Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility #TDOV

Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) 2021!

March 31st is known International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). First celebrated in 2009, this day was founded by Rachel Crandall, a Michigan-based transgender activist as a “reaction to the lack of LGBT recognition of transgender people.”

Rachel was inspired because, up until that point, there wasn’t an observance specifically honoring the many achievements and contributions of transgender and gender non-confirming people. 

Annually, non-profit organizations, social media outlets, and groups participate in TDOV by celebrating the accomplishments as well as raising awareness on the continuing work for transgender & gender non-conforming liberation.  

“Transgender and non-binary people face significant cultural, legal and economic challenges, but continue to bravely share their stories, boldly claim their seats at the table and tirelessly push equality forward. The transgender and non-binary community’s pride, power and resilience should be a lesson to us all. As advocates, we must commit to learning together and building a world where every person can truly thrive,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David.

Last year, HRC released a video featuring their transgender and non-binary staff and volunteers. The video discusses the need for visibility, the power of “transgender and non-binary voices and the litany of bills in the states attacking this community.”

This International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), please join us in raising awareness about the accomplishments and contributions of transgender and gender non-confirming people as well as calling attention to the work that is still needed to eliminate discrimination faced by transgender and gender non-confirming people worldwide every day.

To learn more about #TDOV and HRC’s work on transgender and gender non-confirming equality, visit HRC.org/transgender

Additional Resources

LGBT+ Health Awareness Week: Non-Discrimination

According to the largest-ever study of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States, about 56% of those surveyed had experienced discrimination while trying to seek medical treatment. A 2016 survey found that 68.5% of LGBT+ people who experienced discrimination in the year before had been negatively affected psychologically, about 43.7% said discrimination had adversely affected their physical well-being. For all the legislation and speech-making about trying to reduce and eliminate discrimination against the LGBT+ community, discrimination across the board continues to be an issue.

When it comes to discrimination in the healthcare setting, the Center for American Progress found that 8% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and 29% of transgender respondents reported a healthcare provider’s refusal of service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT+ people and transgender people especially continue to face high rates of healthcare discrimination.

So, what does does healthcare discrimination look like? Here are some examples:

  • A healthcare provider refuses to provide needed care.
  • The provider refuses to touch the LGBT+ patient or uses excessive precautions.
  • A provider uses hard or abusive language on the patient.
  • The patient is blamed by the provider for their health status.
  • The healthcare provider is physically rough or abusive toward the LGBT+ patient.

Discrimination in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

It would be wrong to state that LGBT+ Veterans do not experience discrimination even though the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government where there are rules and regulations on providing care for LGBT+ people.

The issue of discrimination within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is difficult to gauge because health care throughout the VA is remarkably subjective to specific locations. An LGBT+ Veteran seeking care in San Francisco may run into issues when he/she/they tries to seek care across the bay in Martinez. That’s because SF and Martinez exist is different VA health care systems but within the same region. Additionally, an LGBT+ Veteran seeking care in a more rural location like Chico or Redding may experience different care than if he/she/they were referred to a facility closer to a major population center like Mather. Even though Chico, Redding, and Mather exist within the same health care system, provisions of care and levels of discrimination may vary or not exist altogether.

That said, LGBT+ Veterans do indeed experience discrimination even though providers are mandated to undergo training to diversify their knowledge. A provider may not be up-to-date on current VA policy regarding provisions of care for transgender and intersex Veterans. The provider may misgender the Veteran, calling him/her/them by the gender inputted into the electronic health record instead of the Veteran’s preference. A VA provider may provide care but throw in a dose of microagressions along with the way. Unfortunately, discrimination happens and it can be more stinging in a sense because the patient happens to have been part of the 10% of Americans that volunteered for military service. As VA providers, they are perhaps held to a higher standard because of the clientele; however, if you were to do some off-the-bat thinking on if you’ve ever heard of LGBT+ discrimination within the VA, you may be hard-pressed to find any ready examples. The thing is, the VA handles issues like discrimination in-house as much as possible. Unless the LGBT+ Veteran decides to bring the issues to light outside of the VA, the matter is adjudicated and responded to using the VA’s patient advocacy processes.

One major reason you may not find data on LGBT+ Veterans experiencing discrimination is because the VA does not consistently collect data on the sexual orientation or self-identified gender identity (SIGI) of LGBT+ Veterans according to a GAO report published in October 2020. In the report, the GAO reported the following findings:

  • The VA does not consistently collect sexual orientation or SIGI data which limits the assessment of health outcomes for LGBT+ Veterans.
  • The VA does not have a standardized method of recording data on LGBT+ Veterans‘ sexual orientation and thereby does not know how many are in the VA system.
  • While the VA collects SIGI data that can be used to identify transgender Veterans, SIGI data recording is inconsistent; about 89% of Veterans’ records lacked SIGI information.
  • The VA’s use of SIGI information is confined to the administrative system which is not linked to Veterans’ electronic health records resulting in data blindness by VA providers who cannot see the SIGI data during clinical visits. Though the VA has planned to link SIGI data across systems, the plan has been postponed several times leaving the information unlinked.

The last point may provide a semblance of coverage for some unintentional discrimination; however, it does not excuse it. In fact, healthcare discrimination experienced by Veterans and non-Veterans should not be tolerated.

