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Senators Urge Sec. Mattis Not To Enact Trump’s Discriminatory Anti-Transgender Policy

Shaheen, Hassan Join Bipartisan Letter Urging Secretary Mattis Not to Implement Transgender Ban

Last week, President Trump tweeted that transgender individuals could no longer serve in the US Armed Forces.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

If enacted this new policy against transgender individuals would reverse policies issued by Sec of Defense,, Ash Carter in 2015 that stated:

“No Service member shall be involuntarily separated or denied reenlistment or continuation of active or reserve service on the basis of their gender identity, without the personal approval of the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel and Readiness.”

However since Trump’s policy announcement on twitter, the White House and the Department of Defense have not issued any official policy changes, leaving the thousands of transgender Service members hanging in the balance.  Since the official policy announcement in 2015, there have been zero reported issues by any branch of the military.

Now, everyone is waiting to see what Secretary of Defense James Mattis will do next.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan joined a bipartisan letter signed by 43 additional Senators to Secretary Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military.

“We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.”

“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued. We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”

Veterans like Jason Lindsay fear that this policy shift is a “colossal step backwards” in a statement issued Wednesday.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community,” said Lindsay.

The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here and below.

Letter to Mattis on transgender troops

Trump Bans Transgender Individuals From Serving In Armed Forces

(DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Once again, Donald Trump shows us that he is no friend to the LGBT community.  Taking to twitter this morning, Trump announced a new policy banning Transgender individuals from serving in the military.

He said: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

This horrible new policy announcement puts the thousands of LBGTQ service members in very precarious position.  This takes us back to the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” where Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender individuals we forced to hide their identity.

Since 2016, transgender service members have been allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces. However, that order did not allow transgender people to enlist until the conclusion of a one-year implementation period that was supposed to end at the beginning of July. However, in June, service chiefs requested a six month delay to study the issue further.

Currently, the U.S. military has 15,000 transgender individuals serving, making it the largest employer of transgender individuals in the nation. Thus far, the Defense Department has not issued a statement on Trump’s tweets. Questions remain regarding how Trump’s discriminatory ban will be enforced.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who in 2006 as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, fought to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell,” fired back at Trump with her statement.

“This morning’s tweets from the President are a disgraceful slap in the face to the thousands of transgender troops who are actively serving our country, and to all transgender Americans who aspire to serve. These troops are patriots who deserve to be appreciated for their service, not used as political props by their Commander in Chief. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will fight to prevent President Trump’s ugly rhetoric against our troops from becoming reality, and to make sure these troops know that Americans appreciate their service and sacrifice.”

“If you are a trans service member affected by Trump’s outrageous announcement that he is barring transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, please contact us,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of ACLU-NH. “You and your service to our country deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who rejects your basic humanity.”

Though some claimed that Trump was a “friend” to the LBGTQ community, it was clear that his support of North Carolina’s HB2, aka the bathroom bill, showed that he does not support the rights of trans individuals.  Now with Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump will most likely push even more anti-LBGTQ policies based on their warped ideological views.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only way we can protect our community is to elect pro-equality Democrats at the state and federal levels—which is exactly what Pride Fund has done, and will continue to do,” said Lindsay.

In New Hampshire, Freedom New Hampshire has been pushing to expand transgender protections and codify new anti-discrimination laws against trans individuals.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire called Trump’s tweets an “open attack” on the LBGTQ individuals serving in our nations Armed Forces.

“This is a clear and open attack on the brave individuals serving in our Armed Forces. Like all service members, those who are transgender go to work everyday, putting their lives on the line to defend our nation and the freedoms and values we hold dear. They should be treated with the same dignity and respect that all of our nation’s military members deserve,” Jakows stated.

“Today’s announcement sends an especially concerning message for transgender Granite Staters. Currently, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not explicitly protect transgender residents or visitors from discrimination in housing, employment or public services.

“Freedom New Hampshire is closely monitoring the situation, and remains committed to protecting all New Hampshire’s transgender residents and visitors from discrimination in housing, employment and public services,” Jakows concluded.

Another organization fighting for the rights of trans people is Rights & Democracy who had already planned an event in Manchester to show support for transgender individuals and continue to push for strong anti-discrimination laws.

“More than ever before, transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire are vital to the health and well being of our communities statewide,” they wrote on their Facebook Event page.

After today’s announcement showing our support for transgendered individuals is more important than ever.

Join Rights and Democracy’s event in Manchester July 29th.

End Child Abuse In The Name Of “Therapy”

‘The Plight of the Transgender’
Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography

This coming week the New Hampshire State Senate will debate and ultimately vote on a bill to prohibit “conversion therapy” to change a person’s gender presentation or identity for children under 18.

New Hampshire looks to join the five states and the District of Columbia that have already banned conversion therapy on minors.

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide,” the Senator added.

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

Conversion therapy is highly controversial due to the unproven tactics and the fact it has continually been deemed as ineffective.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

Ghose goes on to describe the practice of conversion therapy as “a method reminiscent of the one used in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ In aversion therapy, gay people were exposed to a negative stimulus (such as being shocked, given nausea drugs or imagining such exposures) while viewing same-sex erotic material.”

Conversion Therapy has not been proven to “convert” people but is actually harmful to “patients.”

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry wrote in their 2012 study, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents:

“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

“There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” stated the American Psychiatric Association in a 1997 study. They go on to say, “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

The Human Rights Coalition cites at least a dozen other organizations that show “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can cause more harm to young adults.

“People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk for sexually transmitted infections,” wrote Zach Stafford in the Guardian.

It is time to end this inhumane practice, especially on children. This bill will be heard in the NH Senate this Thursday, Feb 23rd. Contact your State Senator and tell them you want them to support SB 224, a ban on conversion therapy in NH.

AFGE Applauds Ruling Affirming Bathroom Rights for Transgender Workers

We the People LBGTGSA ruling: Federal employees have right
to use bathroom of their identified gender

WASHINGTON – The largest union of federal government employees is applauding the federal government’s announcement that transgender federal workers must be able to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The American Federation of Government Employees said the Aug. 18 memo from the General Services Administration affirms recent decisions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies that discrimination based on general identity is illegal under the same laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex.

“The federal government has torn down another wall of bigotry by rejecting discrimination against employees based on their gender identity,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Every person should be able to go to the bathroom that corresponds to their gender – and it’s up to each person to make that determination.”

The new regulation applies to all facilities that GSA owns, leases, or manages on behalf of federal agencies. GSA currently owns and leases nearly 400 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings nationwide, including office buildings, courthouses, post offices, and laboratories.

One of AFGE’s own members, Tamara Lusardi, faced discrimination at work after transitioning from male to female, including not being able to use the women’s bathroom. Lusardi’s discrimination case against the Army went to the EEOC, which in April 2015 issued a landmark ruling that the Army had discriminated against Lusardi on the basis of sex, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Today’s move by the GSA means that federal employees will no longer be harassed or intimidated from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender,” said Augusta Y. Thomas, AFGE’s National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices. “This is one more step along the path to having a discrimination-free workplace.”


Suggested reading: NH Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Is Wrong To Suggest We Reverse Transgender Protections

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Is Wrong To Suggest We Reverse Transgender Protections

restroom-304986_1280On Wednesday, Republican candidate for Governor Frank Edelblut told the Concord Monitor that he would “reverse” the order that protects trans-people from discrimination, allowing them to use the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

“I don’t think we need the federal government dictating that type of policy to us,” said Edelblut, a first-term state representative from Wilton. “It’s a practical issue. I think that people should use the bathrooms that are associated with their physiological gender.”

Transgender issues have exploded as a national debate in recent months and New Hampshire has waded into the discussion. Attorney General Joe Foster recently signed onto a brief supporting the Obama administration’s guidelines on transgender student bathroom use.

The state doesn’t have a law on the books protecting transgender people from discrimination, but Gov. Maggie Hassan signed an executive order in June that bars such bias in state government.

Edelblut, locked in a Republican primary with three other candidates, didn’t say whether he would reverse that order.

Frank Edelblut is wrong, and here is why.

Every student deserves the right to receive an education in a safe and supportive environment. For years, school districts across our state have stepped-up to enact policies that ensure the safety, dignity and privacy for all students – transgender students included. And consistent with New Hampshire school policies, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently issued guidelines to schools, colleges and universities across the nation on how the Obama Administration and the Courts are interpreting laws pertaining to gender.

According to a recent study, 87 percent of transgender students have been verbally bullied, while 53 percent have experienced physical violence. When students are afraid to go to school, they miss class and their grades suffer. Ultimately school performance drops and many may not graduate. The Department’s guidelines were issued to help ensure transgender students will have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in school as is the case for non-transgender students.

“I know what it is like to be isolated because of who I am. While in high school, I was told that I could only use the restroom in the nurse’s office. This was inconvenient not only because the nurse’s office was across campus from many of my classes, but it was also locked much of the time. If I was late to class because I had to use the restroom I would be punished,” said Cayden O’Dea, a transgender student at UNH.

In February, the Portsmouth and Dover School Boards adopted rules governing transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms and accommodations for students who need additional privacy. These policies were constructed with the input of both school administrators and students, allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities. These policies denounce the discrimination and violence often experienced by the transgender community and create safer spaces for all – challenging the old social norm of “let boys be boys and girls be girls.”

While high-profile people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have brought newfound visibility to transgender issues, many transgender folks cannot lead open and visible lives for fear of discrimination and violence. Across the country, they are denied a place to live, employment, and access to public places and businesses simply because of who they are. Currently, 18 states and more than 200 municipalities provide fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Three states, including New Hampshire, have state-level protections protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – but not gender identity. The lack of state-wide protections here in New Hampshire for transgender youth, adults and families leaves them wide-open to be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, or refused service at restaurants or other public places – including public schools and universities – simply because of their identity. However, the City of Portsmouth has made efforts to include gender identity protections for its municipal employees, recognizing that fighting discrimination benefits the entire community. Additionally, Gov. Hassan recently issued an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in state employment.

“The Granite State takes pride in our independence and believes everyone should be free from discrimination. It is a step in the right direction as cities such as Portsmouth and Dover show support for equal protection under the law for transgender students,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of NH. “Equal protection under the law is an investment in public welfare and ensures fair treatment for all, regardless of identity or gender expression.”

These policies need to be in all of our local school districts where we can cultivate the healthy development of our transgender and non-transgender children and teach them about our core family values of equality, freedom, and individuality – now that’s practical.

NH Joins Brief Supporting Federal Protections for Transgender Students

 restroom-304986_1280WASHINGTON – NH’s Attorney General, Joe Foster, has joined the Attorneys General of eleven other states in a brief filed by the state of Washington voicing support for a Guidance from the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) which affirms protections for transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Other states that joined Washington State in its filling included: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. 

In May, DOJ and ED issued the guidance, following numerous anti-transgender bills and laws passed in statehouses across the country – like North Carolina’s HB2 – discriminating against transgender people.

The Guidance, which is rooted in legal precedent, was issued as a reminder to public schools and universities that transgender students should have access to bathrooms that align with their gender identity. It is not legally binding, but can impact whether states with contradictory laws on the books stand to lose federal funding. A number of states challenged the Guidance, filing two different lawsuits over the past two months.

Today the ACLU joined five other national organizations in another brief filed before the Fifth Circuit which argues that many of the states and political jurisdictions joining the lawsuit against the Administration are doing so improperly in order to avoid transgender-affirming rulings handed down by their Federal Circuits.

In a brief obtained by BuzzFeed News, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson states that the Administration’s directives are “strongly in the public interest,” and “Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of our transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.” 

Currently in New Hampshire, transgender youth, adults and families lack explicit statewide protections ensuring they can’t be fired from their job, evicted from their home, or refused service at a restaurant or any other public place – including public schools and universities – simply because of their identity. “The Granite State takes pride in our independence and believes everyone should be free from discrimination. It is a step in the right direction as New Hampshire joins the ranks of states voicing their support for equal protection under the law for transgender students,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of NH. “Equal protection under the law is an investment in public welfare and ensures fair treatment for all, regardless of identity or gender expression.”

Tamara’s Tale: Transgender Veteran Fights for Equal Rights at Work (VIDEO)

Tamara’s Tale

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) just released this powerful new video about one transgendered woman’s fight against workplace discrimination.

Since she was very young, Tamara Lusardi has been familiar with a life of service. She is a self-described “Air Force brat” who grew up to serve in the Armed Forces, and later, as a public servant. She’s a member of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1858 in Alabama and works as a civilian employee with the Department of Defense. She is also transgender.

Despite her disabled veteran status and career of public service, Lusardi was met with discrimination at the worksite. Her supervisor often refused to acknowledge her as she wished and she met resistance when trying to go about her day like any other employee.

But Lusardi didn’t back down or let others continue to tread on her dignity. In 2014, with the help of AFGE and the Transgender Law Center, she fought back against the workplace discrimination and won.

Her case set an important precedent in the federal government for other transgender employees. Learn more about AFGE’s advocacy for LGBT issues at the AFGE Pride 2015 page and read AFGE’s Women’s and Fair Practices Departments Federal Employees Transgender Model Policy.

Workplace discrimination of any kind is wrong and all workers deserve respect and dignity in the workplace.  Collectively we must work to strengthen our laws to ensure that members of the LGBTQ community are protected from workplace discriminations.

Video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1ee049xHmw&feature=youtu.be

 

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