The Trans Case for Marijuana Decriminalization

March 4, 2014

Today, the District of Columbia City Council will have their second and final vote on the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Act of 2014. And last week, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) issued the following letter to City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with all the other city council members, urging them to end mass arrests of DC residents for possession of small amounts of marijuana by voting to support this bill.

The letter states:

“[E]xtremely high rates of incarceration reflect a cycle of societal discrimination and economic marginalization faced by many transgender people, both flowing from and contributing to disproportionate rates of job loss, poverty, and homelessness. Prosecution and a criminal record for mere marijuana possession, with all the collateral consequences it carries, robs many individuals of the opportunity to overcome these social and economic barriers.”

“Though we’re pleased that the proposal is expected to pass the council’s vote today, we’re disappointed that new language in the bill doesn’t adequately address the criminalization of public smoking,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “Other states like Colorado and Washington recognize that tracking people down for public smoking is a misuse of public dollars, and have therefore handled this issue appropriately. The DC City Council today has the opportunity to do the same.”

Read the letter below.

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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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D.C. Government Announces Comprehensive Coverage for Transgender Residents

February 27, 2014

Today, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced that public and private health insurance plans that the D.C. government regulates–including Medicaid, D.C. government employee insurance, and private plans sold on D.C.’s health exchange–are required to cover transition-related care.

The new announcement makes D.C. healthcare coverage the most comprehensive plans for transgender Americans in the United States, a direct result of concerted advocacy from local activists, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or NCTE, and the Center for American Progress and other allies.

“This victory reaffirms growing agreement among advocates and the medical community that D.C.’s healthcare nondiscrimination laws require that insurance cover medically necessary transgender healthcare,” said Andy Bowen, NCTE Policy Associate.

“This policy will make D.C.’s healthcare programs and insurance coverage the most comprehensive in the country for the full scope of health care that transgender people need throughout their lives,” said Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst at CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project. “But more importantly, this announcement tells transgender people in the District that their health matters.”

In a bulletin released today, D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, or DISB, explains that it will view “attempts by companies to limit or deny medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, to be discriminatory.” Beyond that, DISB affirms, “it is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit…”

Click the image below to share the victory on Facebook.


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Senate Subcommittee Hearing Considers Ending Solitary Confinement

February 25, 2014

An estimated 80,000 people are in solitary confinement in the United States at any given time. Today, the US Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing on the human rights, fiscal and public safety consequences of solitary confinement. This is a follow-up to a hearing held in 2012, and since that time there have been further actions by state and federal officials to reassess, limit, and in some cases eliminate the use of solitary confinement. The head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons will testify today about his agency’s promise to review the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. Senators will also hear from the head of Colorado’s prisons, who—charged by that state’s governor with limiting the use of solitary—penned an unsettling New York Times op-ed about spending a day in solitary himself.

Read our testimony here:

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BREAKING: NCTE Celebrates Failure of Attempt to Repeal CA School Success and Opportunity Act

February 24, 2014

A final tally of collected signatures reaffirmed California voters’ belief that all students, including transgender students, should succeed in school. Consistent with federal regulations, this law underscores school’s mandate to ensure that all students have their needs met by school administrators and teachers.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the failure of the referendum effort but remains vigilant of legal challenges to the signature count. In response to this developing news, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

“We are very happy with today’s outcome upholding the majority of Californians’ belief that transgender students deserve a fair shot at doing well in school. School administrators and teachers in California had already been making the appropriate adjustments to achieve that even before this law took effect. And our view, along with the views of many parents, administrators and teachers in California, is that transgender kids should have the same education as all our kids. Doing that means making the right tweaks in school programs and functions so that transgender students can be who they are in schools without fear or limitation. NCTE celebrates this important step and we’ll closely monitor legal challenges to the vote count as they develop.”

Pro-repeal efforts needed 504,760 valid signatures in order to qualify the law for the November ballot, however only 487,484 were found to valid.


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

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.38.23 PM

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.

Barneys Launches Spring Campaign Featuring Transgender Models, and their Families

February 6, 2014

Thank Barneys New York for Supporting Transgender People:

Barneys New York became the first major retailer to launch a campaign exclusively featuring the lives and stories of diverse transgender models and their family members.

The campaign, called “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters,” was shot by renowned American fashion photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber whose photographs have also appeared in GQ, Vogue, and Rolling Stone covering brands like Calvin Klein, Versace, and Ralph Lauren. Each model was interviewed by longtime arts journalist, and Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, Patricia Bosworth.

The Spring 2014 campaign created a safe space for models from diverse walks of life–from African American Ball culture in NYC to life in Tulsa, Oklahoma–to share their empowering struggles and inspiring victories. These stories highlight the enduring connections and support of family, friends, and community members that showcase the deep roots of transgender people in American culture and society.

Dolce & Gabbana - Trevon, Max, and Ryley Armani - Valentijn and Ryley

As part of NCTE’s ongoing work to educate workplaces about their obligations to address anti-transgender discrimination, the National Center for Transgender Equality provided cultural competency training to Barneys New York corporate staff in headquarters and with floor associates in retail locations across the country. NCTE, along with the LGBT Center of New York, will receive half of 10% of all sales from Barneys’ 11 flagship stores nationwide and on February 11th.

The campaign represents an important step by a major cultural institution to humanize the lives of transgender people. Join us in thanking Barneys New York for their inclusion of transgender people.

Read NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling’s forward in the campaign look book.

Many Americans view transgender people as different or even exotic. Outdated stereotypes of our community make it hard for us to show the full picture of our lives, families, and our contributions. And assumptions about how we should look have too often dictated how we should live. But what is lost in the stereotypes and assumptions are the human connections between our lives and our families, friends, and communities.

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