Category Archives: Legal

Trans woman Lana Lawless aces round with LPGA

Just in time for this week’s LPGA Tour Championship, a victory for the transgender community makes a hole in one.

Lana Lawless filed suit against the LPGA on Oct. 12 in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco, a direct result of her rejected application for tour membership. The 57-year-old retired police officer suspected a violation of her rights, considering she underwent sex-reassignment surgery five years ago.

This past Tuesday, the LPGA voted an epic change to its constitutional bylaws during a players meeting to begin including members that were not assigned “female at birth.”

LPGA president Michelle Ellis noted, “This was the first hurdle. This had to be done first.”

Other sports organizations that have already amended their bylaws allowing transgender participation include the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Golf Association, the BritishLadies Golf Union and the Ladies European Tour.

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan delivered in a statement, “Steps will be taken in the coming weeks to make the appropriate changes to the language of the constitution.”

Whether the LPGA will adopt Olympic definitions has yet to be concluded. The details of their newly developed transgender membership remains undefined.

WRITTEN BY TRISTAN SKYE

originally posted on The GA Voice

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Antidiscrimination Protections Extended to Transgender State Employees

David A. Patterson is New York's first African American and blind governor. (repmanblog.com)

Gov. David A. Paterson plans to extend antidiscrimination protections to transgender state employees, a decision that signifies the broadest inclusion yet of transgender people in state policy, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Paterson will carry out the decision through an executive order, to be signed on Wednesday, that will require state agencies to include transgender individuals in their nondiscrimination policies, these people said.

Though state antidiscrimination law includes gay men and lesbians, it is silent on the issue of transgender people. And while Mr. Paterson’s order will not have the sweep of a statute enacted by the State Legislature because it will apply only to state agencies, gay and transgender rights advocates said it would be a first step toward including gender identity and expression protections in state law.

Advocates for transgender people have succeeded in winning broad antidiscrimination protections in a number of cities throughout the state, including New York, Buffalo, Albany and Rochester. But efforts to add similar protections to state law have so far fallen short. The Assembly has passed a transgender antidiscrimination bill, but the Senate has refused to vote on the issue.

People with direct knowledge of the governor’s executive order described it this week, though the governor’s office has not yet formally issued it.The governor’s office declined to comment.

While supporters of transgender legal protections said they were encouraged by Mr. Paterson’s order, they noted that New York was not a pioneer in extending such rights.

“It has been a long road, and I think New York is behind,” said Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney for Lambda Legal. “So this will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness.”

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have broad laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender expression or identity, according to gay and transgender rights groups. In addition, more than 100 cities and counties across the country provide similar legal protections. These laws protect not only people who have had gender reassignment surgery or who live as a member of the opposite sex, but also men who are discriminated against for appearing overly feminine or women for appearing overly masculine.

Much like the antidiscrimination laws that have been broadened over the years to include gays, lesbians and bisexuals, transgender antidiscrimination laws have gradually multiplied in jurisdictions throughout the country since Minneapolis became the first city to have such a law in 1975.

“I’ve been working on transgender law for eight years, and when I started there was only one state, Minnesota, that had protections for transgender people statewide with an overall nondiscrimination law,” said Lisa Mottet, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s transgender civil rights project.

Still, gay rights groups have found that a high percentage of transgender people report discrimination at work. According to a new survey of 6,450 transgender people conducted by the task force, 97 percent reported mistreatment at work.

Two weeks ago, the State Senate defeated a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed in New York. The 38-to-24 vote to kill the bill was a stinging rebuke to gay rights advocates in New York.

New York State has about 300,000 residents who identify as transgender, according to one survey conducted by the State Department of Health.

By JEREMY W. PETERS

Original post: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/nyregion/16transgender.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

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McDonald’s Informs Transgender Teen “We Do Not Hire Faggots!”

TLDEF Files Employment Discrimination Complaint with Florida Commission on Human Relations Against McDonald’s for Refusing to Hire Transgender Woman

December 7, 2009 – TLDEF today filed a Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations against an Orlando McDonald’s restaurant for refusing to hire 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy because she is transgender.

