ICE issues Transgender Care Memorandum

Screen shot 2015-06-29 at 4.26.17 PMU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations has issued the “Transgender Care Memorandum to “reaffirm ICE’s commitment to prove a safe, secure and respectful environment for all those in our custody, including those individuals who identify as transgender,” according Thomas Homan, executive assistance director of the ERO.

“We want to make sure our employees have the tools and resources available to learn more about how to interact with transgender individuals and ensure effective standards exist to house and care for them throughout the custody cycle,” Homan said.

According to a statement released by ICE, the memorandum addresses elements of custody relating to treatment of trans people, including:

• Ensuring appropriate data systems are updated to record each person’s gender identity, “assisting the agency in data collection and informed decision-making.”

• Comprehensive officer training and tools to ensure each person’s gender identity is determined “early in the custodial life cycle to ensure care.”

• A voluntary ICE detention facility contract modification calling for the formation of a facility-based multidisciplinary Transgender Care Classification Committee responsible for making decisions related to searches, clothing options, housing assignments, medical care and housing reassessments for transgender individuals.

The press release says the new guidance resulted from a six-month agency working group that “examined these issues with subject matter experts, sought input from transgender individuals and visited various non-federal facilities across the country to observe best practices.”

ICE also announced plans for a new national ERO LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex) coordinator and LGBTI field liaisons at each of the 24 ERO Field Offices.

See the full guidance here.

—  Tammye Nash

Bill to lift trans military service ban to be introduced

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Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill to lift the ban on service by transgender military members, according to the American Military Partner Association.

“It’s far past time for this unjust ban that harms our transgender service members and their families to end,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said. “While the Department of Defense could easily do this without action from Congress by updating the military’s outdated regulations, we applaud Rep. Speier for her strong leadership in working to end the ban.

The Department of Defense recently added non-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian service members by updating the military equal opportunity program to include sexual orientation as a protected category. Gender identity was not included in the updated policy.

—  David Taffet

2 active duty trans servicemembers among those invited to White House LGBT Pride Month reception

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Sr. Airman Logan Ireland

U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Logan Ireland, a trans man from North Texas, and his fiancee, Army Cpl. Laila Villanueva, are among the six members of SPARTA, an advocacy organization of LGBT people who are currently serving in the U.S. military or are military veterans, who will be attending the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month Reception on Wednesday, June 24.

Ireland, who joined the Air Force in 2010 as a woman, began his transition to male in 2012. He told Air Force Times earlier this month that he chose to wait until after enlisting to transition because he would not have been able to enlist as a transgender person. Ireland, who recently returned from Afghanistan, serves openly and has the support of his chain of command and the soldiers with whom he serves. He told Air Force Times that he is sharing his own story publicly in hopes of helping the 15,000 transgender troops who must remain closeted to maintain their military careers — including his fiancee.

New York Times recently posted this op-doc video, “Transgender at War and in Love,” about Ireland and Villanueva.

While Air Force policy still allows for the involuntary separation from service of transgender servicemen and women, the Air Force recently elevated the decision authority for such separations to the director of the Air Force Review Boards Agency. The Army instituted a similar change in March.

Because he identified as female when he enlisted in the Air Force, current regulations require Ireland to abide by female uniform and grooming standards. After he was invited to the reception, however, Ireland notified his command who authorized a policy exemption allowing him to attend the reception in male dress uniform. Villanueva will attend in civilian attire.

Other SPARTA members attending are Arm Col. (Retired) Sheri Swokowski, Navt Lt. Cdr. (USNR) Brynn Tannehill, former Marine Sgt. Devon Allen and former Army National Guard Spc. Bryce Jordan Celotto.

—  Tammye Nash

Defense Department extends nondiscrimination ordinance to GLB – but not T – troops

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced today that the department has extended its nondiscrimination ordinance to include gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers.

“[We’re] ensuring that the department, like the rest of the federal government, treats sexual orientation-based discrimination the same way it treats discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, age and national origin,” Carter said in a statement.

While the ordinance amends the military’s equal opportunity policy to prevent LGB soldiers from discrimination and harassment, it, however, does not include gender identity or expression. Currently transgender service members are unable to openly serve, despite the 2010 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which barred lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from serving openly. The repeal additionally did not include nondiscrimination protections for trans soldiers.

“We appreciate the leadership of Secretary Carter in advancing this unfinished business of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal which is an important step to ensure LGB service members are treated equally,” said Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “To reach our goal of full LGBT equality in the military, it’s also crucially important that the ban on transgender service members be lifted by updating outdated regulations that prevent them from serving openly and honestly.”

In a statement, the American Military Partners Association also praised the announcement while urging further protections for the estimated 15,500-transgender service members who are still unable to serve openly.

“This long overdue and critical change to the military equality opportunity program will help ensure that LGB service members are treated fairly with the dignity and respect they deserve, ” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “But it’s incredibly important to note that we absolutely cannot leave our transgender service members behind.”