What Can You Do About Healthcare Discrimination?

The good news is that we, as a community and our allies, can do something about healthcare discrimination. There is an ever-growing body of information regarding recommendations for combatting discrimination. Below are some things you can do for yourself and for your fellow members of the LGBT+ community:

  • Contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to enact the Equality Act or other legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all federally-funded healthcare programs.
  • Ask your Congressmembers to also enact the Do No Harm Act which would prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to carve out exemptions from federal laws and protections regarding nondiscrimination, labor, children’s rights, and health care.
  • Contact your State legislators to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all state-funded healthcare programs and activities.
  • Ask your State legislators to repeal sweeping religious exemptions that allow insurers and providers to deny healthcare services because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Contact health care systems and ask to increase cultural competency as a main method for healthcare providers to address discrimination experienced by LGBT+ people and people living with HIV.
  • Ask to review your healthcare provider’s policies on nondiscrimination, fair visitation, and other policies to ensure they prohibit bias and discrimination, convey commitment to service equality, recognize families of LGBT+ people and their wishes, and provide processes for reporting and redressing discrimination if/when it occurs.

As an LGBT+ individual or ally, you can take the following actions on discrimination:

  • Educate yourself and your family/friends/coworkers on LGBT+ rights, and when possible, educate health care providers about the needs of LGBT+ patients and those living with HIV.
  • Advocate for improved laws and policies.
  • Report unfriendly, discriminatory practices and share referrals to friendly providers and institutions.
  • Share stories of healthcare discrimination with organizations like Lambda Legal, as well as with policymakers, friends, relatives, and trusted coworkers.
  • Create as much protection as possible for yourself and your loved ones using appropriate, existing mechanisms like advance directives, medical powers of attorney, and other legal documents as well as formal legal relationships such as domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage, where that is a couple’s choice.
  • Fight back when discrimination occurs and contact legal and advocacy organizations or a local attorney.
  • Lastly, continue to fight attempts to roll back LGBT+ rights.

Read More

LGBT+ Health Awareness Week: Voting

In October 2019, the UCLA’s Williams Institute released a study detailing the preferences and characteristics of LGBT+ voters in relation to the 2020 General Election. The study indicated that, at the time, 1 in 5 LGBT+ adults (~21%) was not registered to vote and almost 9 million LGBT+ adults were eligible registered and eligible to vote.

2020 saw the nation grappling with a pandemic, a chaotic administration, and a wild election cycle. When November 3, 2020 rolled around, the nation was ready to move forward into a new chapter of the American story.

Early exit polls of the 2020 General Election showed that LGBT+ voters turned out in record high numbers, representing about 7% of the 2020 electorate. In previous years, LGBT+ voters represented 6% (2018) and 5% (2016).

So, what does voting have to do with LGBT+ health awareness? Everything.

Simply put, the people we vote for can have direct impacts on LGBT+ health and wellness issues such as access to care, the fight against HIV/AIDS, discrimination, justice and equality, transgender rights, assault and harassment, and civil rights. The people we elect into office carry the responsibilities of representing us and affecting change in the issues affecting us, the LGBT+ people.

What can you do to participate in LGBT+ Health Awareness Week?

First off, if you haven’t done so yet, you can register to vote or, if you are registered, you can find out how you can update your voter registration so you are prepared for when Election Day comes around again. Click the graphic to the right to head over to Vote.gov.

Second, it helps to be informed as to why your vote matters for issues affecting the LGBT+ community. This also applies to LGBT+ Veterans who receive care from the VA for specific care needs unique to LGBT+ people. In fact, who we elect can help move issues within the VA to the forefront to be addressed. Additionally, our elected officials must know we will hold them accountable for what is and what isn’t done to help LGBT+ people.

Below are some reasons why your vote matters, the information is summarized from the National Coalition of LGBT Health, the lead for National LGBT+ Health Awareness Week.

ACCESS TO CARE
LGBT+ people are mostly to be uninsured. About 15% of LGBT+ are uninsured, over twice as that of non-LGBT+ people. The numbers are higher when it comes to our transgender brothers and sisters with nearly one in four (~25%) uninsured compared to 8% in the cisgendered. Broken down, bisexuals+ are 19% uninsured, gay men 6%, and lesbian women 4%. If you are uninsured and live in California, check out Covered California for more information on how you can applying for coverage. If you are a Veteran and have not enrolled in VA health care, click here.

THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS
In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV and about 1 in 7 (14%) don’t know it and need testing. HIV also has a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities and gay and bisexual men. In 2018, there were an estimated 36,400 new HIV infections in the U.S. The U.S. reportedly spends $20 billion in direct health expenditures for HIV prevention and care and Medicaid is the biggest source of coverage for Persons Living with HIV (PLH) with roughly 42% of all PLHs in care. The Ryan White Program also provides help with HIV primary medical care, essential support services, and medications for low-income PLHs who are uninsured and underserved. For more information on the VA’s HIV outreach, click here.

DISCRIMINATION
It’s no surprise that LGBT+ adults report they’ve experienced discrimination. In 2020, the electorate turned the Senate blue adding to the influence of progressive officials. The Equality Act was introduced in the House of Representatives and passed in the House wholly along party lines. The Equality Act would reduce discrimination by ensuring federal protections are consistent and, if passed through the Senate and Congress as a whole, the executive branch would be responsible for enforcing it.

JUSTICE & EQUALITY
The pre-Biden Administration saw the appointment of several anti-LGBT+ judges including Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. The latter reportedly gave speeches to the Alliance Defending Freedom group, an anti-LGBTQ hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Barrett is also opposed to a woman’s right to choose and has alluded to wanting to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade. When Biden was elected President, he promised to appoint a diverse selection of judges to reflect the diversity of America. This is a direct result of LGBT+ voters turning out to push back on injustice and inequality.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
Whomever we vote into office have profound impacts on the creation and enforcement of policies to protect transgender rights and to prevent discrimination. The transgender community is disproportionately discriminated against; in fact, the majority of LGBT+ homicide victims are transgender women. What’s more, transgender people face high unemployment rates (2x the general population rate); high levels (90% of transgender people) of harassment, mistreatment, and discrimination on the job; and high instances (53%) of harassment or disrespect in a place of public accomodation.

ASSAULT, HARASSMENT & CIVIL RIGHTS
The Biden/Harris ticket before the 2020 General Election stated support for the proposed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 that contains protections for LGBT+ people including incarcerated transgender individuals and reaffirmation of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBT+ Health Awareness Week: Advocacy

Did you know that the VA has a program for LGBT+ Veterans and that there are personnel at nearly all VA facilities nationwide that are tasked to help LGBT+ Veterans with care issues?

In 2016, the VA started addressing healthcare issues specific to LGBTQ+ Veterans by appointing LGBT Veteran Care Coordinators (VCCs) at VA facilities. VCCs are licensed clinicians responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBTQ+ Veterans and connecting them to services such as:

Additionally, the VA has implemented policies and procedures for LGBT+ Veterans since 2017 with the following:

The VCC for VA Northern California Health Care System (NCHCS) that includes Auburn, Chico, Fairfield/Travis AFB, Martinez, Mather, McClellan, Oakland, Redding, Yuba City, and Yreka is Era Dearmon, LICSW/CMFSW, located at the Sacramento VA Medical Center at Mather, CA. She can be reached at (916) 407-9829 or Era.Dearmon@va.gov.

You can also find more information about the LGBT+ Program within NCHCS here. You can also find the VA’s National LGBT+ Program here.

Another great resource for LGBT+ Veterans is Make The Connection and its page on “Coming Out to Your Health Care Provider” where you can learn about the resources and support available for Veterans who have faced challenges related to coming out as a person with an LGBT+, or related identity. You can find the page here.

Do Ask, Do Tell – encourages patients to talk to their providers about their LGBT identity.

Fenway Health

Lastly, find out more about what the VA knows about providing care for LGBT+ Veterans with the following fact sheets:

The SITREP also has resource pages for LGBTQ+ & Transgender Veterans.

On This Day in 1941, the Tuskegee Airmen were Established

On March 19, 1941, the U.S. War Department established the 99th Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC) that would become the first unit consisting of African American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. In a time when segregation was the law of the land, the Tuskegee Airmen pushed back on the prevalent racism within and outside the ranks of the U.S. military. Following accomplishments in flight by pilots like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart in the decades before (1920s & 1930s), young men and women lined to up follow their flight paths; among them were young African Americans looking for their chance to take flight.

Unfortunately, African Americans were regarded as less-than and this widespread way of thought presented significant obstacles. In fact, black people were regarded as inferior in combat and seen as unable to become trained pilots. In 1938, President Roosevelt, seeing war was on the horizon, expanded the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) in the U.S. to ramp up the number of pilots in the nation; black people were excluded. But, in 1939, the CPTP opened up to historically black colleges which helped increase the number of black aviators. In 1940, the Roosevelt Administration announced that the AAC would begin training black pilots. At the start of 1941, it was announced that an all-black fighter pilot unit would be trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama located in the heart of the Jim Crow South.

Tuskegee airman Instructor Daniel “Chappie” James

The Tuskegee Airmen would go on to confront racism at home and abroad while racking up an exemplary record in World War II. The Tuskegee program would train some 1,000 pilots and nearly 14,000 navigators, bombardiers, instructors, aircraft and engine mechanics, control tower operators, and other maintenance and support staff. The Tuskegee Airmen flew about 1,600 missions and destroyed over 260 enemy aircraft in Nazi-controlled territory. In addition to the airmen’s amazing record, they would help lay the foundation for President Truman’s decision to finally desegregate the armed forces in 1948.

Following the war and desegregation, the Airmen carried on in the newly formed U.S. Air Force (USAF) and some taught in civilian flight schools. They were instrumental in developments in aviation and one Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. became the first African-American to attain the rank of four-star general. Another Airmen Marion Rodgers went on to work for NORAD and served as a program developer for the Apollo 13 project.

Time has seen the Tuskegee Airmen cement a remarkable legacy of breaking barriers and accomplishments during and after World War II.

Time has also seen members pass on with age. Robert Holts, the last known member of the Tuskegee Airmen, died on February 12, 2021 at the age of 96.

