December 2007 Newsletter
NCTE Welcomes New Managing Director: Stephanie White
We are excited to welcome a new staff member, Stephanie White, who will fill the new position of Managing Director at our offices. She will be responsible for overseeing our administrative and development areas and providing a solid foundation for our advocacy work.
She comes to us from her previous work as Deputy Director, Campaign Operations at the Rights Working Group and its Liberty & Justice for All campaign, where she directed the field operations and wove together the various components of including communications, fundraising, and operations.
Steph has been leading and training people for collective action for more than 14 years as a community organizer, campaign manager, political trainer, and U.S. Army Officer. She worked with Michigan Environmental Council, where she established new field, outreach and organizing programs as the organization's Field Director. Working with their 70 environmental, conservation, and health groups, she doubled the size of their bi-annual lobby day, increased their membership, engaged their members in political action, and provided direction for campaigns to conserve open land, advance environmental justice, and protect the Great Lakes.
Steph led the volunteer efforts for Howard Dean's presidential campaign in Michigan. That volunteer team built a database of over 2,000 supporters statewide, raised over $50,000, and conducted over 300 campaign actions before any staff was hired. She created, organized, and led an all-volunteer state wide training session on basic campaign tactics for 80 key leaders from 12 cities across Michigan and a second training for volunteer leaders in Ohio. She also produced a training manual for volunteers, which was used by the campaign as a basis for training thousands of volunteers across the country.
As the campaign manager for the Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality, Steph helped this Michigan town win one of the most significant victories for gay rights in United States history, garnering 64% of the vote. Her electoral campaign experience includes City Council races in the neighborhoods of East Harlem and Bay Ridge in New York City.
Steph began her career as an officer in the United States Army from 1992 through 1997, commanding medical personnel in Texas and the Republic of Korea. After receiving her Regular Army Commission, she was promoted to the rank of Captain in four years. She was the first woman Ambulance Platoon Leader to serve in support of the First Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade, and one of a very small cadre of women to ever serve as a Company Commander in the 2nd Infantry Division. In addition to earning an Army Achievement Medal for saving the life of a fellow soldier, she earned one of the Army's most difficult skill badges - the Expert Field Medical Badge.
She holds a B.A. from Texas Christian University where she was a Distinguished Military Graduate.
Updates on Identity Documents and Information Privacy
from John Otto
New, Stricter DHS No-Match Letter Regulations On Hold
On October 10, 2007, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations concerning Social Security data that does not match employer submitted data. The regulations would require employers to either fire employees who cannot resolve Social Security Administration (SSA) data mis-matches or face stiff fines. The temporarily blocked regulations would require employees to resolve the SSA information mis-matches within 90 days, among other requirements.
While the media attention surrounding this issue has centered on illegal immigrants, transgender people have increasingly become the targets of Social Security no-match letters. When the gender marker in the Social Security system is different than the gender marker that the employer has on record, gender no-match notification is sent to the employer.
Many transgender people have not changed or are unable to change the gender marker that SSA has on file. The SSA requires that the transgender person’s “surgeon or attending physician must provide a letter verifying the sex change surgery has been completed” in order to change the gender marker.
NCTE is working towards changing the policy that generates SSA gender no-match letters.
For the SSA policy on changing gender markers, click here.
For more information on the judge’s ruling, click here and here.
NCTE Urges Congress to Provide Adequate Health Privacy Protections
As a member of the Coalition for Patient Privacy, NCTE joined with over 40 organizations in a letter to Congress urging adequate protections for electronic health records. While the coalition represents a broad range of groups, many of the points in the letter are especially relevant for transgender people, such as giving patients the right to segment sensitive information and giving patients control over who can access their electronic health records.
For a complete copy of the letter sent to Congress, click here. http://www.patientprivacyrights.org/site/DocServer/Letter_to_Congress_Final_10_17.07.pdf?docID=2281
NCTE to Hold Second Religious Summit
On Sunday, January 20 and Monday, January 21, NCTE will be hosting our second Transgender Religious Leaders Summit in collaboration with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. This gathering is unique in focusing on policy issues—both within religious institutions and in the wider public arena—that impact the lives of transgender people. We will be looking at best practices and real examples of policies relating to ordination, employment (including health insurance), public advocacy for anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws and more.
In addition to our co-sponsors, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, other sponsors include the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Metropolitan Community Churches and others.
We believe that by focusing on policy issues, we will be able to contribute to creating a wider space for transgender people to participate freely and meaningfully within various communities. Policies impact directly the kinds of jobs that we have, access to ordination and lay participation, the quality of our health care and even our physical safety. We believe that by examining what has worked in various faith communities, we can share our resources and be more effective in addressing these challenges and opportunities. Our sponsoring partners have come together to led this conference because we believe that a dialogue between communities of faith, LGBT advocates and public policy groups is vital.
Our focus will entirely be policy change within religious organizations and the impact those groups can have on the wider society for transgender people. Our summit is open to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Because our space is very limited, we are keeping the summit “by invitation only.” If you know people who would like to participate—particularly if they are policy makers or have a strong desire to impact policy issues—please forward their names to Justin Tanis at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to send them an invitation.
TransYouth Family Advocates Addresses Suicide
This month, the TransYouth Family Advocates announced the start of an Amethyst Ribbon Campaign to highlight the dangers of depression and pain that lead too many trans youth to consider or commit suicide. The campaign is part of the Ian Benson Project, named for a 16-year old trans man who took his life last month. Ian’s mother is on the organization’s Board of Directors.
TYFA President Shannon Garcia described the symbolism of the Amethyst Ribbon Campaign. “The brilliant violet color of amethyst is also a blend of the pink and blue traditionally used to designate the male/female binary. Amethyst is a precious gem, chosen to represent how precious trans children are to their families and friends.”
TYFA Executive Director Kim Pearson said, “Ian was our friend, he was the friend of our children, he was part of our hearts and the hearts of his family. To keep Ian’s memory alive, we will help other families and children by telling the stories of our children and families, to reach out to the other Ian’s of the world. We can help them and their families find the answers. In honor of Ian and all transgender people, we ask that you share this message and vision.”
TransYouth Family Advocates is a coalition of parents, friends and caring adults dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the medical and cultural challenges faced by children with gender variant and gender questioning identities and the families who love them.
To learn more about the Amethyst Ribbon Campaign, please visit the TYFA website at www.imatyfa.org [link] or call 1-888-IMA-TYFA. The site includes information and resources for trans youth and their families.
NCTE expresses our condolences to Ian’s family and encourages our readers to find out more about this important project.
Send Us a Picture … and Help Us Educate!
NCTE has a number of publications scheduled to come out in the next couple of months and we are in need of photographs of transgender people, our allies and loved ones. Pictures go a long way in helping educate people and literally put a face to our issue. We are particularly looking for:
- College students
- Transgender people leading a training or in front of a classroom
- LGBT organizations holding a transgender related event or training
- Transgender people and allies working together
- Images of transgender people
It would be most useful to have 300 dpi images (high resolution) that can be printed, although 72 dpi (low resolution) images can be used on the web site. We must have permission from all people in the photograph to use it; each person needs to send us their preferred name and state explicitly that they are granting NCTE the right to use the photograph in publications and/or on our website.
Please take a minute and send us a picture … you can help us educate our community and beyond about issues of importance to our community. We’re ready for YOUR close up! If you have any questions, please contact Justin at email@example.com.
It has clearer now than it ever has been in our organization’s life just how important it is that our community is involved at every level. Whether you called your Representative, came to Washington last year for Lobby Day, made a donation or dropped a note of encouragement to a staff member, you are making a significant different in our ability to advocate for transgender rights here in our nation’s capital.
If you aren’t a member, we encourage you to take a minute and consider it. Annual memberships are only $35 per year, or $20 per year for those with limited income. Monthly donor levels run from just $10/month to $100 a month and provide vital, regular funds to NCTE. You can find out more by clicking here [donate.html and monthlygiving.html].
NCTE's Human Rights Calendar Concludes
We finished this year's human rights calendar. View this year's pages discussing human rights for transgender people.