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.

Intersex Awareness Day 2018

Today is Intersex Awareness Day, a day to bring advocates and allies together in a grassroots effort to raise awareness around intersex people. Intersex people—who compose up to 1.7% of the population—are born with sex characteristics that don’t line up with what society tends to think of as a typical “male” or “female” body.

Unfortunately, for many intersex people, the stigma surrounding intersex often creates dangerous medical interventions for infants, as well as barriers to accessing critical protections and resources later in life.

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration is preparing to redefine the term “sex” for the purposes of several key government agencies in a way that would rely only on the sex listed on an individual’s original birth certificate.

The Administration’s attempt to roll back recognition and protections would have a devastating impact on intersex people.

This redefinition is not only out of step with science, medicine and the law—but it could eliminate protections for intersex people and transgender people and could even stop recognizing intersex and transgender people all together. Click here to read an important op-ed from an intersex advocate in The New York Times responding to the Administration’s harmful proposal.

The negative impact of this potential new regulation would be felt by intersex people who frequently are forced to undergo painful, medically unnecessary surgeries as infants or children, without their consent.

Groups like InterACT work to educate the public and the medical establishment about the experiences of intersex youth and adults with the goal to stop these medical interventions. The changes proposed by HHS would put intersex children at an even higher risk for discrimination in institutional settings like hospitals and schools where they would be left without the protection of the federal government.

In honor of Intersex Awareness Day, we’re asking supporters and allies to spread the word about intersex people and help break down barriers to understanding.

Here are a few great resources from our colleagues at InterACT:

We also encourage you to share these on social media using #IntersexAwarenessDay. Here are a few #IntersexAwarenessDay 2018 graphics and posters.

Trump Administration’s Attempt to Redefine “Sex” & What It Means for Transgender and Intersex People

On Sunday, October 21, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration is preparing to redefine the term “sex” for the purposes of several key government agencies. This 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.

What is proposed redefinition of “sex” proposed by the Trump Administration?

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would redefine sex as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.” The agency is promoting this redefinition of “sex” across other federal agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Housing, Education, and Labor, which implement and enforce key nondiscrimination laws across the country.

How do transgender and intersex people fit into this redefinition of sex?

This redefinition would mean that the sex marked on an individual’s birth certificate at birth would be the only way they recognized by the federal government, regardless of their gender identity, the gender they live every day, or the clear medical and scientific consensus that transgender people are who they say they are, or what their ID documents say. This redefinition would negate a transgender person’s identity. For example, a transgender woman who has lived as a woman for 40 years would be treated as a man for the purposes of federal law regardless of her gender identity, and even if her birth certificate, driver’s license, and passport had all been updated to reflect her identity as a woman.

The Trump Administration’s redefinition of sex also runs counter to the medical understanding of sex, genetics and the biological diversity of human beings, particularly for intersex people. Take the example of an infant born with sex-chromosomal anomalies like XXY or XYY, or the thousands of intersex people who are born with so-called “ambiguous genitalia.” Intersex people have worked for decades for the right to be who they are, and to not be forced to undergo unnecessary, painful, and irreversible surgeries–often as infants or without their consent–simply so they can be made to fit into a box on a birth certificate. This redefinition of sex advanced by the Trump Administration flatly ignores the biological diversity and very existence of intersex people.

In short, the Trump administration is working to ensure that trans and intersex people don’t fit into this redefinition at all. This is an effort not only to eliminate protections for trans and intersex people, but to stop recognizing trans and intersex people all together.

What would this redefinition of sex mean for federal laws and protections for Americans?

The proposed redefinition of “sex” would impact programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees protections in health care. If, however, the Trump Administration were to use this redefinition across the other federal agencies, this would mean that the federal government would back away from protecting transgender and intersex people from discrimination across a wide range of settings and instead enforce a view of sex that limits the type of programs, services and benefits that transgender and intersex people could pursue through administrative agencies.

There are many laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and these laws are designed to ensure that all people have the ability to go to work (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), be paid fairly (Equal Pay Act of 1963), and take time off to care for themselves or a loved one (Family and Medical Leave Act); to pursue an education (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972), to access health care (the Affordable Care Act), to get credit (Equal Credit Opportunity Act), and to find housing (Fair Housing Act). These federal laws are supposed to be enforced by the federal government through Departments of Justice, Housing, Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services through civil rights offices and other enforcement offices. If all of these agencies and their offices tasked with enforcing federal law adopt this redefinition of “sex,” it means that the federal government is removing protections for both transgender and intersex people in terms of these vital laws, and preventing them from the equal treatment that a growing number of courts agree they are entitled to under federal law.

What can be done? What about the courts?  Or states that want to protect transgender and intersex people?

A growing number of federal courts have ruled that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on someone’s gender identity and expression. These courts have taken into consideration the science and medical community’s understanding of sex as well as the lived experience of transgender people. Regardless of the Trump Administration’s redefinition of sex, those court decisions in five circuits, covering 23 states, would remain binding. And the proposed changes do not alter the actual statutes of laws prohibiting discrimination. Only the courts or Congress can interpret or alter the statutes.

Nothing about the administration’s redefinition of sex would preclude Congress, state legislatures, or even city councils from passing nondiscrimination laws and ordinances that explicitly protect people from discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, or sex. Currently 50% of LGBT people live in states that lack any explicit laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

What happens next?

The administration is still drafting regulations that would enshrine this redefinition. When they are published in the federal register, individuals and organizations will have an opportunity to emphasize the science, medical, and legal consensus that the proposed redefinition of sex is out of step.

Additionally, it is important to continue to increase the public’s familiarity with transgender people and intersex people. They are our neighbors, coworkers, and children. Learn more about what it means to be transgender and intersex.

How can you support transgender and intersex people?

Now is the time tor raise your voice in support for transgender and intersex people. Express your personal support through phone calls and emails, both to your transgender and intersex friends, and to your elected officials. Donate to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the ACLU, who are leading the effort to ensure visibility, accessibility, and legal equality for transgender people, and to InterAct, which advocates for intersex youth.