TLDEF Featured in Extraordinary New York Times Editorial on Transgender Rights!

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June 10, 2014 - Happy LGBT Pride month! Today’s print edition of the New York Times features an extraordinary editorial entitled, "Progress on Transgender Rights and Health." We are proud to be featured in the editorial with a quote from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman.

The editorial surveys the landscape of recent victories and challenges in transgender rights. It praises the Health and Human Services Department's recent ruling that Medicare's 1981 policy that excluded gender reassignment surgery from coverage is no longer reasonable because the treatment is known to be safe and effective.

It touches upon Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's recent statement that he is willing to review the military's senseless ban on transgender service. And it highlights Maryland's new law extending civil rights protections to transgender people, and the failure of the petition drive to repeal that law.

Finally, it turns to TLDEF's home state, New York, and the incredible victory we helped to achieve last week when New York State dropped its requirement that transgender people born here provide proof of surgery in order to change the sex designation on their birth certificates. That requirement served only to harm transgender people by subjecting them to the harassment and discrimination that inevitably arise when people are forced to present ID that does not match who they are.

But that policy change does not apply to New York City. And the editorial rightly calls upon the City to follow the State's lead and drop its requirement that transgender people undergo surgery before it will provide them with accurate ID. We have a lawsuit pending against New York City and we will continue to pursue that suit until the City changes its policy to treat transgender people fairly and equally.

Finally, the editorial reminds us that much work remains to be done, here in New York and elsewhere. New York still has not passed the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, which would protect transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. It is long overdue and New York’s failure to pass the law is inexcusable.

New York also continues to enforce its discriminatory exclusion of transition-related health care from its Medicaid program. This policy targets transgender New Yorkers for discrimination when they are simply trying to access health care. It raises profound questions about the equal application of our laws to transgender people, and it must be changed. As TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman told the Times, "If the federal government can treat transgender people fairly through Medicare, then certainly New York can do the same in Medicaid."

We will not rest until that is the case.

We are thrilled to share this with you. Thank you for supporting our work!