Transgender issues in the news the last week
There have been three things that have made the news in the last week that affect transgendered individuals:
The first one is the issue of gender identity on one’s driver’s license. As was reported on the news this week, “To change a gender on a license, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires one of three things: an amended birth certificate, a court order or a legal letter from a physician after reassignment,” said Kevin Connell, Chief of Staff at the Jefferson County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Now, the news article that I saw made it sound like gender reassignment surgery is a requirement in order to change one’s gender on their license and birth certificate, when in fact it isn’t. Unless an individual is already having the surgery, a court order is the most efficient way to change one’s gender on their birth certificate and their driver’s license.
In order to get a court order, a person has to convince a judge that they have taken substantial steps towards changing their gender. From assisting clients previously, we know what substantial steps are can vary according to the judge. However, this can be handled by an attorney that is knowledgeable in that area.
The second issue that has come up in the last week is that the is that the US Department of Justice has ruled that transgender students have the right to use the appropriate facilities for their identified gender. In this case, the Gloucester school district in Virginia voted to ban trans students from using appropriate bathrooms. The
US Department of Justice has ruled that not allowing trans-students access to the appropriate facilities would be considered sex discrimination.
Asaf Orr, an attorney from The National Center For Lesbian Rights said: The federal government’s position is not only consistent with decades of legal precedent, but also the experiences of many school districts throughout the country that are implementing inclusive policies without incident. As those districts have learned, affirming a transgender student’s gender identity is an important part of creating a safe and inclusive school where all students can thrive.
This was a great step forward in protecting transgender students, but unfortunately there are still proposed laws, in Kentucky and other places, that would ban allowing trans students to use the bathroom of their gender. However, those laws should not be passed with the new ruling.
As a side note, a rule was put in place last month by the US Department of Labor that requires employers to allow transgender employees to use the bathroom of their gender, no matter where they are in the transitioning process.
The third news item this week is in direct contradiction to the second news item. Yesterday, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, or SENDA was voted down by the US Senate. Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken has been trying to pass this bill so that, kids have these protections for race, national origin, gender and disability. We want to extend to LGBT kids the same rights that other kids have.
So, as of yesterday, trans students can use the bathroom that best fits their gender, but are not protected from bullying in doing so.