Read more:

March 10th is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day #NWGHAAD

Every year on March 10 — and throughout the month of March — local, state, federal, and national organizations come together to shed light on the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls and show support for those at risk of and living with HIV. This year marks the 16th annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD).

The HIV/AIDS community continues to make progress towards eliminating HIV and AIDS in the U.S., but women remain vulnerable to infection — especially black or African-American and Hispanic women. Black women accounted for the largest share of new HIV diagnoses among women in the U.S. in 2018. Poverty, stigma, medical mistrust, and fear of discrimination often prevent some women from getting tested or from seeking care.

An estimated 14% of transgender women have HIV. Transgender women experience stigma and discrimination and often encounter healthcare providers or clinics lacking knowledge of transgender issues or proper inclusive language. These all pose obstacles to HIV testing, prevention, and care that can be addressed among transgender women.

We can help change these statistics!

The 2021 NWGHAAD theme, “You. Me. WE. Changing the face of HIV, highlights the role that everyone can play in HIV prevention- individuals, community organizations, health care professionals, businesses, faith institutions, and so many others. There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves, our partner, our family, and our neighbors. By working together, we can help eliminate HIV and improve the quality of treatment and care for people currently living with HIV.

FAQ ON National Women & Girls Hiv/Aids Awareness Day

What is National Women & Girls HIV/Awareness Day?
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is an annual, nationwide observance, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). Every year on March 10 — and throughout the month of March — local, state, federal, and national organizations come together to shed light on the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls and show support for those at risk of and living with HIV. This year marks the 16th annual observance of NWGHAAD.

Why is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day important?
HIV and AIDS are still widespread public health issues, and women remain vulnerable to infection — especially African-American and Hispanic women.2 In fact, any woman who has sex can get HIV, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Today, nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HIV,1 and nearly 1 in 4 of them are women.1

There are steps you can take to protect yourself, your partner, patients, your family, and your neighbors.

  • Get an HIV test, which is free and confidential. To find a location, visit gettested.cdc.gov.
  • Prevent HIV by using a latex condom every time you have sex.
  • If you are HIV-negative and your partner has HIV, talk to a doctor about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that can reduce your risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Find a provider near you at PrEPlocator.org(link is external).
  • If you are living with HIV, talk to your doctor about ways to stay healthy and take your medication as prescribed to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. It can help prevent spreading HIV to your sexual partner or if you are pregnant, to your baby.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, visit a doctor or nurse right away. The doctor may decide that you should get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is an anti-HIV medicine that you take within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV to lower your chances of getting HIV.
  • If you are a health care professional, you should know the screening guidelines, talk to patients about their risk, and encourage patients living with HIV to adhere to treatment.

Who should participate in National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
Any individual or organization can observe National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. OWH invites public and private organizations at the local, state, and national levels to participate.

How do I observe National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
You can plan a National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event; spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr about the day; and use the hashtag #NWGHAAD on social media. Use these materials to get started.

SOCIAL MEDIA ASSETS TO PROMOTE NWGHAAD

To save some time, below is a gallery of images to promote NWGHAAD; you can also find the social media tookit here: https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad/resources/toolkit.

On This Day in 2019, Pentagon Announces Enforcement of Ban on Transgender Service

Following the previous day’s news of a Maryland federal judge lifting the 3rd of four orders barring the military from enforcing the previous administration’s ban on transgender military service, the Pentagon announced that it would be enforcing the policy to bar certain transgender people from joining the military.

DoD spokesman Charles Summers stated that the proposed policy would allow transgender troops currently serving to stay in and those “who’ve had medical service for gender dysphoria” would not be allowed to enlist.

Under the proposed policy, no one may be denied entry into the military or involuntarily discharged based solely on gender identity. However, a diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria, a medical condition requiring long-term treatment, can be disqualifying.

In January, a three-judge federal appeals court unanimously concluded that it was factually incorrect to describe the proposed policy as a blanket ban on service by transgender persons.

Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, Spokesman for Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan

The then-President announced the transgender ban on Twitter in July 2017.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study found that transgender people serving in the military would have a minimal impact on readiness.

Read more: Pentagon Set to Block Some Transgender People from Joining the Military (Military.com), 08 March 2019

On This Day in 2019, Federal Judge Lifts Order Against Trans Military Ban

Two years ago today, a Maryland federal judge issued a six-page decision lifting an order against the previous administration’s ban on transgender military service. This was the 3rd order lifted since January 2019 when the Supreme Court lifted two other orders issued by judges in the Ninth Circuit. One other order remained in place effectively keeping openly transgender service in place for the time being.

Read more: Judge lifts order against Trump’s transgender military ban (Washington Blade), 07 March 2019

Today is #ZeroDiscriminationDay: Take Action to #EndInequalities

March 1st is Zero Discrimination Day. First celebrated by the United Nations on March 1, 2014, the UN’s HIV/AIDS program UNAIDS launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013.

The aim of Zero Discrimination Day is to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all the member countries of the UN. UNAIDS has this to say about Zero Discrimination Day:

On Zero Discrimination Day, 1 March, we celebrate the right of everyone to live a full and productive life—and live it with dignity. Zero Discrimination Day highlights how people can become informed about and promote inclusion, compassion, peace and, above all, a movement for change. Zero Discrimination Day is helping to create a global movement of solidarity to end all forms of discrimination.

