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Transgender Equality Campaign Launched
NCTE and HRC Team To Empower Increased Education of Policymakers
November 3, 2005 - The National Center for Transgender Equality, in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, today unveiled the first in a series of ads aimed at educating Congress and the Washington policy community about transgender people and issues that affect our lives. Today's ad, appearing in Roll Call, is the first in a series to be rolled out over the next few months.
Read full press release »
September 29 - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed bills into law that increased legal protections for the LGBT community.
One bill (AB 1586) requires that health insurance providers do not discriminate against transgender people. The bill adds transgender protections to existing anti-discrimination provisions that regulate insurance companies and health care service plans.
The Civil Rights Act of 2005 (AB 1400) was also signed. This bill strengthens protections against discriminatory practices toward LGBT people. "Businesses should be discrimination-free, and our community deserves nothing less than full equality," said Equality California Executive Director Geoffrey Kors.
Read more here.
September 14 - Today, a majority of members of the United States House of Representatives voted by a vote of 223-199, including 30 Republicans, to pass a federal hate crime law that would include all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The provisions of HR2662, the first ever piece of major trans-inclusive legislation was attached as an amendment to the Child Safety Act.
According to NCTE Executive Director, Mara Keisling, “At least one chamber of Congress has finally made a statement that it not acceptable to hurt or kill transgender people because of who we are. This is a pivotal vote for transgender people who have been working diligently for years to educate Congress about transgender people and our lives.”
Passage of the underlying bill (HR3132) The Child Safety Act is expected momentarily.
A more in depth analysis will follow.
REAL ID Act Passes Senate, Signed by President Bush
Creates National Standards for Driver’s Licenses
June 10 - The REAL ID Act, a recently passed law that has the stated intention of improving homeland security, was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Bush on May 10th, 2005. The Act tightens immigration and asylum requirements, as well as national standards for driver’s licenses.
One of the provisions of the REAL ID Act requires all 50 states to meet certain federal standards in their issuing of driver’s licenses. If the states do not meet these requirements, federal officials will not accept the license for ID purposes. (For example, a non-compliant ID could not be used to board a plane or train.) These standards require the states to include the following on their driver’s license: full legal name, date of birth, gender, ID number, digital photograph, address, signature, security features, and a machine-readable technology. The states have three years after the Act’s passage to comply, meaning that all fifty states should be in compliance by May 2008.
In addition, the REAL ID Act requires license applicants to prove that they are United States citizens or documented immigrants. For most US citizens this will mean showing one’s birth certificate to prove citizenship. States then must authenticate the documents that applicants provide, which they have not generally done in the past. Lastly, the Act establishes an interstate database for the collected identification information to be used by local, state, and federal law enforcement officials. It is currently unclear what other officials or groups will have access to the database.
While it is unclear exactly what repercussions the Act will have for transgender communities since the law was just recently enacted, the REAL ID may make it harder for transgender people to obtain driver’s licenses and other ID with the correct name and gender marker information. Since the Act requires more documentation for obtaining licenses, in some cases this will reveal that only some of the applicant’s documents have been changed to reflect his/her name and lived gender. Transgender people may therefore be subject to greater security scrutiny, being “outed” to DMV officials and others in the area, and possible denial of a license that accurately reflects a person’s lived gender. NCTE will be following developments related to the REAL ID Act.
Shortly, NCTE will be releasing a document on the REAL ID Act and its possible repercussions for transgender people.
The Times They Are A-Changin’:
Changing the Name or Gender Marker on Social Security Cards and Passports
June 10 - Recently, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has been receiving phone calls from concerned individuals who are having difficulties changing information on particular documents. In response to this, NCTE has spoken the Department of State and Social Security Administration about official policies on changing one’s name and gender marker. Here’s what we were told:
To change your name on your social security, you will need to present one or more documents identifying you by both your old name that is in the Social Security records and your new name. Examples of such documents would include a court order changing your name, a marriage certificate, or a divorce decree. The government may also accept two identity documents - one in your old name and one in your new name, such as the old social security card and new driver’s license (as long as it has your social security number on it). The document identifying you by your new name must be recent. Generally, they prefer to see a document with a photograph. A non-photo identity document may be accepted, however, if it has enough information to identify you (e.g., your name as well as your age, date of birth, or parents’ names). Acceptable documents include a driver's license, marriage or divorce record, military records, etc. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.
