Monthly Equality Maps Update: Big Progress for LGBT People

January 2019 was a big month for LGBT people and advocates around the country, as the new legislative session began and multiple states added new protections for LGBT residents. MAP tracks these and many other LGBT-related laws and policies in our Equality Maps, and we update the maps whenever a policy changes. Bookmark our Equality Maps page to stay up-to-date on the laws and policies that impact LGBT people and their families.

This past month alone, five states added or strengthened their LGBT nondiscrimination laws. The newly-elected governors of Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin all issued executive orders or directives that protected LGBT state employees against discrimination. Additionally, the state of New York passed GENDA, which formally (and finally!) includes gender identity in nondiscrimination law covering employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit. Click here for MAP’s State Nondiscrimination Laws maps.

New York and North Carolina also expanded LGBT protections in other areas. New York added gender identity to its hate crimes law, and further passed a law restricting conversion therapy against minors. Click here to see where your city or state stands on banning conversion therapy for minors. North Carolina updated its process for changing gender markers on driver’s licenses, removing the surgery requirement and significantly improving the ability of trans folks to get accurate IDs. The newly simplified form is available here. What are the ID laws like in your state? Click here to find out!

At the local level, Cudahy, Wisconsin passed an ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors, while Beckley, West Virginia became the 13th town in West Virginia with an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance covering employment, housing, and public accommodations. Merriam, Kansas became the 7th town in Kansas with a similar ordinance. Is your city covered? Find out on our Local Nondiscrimination Ordinances map.

Congratulations and gratitude to the advocates, volunteers, and allies around the country and on the ground who have been working for years to ensure this critical progress is made.

To stay up to date with the latest LGBT laws and policies at the state and local level, consult MAP’s Equality Maps and subscribe to this blog for our monthly updates moving forward.

Advancing Acceptance Q & A: How two families supported Xander through his transition

Parents, family and friends of transgender youth can play a vital role in providing guidance to others who know or believe their child might be transgender—and that’s where this guide comes in. Hear from the Berman-Ruth and Wylie families discussing how they have supported their son, Xander, a transgender boy, through his transition. Learn more at www.advancingacceptance.org and watch the video “Journeys: The Berman-Ruth & Wylie Families” here.

Your son, Xander, is transgender. At what point did you first notice he identified as a boy, even though you thought you were raising a daughter?

When Xander was four, he asked for a haircut. He had long, beautiful blond hair at that time. I brought him to a salon and they gave him a bob. When they finished, and he looked sad, I said, “Do you want bangs?”  They gave him bangs and then they spun him around in the chair and he had started to cry. He said, “Like a boy.” I told them to cut it short and he was so happy. His haircut was kind of like Mia Farrow’s in Rosemary’s Baby. He looked great, and it gave me an early sense that life as a boy just made so much more sense to him. 

 What are some ways you’ve supported Xander over the years?

We believe it starts with acceptance and trying to put ourselves in his shoes—and often. Not just in elementary school, but during all those life events and into the future. Also, we’ve found that parental advice, with openness, goes a long way to address life challenges. Oh—and a sense of humor!

We’ve supported Xander in his kung fu—he is now a second degree black belt. We encourage his friendships and support him in all of the day-to-day trials and tribulations he goes thru—both as transgender and just being a teenage boy. And we support him in his interests, like going to see live music, watching movies together as a family, getting the books he wants, etc.

 In what specific ways did you support Xander’s gender expression?

As parents the first step is accepting and actively taking part in a child’s gender expression. First by creating a safe space from which to learn and express oneself. This is as much a truth in first grade as it is today. For Xander, in particular, providing the space and openness to him wearing boys clothes, become a black belt, coaching him on little things like a more masculine handshake, haircut and body language tips. 

What kinds of activities do you do as a family?

We do the same activities as most families. We go camping with friends, go out to dinner, have family movie nights. We have also become more politically active, like being politically aware of issues that affect LGBTQ people and the candidates that support our family values of loving, caring openness and equality.    

 How did you navigate extended family relationships to make it safe for Xander to come out?

When Xander was 13, he was concerned how his grandfather felt about the fact that he is transgender—in particular, the fact that his grandfather was not referring to Xander with male pronouns. We reassured Xander. But in the end, I recommended that he should write his grandfather a letter sharing with him his journey and wishes. It was a very understanding, beautiful letter Xander wrote, and today they have a wonderful relationship. Eli still gets frustrated with himself when he messes up pronouns sometimes, and Xander is very understanding. He really appreciates the effort, and they have had good conversations between the two of them. It’s a good lesson for advocating and owning one’s identity and journey.  

 How supportive has Xander’s school been?

