WASHINGTON — Justice Department divisions are seeking to roll back policies that offer protections for gay and transgender people, amid a broader push by the Trump administration to reverse such rules.

The Bureau of Prisons will now use an inmate’s biological sex to initially determine where that person will be housed and which bathroom the person will use, according to a policy change to the bureau’s Transgender Offender Manual released Friday.

The revised manual says assigning an inmate to a prison facility based on the person’s identified gender is appropriate “only in rare cases.”

The move comes after several women at a prison in Texas filed a federal lawsuit, saying that sharing quarters with transgender women had endangered them. The Justice Department said over the summer that it would evaluate the case, as well as the bureau’s policies. The change was first reported by BuzzFeed.

The statistics arm of the Justice Department, for its part, has proposed that it no longer collect information about sexual orientation and gender identity from teenagers who take part in the National Crime Victimization Survey, which seeks to determine the frequency, characteristics and consequences of crimes.

Critics say the changes reflect a larger effort to reduce rights for gay, lesbian and transgender citizens, including in the military and in public schools.

"This administration seems to be using every opportunity to roll back progress for L.G.B.T.Q. and transgender people, even against the grain of where the American public is, and is headed, on these issues,” said Vanita Gupta, the chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

The Bureau of Prisons emphasized that the revision to its manual addressed safety concerns.

It balanced the “safety needs of transgender inmates as well as other inmates, including those with histories of trauma and privacy concerns, on a case-by-case basis,” Nancy Ayers, a spokeswoman for the bureau, said in a statement.

Regarding the proposed change to the victim survey, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. However, a number of Democratic lawmakers said that no longer gathering that information would erase gay, lesbian and transgender Americans from federal statistics.

“We are deeply concerned that the proposed elimination of important data collection about the victimization of L.G.B.T. teens is being driven by motives that are not based on any legitimate rationale,” 55 congressional Democrats said in a letter on Friday to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of the signatories, said that information was “of great interest to policymakers and the public.”

“Federal studies have shown that young L.G.B.T. individuals face higher rates of criminal victimization than their straight, heterosexual peers, including higher rates of being bullied, physically attacked and threatened with weapons in schools,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.

The moves at the Justice Department follow the new limits on transgender troops in the military, announced in March, that disqualify transgender people from serving, though exceptions can be made.

It also allows transgender troops currently in the military to remain in the ranks, but the Pentagon could force them to serve according to their gender at birth.

The policy adopted recommendations from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and came after court rulings delayed an earlier ban on transgender troops.

Mr. Mattis said at the time that the new policies would help the Defense Department “ensure the survival and success of our service members around the world.”

 

Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon, a trans woman who was 18, was killed in her North Dallas apartment on Wednesday, May 9. [On one of Ms. Flores-Pavon’s Facebook profile, she spelled her first name with a “K.” Reports filed by police spelled it with a “C.”

Police were dispatched to the scene at 4:17 p.m. and confirmed “suspect choked complainant causing her death” and listed the death as a murder.

Flores-Pavon lived in an apartment along LBJ Freeway near Preston Road. Dallas Fire Rescue arrived first and requested police when they found Flores-Pavon dead.

Dallas Voice has contacted police and will report more information when it’s released.

Ms. Flores-Pavon is the ninth trans woman known to have been murdered so far in 2018 in this country.

The legislatures of Kansas and Oklahoma have passed child welfare bills widely described as anti-LGBTQ.

In both states, Republican-majority state lawmakers pushed through measures which would grant legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies who cite religious beliefs for not putting children in LGBTQ homes.

According to NBC News, “Supporters of such measures argued that the core issue is protecting a group’s right to live out its religious faith, while critics saw them as attacks on LGBTQ rights. Both Oklahoma and Kansas have GOP-controlled legislatures and governors, but in Kansas, the proposal split Republicans.” The laws are similar to existing statues in at least five other American states: Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, Virginia, and Michigan.

The Oklahoma House voted 56 to 21 last Thursday to speed the bill through the State House. Later in the same day, Kansas legislators voted for their version of the bill, which passed 63 to 58. By Friday morning the state’s Senate had passed the bill 24 to 15.

