The Williams Institute recently released a study highlighting the high cost that discrimination against transgender New Yorkers has for the state each year. As with a similar study conducted for Massachusetts in 2011, this report highlights the urgent need to pass legislation protecting all New Yorkers from employment and housing discrimination. Currently, only 59% of transgender New Yorkers are protected by local anti-discrimination ordinances.
According to the Williams Institute study, banning discrimination in housing and employment against the remaining 23,800 transgender New Yorkers could reduce the following costs related to discrimination:
- Employment discrimination costs the State of New York more than $1million annually in Medicaid expenditures.
- Housing discrimination in the State of New York may cost from $475,000 to $5.9 million annually in federal and state housing program expenditures and other costs related to homelessness.
- Transgender workers in New York could generate millions more dollars in income tax revenues for the State if employment discrimination was reduced or eliminated.
In other words, employment and housing discrimination against transgender New Yorkers may cost from $1.5 to $7 million in Medicaid and housing program expenditures, not including additional millions in state income tax revenues that could be generated if employment discrimination was reduced.
The study estimates that if transgender residents of New York had incomes similar to the general population, this group of workers could generate over $2.7 million in additional income tax revenue per year.
The Task Force believes that all New Yorkers should have the right to seek and keep employment and housing without being turned away due to bias. Legislation to protect and all residents from discrimination based on gender identity in New York has introduced in the form of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). Last October, Task Force Field Organizer Causten Wollerman testified on the need for the New York Senate to finally pass GENDA.
In addition to passing GENDA, the Williams Institute study highlights the need to pass the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). Just as protections against discrimination vary throughout New York, protections against discrimination nationally vary across states and municipalities.
Right now it is legal to fire someone in 29 states because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual; in 34 states, like New York, it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. Join the Task Force in urging Congress to pass ENDA, which we expect action on later this summer.
In response to the killing of Mark Carson on Friday night, and the recent spate of other public anti-LGBTQ hate violence, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) and other community groups and elected officials will gather at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on Monday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m., and march to West 8th Street and 6th Avenue. The Center is located at 208 West 13th Street in Manhattan. More details here.
A rally and a speak-out will immediately follow the march, where community members, elected officials, LGBTQ community leaders and allies will denounce hate violence, call for community safety and mourn the death of Mark Carson. AVP will continue to work to create safety in all communities across New York City through its Friday Community Safety Nights that will begin on this Friday, May 24, and run through the end of June.
LGBT groups push Senate Judiciary Committee to improve immigration bill’s detention standards & asylum provisions
The Task Force and other groups responded today to amendments to the Title III provisions of the immigration bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee is debating this week and Monday.
The statement below can be attributed to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, United We Dream and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Lambda Legal and Equality Federation.
Immigration reform is a critical issue for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. That’s why we are fighting hard to support amendments that will strengthen the immigration bill and oppose amendments that will create additional barriers and hardships for all immigrants.
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is debating amendments to the proposed immigration reform legislation that will determine the asylum process, detention standards, E-Verify and due process for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. These aspects of our current immigration policies have created barriers and extreme hardships for all immigrants, including the 267,000 immigrants who are also LGBT.
The proposed legislation goes a long way to improve detention standards for all immigrants, increasing oversight of detention facilities and expanding the use of secure alternatives to detention. We must keep these provisions strong to end the brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement to which millions of immigrants have been subjected. Vulnerable populations, like LGBT people, often experience higher rates of discrimination, mistreatment, and abuse from other detainees, facility staff and officials.
This is especially true for transgender detainees, who are at extremely high risk of abuse. Bamby Salcedo, a transgender woman, was detained by immigration authorities, sexually assaulted and denied adequate access to HIV medication and hormone treatment. No one deserves to suffer the abuse, mistreatment or dehumanization that Bamby faced.
The LGBT community stands firmly against amendments that would restrict the use of secure alternatives to detention, increase mandatory detention without requiring individualized determinations and set bond rates for immigrants in detention at an inaccessibly high rate.
We strongly support provisions that streamline the asylum process, making family unification easier and eliminating the current requirement that people who suffered persecution in their home countries must file for asylum within one year of entering the United States. LGBT asylum seekers often miss the one-year deadline because they either do not know they can seek asylum for sexual orientation or gender-based persecution, or because they do not feel safe disclosing their LGBT status to U.S. government officials. Michel Mendy is a gay immigrant from Senegal, where it is illegal to be LGBT. If he returns to the country, he could face arrest or even violence.
Michel is in detention, facing imminent removal. Under current law, he could qualify for asylum, but the immigration system has instead relegated him to legal limbo. We must fix our immigration policies to make it easier to help people like Michel.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will also debate amendments about E-Verify, the system that allows employers to check whether an employee is undocumented. Verification methods must respect the safety and privacy of all immigrants, including transgender immigrants, and provide mechanisms to monitor the accuracy of this system rather than risk requiring employers to use a faulty program. Provisions that, for example, require transgender immigrants to disclose biographical information that then ‘outs’ them as transgender to employers and puts them at risk of discrimination or harassment cannot be included in the legislation. The LGBT community strongly believes that Congress must not permit the use of E-verify as a tool to intimidate existing employees by allowing employers to use the system selectively against employees who have already been hired. The risk of undermining workers’ rights through the use of this system is simply too great.
At all costs, we must retain our nation’s commitment to due process. Government statistics show that only 17 percent of people detained on charges of deportation receive the benefit of counsel. Most don’t understand the charges against them or the ways to fight them. Often, these immigrants are separated from their families and their communities and placed in detention centers far from their homes. This is especially harmful for LGBT immigrants, as studies have shown that they often receive harsher punishments than their non-LGBT peers. This goes against our most fundamental principles of justice and fairness.
Above all, everyone who is detained by immigration enforcement deserves the right to legal counsel.
Immigration reform should not impose excessive criminal punishment for the simple act of migrating to seek a better life.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates these critical amendments, we urge them to consider the amendments that will protect immigrants, treat them with dignity and give them a chance to pursue their dreams.
Today marks the 9th annual International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. The day is commemorated in more than 100 countries throughout the world, in places as diverse as Australia, Iran, Cameroon and Albania.
Many organizations, governments, cities, corporations and celebrities take part. This year, the United Nations released the following video to spread the message that LGBT rights are human rights.
Also released today is a new study, The Night is Another Country, which examines the testimonies of transgender women human rights defenders and HIV activists in different Latin American countries. The report is also available in Spanish here.
One of the goals of the day is to increase the visibility of LGBT people around the world and share personal stories. To add your own experiences and thoughts to the conversation, visit the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia’s official Facebook page and tweet using the hashtag #may17idaho.
The Task Force today testified at a joint hearing of two committees of the D.C. Council in support of a bill that would modernize the process for transgender people to get legal name changes and new birth certificates reflecting their gender identity and new name (if applicable).
The Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project has been working with DC Trans Coalition hand-in-hand for over a year to get this bill introduced with all of the D.C. Council members signed on in support of it. We are now working to refine the text before passage, with the hope that after the bill passes it can be a model for other jurisdictions.
The following is the testimony of Lisa Mottet, Transgender Civil Rights Project director:
Joint Hearing on the Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013
May 16, 2013, 11am
Testimony of Lisa Mottet, Esq.
Transgender Civil Rights Project Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Good morning Councilmembers Alexander and Wells, thank you for the opportunity to speak today in favor of the Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013.
My name is Lisa Mottet and I serve as the Transgender Civil Rights Project director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, here in Washington, D.C. In this role, I have assisted numerous vital records agencies in modernizing their laws or policies related to updating gender markers on birth certificates, and it has been my pleasure to meet with the many supportive Council members and their staffs on this bill already.
For all of the reasons that others are speaking to and will speak to today, the Task Force is in full support of the intent and spirit of this legislation, which is to make life better for transgender people by easing and modernizing the processes of getting legal name change orders and updated birth certificate documentation that reflects who they are. The importance of getting a legal name change order and updated documents like birth certificates cannot be overstated, as the lack of them can result in harassment, discrimination, and even violence. Having these documents can mean the difference between being able to get a job or not, being able to be respected in school or not, and being rejected when applying for housing or not.
One of the primary motivations for seeking this legislation is to get rid of the requirement that transgender people show they have had surgery in order to update their birth certificate. Several other states have already done this, including California, Vermont and Washington state. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has abandoned their surgery requirement for both passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, which are given to U.S. citizens born outside of the U.S. D.C. will be following the footsteps of these other jurisdictions when it passes this bill.
However, the text of the draft bill should be improved in several ways so that the spirit and intention are met by the final legislation as passed. There are seven relatively modest but important changes we seek:
First, we ask for the full deletion of Section 217(d) which required proof of surgery and a court order. Though you are setting up a more modern and streamlined process through the department of health, keeping this old provision essentially boils down to keeping this problematic language from the past. There is no reason to keep it. Without it, we can look with pride in our new law.
Second, the new portions should be located in §7-210, the new birth certificate section, not in §7-217, the amended birth certificate section. This is really a matter of clear drafting so that implementation is more smooth.
Third, the reference to a health care provider being licensed only in DC is overly limiting because so many people are born in D.C. but move away, or see providers in the surrounding area.
Fourth, the language of §7-217(d-1)(B) should be changed to “the individual has undergone surgical, hormonal, or other treatment appropriate for the individual,” deleting the term “medical” because it is confusing, and making clear what treatment was appropriate is based on that individual, not some universal standard. That is the way the medical consensus understands gender transition – that it is individual – and our laws should reflect that consensus.
Fifth, the bill should include language that ensures people with intersex conditions are also able to receive new birth certificates. The language should read “…a gender transition, or that an individual has an intersex condition, and that in the health care provider’s professional opinion the individual’s gender designation should be changed accordingly.”
Sixth, switching gears to name changes, the name change publication requirement should be eliminated entirely. The non-transgender community should have the same rights as the transgender community to not have their name change published. In addition, to require a transgender person to integrate that information into the name change process exposes them to more outing in the courthouse, and potentially everywhere they have to show their name change order for the rest of their lives. D.C. should join the 18 states that have no publication requirement for name changes.
Seventh, those who are born in other states or countries, but who now live in D.C., sometimes need court orders to change their birth certificates in those other places. Many of these agencies will accept a court order from courts outside of their state. Thus, we want to clarify that a D.C. Superior Court judge can issue an order asking the person’s birth state/foreign jurisdiction to amend the gender marker on the person’s birth certificate. Relatedly, the bill should empower Superior Court judges to issue a legal order that a person has changed gender, in case a person wants one for various reasons.
We hope that you will be able to make these changes to ensure that transgender people are able to live their lives authentically and without the burden of having government documents that out them, which can cause harassment, discrimination, and even violence.
Thank you. I can be reached at email@example.com and 202. 639.6308.
Marriage equality was signed into law this week in Minnesota by Gov. Mark Dayton and it will go into effect on Aug. 1. Minnesota is one of 12 states plus the District of Columbia to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, and while there may seem to be an unstoppable tide of victories now, the road to equality has been hard fought.
Marriage equality felt a long way off when, on May 21, 2011, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to place a proposed amendment to the constitution on the ballot that would ban marriage equality. To counter this ballot measure, the Task Force worked with Minnesotans United for All Families to organize a campaign across the state dedicating full-time organizers and serving in key positions.
We knew that wasn’t just important to win at the ballot box, how we won was also vital. That’s why we organized “Conversations with People You Know” trainings, in which people of faith were trained and had conversations with other people of faith about the need for equality. It’s why we collaborated with Catholics for Marriage Equality on a pro-equality music video. And why we helped build the power of the LGBT movement in Minnesota through house parties and local fundraisers.
The transformative nature of empowered people talking about why marriage equality matters led to the victory in Minnesota in November and built a massive movement in the state that led to the positive change we saw during this legislative session.
Our faith organizing manager, Kathleen Campisano, reflects on how the way the campaign inspired people to action was just as important as the constituent calls, visits and postcards.
As the marriage equality bill was debated in the Legislature, many legislators commented on how their opinions had evolved specifically because of the conversations they’d had with constituents who were willing to bravely share their own stories of love and commitment.
Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey stated on the legislative victory:
This has been a long journey of changing hearts and minds, of breaking down walls, of shining a spotlight on our common humanity. The many years of door-knocking, phone calls and poignant conversations about why marriage matters have made a difference. The transformative nature of people talking about their love and their lives is clear, as we see in reaching this milestone in Minnesota, and in the fact that a clear and growing majority of Americans supports the freedom to marry.
We congratulate Minnesotans United and everyone who worked so hard to secure marriage equality for all Minnesotans. We are proud to stand with them as a partner in this victory.
Minnesota was a personal battle for us — we have a Task Force office in Minneapolis, as well as many Task Force staff and friends there. We also held our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Minneapolis in 2011. The conference is the largest annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBT movement and its location moves each year. This unparalleled get-together builds the power of the local community, and Minnesota was no exception.
We know that the wins we’ve seen over the past six months in Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, Washington and Maryland are because of the movement building that has been happening for decades. At the Task Force, we’re committed to not only push for further state and federal victories, but to do it in a way that builds a transformational movement.
By Kathleen Campisano, Task Force faith organizing manager
Feet from where Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was signing the freedom to marry into law, I took pause to just say …. Well, whoa!
I have had the privilege to work for family justice in the LGBT community since 1995. I still remember being skeptical that the federal conservatives really needed to enact DOMA – like they would ever have to ‘worry’ about interstate marriage for gay folks. Whoa … was I ever wrong!
I looked out at thousands of Minnesotans cheering to the governor’s words. I saw Margie and Jo at the front of the crowd, a couple who I encouraged to “just volunteer once” during the ballot measure fight when I did my 5-month regional leadership gig in southern Minnesota. Whoa … look at them, now seasoned advocates, proud to claim this victory.
I also saw many members of the legislative field team in the VIP section, simply beaming with pride knowing that we brought about exactly what many legislators needed to feel confident to vote YES. Our constituent contact plan was second to none and empowered many people to become quite invested in how their legislator would vote. How we inspired people to action was as important as the constituent calls, visits and postcards. Whoa … long-term change afoot.
I stood next to Sen. Roger Reinert, who blew me away with his valliant speech about his family linking economic and racial justice with risky isolation just because you are different before he voted yes for marriage. “Call me Roger,” he said. Whoa, I thought.
Task Force team members were in view too. The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, who led a vigil on the Capitol steps and soulfully sang her heart out in the Capitol Rotunda, helping keep the crowd grounded during the Senate debate on Monday. And of course, I spied my wife Sarah, who inspires me to be a creative organizer where ever I go. Our hopes and dreams now get shared with thousands of couples just like us.
Whoa … I think my new lucky number just might have to be 12.