Excellent! They were unconditionally helpful. We worked with the school very closely over a series of meetings with teachers and administration for the school. The administration informed all his teachers and ensured he could use the same school facilities as other boys. In fact, it was one of Xander’s teachers who initially suggested that we have his name legally changed; someone had accidently called him by the wrong name, and the teacher saw first-hand how Xander’s heart sank. Overall they’ve been incredibly supportive.

How do you build community for your family?

A lot of it is about enabling both of our kids to have their friends over and by keeping in close touch with our adult friends. The Wileys (Mike and Margaret) are like second parents to Xander and Zuni—and we feel that we are for Lucas as well.

 Has Xander ever been mistreated because of his gender identity?

Yes. In elementary school Xander was bullied by two classmates. The school used the opportunity to provide transgender awareness and anti-bullying discussions for the kids. We also talked to the parents to help them understand what happened. 

 What are your hopes and dreams for Xander as he finishes high school?

Good grades, acceptance into a good college media program (which is his dream), the unfettered continuation of his journey—personal, social, career, love, and identity. 

 Any final thoughts?

We are so proud of our son. He is compassionate, thoughtful, kind, intelligent, is passionate about life, is an incredibly good and loyal friend, and a wonderful human being! We’re most proud of how he balances on the one hand advocating for himself and his identity, while being very compassionate and understanding of friends and family as we all learn together.

The Key for Transgender Youth: Advancing Acceptance

For transgender youth, sometimes a supportive family can make the difference between a happy, healthy, thriving child—or one at greatly elevated risk of depression, suicidal behavior, and other harmful outcomes. Research shows that trans youth with families that support and affirm their gender are at significantly lower risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts or risk, depression, anxiety, or self-harming behaviors. Trans youth with supportive families are also much more likely to have higher self-esteem and overall health, compared to trans youth with unsupportive families. Community support matters too; for example, trans youth with supportive schools, such as those with gender and sexuality alliances (GSAs) or supportive staff and administration, have better health and higher school attendance.

Yet despite the clear and positive impact of family acceptance, only 27% of trans youth say their families are very supportive, according to a survey by Gender Spectrum and the Human Rights Campaign. Similarly, only 9% of trans youth say their communities are very supportive.

That’s why today the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Biden Foundation, and Gender Spectrum are launching a new campaign called Advancing Acceptance to raise awareness about the importance of family and community acceptance in the lives of transgender and gender diverse youth. It also provides crucial resources for friends and family who may have questions, be struggling with acceptance, or who are simply looking for ways to support trans and gender diverse youth.

The campaign includes the debut of a new ad  called “Journeys: The Berman-Ruth & Wylie Families,” which showcases the Berman-Ruth family and their close family friends, the Wylie family, discussing how they have supported their son, Xander, a transgender boy, through his transition.

So how can you get involved? The Advancing Acceptance campaign encourages supporters of trans and gender diverse youth—including LGBTQ youth, parents, siblings, educators, social service providers, coaches, and others—who wish to take action to share their stories, which will be included as part of the Biden Foundation’s “As You Are” campaign. These stories will help highlight the critical importance of affirming, accepting, and supporting LGBTQ young people, and the harms these youth face when their families and communities reject them.

Share your story of acceptance and support of a trans or a gender diverse youth!

For the 1.3+ million transgender youth across the country, acceptance is key to ensuring trans and gender diverse youth are healthy and thriving.

To find out more, visit AdvancingAcceptance.org.

One Letter Makes a World of Difference

January 1, 2019, marks not only the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of California residents being able to select a nonbinary option on their driver’s licenses. California is one of six states, plus Washington D.C., that now allow residents to select “M,” “F,” or “X” to mark their sex on a driver’s license. Commonly referred to as a “gender marker,” this simple letter can make a world of difference for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people across the country.

People use their driver’s licenses almost every day and in many areas of daily life, from showing ID when using a credit card at the grocery store, movie theater, or restaurant, to accessing their bank account, getting medical prescriptions, or trying to use public services such as getting a library card or bus pass.  Watch “Movie Theater,” an ad from MAP depicting how transgender people can experience discrimination, harassment and denial of equal treatment in places of public accommodation.

Many transgender people choose to update the gender marker on their identity documents so that it matches their gender identity. may also wish to update their gender marker to something that is neither “M” nor “F.” Most people know from a very young age that they are either male or female. But that is not true for everyone. Gender nonbinary describes a person who doesn’t fit into either male or female gender categories.

However, many states have not yet updated their policy or process that allows people to update the gender marker on their driver’s license. This makes it significantly challenging for transgender and nonbinary people to access identification that matches their gender identity and protects their safety.

MAP tracks these laws in our Identity Documents and Policies Map, which is based on the research conducted and compiled by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), available here.

As the new legislative session starts in many states, it’s important that more states continue to update their driver’s license laws, by both simplifying the process of gender marker changes and expanding the options to include nonbinary individuals.

For more information, please see the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Identity Documents Center.

LGBT Groups Get Help Fighting Back Against Attacks from the Trump Administration

What is the state of LGBT organizations’ financial health? Are revenues and in-kind donations up? How many large donors give to LGBT organizations? Who makes up the staff and boards of these groups?

MAP provides answers to these and other questions so that supporters of LGBT equality can have a better understanding of the overall strength, capacity, and operations of the LGBT movement. As the political landscape changes for LGBT equality, tracking these trends moving forward will be crucial for understanding the financial health and stability of the movement.

Each year, MAP releases the National Movement Report, a comprehensive and standardized look at the finances for the LGBT movement across 40 major LGBT advocacy organizations. This year, the 2018 National Movement Report analyzes the first full year under the Trump administration, as well as budget projections for 2018.

The report finds that, at the end of Fiscal Year 2017, the participating organizations remain efficient, focused on providing vital programs and services, and are supported by a diverse range of revenue sources.

Not only has the total combined 2017 revenue for the participating organizations increased by 13% since 2016 (totaling $269.7 million), but also this is the largest year-to-year increase in the past five years. Additionally, cumulative in-kind contributions increased by 52%, with multiple organizations reporting that the bulk of these increases were due to donated legal services to advance equality and counter the harmful and discriminatory policies of the Trump administration.

We have seen continued attacks on the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including the LGBT community. It is encouraging to see the rise in support of LGBT movement organizations; however, these resources are sorely needed. As the administration rolls back important nondiscrimination protections for transgender Americans, as states advance efforts to expand religious exemption laws that allow discrimination, and with the shift in the Supreme Court, LGBT people are increasingly vulnerable, and the work of LGBT organizations is critical.

Click here to read the report and access the full findings.

 

World AIDS Day 2018

December 1, 2018, is the 30th annual World AIDS Day, an event “for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.”

Unfortunately, this spirit of unity, support, and remembrance is not shared by everyone. In some U.S. states (as well as in other countries), specific laws criminalize HIV-positive people and certain behaviors.  

These laws criminalize the transmission of, or perceived exposure to, HIV and other infectious diseases. A number of criminal laws on sexually transmitted infections explicitly include HIV, whereas others, such as in New York, contain broad definitions of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) or “infectious disease” that can apply to HIV.  

Some of these laws criminalize not just exposure to or transmission or HIV, but also behaviors—such as spitting–that have no risk of HIV transmission. These laws are not based in scientific evidence about actual risk or transmission pathways, but rather based on outdated prejudicial beliefs and harmful stigma about people living with HIV.  

These policies are used to prosecute, fine, or even imprison people living with HIV, many of whom may be LGBT people. This can discourage people from being tested for HIV, leading to adverse public health outcomes. For more information about these laws and their impact on people living with HIV, check out MAP’s report SpotlightHIV Criminalization Laws. 

MAP tracks these laws in our HIV Criminalization Laws map, which relies on the statutory research conducted by the Center for HIV Law and Policy.

Overall, 82% of the U.S. adult population lives in a state with an HIV criminalization law on the books—that’s 38 states! Because the specific content of these laws vary so widely, the prosecution and penalties can also vary widely. And in states with no known prosecution or HIV-specific statutes, there are also no legal frameworks in place to prevent prosecutions under general criminal codes in these states, leaving people vulnerable to being criminalized simply because of their HIV status. 

It’s time to enact commonsense policy recommendations to reduce the harmful consequences of such laws. It’s time to modernize or repeal HIV criminalization laws.

For more information on the history of HIV criminalization, see here. Additionally, if you or someone you know is currently being charged with an HIV-related offense, please contact the Legal Help Desk at Lambda Legal by calling (866) 542-8336 or through this form. 

Calling all elected officials! Join Open to All!

The Open to All coalition continues to grow!

Today, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Open to All announced the expansion of the  nationwide Open to All effort with the new Local Electeds Against Discrimination (LEAD) taskforce.

Fifteen lawmakers from around the country, including Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, have joined Comptroller Stringer in supporting Open to All. This taskforce builds on their early leadership with the goal of reaching elected officials in all fifty states.

Comptroller Stringer’s taskforce, Local Electeds Against Discrimination (LEAD) is a national network of elected leaders who support Open to All and are also taking a stand for nondiscrimination protections in their cities and states. The LEAD taskforce brings together local elected officials from across the country to share model nondiscrimination policies, strategies for encouraging businesses to pledge to be Open to All, and ideas for bringing together local communities to oppose discrimination.

By signing the Open to All Elected Officials Pledge and joining the LEAD Taskforce, lawmakers agree to:

  • Take a stand for nondiscrimination in their city or state and work to create a welcoming and safe environment for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability.
  • Oppose discrimination against individuals or denial of goods or services based on any of these characteristics, and to work to ensure businesses provide all goods and services to everyone on the same terms.

