I have been asked to speak about progress we have made this past year and what is on the horizon; back in 2011 the gender inclusive non-discrimination laws was passed and it effects are now filtering down. Last December the insurance commissioner issued a bulletin saying that insurance policies must cover all medically necessary healthcare for us, but the problem is that no one knows what is covered and what isn’t covered. We need to educate the healthcare providers because many of them believe that they do not have the training to treat us so they refuse to care for us even though the medical condition that we are seeing them for has nothing to do with our transition.
Also when we do have insurance coverage the companies only pay for a fraction of the cost and we have to pay the rest which many trans-people cannot afford.
With the passage of the non-discrimination bill we must now begin the work to educate employers, landlords, and business owners about the law. In many schools around the state they still force trans-students to use the nurse’s or teacher’s bathrooms. We need the DCF to obey the law and recognize our gender identity. In homeless shelter we need to educate them on the law, that the law says we can use the shelter of our gender identity not of our birth gender. We need better training for healthcare workers so that they treat us with respect and dignity.
On the legislative agenda… the national scene looks bleak but we have to keep laying the groundwork for trans-friendly legislation. We must continue to work to pass a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act with a narrowly defined religious exemption. We must pass a new Civil Rights a\Act that will give us protection in housing, credit, and public accommodation
Locally we need to work towards changing the law for birth certificates so that we do not need surgery to change the gender on our birth certificate. Seven states and the District of Columbia allow us to change the gender on our birth certificate; the states are Rhode Island, Iowa, New York, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California.
We must also be on the defensive to make sure that our gains are not taking away. Our non-discrimination law is still number two on our opposition (whose shall be nameless because naming them gives them power) list of laws to be repealed and they still call the law the “Bathroom Bill.” The opposition is also gloating over the loss of one of our champions in the House, Fairfield, Rep. Kim Fawcett who courageously stood up on the floor of the House to defend our bill.
We have been given the tools by the legislature and now it is time for us to act, we have to speak up when we hear hate, we have to act when there is discrimination.