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.


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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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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DC Poised to Repeal Discriminatory “Prostitution-Free Zone” Law

July 8, 2014

Since 2006, the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had the power to designate any public space in D.C. as a prostitution free zone (PFZ), which has in turn given MPD officers the right to disperse or arrest anyone they believe to be meeting in the space for the purpose of prostitution. The Alliance for a Safe and Diverse D.C. noted in a 2008 report that PFZs enabled police officers’ existing inclination toward profiling people as sex workers based on personal appearance, race, and gender presentation.

NCTE Policy Director Harper Jean Tobin Attends Rally

NCTE Policy Director, Harper Jean Tobin, attended an April 2014 rally in D.C. in support of repealing prostitution free zones in the District.

The MPD stopped designating areas as PFZs in 2012 because of concerns that the zones were unconstitutional. However, the PFZ law is still on the books, and other municipalities around the nation have based their own similar laws on it. There have even been efforts by some businesses to revive use of the law.

Earlier this year, NCTE was part of a coalition of LGBT groups that reviewed how the DC MPD’s relationship with the LGBT community and its handling of hate crimes. Our report concluded in part that MPD had lost the trust of the LGBT communities, primarily because of the perception of profiling of transgender people and perceived indifference toward crimes against trans people. The report noted that these problems were connected in part to the trans people being perceived as being criminals and less worthy of respect and protection due to being involved in sex work.

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Ending Trans Exclusions: The Path To Inclusive Healthcare

June 18, 2014

Many of the existing inclusions for LGB—and particularly—T people have been hard won over the last 20 years. On Monday, June 16,  four major organizations met to take stock of the history and trajectory for LGBT inclusions in healthcare.

On the open community call, “With Medicare Done: How We Can Win the Rest,” NCTE’s Mara Keisling moderated the discussion among Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst for LGBT Progress with Center for American Progress (CAP), and Beck Bailey, Deputy Director of the Workplace Project with Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The discussion opened with a summary of the recent widespread progress, including the Obama administration’s announcement yesterday of his intention to issue an executive order to protect LGBT people employed by federal contractors and the Medicare decision issued 12 days ago.

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New Report: Transgender People Face High Levels of Violence

June 10, 2014

On May 29th, 2014, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released their National Report on Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities. The report, drawing on data from 14 anti-violence programs in 13 states and Puerto Rico, found that the frequency of incidents of hate violence remained constant from 2012 to 2013, with 2,001 reported incidents in 2013. However, the severity of incidents increased significantly, with a 21% increase in reports of physical hate violence.

Report-Cover

Transgender people, and especially transgender women of color, were found by the report to be among the groups most at risk for severe violence. According to the report, almost 90% of all homicide victims in 2013 were people of color, the overwhelming majority of whom (78% of the total) were Black or African American. Almost three-quarters of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds of homicide victims were transgender women of color, despite transgender individuals constituting only 13% of total reports to NCAVP.

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Seven UN Agencies: Surgery as a Condition of Legal Recognition is Forced Sterilization

June 6, 2014

WHO Report CoverIn “Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization – An interagency statement,” the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN agencies have recognized that sterilization without the “full, free and informed consent” of an individual is a violation of that person’s human rights.

The UN Health (WHO), Human Rights (OHCHR), Women’s (UN Women), Development (UNDP), Population (UNFPA), Children’s (UNICEF), and AIDS (UNAIDS) agencies issuing the statement recognized that transgender people have been historically, and are currently, discriminated against through policies requiring surgery, often resulting in sterilization, in order to obtain legal documents reflecting their gender identity and other forms of legal and social recognition. As the statement observes, “According to international and regional human rights bodies and some constitutional courts, and as reflected in recent legal changes in several countries, these sterilization requirements run counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity, and can cause and perpetuate discrimination against transgender and intersex persons.”

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