Staten Island Democratic Association takes official position on Transgender Rights

trans-symbol1Yesterday at the August meeting of the Staten Island Democratic Association the club voted unanimously to adopt a paper written by fellow club member and Social Secretary Bryan Ellicott (myself).

The paper was discussed at length at the July Monthly membership meeting. Which included speakers like New York State Senator and Co-Sponsor of GENDA (Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act) and LGBT Liaison to Comptroller  Scott Stringer’s office Eric Holguin.

The Staten Island Democratic Association started in 1961. They are the oldest, largest and most Progressive Democratic Club in Staten Island. The paper covers the topics of Public Awareness and Advocacy, Legal and Political Action.

This was an extremely powerful moment especially because its Staten Island and the uphill battle our borough faces when it comes to the discussions on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

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TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
POSITION PAPER

 

Since the founding of The Staten Island Democratic Association in 1961, we have taken pride in being Staten Island’s oldest, largest and most Progressive Democratic Club. It has come to the attention of the Staten Island Democratic Association that we must take a stand on the rights of Transgender Americans, New Yorkers and especially Staten Islanders.

It is a time when so many Transgender people are under attack for nothing less than being who they are.

Harvey Milk (the first openly gay person elected to public office in California) once said “It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

 

Background

 

Gender is a human social system of differentiation by sex for roles, behaviors, characteristics, appearances, and identities (e.g. “man” or “woman”). Gender maps cultural meanings and norms about both sex and gender on human bodies. Everyone has an internal sense of their “gender” and this sense is called “gender identity”.1     “Most people’s gender identity is congruent with their assigned sex, but many people experience their identity to be discordant with their natal sex (sex assigned at birth)2

“Transgender” is a broad term used to describe those whose gender identity or gender expression is in some sense different from, or transgresses social norms for, their assigned birth sex. Transgender may include those who identify as being transsexual, cross dresser, androgynous, bi-gender, no-gender or multi-gender, genderqueer, and a growing number of people who do not identify as belonging to any gender category at all. For some transgender people, individuals discomfort with a social gender role is accompanied by a profound sense of mismatch of the physical body to their internal bodily experience. This body dysphoria (known as “gender dysphoria”) causes significant distress, negatively impacts daily functioning and well-being, and requires medical services in order to realign the body with the self. There are many transgender people with medically diagnosed inter sex conditions. 3     In the absence of systematic data collection, estimates vary widely as to the number of transgender individuals in the United States, ranging from 3 million to as many as 9 million individuals 4. Prevalence of transgender identities is likely to be on the order of at least 1:100 (i.e. 1%), and transsexualism is also not rare, with prevalence now being estimated at between 1:2000 and 1:5000.5 Reports now indicate there may be roughly equal numbers of male-to-female and female-to-male transsexual people.6

Transgender people encounter difficulties in virtually every aspect of their lives, both in facing the substantial hostility that society associates with those who do not conform to gender norms and in coping with their own feelings of difference. Considerable verbal harassment and physical violence accompany the powerful social stigma faced by transgender people 7 and may be accompanied by racial and ethnic discrimination 8 .Transgender people also experience dismissal from jobs, eviction from housing, and denial of services, even by police officers, and medical emergency professionals..9 Restrooms, the most mundane of public and workplace amenities, often become sites of harassment and confrontation, with access often denied     10 ).

Transgender and transsexual people are often denied appropriate medical and mental health care and are uniquely at risk of adverse health care outcomes. 11 Basic services may be denied because of ignorance about or discomfort with a transgender client. To align the physical body with the experienced sense of self usually is an integral part of the social transition away from the sex assigned at birth. Transsexuals and some other individuals require medical services (for example, hormone replacement, facial electrolysis, or surgical and other procedures, as appropriate to the individual). Despite ongoing evidence that the vast majority who access these achieve congruence and well-being 12 It is important to underscore the denial of basic health care, and also the extreme race and socioeconomic status disparities: Needs assessments in major cities show that severe marginalization and barriers to transition contribute to high rates of joblessness, and disproportionately affect people of color. Lack of employment leaves many without health insurance, and because insurance carriers often deny coverage for transgender individuals other nontransition related services, transgender individuals often lack access to all ongoing basic health services, even when employed. 13

Many transgender children and youths face harassment and violence in school environments. Those who do not feel safe or valued at school cannot reach their potential and may drop out. 14   Medical protocols exist for children whose body dysphoria may lead to severe depression and suicidality, including endocrinology intervention to prevent or delay unwanted puberty.15  There are few support resources for transgender children, their parents or surrounding social institutions, leaving transgender youth particularly vulnerable to so-called “reparative” treatments. 16

Issues Statement

Transgender people experience the stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and extreme hostility known as transphobia on a daily basis. Although gender non-conforming experience can be traced across history, and the successful social and medical transition of transsexuals is well documented since the middle

of the twentieth century, it is only in recent years that this/has emerged in the public discourse. Unfortunately, most in our society have little or no understanding of the profound discomfort some may feel in trying to conform to rigid gender roles assigned to them by virtue of their physiology. Similarly, ignorance and insensitivity prevail regarding the debilitation that accompanies body dysphoria, and the damage done to those left without access to medical and social transition.

We as human beings have the responsibility to understand and appreciate the full range of differences that exist among human beings and to explore any and all prejudices that result in oppressive and unjust treatment.

 

Policy Statement

Staten Island Democratic Association (S.I.D.A.) recognizes that considerable diversity in gender expression and identity exists among our population.

S.I.D.A. believes that people of diverse gender- including those who are included under the transgender umbrella- should be afforded the same respect and rights as any other people.

S.I.D.A asserts that discrimination and prejudice directed against any individuals on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, whether real or perceived, are damaging to the social, emotional, psychological, physical, and economic well-being of the affected individuals as well as society as a whole.

S.I.D.A. reaffirms a commitment to human rights and freedom and opposes all public and private discrimination on the basis of gender identity and of gender expression, whether actual or perceived, and regardless of assigned sex at birth, including denial of access to employment, housing, education, appropriate treatment in sex-segregated facilities, appropriate medical care and health care coverage, appropriate identity documents, and civil marriage and all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges.

S.I.D.A. encourages the repeal of discriminatory legislation and the passage of legislation protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all genders identities and expressions.

Public Awareness and Advocacy

S.I.D.A. supports efforts to provide safe and secure educational environments and promote an understanding and acceptance of self in which all youth including youth of all gender identities and expressions, may be free to express their genuine gender identity and obtain an education free from discrimination, harassment, violence and abuse.

S.I.D.A. supports a development of, and participation in, coalitions with other professional associations and progressive organizations to lobby on behalf of the civil rights of all people of diverse gender expression and identity.

S.I.D.A. supports collaboration with organizations and groups supportive of the transgender community to develop programs to increase public awareness of the mistreatment and discrimination experienced by transgender people and of the contributions they make to society.

S.I.D.A. encourages the development of programs, training, and information that promotes proactive efforts to eliminate psychological, social and physical harm directed toward transgender people and to portray them accurately and compassionately.

S.I.D.A. supports the development of programs within schools and other child and youth services agencies that educate students, faculty, and staff about the range of gender diversity and the needs of transgender children and youth.

S.I.D.A. supports the creation of scientific and educational resources that inform public discussion about gender identity and gender diversity, to promote public policy development and to strengthen societal and familial attitudes and behaviors that affirm the dignity and rights of all individuals, regardless of identity or gender expression.

 

Legal and Political Action

S.I.D.A. advocates for increased funding for education treatment services, and research on behalf of people of diverse gender expression and gender identity.

S.I.D.A supports the legal recognition of marriage, domestic partner, and civil unions, regardless of either the sex or gender status of the betrothed or partnered individuals.

S.I.D.A. encourages the repeal of laws and discriminatory practices that impeded individuals in their identification with, and their expression of the gender which matches their sense of themselves in all areas of the public arena, especially employment, health care, education and in a housing including in custodial settings.

