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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LGBT Workers Continue to Face Unfair Discrimination

May 28, 2014

TodDiscrimination Brief Cover Imageay, as Exxon Mobil’s shareholders vote again to deny workplace protections to its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees, and the city of Houston, Texas votes on whether to extend such protections to LGBT workers, a newly released report paints a sobering portrait of widespread discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers documents how LGBT workers continue to face unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination, yet no federal law provides explicit legal protections.

Join us as we lobby for passage of federal legislation that explicitly bans workplace discrimination against transgender and LGBT Americans. 

LGBT workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep good jobs, earn a living, and provide for themselves and their families. This discrimination includes:

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NCTE Director of Policy to Her Own High School: Respect Trans Students

May 15, 2014

​The following is a letter NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin wrote to J.M. Atherton High School in Louisville, KY—her alma mater. While Tobin didn’t come out and transition until college, another young transgender woman there has transitioned in school. Despite initial support on campus, complaints by an outside hate group and a small handful of community members have resulted in her restroom use being restricted.

This afternoon, a local school committee will vote on whether the school will follow the federal Title IX law by prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.

While there are similar stories from all over the country, this one is personal. Most of Tobin’s family still lives in Louisville, as do so many of her old Atherton friends. After speaking with the current principal Tobin wrote this letter to Principal Aberli and the members of the school committee.

Read the letter here and please join NCTE in urging Atherton High School in standing up for all students.

View this document on Scribd

NCTE Welcomes Review of Outdated Military Regulations Barring Transgender Service

May 11, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s statement on ABC’s This Morning that the Department of Defense should review the military’s policies that prohibits open transgender military service. “We look forward to working with the Pentagon to end these outdated rules that harm our military,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling.

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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told ABC News that he believes the ban should be reviewed. “I do think it continually should be reviewed,” he said. “I’m open to that. I’m open to those assessments, because — again, I go back to the bottom line — every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” he said.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “This willingness to evaluating changes to the medical regulations is overdue but very welcome. If the Secretary were able to meet and talk with the trans service members I’ve met, he’d understand the answer is self-evident. These are amazing people who serve even though they must hide a basic part of who they are.

Our National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted by NCTE and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, showed that about one-fifth of all transgender adults are veterans, making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military.

Read our full statement here.


New Report: Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV

May 8, 2014

National Center for Transgender Equality Director of Policy, Harper Jean Tobin, participated yesterday in a panel discussion to mark the release of “A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV.” This is a groundbreaking report examining the full scope of factors that contribute to disproportionate incarceration of LGBT and HIV-affected people and their abuse behind bars.

With growing bipartisan interest in addressing mass incarceration—for example, the proposed federal Smarter Sentencing Act has the backing of leading liberal lions and key conservative stalwarts alike, and a range of bipartisan reforms are being debated in many states—we hope this report together with NCTE’s recent guide “Standing with LGBT Prisoners: An Advocate’s Guide to Ending Abuse and Combating Imprisonment” will help the LGBT movement play a big role in making big changes.

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Step Forward: PGPD Abandons Live Tweeting Prostitution Sting

May 7, 2014

Yesterday evening, the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) in Maryland released a statement after conducting a prostitution sting operation. The PGPD relented to community advocacy and chose not to live tweet during the raid. An announcement last week promised to live tweet photos of those arrested, but in the end there were no live tweets and no arrests.

The PGPD faced criticism from organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), HIPS and other sex worker rights groups after announcing they would tweet pictures of clients of sex workers at a planned sting operation. That sting operation took place on May 6th with no arrests.

“We’re glad PGPD abandoned the unwise plan of live tweeting after community concern,” said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin,  “However, police should focus on protecting sex workers from those who assault or rob them instead of engaging in broad stings and public shaming. We hope PGPD will collaborate with community members, including advocates for sex workers themselves, on more constructive solutions to violence against sex workers.”

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NCTE welcomes Philadelphia settlement with trans worker, lauds feds for supporting case

May 1, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) welcomes the news that the City of Philadelphia has finally settled a federal anti-bias lawsuit brought by city library worker Bobbie Burnett. Ms. Burnett was subjected to years of workplace harassment and other discrimination after she transitioned on the job in 2002. Managers allegedly restricted her use of women’s restrooms on the job, gave her undesirable job assignments, limited her contact with the public, and disciplined her for frivolous reasons.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief in federal district court supporting Ms. Burnett’s case and arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on transgender status or gender transition. This filing is the latest signal that Federal Justice officials are taking the same position as the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people.

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