To change your gender marker on your social security, you must bring a letter from your surgeon or attending physician verifying that “gender reassignment surgery has been completed.” All documents must clearly identify the individual.
To change your name on your passport, you may either provide a certified copy of the legal document specifying the name change (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order) or show that it was changed by other means (such as a common-law name change). If you have a legal name change, you may change your name by submitting the appropriate paperwork through the mail. If your name was changed by other means, you must apply in person.
There are two ways to change your gender marker on your passport, one method for those who are about to have gender reassignement surgery and another for those who have already had surgery. If you have not yet had surgery, you will need a recent photograph and a statement from your physician or surgeon. The statement should outline your medical history relating to gender reassignment, including past psychological and hormone treatment, your current stage of transition, and the approximate date of your gender reassignment surgery.
This passport is only valid for one year, and will only be issued once. Please take this into account when determining whether, and when, to get your passport changed pre-surgery.
If you have had gender reassignment surgery, you will need a recent photograph and a letter from your physician or surgeon documenting “gender transition.” The letter must include a detailed statement from the physician/surgeon stating that gender reassignment surgery has been or will be performed and include details of the surgery. There is no requirement that certain procedures or surgeries must have been performed. However, the physician/surgeon needs to state that gender reassignment surgery was completed on a specific date.
Shortly, NCTE will be releasing a guide on changing name and gender markers on IDs.
Major Legislative Advances
June 10 - We have great news on the legislative front! We have made a lot of progress in the last few weeks. Nationally, we scored a major victory with the introduction of the federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2005. Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 26, this bill would help protect against bias crimes based on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability. The bill would also add gender identity to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. This is the first time that a major bill including protections for the transgender community has been introduced on the federal level, and NCTE is pleased that the House of Representatives have introduced such long-overdue and important legislation. You can read NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling’s comments delivered at a press conference in the House of Representatives on the Act here.
Progress has also occurred on the state level, with two new laws passed and two awaiting signature! In Maryland, Governor Ehrlich signed the Hate Crimes Penalties Act on May 26th, which had passed the State House by a vote of 93-41 in March and the State Senate by a vote of 31-13 in April. The Act ensures that violent hate crimes against LGBT community members will be investigated and prosecuted as hate crimes. NCTE did significant work last session to education Maryland lawmakers on this issue. “Enacting the Hate Crimes Penalties Act into law is a very important step in improving the daily lives of those who are at risk for hate violence,” said Equality Maryland Board Member and NCTE Founding Member Dr. Dana Beyer, who chairs the organization’s transgender advocacy committee. “This will have a profound ripple effect, educating Maryland's population about who we are, and specifically helping to make the legal and law enforcement communities cognizant of the special risks we face every day.”
Awaiting signature are two bills in Hawaii that would prohibit employers and landlords from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Governor Linda Lingle has until mid-June to either sign or veto the bills.
Our second legislative victory was in Colorado, where Governor Bill Owens allowed hate crimes legislation that is transgender inclusive to become law without his signature. Unfortunately, however, Gov. Owens also vetoed a bill that would have provided protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Overall, the past month has been a great one for transgender people, adding to an amazing year so far! NCTE congratulates the activists and allies nationwide who have achieved such progress in extending protections to transgender communities.
NTAC Lobby Days Draws Trans Activists and Allies to Washington, DC
June 10 - The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) sponsored two days of lobbying in Washington, DC, on May 19th and 20th. NCTE collaborated with NTAC by targeting and scheduling visits with members of Congress for lobby day participants. During these visits, trans people discussed the importance of including gender identity and expression in hate crimes legislation. They talked specifically about trans-inclusion in the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005.