S.I.D.A. encourages the adoption of laws that will prohibit discrimination against, and protect the civil rights of, and preserve the access to health care and well-being of, individuals who identify with and express their gender identities, in education, housing, inheritance, health and other types of insurance, child custody, property and other areas.

S.I.D.A. acknowledges the importance of working with groups in and around the community of Staten Island to support the transgender community’s development and help larger community organizations help overcome ignorance and fear of transgender people, and to move toward equality and justice.

S.I.D.A. supports the statements of both President of the United States Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in support of the transgender and non-conforming community across the country.

 

References

  1. Stone, 2004
  2. Lev, 2004, p. 397
  3. Xavier, 26 Honnold & Bradford, 2007
  4. Bushong 1995; Olysl*ger & Conway, 2007
  5. Olysl*ger & Conway, 2007,p.23
  6. Bullough, Bullough, & Elias, 1997; MacKenzie, 1994
  7. Clements-Notes, Marx, & Katz, 2006; Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing, & Malouf, 2001; Wyss, 2004
  8. Jung, 2006
  9. Xavier, 2000; Xavier, Honnold, & Bradford,45 2007
  10. Transgender Law Center, 2016
  11. Dean et al., 2000; Xavier et al., 2004
  12. De Cuypere et al., 2005; Newfield, Hart, Dibble, & Kohler, 2006; Pfafflin & Junge, 1998;   Rehman, Lazer, Benet, Schaefer, & Melman, 1999; Ross & Need, 1989).
  13. Xavier et al, 2004
  14. D‘Augelli, Grossman, & Starks, 2006; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 2004; Grossman,       D‘Augelli, & Slater, 2006; Wyss, 2004
  15. Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Smith, van Goozen, & Cohen-Kettenis, 2001; Spack, 2005
  16. Menvielle, Tuerk, & Perrin, 2005; PFLAG, 2004

 

 

 

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Trail Begins For The Killer of Island Nettles

Please come out and show support for the family,friends  and member of the transgender community who  of Islan Nettles. Here’s how you can be supportive if you live in New York City.

Who- Trail for the Killer of Islan Nettles

What- Rally and Courtroom Sit in show of support for Islan’s Family, Friends and the Transgender Community

Where- Manhattan Criminal Court (100 Centre St) at 8:30am

Why- Its taken a long time for this to happen and finally we may see justice for the life of Islan Nettles taken August 2013. This has been a long time coming we need to show that this life matters and that all Trans Lives Matters.

Transgender and Cisgender Groups Demand Transparent Investigation of Transphobic Murder of Islan Nettles

On Thursday, January 30th, 2014 at 4 p.m., over 150 transgender protestors and their supporters braved sub-zero temperatures to gather outside of NYC Police Headquarters in Downtown Manhattan to demand incoming NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and the NYPD explain thier negligent investigation in the immediate aftermath of the brutal beating death of transgender woman Islan Nettles last summer in Harlem. The emotionally charged group also demanded a report on the current status of the case’s lagging homicide investigation by NY County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and later in the evening emailed an extensive list of questions to Bratton and Vance.  

A series of impassioned speeches by Hunter and others were punctuated by fiery chants against the NYPD, including “NYPD do your job!”  Enumerating the many errors and delays in the investigation, protestors chanted “How many more? Not one more!” and “Trans lives matter!”

Speakers angrily repeated the puzzling details of the August 17, 2013 attack, including the fact that officers from Public Service Area 6, where the crime occurred, pulled Paris Wilson, the accused assailant, off of Nettles yet failed to adequately question Nettles’ or Wilson’s companions and never checked on Nettles’ condition after her admittance to Harlem Hospital, where she later died. A failure to obtain DNA evidence from the assailant’s hands and ten broken surveillance cameras at the location were viewed as serious problems that had not been addressed in the case.  Speakers also expressed disgust over the fact that Simone Wilson, Paris Wilson’s mother, coerced another man into falsely confessing to the crime but she was never held accountable for hindering the investigation. Five months after the unsolved murder, protesters were still enraged that even a misdemeanor charge against Paris Wilson was dropped and that the D.A.’s office had produced no new charges in its homicide investigation.

Delores Nettles, mother of the victim, said the NYPD’s handling of the case was so inept that an officer called her three weeks to ask for Paris Wilson’s address.

Telling the crowd about findings published in her recent report on various statistics on transgender Americans, Jennifer Louise Lopez, of media group Everything Transgender in NYC, said that of the approximately 750,000 transgender people in the United States, 90% are likely to experience discrimination, mistreatment, or harassment. She also said that 61% of Black and Latino transgender individuals report harassment by police, and that there were 16 reported murders of transgender people in the United States in 2013.

“Islan Nettles is my fourth trans client who has been murdered in the streets of NYC in the twenty years I have worked with homeless youths,” said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, which houses homeless LGBT youths. “Not one of their murderers has been brought to justice. This is a disgrace that reveals a pattern of transphobic bias on the part of the NYPD,” he said.

“The murder of Islan Nettles is an unspeakable tragedy and the police and district attorney’s response has been underwhelming and disappointing,” said Melissa Sklarz, President of Stonewall Democrats of New York City. “The New York trans population is probably the biggest in America and yet, young people like Islan Nettles, and Lorena Escalera before her, are killed in cold blood and no justice is done,” she said.

Endorsers included the Transgender/Cisgender Coalition, ACT UP NY, Luz’s Daughter Cares, Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC), Harlem Pride, Lambda Legal, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, Translatina Network, Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, Destination Tomorrow, Ali Forney Center, VOCAL-NY, ETNYC, Global Network of Black Pride, and Make the Road. 

 

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2013 LGBT Accomplishments and More

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2013 has been a powerful year of accomplishments for the members of the LGBT community. It has also been a great year as a self identified transgender man and open bisexual in New York City.  Here are some of the international, national and city LGBT moments of 2013 (not in any particular order)

  • Aziz Ansari Took Down Homophobia in 2 minutes flat
  • Barilla Pasta’s CEO learned NOT to mess with the LGBT community
  • Orange is the New Black and Laverne Cox become the first mainstream scripted television series too cast a transwoman of color in a leading role
  • GLAAD Expanded it’s mission to include Trans* Rights
  • Steamy Photo- Shoot featuring Ines Rau a Transwoman, made waves
  • Chelsea Manning bravely opened up about her gender identity
  • Kristen Beek became the first Transgender Navy SEAL to come out after her service
  • Islan Neetles death sparked calls from Politicians to Pass GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act)
  • Same Love- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • The Boy Scouts will allow gay boys too be scouts
  • NBA Jason Collins Came out
  • Pope Francis “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge”
  • Jodie Foster Came Out
  • 75% of Millennial Came Out in Support of Marriage Equality
  • DOMA and Prop 8 struck down on the same day
  • Bryan John Ellicott and the HRC
  • July 7th Launch of this Blog
  • New Jersey, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Utah
  • Colorado allows Civil Unions
  • Republican Rob Portman came out in Support of his gay son & Marriage Equality
  • Raven Simone Came Out on twitter
  • Edie Windsor @ NYC Pride
  • Tim Cook Came Out in Support of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act)
  • France, New Zealand, England and Wales, Uruguay all got Marriage Equality
  • Germany offers a third gender option on birth certificates
  • GQ Magazine Germany shot straight allies committed to Ending Homophobia
  • Australia’s PM took down every argument against Marriage Equality in One Speech
  • Activist fought back against Russia Anti-Gay Law
  • President Obama appointed Gay Athlete Billy Jean to Represent USA in the Sochi Olympics

Statement by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office at the trial of Paris Wilson

Statement by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office at the trial of Paris Wilson, accused killer of Islan Nettles.
This was the complete statement read by the prosecutor in court yesterday:

“As the Court is aware, the defendant was originally arrested in this case on a charge of misdemeanor assault. Several days after the arrest, the victim died from her injuries. Since that time, we have been aggressively investigating the crime as a homicide.
For the reasons referenced in court on the prior two dates, however, the case has turned out to be a uniquely complex one, and we are not yet prepared to go to the grand jury. However we continue to actively investigate this case in the hopes of ultimately holding the person responsible for this crime accountable. Today, we concede that eh speedy trial time has run with only with regards to the misdemeanor with which the defendant is charged – and thus the case must be dismissed. It should be emphasized, however, that the crime we are investigating, homicide, has no statutory speedy-trial deadline. Therefore, should our ongoing investigation ultimately result in an indictment of Mr. Wilson for homicide, the case would be promptly restored to the calendar and would move forward, notwithstanding today’s dismissal of the misdemeanor charge.”

 

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Suspect in Islan Nettles Slaying Dismissed

Three months after Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, died as the result of a brutal beating in Harlem, the only person charged in the slaying saw his case dismissed.

Paris Wilson, 20, was arrested shortly after the August 17 attack –– which took place near 148th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard –– and charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. The criminal complaint filed at that time said that the victim was left “unconscious on the ground with a swollen shut eye and blood on her face.” The defendant, the complaint read, struck Nettles in the head with a “closed fist,” knocking her to the ground, according to an eyewitness. Nettles, who remained in a coma until she was taken off life support on August 22, suffered blunt force trauma, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Nettles’ slaying has been investigated as a possible hate crime –– Detective Cheryl Crispin, an NYPD spokeswoman, telling Gay City News that police determined that “derogatory language” was used in the attack. In the wake of her death, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spoke of “possible grand jury action” and a homicide indictment in advance of an October 4 hearing.

Would-be confession by a second man keeps Manhattan DA from pressing misdemeanor prosecution, upgrading charges against Paris Wilson

But prosecutors have also consistently indicated they are hamstrung by the fact that another young man came forward shortly after the attack to say that he was the perpetrator.

Wilson’s October 4 hearing was adjourned with no additional charges brought against him, and in New York County criminal court on November 19, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Viorst told Judge Steven Statsinger that while prosecutors and police are “aggressively investigating” the case with an eye toward a homicide charge, he was not prepared to move forward on the existing charges against the defendant, who he said was apprehended several blocks from the scene of the crime. Viorst acknowledged that any homicide charge brought in the case could be made against “Mr. Wilson or someone else.”

In a misdemeanor prosecution, the state must be ready to go to trial within 90 days of arrest.

The dismissal came on the eve of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, held in recognition to the lethal violence aimed at gender-nonconforming people.

The effort by a suspect other than Wilson to confess to the crime was first reported by the New York Post on August 26 in a story that had a law enforcement source saying Wilson’s mother put the man up to it. According to that account, the man told police he was too drunk to remember what happened. That report cast doubt on the veracity of the man’s account.

The Daily News has since reported, however, that a source familiar with the investigation said two “reliable” witnesses had corroborated the account of the man who came forward.

The man’s name has not been identified in court records.

Viorst’s pledge to press forward to win a homicide indictment in the case is predicated on sorting out the contradictions between the initial identification of Wilson as the perpetrator and the other man’s effort to confess.

After the hearing, Xavier Donaldson, Wilson’s attorney, said that his client and the other man are roughly the same height and weight and “may have been wearing similar clothes.” 

Nettles’ family and other advocates for the slain woman seized on the district attorney’s commitment to bring homicide charges as progress of sorts on a day when the effort to win justice appeared to have derailed.

“They will be upgraded,” Dolores Nettles, Islan’s mother, said of the charges dropped against Wilson. “I’m upset, but I’m dealing… Hopefully the charges will be upgraded so that the next time he comes to court, he won’t walk out.”

Asked if she had faith in prosecutors and the police, she said, “I have to have faith.”

In an email to Gay City News, Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said, “AVP, working with transgender leaders and activists, is paying close attention to this case, and we understand that the District Attorney’s Office is now pursuing homicide charges instead of the original misdemeanor charges. Homicide charges would be progress, but the LGBTQ communities need a clear and thorough explanation of what the NYPD and DA’s office is doing to investigate and respond to the tragic death of Islan Nettles.”

The group is calling on District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s office to convene a meeting with AVP and community members “to discuss the most recent developments in this case, and to assure that those most affected by this violence have the opportunity to talk directly to the DA’s office.” 

Paul Schindler at Gay City News

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