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Trump rescinds Obama-era protections for Planned Parenthood

April 14, 2017

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Yesterday, Trump signed House Joint Resolution 43 into law – a measure that undoes an Obama-era rule, which explained that states are not permitted to withhold federal family planning funding from clinics that provide abortion care. The Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration put the regulation in place to prevent state legislatures from using its federal funding in a discriminatory manner, specifically by refusing to fund comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood.

The rescinding of this regulation does not make it legal for states to defund Planned
Parenthood clinics. Rather, it removes a clarification that Title X, the country’s only family planning program, should not be used to discriminate against providers who offer abortion care. Title X has not changed – nevertheless, this move may empower state legislatures to join the 14 states that have already taken measures to withhold funding from qualified Title X health care providers.

To undo the Obama era regulations, Republican Members of Congress used the obscure Congressional Review Act – a piece of legislation that had been used sparingly before this year. The CRA permits the rollback of regulations passed within the final 60 days of the previous administration with just a majority vote.

The measure didn’t pass easily in the Senate. In an unprecedented move on a resolution vote, Vice President Pence was called in to cast a tie-breaking vote after two Republican senators, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, sided with Democrats to maintain the Obama-era regulation.

Ironically, Republicans claim this roll-back will give states ‘choice’ – of whether or not to fund the critical non-abortion services provided by Title X clinics, since federal funds are already prohibited for abortion care under the Hyde Amendment. Meanwhile, states that decline funding to clinics like Planned Parenthood would strip a number of choices related to health and bodily autonomy away from low-income folks, communities of color, and LGBTQ folks in their state who rely on access to affordable sexual and reproductive healthcare.

More than 4 million people rely on Title X-funded healthcare services, and Planned Parenthood delivers the majority of those services – including breast exams and cervical cancer exams, hormone therapy, contraception, testing for STIs including HIV, in-vitro fertilization and wellness checks.

These are services that LGBTQ people need. Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of transgender healthcare in the country. Lesbian and bisexual women, intersex and gender non-conforming people, and transgender men all need reproductive healthcare like contraception, abortion and cervical cancer screenings. And absolutely everyone needs access to sexual healthcare like HIV and other STI testing.

The fact that Planned Parenthood provides free or low-cost care through Medicaid and Title X funding is critical for the community. Because of experiences of discrimination, social isolation, and disparate health outcomes that create barriers to employment and social advancement, LGBTQ people are disproportionately low income. Poverty rates on average are higher among lesbian and bisexual women and African Americans within the community, with more than 28% of lesbian and bisexual women living in poverty. 75% of Planned Parenthood patients live below the federal poverty level, and 40% are people of color. Half of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in rural or underserved communities, where there may not be another provider available.

Politicians in Washington, D.C. have spent the past three months trading away the reproductive health, rights and justice of people in the U.S. and abroad at every turn – from an expanded and even more harmful global gag rule, to undermining maternity care in ACA repeal, to the failed attempt to “defund” Planned Parenthood, to the nomination of extremist Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, to eliminating funding for the UNFPA, an organization dedicated to maternal and child health. This is one more attempt to add to that list, and we will not stand for it. Access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is a right that all people are entitled to, no matter their income.

Reproductive health, rights and justice (or, repro*) matter for LGBTQ people. We all have the right to be ourselves, love who we love, choose if, when and how we will have children, and to do so with dignity, free from violence or coercion. As the attempts to undermine our bodily autonomy and equal dignity persist, it is critical now more than ever to fuse repro* and LGBTQ advocacy. The National LGBTQ Task Force has developed the Queering Reproductive Justice toolkit to help advocates understand the intersection and allow them to better reflect and serve the repro* needs of LGBTQ people. The Toolkit aims to support the integration of repro* and LGBTQ advocacy and inspire cross-movement action.

Access the Queering Reproductive Justice toolkit here.

_mg_6061pvBy Sabrina Rewald, If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellow

A Faithful Response to International Trans Day of Visibility

March 31, 2017

Today, March 31, 2017, is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual day set aside to celebrate the power and resilience of trans and gender non-conforming people, and to raise awareness of anti-trans discrimination.

Ironically, today is also the first day after North Carolina’s newest effort to render trans people invisible, House Bill 142, was signed into law by Governor Cooper. Unlike what you might have heard, HB 142 was not a repeal of HB 2, and it continues to harm trans people in new ways. HB 142 prohibits cities and municipalities from providing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. HB 142 undercuts any local efforts to grant protections for trans and gender non-conforming people in restrooms and other public accommodations, giving that control to the state. HB 142 also blocks local legal protections for those seeking a living wage.

