Trevor Responds To Trump Banning Trans Service Members

The Trevor Project, the nation’s largest and only accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, responds to President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The following statement is from Trevor Project CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley.

“President Trump’s actions to ban transgender people from serving in the military is wrong and unpatriotic. Transgender people, including many trans youth, are already heroically serving their country in our military with bravery and distinction. Policies that deny individuals basic equality, dignity, and the right to earn a living in their chosen career have no place in this country. This action harms the mental health of an entire community that is already disproportionately a target of discrimination and hate and at elevated risk of suicidal ideation. The Trevor Project stands proudly with our heroic transgender service members and urges the Trump Administration to ensure that all Americans—regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation—can serve their country openly and free of discrimination.

“The Trevor Project is here 24/7/365 for transgender service members, and anyone else in the community who needs someone to talk to. Call our 24/7 lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Text and chat counseling is available from 3-10pm EST every day at www.thetrevorproject.org/help.”

The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.  The Trevor Project offers a suite of crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as a peer-to-peer social network support for LGBTQ young people under the age of 25, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our Trevor Lifeline crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 866.488.7386. www.TheTrevorProject.org


Trevor Opposes ACL’s Efforts to Remove Transgender Older Adults from the National Survey

RE: Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection (ICR Rev); National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP)

Attn: OMB Desk Officer for ACL

The Trevor Project is writing to oppose the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) continued efforts to remove transgender older adults from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP). In the wake of overwhelming public opposition to ACL’s March 13, 2017 proposal to entirely erase lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults from the NSOAAP, we commend ACL on its decision to keep the sexual orientation question on the survey. With no rationale or justification, however, ACL continues to propose eliminating the question on gender identity from the survey. The needs and experiences of all transgender individuals, from young people to our elders must be counted. We write to strongly advocate for ACL to add back in the question on gender identity to this survey.

The more we know, the more we can do to make sure that transgender older adults receive the services they deserve. The NSOAAP survey provides critical data on whether federally funded aging programs like meals on wheels, family caregiver support, adult daycare, and senior centers reach all older adults, including transgender older adults. While ACL’s notice in the Federal Register provides no articulation of, information about, or explanation of ACL’s effort to erase transgender older adults from the NSOAAP, what we do know is that ACL will no longer have data on how the aging network is meeting the needs of this population.

The Trevor Project is the leading national nonprofit organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) people. We work to save LGBTQ lives through our accredited free and confidential lifeline; our secure instant messaging services which provide live help and intervention; our social networking community for LGBTQ youth; and our in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. A San Francisco study has shown that 15% of the LGBTQ elders surveyed had seriously considered suicide within the last year. The study also found that LGBTQ elders had poor physical and mental health.[1] Including gender identity would provide pivotal data that would help guide policies to best serve LGBTQ mental health. The Trevor Project is committed to providing the best crisis intervention services to all LGBTQ people who call us and to meet that goal data collection on the transgender population in federal surveys must continue.

Data, research, and the experience of our colleague organization SAGE (Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders), its affiliates, and its partners across the country confirm that transgender older adults face a number of barriers to successful aging. While data on transgender older adults is limited, which further makes the case for ACL to continue collecting this information, the data that does exist shows that transgender older adults face higher rates of social isolation and have thinner support networks than their non-transgender peers. The existing research also shows that transgender elders age without a network of welcoming or culturally competent aging, health, and social service providers.

According to Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, 25% of transgender older adults report having faced discrimination based on their gender identity, transgender older adults face much higher rates of psychological distress than their non-transgender peers, and nearly 50% live at 200% of the federal poverty line or lower.[2] These challenges are compounded by concerns related to caregiving and by limited access to healthcare. Almost one third of transgender people don’t know who will care for them and approximately two thirds fear their access to healthcare will be limited as they get older.[3] As a result, more than half fear they might be denied medical care as they age.[4] Many transgender elders fear health professionals discovering their transgender status—particularly those whose presentation does not conform with their anatomy.[5] These concerns are often reflected in long-term care settings. In a survey on LGBT older adults living in long-term care facilities, more than 10% of respondents said that they, a client, or loved-one had witnessed staff refusing to call transgender residents by their preferred name or pronoun.[6]

