The Civil Rights Agenda shifts focus to transgender rights

Fri. December 13, 2013 9:59 AM by News Staff

rick garcia (left) with anthony martinez, oct. 22, 2013

Chicago, IL - The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) will now be shifting the focus of their efforts, after the Illinois marriage equality victory, to rights that have been denied to the often marginalized transgender community of Illinois.

The Transgender Rights Project Advisory Committee, made up of an inter-generational group of 16 transgender activists, has been working with the staff at TCRA to identify issues that affect the transgender community throughout Illinois. The initiatives that have been chosen and will be a first priority are: ensuring transgender related healthcare is fully covered by insurance companies, working with prisons and local law enforcement to develop policies related to the incarceration of transgender individuals, ensuring access to hormone therapy for low income or no income transgender individuals, initiating an educational campaign related to the use of public restrooms and transgender individuals, and ensuring that transgender people can change their sex on their identity related documentation.

"Transgender rights have always been a focus for The Civil Rights Agenda since our founding," stated Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, the largest Illinois statewide LGBT organization. "I am extremely excited that we can dedicate more resources to our Transgender Rights Project now that we have won marriage equality in Illinois. The transgender community is disproportionately impacted by discrimination in most areas of life. This has become very clear to me in my work at TCRA over the last four years. That is why we are and have been working to make change."

One of the first policy issues TCRA will be working on in Springfield, now that marriage equality has passed, relates to a transgender individual's ability to change one's sex on their birth certificate. TCRA is working to clarify the current law and bring the state policy in-line with federal rules.

"Birth Certificates are used as a requirement for other legal and identity documents," said June Latrobe, The Civil Rights Agenda's Transgender Advisory Committee Co-chair. "A transgender person should be able to have it reflect an individual's sex after they transition genders."

The Civil Rights Agenda will continue its efforts working with the Chicago Police Department on their general order related to the treatment of transgender individuals in custody. Currently, the department only recognizes gender solely based on an individual's genitalia.

"Transgender individuals do not have equal protection - that's the bottom line," said Rick Garcia, Policy Director for The Civil Rights Agenda.. "Transgender people aren't protected in police custody or prison, and are incarcerated at a higher rate than those who align with their birth gender. Many people are arrested just for living their life as transgender; in the transgender community it's is called, 'walking while trans'. The Civil Rights Agenda is committed to ensuring that transgender individuals can be who they are without fear of retribution by the very same entities that should be protecting them."


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