Draft: An Open Letter to ‘trans inclusive’ LGBTetc Organizations

September 25, 2008

Dear national & state LGBT and Transgender organizations,

I am quite moved to see the recent upswell of support among LGBT orgs for trans inclusion in ENDA and Hate Crimes bills. Each of you generally inform your users what states have transgender inclusion in Hate Crimes and Anti-Discrimination law. Many of you have a resource related to transitioning on the job that covers names & bathrooms; HRC includes what one needs for birth certificate change (but doesn’t provide advice), TLC includes information for changing CA birth certificates, Driver’s Licenses, as well as passports and Social Security, and NCTE includes several resources for navigating potential sites of difficulty.

As important as all these are, there are huge gaps in the legal documents/resources/information available to trans people, which make your websites of considerably less use to trans people than we should be able to expect from community organizations. Here are some of the most pressing.

1)A by-state listing of procedures for name change, Drivers’ License gender change, and birth certificate gender change, as well as links to any relevant forms. A discussion of complications, such as whether one needs to complete gender-related documentation at every renewal or upon moving from another state if SSA records have not been changed, a generic form about how to appeal an arbitrary decision by a clerk or manager to not honor gender change requests even with appropriate documentation.

2)A by state analysis of marriage/domestic partnership law that clarifies what document(s) are sufficient proof of gender to enter into a marriage or same-sex-only domestic partnership. If one has different genders on different forms of ID, how will marriage/domestic partnership law be administered? If you don’t know, say so

3)A by state listing of at-will labor law–where can one/can’t one be fired “without cause”. (Also, work to overturn at-will labor law, and require cause for firings.)

4)A document describing trans people’s rights under sexual harassment law and law banning the creation of a hostile work environment. Do trans people have the right to contest intentional and/or repeated misuse of pronouns? Are employers allowed to require that coworkers use the wrong pronoun about a trans person? What statements/questions about a trans person’s body count as sexual harassment–and what are “curiosity”? Can an employer require, or ask for, information about what medical treatments a trans employee has had? (It’s my understanding that employers are not allowed to ask that about other treatments, is this correct?) Documents to provide to employers explaining said rights.

5)Police, criminal law, & arrests
5.1)State prison policies re: gender. What are your rights for prison placement, what are your rights if those get violated, and what level of accountability to guards/police have for the consequences of placement? What are your rights vs sexual harassment/humiliation by guards/police?
5.2)What to do if you get arrested. Trans specific info, or just at all. Please.
5.3)Police brutality law, by state. State organizations against police brutality.
5.4)List of potential legal contacts to ensure safe treatment in prison.
5.5)Prostitution/sex work law, by state. What sex work is legal, what isn’t. Degree of proof required/defining characteristics of offense, sentences for. Are there complications for trans people? What are trans people’s rights against gender profiling by police? Link to law code.
5.6)What to do if you’ve been attacked by police for being trans/24-hr hotline.
5.7)Work to reform/abolish prison system

6)ENDA complications:
6.1)Bathroom/changing room law. If trans people are included in state ENDA, what rights to bathrooms and changing rooms does this give us? Are they more than the proposed national ENDA? If not, what are our rights?
6.2)Sex-specific employment. Can I find work in a gender-segregated summer camp without discrimination? If so, in what gender?
6.3)Gender non-conformity. Do trans people have rights to gender presentations other than male and female at work? Does this state include crossdressing and genderfuck as part of its ENDA? If one’s employer requires sex-differentiated uniforms/dress codes, what are one’s rights to non-binary gender expression?
6.4)Can one legally be denied individual health insurance on the basis of a GID diagnosis (as one might be for an epilepsy diagnosis)? Does human rights statue require trans inclusion in items covered by policies?
6.5)Can an employer require disclosure of trans status?
6.6)Given the sex-differentiated dress code loophole in the national ENDA, how exactly does this protect GNC people? (also: don’t throw us under the bus. really.)

7)Welfare. When do trans people qualify for sex-specific welfare benefits, and when not? A legal sheet to present to welfare office employees to assert rights to gender expression/identity. What to do if you are, and how to prevent being, kicked out of a welfare office? What rights do we have in welfare-to-work situations? How do we keep our benefits if we are discriminated against by an employer? Will we keep our benefits if we quit due to hostile work environments?

8)State & National subsidized health care plans (e.g. Minnesota Care, Medicare, Medicaid, Medical Assistance, MCHA). Do they reject trans applicants? Do they reject claims where the gender on file at provider and at insurance company office don’t match? Do they exclude transpeople from a)all coverage, b)sex-related coverage (assigned or preferred), c)transition related care, d)SRS, e)FFS, electrolysis, top surgery, etc.

9)Institutional “Care”: nursing homes, mental hospitals, rehab, homeless shelters, DV shelters, etc: What trans folks do they accept and under what circumstances? What are trans folks’ actual experiences when they have gone there? Are there places that are accountable in addition to ‘allowed in’? Will a mental institution or nursing home force-re-transition you, and what are your rights in that case? Link to The Survivor Project, advocates when needed.


I want to make this a real open letter, with real signatures, and really send it to the organizations we know and love feel ambivalent about. Do you have things to add or change, or other edits?

(Note, most of this was actually written almost a year ago, so it was actually before (and I think was partial inspiration for) this post (similar and also worth reading) but I never got a big circulation for it or edits/signatures.)

One Response to “Draft: An Open Letter to ‘trans inclusive’ LGBTetc Organizations”

  1. […] also has a criticism up about the format of privilege checklists, as well as the draft of an open letter to LGBT organizations: I want to make this a real open letter, with real signatures, and really send it to the […]

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