Advocates for child welfare and faith-leaders have widely opposed these motions.

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign vice president JoDee Winterhof said “This insidious bill will make it harder for kids to find qualified loving homes and it could be used to discriminate against LGBTQ Kansans.”

Winterhof argued that business leaders, “child welfare advocates, faith leaders and ordinary Kansans have all spoken out against this bill because they understand that needless, discriminatory bills only serve to harm Kansans and the reputation of the Sunflower State.”

The discriminatory aspects of these bills focus on penalizing interfaith couples, single parents, married couples where one person is pre-divorced, persons rejected from other adoption agencies—and, of course, LGBTQ individuals and partners.

Critics have demanded that Oklahoma’s Governor, Mary Fallin, and Kansas’ Governor, Jeff Colyer, veto these bills. Fallin has not reported whether or not she will sign it. Colyer gave the Kansas legislation his public support; he was joined in his advocacy by the head of Kansas’ Department of Children and Families.

LGBTQ youth tend to be over-represented within the foster care, due to widespread rejection by their families.

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox used her platform to praise Planned Parenthood for providing health care to transgender people around the country at its annual gala. The actress was honored by Planned Parenthood of New York City at Tuesday night's gala.

"So often when we talk about women's health care, we leave out transgender women," Cox told the crowd. She said she felt that the struggle for safe and affordable women's health care was strongly linked to the struggle of transgender people for the same thing.

In 2014, Cox became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.

Outgoing Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards also was honored Tuesday. She stepped down this week as head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America after 12 years.

Richards told the crowd that when she began in the job, Planned Parenthood had 3 million supporters, and the organization now has 12 million. "For comparison, that's now more than twice the size of the National Rifle Association," she said, to cheers in the room.

Also at the event were actresses Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chloe Sevigny, and Molly Ringwald, among others.

"The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights,” Buzzfeed News stated.

After same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015, the issue of transgender bathroom usage became a major talking point in the country. Transgender students wanted the right to use the school restroom of their choice, and they wanted to be physically protected from bullies when doing so. However, opponents felt that it was unsafe to allow a different sex into a restroom, and some states attempted to pass rules that forced people to use the restroom and locker room of the sex that they were born.

Since Trump took office, it seemed as if the administration would side with conservatives, but it had not taken a clear stance until now.

Betsy Devos. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Summary: The Department of Education has decided to not investigate bathroom complaints filed by transgender students. 

The Department of Education’s stand on transgender bathroom issues is to not investigate or enforce any action, according to Buzzfeed News. This stance was not made as a formal announcement, but it is their interpretation of the law.

“The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights,” Buzzfeed News stated.

After same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015, the issue of transgender bathroom usage became a major talking point in the country. Transgender students wanted the right to use the school restroom of their choice, and they wanted to be physically protected from bullies when doing so. However, opponents felt that it was unsafe to allow a different sex into a restroom, and some states attempted to pass rules that forced people to use the restroom and locker room of the sex that they were born.

Since Trump took office, it seemed as if the administration would side with conservatives, but it had not taken a clear stance until now.

“When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would “consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was “permissible” for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student’s restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students,” Buzzfeed News wrote.

The Department of Education, which is led by Betsy Devos, said that transgender students are not covered by Title IX, a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1972. Title IX states that discrimination based on sex is not permitted, and the DOE said that sex does not include gender identity.

"Where students, including transgender students, are penalized or harassed for failing to conform to sex-based stereotypes, that is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX,” DOE spokesperson Liz Hill said. “In the case of bathrooms, however, long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”

After the DOE decided to not hear cases involving transgender students, transgender activists expressed their disappointment to Buzzfeed.

“That interpretation represents an appalling abdication of federal enforcement responsibility, inconsistent with the law and with courts’ interpretation of the law, and totally lacking in human compassion for children in school, whom the Department is charged to protect,” Catherine Lhamon said.

Lhamon led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Buy It Now!