New York’s attorney general sent a cease-and-desist letter on Friday slamming a Long Island lawmaker for issuing a “discriminatory and transphobic” executive order designed to keep transgender athletes from playing sports.
Attorney General Letitia James ordered Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to “immediately rescind” his order on the basis it discriminates against people based sex, gender, identity of expression — a violation of New York law.
“The law is perfectly clear: you cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” James said Friday. “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order, or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.”
The executive order bars transgender athletes from competing against girls at all 100 sports facilities run by Nassau County, including ball fields and ice rinks. It is believed to be the first ban on transgender participation in sports on a county-wide level in the U.S.
Blakeman argued that transgender athletes don’t belong on the same field as girls, adding that he has been considering instituting the ban for months.
When asked by reporters last week what spurred such a ban to be enacted, Blakeman could cite no examples of such a thing occurring in Nassau County. Neither could the executive director of the agency that oversees high school sports in the county.
“We have not had any issues with transgender athletes participating in section 8 athletics…no complaints, and I’m not sure that there are any,” noted Pat Pizzarelli, of the Nassau County Public High School Athletic Association.
James gave the county executive five days to rescind the order “or else face additional legal action.”
Blakeman doubled down on claims he seeks to protect athletes from “bullying” at a press conference Friday afternoon. He also invited James or her office to meet with county lawyers to examine state and federal law.
For decades, LGBTQ+ people have been explicitly banned from Staten Island’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, with organizers claiming the policy is justified based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. After endless battles to make the parade more inclusive, activists have taken a different approach this year and will host their own separate LGBTQ+-inclusive parade.
The inclusive event will take place on March 17th, about two weeks after the original parade.
“We join the overwhelming majority of our neighbors in expressing our relief at the news that an inclusive St. Patricks’ Day parade will finally be held on Staten Island,” Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said in a joint statementwith Michael Cusick, CEO of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation and Staten Island Zoo CEO Ken Mitchell.
“We look forward to once again donning our green, sharing perhaps a pint of Guinness, and kicking off a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Staten Island that will not exclude participants based on who they are or who they love.”
McMahon has boycotted the parade in the past, as has New York City Mayor Eric Adams, due to its exclusionary policy.
A statement from Adams’s team also indicated he’d be participating in the March 17th event.
“From day one, Mayor Adams has been clear that celebrations in our city should be welcoming and inclusive. That is why we are thrilled to be collaborating with the Staten Island Business Outreach Center for their first-ever St Patrick’s Day parade this year where everyone interested – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or beliefs – will be welcome to march together.”
The Staten Island parade is thought to be one of the only St. Patrick’s Day celebrations left in the world that still excludes LGBTQ+ people, according to the Staten Island Advance.
Carol Bullock, executive director of the Pride Center on Staten Island, told the publication, “I’m just so excited to walk down Forest Avenue in celebration of Irish heritage with The Pride Center banner.” Bullock has reportedly applied to join the original parade for years but has always been rejected.
In 2022, Bullock spoke about submitting her application in person to the president of the parade committee, Larry Cummings, who immediately placed it in the rejection pile when she handed it to him. He then did the same with applications from organizations supporting LGBTQ+ firefighters and officers.
“That made it a little more painful because you have F.D.N.Y. and N.Y.P.D. people who are protecting our community, but they can’t march in a parade,” Bullock told the New York Times.
But Cummings has long stood his ground.
“Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture,” Cummings reportedly told The Irish Voice in 2018. “It is not a political or sexual identification parade.”
In 2020, he maintained that position, griping at the Advance that “it’s a non-sexual identification parade and that’s that.”
According to the Times, parade organizers have not only been hostile to the participation of LGBTQ+ groups, but they have even physically removed folks from the parade who they felt supported LGBTQ+ people. In the past, they have also banned individual people from participating.
In 2020, Miss Staten Island, Madison L’Insalata, couldn’t march because she came out as bisexual, and Republican City Councilman Joseph Borelli was barred by parade marshals because he had a rainbow pin on his jacket.
“They physically blocked me, my wife, and two boys in strollers,” Borelli said at the time, adding, “I didn’t come with it looking for an argument. My friends handed a pin to me. I really didn’t think it was a big affront to the Irish.”
But activists are thrilled that this year there will finally be a place for everyone to celebrate.
Bullock told the New York Times, “I am so happy we have taken this parade back for the Staten Island community.”
In response to a formal complaint the Human Rights Campaign lodged last week regarding the handling of sex-based harassment incidents, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has initiated an investigation into Owasso Public Schools. The investigation, announced late Friday, aims to address the Oklahoma school district’s response to harassment that may have contributed to the tragic death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old transgender student of Choctaw heritage.
HRC President Kelley Robinson spearheaded the complaint to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona last week, urging the department in a letter to use its enforcement mechanisms to prevent future tragedies and hold those responsible for Benedict’s death accountable. “Nex’s family, community, and the broader 2SLGBTQI+ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex+) community in Oklahoma are still awaiting answers following their tragic loss,” Robinson said in a press release announcing the investigation. “We appreciate the Department of Education responding to our complaint and opening an investigation—we need them to act urgently so there can be justice for Nex and so that all students at Owasso High School and every school in Oklahoma can be safe from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.”
The Department of Education’s letter to Robinson highlights the serious nature of the allegations against Owasso Public Schools, indicating a thorough examination of whether the district failed to appropriately respond to reported harassment, in line with Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.
This federal investigation follows a distressing incident in which Benedict was reportedly assaulted by three older students in a school restroom, leading to widespread outcry over the safety and treatment of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive students within the education system. Benedict died the day after the incident, but the cause of the youth’s death remains undetermined. Despite Owasso Public Schools’ claims of following district protocols and intervention by students and staff during the altercation, the community, and Benedict’s family seek accountability and substantive action to prevent similar incidents.
Body camera footage from the Owasso Police Department revealed a conversation between Nex and School Resource Officer Caleb Thompson, providing critical context to the altercation. Nex explained that the conflict arose “because of the way that we dressed,” leading to bullying. Nex recounted being jumped by three girls after retaliating against their harassment by squirting water at them. Officer Thompson’s response in the footage highlighted the complex dynamics of school bullying, suggesting that Nex’s defensive action could be perceived as part of a “mutual fight,” thereby complicating the legal implications of the altercation.
Amid the investigation and heightened public scrutiny, Robinson has also reached out to Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting a Department of Justice investigation into Benedict’s death, and to Margaret Coates, superintendent of the Owasso School District, advocating for the implementation of HRC’s Welcoming Schools program to foster an inclusive and safe environment for LGBTQ+ students.
In addition to local advocacy groups and HRC, GLAAD had a team on the ground in Oklahoma to ensure that Benedict’s story was accurately represented in the media.
Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democratfrom Wisconsin, expressed his gratitude for the probe.
“I am grateful to the Department of Education for opening up an investigation into Owasso Public Schools,” Pocan said in a statement. “Nex Benedict deserved to go to school without fear of bullying and should be alive today. No investigation will ever be able to make up for the loss of Nex’s life, but this investigation is an important step toward ensuring that all students in Owasso Public Schools can learn free from discrimination or harassment. As this investigation continues, we can all honor Nex’s life by fighting against the wave of anti-trans bills and rhetoric sweeping the country.”
The investigation by the OCR signifies a critical step toward addressing systemic issues related to bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools, reflecting a broader effort to ensure a safe and supportive educational landscape for all students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The heart of this investigation centers around the events leading to the death of Nex Benedict, who was initially identified as nonbinary, utilizing they/them pronouns. However, during a vigil held in his memory, friends clarified that Nex preferred he/him pronouns and identified as transgender.
Saturday March 9 at 7 pm: Patrick Ball “Come Dance With Me In Ireland: A Pilgrimage to Yeats Country” at Occidental Center for the Arts. OCA is thrilled to welcome back the premier Celtic harp player and spoken word artist Patrick Ball, direct from his home in Ireland, presenting a captivating Celtic harp and dramatic performance based on the life and works of Ireland’s greatest poet, William Butler Yeats; and featuring some of Yeats’ most beloved poetry. Don’t miss this richly theatrical and hauntingly beautiful performance! Tickets are $35 General/$28 OCA Members at www.occidentalcenterforthearts.org; or at the door if available. Fine refreshments for sale, Art Gallery open, accessible to mobility-challenged patrons.3850 Doris Murphy Ct. Occidental, CA. 95465. 707-874-9392.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton faces a lawsuit after he demanded an LGBTQ group turn over all records related to its support of Texas families seeking transition-related medical care for their transgender youths.