On July 10, 2009, Zikerria applied online for a position as a Shift Manager or Crew Leader at McDonald’s.  On July 28, after managers at McDonald’s learned that Zikerria is transgender, she received the following voicemail message from one of the managers:

Zikerria never received the job interview she sought.  McDonald’s refused to hire her.

Zikerria’s story is all too common.  Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace.  According to a recent survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, just because of who they are.

Few protections exist for transgender people who experience employment discrimination.  In 38 states, there is no law protecting transgender people from being fired because of who they are.  Federal law similarly offers no job protection for transgender people.

In Florida, while no law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act’s prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination.  The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.

At the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S.1584) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation at companies with fifteen or more employees.  The legislation was introduced in the United States Senate on August 5, 2009.  On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held the Senate’s first hearing on the latest version of ENDA.  A version of ENDA was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives on June 24, 2009.  The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23.  Little has happened since.

According to a 2007 survey, 72 percent of Americans agree that “fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people.”  In a 2002 poll, 61 percent of those polled said that we need laws to protect transgender people from discrimination.  President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has stated his belief that anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

What You Can Do

SPREAD THE WORD

As you’ve done in the past, please help us spread the word about what happened to Zikerria.  Let’s do our best to make sure it never happens again.  Post the voicemail on Facebook, tweet about it, write about it in your blogs and embed the voicemail there, too.  The louder we raise our voices, the more people will listen!

CONTACT CONGRESS AND DEMAND THAT IT TAKE ACTION ON ENDA

We’ve joined with our friends and partners at organizations around the nation to demand that Congress take swift action to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).  In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally:  Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak to your Representative (have your zip code handy and they’ll help identify your member of Congress).

When you are connected with your Representative’s office, give your name and your city and then let them know:

I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H. R. 3017/S. 1584), which will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination. No one deserves to be fired from their job because of who they are. No more delays–it is time to pass ENDA.

You can also tell them that you’ve heard about Zikerria Bellamy’s case. If you get voicemail instead of a person, leave a message – they count just as much as if you reach a staff member. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If you’ve called in the past, no problem.  Call again.

SUPPORT EQUAL RIGHTS

McDonald’s is one of the largest corporations in the world.  To say that its resources dwarf ours is an epic understatement.  We can’t win this alone.  We need your help to do it. Please donate now to help us win this fight for equal rights.  Your support continues to inspire us.  Thank you!

STAY INFORMED

For updates on Zikerria’s case, stay tuned to our website, sign up for our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter.

Original post: http://www.transgenderlegal.org/headline_show.php?id=198

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Transgender Police Officer Living His Dream!

As a child, Kerry Bell dreamed of growing up to become a policeman — both a police officer and a man.

Kerry Bell is a transgender man and a Bountiful police officer. He says the police force, including the chief, have been very supportive of his coming out, which included a transition from female to male that began 18 months ago. (Leah Hogsten / The Salt Lake Tribune)

 

 

Becoming a cop was relatively simple — Bell joined the Bountiful Police Department 14 years ago. Becoming a man took more time.

Born female, Bell came out as transgender about a year and a half ago and started a transition to a new life as a man. He always had felt male, but did not think switching genders was a viable option until he saw transgender people gaining wider acceptance, along with advances in medical technology.

Surprisingly, the 42-year-old — working in what many perceive as a super-macho culture — says he did not fret about telling the police chief or his co-workers to start referring to him as “he,” not “she.”

“I wasn’t worried about coming out at work,” says Bell, who has had hormone treatments and surgeries. “I’ve worked for Bountiful for 14 years. I know everybody I work with.”

Although some employees have trouble remembering to use masculine pronouns, Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross says, “everyone’s done a great job of accepting Kerry and staying focused on why we’re here in the first place.”

Bell, a corporal and SWAT member, is a “well-rounded police officer,” Ross adds. “We’re glad that he works here.”

Some things about Bell’s transition were easy. He did not have to wear different clothes to work. Uniforms, he jokes, are exactly that –uniform. His first and last name also stayed the same, although he dropped a middle name, Ann, and changed the gender marker on his driver license.

His “only anxiety,” he says, was telling his parents, who divorced when Bell was 2 years old. But his mother, his father and their spouses were supportive.

“You have to accept your children for who they are,” says his dad, Terry Bell, who lives in Rockville near Zion National Park. “It’s a little difficult for me, after 40 years, to think of my daughter as a son. That’s hard. [But] it hasn’t changed a thing about how I feel about him as a person.”

Now, Kerry Bell works to increase understanding between his two worlds: law enforcement and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The relationship between the two communities has had ups and downs. A police raid on a New York gay bar erupted into the 1969 Stonewall riots, launching the modern gay-rights movement.

Far less hostility exists today — homosexuality has been decriminalized — but many LGBT people remain wary of contacting the cops, Bell says. Some worry about whether they will be treated with respect. Others, who are in the closet, fear being outed.

Bell belongs to the LGBT Public Safety Committee, an informal group with police representatives from Weber County to West Valley City that has been working for nine years to bridge the gap.

The committee members help gay and transgender people understand police procedures. They coach police on how to respond to cases of same-sex domestic violence and gay cruising in parks. In fact, they helped launch a successful Salt Lake City program that steers those caught having sex in public places toward counseling, not jail. If the violators do not repeat the offense for a year — the vast majority don’t — the charges are dropped.

That many LGBT officers now serve openly at several Utah law-enforcement agencies speaks volumes to how far society has progressed, says Salt Lake City Capt. Kyle Jones, a founding member of the committee.

“Twenty years ago, they wouldn’t have been [welcome],” says Jones, who was inspired to get involved with the LGBT community after his son came out as gay. “The current crop of officers, by and large, don’t give it a second thought.”

Jones, along with other committee members, recruits potential new officers at the annual Utah Pride Festival for the Salt Lake City Police Department.

“Our department has tried for years to recruit from the populations that we represent,” Jones says. “Anywhere from 8 to 12 percent of [Salt Lake City] is thought to be LGBT so we should have 8 to 12 percent of our cops who are LGBT.”

Bell hopes being out can help “demystify” what it means to be transgender.

As a Davis County kid, Bell says he always felt like a boy. It was something he didn’t know how to express to his family. At age 6, he gathered up all his dolls and gave them to a neighbor. He hated going to church on Sunday because it meant he had to wear a dress.

“I thought God had just put me in the wrong body, and one day I’d wake up and I’d be the way I was supposed to be,” says Bell, a Salt Lake City resident. “Of course, you reach an age where you realize that’s not going to happen.”

At 16, Bell told his parents he was attracted to women after they asked if he was gay. As a lesbian, Bell found a home in the LGBT community. He also learned more about people who are transgender. He looked into surgery at age 18 but decided the techniques were too “barbaric.”

More than 20 years later, he decided he was ready for the change.

“I’m a generally optimistic and happy person,” he says. But “I’ve probably felt better in the last year and a half than I have at any point in my life.”

His other joyful moments are similar to those for most police officers: helping someone in need, maybe even hearing a “thank you.”

 

Written by: Rosemary Winters, The Salt Lake Tribune

Original Post: http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_13886492

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Tampa Extends Protections to Transgender

Tampa x 390 (Photos.com) | Advocate.com

The Tampa city council voted Thursday to extend antidiscrimination protections to transgender individuals over the objections of opponents, many of whom based their criticisms on religion.

The measure, which was proposed by the city’s Human Rights Board and passed the by city council unanimously in a preliminary vote November 5, underwent lengthier debate on Thursday, according to The Tampa Tribune.

“Following two hours of testimony from grandmothers, ministers, transgendered people and representatives of Fortune 500 companies, the city council voted 5 to 1 on Thursday to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public facilities based on ‘gender identity and expression,’” the Tribune reported.

Christian conservatives were especially incensed about the proposal.

“Members of several Christian evangelical groups and other opponents called the move an assault on their religious values they fear will sanction sexually deviant behavior,” reported the Tribune.

Tampa joined 16 other municipalities in Florida that have extended protections to transgender individuals.

By Julie Bolcer

Posted on Advocate.com * November 20, 2009

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“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” for Marriage Equality

May 9, 2009 marked a joyous day when the governor of Maine officially signed same-sex marriage into law.

“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, said in a statement released as he signed the bill.

“This law is simply about making sure that loving, committed couples, and their families, receive equal rights and responsibilities. This is a step that will strengthen Maine families,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a written statement.

6 months later, voters appear to have a change of heart as the state of Maine today joins the 30 other states that reject same-sex marriage.

Again, this is a moment where the GLBTQ community are given rights just to have them ripped away. In my personal opinion, marriage equality will continue to be a back-n-forth game until this important issue progresses beyond the States and is firmly planted on  Federal ground.

I have never before heard of this type of yo-yo law making until this particular issue was uprooted and put on the political platform. I do not hear of state’s granting abortions, then taking that right away. That is because the issue of abortion made its way into the federal courts, surpassing the mere state legislation. We take “two steps forward, one step back” when we deal with decision makers that rank under the “big dogs” that reside in our nation’s capital.

As I “spouted out” in my previous post, how can we expect to have equal marriage when our military still remains in the closet? They can defend our country and die, yet cannot be gay, lesbian or transgender. President Obama only in recent weeks signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law. These are the “baby steps” we need in order to climb steadfastly up the equality ladder. Abolishing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is our next baby step.

Since the word “marriage” seems to enrage people of a closed mind, have we thought of pushing for “civil unions” / “domestic partnership” first? Baby steps.

Sure, I agree we are discriminated against, but we cannot “change” the minds and opinions of these people no matter how many letters we write or protests we march as activists in. Those are great to show we have a voice and are not going away, but in order for us to truly progress, I am a firm believer in “baby steps”. To us, we are asking for nothing more than equal rights. To them, we are asking for something HUGE. So, why not start asking for smaller things to help pave the way to larger things? Just my thoughts.

Next in the political arena today we have elected an openly  homophobic politician to share power in Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli’s win as attorney general is another step back for the GLBTQ community.

Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli was quoted recently in the Virginian-Pilot to state, “homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.”

The fight turns now to New Jersey where Democrat and marriage equality supporter Jon Corzine was unseated by Republican and marriage equality opposer Christopher Christie. Two months remain for legislature to pass a marriage bill with Corzine finishing his final days of his term. Even still, the Garden State must wait a minimum of four years to gain full marriage rights.

In my opinion, Washington is the state that is taking the correct “baby steps” as voters accept and pass a Domestic Partnership (DP) law (tagged “everything but marriage”), while the voters reject the law for “marriage” time and time again.

Most people are not startled by the term “domestic partner” and might be open to grant recognition for our relationships; however, the term “married” still stirs havoc in the minds that can only acknowledge “one man, one woman” and cannot see past that. Of course, I should make the point that it is “one BIO man, one BIO woman” that they can handle. God forbid we try to open their minds further to the transgender community just yet.

“Never let your head hang down. NEVER GIVE UP AND SIT DOWN AND GRIEVE. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige

In the face of adversity is when you must fight the hardest. When you have a hard time standing back up, that is the time to grab your neighbor by the hand and trudge forward together. In the chaos and the screaming, stay calm in your heart, but raise your voice and be heard. When they come against you, do not lower yourself and come back against them. Believe in the great and wonderful person you are and keep standing, keep moving forward and never give up fighting for a brighter tomorrow.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find it important to note that the consensus reveals that many anti-marriage equality voters are African American. This is why I chose a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. — a man who died to bring equality to a minority. I only pray that the ones who choose to now HATE a minority (as they once were) will open their eyes and one day see the light of never restraining freedom from another human being. This time it’s not about the color of skin, but about whom they choose to love. We must remember it’s not about skin color, sexual orientation…but, by the “content of one’s character” we define a man.

Years ago, one great man had a dream. Today, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day those who once had thoughts of killing a gay man will invite him over for dinner. I have a dream that one day the preacher that once condemned the lesbian to hell will marry her and her wife. I have a dream that one day the person who beat transgenders will drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness. I have a dream that the bully who drives gay teens to suicide will instead come to their rescue and be their support. Yes, I too have a dream. This is only a small piece of it. A piece of a large puzzle that I hope one day will all be put together.

Baby steps, my family…baby steps.

Written by Tristan


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You DON’T Have Wait On People OR the Government for EQUAL MARRIAGE?

Today the state of Maine decides whether or not to keep marriage equality. The polls are almost dead even. Yesterday, activists gathered to rally at Monument Square to defend the rights of the citizens of the state of Maine. The “No on 1 Campaign” posted an ad on October 31st showing a woman named Jill going door to door asking for Diane’s hand in marriage. Asking everyone in the state of Maine would be equivalent to asking 275,000 people! This truly illustrates to people how outlandish voting on this law truly is because of the power it gives one person over another. I could only imagine if everyone in the land of the free and home of the brave had to ask that many people for something that was created as a God-given right…the right for two people to love and dedicate the rest of their lives together.

Follow Project Maine Equality on Twitter for the latest updates from the ground.

Tristan’s Personal Spout Out: Is it just me or is it humorous that many people think the GLBTQ community will make a joke out of same-sex marriage when they are the ones making a joke of marriage for us. They allow states to give us equal rights, just to strip it away. Here you go, we will hand you the golden keys of legal marriage. Oops! Just kidding! *slaps forehead* What in the gay mecca were WE thinking??

These people forget who we are. We are comprised of your doctors that save your mother’s life, the teacher who provides education to your kids, the police officer that locked up the town rapist, the firefighter that went into your burning house and saved your spouse. We are people too. Just like everyone else. We want the same things. We want love and deserve nothing less than the ability to legally protect our marriage the same as our heterosexual friends and family. We have children, too — and I’m sure my dad would have felt awkward having to adopt me instead of me just being legally his when I was born.

These people do not think past their prejudice and religious values. Last time I checked, God is LOVE – not HATE.

I’m transgender, so technically I am a man that is married to a woman – YET, behold, I still cannot get legally married? What is the issue with that? They now carry measuring sticks for between men’s legs before you can be a “real” man? *insert smirk* I can assure you that I have proven to be more of a true man than many biological men I have encountered.

How to Make Your Marriage as Legal as Possible:

I suggest to all of you OUT there that is “married” in the GLBTQ community to MAKE IT AS LEGAL AS YOU CAN BY YOURSELVES. This is what my wife and I did. Look up all of the legal rights marriage gives you. View the list HERE. First off, one of you needs to take the other’s last name legally (or both of you should do a joint last night with a hyphen or SOMETHING). Next, you need to create living wills, power of attorneys and have them signed, notarized and kept in a safe place (give a copy to someone you trust not to be opened unless both of you pass on at the same time). These first two things are CRUCIAL and need to be done as soon as you get married (have it already done prior to your wedding just to be sure since a name change can take up to two months sometimes — ALSO, you don’t need to hire a lawyer for a legal name change — go to the county courthouse and do the leg work yourself. It will cost you more like $200 instead of $400+). Next, join EVERYTHING together…bank accounts, insurance…anything and everything you can. Most insurance companies will also list you as domestic partners even if that is not recognized in your state. When they ask your marital status – tell them “domestic partner” – don’t be afraid!


Tristan and Sicily on our beautiful wedding day

Don’t tell me that we can’t have what everyone else has. Don’t tell me that all of my childhood dreams can’t come true. They can only keep it from you if we allow them to. Sure, we can’t legally have ALL of the same rights, but by golly, we can come close.

I must further address that I have always firmly believed equal marriage will not happen until the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is erased from our military. If you still cannot serve your country and die for the citizens and be openly gay, then how can we expect equal marriage?

The road to freedom is long and is paved with rocks along the way. One thing I know is that when you finally get something you fought so hard for, you hold on to it tightly and cherish it forever. I believe the GLBTQ community will one day be able to show the world that marriage is NOT a joke to us and we will be the ones to rebuild the broken foundation left by the others who had the right before us. It’s time for the divorce rate to DECREASE.

 

Written by TRISTAN

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