Every year, Zero Discrimination Day has a focus. In 2020, UNAIDS challenged the discrimination faced by women and girls in all their diversity and raised awareness and mobilized action to promote equality and empowerment for women and girls. The year before saw UNAIDS urging action to change discriminatory laws in order to restore dignity and respect and save lives.

In 2021, UNAIDS is focused on “highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world.”

Below is more information on Zero Discrimination Day 2021:

On Zero Discrimination Day this year, UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world.

Inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development. And COVID-19 is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest—even as new vaccines against COVID-19 are becoming available, there is great inequality in accessing them. Many have equated this to vaccine apartheid.

Confronting inequalities and ending discrimination is critical to ending AIDS. The world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030 not because of a lack of knowledge, capability or means to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions in HIV prevention and treatment. For example, recent research shows that gay men and other men who have sex with men are twice as likely to acquire HIV if they live in a country with punitive approaches to sexual orientation than if they live in a country with supportive legislation.

Tackling inequality is not a new commitment—in 2015, all countries pledged to reduce inequality within and between countries as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. But it is not yet one that the world has delivered on. As well as being core to ending AIDS, tackling inequality will also advance the human rights of people who are living with HIV, make societies better prepared to beat COVID-19 and other pandemics and support economic recovery and stability. Fulfilling the promise to tackle inequality will save millions of lives and benefit society as a whole. To do this, we must confront discrimination in all its forms.

But to achieve dignity for all, political, economic and social policies need to protect the rights of everyone and pay attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

Ending inequality requires transformative change. Greater efforts are needed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and there is a need to invest more in health, education, social protection and decent jobs.

Governments must promote inclusive social and economic growth. They must eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices in order to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities.

But we can all play our part by calling out discrimination where we see it, by setting an example or by advocating to change the law. We all have a role to play in ending discrimination and so reducing inequalities.

We cannot achieve sustainable development and make the planet better for all if people are excluded from the chance of a better life. In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Global inequality affects us all, no matter who we are or where we are from.

This Zero Discrimination Day join us in raising awareness about the inequalities that prevent people from living a full and productive life and demanding that governments fulfil their commitments and obligations to end all forms of discrimination.

March 2021 Observances

Do you ever wonder how organizations, businesses, and individuals know when a certain observance or awareness month, week, or day is? If so, below is a tailored list of observances for the month of March 2021 specifically for military, Veterans, and LGBTQ+ folx. We may issue graphics for some of the events listed below. For those that are not illustrated, there are links below to find out more information.

History

  • March 2, 1943: The Battle of the Bismarck Sea Begins
  • March 3, 1915: The U.S. Navy Reserve is established
  • March 4, 1789: The 1st Meeting of Congress under the U.S. Constitution occurs in New York City
  • March 5, 1942: The U.S. Navy Seabees are founded
  • March 7, 2019: U.S. District Judge George Russell III lifts order against the Trump Administration’s transgender military ban
  • March 8, 2019: The Pentagon announces enforcement of the transgender military ban
  • March 10, 1778: Lt. Frederick Gotthold Ensign is dismissed for “sodomy”
  • March 13, 2014: The Palm Center reports no compelling medical reason for the transgender military ban
  • March 15, 1919: The American Legion is founded
  • March 15, 1942: U.S. War Department lays out procedures for rejecting gay draftees
  • March 19, 1941: The Tuskegee Airmen are founded
  • March 19, 2003: Operation IRAQI FREEDOM begins
  • March 24, 1999: The Kosovo War begins
  • March 27, 1947: The Truman Doctrine Policy is created
  • March 27, 1981: Doe v. Alexander allows the U.S. military to refine regulations to deny payment for hormonal therapy and reassignment surgeries; those found to be taking therapies or having surgeries were barred from enlisting or discharged from the ranks.
  • March 29, 1994: The Somalia Campaign ends

Monthly

  • Women Veterans History: Throughout our history, the important contributions of women in our nation’s defense and as part of the Veteran population cannot be overstated. The VA dedicates Women’s History Month in March to remember women who served our nation throughout history.  This observance grants deserved recognition and acknowledges the achievements of women in the military.
  • Brain Injury Awareness: The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) leads the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month in March each year. The theme for the 2021 to 2023 campaign is More Than My Brain Injury.
  • Colorectal Cancer Awareness: In February 2000, President Clinton officially dedicated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Since then, it has grown to be a rallying point for the colorectal cancer community where thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates throughout the country join together to spread colorectal cancer awareness by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, talking to friends and family about screening and so much more.
  • Multiple Sclerosis Awareness: March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, and MSAA is proud to support this national campaign with several online educational activities. MSAA has focused the 2021 awareness initiative on Improving Mental Health and Wellness with specific programs addressing Purpose in Life, depression and anxiety in MS, care partnering, and wellness strategies to improve symptom management and overall quality of life.
  • Bleeding Disorders Awareness: March is nationally recognized as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month. Join the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) in celebrating and honoring the bleeding disorders community. In 2016, thanks to NHF’s advocacy efforts, March was officially designated as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness: Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month is observed every March. The public health initiative is intended to educate the public about this serious and often undiagnosed condition and its potentially fatal complication, pulmonary embolism. DVT is caused when a blood clot forms deep in the body. PE occurs when clots above the knee break off, travel through the blood stream and lead to a blocked vessel in the lung. Together, DVT and PE are known as venous thromboembolism.
  • Nutrition: March is the best month of the year, because it’s National Nutrition Month! National Nutrition Month is an annual information and education campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). It was first initiated in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition.
  • Caffeine Awareness: In 2003, the Caffeine Awareness Alliance formed, with the mission “to provide objective, evidence-based information and advice to help reduce the health, social, and economic harm associated with caffeine abuse and addiction.” The Alliance became a 501(c) nonprofit, and staked a big enough claim with their solid points about caffeine overuse to bring National Caffeine Awareness Month into wide recognition.
  • Peanuts: Believed to be first cultivated about 8,000 years ago in Peru, peanuts pack in a lot of goodness – plenty of proteins, healthy carbs, and as many as 30 key nutrients. They are good for your heart as well as your mental health, and there are plenty of ways to use peanuts – George Washington Carver came up with 300! Given their goodness, it makes sense to have an entire month dedicated to them. Here’s to March, the National Peanut Month!

