On Friday, the Trump Administration released a proposed rule that would roll back nondiscrimination protections for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rule would have devastating effects on transgender people, who already face stark barriers in accessing care.

The rollback is particularly dangerous because it comes at a time when other coverage for transgender people is being eliminated. Under the transgender military ban, for example, the Department of Defense will no longer cover transgender-related healthcare for servicemembers.

Protections at the state level are also limited. Only fourteen US states prohibit health insurance discrimination based on gender identity; ten expressly exclude transgender related care under state Medicaid policies. Most recently, Iowa’s legislature amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act to expressly remove healthcare nondiscrimination protections in late April, rushing the provision through without public hearing and leaving low-income transgender Iowans without much-needed care.

A report released by Human Rights Watch last year documented that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States, and especially transgender people, often face difficulty finding and accessing healthcare providers, face discrimination and refusals of service in medical settings, and often forego care out of fear that they will face mistreatment. Another documented the difficulty transgender women in Florida experience accessing HIV treatment and care. This latest rule will almost certainly worsen the persistent health disparities transgender people face.

In 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interpreted the ACA’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex to include discrimination based on gender identity. The proposed rule from the Trump Administration would reverse this, so that HHS would no longer interpret or enforce the rule to protect transgender people.

Human Rights Watch has joined the Protect Trans Health Coalition, which will be organizing actions in the coming weeks to push back against the proposed rule.

In the meantime, the Trump Administration’s shameful record on transgender rights underscores the importance of the Equality Act, an omnibus nondiscrimination bill that would protect LGBT people from discrimination across a range of domains. The House passed the bill last week, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell has not committed to bringing it to a vote. The rollback of basic nondiscrimination protections illustrates why clear protections are needed – and why Congress should do its job and enact those protections into law.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave an girl some advice for dealing with bullies. At a campaign stop in Iowa City, Buttigieg drew questions from a fishbowl and he pulled one from 11-year-old Rebecca Johann: “Do you have any advice about bullying?”

He started by saying that it’s important to talk about it.

“So I think you’re leading the way on that – thank you for raising the question,” he said.

He went on to talk about his experiences.

“I had experiences with bullying when I was growing up,” he said. “Everybody who’s different can be bullied. And the secret is – everybody’s different in some way.“

“When someone is bullying you, they’re making you feel alone sometimes. They’re making you feel like you’re the only one in that situation, and they’re breaking you down.”

He then told Rebecca that she shouldn’t feel ashamed.

“The first thing you’ve got to know is you have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

“And the second part, this is a much harder part to remember, is that the person who is bullying you probably has something a little broken in them, and it’s part of why they’re trying to get your attention.”

“I think it really matter that we have a president that doesn’t show that type of behavior – it’s one of the reasons I’m running for president.”

Someone in the audience then shouted, and he said, “It sounds familiar, yeah.”

“I think it really matters that we have a president who doesn’t show that kind of behavior. This is one of the reasons I’m running for president.”

Buttigieg concluded by saying that Rebecca should lead others by example, by not stooping down to the level of a bully.

Dallas police are investigating whether the killing of two transgender women and the assault of third over the past seven months are connected, authorities said Tuesday.

The most recent victim, Muhlaysia Booker, 22, was found fatally shot on Saturday, according to police. The victims are all African-American.
A 29-year-old transgender woman was fatally shot in a vehicle on October 21, 2018, according to police. A 26-year-old transgender woman was stabbed multiple times on April 13 but survived and gave police a description of a suspect, Dallas police Maj. Vincent Weddington told reporters.
"At this time, the department is actively looking into whether or not these assaults, murders have any connection to one another," Weddington said. "At this time, we have not been able to draw up an affirmative link between these offenses. We're working to see if there is any link."
 
Police are working with federal authorities to determine whether the incidents should be classified as hate crimes, Weddington said.
As part of its outreach to the LGBTQ community, Dallas police will hold a LGBTQ town hall on Thursday. The meeting had been planned since last year, according to Amber Roman, the department's LGBTQ liaison officer.
"The department is asking for the public's assistance in closing these three cases," Weddington said.
 
In a Facebook post, Dallas police identified the fatal victim from October as Brittany White. There are no suspects, Weddington said.
Weddington said two victims were in the same area before the alleged offenses took place, although it was not clear which two victims he was referring to.
Two victims got into a car with someone and one victim let someone get into their car, Weddington said.
"Everybody needs to be vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings when they're out in public, and use caution when interacting socially," Weddington said.
 
