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Local transgender advocacy group the D.C. Trans Coalition will be honored with a “Distinguished Service Award” from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) on Wednesday.

Last month, I wrote about DCTC’s most recent victory: its campaign to change the D.C. Jail’s policy for housing transgender inmates. Admittedly: the new policy, which makes it possible for D.C.’s inmates to be housed according to their gender identity instead of their genitalia, could still use a little work. When the new regulations were announced, DCTC’s Sadie Baker called them “a step forward [when] what we really need is a giant leap”; I titled my piece the subtly ambivalent “Are D.C.’s Transgender Inmates Still Screwed?

Still, without the work of the DCTC and other activists, there wouldn’t be any formal acknowledgment of the needs of D.C.’s transgender inmates at all. So that “step forward” is still worth a couple pats on the back: Just Detention International, which also helped to draft the new policy, will also be honored on Wednesday.

The full DCTC presser is after the jump.

DC Trans Coalition Honored with Distinguished Service Award
“We are Grateful for this recognition” says group

Washington, DC – Washington, DC – On Wednesday, April 22nd the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) will receive the Distinguished Service Award at the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance’s (GLAA) 38th Anniversary Reception. Since its founding in 2005, the DCTC has organized community members to fight for the human rights of and equal access for transgender and gender diverse people in the District of Columbia.

After nearly five years, the DCTC has led and won a variety of critical grassroots campaigns that have improved the lives of many community members. The first and arguably most important victory involved lobbying the DC Council to unanimously pass expanded protections to the city’s Human Rights Act, which included gender identity or expression in 2005. The group then helped inform regulations that were eventually passed in 2006 to strengthen the implementation of this law. Since that time, the DCTC has continued to launch and win critical campaigns, ensuring better enforcement of the Human Rights Act. Several notable campaign victories include:

1. DMV Policy Change. In 2006, the DCTC won a new policy from the DMV on changing the gender marker on DC-issued ID cards. The new form can be signed by a doctor, counselor, or social worker, and requires no additional evidence, and information about a gender change will remain confidential under this policy.

2. MPD General Order. In 2007, the DCTC won a new police order, issued by D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier directing her officers on how to deal respectfully with transgender people. The order sets the highest standards in the nation.

3. Homeless Shelter Policy. In 2007, worked with D.C.’s Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness to finalize and implement a new shelter policy mandating that homeless transgender individuals should be treated according to their self-identified gender identity, housed accordingly, protected from harassment or discrimination, and treated with respect – it serves as a guideline for how all other agencies should treat transgender clients.

4. OHR Factsheet. In 2007, worked with OHR on developing a factsheet on how to comply with the recent gender identity and expression legal protections and continue to help educate area businesses on what these protections mean for them, their employees and their patrons.

The group recently organized a broad coalition of local and national groups in response to a draft rulemaking from the DC Office of the Attorney General which would have provided what amounted to an exemption for the DC Department of Corrections (DOC) from the provisions of the DC Human Rights Act prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Those efforts led to months of negotiations and an improved policy regarding the placement and treatment of transgender detainees in DOC custody, though the coalition’s advocacy and vigilance continue.

GLAA is honoring DCTC for this most recent effort. The DCTC continues to launch and win key campaigns to ensure the proper enforcement of the DC Human Rights Act in an effort to overcome gender-based oppression by organizing the community around these issues. The group is proud to showcase its work at GLAA’s 38th Anniversary Reception amongst so many other community leaders.

“We are honored to receive this award from GLAA, particularly since such work is often overlooked within the broader LGBT community. The victories we have won and the resulting growth of community shows how much can be accomplished with passion, fair-minded leadership, and ongoing dedication, and we are grateful for this recognition.” said Sadie Baker, who will accept the award on behalf of the DCTC.