New York State DOCCS: Solitary Confinement Isn’t Protection. It’s Torture.

August 11, 2014

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) runs state correctional facilities across the state of New York—facilities, a Solitary Watch investigation found, where transgender women are regularly placed in solitary confinement and subjected to sexual assault.

Solitary confinement

Photo: Vicki Watkins

NCTE is one of several organizations that signed a letter today to Anthony Annucci, the Acting Commissioner of DOCCS. The letter, which was also signed by our colleagues at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Trans Women of Color Collective, encourages Annucci to take swift action to end the routine practice of isolating incarcerated transgender people.

Transgender women in New York are automatically housed in correctional facilities for men, and the practice of housing them in solitary confinement is often justified with references to the safety of the prisoner. However, as the Solitary Watch report makes clear, these individuals are in fact at greater risk of harm, including sexual violence as well as the added toll of extreme isolation.

Our letter urges DOCCS to take specific actions to protect incarcerated transgender people and ensure​ compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which was passed in 2003. For more information, please read NCTE’s guide to LGBT people and PREA.

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Free Marichuy: Trans Immigration Detainee and Rape Survivor Deserves Safety

August 4, 2014

Today, National Center for Transgender Equality joined nearly 60 local and national LGBT and immigrant’s rights groups in calling for the release of Marichuy Leal Gamino. Marichuy is a transgender woman and survivor of sexual assault in an Arizona for-profit immigration detention facility.

Advocates like NCTE have been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on this violent incident, and have urged DHS to release Marichuy. As NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin notes in the letter to DHS, “Marichuy’s story illustrates why the mass detention of immigrants must end. Thousands of LGBT immigrants like Marichuy are needlessly jailed each year, and hundreds of transgender women are routinely placed in men’s jails despite the obvious danger this creates.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality and our partners will continue to advocate on behalf of Marichuy and will press for policy change as the White House prepares to take executive action to reform U.S. deportation policies.
Learn more about how immigration laws and policies affect transgender people in our report, “Our Moment for Reform.”
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NCTE Joins #Not1More Protest to End Deportations

August 4, 2014

On Saturday August 2nd, hundreds of pro-immigrant groups from the around the country descended on the streets of Washington, DC calling for a halt to deportations of undocumented immigrants and for expansion of policies that allow undocumented or mixed status families to remain in the country together. The groups used the phrase “Not 1 More” as their slogan. More than 1,100 immigrants are separated from their families and communities each day through deportations according to the National Immigrant Law Center.

Not1More

President Obama has the ability through a legal mechanism known as “administrative relief” to allow undocumented immigrants to stay based on certain circumstances. Organizers of the rally called for the Administration to expand its guidelines for administrative relief. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) supports expansion of the guidelines and hopes that an immigrant’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, as well as the likelihood of persecution or violence upon repatriation, is included.

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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.


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