On this page:

Obama administration supports LGBT rights worldwide

Trans Fedeeral Employees: A Guide for Your Workplace Rights

Release of Latino/a trans factsheet

World AIDS Day

Barney Frank retires

White House hosts meeting on anti-trans violence

Release of model school district policy

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to keynote 8th Anniversary Awards Ceremony

Announcing Our 8th Anniversary Award Honorees: Brian Bond and Donna Cartwright

Factsheet on black trans discrimination released

SSA stops issuing gender "no match" letters

Coming out may lead to trans servicemembers' discharge

HHS issues guidance to protect hospital visitation rights

Guide for Shelters and Transgender Evacuees

New Airport Security Technique Worries NCTE

Medicare Has You Covered

Court upholds a trans inmate's right to medical care

Trans people cannot serve openly after DADT

TSA Body Imaging Changes Still Put Transgender People at Risk

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Unveils Plan for Transgender Inclusive Research

Policy Brief: Birth Certificate Gender Markers

Policy Brief: Three Social Security Policies Worth Changing

 

 

News 2011

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Obama Administration Ups its Support of Human Rights for LGBT People Worldwide

NCTE Applauds Secretary Clinton Speech and White House Commitment

Washington, D.C. - In response to Secretary Clinton's speech at the United Nations calling for global support of basic LGBT human rights, and President Obama's Memorandum to federal agencies abroad, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

Secretary Clinton spoke about LGBT rights at the UN in Geneva and expressed a strong U.S. position in support of respect and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide, making a case that ensuring our human rights is a basic responsibility of the United States and the world. Concurrently, President Obama released a Presidential Memorandum directing all federal agencies abroad to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people in U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance work.The National Center for Transgender Equality applauds their continued leadership in this area.

For more information or to speak to Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 /vvillano@transequality.org.

Trans Federal Employees: A Guide for Your Workplace Rights

If you are a transgender federal employee, you’ve no doubt heard about the recent victories that make your job more secure and more fair. Today, we released a guide called "Transgender Federal Employees: Your Workplace Rights" for understanding your rights.

With about 2 million civilian employees, the US government is the nation’s largest employer. And since Barack Obama began his presidency, trans federal workers now enjoy strong workplace protections, and benefit from government-wide guidance on workplace transition issues. NCTE has worked very hard and successfully to move this along.

Read more about the guide here.

Download the guide here.


New analysis shows startling levels of discrimination against Latino/a transgender people

Download the report in English and in Spanish

Spanish language release below.

Washington, D.C. Latino and Latina transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people according to a new analysis released today, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Latino/a Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

This report by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is a supplement to the groundbreaking national study, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was published in February and revealed widespread discrimination experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people across the board.

A key finding of the original report was that even given the unconscionable levels of discrimination against all transgender people in the U.S., people of color including Latinos/as experienced heightened levels of discrimination and had worse outcomes than the sample overall. Additionally, the findings reveal that immigration status also plays a role in these outcomes with non-citizen Latino/a respondents often reporting even worse experiences.

"This study shows how devastating multiple discrimination is for Latino and Latina transgender people," says LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes. "We are committed to ensuring that all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation and gender identity are respected and treated fairly. We call upon other Latino groups to join us as we fight for the right of transgender people to live without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence. We will not stand idly by in a society where equality is not within everyone's reach."

Among the key findings from the report:

  •  Latino/a transgender people had a very high unemployment rate at 20 percent, higher than the overall transgender sample (14 percent) and  nearly three times the rate of the general population at the time the survey was fielded (7 percent).
  • Latino/a transgender people often live in extreme poverty with 28 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. This is nearly double the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), over five times the general Latino/a population rate (5 percent), and seven times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent). The rate for Latino/a non-citizen respondents was 43 percent.  
  • Latino/a transgender people were affected by HIV in devastating numbers. One in twelve Latino/a respondents were HIV-positive and an additional 10 percent reported that they did not know their status.  
  • Forty-seven percent of Latino/a respondents reported having attempted suicide.  