A 2001 U.S. Administration on Aging study found that LGBT older adults are 20% less likely than other older adults to have access to government services such as housing assistance, meal programs, food stamps, and senior centers.[7] In other words, despite their greater need for service providers due to their truncated support networks, transgender older adults lack access to culturally competent care and services. Nonetheless, most State Units on Aging are making no systematic efforts to assess and address the needs of this population.[8] The very age of the 16 year-old ACL study we cite further demonstrates the necessity for ACL to collect updated data on whether the aging network is meeting the needs of this population.

Rather than abandoning the efforts that have been made during the last three years, ACL can increase the quality and utility of the data it collects about transgender older adults by learning from the experience of other federal and state agencies that have successfully implemented procedures to collect gender identity information. To that end, we believe the 2014-2016 NSOAAP’s gender identity question (found under DE1a1. “What do you mean by something else?”) can and should be made significantly shorter and, at the same time, more effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (“BRFSS”), which is the largest ongoing health survey system in the world, and its state partners, provide a number of examples of how ACL can successfully identify transgender individuals.[9] The Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Group provides another, particularly effective, and well-vetted two-step approach to collecting information about gender identity.[10] In short, we encourage ACL to update its approach, rather than abandoning this question, and adopt one of these more effective and efficient means of counting transgender elders.

ACL must continue collecting data on whether the aging network is reaching transgender older adults in order to ensure maximum inclusion of transgender older adults in programs funded under the Older Americans Act (OAA). From State Units on Aging to Area Agencies on Aging, the aging network has asked ACL for more and better data on transgender older adults in the communities it serves.[11] We need more of this data on the experiences and needs of transgender elders in our country—not less of it.

We therefore urge ACL to retain both sexual orientation and gender identity questions in the NSOAAP. Asking a demographic question about gender identity will increase the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected. We further believe that by continuing to collect this data, and learning more about this population, ACL and the aging network will help more members of our older transgender community to live independently, minimize the burden on the aging network, and ultimately save taxpayer resources by reaching those who are most vulnerable.

Sincerely,

Amit Paley

CEO & Executive Director


[1] Adelman, M., Alcedo, M et al. (2014).LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate: San Francisco Policy Issues & Recommendations(pp. 42-43) (United States, City and County of San Francisco, Human Rights Commission). San Francisco, CA: City and County of San Francisco.

[2] Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults. 2017. The Movement Advancement Project and SAGE. http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/understanding-issues-facing-lgbt-older-adults.pdf

[3] Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults. 2017. The Movement Advancement Project and SAGE. http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/understanding-issues-facing-lgbt-older-adults.pdf

[4] Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults. 2017. The Movement Advancement Project and SAGE. http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/understanding-issues-facing-lgbt-older-adults.pdf

[5] Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults, Recommendations for Policy and Practice. 2012. SAGE and NCTE. http://www.sageusa.org/resources/publications.cfm?ID=13

[6] Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults, Recommendations for Policy and Practice. 2012. SAGE and NCTE. Available at http://www.sageusa.org/resources/publications.cfm?ID=13

[7] Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults. 2010. LGBT Movement Advancement Project & Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (MAP & SAGE). Available at http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/improving-the-lives-of-lgbt-older-adults.pdf

[8] A SAGE report found that: State Plans filed by 29 States make no reference whatsoever to LGBT older adults; an additional 12 State Plans have isolated references to LGBT older adults, but do not address specific actions being taken to reach and target this population; and only nine States, and the District of Columbia, specifically address efforts to reach out and target LGBT older adults.

[9] The 2013 Massachusetts SOGI module for the BRFSS includes the following question: Some people describe themselves as transgender when they experience a different gender identity from their sex at birth. For example, a person born into a male body, but who feels female or lives as a woman. Do you consider yourself to be transgender? Yes, transgender, male to female; Yes, transgender, female to male; Yes, transgender, gender non-conforming; or No. See Williams Inst., Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minorities on Population-based Surveys. Available at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/geniuss-report-sep-2014.pdf

[10] Survey administrators ask people their sex assigned at birth followed by their current gender identity. See Williams Inst., Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minorities on Population-based Surveys. Available at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/geniuss-report-sep-2014.pdf

[11] Choi SK, Meyer IH: LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications. 2016. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Available at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Aging-A-Review.pdf


Trevor Submits Testimony Against SB91 in Texas

The Honorable Chairwoman Joan Huffman
Senate Committee on State Affairs
1200 Congress Ave.
SHB 380
Austin, TX 78701

 

Dear Chairwoman Huffman:

The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth (LGBTQ) writes to strongly urge you to vote against SB91. Many organizations are weighing in on the civil rights implications of this bill, but it is also critically important that you consider the devastating public health impact this bill will have on the transgender youth of Texas, who are your constituents.

The Trevor Project (Trevor) serves youth under 25 and works to save young lives through our accredited free and confidential lifeline; our secure instant messaging services which provide live help and intervention; our social networking community for LGBTQ youth; and our in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. Unfortunately, there is a great need for an organization such as Trevor.  Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are almost four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.[i]While this alone is shocking, it pales in comparison to the statistics regarding transgender youth. In a recent national survey, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.[ii]

There are many factors that contribute to the high suicide rate for transgender youth: lack of understanding and awareness from others, the rejection of family and friends, bullying, mental health challenges, and discrimination and stigmatization on the individual and societal levels. If SB91 becomes law, this ostracizing policy will become one more brick on the backs of transgender youth who are already on the verge of collapsing from too much weight. The message this bill sends to transgender youth is simple yet cruel: they do not deserve basic human dignity and respect.

Not being allowed to use the restroom or locker room consistent with one’s gender identity can cause significant psychological and social distress. Research has shown a high correlation between denying transgender young people the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality.[iii] When youth are forced to use the incorrect restroom, they place themselves in danger of harassment from peers. Youth may take steps such as attempting to refrain from using the bathroom all day, leaving school to use an appropriate restroom, or skipping school entirely to avoid these harmful encounters, severely impacting their education and health.

In addition, requesting a so-called “reasonable” accommodation, such as using a single stall teacher’s restroom, requires youth to disclose their identity to administrators and their peers, putting them at further risk of bullying and violence, including homicide. Every year in the United States, transgender individuals are killed simply because of who they are. This year alone, fifteen transgender individuals have been murdered in the United States simply for being transgender.[iv]

Many cities and states have laws explicitly allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.[v]  Since the passage of those laws there hasn’t been a single case of a person posing as a transgender individual to gain access to a restroom for the purpose of carrying out a sexual assault.[vi] Therefore, the premise that this bill will “protect” children and an individual’s right to privacy is completely false, and in fact may increase the risk of violence for transgender youth. Research has found that transgender individuals are significantly more likely to be victims of verbal and physical assault in public gender-segregated settings, including restrooms, than their cisgender peers.[vii]

 

Furthermore, this legislation would inflict significant suffering on transgender youth in Texas by subjecting them to these anxieties and threats of violence. In 2017, Trevor has had over 2,000 calls, chats and texts from youth in Texas, including many transgender youth in mental health crises or youth who were struggling with suicidal ideation. In June alone we received 380 contacts, a significant increase in the contact volume, possibly as a result of the increased discussion of this so-called “bathroom bill” legislation in the state. Generally, we see a positive correlation between media coverage of bills that stigmatize or shame LGBT youth and an uptick in crisis contacts at Trevor. It would be shameful to add to the existing systems of oppression and institutional transphobia by passing a public policy that actively discriminates and ostracizes transgender individuals.

In order to ameliorate this public health issue, we strongly urge you to vote against SB91. Should you have any questions or comments please contact Amy Loudermilk, Associate Director of Government Affairs at [email protected] or 202-391-0834.

 

Sincerely,

Amit Paley
CEO & Executive Director

Media Contact: Sheri Lunn, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Engagement


[i] Kann, L., O’Malley Olsen, E., McManus, T., Kinchecn, S., Chyen, D., Harris, W. A., Wechsler, H. (2011).  Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contracts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students Grades 9-12 – Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001-2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60(SS07), 1-133.

