New Study Reveals Risks of Being Trans in Washington, DC

July 8, 2011

Yesterday, the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) released findings of the first phase in its ongoing Needs Assessment Project, which revealed a high need for safety and security for DC transgender residents. Other primary concerns include housing stability, unemployment, and emotional well-being. Sadie Ryanne Vashti, DCTC organizer and former NCTE staff member, reports that sex work locations were central to the trans community. Vashti says, “participants overwhelmingly described the strolls as places where – despite the high chances of facing harassment or arrest – trans people go to look out for their friends, distribute resources, and support one another.”

This first phase of the study consisted of six roundtables with over 100 trans community members who came to 1) discuss questions they wanted to be included in the survey, and 2) map the areas of the city where they see themselves as “trans community members, living and working.” The study hopes to shed light on where and how transgender people access materials that reflect the needs of trans people in physical and mental health, employment, housing, and immigration.

Read the full report from the DC Trans Coalition here.

Quick Hit: Obama Administration Taking Action Against Anti-Trans Housing Discrimination

June 27, 2011

In a recent HuffPost article, John Trasvina, Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, shares the Obama Administration’s unparalleled action seeking protections for transgender people from housing discrimination. Trasvina says:

Some LGBT individuals and families hide their identities in order to secure the apartment or house they want. That is not a price that anyone should pay in the United States of America.

While there is no consensus on the pace of full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, the Administration has been at the forefront of transgender rights. In housing policies alone, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency:

  • Is proposing the Equal Access to Housing rule that protects access to all HUD programs regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Is preparing a national study examining housing discrimination against the LGBT community.
  • Has, through a national listening series, involved LGBT people across the country in shaping their housing policy.
  • Sought feedback specifically from transgender and gender non-conforming people and their advocates.

In an NCTE statement on the new HUD policies, Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“There are so many individuals and families who rely on HUD’s programs to ensure that they have a roof over their heads and that they can make ends meet […] And yet far too often, they have encountered discriminatory landlords and regulations that make it impossible for them to have a fair deal. HUD’s strong stand against discrimination will make a concrete difference in the lives of transgender people and our families. Every American needs and deserves a home.”

Read the full blog post here.

Read NCTE’s statement on the HUD policy here.

Transgender News Roundup

June 23, 2011

Good morning! Here are a few news bits from around the country.

  • Orchestrated attacks on voting rights from ALEC and the Koch brothers also hurts the trans community.
  • From our friends at the MA Transgender Political Coalition:  76 percent of Massachusetts voters  support the states trans rights bill.
  • Boy is suspended for wearing heels and a dress to school.
  • Bay Area Reporter feature on first openly transgender trial court judge, Victoria Kolakowski.
  • District of Columbia Office of Human Rights may roll back trans housing protections

VICTORIES: Hate Crimes and Housing

October 22, 2009

The Senate, by a to vote, just passed the Defense Authorization Act, which includes the The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, by a vote of 68 to 29. The bill now moves to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Once signed, this will be the first federal law to protect transgender people. This bill marks the first positive mention of transgender people in federal law. Read NCTE’s statement on the hate crimes bill.

Yesterday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced proposed policies and a study that would address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read NCTE’s statement on HUD’s announcement.

Ending Discrimination in All its Forms

September 24, 2009

Yesterday I had the honor of meeting Congressman John Lewis when I went with 3 of his constituents–Vandy Beth Glenn, who had just testified about her experience being fired for being transgender; her attorney from Lambda Legal, Cole Thaler; and her friend, David Deriso.

It was an amazing experience to meet this incredible hero of the civil rights movement, who knows so very personally the violence that is directed at those who challenge oppression and seek basic human rights. Yesterday, he told us that he had learned long, long ago that discrimination is discrimination, and that all of its forms are wrong.

This is, of course, a powerful statement, but even more moving coming from him, and in the midst of a conversation about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the challenges that transgender people face. He told us that he would fight discrimination as long as he had breath in his body.

He and his staff were warm and personal. His office felt like a safe haven for that period of time from the struggles we face, and a reminder of the role of elected officials to make our country a better, safer place for all of us. We have a long way to go, but even in the halls of power, there are sanctuaries and allies, and it is good to remember that from time to time.

Another powerful moment for me yesterday was sitting in the hearing room, listening to the testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor. I realized that I was surrounded by incredible trans advocates and allies–like Babs Caspar, Lisa Mottet, Shannon Minter and dozens of others–many of whom had been working over the last two decades to bring us to the day when we will pass employment protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

But we’re not done yet and I hope you’ll join us in doing all we can to make that day a reality.

Transitioning DC’s Homeless Shelters

June 29, 2007

All over the United States, transgender people suffer discrimination and violence when they enter homeless shelters and try to access resources for homeless people. This discrimination comes not only from other shelter residents, but also from employees and operators of such shelters. Though this is a problem everywhere, a few cities have begun to correct such problems, such as San Francisco and now Washington, DC.

Transgender people face obstacles in homeless shelters from the moment they walk in the door. Their gender is often identified based on their bodies, not on their self-identified gender. Showers and restrooms, which often have little privacy, provide an unsafe space for transgender people. Also, transgender people are harassed by shelter employees and other shelter clients, often with no recourse.

In Washington, DC, NCTE has been working with other area organizations such as the DC Trans Coalition, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Different Avenues, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, Neighbors’ Consejo, and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless to develop a curriculum to train homeless shelter employees on how to comply with the DC Human Rights Act and treat transgender residents with equality and respect. The first training will be taking place in mid-July and will include employees from shelters around the city. Though this is only a first step, it is an extremely important one in the fight for transgender equality on all fronts.