Tag Archives: human rights act

DCTC Condemns Alleged Anti-Trans Assault by MPD Officer

Like many of you, we were concerned and disheartened to learn of the alleged attack on a trans woman by an off-duty MPD officer on December 1.  This afternoon, we released a statement condemning this violence, and calling for swift justice for the victim, Chloe Moore, as well as a renewed commitment from MPD to make sure that all its officers comply with the law.

If you are ever a victim of violence or mistreatment at the hands of a law enforcement officer or other first responder, we encourage you to contact us at 202.681.DCTC or email us at dctc@dctranscoalition.org.

Our statement is below. Continue reading

52 New Gender Neutral Bathrooms in DC!

By next month, all Starbucks locations in DC will be in compliance with the DC Human Rights Act’s provisions on public restrooms. Starting next Monday, Starbucks will begin to upgrade the restroom signs for all single-stall facilities. According to DC law, these signs should simply read “restroom” in place of “men” or “women.”

We are thrilled by this victory! It has been almost four years since local organizing efforts secured the restroom-provision in the law. Through our continued advocacy and the work of all our supporters, we are finally seeing progress in the law’s enforcement. So, go out and celebrate! Soon we will have 52 new places where we can pee in peace.

The Sexist Blog Post: “D.C. Mayoral Candidates Support Transgender Rights, But Don’t Take Them Seriously”

Thanks to everyone from all over the Northeast and North America who came to our workshop at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and we can’t wait to see everyone at the many events we have coming up! There’s the screening of TransLatinas this Thursday, Trans Pride on Saturday, the Capital Pride Street Festival on Sunday and the Trans Day of Action in NYC next week. So much to do!

In the meantime, we wanted to share this article about trans rights in the District written on The Sexist blog. Each DC mayoral candidate was asked whether they would appoint a trans person to the human rights board. You can read a transcript or watch video footage of each candidate’s response, but as Amanda Hess, the author of the blog post, sums up:

So, we had one candidate voice his support for a transgender appointee, and then spend the rest of his time talking about achieving gay rights in the District. Then, we had the current mayor voice his support for a transgender appointee, then spend the rest of his time talking about completely unrelated shit, even though he is Mayor right now and apparently has not appointed a transgender person to the commission yet. Then, we had another candidate voice his support for a transgender appointee, and then spend the rest of his time talking about how he thinks gay rights should be subject to a popular vote.

This shows one of the major problems we face as trans organizers in DC: A lot of politicians appear to support our cause, but then clearly demonstrate that they know very little about our communities’ needs, are extremely disconnected from our day-to-day realities and fail to take any actual action on improving the lives of trans people in the District.  It seems like no matter who wins the election, our politicians are going to need to be educated about what a trans person even is, for starters.  But we’re very glad that the question was posed. It’s a beginning!

By the way, you can actually apply for a mayoral appointment to the Commission on Human Rights. Here’s how. And let us know if you do apply!

Our Survey Results

Below, you will find the text of a fact sheet produced by DCTC summarizing the results of our survey on gender-segregated spaces in DC. Below that, you will also find some reflections on what this data means along with expanded statistics from the survey about employment, income, access to health care and so on.  See our page on Reports and Research for more studies and data on the trans community in DC.

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Introduction

In October 2006, regulations to enforce anti-discrimination protections for gender identity or expression went into effect in the District of Columbia. These regulations include specific protections for people to access and use gender-segregated public facilities consistent with their gender identity.  The regulations also included a mandate for the creation of more gender-neutral public restrooms in the District.  While these regulations are an important step forward, they have not yet been fully implemented and have been threatened by District agencies.

In November 2008, DCTC launched a survey to gather information about people’s experiences accessing or using gender-segregated public facilities.  The results reveal that people in our community have experienced significant problems with these facilities.  These problems have impacted people’s education, employment, health, and participation in public life.  The regulations of enforcement for the DC Human Rights Act must be fully implemented to address problems our community faces.

Reported Problems

The survey collected responses from 93 people who self-identify as trans and/or gender non-conforming and asked about experiences they have had with gender-segregated public facilities in DC, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and public housing facilities.  Out of 93 respondents, 65 (70 percent) reported experiencing problems as follows:

  • 63 respondents (68 percent) have been denied access to, verbally harassed in, and/or physically assaulted in public bathrooms.
  • 17 respondents (18 percent) have been denied access to, verbally harassed in, and/or physically assaulted in locker rooms.h
  • 19 respondents (20 percent) have been denied access to and/or verbally harassed in dressing rooms or changing rooms.
  • Out of the 8 respondents who have been housed in a public housing facility in DC (such as a homeless shelter, DC jail, or treatment facility), 6 respondents (75 percent) experienced physical assault, verbal abuse, denial of medical care and/or hormones, harassment, and/or being treated worse than others by staff.

Impact of Reported Problems

This survey assessed the impact of problems with gender-segregated public facilities in four areas: education, employment, health, and participation in public life.

Education:

  • 13 of 31 respondents (42 percent) who attended school in DC reported being denied access and/or verbally harassed in gender-segregated facilities at school.
  • 3 respondents (10 percent) reported these incidents negatively impacted their education in the following ways: caused excessive absences, poor performance, had to change schools, and/or dropped out of school.

Employment:

  • 16 of 60 respondents (27 percent) who have worked in DC reported being denied access and/or verbally harassed in gender-segregated facilities at work.
  • 8 respondents (13 percent) reported these incidents negatively impacted their employment in the following ways: caused excessive tardiness, poor performance, had to change job, and/or had to quit job.

Health:

  • 53 respondents (54 percent) reported having physical problems from trying to avoid using public bathrooms, such as “holding it,” dehydration, urinary tract infection, kidney infection, and other kidney-related problems.
  • 8 respondents (9 percent) have avoided going to a hospital, healthcare facility, or doctor’s office because those facilities have gender-segregated restrooms.

Participation in Public Life:

  • 54 respondents (58 percent) reported that they have avoided going out in public and 28 respondents (30 percent) reported not attending a specific event, both due to a lack of safe public restroom facilities.
  • 37 respondents (38 percent) reported avoiding particular public places due to a lack of safe restroom facilities.  The places respondents most frequently avoided include retail stores, restaurants, gyms, and bars (including gay bars).

Policy Needs

1)    DC must fully implement the enforcement regulations adopted in October 2006 for the “gender identity or expression” provision of the DC Human Rights Act.

2)    The new DC Department of Corrections Operations Memorandum must be fully implemented with regular review and revision to improve effectiveness.

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A total of 69 (74%) of our respondents identified as white; 20 (22%) as black/African American; 4 (4%) Latina/Hispanic; 3 (3%) as Native American; 5 (5%) as Asian/Pacific Islander; and 1 (1%) as Arab/Middle Eastern. Since respondents were able to mark more than one racial identification, 63 (67%) identified themselves as only white.

58 respondents identified as transgender, 26 as transsexual and 36 as genderqueer. (There were more possibilities listed, including but not limited to androgynous, masculine woman, feminine man, third gender, two spirit, crossdresser and drag queen, and respondents were able to check multiple answers.) 16 identified themselves as male-to-female and 36 as female-to-male. 60 respondents were assigned female at birth, and 40 were assigned male at birth. This would seem to indicate that trans women were underrepresented in the data.

34 (37%) were aged 18-24; 30 (32%) were aged 25-34; 15 (16%) aged 35-44; 8 (9%) aged 45-54; 5 (5%) aged 55-64 and 1 (1%) was aged over 65. Thus, our data is also extremely skewed toward young people.

15 (16%) of respondents were unemployed, 46 (49%) were part-time employed, 24 (26%) were full-time and 8 (9%) responded they had another form of income besides full or part time employment.  2 (2%) respondents were homeless, 10 (11%) owned homes, with the rest renting, living rent free or living in a college dorm.

Incomes were as follows:

  • 10 (11%) : no annual income
  • 17 (18%) : under $5,000
  • 8 (9%) : $5,000 – 9,999
  • 7 (8%) : $10,000 -19,999
  • 7 (8%) : $20,000 – 29,999
  • 10 (11%) : $30,000 – 39,999
  • 7 (8%): $40,000 – 49,999
  • 8 (9%) : $50,000 – 59,999
  • 9 (10%) : $60,000 – 69,999
  • 2 (2%) : $70,000 – 79,999
  • 2 (2%) : $80,000 – 89,999
  • 0 (0%) : $90,000 – 99,999
  • 5 (5%) : $100,000 or more

In other words, almost half (46%) of all respondents made less than 20,000 dollars a year. 8 (9%) had no insurance and 10 (11%) were on Medicare/Medicaid. Of the respondents who indicated they wanted some kind of medical procedure to help them transition, 34 of 57 (60%) said they could not afford it.

Removing the people who only identified as white, incomes were as follows:

  • 8 (27%) : no annual income
  • 6 (20%) : under $5,000
  • 1 (3%) : $5,000 – 9,999
  • 1 (3%) : $10,000 -19,999
  • 3 (10%) : $20,000 – 29,999
  • 6 (20%) : $30,000 – 39,999
  • 1 (3%): $40,000 – 49,999
  • 1 (3%) : $50,000 – 59,999
  • 2 (7%) : $60,000 – 69,999
  • 0 (0%) : $70,000 – 79,999
  • 0 (0%) : $80,000 – 89,999
  • 0 (0%) : $90,000 – 99,999
  • 1 (3%) : $100,000 or more

Thus, 53% of people who identified as something other than only white made less than 20,000 a year, compared to 46% of the total sample population including white respondents.

35 respondents (38%) believe they have been discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression in DC since the regulations on gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act went into effect.  Only 2 respondents have reported the discrimination to the Office of Human Rights. In the “write more” boxes on the survey, people expressed that they seriously doubted whether reporting the incidents would be taken seriously.