"This report is a critical call to action," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The numbers make clear the way that racism, anti-immigrant and anti-transgender bias all work together, often with devastating results in the lives of Latino and Latina transgender people. We must ensure that we continue to work toward an LGBT movement that prioritizes immigration, racial and economic justice."  

Also among the findings:

  • Latino/a respondents who attended school as transgender people reported alarming rates of harassment (77 percent), physical assault (36 percent), and sexual assault (13 percent) in K-12; harassment was so severe that it led 21 percent to leave school. Nine percent were also expelled due to bias.
  • Twenty-seven percent of Latino/a respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, nearly four times the rate of the general U.S. population (7.4 percent).  
  • Twenty-three percent of Latino/a transgender people reported being refused medical care due to bias.  

"This report paints a devastating picture of the treatment of our Latino and Latina transgender brothers and sisters who, on a daily basis, endure extreme poverty, unemployment and discrimination just to live out their full lives," says Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "We have long known that race and citizenship status have a very real impact on transgender people. And for the first time, we can identify in specific terms, what these painful realities are. Documented or not, these numbers tell us that the LGBT movement must have an immigrant-inclusive agenda."

For more information or to speak to Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Nuevo estudio presenta dramáticos niveles de discriminación en contra de las personas transgéneros latinas

Baje el reporte en Inglés aquí y en Español aquí.

Washington, D.C. - Las personas transgéneros y que no conforman el género latinas sufren de los más altos niveles de discriminación en comparación con toda la población transgénero de acuerdo a un nuevo estudio publicado hoy, Injusticia a cada paso: Un vistazo a Latinas/os encuestadas/os en la encuesta nacional sobre discriminación de personas transgéneros. 

Este reporte por el National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), el National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, y la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC) es un suplemento al estudio nacional sin precedentes, Injusticia a cada paso: un reporte de la encuesta nacional sobre discriminación de personastransgéneros, que fue publicado en febrero y que reveló grandes niveles de discriminación en todas las áreas en contra de las personas transgéneros y que no conforman el género. 

Un hallazgo importante del estudio original fue que aún con los niveles desmedidos de discriminación en contra de toda la población transgénero, las personas transgéneros Latinas experimentaron mayor y peor discriminación que la muestra en su totalidad. Además, los hallazgos encontraron que el status inmigratorio también tiene un rol que empeora la situación para los/as encuestados/as que no son ciudadanos/as.

"Este estudio demuestra cuán devastador es la discriminación múltiple en contra de las personas transgéneros latinas", dijo Brent Wilkes, director ejecutivo de LULAC. "Estamos comprometidos con asegurar que todas las personas, independientemente de su raza, orientación sexual e identidad de género, sean respetadas y tratadas justamente. Hacemos un llamado a otros grupos latinos para que se unan en esta lucha por el derecho de las personas transgéneros a vivir libre de discriminación, hostigamiento o violencia. No nos mantendremos de brazos cruzados en una sociedad en la cual la igualdad no esté al alcance de todos y todas". 

Algunos de los hallazgos más importantes del estudio incluyen:

  • La gente transgénero latina/o demostró un índice de desempleo muy alto en el 20 porciento, más alto que la muestra total de transgéneros (el 14 porciento) y casi tres veces más que el índice de la población en general en el momento que esta encuesta fue tomada (el 7 porciento).
  • La gente transgénero latina/o a menudo vive en pobreza extrema con el 28% reportando una tasa de ingresos de menos $10,000 anuales. Esto es casi el doble para la gente transgénero de todas las razas (el 15 porciento), cinco veces mayor a la tasa general de la población latina (el 5 porciento), y siete veces la tasa general de la población latina de los EE.UU. (el 4 porciento). La tasa para encuestadas/os inmigrantes latinas/os fue el 43 porciento.
  • La gente transgénero latina/o tiene tasas devastadoras de ser positiva/o al VIH. Casi uno/a de cada diez de las personas latinas/os que respondieron dijeron ser VIH-positiva/o y adicionalmente el 10 porciento divulgó que no sabíansu estatus.
  • El cuarenta y siete porciento de encuestadas/os latinas/os divulgó haber  atentado el suicidio.

"Este reporte es un crítico llamado a la acción", dijo Rea Carey, directora ejecutiva del National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Los números demuestran claramente la manera en que el racismo y el prejuicio en contra de los inmigrantes y las personas transgéneros se unen con resultados devastadores en las vidas de las personas transgéneros latinas. Tenemos que asegurarnos de continuar trabajando por un movimiento que le dé prioridad a la justicia inmigratoria, racial y económica".

Otros hallazgos incluyen:

  • Las personas encuestadas/os latinas/os que fueron a la escuela como transgénero divulgaron índices alarmantes de hostigamiento (el 77 porciento), de asalto físico (el 36 porciento), y de asalto sexual (el 13 porciento) en K-12; el hostigamiento fue tan severo que resultó en que un 21 porciento dejó de ir a la escuela. También el nueve porciento fue expulsada/o debido al prejuicio.
  • El veintisiete porciento de encuestadas/os latinas/os dijeron que habían experimentado falta de vivienda en un cierto punto en sus vidas, casi cuatro veces más que el índice de la población general de los EE.UU. (7.4 porciento).
  • El veintitrés porciento de las personas transgéneros latinas/os divulgaron el ser negadas/os la asistencia médica debido al prejuicio.

"Este reporte pinta un cuadro devastador en el trato que reciben nuestros hermanos y hermanas transgéneros latinos, quienes a diario enfrentan la pobreza, el desempleo y la discriminación al tartar de vivir sus vidas plenas", dijo Mara Keisling, directora ejecutiva del National Center for Transgender Equality. "Hemos sabido por mucho tiempo que la raza y el status de ciudadanía tienen un impacto real en las vidas de las personas trasnsgéneros. Y por primera vez, podemos identificar en términos específicos, cuáles son estas dolorosas realidades. Documentados o no, estos números nos dicen que el movimiento LGBT tiene que tener una agenda inclusiva de la lucha por la reforma inmigratoria".  


NCTE's World AIDS Day Statement; Trans People Face Dire Risk

Washington, D.C. - As we remember loved ones - living and dead - who have been touched by HIV and AIDS, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

"For transgender people, World AIDS Day is a time for both quiet reflection and focused action. The truth is sobering--trans people have contracted HIV at rates four times the national average, with rates especially high among trans women and trans people of color. This epidemic, made worse by harassment, violence and unemployment, spells the tragic loss of trans people around the world.

We must put an end to this crisis. Part of that is directing health research and resources to trans people. But the other part--the important part--is fixing the conditions that force trans people into unhealthy outcomes."

Keisling continued, "The National HIV/AIDS strategy (NAHS), for the first time, ushered in coordinated efforts to address this problem. Trans health experts were part of the team that developed this strategy, and because of that, trans people are among the communities that the NAHS has targeted for research and support."

FAST FACTS: HIV RATES AMONG TRANSGENDER AMERICANS

In NCTE's groundbreaking National Transgender Discrimination Survey,conducted with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, our sample of nearly 6,500 trans people reported a 2.6 percent HIV infection rate, over four times the rate of the general adult population (.6 percent). An additional 8 percent did not know their status. HIV infection rates increased substantially for transgender people of color:

Race

Trans Respondents

General Population

African Americans

25%

2.4%

Latino/as

11%

.O8%

American Indians

7%

<1%

Asian Americans

3.7%

.01%

Rates of HIV infection were greatly exacerbated by other social and economic factors including education, violence, income, employment, citizenship status, and gender:

