Monday, June 21, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

There has been a slow change for the better in national policy in the way the current administration treaty with LGBT issues. Some bemoan the lack of legislation with DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), however, I see other important advances in LGBT issues that we never had with the Bush II administration.

Last week, the Obama administration issued new guidelines to changing the gender marker on passports.
State eases rules for changing gender on passports
Washington Post
Federal Eye
By Dan O’Keefe

The State Department has revised its policy on changing passports for transgender people, announcing Wednesday night that a doctor's note will now suffice in such cases.

Previously, the State Department had required that a person undergo sexual reassignment surgery before it would change the passport. The policy had outraged transgender advocates, who called for an updated approach.

Under the new policy, which takes effect Thursday, a doctor must attest that the person is undergoing clinical treatment for gender transition, State said. Limited-validity passports will also be available to applicants in the process of gender transition, the department added.

State noted that its policy is "based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field."

The department also stressed that passport-issuing officials "will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity."
This is an important step for trans-people who are traveling, now the will be subject to less harassment abroad. Their documentation will now match their appearance. At the Norwalk Pride on Saturday, I was talking to a trans-woman who was born in Canada and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen and every time she went up to Canada to visit her parents she had to show her passport that said she was male. Now her passport will match her appearance and also the gender on her driver license.

This week the White House is hosting another reception for the LGBT community, another big step forward. As far as I know, Obama is the first president to do so.
Obama to host LGBT reception Tuesday
by GoPride.com News Staff
Mon. June 21, 2010

Washington, D.C. — Tuesday is going to be quite a day at the White House, as President Obama welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists to a special reception in honor of Pride month.

One of the guests will be 18-year-old Constance McMillen of Mississippi, who made headlines earlier this year when school officials refused to let her take her girlfriend to the prom. She eventually transferred to a different school.

"I'll never get my senior year back," she told USA Today. "But the experiences that I have had because of this have really made it a lot easier. It has really helped me."
How Cool Is That! (I wrote about her, here.)

Obama also revised the federal policy on employment, adding a non-discrimination clause for sexual orientation which was removed by Bush II and Obama also added gender identity and expression to the policy. In addition, the president has appointed two openly trans-persona one to Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security and another to the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor.

I think that President Obama has come a lot farther for LGBT rights than any other president.

Update 6/22/10
This was just sent out from NTCE...

* The federal hate crimes prevention law passed.
Now we are working with the FBI, the Department of Justice and a lot of great allies to see that it is implemented in a way that really educates law enforcement about transgender people and the violence perpetrated against us.

* When the healthcare reform bill was signed into law in March, we had achieved our highest priority against all odds. The law does NOT contain a prohibition against using federal funds for transition-related care. A prohibition in the new law could have ended years of advocacy work to get even private insurers to cover our healthcare.

* Transgender federal employees now have explicit job protections and we are working with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to implement these important new protections.

* After years of working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to end the gender no-match letters that were being sent to the employers of transgender people outing them at work, the letters have largely stopped.

* And very shortly, we expect to see the fruition of our technical assistance and advocacy on a Veterans Administration transgender healthcare policy. We are very optimistic that, very soon, trans veterans will be able to count on consistent access to healthcare across the VA system.

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