[ii] James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality

[iii] Seelman, Kristie L. (2016). Transgender Adults’ Access to College Bathrooms and Housing and Relationship to Suicidality. Journal of Homosexuality. 63(10), pp. 1378-1399. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/00918369.2016.1157998?scroll=top&needAccess=true

[iv]Violence Against the Transgender Community. Human Rights Campaign. http://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017

[v] American Civil Liberties Association. Know Your Rights: Transgender People and the Law.  Accessed at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law

[vi] Brinker, Luke and Maza, Carlos.  (2014, March 20). 15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth. Media Matters. Accessed at: http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/03/20/15-experts-debunk-right-wing-transgender-bathro/198533

[vii] Herman, Jody L. (2013). Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress: The Public Regulation of Gender and its Impact on Transgender People’s Lives. Journal of Public Management and Social Policy. Accessed at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Herman-Gendered-Restrooms-and-Minority-Stress-June-2013.pdf


Legal and Civil Rights Advocates Call on State Education Officials to Protect Transgender Students

Washington, DC, July 18, 2017 – In a letter to state education officials in all 50 states, a coalition of legal and civil rights advocates says federal law and the U.S. Constitution mandate that schools provide transgender students with equal educational opportunities—which includes providing access to facilities and programs consistent with students’ gender identity. The letter, coordinated by Public Justice, the National Women’s Law Center and Lambda Legal, was signed by 50 organizations and individuals, including Anurima Bhargava, former Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

“Under Title IX, schools may not legally exclude, separate, or deny educational benefits to transgender students,” the letter says, “nor treat transgender students differently than any other student.” Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in schools and has been widely found by courts to require schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of their educational experience.

The letter follows a decision by the Trump Administration, in February 2017, to withdraw guidance issued by DOJ and the Department of Education in 2016 that outlined schools’ obligations under the law. “We are concerned,” the letter states, “that the withdrawal of the Title IX guidance might lead some schools to believe that transgender students are not entitled to access bathrooms or other single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity, or that the law or their obligations under Title IX to protect transgender students have somehow changed. That is simply not the case.”

The letter, which was distributed today to contacts in each state’s Department of Education who are responsible for ensuring compliance with Title IX, goes on to note that “when schools fail to comply with the law, they will continue to be subjected to lawsuits filed by and on behalf of aggrieved students.”

“Though the political winds in Washington may have changed since 2016, the law has not,” said Adele Kimmel, Senior Attorney for Public Justice. “Our letter is an important reminder to schools that, regardless of whether the Trump Administration enforces it, Title IX requires that every student—including transgender students—be respected, protected and treated equally under the law. This was true before the Obama Administration issued its guidance on schools’ obligations to protect transgender students. And it remains true, even though the current Administration withdrew that guidance. Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Sessions are doing schools a great disservice by suggesting the law is open for interpretation. We want school officials to understand that it is not.”

“Every student deserves an education free from discrimination,” added Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “And we will continue to fight with advocates across the country to protect transgender students from discrimination and harassment in the face of the Trump administration’s retreat from enforcing their civil rights.”

“Title IX coordinators play an essential role to ensure that every student thrives at school – and does so without fear of discrimination, bullying or harassment,” said Paul D. Castillo, Senior Attorney and Students’ Rights Strategist for Lambda Legal. “Transgender students continue to suffer the brunt of the misinformation perpetuated by the Trump Administration’s rescission of the guidance.  It is incumbent on school officials to follow federal law to ensure students, including transgender students, receive equal educational opportunities in a safe and healthy environment. The lawyers at Lambda Legal remain vigilant and we will act swiftly on behalf of transgender students facing discrimination at non-compliant schools.”

The letter, which is also signed by The Trevor Project, American Association of University Women, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Transgender Equality – among others – notes the groups “stand ready to assist and support” states in complying with the law. “Of course,” they add, “schools have more than a legal obligation to treat transgender students equitably; they also have an ethical obligation. All students, regardless of their identities, deserve to learn and thrive.”

A copy of the letter, with a complete list of signatories, is available for download at www.PublicJustice.net.