  • 13.5% among those without a high-school diploma
  • 10% among those who had been sexually assaulted due to bias for being trans
  • 6.4% among those with household incomes below $10,000
  • 4.6% among those who lost a job due to bias for being trans
  • 4.7% among those who are unemployed
  • 8% among trans documented non-citizens, and 7% among trans undocumented people, compared to 2.4% infection rate among U.S. Citizens
  • 4.3% among MTF trans respondents, compared to 0.51% among FTM respondents

For more information about the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, or to speak to Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


NCTE's Statement on Congressman Barney Frank's Retirement Announcement

Washington, D.C. - In response to news of Congressman Barney Frank's retirement announcement, NCTE's Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

"While the relationship between Congressman Frank and transgender people has not always been smooth, the truth is that he has pushed very hard for trans rights in Congress and the administration over the last few years.

Social justice work is largely about winning people to our side. As they become stronger allies, we have a moral and common sense obligation to embrace them and acknowledge their good work.

The effort and influence he has exerted for trans people has mattered and has moved us down the field. It will be somewhat harder to advance our cause in Congress with the Congressman gone, but justice will be won for trans, gay and bi people and Congressman Frank will have been a very important part of that."

For more information or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Transgender and LGBT Anti-Violence Advocates Brief Administration on Epidemic of Violence

Washington, D.C. - 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.

According to Mara Keisling, "Meeting with the White House at all, especially the week prior to Transgender Day of Remembrance, says a lot about the President's commitment to making America safer and better for transgender people."

Topics covered included crime data collection, cultural competency for law enforcement and funding issues, as well as insuring that federal and federally-funded anti-violence programs and processes are transgender-inclusive. Special focus was given to violence against youth, homeless trans people and trans women.

Keisling continued, "So many kinds of violence are epidemic for transgender people: hate violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, school bullying, and violence by police. And though certain categories of trans people are more likely to face violence, especially people of color, working class people, young people, women and immigrants, all demographic categories of trans people are more likely to be victims than non-trans people."

NCTE and our allies will continue to push the Administration to address the violence that is such a part of transgender lives.

For more information or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


GLSEN and NCTE Jointly Release Model School Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth

Washington, D.C. - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) today jointly announced the launch of their groundbreaking Model District Policy for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.

The first-ever national policy resource co-authored by GLSEN and NCTE offers solutions for school districts to incorporate into existing policies and procedures that create safer and respectful school environments for all students regardless of their gender identity or gender expression.

Data from GLSEN's Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools revealed that two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed 

their gender (65%). The study also found that transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment had significantly lower GPAs than those who experienced lower levels of harassment (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 2.2. vs. 3.0, gender expression: 2.3 vs. 2.8, gender: 2.2 vs. 2.7).

"Educators work every day to offer all of their students a safe and respectful school atmosphere that ensures their healthy development and growth, but transgender and gender nonconforming students frequently remain unsupported and ultimately left behind in the school system," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "This model policy was developed out of a growing need for addressing issues related to gender identity and gender expression within a school setting. Research has shown that a comprehensive district policy is a tangible solution for improving the school experience for transgender and gender nonconforming students."

"We're so proud to work with GLSEN on this policy," said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. "Transgender youth are everywhere, and schools are beginning to understand that providing for their safe and fair treatment is not a burden, but a core part of the educational mission. Schools are increasingly attuned to providing a safe and supportive environment for a diverse school community, and gender diversity has to be part of that picture. This groundbreaking model policy is here to help schools find the right solutions to support and educate all students."

The guide contains model language that can be used in drafting district policy and is designed to be flexible for school districts to comply with their own specific needs and respective state laws and policies. Examples and policy recommendations are included in the resource that address issues commonly faced in school by transgender and gender nonconforming students.

Key issues covered in the model policy include:

  • Polices that address bullying, harassment and discrimination
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Documentation (e.g., school records)
  • Names and pronouns
  • Dress codes
  • Training and professional development

"There is a real interest and hunger among school administrators and teachers to create a welcoming climate for transgender youth," said Keisling. Schools across the country have already taken leadership on protecting transgender students, and this resource builds on their experiences to assist other schools that are looking for answers for how to change school policies that affect transgender people."

In addition to the Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, GLSEN has developed a suite of policy tools that support anti-bullying measures for local school districts and the passage of safe schools laws and policies on the state and federal level. GLSEN also partners with local, state and national coalitions to ensure that the best and most inclusive safe schools policies are considered, passed and implemented.

"The model district policy and other resources that we regularly produce are designed with the mindset that a quality K-12 education is a fundamental right for all students," said Byard. "GLSEN will continue to lend its expertise, perspective and support for ensuring this right is extended to every student in school regardless of their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation."

About GLSEN 
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.

About NCTE
The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. By empowering transgender people and our allies to educate and influence policymakers and others, NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality in our nation's capital and around the country. For more information about NCTE and its work, please visit www.transequality.org.

For more information, or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to keynote 8th Anniversary Awards Ceremony

Secretary Shaun Donovan is leading the agency's work on advancing policies that protect transgender people in housing programs. NCTE is excited to welcome him as an event keynote speaker.

Sec Shaun Donovan Head Shot

Please celebrate with us on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.


Announcing Our 8th Anniversary Award Honorees: Brian Bond and Donna Cartwright

NCTE is honoring Brian Bond, former Deputy Director of the White House Office of the Public Liaison, and Donna Cartwright, a founding NCTE board member, for their work in advancing transgender equality.

Brian Bond Head ShotDonna Cartwright Head Shot

Please join us in honoring them on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Purchase tickets here.Tickets will also be sold at the door on a sliding scale.


Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

New analysis shows startling levels of discrimination against Black transgender people

Black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the
 highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people according to a new analysis released today, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

This report by the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a supplement to the groundbreaking national study, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was published in February and revealed widespread discrimination experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people across the board.

Discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, but anti-transgender bias coupled with structural racism meant that transgender people of color experienced particularly devastating levels of discrimination, with Black respondents often faring worse than all others. Among the key findings of the analysis released today:

  • Black transgender people had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26 percent, two times the rate of the overall transgender sample and four times the rate of the general population.   
  • A startling 41 percent of Black respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, more than five times the rate of the general U.S. population.   
  • Black transgender people lived in extreme poverty with 34 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), four times the general Black population rate (9 percent), and eight times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent).   
  • Black transgender people were affected by HIV in devastating numbers. More than one-fifth of respondents were living with HIV (20.23 percent), compared to a rate of 2.64 percent for transgender respondents of all races, 2.4 percent for the general Black population, and 0.60 percent of the general U.S. population.

"From education to employment and housing discrimination, from police brutality to health care disparities, Black transgender people are suffering at extremely high rates due to bigotry and transphobia," said National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks. "Nearly half of all Black transgender respondents report being harassed at work and at school. Twenty-six percent are unemployed and 34 percent report annual incomes of less than $10,000 per year. These numbers are appalling and these living conditions are unacceptable for any human being - gender conforming or not. NBJC is committed to bringing visibility to the gross inequities faced by our transgender brothers and sisters, and to creating a world where gender non-conforming individuals can work, love and seek medical attention without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence."

Also among the findings:

  • Half of Black respondents who attended school expressing a transgender identity or gender non-conformity reported facing harassment.  
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of Black respondents reported having attempted suicide.   
  • On a positive note, many Black transgender people who were out to their families reported that their families were as strong as before they came out. Black respondents reported this experience at a higher rate than the overall sample of transgender respondents.

"This report is a critical call to action for our policymakers to confront these horrifying realities by enacting protections without hesitation," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The stark truth is that the multi-layered effects of poverty, race and class discrimination are devastating for Blacks. These findings show just how profoundly harmful it is when discrimination based on gender identity is also in the mix. These data make it clear that racial and economic justice are among the most critical issues facing LGBT people."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, "This report confirms what we've long known to be true: being transgender and Black in the United States presents unique challenges on the path to full equality. This problem is deeply important to me and to NCTE where every day we hear from transgender people of color who survive in the face of racism and transphobia. This report should be a lesson to all of us that a world with transgender equality is a world with racial equality."    

Findings from Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey spotlight the vital need for social justice advocates to address a racial and an LGBT dimension within their social justice work. The analysis is a resource for those advocating for policy changes at every level of government.

For more information, or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Social Security Administration No Longer Notifying Employers About Gender

Obama administration ends practice that led to job loss and outing of transgender workers

Washington, D.C. - The Social Security Administration (SSA) has confirmed that it has ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). This will result in the immediate cessation of SSA sending notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employee's W-2 does not match Social Security records.

The extent of the problem was made crystal clear when NCTE's Freedom of Information Act request was answered showing 711,488 gender no-match letters were sent in 2010 alone. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality says, "Ending this practice, which has endangered transgender people and our jobs, has been a priority for NCTE and we are pleased that the SSA has updated its policy." 

Keisling continued, "Alerting employers about differences in someone's gender threatened people's jobs and did not accomplish what this verification system was designed for. There was absolutely no reason for it and it was extremely dangerous for transgender people, who still face significant disrespect, discrimination and violence in the workplace."

For years, transgender employees have been contacting NCTE seeking advice about how to manage the difficult position that the Social Security Administration had placed them in with their employers. "Many people have been able to retain their jobs, but not all of them," Keisling noted, "and not one of them should have been fired just because the Social Security Administration outed them at a workplace where someone was prejudiced against transgender people."

The Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) allows employers to match their record of employee names and Social Security numbers (SSNs) with Social Security records for payroll reports. The notification letters alerted individuals and employers when information in a person's employment records is inconsistent with SSA's records for that employee. It was designed to ensure that people receive the benefits to which they are entitled and that they are using a valid Social Security number for employment purposes. Unfortunately, this unfairly impacted transgender people whose name and/or gender marker had not been changed with the SSA and who were employed using a different name or gender.

NCTE has asked the SSA to stop sending employers these notices, and today, the SSA has made great progress in fixing the complex systems that generate such notices. In the event that you or someone you know does receive a gender no-match letter in the future, please contact us.

While we celebrate the end of gender no-match letters, the SSA still has an outdated policy for changing gender markers in SSA records. To change gender markers, SSA requires an unfair, unobtainable and unnecessary standard for transgender people that include proof of specific sex reassignment surgery. Mara Keisling says, "These requirements, particularly surgery, are far too expensive for many transgender people and present a major financial hurdle for a group of people who already face significantly high levels of under-employment and unemployment." NCTE will continue to work with the SSA to make changes to this policy so that transgender people are able to update their information with Social Security and ensure that they have equal access to the benefits Social Security provides. 
 
For more information or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


NCTE and SLDN Advise Transgender Service Members: Coming Out May Lead to Discharge

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Washington, D.C. - As the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" makes open service possible for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members, transgender people are still unable to serve openly. Existing military medical regulations, unrelated to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," classify transgender people as unfit to serve. Service members who publicly or privately identify as transgender, access transition-related care or have a related medical diagnosis remain at risk for being discharged. Transgender people interested in serving in the armed forces are barred from entry.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) urge transgender service members to examine the implications if they choose to come out to fellow service members.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality says, "While we are happy to see the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' we are troubled that the military still expels some members of our community simply because of who they are. Transgender people continue to serve our country honorably, and our country needs to do the same for transgender service members by reexamining this outdated ban."

"Transgender Americans defend our nation every day, serving with pride and distinction at home and abroad. As we celebrate the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on September 20, we also recognize that ending this terrible law is not enough to secure full LGBT equality in the military, and at SLDN, we are committed to ensuring that every qualified American who wishes to serve our nation is able to do so," said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.