Marisa Richmond, Lobbying Chair for NTAC, said, "This event brought together citizen lobbyists from all over the country and gave them the opportunity to address their concerns of safety and discrimination directly with the people that represent them in this government."
The National Center for Transgender Equality held a lobby day in Washington, DC, in March and is continuing this year’s lobbying efforts with Congressional Summer School. Congressional Summer School in a congressional education effort that works with trans people and allies to conduct in-district visits with their members of Congress during the month of August. Go here for more information on how to get involved.
Transgender Veterans Second Annual “March to the Wall”
June 10 - On May 21st the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) commemorated and celebrated transgender veterans in Washington, DC. Trans veterans and their allies from across the country gathered for this historic occasion.
NCTE helped kick off the weekend on the evening of May 20th by honoring the veterans with a welcome reception. The events continued the following day with a march to the Vietnam Wall, a visit to the Iwo Jima Memorial and WWII Memorial, and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.
TAVA President Monica Helms said, “The second annual March to the Wall gave us the opportunity to come together as a community and honor our fellow transgender veterans. Transgender veterans have been rendered invisible by the transphobia that pervades our society. This weekend allowed us to focus on trans people and the service these particular veterans provided to our country.”
Please see the article provided by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on transgender people and the military.
Transgender in the Military
By NCTE Founding Member Kathi S. Westcott, Esq., Senior Counsel for Law and Policy with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
June 10 - Transgender Issues for Active Duty and Reserve Military Members
Transgender issues may come up at the time of enlistment, appointment or commissioning into the Armed Forces, or may arise for personnel already serving in the military. The military has a very binary view of gender. Therefore, their rules and regulations, including the language they use, reflect this fairly conservative view. If a service member or recruit does not fit into stereotypical gender norms and roles, there may be consequences for that member or recruit.
Enlistment / Appointment / Commissioning
To join the military, potential service members are required to undergo a physical examination as part of the induction process. During this examination, the military may disqualify a candidate if the potential service member has had any type of gender confirming surgery because the military considers such surgery to be a major “genital abnormality” or “defect.” Furthermore, even if the candidate has not had surgery but identifies as transgender, the military considers this to be a disqualifying psychiatric condition.
An individual may request a medical waiver of any disqualifying condition from the Department of Defense. The availability of medical waivers varies between the service branches. No waivers for transgender service members were requested between 1996 and 2000, the years for which data was available from the Department of Defense.
Currently Serving Members
Transgender people who are thinking about becoming more public or starting their transition while in the military should be aware of a strong bias against recognizing the standard of care involving hormone therapy, living in the appropriate gender, and surgery. The military medical system does not recognize the Harry Benjamin standards of care and will not provide the medical support necessary for transitioning service members. Generally, the services apply physical standards that make being transgender a disqualifying condition which impacts on military fitness and a basis for a non-medical discharge. Transgender service members also face the possibility of being discharged for having a personality disorder, in some cases, with a general discharge.
For those members who seek treatment from civilian providers, be aware that each service has regulations governing military members seeking outside health care which may include reporting requirements. Failure to abide by these regulations could place a member at risk for criminal (Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ]) action. Further, cross-dressing may be considered a violation of the UCMJ and can be prosecuted at court-martial.
Cross-dressing is generally addressed in regulations governing conduct. Each service has different regulations, and cross-dressing is handled differently depending on the service member’s status as an enlisted or officer, service component, and active or reserve status. As a practical matter, any cross-dressing, or perceived cross-dressing, even in the context abiding by the standards of care, will most likely be considered by the military to be a violation of regulations and result in discipline or criminal prosecution.
Gender non-conforming service members are often perceived as being lesbian or gay by others in the military. These service members are often subject to anti-gay harassment and sometimes subject to inappropriate investigation and discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The military strictly regulates uniform and grooming standards by gender. Failure to abide by these regulations can result in discipline or criminal prosecution. Therefore, it is important for every service member to abide by service regulations governing the wearing of the uniform and physical appearance.