Last weekend, people of faith across the country, representing a wide variety of religious beliefs, participated in a National Weekend of Prayer for Transgender Justice. Through prayer, education, and action we continued the clarion call for transgender justice and opposition to all forms of discrimination. Laws like HB 142 and HB 2 are not unique to North Carolina; attacks on LGBTQ people have been enacted in state houses across the country and through the ongoing actions of the Trump administration. These are not just rules and laws; they are moral failings that need to be called out by people of faith.

The safety of trans people is not a partisan issue. Trans people exist in all parts of society; we are your neighbors, your friends, your family, your co-workers, and we are part of your congregations and clergy. As people of faith, we must harness our courage and demand respectful and human treatment from those who unwisely wield their power in ways that undermines the least of these.  One way to practice faith, then, is to radically affirm all persons and affirm the radical differences that create the tapestry we call humanity.

Our country’s new administration has stepped backward on supporting trans people, leaving equality to vary not only by state or zip code, but block by block and living room by living room. Walking down one street over another might dictate the restroom one is legally allowed to use, whether one can be fired or expelled from school for transitioning, and whether an act of harassment will be prosecuted as a hate crime (or prosecuted at all).

Our many faith traditions teach us to love justice. Incomplete or measured justice is not justice at all. We advocate strongly against HB 142 and any other law that seeks to further the stigmatization of our most marginalized. As people of faith and moral courage, we instead demand a clean repeal of HB 2 that includes statewide non-discrimination protections in public accommodations, employment, housing, education, and credit. We call for full affirmation of the worth and dignity of all North Carolinians.

Last year when the North Carolina legislature passed HB 2, the NCAA took a position against this discriminatory law by announcing they’d relocate their 2016-2017 championship games outside of North Carolina. After HB142 was signed the NCAA announced they’d consider hosting championship games in North Carolina. We need the NCAA to hold the line and reject the fake “repeal” that the legislature has put in place.

As trans people of faith, we hope you’ll TAKE ACTION against discrimination by urging members of the NCAA’s Board of Governors to reverse their decision on putting North Carolina back in contention for future championships.

 

Sincerely,

Barbara Satin, Assistant Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force

Hannah Simpson, Practice Spirit, Do Justice Member, Transgender Advocate, Writer, Educator, and Comedian

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, Public Theologian in Residence at Faith Matters Network

Alex Kapitan, Co-founder, Transforming Hearts Collective; and Steering Committee member, Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together

Trans Day of Visibility Trans People of Faith

Barbara Satin; Hannah Simpson; Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD; Alex Kapitan

Reproductive Justice Matters on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

February 10, 2017

February 7 marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and with it a strengthened
resolve to rise up against the broad attacks on reproductive health, rights and justice by Congress and the current Trump Administration.

The HIV epidemic’s disproportionate toll on the Black community in the U.S. endures in spite of significant biomedical advances. Today, treatment methods exist that can reduce transmission rates to almost zero. Yet for many in the Black community – and particularly Black LGBTQ people – access to those methods remains out of reach. Black transgender women are disproportionately vulnerable to HIV, and Black women overall are 16 times more likely to acquire HIV than white women – and five times more likely than Latina women. Last year the CDC released the startling statistic that Black gay and bisexual men in the US are estimated to have a 1 in 2 risk of acquiring HIV in their lifetimes, and the numbers of new diagnoses are increasing among young people. The disproportionate
effect of this epidemic is unsettlingly clear, and the cause is structural: systemic racism prevents people from accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including HIV care.

Unequal access to HIV prevention, treatment, and the holistic wrap-around care, services and education/information necessary to maintain sexual and physical health are the drivers of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. This is a country where the infrastructure exists to roll out effective preventative measures, but social constructs like stigma, racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and classism keep us from progressing past this epidemic. The fact that HIV/AIDS persists predominantly among historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities is an indicator of the deep-seated structural inequality facing people of color in the U.S. today.

Black AIDS Day is a day to remember and center the leadership of people of color in the struggle against HIV/AIDS – and that all of us need to keep fighting like hell against efforts by Congress and the new administration to limit access to basic necessities and constitutional protections even further.

