New York State DOCCS: Solitary Confinement Isn’t Protection. It’s Torture.

August 11, 2014

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) runs state correctional facilities across the state of New York—facilities, a Solitary Watch investigation found, where transgender women are regularly placed in solitary confinement and subjected to sexual assault.

Solitary confinement

Photo: Vicki Watkins

NCTE is one of several organizations that signed a letter today to Anthony Annucci, the Acting Commissioner of DOCCS. The letter, which was also signed by our colleagues at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Trans Women of Color Collective, encourages Annucci to take swift action to end the routine practice of isolating incarcerated transgender people.

Transgender women in New York are automatically housed in correctional facilities for men, and the practice of housing them in solitary confinement is often justified with references to the safety of the prisoner. However, as the Solitary Watch report makes clear, these individuals are in fact at greater risk of harm, including sexual violence as well as the added toll of extreme isolation.

Our letter urges DOCCS to take specific actions to protect incarcerated transgender people and ensure​ compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which was passed in 2003. For more information, please read NCTE’s guide to LGBT people and PREA.

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WIN: NCTE Celebrates Failure of Attempt to Repeal Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

August 4, 2014

Mayor-Annise-Parker

Houston, TX  Mayor Annise Parker held a press conference today to announce that a petition effort to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) has failed to gather the required amount of signatures. This victory comes after a similar victory earlier this year in Maryland, where opponents of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act also failed to gather enough signatures for a repeal effort of this statewide bill.

Assuming any court appeal fails, Houston will no longer be the largest U.S. city without explicit anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. The National Center for Transgender Equality congratulates local Houston advocates and celebrates this string of victories. People’s basic rights against discrimination should never be put up for a public vote. NCTE will continue to press for nationwide protections for transgender people.


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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NCTE Trains Job Centers Throughout the U.S. on Serving Transgender Job Seekers

May 19, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) recently trained staff from Job Centers on how to make their services transgender friendly and transgender competent.

What is a Job Center? State and local governments, with U.S. Department of Labor funding, run these Job Centers all over the United States where people can get help with finding and applying for jobs and getting job training, which is often free.  Known sometimes as One-Stop Centers or Career Centers, they are all designed to help people get work. There are nearly 3000 centers throughout the U.S.; you can find one in your area here.

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

Photo Credit: Tim Hawk/South Jersey Times

NCTE was invited by the Department of Labor to give a presentation to officials from Job Centers on how to appropriately, respectfully and competently serve transgender job-seekers. Our curriculum included basic transgender terminology and cultural competency, and information about how transgender people are often locked out of the traditional workforce due to discrimination. We covered why trans people may have gaps in employment or education, why many have criminal records from survival work they have done on the streets, and how to work around these issues when trying to assist a transgender job-seeker to get employed.

Though there is much to be done, this training was a great first step with the Job Center system. NCTE has been pushing for Department of Labor to create a clear policy that all Job Centers and their affiliated training programs must not discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

Anyone who encounters discrimination in a job center should file a complaint. For more information on how to file a complaint, download NCTE’s resource on Employment Discrimination and Transgender People.