In a separate incident last month, Booker, 22, was assaulted by several men in the parking lot of a Dallas apartment complex after what police said was a minor traffic accident. Video from the incident showed the suspects repeatedly punching and kicking her while she was on the ground.
The suspects were reported to have used homophobic slurs during the assault, police said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings condemned the assault at the time.
 
"I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman," Rawlings said. "Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community. We will not stand for this kind of behavior."
One man, Edward Thomas, was arrested and faces charges in Booker's assault in April. Weddington has said Thomas, 29, had not been linked to Booker's death.
Attorneys representing Thomas issued a statement Tuesday saying the alleged assault of Booker in April was not a hate crime.
Thomas "had absolutely nothing" to do with Booker's death," said the statement from the law office of Andrew Wilkerson and Michael Campbell Jr.
"We have no doubt that the truth will come to light in this situation after a thorough investigation by the Dallas Police Department," the statement said.
 

As a small child, for Lane Joslin, every dish towel became a dress, or long hair. The Christmas wish list included Barbie dolls. Pink nail polish eventually became a subtle way to self express.

Joslin’s mother, Barbara MacLeod, remembers well strapping her child into a car seat listening to exclamations of, “I’m a girl, I’m a girl.” Only Joslin had been born a boy.

“I was living a double life,” said Joslin, who transitioned in the fifth grade and is now a proud transgender girl. She’s recently found her voice in advocacy by collecting signatures in support of the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, jury service and federal programs.

President Donald Trump has come out against the proposed Equality Act, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday by a vote of 236-173. It will head to the Senate next.

Last year, Joslin, of Kittery, was a celebratory force behind the LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination bill that passed in New Hampshire. She sang at a rally at the Statehouse in Concord.

The 14-year-old’s dream job? Maybe press secretary for the Human Rights Commission one day, she said. She also loves theater.

“I really just want there to be equality for all,” Joslin said. “I know there are a lot of people who get discriminated against everyday just because they are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and I just want that to stop.”

Joslin’s transition in the fifth grade spurred a more robust equity and gender identity policy at Berwick Academy, where she attends school, and a positive conversation among her peers and teachers. The school now has added many single stall gender neutral bathrooms to campus.

Joslin continues to inform the Berwick Academy community, most recently reading aloud “I Am Jazz,” a story of a transgender child, to younger students, and soon, she’ll present her year-long innovation project to the school community, focusing on effective advocacy and finding her voice. She recently attended a workshop hosted by the ACLU of New Hampshire about addressing public figures and finding value in her personal story.

“I’ve had an amazing experience because of the acceptance I’ve received from my family, my friends and my school,” Joslin said. “I want transgender youth and people in general to see that and have that in the world.”

MacLeod said while her daughter’s identity was clear from early childhood, it was a gradual transition, and for many years she conformed in binary spaces, only to return home and retreat to her real self, wearing pink wigs, dresses and clip-on earrings.

“There was a time before the transition where Lane was very sad, and did have really bad gender dysphoria where your body doesn’t reflect who you feel you are,” MacLeod said. “I think as Lane was growing her hair out, I started paying closer attention, and people confused her for being a girl, and she liked that. She didn’t correct them. In her writing, she referred to herself as she and hers. And when I saw her self portrait in fourth grade, it was clearly a girl.”

To announce her transition in 2016, Joslin took a video of herself saying, “I haven’t changed, I’m still the same Lane I was yesterday,” and she shared it with her classmates. At the end of the day, her peers had made her cards. But Joslin is keenly aware that experience of acceptance is not the same for all trans youth. She considers herself lucky.

The catalyst for Joslin’s public proclamation was a presentation at Berwick Academy by Phillips Exeter Academy teacher Alex Myers, who was the first openly transgender student while attending PEA, and then Harvard University. Joslin was inspired, and saw the looks of receptivity on the faces of her peers as Myers shared his story. For Joslin, it was an opportunity to foreshadow her own coming out experience.

“We are so fortunate that our entire family — Lane’s dad, stepfather, two brothers, our friends and community — have been affirming and supportive,” MacLeod said. “It’s made all the difference in Lane developing into a confident person who is not shackled by shame.”

Cassie Warnick, the fifth and sixth-grade dean of students at Berwick Academy, has mentored Joslin during her innovation project, serving as her advisor. They’ve been close for the last three years.

“There’s been a huge transformation from the start of her project to now, because at the beginning of the year, she didn’t even want to put up posters or speak in front of students,” Warnick said. “But now she is ready to be free and out and share her story loud and clear.”

Warnick said Joslin has solicited both Berwick students and parents to sign her Equality Act petition. “It’s just been amazing, she’s done an amazing job,” Warnick said.

Joslin has been inspired by the recent push around LGBTQ+ and transgender rights, which have fallen under threat, and currently, she’s focusing on being “the most effective advocate I can be.” She’ll attend Phillips Exeter Academy in the fall.

