Happy Happy Transgender Day of Visibility!
Since 2009, March 31st has been a day to celebrate the trans and non-binary community — now celebrated worldwide — and you can thank activist Rachel Crandall for that. Thank you, Rachel!
It’s been a really tough few years, and the past year, in particular, has been — well, no one word really captures the feeling. Horrific? Depressing? Demoralizing?
That’s why I’m thrilled to share with y’all the following news released by the Biden Administration this morning.
The White House and federal agencies put out a number of wonderful announcements about trans rights, and I'm so excited to tell you about them because today should be about trans and non-binary joy.
This article was adapted, with consent, from Charlotte Clymer’s Twitter thread celebrating positive news about trans rights. Good Good Good has added titles and made edits for length, clarity, and context.
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Describing her newsletter, she said: “What I will tell you is that I’m an optimist by nature with a very strong bias toward pragmatism. I think people are complicated, and the world doesn’t recognize that nuance enough. I think it’s okay to acknowledge the seriousness of this era while taking advantage of the moments of joy that come our way. If this appeals to you, then subscribe.”
13 Pieces of Positive News for Transgender Rights:
1. U.S. citizens will soon be able to select a non-binary gender marker on passports
The State Department announced that starting on April 11th, U.S. citizens will be able to select “X” as a non-binary gender marker on passports. They are the first federal agency to codify this inclusive policy. Applicants can already self-select without medical documentation.
While this is the first federal instance of this policy, a number of states do offer non-binary gender markers on driver’s licenses. Folks can find a map detailing identity document laws and policies across the country from the Movement Advancement Project.
2. TSA is updating their body scanners to reduce trans and non-binary discrimination
The Transportation Security Administration (commonly known as TSA) announced that they are updating their body scanners at airport security to move away from technology that has led to trans and non-binary travelers experiencing frequent discrimination, reducing unnecessary, invasive, and humiliating body searches.
3. In fact, TSA is making updates across the board
In addition to updating transitioning their airport security tech, TSA is:
- Working with airlines to implement non-binary markers during the flight booking process
- Removing gender considerations with validating traveler info at airport security
- Including non-binary markers during TSA Precheck enrollment and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler program
4. HHS created a new website to support LGBTQ+ youth and families
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new website that offers resources and guidance for LGBTQ+ youth and families, to counteract several GOP-led state governments removing such resources from their own websites in recent months.
5. The Department of Education is helping school leaders support trans and non-binary youth
The Department of Education's Office of Safe and Supportive Schools is expanding trainings with more resources to educate school leaders and communities about the challenges facing trans and non-binary youth and their families.
6. HHS affirmed the importance of affirming LGBTQ+ youth
HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released "LGBTQI+ Youth – Like All Americans, They Deserve Evidence-Based Care" to affirm the critical need for gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary youth.
This article aligns with President Biden’s statement regarding the health and safety of trans kids.
“Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to keep children from harm,” he expressed in early March. “Parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized.”
7. HHS confirmed that gender-affirming care is trauma-informed care
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which falls under HHS, has released “new information for providers confirming that providing gender-affirming care is neither child maltreatment nor malpractice.”
8. The Office of the Assistant Secretary For Health now has a resource for adults on gender-affirming care
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health has developed a resource to inform parents and guardians, educators, and other persons supporting children and adolescents with information on gender-affirming care
For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender-affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence while navigating the healthcare system,” the document reads.
9. It’s about to be a lot easier for transgender people to update their gender information on their social security card
The Social Security Administration announced that it is removing the requirement that transgender people show proof of identity such as doctor’s notes in order to update their gender information in their social security record by the fall of 2022.
The White House statement said: “This will significantly improve transgender individuals’ experience in accessing their retirement benefits, obtaining health care, and applying for jobs.”
10. Nonbinary individuals will now be able to use an “X” gender marker when filing employment discrimination charges
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced it will give individuals the option to select an “X” gender marker during the voluntary self-identification questions that are part of the intake process for filing a charge of discrimination.
According to the Center for American Progress, “Studies show that anywhere from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Moreover, a staggering 90 percent of transgender workers report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job. These workplace abuses pose a real and immediate threat to the economic security of gay and transgender workers.”
While these statistics don’t include all members of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s reflective of the importance of being able to file discrimination charges in a way that reflects your gender.
11. The Department of Education is proposing a new process that will make it easier to identify discrimination and barriers in the student aid application process
The Department of Education will propose a new federal regulation: the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will allow applicants to indicate their gender identity, race, and ethnicity to help inform the Department about application barriers.
12. Visiting the White House will now be easier for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary visitors
The White House Office of Management and Administration announced they will begin implementing an "X" gender marker to the White House Worker and Visitor Entry System (WAVES) system that affirms trans and non-binary visitors and workers.
“This change will ensure that transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people can visit the People’s House in a manner that respects and affirms their gender identity,” said a statement from the White House.
13. The President proposed a plan to better include the LGBTQ+ community in the next census
The White House also announced that the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 23 budget includes $10 million in funding for additional critical research on how to best add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
There are more announcements, but those are the top lines. Elections matter, folks. There's so much work left to be done, but I'm grateful to the Biden Administration for being intentional about addressing the discrimination experienced by trans and non-binary people.