Saturday, January 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Without fanfare, Obama advances transgender rights

Barack Obama

FILE - In this Tuesday June 17, 2014, file photo President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall in New York. President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration’s advocacy to the community to the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans. Obama during his first year in office became the first chief executive to say “transgender” in a speech, the first to name transgender political appointees and the first to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers. He also signed hate crime legislation that represented the first federal civil rights protections for transgender people in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

By
From page A7 | June 22, 2014 |

SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration’s advocacy to the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans.

With little of the fanfare or criticism that marked his evolution into the leader Newsweek nicknamed “the first gay president,” Obama became the first chief executive to say “transgender” in a speech, to name transgender political appointees and to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers. Also in his first term, he signed hate crime legislation that became the first federal civil rights protections for transgender people in U.S. history.

Since then, the administration has quietly applied the power of the executive branch to make it easier for transgender people to update their passports, obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, get treatment at Veteran’s Administration facilities and seek access to public school restrooms and sports programs – just a few of the transgender-specific policy shifts of Obama’s presidency.

“He has been the best president for transgender rights, and nobody else is in second place,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said of Obama, who is the only president to invite transgender children to participate in the annual Easter egg roll at the White House.

Religious conservative groups quick to criticize the president for his gay rights advocacy have been much slower to respond to the administration’s actions. The leader of the Traditional Values Coalition says there is little recourse because the changes come through executive orders and federal agencies rather than Congress.

The latest wins came this month, when the Office of Personnel Management announced that government-contracted health insurers could start covering the cost of gender reassignment surgeries for federal employees, retirees and their survivors, ending a 40-year prohibition. Two weeks earlier, a decades-old rule preventing Medicare from financing such procedures was overturned within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Unlike Obama’s support for same-sex marriage and lifting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay troops, the White House’s work to promote transgender rights has happened mostly out of the spotlight.

Some advances have gone unnoticed because they also benefited the much larger gay, lesbian and bisexual communities. That was the case Monday when the White House announced that Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In other instances, transgender rights groups and the administration have agreed on a low-key approach, both to skirt resistance and to send the message that changes are not a big deal, said Barbara Siperstein, who in 2009 became the first transgender person elected to the Democratic National Committee.

“It’s quiet by design, because the louder you are in Washington, the more the drama,” said Siperstein, who helped organize the first meeting between White House aides and transgender rights advocates without the participation of gay rights leaders.

The 2011 meeting came 34 years after Jimmy Carter’s administration made history by meeting with gay rights groups. Obama’s Cabinet and federal agencies have followed up with actions significantly expanding transgender rights without congressional approval.

For instance, Health and Human Services said in 2012 that it would apply the non-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act to investigate federally funded health plans and care providers that refused to serve transgender individuals.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Education Department informed public schools that under its reading of Title IX, the 1972 law that bans gender discrimination in education, transgender students are entitled to federal civil rights protections. The information was included in a memo on schools’ obligations to respond to student-on-student sexual violence.

Obama has made clear the guidance has potentially broad implications.

“Title IX is a very powerful tool,” he said last week. “The fact that we are applying it to transgender students means that they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see that they are being discriminated on their college campuses.”

Meanwhile, religious conservative groups’ opposition to transgender advocacy has trickled in.

The Traditional Values Coalition has lobbied against a bill that would provide federal workplace protections for gay and transgender people by warning that it would require schools to permit teachers to remain on the job amid gender transitions. Group President Andrea Lafferty said no one should mistake the absence of vocal opposition for acquiescence.

“There are other people who are concerned about these things, definitely. I think America is just overwhelmed right now,” she said. “Everybody is going to have to take a step back, and that step back is going to be this November.”

The stage was set for Obama to become a champion of transgender rights when the LGBT community split over an earlier version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that Lafferty’s group is fighting.

In fall 2007, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank pursued, with the blessing of the nation’s largest gay rights group, legislation prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians, but not transgender people. As Frank put it plainly, there were not enough Democratic votes to get a “trans-inclusive” law through the House.

Transgender advocates who had lobbied for legal recognition of same-sex relationships were livid and persuaded more than 100 civil rights groups to oppose a bill that left transgender rights for another day.

“The community was forced to decide: Where are you going to stand?” recalled Diego Sanchez, who was the first openly transgender person appointed to the DNC’s platform committee and later became the first transgender staff member on Capitol Hill as Frank’s top senior policy adviser.

At the 2008 Democratic convention where Obama was nominated, 28 years after the party pledged to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation, language was added to accomplish the same for gender identity.

As president, Obama has embraced the task of putting that pledge into practice, said Sanchez, now national policy director at Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

“It’s easier for voices to be heard once you are already in the room,” he said. “What has changed is who is listening.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano County confirms 1st local case of measles

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
SPCA begins caring for more than 100 rescued dogs

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Top workers, top students – and succulent crab

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Partial Fairfield freeway road closure starts Monday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Armijo students savor catered Fuddruckers lunch

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Man charged in California family’s deaths will be own lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

PG&E releases thousands of emails with state regulators

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Yosemite park fee hikes coming in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

San Francisco coroner says human remains are from 1 man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Balloon crew makes history crossing Pacific Ocean

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder trial begins 35 years after 6-year-old vanished in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Judge: Funeral home wrongly sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
French fracture laid bare as 8-year-old praises terrorists

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 Census

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

 
GOP should plan for post-Obamacare world

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8, 16 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Solano College news makes me sick

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Jan. 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Jan. 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
My recently widowed mother is already thinking about re-marrying

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

Five ways 3D-printed food will change the way we eat

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10, 1 Comment

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
List: 10 Super Bowl ads you’ll be talking about

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Rod McKuen, mega-selling poet and performer, dies at 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Shakira gives birth to 2nd baby with Spanish football star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

 
Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron returns, Love, Irving team for 44, as Cavs top Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs ride away from Indian’s home court with 66-60 victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings’ Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Laird leads as Tiger shoots 82 and misses the cut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seau, Warner, Pace first-time Hall eligibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

N.H. Speedway general manager faces lewdness charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has brain disorder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko takes lead at LPGA opener, closes in on golf history

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Djokovic beats Wawrinka to reach fifth Australian Open final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carroll says decision is Sherman’s if baby arrives early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NFL’s Goodell seeks to look past ‘tough year,’ to future

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US consumer confidence at highest level in a decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Companies steering clear of Super Bowl name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Danica Gojkovich Ryder

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anneliese Edith (Luckner) Fraser

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 1/31/2015

Quirky add-ons a common feature of celebrity homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

5 ways to make a kitchen more germ-free

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.66 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3