Reactivation During War on Terrorism
More and more inactive reserve military members are being recalled to active duty during the current war on terrorism. Transgender persons in the inactive reserve who are in the process of transitioning may be confronted with the need to halt this process if they are recalled to active duty. Since recall to active duty places them directly under the regulatory requirements discussed above, these military members may need to consider ceasing, or interrupting their transition while they complete their active service requirement. Alternatively, transitioning or post-transitioning reservists may be medically disqualified for continued service once they are called back to active duty and medically examined.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network - Services to Transgender Military Community
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance. SLDN provides free and confidential legal services to active and reserve members of the military who are transgender or perceived to be gender non-conforming.
More information about transgender military issues and SLDN’s legal services can be found on SLDN’s website - www.sldn.org - or by calling (202) 328-3244. Any military member facing problems because they are transgender or gender non-conforming, or considering transitioning while in the military, should consult with an attorney knowledgeable about military law and transgender issues.
MD Governor Ehrlich Signs the Hate Crimes Penalties Act
Maryland Becomes the Ninth State to Enact Trans-Inclusive Hate Crimes Legislation
May 25, 2005 - The National Center for Transgender Equality is pleased to report that Maryland has just become the third state in 2005 to enact a major trans-inclusive law. Today, May 26, 2005, Maryland Governor Ehrlich signed the Hate Crimes Penalty Act. This act passed the State House by a vote of 93-41 in March and the State Senate by a vote of 31-13 in April and ensures that crimes against the transgender community, in addition to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, will be fully investigated and prosecuted as hate crimes.
Maryland is the ninth state to pass hate crimes legislation that is inclusive of trans people. The other states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Maryland also joins Illinois and Maine in making 2005 a record year for the transgender community in terms of inclusion in state legislation. Illinois and Maine have both recently amended their Human Rights Ordinances to protect against discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
"Hate crimes send a message not only to the victims, but to entire communities of people, that their lives, identities, bodies are not acceptable and will be subject to violence. Transgender people, and other marginalized people, live in fear of this violence," said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. "Enacting the transgender-inclusive Hate Crimes Penalties Act sends a strong message that violence against trans people is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in the state of Maryland.
In March 2004, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling testified in favor of the Hate Crimes Penalty Act before the Maryland State Senate. Her testimony is available here.
Governor Ehrlich also signed into law HB 407, the Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005. This act requires incidents of harassment or intimidation against students in public schools, including harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, to be reported to the Department of Education. It also requires the State Department of Education create a standard victim of harassment or intimidation report form.
NCTE congratulates the Maryland advocates, especially Equality Maryland and their transgender advocacy committee, for their hard work on this legislation and their unfailing commitment to maintaining trans-inclusion in the bills. NCTE also applauds the efforts of the transgender activists and allies who have made 2005 such an exceptional one for the trans community
Explicitly Transgender-Inclusive Federal Hate Crime Bill to Be Introduced in U.S. House
Historic First for Transgender People
May 23, 2005 - The National Center for Transgender Equality celebrates the planned introduction of the first major explicitly transgender-inclusive piece of federal legislation.
Scheduled for introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday, May 26, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 would help protect against bias crimes based on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability. The bill would also add gender identity to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.
“This is an historic moment,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “The introduction of this bill marks the first time members of Congress have openly expressed the need for explicit federal protections for transgender people.”
NCTE’s staff, board, members and supporters have worked tirelessly for years to educate Congress and our allies on the importance of clear transgender-inclusion in this and other federal legislation.
“We are seeing the efforts of transgender advocates and allies reflected in this legislation and in the growing understanding that we desperately need federal assistance to end the continuing epidemic of bias violence that too many of us face,” Keisling said. “Transgender-inclusive hate crimes legislation sends a strong message that violence based on gender identity and expression is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Currently eight states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws that include coverage for transgender people. And already this year inclusive state hate crimes bills have passed the Maryland and Colorado General Assemblies and await the signatures of the respective governors.
NCTE congratulates trans advocates and our allies whose hard work made the introduction of this bill possible.
We also applaud and thank the lead sponsors of the legislation: Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.; Christopher Shays, R-Conn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
Read NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling's statement on the introduction of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 here.