PFLAG, a national group that supports the families of LGBTQ people, sued Paxton on Wednesday night, calling his demand “a clear and unmistakable overreach” in retaliation for two other lawsuits PFLAG is involved in regarding minors’ access to gender-affirming care in the state.
Paxton’s demand for the records, the group said, is part of the state’s “relentless campaign to persecute Texas trans youth and their loving parents.”
The PFLAG lawsuit asks Travis County District Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the attorney general’s officeand to permanently block Paxton’s demand, alleging it violates PFLAG’s and its members’ “rights to freedom of petition, speech and assembly and to be free from unjustified searches and seizures.”
“This mean-spirited demand from the Attorney General’s Office is petty and invasive, which is why we want the court to put an end to it,” Brian K. Bond, the CEO of PFLAG National, said in a statement.
“Across races, places, and genders, our families and communities are stronger when we are free to come together,” Bond said. “PFLAG National, our chapters, and our entire community will continue leading with love as we have for the last five decades, providing support, education, and advocacy to ensure every LGBTQ+ person in Texas and beyond is safe, celebrated, empowered, and loved.”
Paxton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Paxton’s office served a demand letter on PFLAG on Feb. 9 to hand over records related to a sworn statement Bond made in Loe v. Texas, a lawsuit PFLAG is involved in against SB 14, a state law barring gender-affirming medical care for minors.
In another demand letter included in PFLAG’s latest lawsuit, Paxton’s office said the records were related to its “investigation of actual or possible violations” of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act. His office said it was specifically investigating allegations of “misrepresentations regarding Gender Transitioning and Reassignment Treatments and Procedures and Texas law.”
The demand letters request all documents and communications related to parts of Bond’s affidavit in Loe v. Texas, including a part where he says PFLAG families have had to develop “contingency plans” in case they lose access to care, such as moving out of the state. The demand letters also request communications and chapter meeting minutes related to Bond’s statement that PFLAG families have asked Texas chapters for “alternative avenues to maintain care in Texas.”
Paxton’s office also requested “all recommendations, referrals, and/or lists of pediatric and/or ‘health care providers’ in Texas that PFLAG (or any of its representatives) has created, maintained, received or distributed since March 8, 2023.”
The Texas Supreme Court allowed SB 14 to take effect on Sept. 1 while the Loe v. Texas case continues.
PFLAG said in its suit that Paxton is trying to go around the process for presenting evidence in Loe v. Texas and PFLAG v. Abbott, the group’s other lawsuit, which aims to prevent the state from investigating members who have been suspected of providing their trans children with gender-affirming care.
Through the demands, the attorney general’s office “seeks to circumvent the normal discovery process along with its attendant protections, and in so doing, seeks to chill the ability of PFLAG and its members to exercise their free speech and associational rights and avail themselves of the courts when their constitutional rights are threatened,” PFLAG said in its new lawsuit.
Paxton’s request for records from PFLAG is the latest development in years of efforts by his office and other state officials to restrict access to transition-related care for minors. In February 2022, after the Legislature failed to pass a law banning such care, Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion declaring gender-affirming medical care, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery, child abuse underexisting state law.
PFLAG, among other LGBTQ legal organizations, filed PFLAG v. Abbott in June 2022 to stop investigations into its members. In September, a judge blocked the department from investigating PFLAG members. Paxton appealed the decision, which remains in effect as the suit continues.
On Friday, Texas Health and Human Services will put a new rule into effect restricting gender-affirming care for adults on Medicaid. The rule will prohibit Medicaid coverage of “hormonal therapy agents” for any adult who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria within the last 730 days.
Elishea Jones has lived in Alabama her entire life, but since the state’s highest court ruled that embryos are legally children last week and three major fertility clinics halted in vitro fertilization procedures because of the potential legal liability, Jones is questioning everything.
“It’s not a political issue. They claim that we’re about saving the babies and what’s good for the children. This is what makes children happen for some families,” said Jones, who attended a rally outside Alabama’s State House on Wednesday to advocate for IVF protections.
