Mixed Bag o’ News

GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act, a bill to add gender variance to the list of protected statuses in the New York State Human Rights Law, was approved by the Assembly for the fifth time on Monday, gaining bipartisan support.

This is an important and overdue protection of human rights.  The experience of transgender individuals, and the discrimination they face, are unique, and should be specifically identified and unambiguously rejected in our State’s civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity.

This bill has been in the Senate for 11 years; it is time for New York to stand up.

–Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of bill, A5039

Yes, five times the State Senate in New York has let the bill die.  I’m not sure why we expect better this time, but we do.

In case some of the Senators don’t know what is going on, the New York Civil Liberties Union has produced a report which documents harassment of and discrimination towards transpeople in the state.  The report, entitled, Advancing Transgender Civil Rights in New York: The Need for GENDA (2012), is available here.

A 2009 national survey that included 531 transgender people in New York found that 74 percent reported harassment or mistreatment on the job and 20 percent lost a job or were denied a promotion. In addition, 53 percent were verbally harassed or denied service at hotels and restaurants and 49 percent reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance. Also, 18 percent had become homeless because of their transgender status and 27 percent were either denied an apartment or were evicted. And 17 percent were refused medical care due to their gender expression, the survey said.

There have been good developments on the federal level, but we still need GENDA to make the law crystal-clear, uniform and consistent in New York.

–Melissa Goodman, the NYCLU’s senior litigation and policy counsel

As slowly as it all started, it ended so quickly.  Cece McDonald chose to accept a plea deal.  She plead guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter rather than proceed with her trial on second degree murder charges.  Indications are that she will be sentenced to 3 years and 5 months on June 4, having already spent 11 months in jail.


All Beth Scott knew was that her physician ordered her to get a mammogram.  So she had one in June, 2010.  But when payment for the procedure was submitted to her insurer, AETNA, coverage was denied…because Scott is a transwoman.

Scott, 44, has worked for the past 11 years as a data integrity specialist for a high-tech company.  Her insurance comes through her employer.

She appealed the decision, with the aid of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.  AETNA says they denied the mammogram because her policy excludes treatments “related to a sex change”.

But TLDEF argued that the insurance company’s interpretation was “overbroad” and should apply only to medical treatments prescribed to change an individual’s sex characteristics.  It said that a mammogram had nothing to do with a sex change.

AETNA’s reasoning is not unique.  Insurers have often used the same reasoning to deny health care coverage to transgender people.

Transgender people should have their health care needs covered by insurance just like everyone else.

But as long as exclusions remain in place, Ms. Scott’s case makes clear that they cannot be used to deny other medically necessary care simply because someone is transgender.

–Noah Lewis, TLDEF staff attorney

I am really pleased and glad it went smoothly.  It’s something that gives me hope — by the fact that Aetna apologized and reimbursed me.  Their willingness to treat transgender people is a positive sign.

–Beth Scott

The settlement clarified that such denials will not happen in the future and includes a provision to allow transpeople to change the sex on their insurance records by providing an amended birth certificate or drivers license.


And finally, in Hillsboro, OH, a superintendent dismissed a transgender student-teacher because the student-teacher dared to speak openly with his students about being transgender after the students started referring to him as a he/she. The superintendent called that a breach of ethics.

We expect all employees or anyone who comes into our district to be sure to understand the Ohio Code of Ethics for Ohio Educators. Any violation of that we take seriously because we want to protect the well-being of our students and that we protect the educational integrity of Hillsboro City Schools.

–Superintendent Rick Early

When asked by the newspaper to cite the part of the ethics code that was violated, Early refused to do so.

The student-teacher, who is a student at Wilmington College, doesn’t plan to file a complaint, although this is a fairly clear violation of Title IX, which

…prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes on the basis of failing to conform with gender stereotypes.

1 comment

    • Robyn on May 5, 2012 at 00:03

    I hope it still is useful.

Comments have been disabled.