In This Issue
- Executive Director’s Message
- TLDEF Files Suit Over Gender Expression Discrimination
- ENDA Update
- TLDEF Welcomes Barbara!
Executive Director’s Message
We're thrilled to welcome you to TLDEF's first quarterly newsletter. We've accomplished so much and we're happy to finally be able to share some of our work with our friends and supporters. We've spent the past few months developing a brand new web site, and as a result of that process we've got some new tools to communicate with you. We'll be sending out our e-newsletter four times a year. In addition to that, you may receive an occasional electronic announcement from us. We recognize that your time and inbox are both valuable, and we'll strive to make our communications engaging, informative and to-the-point. If you'd like to change anything about your subscription status, just click on the "update profile" link at the bottom of this email.
Building a web site is always a tremendous undertaking. But we faced a unique challenge. We committed ourselves early in the planning process to giving our site a human face. There's so much misinformation and lack of understanding about transgender issues that we thought it was essential that anyone visiting our site quickly see that these issues affect real people's lives. But when we searched for stock photographs of transgender people to use on our site, we discovered that there were virtually none. The marginalization of transgender people extended to the world of stock photography, where they were literally invisible. So we switched to plan B. We reached into the community with a call for models and brought in our own photographer to create our images. We had a huge response from the community and ended up photographing 15 beautiful models who represent so much of the diversity of the communities we serve. We're really proud of our models and of the beautiful faces they helped us put on an issue that is faceless to so many people unfamiliar with transgender issues. To us, their photographs on the web site and the challenge they represent to transgender invisibility are the best gift we could get this holiday season.
Below you'll find articles about some of the other trailblazing work we've been doing. As always, it's your support that makes it possible for us to continue our work for equal rights. Thanks for being on our side. We wish you all the best for a happy and healthy holiday season.
On October 9th, TLDEF filed suit against Caliente Cab restaurant in New York City on behalf of Khadijah Farmer, a lesbian who was thrown out of the restaurant because a bouncer thought that she was too masculine-looking to be in the women's restroom.
On the night of June 24th, after New York's LGBT Pride March, Khadijah, her girlfriend and another friend went to Caliente Cab. When Khadijah went to use the women's restroom, the restaurant's bouncer followed her in, pounded on the door of the stall she was using and then threw her out of the bathroom and the restaurant, despite her attempts to show him her identification demonstrating that she's female.
Many transgender and gender non-conforming people experience harassment and discrimination when trying to access sex-segregated facilities like bathrooms. Khadijah's case highlights the deeply interconnected nature of the struggle for transgender rights and lesbian and gay rights. Gender expression discrimination can affect anyone -- transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight.
Indeed, Khadijah's case shows us that the so-called "gay only" ENDA that recently passed the House of Representatives is misnamed. It's "gay minus," missing essential protections from the gender-based discrimination that can sometimes be as debilitating to gay men and lesbians as it can be to transgender people.
The lawsuit asserts claims under the New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws, and seeks a court order barring Caliente from continuing to discriminate on the basis of gender expression. It also seeks damages for the violation of Khadijah's civil rights, as well as punitive damages designed to punish the restaurant for its wrongdoing.
We'll keep you informed of significant developments in the case. You can always find out more about Khadijah's case and all of our other work at the new transgenderlegal.org.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity or expression. The House passed this version of ENDA over the objection of hundreds of LGBT and civil rights organizations, including TLDEF, that had banded together in support of fully-inclusive legislation.
As our own cases – like Farmer v. Caliente Cab Restaurant Co. – make clear, any version of ENDA that fails to include protection from gender-based discrimination not only fails to protect transgender people, but will leave many lesbians and gay men who are victims of gender-based discrimination similarly unprotected.
Despite the setback in the House, a lot of great things happened. More than 360 organizations came together as United ENDA and affirmed that we are one community linked by our united support for civil rights protections for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
United ENDA members and the larger LGBT community generated unprecedented contact with legislators while conveying their support for fully inclusive legislation. While passage in the House of the non-inclusive version of ENDA is disappointing, the community's voice has made a difference, and we have seen a tremendous shift in the commitment of a growing number of legislators to support only a full and inclusive version of ENDA in the future.
Of course, the current administration won't support even this limited version of ENDA, so there's virtually no chance that it will be signed into law. That means we'll have more chances to shape this legislation. We remain committed to the ultimate goal of passing a fully inclusive ENDA and getting it signed into law. We'll be in touch with you about how we can all work together to make that happen.
We're thrilled to welcome Barbara Shulman as our new Name Change Project Coordinator. Bobbi joins TLDEF after a long career as a psychologist in the New York City Public School system and administrator at the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. In just a few short weeks, she's demonstrated incredible enthusiasm for the work of the Name Change Project.
The Name Change Project provides free legal name changes to community members in New York City who are otherwise unable to afford them. For many transgender people, a legal name change is a first step towards making their legal identities match the way they identify and live their lives.
But securing a legal name change can be an intimidating experience, involving interaction with the court system and judges that is foreign to many people. It can also be expensive. By providing transgender people with legal representation when seeking name changes, TLDEF's Name Change Project ensures that they can successfully negotiate the legal process and move forward with their lives.
Since it's launch earlier this year, the Name Change Project has helped over 50 people on the road to getting legal recognition for their names. We're delighted to welcome Bobbi to her new home at TLDEF, and look forward to the continuing success of the project.