Weekly

Daily

VA Secretary McDonough: The VA Welcomes ALL

Today, newly-confirmed Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Denis McDonough issued a message laying out the department’s stance on being a welcoming place for all Veterans, families, caregivers and survivor beneficiaries and employees. Read below:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) welcomes all Veteran, family, caregiver and survivor beneficiaries and employees, inclusive of diverse gender identities and sexual orientation. VA is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and equitable environment for all the Veterans we serve and the workforce that makes it possible for us to accomplish our mission.

Pursuant to President Biden’s recently signed Executive Orders (Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform, signed on January 25, 2021, and Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, signed on January 20, 2021), I will be issuing a memo to all Administrations and Staff Offices to:

Conduct a policy review to determine whether any regulations, directives, policies and procedures require revision to promote equity for and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Veterans, families, caregivers, survivors or employees. Design and implement a remediation plan if the review identifies discriminatory policies towards LGBT beneficiaries and employees.

Perform an assessment of the necessary steps to eliminate the exclusion of “gender alteration” (gender affirmation surgery) in the medical benefits package to include assessment of statutory and regulatory requirements as well as funding, staffing, technology and other resources required to provide all medically necessary services.

Develop means to measure the experience of LGBT beneficiaries and employees and to include their perspectives in the development of future guidance, and identify and address any barriers that LGBT beneficiaries and employees may face in accessing the full range of VA care, benefits and services.

Develop a plan to ensure that employees are trained on inclusive, respectful and welcoming interaction with LGBT beneficiaries, and implement an enterprise plan to enhance data and information systems with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity, such that beneficiaries and employees may independently and securely self-identify and be addressed by their preferred name and pronouns.

Information regarding LGBT-specific care that VA currently provides can be found at the following link: https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/#:~:text=Veterans%20may%20have%20other%20ways%20of%20describing%20themselves,,who%20identify%20as%20a%20sexual%20or%20gender%20minority.

Every person at VA, whether a customer or member of our workforce team, should be treated with respect and dignity. Our success as a team—our ability to deliver world-class care for our Veterans—depends on our respect for our fellow VA employees and the Veterans we serve is critical to everything we do.

Denis McDonough

On This Day: 05 February

2014

DoD Directive Containing Provisions for Homosexual Conduct Implemented; DADT is Officially Live

Following the process of developing, debating, and enacting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in 2013, an updated DODD 1304.26, Qualification Standards for Enlistment, Appointment, and Induction, is implemented. In it there is a section titled, “Provision Related to Homosexual Conduct.” Below is the full text of the provisional section:

8. Provision Related to Homosexual Conduct

a. Sexual orientation is considered a personal and private matter, and homosexual orientation is not a bar to service entry or continued service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. Applicants for enlistment, appointment, or induction shall not be asked or required to reveal their sexual orientation. Applicants also will not be asked or required to reveal whether they have engaged in homosexual conduct, unless independent evidence is received indicating that an applicant engaged in such conduct or unless the applicant volunteers a statement that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect. Applicants will be informed of separation policy. (Section 654 of reference (a)).

b. Homosexual conduct may be grounds for barring entry into the Armed Forces. Homosexual conduct is a homosexual act, a statement by the applicant that demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts, or a homosexual marriage or attempted marriage. Propensity to engage in acts means more than an abstract preference or desire to engage in homosexual acts; it indicates a likelihood that a Person engages in or will engage in homosexual acts.

(1) An applicant shall be rejected for entry into the Armed Forces if, in the course of the accession process, evidence is received demonstrating that the applicant engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts, unless there is a further determination that:

(a) Such acts are a departure from the applicant’s usual and customary behavior;

(b) Such acts, under all the circumstances, are unlikely to recur;

(c) Such acts are not accomplished by use of force, coercion, or intimidation, and;

(d) The applicant does not have a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.

Such a determination will be made in the course of the normal
accession process. A homosexual act means (i) any bodily contact,
actively undertaken or passively permitted, between members of the
same sex for the purpose of satisfying sexual desires, and (ii)
any bodily contact that a reasonable person would understand to
demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in an act described
in subparagraph (i).

