Victory for Trans* People of Maryland

 

Victory for Transgender Marylanders! Legislation passes full House of Delegates, will be signed by governor WASHINGTON – Today the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit, passed the full House of Delegates after a last ditch fight by some anti-equality Republicans. Governor O’Malley has vowed to sign the bill into law.

 

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Help a Family Keep Custody of their Transgender Child

Letter from a grandmother who is trying to help her daughter and grandson who is living out his childhood as the gender he believes himself to be. Read this story and help support a family doing what they all families should do support their children. 

I am the grandmother of a 7-year-old child who loves bugs, swimming, artichokes, Elvis and Superman. When my grandchild was born, the doctors told my daughter that she had a baby girl. But my grandchild has consistently maintained that, “The doctors got it wrong” and “I’m really a boy.” He even picked a new name for himself: Jake. For the past year his mother and our side of the family have supported him living as a boy and have watched him absolutely thrive. Unfortunately his father, who shares 50% custody with my daughter, has not been supportive at all. In fact, he’s now filed a lawsuit to take away all of my daughter’s parenting rights solely because she supports her child’s self-proclaimed gender.

My daughter’s lawyer is fighting to help her keep custody of Jake but it’s been a long, difficult battle for her. The legal bills are already far more than she can afford and each day they continue to mount. My daughter and  her attorney have spoken to many large national organizations and they all tell her they can’t get involved because it is a family law case. One organization offered to pay the expert witness fees. We have done as much as possible to help her financially so now I’m asking for your help. Without her attorney, not only will she lose custody of Jake but he’ll lose his entire support system. This includes his mother, our side of the family and his affirming counselor. 

But that’s not all. Right now, Jake goes to school and is treated just like any other first grade boy. His teachers and friends are 100% supportive, everyone calls him by his chosen name and I’ve never seen him happier. If my daughter loses this legal battle all of that will change. Once Jake’s father gets full parenting rights, he will force my grandson to go to school as a girl—or as Jake calls it, as “his false self.” Jake will have to wear girl clothes and be called by his old “girl” name. He will no longer be seen or treated like the little boy that he is. Jake’s true identity will be completely invalidated.

I’m certain that the emotional impact of all of this on Jake would be beyond devastating. I can’t bear to have that happen. Please help my daughter continue to give my grandson the happy, supportive environment he needs to thrive. Anything you give will help, no matter how small.

Thank you so much for your help. It means more to me than I can possibly express.

Contact the Organizer – See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/other/help-my-daughter-keep-her-transgender-child/144297#sthash.Pua2dHR2.dpuf 

 

 

New York City Church Hate Message to the LGBT Community of Harlem

The Anti Violence Project  and other community groups is holding a Community Safety Afternoon TODAY, March 26th 2014 from 3-5pm around the vicinity of ATLAH World Missionary Church. The ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem located 36 W. 123rd Street has recently posted a sign that reads “Jesus Would Stone Homos Matthew 5:17-19 Leviticus 20:13 Deuteronomy 17:5-7 John 8:1-11 stoning is still the law.” 

We do not wish to disenfranchise any groups’ right to free speech, they are deeply concerned that speech like this can create a hostile environment for LGBTQ individuals within the surrounding neighborhood. The LGBT members of the community also deserve they are safe walking thru the streets of their neighborhood. 

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The New York City Department of Education released the Transgender Student Guide

A couple days before the first hearing of Chairperson of the Education Committee Councilmember Daniel Dromm had his first hearing on LGBT students and the DOE. The DOE (Department of Education) released the “Transgender Student Guidelines”. While I commend the work of the DOE for putting out these guidelines I do see many issues with them, I hope to work with CM Dromm and the Education committee on these guidelines, to make the classroom experience better than it was when CM Dromm was a teacher and better even more than when I was a public school student growing up in Staten Island 

 

 
 
These guidelines are intended to help schools ensure a safe learning environment free of discrimination and harassment, and to promote the educational and social integration of transgender students.  They do not anticipate every situation that may occur and the needs of each student must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  Every student and school is unique and building administrators should discuss these issues with students and their families and draw on the experiences and expertise of their colleagues as well as external resources where appropriate. 
 
