Trans Youth Advocates DMV Launch

Trans Healthcare MD (THMD) and DCATS have launched Trans Youth Advocates DMV, an annual program for trans people to develop their skills in a collaborative, intentional space, alongside other local trans youth leaders. With a focus on trans resilience and liberation, this program will bring together a cohort of 20 trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive people from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

THMD and DCATS featured in Washington Post

A March 17th Washington Post article on healthcare access for trans folks in our region featured Jamison Crowell from the DC Area Transmasculine Society (DCATS) and Lee Blinder from Trans Healthcare MD

Lee spoke on THMD’s efforts to expand access to competent, affirming care, which include advocating for expansion of services at Planned Parenthood to cover hormone replacement therapy. They also discussed the need for current and future providers to adopt an informed consent model, which removes the need to seek a letter or letters of approval from medical providers before starting HRT.

“People can get stuck in the system for a long time,” Blinder said. “Many people don’t end up getting a letter at all. The provider will make up excuses as to why they’re not ready.”

We’re excited to see awareness of our communities’ needs increase and look forward to more coverage of this crucial topic in the future.

Press Release on SB196/HB421

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Maryland General Assembly Passes Bill to Allow Third Gender Option for ID, Streamline Gender Change Process

Annapolis, MD: Today, by a vote of 92-48, the Maryland House of Delegates joined the Maryland Senate in passing legislation that will allow the state’s residents to select a third gender option on their driver’s license or state ID. Maryland joins eight states and the District of Columbia in providing a third gender option. The act also streamlined the process for changing gender on state-issued ID.

In addition to the two existing options of Female and Male, under the new law Marylanders will be able to have the gender on their ID listed as “Unspecified or Other,” which appears on the driver’s license or ID as an X.

The X gender marker will be available to all Marylanders who do not want to be identified as Male or Female on their driver’s license, and will be of greatest benefit to nonbinary, genderqueer, and intersex Marylanders who do not identify as either Female or Male. Nonbinary and genderqueer are umbrella terms for people with gender identities that fall somewhere outside the traditional conceptions of female or male, while intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a number of natural bodily variations, which can include external genitalia, internal sex organs, chromosomes, or hormonal differences that transcend typical ideas of male and female.

“This modernizing legislation will be bringing me personally the ability to have an accurate identification document, and I am grateful for the dedicated coalition that worked so hard to make X ID markers a reality,” said Lee Blinder, founder of Trans Healthcare MD. “My work with Trans Healthcare MD has shown me the sincere need for this legislation, and I know the lives of my fellow transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive community will improve after its implementation on October 1, 2019,” Blinder said.

Jaz Barnett, Co-Director of Media and Technology for The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, described themself as being “over the moon” about the bill’s passage. “This is incredibly important to me because the X means a lot more than just a letter—the M or the F just doesn’t fit and doesn’t reflect who I am in the least. It often is very humiliating to go into different establishments where I do have to show my ID to other people, and they’ll see that there’s a letter on there that doesn’t represent who it is that I am,” Barnett said.

Lisa Reff, a parent of a nonbinary teen, spoke about the impact the law will have on their child’s life. “I never gave any thought to all of the different forms we fill out that require us to select male or female until my older daughter was applying for her driver’s license a year-and-a-half ago. She selected female, no big deal. But I sat there and I thought, ‘oh my goodness, this is going to be a big deal for Kayden. I'm just so happy that Kayden will be able to get a license that identifies them as they identify,” Reff said.

The new law will also streamline Maryland’s currently-onerous process for changing one’s gender. Under the current process, individuals seeking to change the gender on their driver’s license or state ID are required to submit a letter from a medical professional providing transition care, as well as a separate letter from a mental health professional. Now, Marylanders will be able to self-attest their appropriate gender marker without having to go through multiple medical gatekeepers.

Today’s legislation has been strongly supported by a broad coalition of LGBTQIA+ groups, including The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, FreeState Justice, HostHome, the Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project, Maryland Trans Unity, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Trans Healthcare MD, Trans Recognition Maryland, Trans Terps and Whitman-Walker Health, as well as a host of individuals who will benefit from this legislation and their families.

The Senate bill, SB196, submitted by Senator William C. Smith, passed 32-14 on February 22, 2019. House bill 421, sponsored by Delegate Sara Love, passed today 92-48. The bill passed both houses with votes from more than 60% of legislators, making it presumptively veto-proof.

HB421 Passes in the House

We are overjoyed to report that HB421 has passed through the House with a veto-proof majority! Since its Senate companion bill (SB196) has also passed with a veto-proof majority, SB196/HB421 is now almost ready to become law, mandating a third gender maker option and gender self-attestation for MVA-issued IDs!

Thank you so much to everyone who was involved! If you called, emailed, testified, otherwise worked on it or supported those who did, you helped make this change happen!

We'd especially like to thank Delegate Sara Love and Senator William C. Smith, Jr. for introducing the bills in the House and Senate and both them and their staff for the long hours they put in to support this process.

A Coalition of trans-led and trans-affiliated organizations has been working hard, often behind-the-scenes, to get us to this historic moment. The Coalition includes Trans Healthcare MD, The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, FreeState Justice, Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project, HostHome, Maryland Trans* Unity, National Center for Transgender Equality, Trans Recognition Maryland, Trans Terps and Whitman-Walker Health. We've been elated and honored to be a part of this gathering of inspiring and dedicated folks. We've seen the incredible power of this coalition and know great things are in its future!

Maryland has just taken a huge step towards providing all trans, nonbinary and gender expansive folks in our state with the dignity, representation and justice we deserve!!!

Trans Visibility Community Festival

Trans Healthcare MD will be participating in the first annual Trans Visibility Community Festival, hosted by DCATS and held in D.C. It is an inclusive festival for the local community to come together and celebrate the journeys of trans folks.

The event is for all ages and free to attend and exhibit. The festival will feature a multitude of organizations that serve the trans community, as well as trans artists and creatives showcasing their work. There will also be other activities such as film screenings and open mic sessions for the general public to share their stories, passion, and creativity.

For more information, please visit www.transvisibilityfestival.com/ or the event on Facebook.

Supporting Baltimore City's Trans Employees

Thank you to our core team member Ezra Halstead for writing this important letter of support for last week's hearing. Spoiler, the motion passed and Baltimore City employees will no longer have trans healthcare exemptions! Gratitude and appreciation to the folks who have worked on this for months, and to everyone out there who is putting their all into making this process better for our community.

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Passports: From Viral Posts to Facts

We're big fans of listening to our trusted trans organizations that are working on behalf of our community. In particular, the National Center for Transgender Equality comes to mind when considering our access to legal documents, and they publish an informative & interactive guide to changing legal documents. There have been some viral posts about identity documents, specifically United States passports that have made the rounds lately, and we'd like to encourage folks to read this informative Facebook post about identity documents from the NCTE to ease minds from worry on this specific issue. 

Information is POWER and we have a lot of trans and ally attorneys working hard to ensure we have accurate and accessible information. Please share this accurate information with your trans circles.