(2) An applicant shall be rejected for entry if he or she makes a statement that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words effect, unless there is a further determination that the applicant has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts. Such a determination will be made in the course of the normal accession process.

(3) An applicant shall be rejected for entry if, in the course of the accession process, evidence is received demonstrating that an applicant has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex (as evidenced by the external anatomy of the persons involved).

c. Nothing in these procedures requires rejection for entry into the Armed Forces when the relevant Military Service Command authority determines:

(1) That an applicant or inductee made a statement, engaged in acts, or married or attempted to marry a person of the same sex for the purpose of avoiding military service, and

(2) Rejection of the applicant or inductee would not be in the best interest of the Armed Forces.

On This Day: 29 January | President Clinton Holds Conference on Gays in the Military

1993

President Bill Clinton Holds Press Conference on Lifting the Ban on Homosexuals Serving in the Military

Transcript

The President: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m sorry, we had a last-minute delay occasioned by another issue, not this one.
The debate over whether to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military has, to put it mildly, sparked a great deal of interest over the last few days. Today, as you know, I have reached an agreement, at least with Senator Nunn and Senator Mitchell, about how we will proceed in the next few days. But first I would like to explain what I believe about this issue and why, and what I have decided to do after a long conversation, and a very good one, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and discussions with several Members of Congress.

“The issue is not whether there should be homosexuals in the military. Everyone concedes that there are. The issue is whether men and women who can and have served with real distinction should be excluded from military service solely on the basis of their status. And I believe they should not.

“The principle on which I base this position is this: I believe that American citizens who want to serve their country should be able to do so unless their conduct disqualifies them from doing so. Military life is fundamentally different from civilian society; it necessarily has a different and stricter code of conduct, even a different code of justice. Nonetheless, individuals who are prepared to accept all necessary restrictions on their behavior, many of which would be intolerable in civilian society, should be able to serve their country honorably and we
I have asked the Secretary of Defense to submit by July the 15th a draft Executive order, after full consultation with military and congressional leaders and concerned individuals outside of the Government, which would end the present policy of the exclusion from military service solely on the basis of sexual orientation and at the same time establish rigorous standards regarding sexual conduct to be applied to all military personnel.

“This draft order will be accompanied by a study conducted during the next 6 months on the real, practical problems that would be involved in this revision of policy, so that we will have a practical, realistic approach consistent with the high standards of combat effectiveness and unit cohesion that our armed services must maintain. I agree with the Joint Chiefs that the highest standards of conduct must be required.
The change cannot and should not be accomplished overnight. It does require extensive consultation with the Joint Chiefs, experts in the Congress and in the legal community, joined by my administration and others. We’ve consulted closely to date and will do so in the future. During that process, interim measures will be placed into effect which, I hope, again, sharpen the focus of this debate. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have agreed to remove the question regarding one’s sexual orientation from future versions of the enlistment application, and it will not be asked in the interim.

“We also all agree that a very high standard of conduct can and must be applied. So the single area of disagreement is this: Should someone be able to serve their country in uniform if they say they are homosexuals, but they do nothing which violates the code of conduct or undermines unit cohesion or morale, apart from that statement? That is what all the furor of the last few days has been about. And the practical and not insignificant issues raised by that issue are what will be studied in the next 6 months.

“Through this period ending July 15th, the Department of Justice will seek continuances in pending court cases involving reinstatement. And administrative separation under current Department of Defense policies based on status alone will be stayed pending completion of this review. The final discharge in cases based only on status will be suspended until the President has an opportunity to review and act upon the final recommendations of the Secretary of Defense with respect to the current policy. In the meantime, a member whose discharge has been suspended by the Attorney General will be separated from active duty and placed in standby reserve until the final report of the Secretary of Defense and the final action of the President. This is the agreement that I have reached with Senator Nunn and Senator Mitchell.

“During this review process, I will work with the Congress. And I believe the compromise announced today by the Senators and by me shows that we can work together to end the gridlock that has plagued our city for too long.

“This compromise is not everything I would have hoped for or everything that I have stood for, but it is plainly a substantial step in the right direction. And it will allow us to move forward on other terribly important issues affecting far more Americans.

“My administration came to this city with a mission to bring critical issues of reform and renewal and economic revitalization to the public debate, issues that are central to the lives of all Americans. We are working on an economic reform agenda that will begin with an address to the joint session of Congress on February 17th. In the coming months the White House Task Force on Health Care, chaired by the First Lady, will complete work on a comprehensive health care reform proposal to be submitted to Congress within 100 days of the commencement of this administration. We will be designing a system of national service to begin a season of service in which our Nation’s unmet needs are addressed and we provide more young people the opportunity to go to college. We will be proposing comprehensive welfare reform legislation and other important initiatives.

“I applaud the work that has been done in the last 2 or 3 days by Senator Nunn, Senator Mitchell, and others to enable us to move forward on a principle that is important to me without shutting the Government down and running the risk of not even addressing the family and medical leave issue, which is so important to America’s families, before Congress goes into its recess. I am looking forward to getting on with this issue over the next 6 months and with these other issues which were so central to the campaign and, far more importantly, are so important to the lives of all the American people.”

