President Obama Honors Five Year Anniv. of Hate Crimes Law

November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 marked the fifth year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Lauded by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates and racial justice organizations, and signed into law by President Obama, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strengthened law enforcement’s ability to track, respond, and combat bias-related crimes on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and national origin.

The White House convened advocates and officials to celebrate the law’s impact. At the event, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling addressed the guests. “When the Mathew Shepherd Hate Crime Prevention Act passed five years ago,” Keisling said,”it was the first time in American history that Congress had acted in a positive and productive way for transgender people. That in itself is a significant victory and benefit. Working to pass the Act provided a great opportunity for us to educate Congress about transgender people and the violence we face. And implementation has been a similar opportunity to educate law enforcement.”

Credit: White House

Photo Credit: White House

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Dept. of Justice Unveils Transgender Law Enforcement Training

March 28, 2014

Yesterday, US Department of Justice (DOJ) Associate Attorney General Tony West launched the Transgender Law Enforcement Training, a first-of-its kind cultural competency training by a federal agency for local law enforcement.

With input from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and other local and national organizations, the new training will help local authorities improve their interactions with transgender people. Ultimately, the training aims to prevent mistreatment and restore trust between police officers and transgender people who have often faced profiling and violence from law enforcement.

Advocates at the Dept. of Justice Unveiling of the Transgender Law Enforcement Training

Photo: Ruby Corado

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Award Winning Web Series Addresses Unsolved Murders of Trans People

October 16, 2013

This week, the award winning web series NoMoreDownLow TV highlighted the horrifyingly high rate of violence that occurs against LGBT people of color and the large number of murders that remain unsolved. The segment featured the stories of three African American transgender women who were brutally murdered in major cities across the U.S.

Deoni Jones was 23 years old when she was fatally stabbed in the District of Columbia last year. In the video, Deoni’s parents speak out about her murder and about their efforts to seek justice for their daughter. Their persistence helped bring about the Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013, which allows the District of Columbia to issue a new birth certificate designating a new gender, allows the original certificate to be sealed when a new certificate is issued, and eliminates the requirement that name changes be published in a newspaper.

In August of this year, 21 year-old Islan Nettles was brutally assaulted while walking with friends in Harlem, NY and later died of her injuries. That same month, 32 year-old Dominique Newburn was beaten to death in her own home in San Bernadino, California. In all three of these cases, none of the perpetrators have yet been convicted of any crime.

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NCTE Condemns Violence in Oak Creek, WI and Joplin, MO

August 9, 2012

NCTE joins the National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and nearly two dozen other national LGBT organizations in condemning the shooting at the Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, WI and the arson at a mosque in Joplin, MO.

Transgender people and particularly transgender people of color often experience similar kinds of violence:

The LGBTQ communities we work with and serve are no strangers to violence in our midst. We know our communities are threatened on a daily basis by the many faces of hate and intolerance- not just because of our sexuality or gender identity, but because of our race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ability, and too many other facets of our identities. We stand in solidarity against all forms of violence, as well as the hate and intolerance that all too often propagate it.

Read the full statement below.

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NCTE Cancels May 1 Chicago Area Reception Standing in Solidarity with Justice4Paige

April 25, 2012

Due to the tragic April 16th murder of 23-year-old Paige Clay, a Chicago-area transgender women whose death has left us all in shock and demanding justice from the authorities, NCTE has cancelled its May 1 event in order to support a community response to Paige’s murder.

A community event called Justice for Paige has been organized for Tuesday evening. NCTE encourages our friends to attend.

As one of the Nation’s leading trans social justice organizations, we understand how effective it can be when our community joins together. Thank you for your ongoing support of our work. We hope to reschedule our Chicagoland reception sometime in the near future. Until then, we invite you to join NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling, at Justice for Paige or to learn how you can support NCTE’s work to ensure trans equality visit:

Remembering Our Dead

November 20, 2011

Unquestionably, the most solemn day for transgender people in the U.S. is the Transgender Day of Remembrance which is commemorated every November 20, throughout the United State and worldwide. On this day, we memorialize the many transgender people who have lost their lives to hate-based violence. It has been estimated that one trans person per month on average is killed in the United States in a hate crime murder just for being transgender.

