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June 2007 Newsletter
Legislative Progress Around the Country
The last few months have been very busy and seen successful passage of a number of pieces of legislation. All over the country, bills that impact the transgender community in a positive way have been moving forward. We have had the governors of four more states—Iowa, Oregon, Colorado, and Vermont—sign new non-discrimination bills which add gender identity or expression. That means that now 13 states have laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression and 20 states ban sexual orientation discrimination.
Also in the news, Iowa’s Governor Chet Culver signed an anti-bullying law that protects school children from harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. California and North Carolina got one step closer to similar victories for school safety in passing school-safety related legislation in one chamber of their legislature.
Disappointingly, we didn’t win them all. In Tennessee, a bill is moving through committee that, if passed, would have the impact of restricting LGBT youth’s access to public school student organizations such as Gay-Straight Alliances. And in Nebraska, the cornhusker state is one of the very few left in which the LGBT community is supporting an anti-discrimination bill that protects people based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. The legislature dropped this non-discrimination bill after no serious consideration begging the question of whether the inclusion of gender identity would hurt the bill.
More details on other important state legislation include:
Iowa – An amendment to the Iowa civil rights code passed extending civil rights protections and non-discrimination provisions to LGBT people in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations, and educational institutions. The bill passed the Iowa Senate 34 to 16 and the House 59 to 37, and was sent to Iowa Governor Chet Culver who signed the bill on May 25.
Oregon – The state of Oregon passed a new law prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accommodation, housing, and public education, among other things. Senate Bill 2 passed in the Oregon Senate 21 to 7 and House 35 to 25, and was signed into law by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski on May 9, 2007. This law will take effect January 1, 2008. Also attached to this bill was an amendment to the state’s hate crimes law that includes gender identity or expression, making Oregon the 11th state with a hate crimes law that includes protections for transgender people.
In Vermont, on May 22, Governor Jim Douglas signed into law a bill which amends the state’s non-discrimination policies to include “gender identity” as a protected category. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 27-1 and the House with a vote of 118-28.
Colorado – Governor Bill Ritter on May 25 signed a non-discrimination bill, prohibiting discrimination in the workplace against LGBT people. Colorado already has laws on the books that protect LGBT people from hate crimes and has a gender-neutral domestic violence law.
California – The California Senate passed SB 777, the California Student Civil Rights Act, which would bar discrimination against LGBT people in California’s public schools. This bill would apply to all California public schools, grades Kindergarten through 12th, and applies to textbooks, educational materials, and school-sponsored activities. It also mandates that instructors be trained to recognize and respond to bias-based behavior in the classrooms and on school grounds. California has had an anti-bullying law since 1999 that bars harassment on the basis of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This new bill, if passed, would further strengthen that anti-bullying law and require teachers to address issues of discrimination in the classrooms. The bill has been sent to the California Assembly for consideration.
North Carolina – The North Carolina House passed the School Violence Prevention Act 73 to 46. The School Violence Prevention Act, or H1366, prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. This is a major victory for North Carolina, since neither the House or Senate of the North Carolina General Assembly has ever passed a piece of legislation of this magnitude with explicit protections for LGBT people. It will now be sent to the Senate for approval.
New Jersey – An amendment to the Law Against Discrimination which includes “gender identity or expression” protections will go into effect on June 17, 2007. The law was passed by both houses of the state legislature and approved back in December 2006.
Tennessee – A bill requiring that parents sign a written permission slip before students are allowed to become members of or participate in student clubs in public schools moved through committee. If passed, this bill would have the impact of stifling students’ ability to join clubs by requiring parental approval. This legislation is seen has having the greatest impact on organizations like Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA).
Nebraska – The Nebraska Legislature effectively killed a piece of legislation that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. By a vote of 23-13, Nebraska Senators voted to “indefinitely postpone” the bill, which is one of the few employment non-discrimination bills before a state legislature this session which does not include gender identity or expression.
“Coming Out as Transgender”—a New Resource from NCTE and HRC
The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign recently came together in collaboration to create and publish a new resource guide entitled Coming Out as Transgender. This new guide offers advice and recommendations on how to talk with friends, family, and co-workers about being transgender.
Topics covered in the guide include terminology, myths and facts about transgender people, and issues around transitioning. The guide gives information on the coming out, such as the process of deciding to come out and live openly, how to make a coming out plan, and how to have positive coming out conversations with the people in your life. There is also a special section in the guide that specifically focuses on issues with friends and families. The new guide provides a list of helpful Internet resources.
Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said about the guide, “I wish that a resource like this had been available when I was coming out. Coming out and talking with the people in your life about being transgender is a deeply personal journey; this resource will help point the way.” According to Keisling, “While no single guide can provide anyone with everything they need for coming out as transgender, this resource will be an important starting point for a lot of people.”
Click here to download this new resource.
Largest Transgender Lobby Day a Great Success!
On May 15, 2007, the largest transgender Lobby Day ever was held in Washington, DC. This year, NCTE’s Lobby Day included an amazing 130 transgender citizen lobbyists from 30 states around the country! Lobby Day participants spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill visiting meeting with their Senate and House members and staff. In over 115 visits, participants educated their Congress members about the need to pass federal Hate Crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect transgender people nationwide—both of these bills are currently before Congress. The event was widely covered in the media, including CNN, Washington Blade, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Bay area television, and many others.
Preceding visits on the Hill, an afternoon of lobby training was held on May 14th at the Human Rights Campaign building. Mara Keisling, the executive director of NCTE, and Lisa Mottet, the Transgender Civil Rights Project Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, shared strategies on how to effectively educate members of Congress on trans issues.
That evening, NCTE held a very successful, sold out reception at the National Press Club entitled “Moving Forward Together.” At the reception, NCTE honored our allies in the movement for transgender equality. The house was packed and speakers included Dana Beyer, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Mara Keisling, Oscar De La O, and Stephen Glassman. The organizations honored included American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project; Human Rights Campaign; Log Cabin Republicans; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Pride at Work; National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers; and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
We here at NCTE would like to send out our most heartfelt thanks to all of the participants, staff members, sponsors, and volunteers who helped to organize NCTE Lobby Day 2007. Without everyone's hard work, perseverance, and assistance, the largest transgender lobby day in American history would never have been possible. Thank you!
2007 Lobby Day participants (photo credit: Renae Lupini)
NCTE Board Members Win Awards
Andy Marra and Dana Beyer Noted for their community work
The annual event, which was co-sponsored by Empire State Pride Agenda and Gay Men's Health Crisis, was held at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan.
In reflecting on the award Andy said, “It is always important to take a step back and recognize the many contributions our community has made. I'm proud to be a part of these victories and look forward to making sure that we continue to advance forward for everyone, regardless of gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.”
On June 9, 2007, NCTE Board Member Dr. Dana Beyer, will be honored at the Washington, DC Capital Pride Parade as one of six “Capital Pride Heroes”. These six individuals are being honored for their continued commitment to the LGBT community.
Dr. Beyer ran for state legislator in the Maryland Fall 2006 primary election as an openly transgender woman. Although she was not ultimately elected, Dr. Beyer amassed a significant number of votes. Dr. Beyer has since accepted the position of Senior Policy and Legislative Adviser for Health and Education to Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg of the Montgomery County Council. In this position she continues to interface with state and federal governments, gaining valuable knowledge for her next campaign.
NCTE Welcomes New Summer Interns
Patrick Paschall, Summer Intern
Andrew McBride, Summer Intern
Jaan Williams, Summer Intern
NCTE in the News
NCTE has had great visibility in broadcast and print media over the last few months. Media interviews are one of the ways NCTE educates the public about transgender issues and our ongoing progress towards for equality for all people.
In late April, Deputy Director Simon Aronoff appeared on the MSNBC documentary “Born in the Wrong Body,” which told the stories of transgender teens and the issues they face. Click to view selections from the documentary and read an article about it.
Mara is scheduled to appear on CNN’s Larry King Live on June 27th.
NCTE’s Program Manger, Justin Tanis, was quoted in Joanne Herman’s column, “Jesus, the Transgender Terminator?” an Advocate exclusive, on June 5.
© 2007 National Center for Transgender Equality