The 115th Congress is on a path to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and in doing so leave 18 million people without health insurance in the first year – eventually increasing to 32 million uninsured Americans. The ACA was an incredible breakthrough for people living with and affected by HIV: it prohibits insurance providers from refusing insurance to people with pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS; it disallowed lifetime caps or annual limits on insurance benefits, something that people living with HIV (PLHIV) and people with other chronic conditions would quickly surpass; Section 1557 of the ACA put forth a number of non-discrimination protections on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender identity and against sex stereotyping, providing a way to seek remedy when a healthcare or insurance provider does implement discriminatory practices; and, the ACA ensures folks have access to preventative care, including HIV testing, at no co-pay cost. Most importantly, under the ACA, 32 states expanded eligibility for Medicaid, allowing previously uninsured low-income people to gain access to quality healthcare, reducing vulnerability to a number of health related issues including HIV. The Medicaid expansion also permits those with an HIV diagnosis to receive care earlier. Before the ACA, PLHIV would have to wait until they received an AIDS diagnosis before they were eligible for Medicaid.

nbhaad-young-gifted-tested-facebook-twitter-template-1_facebook-profileThough some members of Congress have promised us that there will be no repeal of the ACA without a replacement, there has been no assurance that the ACA’s protections for people affected by HIV will meaningfully remain in place. Furthermore, rightwing members of Congress and the new administration’s mission to defund Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide reproductive and sexual health services will further reduce healthcare options, and likely lead to devastating health consequences.

Planned Parenthood clinics provide testing for HIV, as well as for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which can increase a person’s vulnerability to HIV if left untreated. Many Planned Parenthood clinics also provide access to or information about the HIV prevention medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of transgender healthcare in the country. We need to support providers that recognize the linkages between HIV care and reproductive health services, since access to contraceptives, in-vitro fertilization, cancer screenings and abortion care are likewise integral to many people’s overall health, wellbeing, and reproductive future, including many LGBTQ people. Stripping away these services will leave low-income communities–and predominantly Black, Brown and LGBTQ people, including immigrants and undocumented persons–limited in their family planning choices and vulnerable to a variety of sexual and reproductive health concerns.

We are experiencing a political trend toward taking away necessary health-related services in an effort to control people’s bodies, restricting our right to self-determination, and criminalizing people for being who they are. It’s evident in attempted 6-week abortion bans (and successful 20-week bans), efforts to ban transgender folks from using the restroom aligned with their gender identity, and Trump’s outrageous Muslim ban fueled by Islamophobia, racism, and a disregard for the plight of refugees—particularly those who are LGBTQ and may be escaping life-threatening persecution. It is imperative right now to center marginalized communities and collectively speak out against political activity that disregards the needs of people of color, PLHIV, and LGBTQ people, and folks living at the intersections.

To learn more about barriers to healthcare as a form of structural violence keep an eye out for a webinar hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and Positive Women’s Network-USA for Women and Girls’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in March!

You can learn about the National LGBTQ Task Force’s health advocacy work by reading our fact sheet “10 Key LGBTQ Health Advocacy Priorities” here!

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By Sabrina Rewald, If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellow

 

Recap: Racial Justice Institute at Creating Change 2017

January 19, 2017

The Racial Justice Institute at Creating Change in Philadelphia took place Wednesday, January 18th. This day long Institute of learning, storytelling and skill building allows queer, allies, people of color, and white folks to build awareness against racism and explore ways to apply this within the LGBTQ movement and beyond.

img_3905 While LGBTQ people continue facing barriers to full equality, our discussions around discrimination should include dialogue around racial justice, economic justice, gun control, transgender justice, Islamophobia, and more. Some of the breakout sessions included confronting internalized oppression and self care for people of color, engaging race for multiracial people, white privilege, and creating organizational change.

“It was heavy. It allowed me to open up. For the longest time, I have never accepted the feeling of being angry because I was always told by white people that I am angry. And being in a space with people of color allowed me to reflect and finally accept this anger. So as a Latino gay man, I finally felt a sense of relief,” said Luis Berrios of GALEI. img_3900

The National LGBTQ Task Force in partnership with other racial justice organizations, host the Racial Justice Institute annually during the Creating Change Conference to build an anti-racist LGBTQ movement. Each year, the Racial Justice Institute becomes more popular among conference attendees. New and old LGBTQ and ally leaders attend Creating Change experiencing the institute’s deep and important programming to ensure their commitment for racial justice. But what veterans and new comers all have in common is that they’re looking for tools, support and community. It’s no easy task to create an institute that intentionally and thoughtfully facilitates conversations about race and increases people’s capacity to address racism in their everyday lives.

We are thankful for once again hosting a successful and instrumental institute that aims to shape discussion and fight for racial injustice. To learn more about the Racial Justice Institute, visit creatingchange.org.

by the National LGBTQ Task Force staff

Welcome to the 29th Creating Change Conference

January 18, 2017

Welcome to the 29th Creating Change Conference. Where diversity meets action and identity means cause. It’s truly an honor to be here this week in Philadelphia, the City of Queerly Love. Where thousands of LGBTQ activists gather to share in thought, discussion, curiosity, and strategy in forming our movement. As we start this new year, we are presented with the opportunity to build family and form friendships to last a long time.

6174633696_img_0545In this crucial time, we must continue to stand next to each other. When many are still fighting for their homes, their jobs, their lives; the need to continue to create change is by all means the most important reason to continue to be an activist. For thousands of people will be coming together to learn, empower, and strategize about the coming year in LGBTQ rights and social justice.

Creating Change is the stage for the nation and the world to gather LGBTQ leaders and shape this new year and the next four years to ensure our livelihoods and our rights.  6174664976_img_0558So like everyone coming for the first time or the 29th time at Creating Change, expect something new that will help you in your journey to make a difference in the LGBTQ movement.

Visit creatingchange.org to learn more about Creating Change.

by the National LGBTQ Task Force staff

Don’t miss out on The Wellness Hub at Creating Change

January 15, 2017

Let us share with you how The Wellness Hub (TWH) made its way to Creating Change and welcome you to Philadelphia. TWH is a space dedicated to being here for you!

A few years ago, staff members of the Leadership Academy at the National LGBTQ Task Force asked a vital question to their leadership academy members: does trauma affect and influence their daily lives and/or their activism? An overwhelming number of 1,200+ people responded YES! So in 2014, and breathe.,llc began training on embodied leadership in the academy sessions, and then in 2015 and 2016, applied their skills in the full day institutes. Embodied Leadership supports people in learning the hard science regarding the impact of trauma experienced by oppression on the individual, group, and community level. The workshops and institutes were overflowing with standing room numbers. The bottom line, people were ready to hear about the impact of activism and oppression on the body, the mind, the heart, the emotional body. Importantly, people wanted to learn ways to cultivate and practice “showing up for themselves”.

At the 2017 Creating Change Conference, the National LGBTQ Task Force has made a commitment to you to have a space where you can practice taking a time out, push pause, regroup, rest, be fully expressed, chill out and experience moving from states of dis.ease to states of refreshed and ready to jump back into conference activities.

The space provides:wellness-graph-cc17

Each and breathe. team member has a longstanding dedication and is committed to social change, just like you. Our dynamic team is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Creating Change 2017 Community. We welcome your arrival, we are prepared to hold space for you, and we look forward to connecting with you. To learn more about the team click here and to learn more about and-breathe.com click here. We are wishing you safe journeys to Philly and we’ll see you soon!

By Shannyn Vicente, LCSW, guest blogger

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Never Forget the 49

December 13, 2016

Never Forget. Those are the words I have carried with me every day since I woke up to the brutal murder of 49 mostly LGBTQ Latinx people at Pulse Nightclub 6 months ago. Never forget the lives lost. Never forget the hearts broken. Never forget the survivors. Never forget the trauma. Never forget the self-hatred and internalized homophobia of the killer. Never forget the impact of religious narratives on culture and on people’s lived lives. Never forget. Never. Forget. And, don’t let others forget either. This has been my mantra. This has been my way to honor their lives while working towards a world where this tragedy would never be repeated.

It should not have taken the worst massacre in modern US history to make people realize the dignity inherent in all human life — including LGBTQ lives. Yet, it did. Clergy across the country opened their eyes on June 12th to the harm caused by the words they preached from their pulpits, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Pulse transformed them. They realized that the neighbors they were called to love included LGBTQ people and families. They realized their words created an environment that caused parents to kick their children out to live on the streets, youth to commit suicide before they even began to truly live, and caused a man to commit mass murder on people celebrating pride in who they are at a nightclub. I’ve been working with several of these clergy over the past 6 months to provide support in transforming their ministries and their congregations. They are sincere in their commitment to create affirming and safe faith communities for LGBTQ people and to compel their parishioners to understand what it means to love ones neighbor as oneself.

I know that these transformations are not just happening in Orlando. Reactions like these are happening across the country — perhaps even the world. If any good is possible to be made — it may be the outpouring of love and apology towards LGBTQ people from the very same communities of faith that once exiled us.

Less than two weeks ago I cried with members of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable and local faith leaders at Pulse Nightclub as we recited their names and silently read the items left at the memorial in honor of those taken from us too soon. We apologized for any way that our religion had been used to cause harm and committed to take action individually and collectively to not let their deaths be in vain. I recommit to that vow every day. I will never forget…and I won’t let anyone I know forget either. #ForThe49

by Victoria Kirby York, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Campaigns Director, Religious Exemptions and Welcoming Movements

This blog post originally appeared on Victoria Kirby York’s blog at: https://medium.com/@VictoriaKYork/never-forget-the-49-87af2f0a6944#.ldso5w36s

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