Most people I suppose have no idea that transgender people in the United States face obscenely elevated levels of violence compared to non-transgender Americans. The epidemic of school bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students has received much needed attention lately. That’s great and helping our children should be a priority. But we also face higher rates of sexual assaults, domestic violence, assault by police and hate violence—attacks and frequently murder just because of who we are.

The recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that 26 percent of trans people in our sample had faced physical attack at some point for being transgender and ten percent experienced sexual assault. In Washington, DC alone there have been 25 anti-transgender attacks, including two murders, reported to the police just since July, according to the DC Trans Coalition.

All this violence is a well-known, deeply felt and, too often, personally experienced reality for the transgender people in your life—your trans children, coworkers and neighbors.

Violence against trans people is such a public health and safety issue that it is finally getting attention from the federal government. This Wednesday, with a small group of transgender and LGBT anti-violence advocates, we briefed White House officials on strategies for addressing the problem.

Fortunately, there is much the federal government can do: count transgender people in crime and health surveys, implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act recommendations (making sure they apply to immigration detention as well), insure that federal anti-violence programs take transgender people into account, and consider trans people when addressing problems of violence against women, youth, people of color, homeless people and immigrants. We provided the administration with over twenty common sense policies we desperately need to have implemented.

This week too, NCTE released a model school district policy with our partners at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to help schools better incorporate the increasing number of transgender students coming out in America’s schools. As a first-of-its-kind resource, we hope to better prepare schools to support trans students, end bullying and establish procedures that allow young trans people to grow up as safe, whole people..

Trans people have far too many murder victims to commemorate on this Day of Remembrance. There is some solace and hope to be had in seeing that every year, more and more good people who are not transgender are taking note of this crisis, attending Day of Remembrance events and pitching in to help end it.

High rates of violence in 2009

July 16, 2010

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) released its report about anti-LGBT violence in 2009 yesterday. Last year’s figures show the second highest murder rates of those recorded in the past decade; half of those killed were transgender women and half were gay men. Race and poverty played significant roles in the targeting of those murdered; 79% of the anti-LGBT were of people of color.

And, alarmingly, due to budget cuts during the recession, the programs across the country that specialize in services to LGBT victims of violence had to cut their staffs by 56%. There are just fewer people to take the reports and to provide services that are sensitive to the needs of those who were targeted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Disturbingly, incidents by the police of bias-motivated misconduct were on the rise from the previous year and included entrapment, raids and unjustified arrest. In 6% of the incidents reported for last year, the offenders were police officers. Among the victims who reported the crime to the police, less than half said that the police were courteous in taking the report, with 18% reporting some kind of verbal abuse and 5% reporting physical abuse by the police while reporting an incident. The police arrested an offender in 25% of the incidents for which a police report was filed.

Also troubling is the fact that 10% of the victims were harassed or abused by an employer or co-worker and 12% experienced harassment or abuse by a landlord, tenant or neighbor. Even at work and at home, LGBT people are not safe from discrimination and danger. Among the recommendations in the report is the need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to address workplace discrimination that can lead to violence.

The numbers in the study are yet another reminder of the need to work vigilantly to decrease violence in our country, especially the terror of crimes that are motivated by bias. It also reminds us to hold our government agencies responsible for dealing with hate crimes accountable to fulfill their mandates—including prevention programs, fair and timely investigation of crimes, and respectful and equal services for those who have victimized. The police must be held responsible for stopping the perpetrators in their own midst and to fulfill their obligations to protect people from violence and investigate when it occurs.

NCTE, along with a broad coalition of national groups that work on hate crimes, is continuing in dialogue with the Department of Justice, making recommendations to training materials, data collection processes, and more. Those in the Civil Rights Divisions of the DOJ and the FBI have sought out the input of groups who are impacted by violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation and we applaud them for that.  NCTE, along with allied groups, led a training for one branch of the DOJ in which we focused specifically on the ways in which gender identity, sexual orientation, racism, economics and other factors work together to place people at very significant risk of violence.  We will continue to work with the Department calling for the necessary education that is so urgently needed by local law enforcement.

Working with the DOJ and reading the NCAVP reports are challenging and immerse us in the incredible violence that is the physical expression of the prejudice and hatred towards LGBT people. But we can only solve problems that we understand.  Transgender people’s bodies cannot and must not remain the places on which others work out their hatred.  Every trans person—every person—deserves the right to live in this world freely and safely.

In the face of violence, we must continue every day to say that it is wrong, it will never be right and it must end. NCTE thanks the NCAVP for their ongoing work to address the unique needs of LGBT people who have faced violence and for their efforts to fill the gaps in urgently needed data about hate crimes in this country.

What we’ve been up to this week

June 18, 2010

Like most weeks, NCTE’s staff and interns have been involved with a wide variety of projects and policy areas. We thought we’d just give you a quick snapshot of what we’ve been working on this week; just the highlights really, among many tasks.

Mara  Keisling, our Executive Director, spent a significant amount of time on Capitol Hill, as usual, continuing to secure votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and working closely with our partners on this effort. She also did work preparing for the Veterans Administration’s upcoming release of a new policy to ensure appropriate health care for transgender veterans. Mara also gave several interviews on an act of discrimination at a Denny’s restaurant in Maine and a professor in Chicago who is transitioning on the job. In addition, Mara oversees all of the policy work being done by other staff members.

Mul Kim, our Health Policy Counsel, worked with various LGBT organizations to ensure that the regulations being promulgated to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are LGBT inclusive. Additionally, she and Mara collaborated with other organizations on efforts to make changes to the Family Medical Leave Act so that it can be used by LGBT individuals during times of family emergencies or personal health issues.

Harper Jean Tobin, our Policy Counsel, did extensive work this week finalizing a memo that we are sending with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to help inform their training of screeners so that they can more knowledgeably and respectfully treat transgender passengers at airports across the country. She also continued her work on increasing safety and respect for transgender prisoners with a meeting on the Prison Rape Elimination Act and was part of our work with the Social Security Administration (SSA) about gender markers recorded by the SSA.

Justin Tanis, who does Communications and Education, focused this week on finalizing information that the Department of Justice has requested about gender identity as part of their implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will include training for law enforcement officers. Justin has been helping lead the Gender Identity Working Group that is part of the Hate Crimes Coalition. He also reworked the resource section of our website to make it more user-friendly, finished up the graphics on our annual report, spoke with several reporters writing about transgender issues, and kept our tweets and Facebook updates coming.

Stephanie White, our Managing Director, is responsible for keeping the doors open and the organization moving forward. Her work this week focused on fundraising efforts, as she had conversations with two current funders, submitted two letters of interest  and sent in a proposal for funding. She is also working on a project to increase efficiency and collaboration among LGBT groups in DC by exploring the possibility of co-locating office spaces and sharing resources like IT support, internet service, phone service, administrative support, and other overhead expenses.  Her adorable 7 ½ week old baby, Oliver, also spent a little time in the office today providing everyone the opportunity to make silly faces and enjoy his presence.

Jazmin Sutherlin, our Administrative Assistant, scheduled trainings and interviews with the media for Mara, including an appearance next week on In the Life. She also answered the calls that came into the office, worked with our tech support people and made sure that everything ran smoothly.  Jazmin performed last weekend as part of DC’s pride celebrations.

Our three interns were busy too. Tonei Glavinic is back with us this summer, this time working to create a wiki and other resources for transgender students to share about their experiences on campus. This week zie spoke with advisors at American University to gather information about categories to include and also worked with our coalition partners about educating Congress on ENDA.

Rebekah Fasel, one of our legal interns, worked on memos. One outlines Federal Conscious Clause laws and how they may relate to transgender people’s access to health care, while a second looks at current and suggested policy for transgender students, including their rights to be free from sex discrimination under Title IX.  She also worked on an additional memo on problems in accessing health care for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients

We welcomed Eliot Kennedy, also a legal intern, who started on Wednesday. Eliot is already hard at work doing research on trends in medical care use by low-income transgender populations.

There’s just a quick glimpse at what we’re up to …