“All of the negative things (President Trump) has been doing with the LBGTQ+ community, it’s making me realize there is so much work to be done,” she said. “There needs to be people working on these rights and awareness. That’s been really motivating. He has undone all of the work we’ve done as a community, which I think is just terrible.”

The Trump administration recently instructed the armed forces to begin discharging transgender service members effective April 12.

MacLeod said amid today’s national conversation, it’s tricky for trans people to share their story while not becoming a target. Joslin has worked to balance that.

“I’m just trying to live my life,” Joslin said. “Live my life to the fullest, and be myself. I don’t really need the hate comments.”

Last week, the Maine House of Representatives passed a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Former Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the bill last year, but many are hopeful this time it will be signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills.

In New Hampshire in March, House Bill 446, which would allow transgender and non-binary people to correct their birth records to reflect their proper identity, passed the House. On May 15, it was dubbed as “ought to pass with amendment” in the Senate. Since Joslin was born in Portsmouth, MacLeod said the change would be huge for her daughter. MacLeod is hopeful Gov. Chris Sununu will sign the bill.

 

In advance of Friday’s observance of the 2019 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), HRC is recognizing the power of global voices speaking out against Brunei’s brutal anti-LGBTQ laws and calling out the Trump-Pence Administration’s appalling silence on the persecution, oppression and torture of LGBTQ people around the globe.

While millions of LGBTQ people around the world continue to secure their basic human rights and gain visibility, the lives of far too many remain at risk under the rule of governments that criminalize their identities and seek to deny their very existence. LGBTQ individuals in at least 10 countries live under the threat of the death penalty simply because of who they are.

“While countries and communities around the globe are increasingly embracing LGBTQ people, far too many of us still live with the threat of discrimination, violence and even death -- including in Brunei, where draconian laws are targeting LGBTQ people, and in Chechnya, where alarming human rights violations against LGBTQ people continue,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “In the absence of White House leadership on these issues, it is critical that the international community continues to stand together in support of LGBTQ people around the world. As we celebrate the 15th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we honor LGBTQ advocates and allies, global stakeholders, corporate leaders and others worldwide who are committed to erasing social stigma and protecting the human rights of all.”

HRC through its #EyesOnBrunei digital campaign has been shining a spotlight on the dire situation in that country, and calling on the Trump-Pence White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to end their deafening silence. While it was reported that the Sultan had declared a moratorium on the death penalty, LGBTQ people are still at risk.  

The Trump-Pence White House has also remained silent on anti-LGBTQ atrocities in Chechnya. Since news of the persecution of individuals suspected of being gay and bisexual first broke, HRC has sounded the alarm through an #EyesOnChechnya campaign and called on the Trump-Pence administration to speak out and take action. Tragically, there are again new reports of a crackdown against LGBTQ people in Chechnya.

This week, HRC and the American Bar Association (ABA) co-hosted a panel on global initiatives to protect LGBTQ communities from violence, including longtime allies and Judy and Dennis Shepard, and participated on a panel at the Embassy of Ireland on the state of LGBTQ rights around the world. And tomorrow, HRC will launch the results of the 2019 HRC Equidad CL Report, a first-of-its-kind assesment evaluating LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices in major businesses and employers in Chile. Inspired by HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) -- the premier benchmarking tool on corporate LGBTQ-inclusive corporate practices -- the Chilean-based survey is designed to promote LGBTQ workplace inclusion and promote best practices to create welcoming spaces for thousands of workers.

HRC works to strengthen the global equality movement through public education, advocacy, fellowships, partnerships and research. Through its Global Fellows program, HRC brings established and emerging LGBTQ leaders to Washington, D.C., for professional development opportunities. This week, HRC is visiting Vietnam to meet with former HRC Global Fellow Thu Le and LGBTQ groups in the country to help develop campaign strategies and raise awareness to end discrimination against LGBTQ people.

HRC also brings advocates from around the world together for the exchange of ideas and practices for advancing LGBTQ equality at HRC’s annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. HRC’s global alumni network includes advocates from more than 70 countries,and helps build their individual and organizational capacity through our Global Partnerships program.

IDAHOTB honors the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) resolution to declassify same-sex attraction as a mental disorder in 1990. The move followed a similar decision by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. The WHO’s monumental change created a shift in how many LGBTQ people were treated. In 2004, LGBTQ activists gathered for the first time to mark this date with rallies in support of equality. The anniversary is now marked by celebrations, governmental proclamations, and renewed efforts to end the discrimination and violence that LGBTQ people throughout the world still face.

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