The data is also very specific in that it is asking whether the person surveyed had experienced problems in DC since the regulations went into effect. Since many of our respondents did not actually live in the District, they may have experienced discrimination in other places, or before 2006. For example, we cannot even say the percentage of trans people surveyed who have been housed in public accommodations (i.e., jail, shelters etc). Since there is no federal prison in DC, anyone who has been sentenced to a felony or a sentence of over 6-8 months would have served time outside of DC.

Therefore it is possible that more than the 9% we discovered have actually been incarcerated or in homeless shelters outside of DC, or before 2006. Also, given that our data is skewed toward young, white, FTM-spectrum individuals, this number is also likely off.

Our Statement for the 2009 Trans Day of Remembrance

Please distribute this widely! Available online at http://www.dctranscoalition.org.

DC TRANS COALITION

For Immediate Release
November 8, 2009
Contact: Sadie Ryanne Baker
(202) 557-1951

The DC Trans Coalition Commemorates the 2009 Trans Day of Remembrance

Washington, DC – In recent months, a lot of us in DC were deeply affected by the murder of Ty’lia Mack, a trans woman who was stabbed along with a friend only a few blocks from the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc. Many of us at the DC Trans Coalition are survivors of violence ourselves, or are close to someone who is. We now approach the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, a time of emotional ceremonies when we come together with our friends and allies to remember the hundreds of fallen transsexual, transgender and gender nonconforming people all across the world.

Our communities are faced with violence all of the time – and it is not only the kind that comes from bigots who follow us on the street. It can also come from the threat of homelessness and job loss, disproportional rates of poverty and HIV infection, bullying in schools, or denial of access to health care or public facilities like restrooms.

To help curb this violence, sometimes we rely on police and laws like the Human Rights Act here in DC. Calling the police can be important if we are in the kinds of unsafe situations that are all-too-familiar for many trans/GNC people. However, involving the police is not a viable option for many people in our communities. A lack of consistent identity documents, fear of prejudiced and hateful officers and other factors can create complicated problems when interacting with police. Thankfully, in DC we have fought for policies to reduce these problems. We strongly encourage anyone who lives in, works in or visits DC to become familiar with these rights and what to do if they are violated. But even with these strong protections on paper, police harassment on the street and the threat of being arrested and sent to jail remains a constant problem for many.

As the city cuts the budgets of social service programs like THE that help the most vulnerable, and the police enact “tough on crime” policies like the Prostitution Free Zones that result in massive arrest rates for those of us who live in the most precarious economic situations, we need to look at the institutional problems that create and fuel all this violence against us. Trans/GNC people are not only made targets of violence because of blatantly transphobic prejudice. For example, we must also deal with racism, the criminalization of sex workers and the collapsing economy. We need to address all of the complex reasons why so many people in our communities are poor, on the street or constantly going through the jail in order to understand why so many trans/GNC people end up victims or survivors of violence.

Recently, the Obama Administration signed the trans-inclusive Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. Within DCTC, we have a diverse range of opinions on hate crimes legislation, but we agree that it is important to acknowledge the limitations and flaws of the criminal justice system as it is. As folks who have worked hard to reduce problems for trans/GNC people with police and in jail, we know jails themselves can be dangerous places for trans/GNC people. They also fuel vast racial and class inequalities. (In DC,for example, only 2% of our jail population is white.) So while it is exciting to see elected officials taking action to address the very real problem of hate violence targeting trans/GNC people, we hope that more people begin to have productive dialogs and think critically about strategies to address and prevent violence within our communities.

Relying on harsher penalties for bias-motivated crimes alone cannot keep us safe. While recognizing that sometimes we need to use them for our safety, we need to think about ways to decrease our societies’ over-reliance on police and jails as the only solution. This over-reliance on incarceration disproportionately harms marginalized communities like trans/GNC people. Even as DCTC works hard to make sure we enforce policies that will keep people as safe as possible on the streets and in jail, we also want to find solutions that keep people from going to jail in the first place. We hope that someday we might live in a world where we are put in unsafe situations less to begin with. That’s why, for example, we also have fought to make sure that trans/GNC folks can obtain legal documents that reflect the way we live, to make sure homeless shelters place trans/GNC people where they want to be, or to keep funding for vital social services.

The week leading up to TDOR has been declared the Trans Week of Awareness by some of our allies in Massachusetts. While we need to commemorate our dead, remembering the fallen is not enough to bring change toward a safer world. We also need to focus on preventing violence by educating those around us, to make them aware that trans/GNC people are their friends, partners, family, co-workers and community members and that we deserve rights and protection just like they do. We at DCTC join with others to mark this Week of Awareness, and ask everyone to spread the word about the need to end transphobia and work toward gender self-determination.

If you are in DC, we invite you to join Transgender Health Empowerment and other groups at 6:30 PM on Friday, November the 20th at the Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St. NW) for the annual Day of Remembrance ceremony. This year, let’s mourn our losses, but also celebrate our victories, our shared commitment to social justice and to building a world in which all forms of violence are things of the past. In the meantime, we would like to commemorate the strong communities we’ve built to support one another through hard times, and we invite all who are interested to join us in organizing for a safer DC, or wherever you find yourselves this Day of Remembrance.

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The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to fighting for the human rights, dignity and equal access for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia.