About the OHR’s Proposed Changes

What is the Office of Human Rights Proposing? On July 11, 2008 the Commission of Human Rights voted to enter a proposed notice of rulemaking. Some of them are just clarifications and don’t hurt our existing rights. But TWO of them seriously threaten both our rights as they exist now AND undermine key demands DC Trans Coalition’s campaign to make DC Jails safer and less abusive to trans inmates.

Here’s what the OHR is proposing:

To the section that talks about general ways that we can’t be discriminated against, they want to add the following language:

Nothing in this chapter shall require an agency of the District of Columbia to classify, house, or provide access to gender-specific facilities to transgender individuals according to their gender identity or expression if the transgender individual is incarcerated, institutionalized, or otherwise within the District’s custody. A district agency may make reasonable inquiry to determine whether an individual in custody is transgender. (proposed as 801.3, after 801.2)

Classification and assignment for transgender individuals within District government custody shall be based on, among other things, the safety and security of the transgender individual, the needs of the facility, and the safety and security of the other individual in the facility to which the transgender person is assigned. (proposed as 801.4)

DCTC says: This is a direct attack on our campaign against the Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections insists that the only way they will classify inmates is by genitalia, refuse to acknowledge transgender inmates’ gender identity or expression by agreeing to train guards to refer to inmates by their current name and pronoun, and want to subject trans inmates to medical examination to “determine” our genitalia. We assert that trans inmates know best where we will be safe and should be provided with housing options where we can determine which location will be most safe and where we will be least vulnerable. This language implies that non-trans inmates have to be kept safe from trans inmates.

The addition of this language is an attempt to block a process and regulation that would ultimately make trans inmates most safe and reduce the possibility of abusive situations and conditions in DC jails. Tell the OHR you oppose this change today!

The want to TAKE OUT COMPLETELY the following section:

All entities covered under the Act with single-occupancy restroom facilities shall use gender-neutral signage for those facilities (for example, by replacing signs that indicate “Men” and “Women” with signs that say “Restroom”.

DCTC says: Defend bathroom access for all! Not only has the OHR not attempted to enforce this regulation with DC businesses, it’s now trying to take it away. Simply changing the signs on single-person bathrooms from “Men” or “Women” to “Restroom” is a small, cheap way to make more bathrooms available to everyone in DC, regardless of gender identity or expression. It simply reduces the amount of time people have to wait for a bathroom, and there are lots of reasons people prefer the privacy of a single-person bathroom. Defend bathroom access for all by tell the OHR to keep this law the way it is!

They want to add this language to the section governing facilities where nudity in the presence of other is customary (like gyms and places with communal shower facilities):

In gender-specific facilities where nudity is customary, reasonable accomodations may include, but shall not be limited to, shower dividers, private or individual shower rooms, or other measures that promote the privacy of the individuals. (proposed as 805.3, bumping that current section down to 805.4)

DCTC says: No problems with this.

They want to add a section to the “recording of gender and name” area:

Identification badges for employees of the District of Columbia government must state the employee’s legal name, as documented by the Department of Human Resources. The name affixed on the badge shall be changes after the employee provides proof of a formal name change through a court of competent jurisdiction.

DCTC says: This is a problem because it doesn’t belong in the Human Rights Law as it pertains to gender identity and expression, but instead should be part of Employment Code for the District. Plenty of DC employees, trans and not, have name badges that list nicknames. It’s an inappropriate amendment. It certainly doesn’t protect people’s right to use a name consistent with a person’s gender identity or expression, and the point of these rules is to protect trans and gender-variant people, not to limit our rights.

Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 10:20PM by Registered CommenterDCTC | Comments Off

ALERT: Office of Human Rights threatening our Rights! Take Action!

URGENT ALERT: We just discovered that last Friday, July 11th, an announcement of the OHR’s intent to undermine parts of the Human Rights Act that the Coalition won was entered into the DC Register. You can read the proposal here. Why are the Office of Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights trying to REPEAL our Human Rights instead of defending them? This is outrageous!

Contact the DC Office of Human Rights to demand that they uphold our rights, not gut them. Email ohr@dc.gov or call (202) 727-0656 to ask why this proposed rulemaking has been entered.

Formal responses: To comment on the subject matter of this proposed rulemaking, submit comments in writing to Alexis Taylor, General Counsel at the DC Office of Human Rights 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 570 North, Washington, DC 20001 . The DCTC will also be collecting people’s comments and submitting them to the General Counsel. DEADLINE for this submission is August 11, 2008. If you do write the OHR, cc us at dctranscoalition@gmail.com so we can follow up on your comments during the public hearing.

Stay tuned for more events and actions as we work to defend our rights…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s