Response to Community Report of Sexual Harassment

Recently Gender Justice League received a report of sexual harassment against a member of our board of directors.

This report comes at a time when there has been a powerful movement of people coming forward to confront sexual harassment and abuse by people in power throughout our country. As an organization founded by and for survivors of gender based violence we take claims of sexual harassment extremely seriously.  As an organization we deeply believe in a transparent community accountability process and we also believe in restorative justice as an approach to harms when possible. We have worked hard to protect the identity of the survivor, to listen with open hearts and willingness to learn and willingness to be wrong, but also to engage in a process that has sought truth through a transparent, collaborative, and open process.  We believe that to move towards healing, those who have done harm need to be held accountable while not being banished from our communities - that instances of harassment can point to organizational or cultural challenges that need to be addressed. As gender diverse, trans, and non-binary people - we know how deadly isolation can be and how it can itself reinforce the systems of power that often keep abusers in place, we also know that binary thinking doesn't help us to hold the complexities that humans embody.

We have conducted an investigation of the claims that have been made and produced a report based on that investigation.

The Gender Justice League board member who has been accused of sexual harassment has been fully transparent in participating with our investigation. Our investigation was completed by our board treasurer, board secretary, and our Executive Director who has experience in investigating sexual harassment complaints. As part of our belief in community accountability - we have asked this person to allow us to share the 21 page investigative report that was produced by board officers and staff and presented to our board of directors and they have agreed we would urge you to read it.

How did we conduct our investigation?

We reviewed all communications through text message, email, Facebook messenger, along with the accused's contact with all staff, volunteers, and board members through email and text message. We interviewed 9 volunteers who worked closely with the accused, all staff and board members in an attempt to discover a pattern or practice of sexual harassment.

We have not been able to contact the accuser who has made these accusations after making attempts to reach them both directly and indirectly. We are still trying and are open to communicating with them to find a resolution and healing if that is what is desired, but every attempt to contact this party has failed despite them reaching out to dozens of third parties.  Additionally this person has expressed unwillingness to participate in our community accountability process - while we believe that is unfortunate, we understand that all survivors deserve a right to their own process of healing.  We still felt a clear obligated to move forward with our investigation given the information that they have shared publicly with third parties regardless of their participation, our report concludes that investigation.

What did we find?

We found that a board member sent a flirtatious image and made a flirtatious comment on Facebook messenger that was in violation of our professional conduct policy and that may have violated our sexual harassment policy. We did not however find a pattern or practice by this individual, nor did we find there were any severe or serious events of sexual harassment conducted by this person. We also did not find evidence that this person used their position on our board to intimidate, coerce, or conceal any actions against the accuser. At the time of the event, the accuser and accused occupied the same position and held the same power within the organization and their relationship was one as peers.

We also found that the incident was never mentioned to other board members, staff, or volunteers after it happened.  The initial instance of the incident being reported was right after the accuser was asked to resign from the board due to well documented and repeated forms of anti-semitic and gender based harassment against volunteers, staff, and board members who were Jewish. Specifically, the accusation arose shortly after the accuser demanded monetary compensation for “mileage reimbursement” and offered to “go away quietly” if given that money.  The mileage was for volunteering (before becoming a board member), and not in keeping with our organizational policies. The accused expressed that such a “payout” would not be possible, given that no prior agreement had existed.

Additionally, this person made racist statements and created fake accounts using anti-Korean names such as "Cho-Kim" (choke him) to target the accused which causes us serious concern about this person's intentions in raising these claims and demanding the resignation of a transgender person of color.

What was the sequence of events?

On October 31st we received a forwarded email from a trusted community partner that made a number of claims about a board member being a "sexual predator" and demanding that they resign.  Following this, we opened an investigation into the complaint as if we had received it through official channels. The accused party had already disclosed the interaction to our board of directors in August 2017 following the resignation from our board of the accuser. Staff and board members were already aware of the situation and the organization and board member had already taken steps to address it with the accused. However, we believed a more thorough investigation would help us better understand the sequence of events and circumstances that lead to this interaction. More importantly, it could help point to culture and policy changes within the organization that could helpful.  We asked the accused to allow us full access to their personal and GJL related emails, their Facebook account and messenger, text messages, and any other forms of contact with staff, volunteers, or board members. The board member fully and completely complied with our requests and made no attempts to conceal or deny the interaction.  