Definitions:
 
1. “Gender Identity” is a person’s inner sense of being male or female, regardless of their biological gender assigned at birth. 
2. “Transgender” is a term which describes people whose gender identity or gender expression is different from their assigned sex at birth.
3. “Gender expression” refers to the way a person expresses gender to others in ways that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms.
 
Discrimination/Harassment
 
It is the policy of the New York City Department of Education to maintain a safe and supportive learning and educational environment that is free from harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying and free from discrimination on account of actual or perceived race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or weight. 
 
Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on a person’s actual or perceived transgender status or gender nonconformity must be handled in accordance with the procedures set forth in Chancellor’s Regulation A-832 (for student-on-student allegations) and Chancellor’s Regulation A-830 (for staff-on-student allegations).
 
Privacy
 
Except as set forth herein, school personnel should not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status. Under the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), only those school employees with a legitimate educational need should have access to a student’s records or the information contained within those records.  Disclosing confidential student information to other employees, students, parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, including but not limited to FERPA. Transgender students have the ability, as do all students, to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and decide when, with whom, and how much of their private information to share with others.
 
Schools should work closely with the student and family in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status that works for both the student and the school.  Privacy considerations may also vary with the age of the student.      
 
In some cases, transgender students may feel more supported and safe if other students are aware that they are transgender.  In these cases, school staff should work closely with the student, families and other staff members on a plan to inform and educate the student’s peers.  It may also be appropriate to engage external resources to assist with educational efforts.  A list of support organizations for transgender students is listed at the end of this document.
 
Official Records
 
Each school is required to maintain a permanent pupil record of each student, which includes the legal name of the student as well as the student’s biological gender. In addition, schools are required to use a student’s legal name and biological gender on standardized tests and reports to the State Education Department.
 
To the extent that the school is not legally required to use a student’s legal name or gender on school records and other documents, the school should use the name and gender preferred by the student. 
 
A student’s permanent pupil record should be changed to reflect a change in legal name or gender only upon receipt of documentation that such legal name and/or gender have been changed pursuant to applicable law.
 
• The documentation required for a legal change of name is a court order or birth certificate demonstrating the student’s new name.  
 
• For a legal change of gender, the student must provide a birth certificate indicating the student’s gender, or a valid passport indicating the student’s gender.   
 
The following procedures should be followed if a school receives a request to change a student’s record to reflect a change in legal name and/or gender.  For students who are currently enrolled in a New York City public school, the school in which the student is enrolled should make the name and/or gender change in ATS upon receipt of the required documentation. For students who have been discharged, the school should forward the request for the name and/or gender change to the Network data/applications specialist with the appropriate documentation. The Network will follow-up to make sure the appropriate change is made in ATS.
 
In all cases, in order to ensure that records accurately reflect circumstances in effect at the time each record was made, that records can be cross-referenced, and in order to maintain the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status to the extent possible, the former name and/or gender will be maintained in archived data in the DOE’S central database.
 
Names/Pronouns
 
Students should be addressed by school staff by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.  Students are not required to obtain a court ordered name and/or gender change or to change their pupil personnel records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.  To the extent possible and consistent with these guidelines, school personnel should make efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status.  
 
Student IDs should be issued in the name that reflects a student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.
 
Sports and Physical Education
 
Transgender students are to be provided the same opportunities to participate in physical education as are all other students.  Generally, students should be permitted to participate in physical education and sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.  Participation in competitive athletic activities and contact sports will be resolved on a case-by-case basis.
 
Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility
 
The DOE aims to support transgender students while also ensuring the safety and comfort of all students.  The use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender students requires schools to consider numerous factors, including, but not limited to: the transgender student’s preference; protecting student privacy; maximizing social integration of the transgender student; minimizing stigmatization of the student; ensuring equal opportunity to participate; the student’s age; and protecting the safety of the students involved.  
 
A transgender student who expresses a need or desire for increased privacy should be provided with reasonable alternative arrangements.  Reasonable alternative arrangements may include the use of a private area, or a separate changing schedule, or use of a single stall restroom.  Any alternative arrangement should be provided in a way that protects the student’s ability to keep his or her transgender status confidential.  
 
A transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.
 
Gender Segregation in Other Areas
 
As a general rule, in any other circumstances where students are separated by gender in school activities (i.e. overnight field trips), students should be permitted to participate in accordance with their gender identity consistently asserted at school.  Activities that may involve the need for accommodations to address student privacy concerns will be addressed on a case-by-case basis considering the factors set forth above.  
 
Dress Codes
 
Schools can enforce dress codes that are adopted pursuant to Chancellor’s Regulation A-665.  Students have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school, within the constraints of the dress codes adopted at their school site.   
 
Resources for Transgender or “Transitioning” Students
 
Schools have a unique and powerful opportunity to support transgender students, including those going through a gender transition, while providing education to the entire school community.   It is not unusual for a child’s desire to transition to first surface at school.  If school staff believe that a gender identity issue is presenting itself and creating challenges for the student at school or if a student indicates an intention to transition, the school should make every effort to work with the student and the child’s parents. Where the student indicates an intention to transition, the school should work with the family to prepare for a formal gender transition at school and put in place measures for supporting the child and creating a sensitive supportive environment at school.   Toward that end, schools should: 
 
1) Make resources available to parents who have additional questions or concerns. 
2) Develop age-appropriate lessons for students about gender diversity and acceptance: and
3) Be especially vigilant for any bullying or harassment issues that may arise for transgender students.  Pursuant to DOE policy, schools must work to prevent bullying and harassment, and respond promptly when allegations of bullying and harassment arise.
 
Some transgender students do not want their parents to know about their transgender status.  These situations must be addresses on a case-by-case basis and require schools to balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement that   parents be kept informed about their children. In these circumstances, you should confer with your Senior Field Counsel about how to proceed.
 
If the school has a School-Based Mental Health Clinic, this can be an important first resource for the student and school community. Providers are sensitive to identity issues and have been trained to be a source of support for students regarding gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
 
The following organizations provide support to transgender individuals:
 
• GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) is a prominent organization supporting GLBT youth. They have resources about creating safe and supportive environments for students. 
 
• The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
 
Resources For Parents, Educators, And Service Providers:
 
Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. 
 
PFLAG Resources
 
Download this free guide (PDF) to get the basics on what being transgender means, how to talk about it, and how to find the resources that can support you.
 
There are more than 350 PFLAG chapters across the U.S. Find one near you right now
 
Partner Organizations Resources
 
Knowing and using correct language can be very important to transgender and gender non-conforming people, just like everyone else. Here is a handy terminology guide regarding gender identity.
 
This downloadable pamphlet from the APA answers questions about transgender people, gender identity and gender expression.
 
Parent and Educator Resources
 
Raising children who don’t fit neatly into male or female boxes brings a wealth of questions and uncertainties. Here you will find information and support to assist you in your search for answers.
 
The Trans Youth Equality Foundation is based in Maine, but offers education, advocacy and support for transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth and their families everywhere by sharing information about the unique needs of this community and partnering with families, educators and service providers to help foster a healthy, caring, and safe environment for all transgender children.
 
Families in TRANSition: A Resource Guide for Parents of Trans Youth is the first comprehensive Canadian publication (created by Central Toronto Youth Services) to address the needs of parents and families supporting their trans children.  It summarizes the experiences, strategies, and successes of a working group of community consultants – researchers, counselors, parents, advocates as well as trans youth themselves
 
This gentle and easy-to-use FAQ gives people an accessible set of guidelines that can be used in everyday life.
 
Like all young people in care, transgender youth are entitled to bias-free attention to their unique needs and to be safe in their placements and services. This guide, created by Lambda Legal and the Child Welfare League of America, provides child welfare professionals who work with transgender young people with education about transgender issues and tools to help prepare them to work sensitively with these clients.
 
TYFA works to empower children and families by partnering with educators, service providers and communities, to develop supportive environments in which gender may be expressed and respected. They envision a society free of suicide and violence in which all children are respected and celebrated.
 
 
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New Yorkers Stood By As Gay Man Beaten On Subway

On Sunday, a couple was coming home after celebrating their tenth anniversary when a man approached them and started to beat J.P. Masterson in the face. “I fucking hate faggots” the assailant told Masterson and his partner, Peter Moore as they waited on the platform for a subway in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The couple says there were about 50 people at the busy subway station, but not one bothered to help.

The police are investigating the incident as a bias crime. The suspect, according to the New York Times, had first asked the couple if they were gay.

Masterson, whose nose ands eye socket were broken and eye badly bruised, is 39 and reportedly lives in Clifton, New Jersey, but says he grew and came out in the Village.

“Police describe the suspect as a white male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs around 170 pounds and is in his late 20s. He may also have a thick Polish accent,” NJ.comreports:

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

The New York City Anti-Violence Project announced they “will be doing outreach next Wednesday, March 12th in the West Village and in and around the West 4th Street subway station, where we will talk with community members to increase awareness about this incident and provide people with safety information.” You can contact RJ Mendoza, AVP’s Hate Violence Community Organizer, at rmendoza@avp.org.

 

Last year, New York City experienced yet another jump in anti-gay hate crimes, including the shooting murder of 32-year old Mark Carson.

 

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Chairperson of the Education Committee Daniel Dromm first hearing on LGBT students and the DOE

This was my testimony last week at the first hearing of the Education Committee (K-12) under the leadership of Chairperson Daniel Dromm. 

 

Good Afternoon Chairperson Dromm, Councilmembers Gentile, Garodnick, Chin, Levin, Rose, Weprin, Williams, King, Barron, Deutsch, Levin, Maisel, Reynoso, Treygor.

It is a great honor and privilege to be here today and to speak with you on a subject that I have hoped would come to the attention of the New York City Council. If you have never met me before, my name is Bryan Ellicott. I am sitting before you not only as an out and proud transgender and bisexual man who is involved with many different efforts within the LGBT community and outside it, but also as proud adult who went through the New York City public school system on Staten Island.  I went to Public School 42 (same as Councilmember Ignizio), Paulo Intermediate School 75, and South Richmond High School, where I graduated from in June of 2008.

However, the person that sits before you today didn’t exist back then, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I tried so many times to find the words to express who I knew I was supposed to be, but I was told “that can’t be, it’s not normal, maybe you need to rethink this”. Or my personal favorite: “but you’re such a nice looking girl, why would you want to do that?” It took me years to figure out that it wasn’t just me, that I wasn’t the only one going through something like this. Being a teenager is hard enough when people think you’re normal, but not having the proper terms and knowledge to express yourself makes adolescence that much more difficult.

Every year we’d be taught about the contributions of the Women and African American heroes and activists of our great country. It always made sense why: they took on the impossible odds and they are remembered for their achievements and for the trails they blazed for others. People like Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela, Fredrick Douglass, and others have made their way into the history books and been held up as heroes by generations of schoolchildren.

A little LGBT history would have made it seem like I wasn’t the only one with the things in mind that I thought was just another crazy idea. History and politics were always my thing. It’s where I could point out to my teachers that loud and obnoxious people do change the world.  It wasn’t until college that I learned about the Stonewall Riots, Harvey Milk, ACT UP, the statement made at the 1980 Democratic National Convention that officially included the party’s position on LGBT rights, and the story that is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, among other things. In recent months, the story of Edie Windsor’s battle with the Supreme Court and the signing of Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, to the Brooklyn Nets have made headlines. And there will be more stories like this, stories of coming out, dealing with oppression, and eventually overcoming the obstacles faced by millions of LGBT Americans every day.

We have so much history with the LGBT and HIV-AIDS movement in our city. Our city has made some great contributions politically and non-politically. Those things deserve to be taught, because there will always be that child in the class who has learned or read something and they have just been given a reason to try and change the world for the better. There will also always be that child in the classroom who thinks they are weird or crazy or alien for the way they feel, and that child deserves to know that there are plenty of other people out there like them, people who have made a difference in the world without having to hide their truth. New York City has a great opportunity here to use its history to educate its children, and it is time we used that history to our fullest advantage to make our classrooms more inclusive. 

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photo credit: William Alatriste 

http://www.qchron.com/editions/western/councilman-says-we-have-a-long-way-to-go/article_972150ab-dd0d-5d22-8b99-079c463f0704.html