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:
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.
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.
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 ask 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.
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.