their acclaimed novel Stone Butch Blues, helped me see myself both as an advocate fighting economic injustice and as an individual seeking recognition for being queer and trans. I last saw Leslie at CeCe McDonald’s trial in Minneapolis in 2012, where Leslie, always aware of the intersection between gender and race and class and the criminal justice system, stepped up to support CeCe and the community that had her back. Trans people and our cause have been greatly strengthened that there was a Leslie Feinberg and we are diminished at their passing.”

 


NCTE’s Mara Keisling Named an Out 100 Honoree

November 13, 2014
Photo: Out

Photo: Out

This week, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling was named in Out magazine’s annual listing of 100 influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cultural and political icons. Keisling was honored for her decade of advocacy for transgender people with NCTE.

Out says Keisling “has been instrumental in making outdated government policies more inclusive. The organization’s efforts have improved the process of updating gender on government records, increased access to trans-related health care, and strengthened non-discrimination stances in businesses, housing, and schools.”

Pictured with Keisling is Laura Erickson-Schroth, editor of the groundbreaking collection of essays of the experiences of transgender people, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves“.

Other honorees this year include Scout and Liz Margolies, Samira Wiley, Calpernia Addams, Zachary Quinto, Sam Smith, and Angel Haze. NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin was an Out100 honoree in 2013.

See the full list of the Out100 2014 honorees here.


New Federal Plans Take Modest Step On Trans Health

November 13, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality expresses our disappointment that virtually every Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plan has failed to update their coverage to stop excluding medically necessary healthcare for transgender federal employees. Disregarding OPM’s June 2013 invitation to insurance companies to drop discriminatory trans health exclusions, the majority of FEHB plans that were announced have retained these outdated and wrong trans health exclusions.

NCTE calls on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take stronger proactive steps to end discrimination against their transgender employees and cover trans health care needs. We urge federal employees who have been denied necessary care due to an exclusion to immediately file an EEO complaint with OPM.

In June 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provided notice to insurance companies who have Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans that OPM will no longer require insurance carriers to have blanket exclusions on trans-related care.  Advocates, including NCTE, celebrated this change, which gave insurance companies the opportunity to modernize their health benefits ahead of open season that begins this month.

Office_of_Personnel_Management_in_Washington_D.C._2012

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President Obama Honors Five Year Anniv. of Hate Crimes Law

November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 marked the fifth year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Lauded by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates and racial justice organizations, and signed into law by President Obama, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strengthened law enforcement’s ability to track, respond, and combat bias-related crimes on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and national origin.

The White House convened advocates and officials to celebrate the law’s impact. At the event, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling addressed the guests. “When the Mathew Shepherd Hate Crime Prevention Act passed five years ago,” Keisling said,”it was the first time in American history that Congress had acted in a positive and productive way for transgender people. That in itself is a significant victory and benefit. Working to pass the Act provided a great opportunity for us to educate Congress about transgender people and the violence we face. And implementation has been a similar opportunity to educate law enforcement.”

Credit: White House

Photo Credit: White House

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Ed Dept. Resolves Title IX Trans Student Discrimination Case

November 4, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Downey Unified School District for its resolution of a Title IX discrimination complaint filed by a transgender student against the school district. This resolution marks another crucial step towards ensuring that all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression, are afforded the same rights and protections in their schools.  

The student, a young transgender girl, filed the original complaint alleging that the school failed to respond to her complaints regarding verbal harassment, she was subjected to, disciplined the student for wearing make up, discouraged her from speaking about her gender identity to her classmates, and suggested that she transfer. Under their agreement, Downey Unified School District will ensure that the student is able to access the same facilities as other female students, and continue her education without fear of being disciplined based on her gender identity and expression. Additionally, Downey Unified has committed to ensure that all gender nonconforming and transgender students have access to a safe learning environment. 

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Win for Civilian Army Worker: Agency Says Restroom Restriction, Mis-Gendering Was Discrimination

October 27, 2014

Tamara-LusardiNCTE applauds the Transgender Law Center and Tamara Lusardi in obtaining a decision from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that the Department of the Army engaged in unlawful discrimination of Ms. Tamara Lusardi and ordered corrective action on her behalf.

Ms. Tamara Lusardi is a disabled veteran who transitioned in 2010. She works at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) as a Software Quality Assurance Specialist. After Ms. Lusardi transitioned on the job, her supervisor would purposely mis-gender her and would repeatedly refer to her as “sir” and “he.” Furthermore Ms. Lusardi was asked to agree that she could only use a single-use restroom and not use the same restrooms as other female employees.

U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that the mis-gendering by her supervisor and the restrictions put on Ms. Lusardi constituted unlawful discrimination based on a factor unrelated to job performance, in violation of federal civil service law. OSC said that these action likely also violated Title VII, the law against sex discrimination in the workplace. The Department of the Army has agreed to provide LGBT sensitivity training to employees and supervisors at the AMRDEC facility.

Today’s action by OSC is one more milestone showing that not only that transgender workers have recourse against discrimination, but that recourse extends to practices that deny an employee’s gender identity and make it impossible to come to work as who they are.

NCTE is currently working with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor, and other agencies to strengthen workplace protections for trans people.

Federal employees, and anyone else facing discrimination at work, should consult NCTE’s “Transgender Federal Workers: Your Workplace Rights” resource to find out how to file a complaint and get legal help.


Despite Some Progress in Airport Security, Bigger Changes Needed

October 23, 2014

In September 2014, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) was one of three stakeholder organizations to receive a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “Community Partner” award. NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin accepted the award on behalf of NCTE for our education and training of TSA personnel on transgender rights and concerns, and to press for less invasive approaches to airport security.

While TSA will not share details of their “standard operating procedures,” it is clear that NCTE’s advocacy has resulted in some refinements over the years. These changes, along with the move away from officers viewing individual body scans to an automated system where officers view only a generic “Gumby” outline , mean we hear fewer stories of bad TSA experiences each month than in the past. As TSA has rolled out its Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) program, NCTE has directly worked with TSA to present transgender online trainings to several hundred PSS officers.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin accepts the Transportation Security Administraton's "Community Partner" award.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin accepts the Transportation Security Administration’s “Community Partner” award.

Unfortunately, less than one week after receiving the award from Administrator Pistole, NCTE heard from our longtime supporter and trans advocate Gunner Scott about a bad TSA experience at JFK airport. Contrary to the procedures TSA established with NCTE’s input, Scott was asked to take off his shirt by TSA personnel after a body scanner read his binder (in this case, an item identical to a sports bra) as an “anomaly.” Like many trans men, Scott runs into binder “anomalies” frequently and this was the second time in two years he’d been asked to remove his shirt.

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