Q. “Mr. President, yesterday a Federal court in California said that the military ban on homosexuals was unconstitutional. Will you direct the Navy and the Justice Department not to appeal that decision? And how does that ruling strengthen your hand in this case?”

The President. “Well, it makes one point. I think it strengthens my hand, if you will, in two ways. One, I agree with the principle embodied in the case. I have not read the opinion, but as I understand it, the opinion draws the distinction that I seek to draw between conduct and status. And secondly, it makes the practical point I have been making all along, which is that there is not insignificant chance that this matter would ultimately be resolved in the courts in a way that would open admission into the military without the opportunity to deal with this whole range of practical issues, which everyone who has ever thought about it or talked it through concedes are there. So I think it can—it strengthens my hand on the principle as well as on the process.”

Q. “Mr. President, there’s a glass of water there, by the way, while I ask the question. Do you think, since you promised during the campaign—your literature put out a very clear statement: lift the ban on homosexuals in the military immediately—do you think you didn’t think through these practical problems? What have you learned from this experience in dealing with powerful members of the Senate and the Joint Chiefs? And how much of a problem is this for you to accept a compromise which doesn’t meet your real goals?”

The President. “Well, I haven’t given up on my real goals. I think this is a dramatic step forward. Normally, in the history of civil rights advancements, Presidents have not necessarily been in the forefront in the beginning. So I think the fact that we actually have the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreeing that it’s time to take this question off the enlistment form, that there ought to be a serious examination of how this would be done, even though they haven’t agreed that it should be done; that the Senate, if they vote for the motion advocated by Senators Nunn and Mitchell, will agree; Senators who don’t agree that the policy should be changed are agreeing that we ought to have a chance to work through this for 6 months and persuade them of that, I think, is very, very significant.
Now, I would remind you that any President’s Executive order can be overturned by an act of Congress. The President can then veto the act of Congress and try to have his veto sustained if the act stands on its own as a simple issue that could always be vetoed. But I always knew that there was a chance that Congress would disagree with my position. I can only tell you that I still think I’m right; I feel comfortable about the way we have done this; and I’m going to maintain the commitment that I have.”

Q. “But do you think that you hadn’t examined the practical problems—”

Q. “Sir, I just wonder, do you think in retrospect that—obviously, you didn’t intend the first week—I’m sorry, you want to—”

The President. “No, I had always planned to allow some period of time during which policies would be developed to deal with what I think are the significant practical problems. This, in effect, may reverse the process over what I intended to do, but there has to be a time in which these issues, these practical issues are developed and policies are developed to deal with them.”

Q. “Obviously, you didn’t intend the first week of your administration, given your promise to have the laser focus on the economy, to be seen around the country as military gay rights week. I wonder if in retrospect you think you could have done things differently to have avoided that happening?”

The President. “I don’t know how I could have done that. The Joint Chiefs asked for a meeting about a number of issues, in which this was only one. We spent a lot of time talking about other things. This issue was not put forward in this context by me; it was put forward by those in the United States Senate who sought to make it an issue early on. And I don’t know how I could have stopped them from doing that.”

Q. “You don’t think that in making the promise and then in promising to follow through on it early that you might have given rise to this, do you, sir?”

The President. “Well, I think it was pretty clear to me that we were talking about some sort of 6-month process days and days ago. And the people who wanted it debated now were not deterred by that, and probably a lot of them won’t be deterred by the agreement announced today. I think that we must—they have the perfect right to do this. But the timing of this whole issue was clearly forced by the people in the Senate who were opposed to any change of the policy no matter what the facts are. And I think that was their right to do, but they control the timing of this, not me.”

Q. “Two questions. First of all, just to make sure that we’re clear on this: July 15th this happens, period, regardless of what comes out at these hearings, is that correct? The ban will be issued, or will be lifted, rather?”

The President. “That is my position. My position is that I still embrace the principle, and I think it should be done. The position of those who are opposed to me is that they think that the problems will be so overwhelming everybody with good sense will change their position. I don’t expect to do that.”

Q. “So you definitely expect to do it. And secondly—”

The President. “I don’t expect to change my position, no.”

Q. “What do you think is going to happen in the military? There have been all sorts of dire predictions of violence, of mass comings out, whatever. What do you think the impact of this is going to be, practically?”

The President. “For one thing, I think if you look at the last 10 years of experience here, according to the reports we have, this country spent $500 million in tax dollars to separate something under 16,500 homosexuals from the service and has dealt with complaints, at least, of sexual abuse, heterosexual abuse, largely against women, far greater volumes. But during this period, we have plainly had the best educated, best trained, most cohesive military force in the history of the United States. And everybody, ask anybody, and the Joint Chiefs will tell you that.

“They agreed that we should stop asking the question. This single thing that is dividing people on this debate, I want to make it very clear that this is a very narrow issue. It is whether a person, in the absence of any other disqualifying conduct, can simply say that he or she is homosexual and stay in the service. I do not expect that to spark this kind of problem. And I certainly think in the next 6 months, as people start to work it through and talk it through, a lot of legitimate, practical issues will be raised and dealt with in a more rational environment that is less charged. That is certainly what I hope will happen. Thank you.”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