Recommendations:

Following the completion of our investigation we are recommended the following to our board of directors who adopted our recommendations:

  1. All board and staff undergo mandatory sexual harassment training in the next 90 days.
  2. The board of directors adopt a code of conduct for board members to clarify what the organization considers professional conduct.
  3. The board members undergo an anti-harassment training annually, and any new members undergo an anti-harassment training within 90 days

 


Non-Binary WA Birth Certificates

Back in August, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) filed a statement of inquiry to add an option for "non-binary" on Washington birth certificates. Washington DOH has released their first draft of a rule and we have a Tuesday 9/26 deadline for comments! We have drafted a template letter you can copy and paste into an email and edit to make your voice in support heard in this process.

To take action simply copy and paste the following script to genderchangerulemaking@doh.wa.gov:

Re: Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making – SUPPORT

I am writing to you in support of Washington State's Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making Regulatory change. Sex designations and gender identity are an issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and should not be limited to “male” and “female” when those designations do not accurately represent 35% of all gender diverse people according to the 2015 US Trans Survey which reached more than 27,000 participants.

People should be allowed to attest to their own gender identity without confirmation from third parties. Many people do not have access to an understanding health care provider or notary public. DOH must ensure that everyone has the same access to accurate identification and the ability to elect a not specified or non-binary gender designation. The unique needs of two-spirit, people of color, incarcerated persons and foster youth should be taken into careful consideration in this process. Self-attestation is the most accurate method of ensuring that the sex designation on a birth certificate matches the individual which is the purpose of identification.

This regulatory change represents a critical need for many two-spirit, non-binary, trans, and intersex people: as of right now, Washington birth certificates do not recognize the existence of people whose gender does not fit the traditional definitions of “male” and “female.” Thank you for recognizing that need and proposing this regulatory change. I strongly support the adoption of a regulatory change to provide for a gender marker other than “male” or “female.”

Sincerely,


Gender Markers For All

This last Monday, these comments were submitted to the Washington State Department of Health.

"Gender Justice League along with Ingersoll Gender Center, National Center for Transgender
Equality, Trans United, Legal Voice, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Chorus, LGBTQ Allyship,
Greater Seattle Business Association, Equal Rights Washington, Third Gender Washington,
Seattle Counseling Services, and Entre Hermanos would like to submit the following principals
to the Washington State Department of Health Vital Statistics office for your consideration when
considering rule making regarding sex designation / gender marker changes on Washington
Birth Certificates."

"Our organizations serve several thousand two-spirit, non-binary, trans, and gender diverse
though out Washington State. On behalf of our clients and community we are pleased that the
Washington Department of Health has recognized the need for the State of Washington to
expand sex designations beyond a binary male/female and is considering opening a rulemaking
process to reevaluate the current policies and consider new procedures for changes of sex
designation on birth certificates. We humbly submit the following commentary on behalf of the
undersigned organizations on what we believe are some core principals the Washington
Department of Health should consider when undertaking this rulemaking process."

Principles in crafting a new policy on sex designations on birth certificates:
1. Washingtonians should be allowed to decide their sex or gender identity without
confirmation from third parties. We believe Washingtonians should not have to pay
money to private physicians or therapists, undergo unnecessary medical or mental
health treatment, or possibly be coercively made to undergo treatments they might not
otherwise choose by third parties. This may include forced sterilization in some cases.
We believe the state should abandon requiring physician or therapist certification letters
of “gender change”. Self-attestation is the most accurate method of ensuring that the sex
designation on a birth certificate matches the individual. There is currently no clear
statutory definition of sex in Washington or clarity about what the designations “male” or
“female” mean, clinicians are no more expert in ascertaining a client’s sex than the client
themselves. Relying on outdated indicators such as a doctor’s attesting to a patient’s
primary or secondary sex characteristics is an unnecessarily invasive and often
dehumanizing process that does not further any legitimate state interest. We believe
Washingtonians are competent in ascertaining the most appropriate sex designation on
their birth certificates."

View all comments here: WA Birth Certification Comments


Local transgender community responds to shocking discrimination survey

Newly released Washington-specific data from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)i
shows that 37 percent of transgender Washingtonians have experienced homelessness in their
lifetimes and 28 percent live in poverty.

The USTS, a nationwide survey of nearly 28,000 respondents, had 1,667 respondents living in
Washington State. According to the recently released report, trans Washingtonians face striking
levels of police abuse, as well as mistreatment in schools, the workplace and health care
settings. “These results come as no surprise,” said Yani Robinson, Program Manager for
Gender Justice League. “These numbers reflect what we hear from trans community members,
who often feel profiled and harassed or mistreated by police officers.”

On Tuesday August 15, local community organizations Gender Justice League, Ingersoll
Gender Center, and TRANSform Washington will hold a press conference at 6PM followed by a
community meeting at Southside Commons 3518 S Edmunds St, Seattle, WA 98118 from 6:30
to 8PM. Community leaders will share and discuss results from four key areas of pressing
concern: housing, education, police interaction, and healthcare.ii

“This report confirms what we already know from helping trans and gender nonconforming
people navigate housing, employment and healthcare challenges for the past four decades;
transgender and gender nonconforming Washingtonians face higher reported rates of
discrimination than other trans communities across the country,” said Karter Booher, Executive
Director of Ingersoll Gender Center. “After years of legislative attacks and two ballot measure
attempts, we have a long way to go in Seattle and across the State of Washington to support
transgender and gender nonconforming communities.”

Press, elected officials, community leaders, and allies are all invited to attend the event. Trans
community leaders will be available for press questions.
The event is hosted by Gender Justice League, a trans justice organization that advocates for
trans and gender diverse people throughout Washington State, Ingersoll Gender Center, which
has been building community, connecting folks to resources and advocating for our transgender
and gender nonconforming communities for over four decades, and Pride Foundation’s
TRANSform Washington campaign, which is focused on the lives and experiences of
transgender and gender diverse people, with an emphasis on communities of color.

______________________________

i http://bit.ly/2jUbkNS

ii http://bit.ly/2uDZdbk


Washington State Trans Survey: press conference and community meeting

Do you want to be a part of the groundwork for future policy changes in Washington State? Are you committed to housing justice, healthcare justice, and access to education?

Please join Gender Justice LeaguePride Foundation and Ingersoll Gender Center, for an evening delving into the results of the Washington State US Trans Survey, and brainstorm next steps. We will learn more about the latest WA State data, and make space with community members, members of local LGBTQ organizations and local officials that are commited to justice for the trans and LGBQ community.

6:00-6:30PM: Press conference
6:30-8PM: Community gathering and brainstorm

The 2015 US Trans Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining theexperiences of trans people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents nationwide. The USTS was conducted by the NCTE (National Center for Transgender Equality) during the summer of 2015. At the time of this survey, 1667 respondents were WA State residents.

Check here for more: http://www.ustranssurvey.org/report

Thanks to NCTE for their research and hard work! This event is FREE.

Accessibility information:
There are three parking spots in the lot adjacent to Southside Commons that are designated for those with disability parking permits. There is also a ramp leading up from the lot to both the first and second floors so those who have difficulties moving should have access to the location. For bathroom accessibility, there is a wheelchair accessible stall, but no grab bar.


Transgender Servicemembers, Veterans and Organizations Denounce Trump

Trans Civil Rights Organization Denounces Trump Tweets
Local Transgender Veterans and Active Duty Service Members Respond

Press Release PDF

Seattle, WA - This morning US President Donald Trump sent trans military service members into chaos this morning by tweeting that transgender people can no longer serve in the military. President Trump wrote, “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Out of more than 1.3 million service members, transgender individuals number roughly 15,000 per the National Center for Trans Equality.[i] Out of that small number of service members as few as 125 members across all 5 branches would not be deployable, this is compared to 50,000 members in the Army alone who are currently not deployable. The Rand study report, commissioned by the Department of Defense which led to lifting the military-wide ban on openly serving as transgender, refutes the assertions made by the President that transgender service members participation would somehow be “costly.”[ii]

 

Local Transgender Veterans and Service Members Respond

Erika Laurentz, a military member for 8 years who flew air support as a loadmaster on a C-141 told Gender Justice League, “As a transgender veteran, I was heartbroken at the tweets. I felt like my service meant nothing. I felt heartbroken for the service members I know who are currently serving. I am terrified about what will happen to them. Like many minorities, I served in hopes of someday being an equal. I’ve known I was transgender since I was three, but in the 70s there was there no equality for transgender people. I hoped that my service would help lead to that equality. The tweets today took away that hope and left me feeling like my service has meant nothing.”

Kathryn Mahan, was a military member for 7 years and a tank commander. At Fort Lewis in Washington State she trained service members to defend Europe. “As a transgender veteran two things struck me. The President of the United States just told the nation it’s ok to discriminate against veterans like me based on complete falsehoods. I served this nation, and President Trump didn’t. It is exceptionally wrong that he is making decisions for transgender service members without regard for the thousands of transgender service members who have served with distinction. No one should be told they cannot serve the nation and risk their lives for their country based simply on their gender identity.”

Air Force SSgt Logan Ireland, a transgender active duty service member, told Gender Justice League, "For the President to deny any able-bodied, fully-qualified person the inherent right to raise their right hand and serve their country, potentially giving their own life for our freedoms, is doing this country an injustice. I would love for my President to meet me so I can tell him about the 15,000 transgender military members who are honorably serving, fighting right now for our liberties and our country." 

 

Gender Justice League Responds:

President Trump’s unexpected tweets today continue the pattern of his administration’s disregard for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

“Currently there are an estimated 15,000 active duty transgender service members and more than 134,000 transgender veterans who have honorably served our country.[iii] To find out from a tweet that their jobs are in jeopardy is reprehensible,” said Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League. “For a President who wants to ‘Make America Great Again,’ firing 15,000 hard working employees who have done nothing wrong is a poor start to his administration’s attempts to create new jobs. Today we have heard from dozens active duty service members from around the world who are worried that they may be fired tomorrow.

“We stand with those military members and honor the service of all transgender veterans. Gender Justice League will collaborate with other advocacy groups in fighting this new ban against transgender service members,” said Gender Justice League Board Co-Chair Sophia Lee.

“We denounce this ill-conceived and wrong-minded attempt to divide our communities,” said Danni Askini. “This is intended to distract us all from the scandals and failures that we continue to see from this beleaguered administration. By scapegoating thousands of hard-working service members, his actions against our community continue to be reprehensible.”

[i] http://www.transequality.org/press/releases/trump-administration-continues-assault-on-transgender-people-doj-set-to-reject-lgbtq

[ii] https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1530.html

[iii] http://www.transequality.org/blog/honoring-the-service-of-all-veterans


Opposing Apple Health's Restrictive Rules

June 27th, 2017
Gender Justice League is joining our colleagues in the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare in opposing rules changes to the Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) Program's coverage for transition-related healthcare (also known as the "Gender Dysphoria program").  In 2015, along with a 30-member coalition of grassroots and national organizations, Gender Justice League successfully petitioned for rule changes to expand coverage under Apple Health to include all medically necessary transition related healthcare.  The program has not been without it's serious challenges such as lack of access to doctors, significant hurdles to getting surgical services approved, and far too few trans and gender diverse people in need of life saving medical care are denied access under the current rules. The Washington Healthcare Authority, the state agency that administer's Washington's medicaid program - Apple Health - has proposed significant new restrictions.

We are urging our members, supporters, and allies to write a brief email to the Healthcare Authority of Washington - or attend a hearing on Tuesday June 27th, 2017 at 10am at the Healthcare Authority of Washington Building to oppose new restrictions imposed by these rules changes.

People can submit comments to arc@hca.wa.gov by 5pm 6/27/2017  -

Subject: Re: WAC 182-531-1675 -- Gender Dysphoria Treatment Program

Dear Healthcare Authority of Washington Apple Health Program,
I am writing to express my serious concerns about proposed rules changes to the Apple Health Gender Dysphoria Program.
My name is [insert name]  and I am a [Apple Health member, therapist, doctor, concerned community member, etc].  I believe
that the proposed rules would make access to live saving medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria more difficult in
a way that discriminates against transgender people.  The US Trans Survey has found that nearly 40% of Trans and gender diverse people attempt suicide at some point in their life, and numerous studies have shown those numbers are greatly decreased when trans people have access to medically necessary care.  I am urging you to remove all  categorical exclusions to specific medical procedures.

1. I oppose the elimination of flexibility in the Gender Dysphoria Treatment Guidelines which not supported by medical necessity and is contrary to law.
2. I believe you should allow for the flexible application of standards of care based on provider recommendation.
3. I believe you should eliminate the unnecessary  gatekeeping requirements to "Verify the appropriateness of treatment".
4. I believe you should reduce the rigid application of specific gatekeeping requirements.
5. You should remove the "non-covered services list" and consider all services on a case by case basis as recommended by the patients care team.
6. You should also retain language regarding exception to rule process for "non-covered services".
7. I support you removing the "Centers of Excellence" and other unnecessary restrictions that have limited the number of providers offering this type of care under Apple Health.
8. I  support expanding the list of providers who may make or confirm a Gender Dysphoria diagnosis to increase access to care.
9. I support the changes to requirements regarding "Proof of Informed Consent" to allow providers to include a note in a patient's prior authorization letter.
10. I believe that the Healthcare Authority should work with community advocacy organizations to increase its network of providers, and expand the types of covered services to all those deemed medically necessary by a care team.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Email]
[Phone Number]
[Address]


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