Trans News Roundup

July 11, 2011

Some news from across the country:

  • Vermont passes two bills establishing fair gender marker change policies and creating gender-neutral restrooms in state buildings.
  • Openly trans runway model, Isis King, makes a comeback on America’s Next Top Model.

NCTE at the Campus Progress National Conference: a New Direction for the LGBT Movement?

July 8, 2011

Mara Keisling at CPNC11Photo Credits: Campus Progress

Wednesday July 6th, I attended the 2011 Campus Progress National Conference with Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. The Conference gathered over 1000 young people to learn and share perspectives on social justice and political change.  Mara spoke at a panel entitled “The Current State of LGBT Movements,” alongside Trina Olson, Senior Training Manager at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Kenyon Farrow, member of the executive committee for the Center for Gay & Lesbian Studies and former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice.

What is the current state of LGBT movements? Not well, says the panelists. Despite recent high-profile victories such as marriage equality in New York, there is reason to be concerned about the direction of the movement as a whole. There was universal agreement among the panelists that the money funding marriage equality efforts is drying up. Mara was straightforward: there is simply too much focus on this particular issue. Trina Olson and Kenyon Farrow expressed similar beliefs, referencing the many different queer issues that still wait to be addressed. Kenyon pointed out that the image of the white gay person is becoming “normalized” while the queer community continues to divide itself along race and class lines. Mara also emphasized this point, saying, “If you are not doing racial justice work, you are not doing queer work, or at least you are not doing it well.”

Listening to the panelists, it was easy to agree with what they were saying. If you turn to any major news source, the LGBT issue that is getting real coverage is same-sex marriage. But studies such as Injustice at Every Turn or GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey demonstrate that there many queer people who still fight for access to basic rights and humane treatment.

View more pictures of the conference here.

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: Changing Driver’s License Gender Markers, Coming Soon?

July 7, 2011

The current edition of MOVE, a magazine for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), includes extensive coverage of issues transgender people face with identification cards. The article “Transgender Drivers: New Norms in Customer Service,” encourages DMV staff in all states to reflect on their treatment of transgender people and sets a positive tone for transgender people in their service offices:

The notion that a person believes the sex assigned at birth is an inadequate description or application of their gender may conflict with the DMV staffs’ personal, political or religious beliefs. As public servants, personal feelings or bias cannot interfere with quality customer service extended to those we serve. When there are fewer facts known and agreed upon, there is greater controversy; where there are more facts known and agreed upon, controversy diminishes. Perhaps no greater place is this felt than in the transgender community.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is pleased by AAMVA’s willingness to learn and teach on transgender issues. In early August, NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will join AAMVA and motor vehicle agencies from around the country to review best practices around driver’s license gender change policies.

This movement comes on the heels of the U.S. State Department’s recent update to their gender marker change policies for passports and Consular Reports of Births Abroad. Over recent years, many states have already taken action on gender marker changes, and if other DMV’s pursue these policy changes, it may mark a turning point for the security and privacy of transgender people.

Read the full MOVE magazine here. The Article begins on page 38.

Gender Rights Maryland Launches to Fight for Transgender Equality

July 7, 2011

The next stage in the fight for transgender civil rights in Maryland began recently with the formation of Gender Rights Maryland. The organization launched on June 23rd with the goal to pass state legislation protecting transgender people.

Dana Beyer, volunteer executive director of GRM and board member of NCTE, spoke in an interview with the Washington Blade about what seems to be a strong beginning for the new group: “There was a nice broad spectrum of people there and it was very inspiring. There was definitely a sense that this was a historic event. There’s never been a trans-focused politically directed organization in Maryland before.”

The formation of Gender Rights Maryland comes at an important time. A recent bill aimed at ending trans discrimination in Maryland failed by only one vote, and the beating of a young transgender woman in a Baltimore McDonalds has shown our country the tragic consequences of transphobia. This is a time when a strong push could ensure the increased protection of transgender people and the furthering of the movement as a whole.

Read the full story here.

From Jennifer Boylan: “What Trans Activists Can Learn from New York”

July 7, 2011

The recent passage of the same-sex marriage bill in New York has set of celebrations across the country. However, the victory has also shown the many ways in which trans people still lag behind in the struggle for equal rights. It is easy to be critical of an LGBT movement that does not always fully consider the T, but we must not fall into the habit of thinking that there is nothing the transgender movement can do for itself.

This is the subject of a recent blog post by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a trans-identified professor and a prolific author. Through careful analysis Boylan describes some of the key factors that helped pass the New York same-sex marriage bill, and how these factors can be applied to the transgender movement. The article includes a discussion on the progress of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), including the work NCTE has been doing to create a non-partisan base of support for the bill.

You can read the article here.

NCTE Board Member, Marisa Richmond, Joins White House for LGBT Pride Reception

July 1, 2011

NCTE Board Member, Marisa Richmond, and NCTE Policy Counsel, Harper Jean Tobin, were among the 300+ LGBT local and statewide leaders who joined President Obama and Vice President Biden for the Pride Month reception on Wednesday, July 29, 2011. Richmond was also among a few invited to meet President Obama before he delivered his speech. Richmond told NCTE:

It was a real honor and privilege to attend the reception, especially since I was the only transgender person who was given personal time to meet the President. I was lucky to express the appreciation of the transgender community for all that he has done to extend the rights of transgender persons across this country.

Like President Obama’s speech in New York City, he strongly advocated for the end of discrimination against everybody, including transgender people:

You’re Americans who want this country to prosper. So those are your fights, too. And the fact is these are hard days for America. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to, not only on ending discrimination; we’ve got a lot of work to do to live up to the ideals on which we were founded, and to preserve the American Dream in our time -– for everybody, whether they’re gay or straight or lesbian or transgender.

Watch President Obama’s remarks: