Tag Archives: office of human rights

DC Trans Groups Victorious In Shelter Struggle

Lakiesha with the suit
Lakiesha Washington poses with the judge’s order that the John L Young shelter be open to transgender women.

Shelter that discriminated against transgender woman agrees to stop discriminating, train its staff on trans sensitivity, and make its facilities safer for trans people

A DC transgender resident named Lakiesha Washington, Transgender Health Empowerment (a drop-in center for LGBT people), and DC Trans Coalition have won a major victory for transgender homeless people.

As the Washington Blade reported earlier this week, Lakiesha Washington sued New Hope Ministries–operator of the John L Young Women’s Shelter–for discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. On April 3, 2013, Washington attempted to get a bed in the John L Young Shelter, and was turned away, being told (as is noted in Ms. Washington’s complaint), “We don’t do transgenders here. You have to leave.”

Washington, and the lawyer representing her–DC Trans Coalition member Jeffrey Light–negotiated with New Hope Ministries through this last week that New Hope would agree to a Temporary Restraining Order allowing Washington (and all transgender women) into the shelter. Furthermore, New Hope Ministries has arranged to give its staff transgender sensitivity training (as put on by Transgender Health Empowerment’s Earline Budd, and the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs), and improve the privacy of its bathroom and shower facilities so that no one will be outed on the basis of their genitalia.

DC Trans Coalition member Andy Bowen, who filed an Office of Human Rights complaint about John L Young in February 2013, will withdraw her complaint, which had just entered the mediation and investigation stage.

“This is a great day for all transgender people,” said Washington. “Nobody should have to face discrimination and humiliation, and thanks to this case, homeless transgender people will be now be safer.”

“DC has great nondiscrimination laws, but good laws do not equal adequate enforcement,” said Bowen. “This case showed the need for more vigilant enforcement, and if DC Trans Coalition has anything to do with it, enforcement’s gonna happen.”

For more information, contact Andy Bowen at andymbowen [at] gmail [dot] com.

John L Young TRO Signed

Don’t let the DC government roll back housing protections for trans people!!

The D.C. Office of Human Rights has proposed rules that would allow discrimination in housing on the basis of sex if there is a business necessity for doing so.  The proposed rules would make it harder for people who don’t look or act like the stereotype associated with their sex to be housed in homeless shelters, universities, nursing homes, and other places.

The DC Trans Coalition is circulating a petition (see below) to tell the Office of Human Rights that there is no need for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sex. At the least, OHR should clarify the rule to specify that individuals have access to housing based on their gender identity within sex-segregated facilities, in accordance with the DC Human Rights Act. Continue reading

DCTC Recommends Priorities for District Government

Last week, newly-elected Mayor Gray’s Director of the Office of GLBT Affairs, Jeffrey Richardson, attended a DC Trans Coalition meeting. Members of DCTC educated the Director about the needs of trans communities in the District, and we were assured that trans people (along with youth and aging LGBT people) would be among the administration’s top concerns.

For the occasion, DCTC prepared a list of priorities for the Gray Administration, and shared this with the Director. We broke it down by agency and listed the most pressing and achievable goals for each. Among our list were:

  • End the Prostitution Free Zones and move toward decriminalizing sex work;
  • Nominate one or more trans people to serve on the Commission on Human Rights;
  • Enforce the gender-neutral bathroom provisions of the DC Human Rights Act;
  • Restore funding to vital trans-sensitive social services like HIPS and T.H.E.;
  • Develop plans to address unemployment in the trans community;
  • Expand the Dept. of Corrections and MPD trans policies to include other criminal justice agencies in the District;
  • Fund the DC Trans Needs Assessment

..and much more. You can read the comprehensive list here.

DCTC Submits Testimony for MPD Oversight Hearing

Today DCTC submitted testimony before the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee as part of the annual oversight hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department.  In our statement, we outline our work with MPD over the past year, and also point out four issue areas where work is being done and more progress needs to be made, including:

  • Ensuring full compliance with MPD General Order 501.02: Interactions with Transgender Individuals,
  • Bias crime reporting,
  • Officer training,
  • Anti-trans bias in prostitution enforcement.

To read our full statement, please click here.

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.