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Study: Trans people 10x more likely to attempt suicide

The rate for suicide attempts in the general US adult population is 4.6%. In transgender people it's 41%.

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07
Feb
2014

Facebook now offers over 50 genders to choose from in your profile

Options include: Male, female, neither, trans, trans*, agender, bigender, andryogyne, pangender, and neutrois.

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14
Feb
2014

Dumped by her own community on Valentine’s Day

A Valentine's Day dance benefitting PFLAG banned a formerly-lesbian couple because one partner is female-to-male.

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14
Feb
2014

Olympic police re-arrest former Italian MP for wearing rainbow outfit

Vladimir Luxuria's rainbow outfit was deemed too gay by the Olympic police.

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17
Feb
2014

Colbert savages Facebook over addition of 50+ new genders

The definition of right and wrong on this topic seems awfully imprecise if Colbert's segment was "pro-trans."

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19
Feb
2014

Trans benefits of decriminalizing marijuana

marijuana, U.S. Capitol building, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

By HARPER JEAN TOBIN

Across the country, decriminalizing marijuana is on the agenda of lawmakers. Colorado and Washington State made history by legalizing marijuana, and this month the D.C. Council gave an initial nod to turn marijuana possession from a crime to something more like a parking ticket.

Other states are also considering legislation. Much of the conversation has focused on the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol, and on the fact black people are far more likely to be arrested and charged for marijuana despite using pot at similar rates to white people.

What does this have to do with transgender and transgender people of color? A lot. While we don’t have specific figures on marijuana, we know that trans people—especially trans people of color—are disproportionately affected by our country’s continuing problems of mass incarceration, police profiling and harassment, barriers to jobs and housing that are exacerbated by a criminal record, and other critical problems that are being neglected in favor of spending on drug enforcement and prisons.

While changing marijuana laws will not cure these problems, we believe it is a step in the right direction.

Here’s why NCTE supports decriminalizing marijuana:

• Decriminalization would help reduce disproportionate incarceration of transgender people. The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) found that fully 1 in 8 transgender people, more than 1 in 5 transgender women, and nearly half (47 percent) of black transgender people have been incarcerated. Trans people, like their non-trans counterparts, are overwhelmingly arrested and incarcerated for minor, nonviolent offenses—a reality confirmed by the NTDS finding that most formerly incarcerated transgender people have served misdemeanor sentences of less than one year, with a majority serving less than six months. Decriminalization would mean fewer trans people needlessly incarcerated.

• Decriminalization would reduce barriers to employment, housing, education and public services. Having a criminal record for a minor offense like marijuana possession can mean being barred from many jobs, public housing, student loans and other key supports that individuals need to get back on their feet after exiting prison. Even if a person avoids incarceration, a conviction can mean immediate eviction from their home or losing your legal immigration status. And many employers will not even consider hiring someone with any criminal record. For trans people, this means more barriers on top of widespread anti-trans discrimination.

• Decriminalization would send fewer transgender people to dangerous jails and prisons. Prisons and jails are inhumane and traumatizing places for anyone, and they are especially dangerous for transgender people. Transgender women are still routinely housed with men, where they are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other inmates.

• Decriminalization would reduce some of the harms of “stop and frisk.” More than one-third (35 percent) of trans people have been harassed or face discriminatory treatment by police officers—often simply for the crime of “walking while trans.” When stopped and frisked, marijuana is the most common thing people are arrested for. And, suspicion of marijuana is one of the main justifications for stops of youth of color. While much of the police harassment of trans people is based on targeting trans women as suspected or actual sex workers, decriminalizing marijuana would mean one less reason for trans people, especially trans youth of color, to fear harassment or arrest when they walk down the street.

• Decriminalization could free up scarce resources to address the real issues of homelessness, poverty, healthcare and education. Trans people face stark health disparities, are twice as likely to be unemployed, four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, and face violence from their schools to the streets to their own homes. We spend untold billions arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people for marijuana possession. Though it won’t happen without advocacy, every dollar saved could be redirected by policymakers into addressing real community needs that should benefit trans and other marginalized people.

• Decriminalization would move us closer to addressing drug use as a public health issue. Substance abuse presents real issues for the trans community. More than one quarter (26 percent) of trans people report having used drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress of discrimination, and many studies have found LGBT disparities in substance use and abuse. But voluntary treatment and support for those with problematic drug use is the right response, not criminalization.

NCTE has added its voice to the civil rights, faith, harm reduction, and public health voices supporting decriminalization before the D.C. Council. While NCTE continues to focus on issues where our trans-specific expertise is critical, we will also support common-sense marijuana reform that will benefit our community and other marginalized communities.

Harper Jean Tobin is director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

25
Feb
2014

D.C. requires insurers to cover gender reassignment

Vincent Gray, transgender, gay news, Washington Blade, gender reassignment

‘Treatment of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria is a covered benefit in all individual and group insurance plans in the District of Columbia, including Medicaid,’ said Mayor Vincent Gray. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced on Thursday that health insurance companies doing business in the District must provide full coverage for medically recognized treatments to help transgender people change their gender, including gender reassignment surgery.

At a news conference in a meeting room outside his office, Gray said the city’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking issued a bulletin directing insurers to recognize a condition known as gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as a medical condition to be covered by insurance plans.

Transgender advocates note that the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association recognize gender dysphoria as a diagnosable condition through which physicians and other health care professional provide a wide range of approved medical treatments to assist people in transitioning from one gender to another.

“Today, the District takes a major step toward leveling the playing field for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” Gray said. “These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not,” he said.

“I’m clarifying today that treatment of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria is a covered benefit in all individual and group insurance plans in the District of Columbia, including Medicaid,” Gray said.

Gray’s remark drew a prolonged, standing ovation from LGBT activists, including transgender advocates, who gathered in the mayor’s ceremonial bill-signing room where Gray held his news conference.

“Those who know me know how proud I am that the District continues to be on the cutting edge and on the forefront when it relates to equality and fairness for its LGBTQ residents,” Gray said.

The bulletin, which the city sent to insurance companies on the day of Gray’s announcement, cites the D.C. Human Rights Act as among the legal grounds being used to require insurers to cover transgender related treatments. The Human Rights Act, among other categories, bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation.

The bulletin cites the D.C. Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act of 2001 as further grounds for not allowing insurers to exclude coverage of trans-related treatments from their insurance plans.

Among those speaking at the news conference was Mara Keisling, executive director of the D.C.-based National Center for Transgender Equality, which worked with the mayor’s office and insurance department officials to help draft the four-page bulletin.

Keisling said Gray’s action places D.C. among just five states that have adopted similar policies requiring insurers to cover treatments such as gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy to assist an individual’s transition to another gender.

Those states are California, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont and Connecticut.

“This is really significant,” Keisling told the Blade after the news conference. “It means that transgender people in D.C. now can make their health care decisions with their doctor rather than with their insurance companies,” she said.

Mara Keisling, NCTE, National Center for Transgender Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Asked what treatments are involved in a gender transition, Keisling said experts with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care (WPATH) have developed a wide range of treatments that may vary from person to person depending on individual needs.

“It’s a whole range of transition-related care — everything from diagnostic visits to experts in the field,” Keisling said. “It can mean hormone treatments. It can mean lab tests to make sure your hormones are working correctly and not causing any harm. There are various kinds of surgeries that transgender people may need. So it covers a whole range of things.”

D.C. transgender activist Andy Bowen, who recently joined the staff of the NCTE as a policy associate, called the D.C. initiative announced by Gray the most comprehensive among the states that have adopted similar policies.

“If you look at some of the other states they say they’re not going to cover some treatments,” Bowen said. “D.C. has not done that. It just said that if it’s one of the WPATH treatments we’re going to cover it. And that’s amazing to hear a government be that unequivocal about it.”

Philip Barlow, the city’s Associate Commissioner of Insurance, said after the news conference that requiring health insurance companies to cover the medical treatments for transgender people would likely result in a small increase in premiums over a period of time.

“It will just be incorporated into the general cost and utilization that insurers use in coming up with future rate increases,” he said. “But we don’t really anticipate it to have a significant impact on the rates.”

Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, praised Gray for taking action that he said would “end health care discrimination against transgender residents of Washington, D.C.”

The bulletin issued by the city’s Department of Insurance that directs insurers to provide full coverage for medically approved treatments to transgender individuals in D.C. can be obtained here.

28
Feb
2014

EU dumps gays, says Ukraine can have visa-free travel without “non-negotiable” LGBT non-discrim guarantee

Ukraine and the EU have conspired to undermine the human rights of gay and trans Ukrainians.

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24
Mar
2014

Trans woman asks anti-gay bigot if he’d like to stone her (video)

Pamela Raintree, a trans woman in Louisiana, got an anti-gay bigot politician to backdown by offering him a stone.

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20
Jan
2014

LGBT RIP

I'm hard pressed to find a "community" as ever-changing and ultimately unnameable as the gay community.

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27
Mar
2014