Guidance for Transgender Service Members
Read SLDN's full guidance here.

The military can discharge transgender service members in two ways:
1. You may be considered medically unfit because of Gender Identity Disorder;
2. You may be considered medically unfit if you have had genital surgery.

Transgender people are also impacted by other rules and regulations:
It can be considered prejudicial to good order and discipline to act or dress in ways that don't meet stereotypes of men and women. For example, service members can be court-martialed for cross-dressing.

There is also a duty to report any change in your medical status. If, for example, you take hormones, or if you have top surgery, there is a duty to report that "change in medical status" to the military. That information could lead to your discharge for being transgender.

Warning about talking to medical professionals and chaplains:
There are currently no protections for coming out as transgender to military mental health, medical and religious professionals. It is not safe to reveal that you are transgender or that you have questions about whether you may be transgender. Some transgender service members have accessed counseling and transition-related care with civilian medical providers without reporting these developments to the military; however current regulation bans this practice. You can speak confidentially to a civilian religious professional, provided that you are specifically seeking spiritual services, such as confession or pastoral care.

Transgender Service Members and VA Health Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs is independent of the military and not subject to the transgender ban. A June 2011 directive from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirms that transgender veterans have access to medically necessary healthcare including sex-specific care, and transition-related procedures. The only exception is for sex-reassignment surgery. Discharged service members should note that the classification of a discharge, whether administrative or medical, should not affect access to VA health facilities. Read NCTE's guide for further explanation of transgender healthcare in VA facilities.

For more information, or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


NCTE Celebrates HHS Enforcement of Hospital Visitation Rights for Patients

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidance that steps up enforcement of rules that allow patients to designate their own hospital visitors, and empowers patients to identify a person to make medical decisions should they become incapacitated. In response to these developments, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling says:

"This continued commitment by the Obama Administration isn't only important for transgender people in same-sex relationships, or even transgender people who are perceived to be in a same-sex relationships. This is a victory for anyone who believes that, in times of need, we should all get to choose who to surround ourselves with. Transgender people who face alarming rates of abandonment from their families can now be sure they can have their loved one by their side."

While this is an important enhancement of rules, local and state advocates must be vigilant about the implementation and enforcement of these rules at their local hospitals.
 
For more information, or to speak with Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Guide for Shelters and Transgender Evacuees

August 26, 2011

From North Carolina to New York City, thousands of people have already evacuated their homes to escape Hurricane Irene's path. Among them are transgender people who, like others, don't have anywhere else to turn to except for evacuation shelters.

Considering the unique difficulties transgender evacuees encounter, NCTE, Lambda Legal, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have issued these simple guidelines to assist shelters in making their spaces safe for transgender people.

Download the document here.


New Airport Security Technique Worries NCTE

August 17, 2011

There are more changes coming from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This week they launched a pilot program that involves conducting mandatory short interviews, dubbed'�chat-downs,'with every traveler coming through Boston's Logan Airport. Agents look for signs of nervousness or concealment, and any other suspicious behavior. "We are looking for behaviors that are out of the norm," the TSA's local security director told National Public Radio.

But NCTE is concerned that mandatory 'chat-downs'� will disparately affect transgender people, resulting in harassment and unwarranted selection for invasive screening.

Read the full article here.


Medicare Has You Covered

Friday, August 15, 2011

NCTE regularly receives inquiries from transgender beneficiaries and doctors on what Medicare benefits do and don't cover. As part of our federal aging policy agenda, NCTE has developed a new resource to address these questions. The document also explains how to navigate the appeal process for denials of coverage.

Download the document here.


NCTE Applauds Federal Appeals Court Ruling Upholding Transgender Inmates' Right to Medical Care

Friday, August 5, 2011

Washington, D.C. - Today, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' ban on medically necessary transition-related care for transgender inmates is unconstitutional. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) said:

"This court ruling signifies the fast growing acceptance of transgender people, including those who are incarcerated. The court upholds access to medically necessary care for transgender people. And they've done this to address both the distressing safety conditions of transgender inmates, and the need to honor the private health decisions between doctors and patients. We needed this court ruling, and more importantly, we need other public services to follow suit."