Jones, 34, and her wife, Paige, 41, live in Alabaster with their 4-year-old son, Fendley. The couple conceived Fendley through IVF in 2020 and froze three more embryos in the hope of having another child in the future.
Last week, Katherine Robertson, the chief counsel for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, said in a statement that Marshall “has no intention of using the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision as a basis for prosecuting IVF families or providers.”
Jones said the statement did not give her much comfort: “I don’t trust that.”
One day after the attorney general’s assurance, an explosive device detonatedoutside Marshall’s office. No one was hurt, but Alabama authorities released a video of the suspect Wednesday in an effort to identify them.
For many same-sex couples, the events of the last week have felt deeply unsettling.
While IVF and other assisted reproductive technology procedures are not unique to same-sex couples, such couples rely on them more than heterosexual couples if they are trying to conceive children biologically.
“Making IVF services off-limits or of uncertain legality disproportionately affects LGBTQ parents,” said Mary Ziegler, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Law whose expertise includes the history and politics of reproductive rights.
Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2019 — which reviewed pregnancies of more than 230,000 women in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages from 2012 to 2016 — found 34% of women in same-sex marriages used assisted reproductive technology, including IVF, compared to only 4% of women in opposite-sex marriages.
The IVF process for Jones — including sperm, medications and her egg retrieval procedure — cost upward of $25,000 and took a significant toll on her body.
“It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through, like mentally, physically,” she said, but she said with a shrug, “It was the only way to have kids.”
Jones has explored moving the embryos out of state but worries about the legal implications.
“Could I get in trouble if I try to move them?” she asked. “As soon as I can get them out of the state, I will.”
Polly Crozier, the director of family advocacy for GLAD, an LGBTQ legal rights group, said the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling adds to the many challenges already facing LGBTQ parents in the state.
“It is an environment where it is difficult to protect your legal parent-child relationship, even when your children are born,” she said. “So I think that LGBTQ people see a ruling like this, and I think it really strikes terror in their hearts.”
“This IVF case is obviously a very clear sign that the anti-abortion movement really has its sights set much broader than abortion,” Crozier added. “For some out-there activists, the vision is the only real family is a mother and a father who have created their children through sexual intercourse and are genetically related to them.”
On Thursday, the state House and the state Senate passed bills that would grant legal protections to IVF providers and patients. Both chambers of the Legislature would need to vote on a unified bill before it could make its way to Gov. Kay Ivey. Critics say the bills fail to address whether or not an embryo created via IVF should be considered a child under state law, the core issue raised by the state Supreme Court ruling.
Caroline Veazey is not waiting to see what happens with the state legislation. Veazey, 30, went through one unsuccessful round of IVF last year before she tried again and successfully froze six embryos last summer. The process cost her over $20,000.
When the Supreme Court decision was reported, she launched a GoFundMe campaign and started frantically searching for ways to transport her embryos out of state.
“I literally Googled ‘how to move embryos out of a state’ or ‘how to ship embryos’ and started getting quotes,” said Veazey, who splits her time between Birmingham and Woodstock, Georgia. “You can prepare for all the money for IVF; you cannot prepare for ‘Oh, my gosh, I need to get my embryos out of Alabama immediately.’”
For Veazey, becoming a mother would be a dream come true. “As someone who identifies as a lesbian, I knew at some point — partner or no partner — that I was going to go through IVF,” she said.
“I have a really rough relationship with my mother, who is unaccepting of my sexuality,” said Veazey, a licensed counselor with many LGBTQ clients. “And I could only hope and dream of having a baby who I could give complete acceptance and support to. That is my goal. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
Though moving the embryos to a storage facility near Woodstock would seem like a natural solution, Veazey is not confident something similar would not happen there. “Georgia is a red state. It can go both ways, and I need to get them to a safe state,” she said.
On Wednesday, Veazey signed paperwork waiving her IVF clinic’s liability so it can release the frozen embryos to a company that will transport them to a storage facility in Washington state.
Former state Rep. Patricia Todd, who in 2006 made history as the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Legislature, worries about Alabama’s future.
“I think that a lot of younger same-sex couples will decide to leave Alabama,” said Todd, who now works on LGBTQ advocacy across the state. “They don’t want to live in a state that’s this regressive.”
