Affirming trans lives through policy and action

In recent years, trans and nonbinary people have become more visible than ever. Identities and terms that were once little-known outside of LGBTQ communities are now much more commonplace, thanks to the tireless work of queer and trans activists and our allies.

Sadly, this increased visibility has come with a backlash of proposed anti-trans legislation throughout the country. Working to defeat these hateful and discriminatory laws is necessary and important. But trans and nonbinary folks are not alone in this work; many LGBTQ people and allies in government are also actively working on laws and policies to affirm and protect trans lives and human rights.

Read on about some of the trans-affirming policies and laws recently proposed or enacted at the local, state, and national level.

San Francisco

On June 22, we partnered with Mayor London Breed and District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to introduce legislation to the Board of Supervisors to collect voluntary and anonymous demographics on sexual orientation and gender identity from City employees and applicants. This legislation is critical to support San Francisco’s efforts to advance LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion in the workplace.

Our team is proud to have worked with the City to expand critical data collection to include our LGBTQ community and employees, while assuring we have inclusive policies and training programs to assure a safe and affirming workplace. We have partnered with the City’s Department of Human Resources on a series of trans inclusion policies and tools.

On June 30, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced a new trans-affirming name and pronoun policy. Our office is proud to have consulted on this policy, which directs all DA staff to honor the correct pronouns, names, and titles of trans and nonbinary crime victims, witnesses, and all others who encounter the criminal justice system.

Trans and gender-nonconforming communities — especially Black trans women — experience disproportionate rates of violence and engagement with the criminal justice system, and this new policy takes important steps in assuring trans residents are respected and feel safe.

Our office works closely with the City Administrator’s Office to track and report states that pass anti-LGBTQ legislation, as part of Chapter 12X of the Administrative Code. The ordinance prohibits City-funded travel and City contracts with states that pass such discriminatory laws.

This month, we joined California in adding Montana to the covered state list due to several anti-LGBTQ measures. In addition, Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and West Virginia were added to the state travel ban; these states were already added to the City’s covered state list.

California

A number of trans-affirming bills have recently passed or are making their way through the California state legislature. These include:

  • Allowing a nonbinary gender option on death certificates (AB 439)
  • Making all references to government officer titles gender neutral (AB 378)
  • Honoring the correct names of trans and nonbinary public university students on their diplomas and records (AB 245)
  • Updating marriage certificates and children’s birth certificates to reflect legal name and gender (AB 218)

Contact your California state legislators to support these measures.

National

Gavin Grimm, wearing a trans pride flag cape and a T-shirt reading “No Body Is Illegal”, speaks on stage at the 2018 Trans March San Francisco. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, CC BY-SA 4.0.

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Grimm v Glouchester County School Board. This is a victory for Gavin Grimm and other trans and nonbinary students, who have the right to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

On June 30, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement that passport applicants can now self-select their genders without requiring medical certification. While this selection is currently limited to “M” and “F”, the State Department has also begun the process of introducing nonbinary gender markers.

The journey to trans equality in the U.S. has been a long, continuing struggle. The previous federal administration brought setbacks, including a ban on trans people serving in the military. The current administration overturned this ban, and has been openly supportive of trans and LGBQ rights.

On June 30, the White House released a fact sheet on the efforts of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to advance equality for trans Americans. These efforts include the establishment of an Interagency Working Group, expanded support for trans and non-binary Federal employees, and gender-affirming care for trans veterans.

The fact sheet also includes links to the White House toolkit on trans equality and the White House Convening on Transgender Equality. Hosted by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, speakers at the convening included Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the first openly trans government official to be confirmed by the Senate.

Square graphic with pride flag colors and text: “Let’s show up for Pride this year: Pass the Equality Act now.”
Square graphic with pride flag colors and text: “Let’s show up for Pride this year: Pass the Equality Act now.”

The Equality Act is federal legislation that would amend existing civil rights law to protect against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The Act passed in the House of Representatives this February, but has stalled in the Senate.

Learn more about the Equality Act on the website of Freedom & Opportunity For All, a campaign led by a coalition of advocates including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and The National Black Justice Coalition.

Then contact your senator and tell them to act! Use the ACLU action page, or phone 888-439-0303.

We hope the community will continue engaging in public policy, and joining us in the work ahead.

OTI works with community and the City of San Francisco to advance equity for transgender and gender nonconforming people.