Once they sign the pledge, Open to All is asking elected officials to take action by engaging businesses in their communities and inviting them to sign the Open to All Business pledge. They are also encouraged to come together with municipal elected officials from across the country to share ideas, best practices, and strategies for creating nondiscrimination policies and practices in local communities and/or contribute feedback and input into the development of model policies as a member of the LEAD taskforce.

How can you help?

Everything You Need for Transgender Awareness Week

November 12-19 is Transgender Awareness Week, and MAP has the resources your need to reach out to your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues about why you support equality for transgender people.

Despite rising visibility, unprecedented advocacy, and evolving public opinion, stigma, discrimination and even violence are still major threats, particularly for transgender women, transgender people of color, and low-income transgender people.

And this administration is doubling down on attacks on transgender protections. Last month, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration is preparing to redefine the term “sex” for the purposes of several federal agencies.

This radical redefinition is out of step with science, medicine and the law—and it is intended to not only to eliminate protections for transgender and intersex people, but to stop recognizing transgender and intersex people all together. This would create even more barriers to accessing the resources, protections and care transgender people need to thrive.

That’s why Transgender Awareness Week is such an important opportunity to advance understanding of transgender people, and MAP has the resources to get you started.

RESOURCES:

Getting to Know Transgender People

Transgender People and Public Accommodations

Transgender Students

Transgender People and Health Care

Open Enrollment Is Back! #GetCovered #EnrollbyDec15

Open enrollment, or the time of the year that millions of Americans can enroll in health insurance plans for the coming year, has begun! Open enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15, so NOW is the time to sign up and to encourage anyone who needs health insurance to sign up for coverage for 2019.

This cannot be overstated: health insurance is critically important to the LGBT community. Health insurance means LGBT people can get the health care they need, from transgender-related care and life-saving HIV drugs, to HIV prevention like PrEP and other routine medical care.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”), the number of low- and middle-income LGBT people with health insurance rose from 66% in 2013 to 78% in 2017. And despite efforts by the Trump Administration and members of Congress to repeal it or to gut its key provisions, the Affordable Care Act is still here and still providing crucial health care protections, access, and options to everyone.

According to Out2Enroll, the national campaign to empower LGBT individuals and communities to get access to health care, there are more insurers than before, which means prices have stabilized, and according to data released by the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services, four in five people who purchased insurance through HealthCare.gov received financial help to lower their premiums, and many are playing less than they have in past years. In fact, many people can find health insurance for under $75/month.

Importantly, all LGBT people are still protected against discrimination in health insurance and health care. In other words, the nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act remain. This means that any healthcare provider, clinic, hospital, or insurer must treat all people fairly and cannot discriminate based on someone’s gender identity or expression. The headlines may be confusing, and there is work to be done to protect these crucial provisions, but nothing has changed when it comes to health care. Everyone who needs health insurance should receive it, regardless of who they are.

Learn more in this graphic from Out2Enroll:

Are LGBT Workers Protected from Discrimination? It’s Complicated

For many people, it it’s shocking to learn that nearly half of LGBT adults live in states lacking laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination at work based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Further, most people believe that there is a federal law explicitly prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination. (Hint: there’s not).

Last week, the ACLU filed a response before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case in which Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, was fired when she came out to her employer and informed them that she planned to start dressing in appropriate business attire for a woman.

Today, MAP, the ACLU and Lambda Legal released a new report that outlines the complicated patchwork of employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. Are LGBT Workers Protected from Discrimination? Unravelling the Patchwork of Federal, State, and Local Employment Protections examines federal, state and local laws and court rulings that offer protections to LGBT workers and highlights the gaps that leave LGBT workers vulnerable to discrimination because laws don’t explicitly include the terms “sexual orientation” or “gender identity,” and courts have not interpreted sex discrimination provisions correctly.

  • Federal protections: A growing number of federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have concluded that when a person is discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, such discrimination is inherently differential treatment based on the individual’s sex and illegal under federal laws’ prohibitions on sex discrimination.
  • State laws: Only 20 states and the District of Columbia have state statutes that explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while two states have statutes that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity.
  • Local progress: Because of a lack of progress at the federal and state levels, some cities and counties are acting to protect their residents. Since the first local nondiscrimination ordinance was passed in 1974, hundreds of cities and counties have passed local nondiscrimination ordinances to protect LGBT workers from discrimination. These local ordinances currently provide important job safeguards for thousands of LGBT individuals living in states lacking explicit state-level protections.

There is broad public support for employment protections and yet, many Americans assume incorrectly that these laws already exist protecting LGBT workers from discrimination in the workplace. In 2018, 71% of Americans said they support laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, including majority support in every state across the country.

That’s why efforts like Yes on 3 in Massachusetts and the successful New Hampshire campaign to pass HB 1319 are so critical. It’s time to update our nondiscrimination laws, so that everyone can have a fair shot to earn a living and provide for their family.