Last Tuesday, the White House hosted a Policy Briefing for advocates from the Trans People of Color Coalition and the National Center for Transgender Equality at which government employees from several departments spoke and transgender rights advocates asked questions.
One area that several speakers referenced is the commitment to equal opportunity employment within the government both for regular hiring and appointments. Though thus far there have been only four transgender appointees, the appointments committee is looking to include more people of all minority groups.
Internationally, USAID has been advocating for healthcare for transgender people in Central America and the Caribbean. In addition, USAID has given financial support to a women’s rights NGO in Colombia for use in combating violence against transgender women. USAID has also been supporting HIV/AIDS workshops. In the US last year 50 million dollars were dedicated to expansion, particularly to transgender youth of color. The Affordable Care Act includes access to testing, the Ryan White program will continue and the Veteran’s Program for HIV/AIDS has been very active as well.
The State Department no longer requires surgery to get the gender marker on one’s passport changed. The State Department also continues to have a Global Equality Fund to be used to support LGBT groups around the world financially through their emergency response fund, and small and large grants.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) follows Title VII, therefore including discrimination based on gender presentation under sex discrimination. The Macy Decision reaffirmed Title VII and further improved on the reasoning behind it. On Tuesday, HUD released the results of their tests for differential treatment based on sexual orientation. HUD is also working on guidance for homeless shelters to make them more accessible to transgender people.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) stressed the importance of outreach and has been working on problems with police treatment of transgender people in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. The DOJ is working to create guidelines for police in criminal justice and to implement of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) as effectively as possible. In addition, the DOJ is looking to reassess the usage of solitary confinement on transgender inmates. Department of Homeland Security must also comply with PREA. In regards to anti-LGBT bullying, the DOJ is primarily focused on training students and teachers, but also advocates for climate surveys and reports to monitor school districts’ responses.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently implemented a change in policy in regards to changing gender markers, allowing for a changed birth certificate or passport, court order, or physician’s letter affirming transition instead of requiring a surgeon’s letter. The Advocate Roundtable’s input also resulted in SSA no longer requiring DEA numbers. SSA also says that eliminating inconsistencies at the state and local level is the next step.
“It is important both for us as advocates to be informed about what is currently being done in the US government and for us to be able to give feedback on what the concerns of real people are to our government.” Mara Keisling says of the morning’s briefing. “When a department is doing good things for the LGBT community, we like to know and to be able to spread that knowledge around.”