—  James Russell

Air Force makes change in policy about removal of transgender troops

us_air_forceThe U.S. Air Force has officially changed a policy regarding dismissal of transgender service members.

Removal of a transgender service member from the Air Force must now be “reviewed by the Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council for recommendation, and then to the [Air Force Review Boards Agency] AFRBA director, for decision.”

In a press release, Daniel Sitterly, the principal deputy assistant Secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs said, “Though the Air Force policy regarding involuntary separation of gender dysphoric Airmen has not changed, the elevation of decision authority to the director, Air Force Review Boards Agency, ensures the ability to consistently apply the existing policy.”

“This is a huge step in the right direction for our transgender airmen and their families, but they are still threatened by outdated regulations preventing them from serving openly and honestly,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We need Secretary Carter to order a comprehensive review of these outdated regulations. Transgender service members sacrifice so much for our nation, and they should be able to serve openly, honestly, and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. A service member’s gender identity has nothing to do with the ability to get the job done.”

The U.S. Army also recently made similar changes requiring a higher level review of discharge authority for transgender troops. These changes are similar to the changes made toward removing gay and lesbian troops just before the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

—  David Taffet

Trans woman attacked in NY subway

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Surveillance cameras caught footage of the suspect in a possible anti-trans hate crime digging a plastic bottle out of a subway trash can before throwing the bottle at a trans woman and then pushing her onto the tracks.

A New York transgender woman was treated for cuts and bruises after being pushed onto the train tracks in a subway station near Greenwich Village, according to NBC Channel 4 in New York. Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

According to reports, the man who pushed the 28-year-old woman was “acting erratically.” Witnesses said he approached the victim and asked, “What are you looking at?” He then ran to a nearby trash can, pulled out an empty plastic bottle and threw it at the woman. He then went back to the woman and pushed her onto the train tracks.

Surveillance video, from which the screen grab above was taken, shows the man running to the trash can to dig out the plastic bottle.

Thankfully, the victim in this instance suffered no serious injuries. But it is clear evidence that even as celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner are bringing the world’s attention to bear on the trans community and in doing so, hopefully, making the world a better, safer place for trans women and men, the hatred and violence against transgender people continues.

As Laverne Cox said in a Tumblr post yesterday (June 2):

“Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class. I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks. Trans folks of all races, gender expressions, ability, sexual orientations, classes, immigration status, employment status, transition status, genital status etc.. I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues…”

—  Tammye Nash

Huckabee accuses trans women of being child molesters while supporting a child molester

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Video of Republican presidential candidate — and former Arkansas governor — Mike Huckabee once again describing transgender women as male pedophiles lurking in bathrooms to molest little girls has surfaced, less than two weeks after Huckabee posted on Facebook declaring his support for admitted child molester Joshua Duggar.

In the video, filmed at the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in late February, Huckabee “joked” about how he wished he could have pretended to be transgender by saying he “felt like a woman” in high school “when it came time to take showers in PE,” BuzzFeed reports. Right-wing news site World Net Daily uploaded the video to YouTube over the weekend.

In the video, which you can watch below, Huckabee said: “For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your seven-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man.”

Then he added: “Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous doesn’t it?”

He also claimed there is “something inherently wrong about forcing little children to be a part of this social experiment,” adding “I’m not against anybody. I’d just like for somebody to bring their brain to work some day and not leave it on the bedstand when they show up to govern.”

Of course, while he is more than happy to make up stories about men pretending to be women so they’ll have more chances to molest little girls, Huckabee apparently still stands steadfastly behind his Arkansas buddies, the Duggar family, and their son Joshua, who admitted he molested five younger girls when he was a teenager (and yes, four of those girls were his own sisters).

“Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family,” Huckabee wrote in a May 22 post on his Facebook page (Janet is his wife). He noted that Joshua Duggar called his actions in molesting little girls “inexcusable,” but adds that  inexcusable “doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’”

Huckabee wrote that Josh Duggar and his family “dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities” — without acknowledging that the family dealt with it by not saying anything for more than a year and stonewalling all efforts by authorities to investigate until after the statute of limitations had expired.

Huckabee downplayed Joshua Duggars crimes by saying “Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things,” by saying that because Duggar was a teenager his “judgement [was] not mature,” and he confessed his sins and sought help.

(Joshua Duggar’s father got a police officer friend — since convicted and now serving time for possession of child pornography — to give Josh a stern talking to, and then sent him to live with a friend of the family for three months for “counseling,” which consisted of helping that family friend in his home building business.)

Huckabee concluded: “Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle [the Duggar family patriarch and matriarch] and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness.

“We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

Hmm. Kind of makes you wonder whose bedstand Mike Huckabee left his brain on that day, doesn’t it.

—  Tammye Nash

Jarrett congratulates Jenner in Tweet

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Caitlyn Jenner, left, and Valerie Jarrett

Valerie June Bowman Jarrett is a senior advisor to President Barack Obama and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs.

Today, Addie Whisenant, the White House’s director of African-American media, sent out an email, just making sure that the media saw Jarrett’s tweet to Caitlyn Jenner:

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Regardless of what you think of Caitlyn Jenner and her transition, there is no doubt she is bringing attention to bear on transgender women and men and the difficulties they face. And here, a presidential advisor is not only Tweeting congrats to Caitlyn, the White House is sending out emails to make sure we don’t miss it. That’s progress.

—  Tammye Nash

Black Transmen conference held in Dallas

About 200 people attended the 4th annual Black Transmen’s Conference held in Dallas  28-May4. The conference was run by Dallas-based Black Transmen, founded by Carter and Espy Brown.

Two daughters of a transman, ages 12 and 21, gave invaluable advise that’s applicable to all LGBT families. In a question-and-answer session, they were asked, “What would you tell a child whose parent is about to transition?”

The answer applies to children with a parent who recently came out as gay or lesbian and the advise was simple: “If you’re in a good school, go to a counselor,” one daughter said. “Talk to your parents about it. And parents, talk to your kids.”

They acknowledged being lucky that they had a close family that always talked and they were in good schools with qualified counselors when one of their moms transitioned and became their dad.

—  David Taffet

Reflecting on Bruce Jenner

Olympic champion took a brave step that could mean progress for all transgender people

Leslie McMurraySo, Bruce Jenner was on TV. No big deal, right? People are probably tired of seeing Jenner and the Kardashian clan on the tube.

But Friday, April 24, was different.

For months now, there has been speculation in the media about whether Bruce Jenner was dealing with gender issues. Jenner was spotted with nail polish, or longer hair, or whatever. I believe if someone is transgender, and they want you to know, they will tell you. Until then, it’s frankly no concern of yours, even if that person has a reality TV show.

They still deserve to have a private life and to live it with dignity.

On Friday night, Bruce Jenner said the words that many had been been dreading. It was indeed a shock when he admitted, on national TV to Diane Sawyer and the nearly 17 million Americans watching — Bruce Jenner is…a Republican!

O.k., Bruce also came out as transgender.

I will admit I was worried. I feared a media circus, a freak show. But what I saw was different. It was balanced, thorough, emotional and real. I saw many of the feelings expressed that I had as a kid — the loneliness and fear.

I’ve seen some criticism of Jenner because, for now, he is sticking with male pronouns. Living life as a woman will soon change that, but he gets to decide when.

I’ve seen articles that insist on using feminine pronouns when referring to Jenner under the guise of respect. But if we are going to expect people to ask our preferred pronouns, then we are obligated to respect the response of trans people when they tell us, even if we disagree with their choice.

Some were critical of his insistence that he is heterosexual yet attracted to women. It can take some time for one to wrap their head around suddenly being a double member of the LGBT community.

In the end, Jenner’s transition is Jenner’s alone. Mine was different, but it was mine. This is an intensely personal and difficult journey, and each of us approaches it differently and does the best we can.

There is no roadmap or “one size fits all.” Jenner faced what all of us faced — nagging and endless gender dysphoria. He is doing what he needs to do to make it stop. For some, hormones are enough. For others, it takes surgery.

Fame and notoriety should not deprive him of the ability to make the choices he sees fit.

Jenner and ABC did a lot of things right. For one, Jenner mentioned the ridiculously high suicide rate in the trans community. Jenner also rightly pointed out the obscenely high murder rate among trans women of color. And ABC used video to show an attack on a trans woman who was using the women’s restroom, perfectly illustrating who is really in danger in public restrooms.

The addition of respected members of the trans community as well as doctors and therapists all contributed to a depiction of transgender people as not mentally ill, but as humans dealing with a medical issue of biological origin that is 100 percent treatable.

Making all of this possible was ABC dedicating a precious two full hours of network airtime to a subject that  has been so misunderstood. It’s not something that can be handled with sound bites. I know.

I was a guest on a radio station morning show on a news/talk station in California. They had maybe three minutes to discuss the issue. I understand that, but one can’t even begin to scratch the surface of such a complex topic in three minutes. Hell, I can hardly say hello in that time.

That’s how it’s been for too long. There might be a story relating to the subject, and we are reduced to a 15-to-20-second sound bite, if that.

What made me feel differently about this is the large audience. An estimated 17 million people tuned in. That’s the largest non-sports audience on a Friday in about 12 years.

That’s a huge number of people learning about something most people have never heard of. Only 8 percent of people even know someone who is transgender. Now, they know Jenner.

He readily admitted that he’s not the spokesperson for the community. Oddly, no one really is. Every story is different, yet we all share so much in common.

If I could have a wish, it would be that the takeaway from this is that we aren’t scary people. We aren’t a threat to anyone.

Gender transition is a very difficult and very private thing to experience. That’s what made me admire Bruce Jenner on that Friday night even more than I did when he won the Olympic decathlon in Montreal: He stepped into the spotlight and cried as he courageously said those words that can’t be unsaid, And I cried right along with him.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash