White House in the fall

It's Official: Hate Crimes Bill Becomes a Law
Historic Day as the First Pro-Transgender Law is Signed
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October 28, 2009
Dear Friends:
President Obama has just signed into law the very first protections for transgender people in US history:  The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
"This is a powerful day as the United States government, for the first time, stands up and declares that violence against transgender people is wrong and will not be tolerated in our country," stated Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Every day transgender people live with the reality and the threat of personal violence, simply because of who they are. This must end and it must end now. The new law provides for some vital first steps in preventing these terrible crimes as well as addressing them when they occur.  At NCTE, we are dedicating this day to all those who have been victims of hate-motivated violence as well as recommitting ourselves to ending the epidemic of hate that continues to damage our communities and our country."

Mara will be present at the White House this afternoon when President Obama offers commemorative remarks to mark this historic moment.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which adds sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to existing law, will have a number of positive impacts for transgender people:
  • It will help educate law enforcement about the frequent hate violence against transgender people and the need to prevent and appropriately address it;
  • It will help provide federal expertise and resources when they are needed to overcome a lack of resources or the willful inaction on the part of local and/or state law enforcement;
  • It will help educate the public that violence against anyone, including transgender people, is unacceptable and illegal.
Most importantly, this law marks a turning point for the federal government, by including positive protections for transgender people and taking seriously the need to address the discrimination that we face.
NCTE will be holding a conference call tonight to bring you up to date about what this new law will do for transgender people and how it fits into our larger goals of transgender equality.  There will also be an opportunity to flameask questions. We also invite you to light a candle tonight; we have held so many vigils for victims of violence. Tonight, let us light a candle as a sign of our commitment to ending violence and in honor of this new day in transgender history. Let us have a Vigil for Victory.
There is another absolutely critical bill in process in both the House and the Senate: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which we hope will soon follow the Hate Crimes Act and become law. For that to happen, we all must be involved. ENDA would be an important way for transgender people to address the rampant discrimination so many face daily in the workplace. Tonight, we'll also give you updates about what is happening right now with ENDA, what is ahead in the coming weeks and what you can do to help secure job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
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Join us on Wednesday, October 28, at 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT / 6:00 pm MT / 5:00 pm PT. The call is completely free but we do need you to register so we can reserve a phone line for you. 

About NCTE

The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. By empowering transgender people and our allies to educate and influence policymakers and others, NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality in our nation's capital and around the country. The National Center for Transgender Equality is a 501(c)3 organization.