Monday, November 7, 2016
New Protections for Trans Survivors of Family, Partner Violence
This week the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published updated rules to make support more accessible for all survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence. The rules, which govern more than 2,600 programs nationwide funded under the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), help protect survivors and lower barriers to help in a number of ways, including requiring that transgender survivors be treated consistent with their gender identity when accessing shelter and other services.
The FVPSA rules aim to eliminate barriers to getting help for survivors, prohibiting programs from making services conditional on sobriety or criminal background checks, ensuring services are voluntary and confidential, requiring programs make plans for assisting underserved populations, and prohibiting discrimination against LGBT survivors.
Mirroring other recent federal rules and court rulings, the FVPSA rules interpret FVPSA’s ban on sex discrimination in programs for survivors as including gender identity discrimination. The rule therefore requires programs to respect each survivor’s gender identity in access to shelter and other programs. Finally, the rule provides that while some parts of a program can be sex-segregated if there is a compelling reason for doing so, all survivors and their children must have access to comparable services and supports regardless of gender.
The National Center for Transgender Equality joined the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, FORGE, and many others in advocating for these important protections. For the last three years NCTE participated with many partners in an HHS-funded project led by NCAVP and the Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse to develop research and recommendations on addressing domestic violence in LGBT communities. Following up on this effort, HHS recently awarded a five-year grant for an LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence.
If you have experienced discrimination in accessing support services as a survivor of violence, or anywhere else, please see NCTE's Know Your Rights resources.