Moving is something Elishea Jones has begrudgingly started to question. Vermont is too cold. Colorado is too far from family. She gets emotional thinking about how she will explain all of this to her son one day.
“I fought so hard to have him, so I’m going to fight for him. If s— goes down, we’re gone,” she said, wiping away a tear, and then laughed. “I’ll protect his embryo-siblings.”
Listen to trans people: hold a meeting with trans community leaders within two months.
Hire at least four full-time trans writers and editors within three months.
On the one year anniversary of the letter’s publication GLAAD returned to the New York Times headquarters with a digital billboard.
“The New York Times’ inaccurate, irresponsible coverage of the transgender community is regularly utilized by extremist lawmakers to justify taking away best practice health care from youth,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The Times has continued down its path of ignoring the trans community, their healthcare providers, and medical experts.
They have not taken our coalition up on our offer to meet with leaders from the trans community, nor have they hired any trans journalists full time, and have gone so far as to discipline their employees for bringing up valid and accurate critique of the newspaper’s trans coverage. As the Times continues down this path, they become more irrelevant every day. We remain eager to meet with the Times to help correct these coverage failures.”
Trans journalists Erin Reed and Evan Urquhart issued a comprehensive takedown of the Times’ most recent biased, inaccurate piece on trans healthcare here. Medical expert Dr. Jack Turban also weighed in to correct disinformation in that piece here.
A January 2024 expose by The Flaw magazine looked at the Times’ “distinct culpability” in the paper’s ongoing trans coverage, citing journalist Maximillian Alvarez: “the Times knows damn well that its articles are being cited in state legislatures around the country as justification for the hundreds of genocidal, anti-trans anti-queer bills that are being introduced left and right.”
Note that despite claims made by the Times in an effort to discredit their own contributors, the coalition letter was a wholly separate effort from a letter on the same topic signed by more than 1,000 Times contributors last February.
Additional response to the Times’ irresponsible, biased coverage includes:
The facility will be held at The Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center on North Martel Street for the nominating contest in California on 5 March. The centre is open to all voters, but organisers have stressed that it especially serves as a safe and empowering place for trans, non-binary and the LGBTQ+ community to vote.
The centre is open between 2-5 March and will also serve as a voting centre in the general election, which will take place on 5 November .
Aside from opening to voters, the centre provides resources, training, support and access to medical services for trans people in the community.
Across the weekend of 24 February, 119 voting centres opened across Los Angeles to allow residents to cast their votes. On 2 March, 525 further centres in LA will open for people to have their say and cast their vote before election day.
And it’s more important than ever for the LGBTQ+ community to have their say this year on the presidential vote. Whoopi Goldberg has expressed concerns about the potential of Donald Trump being elected for a second time.
During 9 January’s episode of The View, some of Goldberg’s co-hosts commented that young voters might not vote for Biden – or possibly not vote at all – as an act of protest against America’s support of Israel in its ongoing conflict with Palestine.
The Ghost actress seized the opportunity to plead with viewers at home to get out and vote not matter what, in order to keep Donald Trump from being re-elected.
“I’m here to say, it is ours to lose. This is what it’s all about. Either you want it to work forward-thinking, you want everybody to have the ability to say how they feel, what they want, to move forward, or you don’t,” she warned.
“Or do you want somebody who says, ‘I’m going to be, on day one, I’m going to be a dictator’? Who says it to you, tells you, ‘I’m going to put you people away. I’m going to take all the journalists, I’m going to take all the gay folks, and I’ll move you all around and disappear you.’
“If that’s the country you want, you know who to vote for. If that’s not the country you want, you have to make a decision.”
The government of Nepal should urgently create a clear, simple, and rights-respecting procedure that would allow transgender and third gender people to obtain official documents in accordance with their gender identity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While Nepali policy allows in principle for transgender to people to obtain documents marked “other,” implementation is piecemeal and those who want “male” or “female” as their legal gender are forced to undergo invasive and unnecessary medical interventions and examinations.
The 67-page report, “‘We Have to Beg So Many People’: Human Rights Violations in Nepal’s Legal Gender Recognition Practices,”documents the significant policy gaps that remain in the implementation of Nepal’s legal recognition for transgender people, despite global recognition of Nepal’s progress. Nepal’s pioneering recognition of a third gender “other” category based on self-identification garnered widespread praise and made Nepal an important touchpoint for the rights of sexual and gender minorities. But Nepal has no explicit legal option to change a gender marker to “male” or “female,” and even the procedure for the third gender option is unclear and ad hoc. Interactions between transgender people and the state have become particularly fraught with discriminatory, ill-informed, and requirements for harmful medical practices.
“We began the fight for our dignity in 2001 and we secured a major victory at the Supreme Court in 2007, but the government has not yet implemented the order to recognize us based on our identities,” said Manisha Dhakal, executive director at the Blue Diamond Society, an LGBT rights organization.“Generations of transgender and third gender Nepalis have faced barriers and humiliation because of policy gaps, and we need real change now.”
In 2007, the first Supreme Court judgment on sexual orientation and gender identity ordered the government to take three steps: audit all laws and scrap those that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; form a committee to study same-sex marriage policy options; and legally recognize a third gender category based on an individual’s own self-identification. The judgment in Pant et al. v. Nepal (2007) has been cited by courts around the world, including the Supreme Court of India, courts in the United States considering gender on passports, and the European Court of Human Rights, as a positive example. However, Nepali authorities continue to lag in carrying out the court’s order to recognize gender identity on the basis of self-identification.
Human Rights Watch found that some people – including people pursuing documents that list them as “third gender” or “other” – have been denied documents changing their gender or wrongly told they must undergo surgery to be eligible. A small number of people have been able to change their documents from “male” to “female,” but doing so invariably involves an invasive and humiliating physical exam in a medical setting, an experience that is rife with human rights violations.
“Trans women are women and trans men are men, and Nepal needs to match its reputation as a so-called beacon of hope for sexual and gender minorities with comprehensive policy change to respect our rights,” said Rukshana Kapali, chief executive officer at Queer Youth Group Nepal. “Nepal got a lot of credit for instituting the third gender option on citizenship certificates, but it is not implemented consistently, and it does not uphold the rights of people who identify as women and men.”
Human Rights Watch conducted the research for this report between August 2022 and December 2023. A researcher interviewed 18 transgender people and 1 intersex person who had attempted to change their legal gender or had not undertaken the process due to various barriers, as well as activists who help others undertake the legal gender recognition process, and government officials.
International human rights law and global medical standards of care support the complete separation of medical and legal processes with regard to gender transition. People seeking transition-related medical interventions should not face legal barriers, and people attempting to change their legal gender and name should not be required to undergo any medical procedures. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international, multidisciplinary professional association, “opposes all medical requirements that act as barriers to those wishing to change legal sex or gender markers on documents.” The organization stated that “[m]edical and other barriers to gender recognition for transgender individuals may harm physical and mental health.”
The Yogyakarta Principles – drafted and signed in 2006 by a group of experts, including a former Nepal parliament member, Sunil Babu Pant – state that each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is “integral to their personality” and is a basic aspect of identity, personal autonomy, dignity, and freedom. The principles are clear that gender recognition may involve, “if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means.” Put simply, the process for legal recognition should be separate from any medical interventions. But if an individual’s personal transition process requires medical support, those services should be available and accessible.
Based on the Yogyakarta Principles, the Supreme Court in 2007 said that “self-feeling” is central to securing the rights of transgender people. Subsequent court decisions have further emphasized this principle. Nepal authorities should consistently apply this principle, and its application should not allow medical practitioners or bureaucrats to confirm or deny an applicant’s self-declared gender identity, Human Rights Watch said.
Nepal’s lack of a clear procedure for self-declaration of gender identity has led to decisions in individual cases based on government officials’ perceptions rather than the person’s “self-feeling.” Trans people who approach different administrative offices are given different advice and instructions, which sometimes contradicts what their peers are told for the same process elsewhere. One trans woman interviewed said: “The state just throwing in medical steps is a way they think they’re stabilizing something that was confusing, whereas we experience it as yet another barrier and yet another way in which we have to beg for our rights.”
“Forcing our community to undergo medical procedures that are expensive, unavailable, and in many cases unwanted by the individuals themselves, is a violation of our rights,” said Simran Sherchan, executive director at the Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities-Nepal. “International consensus is that medical procedures for transitioning and legal procedures for transitioning need to be completely separated, and Nepal needs to make that clear.”