In the national survey called Injustice at Every Turn, released with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we found that 12% of transgender people incarcerated were denied routine health care. Another 17% were denied medically necessary hormones. Denying transgender inmates the care recommended by medical professionals is a psychological and physical danger, which, as the court says, "amounts to torture."

NCTE thanks the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal for their hard work and expertise on this case.

For more information about the Injustice at Every Turn report, or to speak to Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-901-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


Amid DADT Repeal, Transgender People Still Cannot Serve Openly

July 22, 2011

Washington, D.C. – In response to reports that the U.S. Armed Forces is ready to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling says:

“NCTE rejoices whenever discriminatory laws end and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a discriminatory law and it needed to go. However, as repeal is certified, transgender servicemembers continue serving in silence. NCTE looks forward to the day when the U.S. Armed Forces ends discrimination in all its forms.”

NCTE calls on repeal advocates, the Pentagon and the Obama Administration to address the gap in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

For more information, or to speak to Mara Keisling, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-903-0112 / vvillano@transequality.org.


TSA Body Imaging Changes Still Put Transgender People at Risk

July 21, 2011

Yesterday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced software updates to their body scanners that are intended to show only foreign materials or objects that may pose security risks, without revealing the contours of the traveler's body. 

While these updates have the potential to alleviate some privacy concerns, important questions remain about how this new technology will impact transgender people. Whatever the benefits of the new systems, it is clear that they may still reveal private personal items making transgender people targets for unfair scrutiny and invasive pat-downs. The changes also do nothing to curb the mistreatment and discrimination that transgender travelers already face in airport security.

Read the full statement here.


U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Unveils Plan for Transgender Inclusive Research

June 29, 2011

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced plans for transgender inclusion in a critical national health survey. Building on commitments from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, this is an important advancement for transgender people and can help correct the gap in resources for transgender health.

“This is a big deal,” says Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Transgender people haven’t been included in federal studies before because the research on how to study our community has not been available. We now have the Obama Administration's commitment to support the ground work needed to do the real research right.”
 
Read the full statement here.


Policy Brief: Birth Certificate Gender Markers

June 22, 2011

A birth certificate is an important document used to prove one’s identity and citizenship. For those who can afford one, a passport can serve the same purposes. However, the ability to change one’s sex designation on birth certificates remains an important issue for many transgender people. As lawyers at Lambda Legal point out, states have varying procedures for updating these documents, and a few actually prohibit changing the gender marker on birth certificates.

Many states model their policies for amending birth certificates on the Model Vital Statistics Act and Regulations (or Model Law). Currently being revised, the Model Law is developed by consultation between the state and federal governments and was last updated in 1992. The Model Law is intended to be a guide for states, so that states can model their own vital statistics laws and regulations after its suggestions.

Read the full brief here.


Policy Brief: Three Social Security Policies Worth Changing

June 21, 2011

NCTE advocates with many federal agencies on many issues. Often the policies we work for are obscure, small-seeming tweaks that most transgender people haven’t thought much about. They are important, but generally thought of or understood less. In other cases, the policies we want are very familiar and desperately important to many transgender people. One example is our advocacy with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Most transgender people know that SSA has a troublesome and outdated policy for changing gender markers on Social Security Accounts. And many folks are aware of the so-called “no-match letters” that many of us have received at work, effectively outing us as transgender when we have an inaccurate gender marker on our Social Security (SS) account. But transgender SSA policy work actually has a third component:  SSA’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS) guidance that treats all marriages involving transgender people as “questionable” or suspect, without providing clear guidance, resulting in inaccurate and wasteful scrutiny of beneficiaries’ medical status. Clearly, we want to fix all three areas.

Read the full brief here.


 

 

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