NCTE, MALDEF: President’s Administrative Relief Package Must Be LGBTQ Affirmative

August 22, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) today issued a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to provide affirmative relief for individuals who have long-term residency in the United States but may not have state recognized familial relationships with citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPR), or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) holders. The letter also requests the President to advance flexible criminal background requirements in light of the high conviction rates of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants for survival crimes such as sex work.

The letter calls for LGBT inclusion as President Obama is expected to release his administrative relief package on undocumented immigrants in the coming weeks.

LGBT advocates protest deportations in New York, NY | Photo: Julieta Salgado

LGBT advocates protest deportations in New York, NY | Photo: Julieta Salgado/GetEQUAL

“Relief for undocumented Americans should not rely on separating out supposedly ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants based on the circumstances they’ve faced and the choices they’ve made to get by–especially not when it would disproportionately exclude LGBT people,” said Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, NCTE Racial and Economic Justice Initiative Policy Advisor.

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NCTE Celebrates Historic Healthcare Enrollments at the White House Rose Garden

April 9, 2014

Last week, NCTE celebrated the historic enrollment of over 7 million Americans in the Affordable Care Act with President Obama at the White House Rose Garden. President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, gave remarks on the incredible success of the healthcare reform bill, Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare.” To date, 7.1 million Americans have enrolled in health coverage through the marketplace exchanges, surpassing the Administration’s expectations they set the previous summer.

The President expressed his excitement for the 7.1 million figure as well as for the larger implications of ACA’s success, stating : “Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health care costs is down, and that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future.”

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Although the period for 2014 open enrollment has closed, plans can still be purchased through the exchange in the event of a qualifying change in life circumstances. People who attempted to enroll by the deadline but were unable to due to technical problems with the enrollment website, or because enrollment centers were backed up will receive extensions without facing the nominal tax penalty. M​edicaid plans are also available year-round for those who qualify, and eligibility is greatly expanded in 26 states.

Learn more about your healthcare rights here.

Learn more about LGBT-specific healtcare enrollment information here.

9 Things President Obama Can Do to Address Trans Economic Inquality

January 28, 2014

Today, ahead of the annual State of the Union speech,  President Barack Obama took an important step addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage of new federal workers to $10.10, helping to ease the financial burden of more than 2 million employees. The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes this executive order and urges legislators to take action to raise wages for all low-wage workers in the United States.

However, addressing America’s deepening economic divide, especially for transgender workers who face twice the rate of unemployment as the general population, requires swift action on many other policy areas. The Center has compiled our list of 9 policy matters that the Obama Administration can address without Congressional approval that would go far in closing the economic divide of transgender Americans.

1) Sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among businesses that contract with the federal government. Doing so would protect 1 in 5 American workers from job discrimination.

2) The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter or re-enter the workforce.

3) Each federal department and independent agency should adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in its programs, activities, and funding.

4) The Department of Labor should include gender identity and sexual orientation measures in economic surveys including the Current Population Survey and the Survey on Income and Program.

5) The Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to help end sexual abuse of transgender people in jails, prisons, and police lock-ups, and ensure transgender inmates are treated safely and respectfully. Enforcement of strong PREA rules helps ensure formerly incarcerated transgender people can smoothly re-integrate into American society and find jobs.

6) President Obama should pressure House Speaker John Boehner to heed the call of a majority of Americans (80%) who support strong LGBT workplace protections by putting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.

7) Provide a path to citizenship for the estimated quarter of a million undocumented immigrants who are transgender or LGB by passing commonsense immigration reform.

8) The Department of Homeland Security should expand the use of alternatives to secure detention and end the detention of asylum-seekers, LGBT people, people with HIV, and other vulnerable groups.

9) The Department of Education should issue guidance clarifying the application of Title IX nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth, including the right of transgender students to dress, access school facilities, programs and campus housing, and otherwise be treated in accord with their gender identity in a respectful and confidential manner.


White House Policy Briefing for Trans Lobby Day Advocates

June 27, 2013

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.”

White House, John Berry Observe Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2012

Today marks the 14th observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international day of remembrance of the people lost to anti-transgender fear, discrimination, and violence. National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Today, NCTE is in solemn vigil for the transgender people we’ve lost to senseless anti-transgender violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a chilling reminder that the work we all do too often comes too late for many in our community. So, today, we reflect on the people we’ve lost. And tomorrow, we renew our commitment to ending the discrimination and violence that keeps many more of us imprisoned with fear.”

As part of Transgender Day of Remembrance, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin, along with two dozen other transgender advocates, joined the White House to discuss policies that make transgender lives safer. John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, led the group in a moment of silence to honor transgender victims of violence.

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BREAKING: New Rule Makes Trans Housing Discrimination Illegal

January 28, 2012

Today, at the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that they will issue a historic new rule strengthening housing discrimination protections for transgender people. The regulations will be published next week, and go into effect 30 days from then.

In his plenary address, HUD Secretary Donovan said:

“I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose […] If you are denying HUD housing to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, actual or perceived, you’re discriminating, you’re breaking the law, and you will be held accountable. That’s what equal access means, and that’s what this rule is going to do.”

The new rule makes several urgently needed changes to current federal housing and housing-related programs including: prohibiting owners and operators of federally-funded or federally-insured housing, as well as lenders offering federally-insured mortgages from discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation;and clarifying the definition of “family” to ensure that LGBT families are not excluded from HUD programs.

According to Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE Policy Counsel, “this is a major and urgently needed advancement in basic protections for transgender people. NCTE is calling on other federal departments to follow HUD’s common-sense approach and use existing legal authority to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the programs they fund and administer. We applaud Secretary Donovan and the Obama Administration for this much needed relief for transgender people.”

Mara Keisling added “We are very pleased that, just as he said at NCTE’s Awards Ceremony in November, HUD has clearly listened to our concerns with earlier drafts of the regulations and made them even stronger.”

In announcing the draft rules early last year, HUD cited The National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, showing that 19% of transgender and gender non-conforming people had been refused a home or apartment and 11% had been evicted because of their gender identity or expression. The study also showed that 19% of transgender people have been homeless at some point in their lives, and 29% of those had been turned away from homeless shelters and a majority were harassed when they could get in to a shelter.

NCTE Brief Obama Administration Officials On Anti-Transgender Violence

November 17, 2011

On Wednesday, transgender and LGBT anti-violence advocates met with Obama Administration officials to offer strategies for addressing the epidemic of violence against transgender people. Recognizing that violence is an especially horrific reality in so many transgender people’s lives, the Administration heard a broad range of policy ideas from the National Center for Transgender Equality and eight other organizations.

The meeting at the White House was facilitated by NCTE’s Executive Director and the team included, among others, Gwendolyn Smith, the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Smith shared with the Administration real life stories of transgender people who have faced violence.

NCTE’s groundbreaking National Transgender Discrimination Survey released with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that 26 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people have been assaulted because of their gender identity/expression. Ten percent reported experiencing sexual assault because they are transgender.

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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: