Easily the standout performer in Orange Is the New Black’s second season is Lorraine Toussaint, a 25-year film and TV veteran who finally seems to be coming into her own as a name to watch. We’ve all been watching, of course, but now’s a great time to put a finger on where we know her from.
Transgender state employees in Maryland can now access transition-related healthcare under their state-provided insurance.
The decision comes after 31-year-old Sailor Holobaugh sued the state when he was denied reimbursement for a mastectomy he got as part of his transition. Maryland is only the third state after Oregon and California to extend these rights to trans state employees.
"It’s a pretty sweeping change," said Jer Welter, managing attorney at Free State Legal. "It is going from care for gender transition being completely, categorically excluded in all of the plans, to being fully covered under all of the plans."
Welter said a 2007 executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley banning discrimination against transgender state employees set a clear precedent under which to challenge the health insurance carve out, and that officials at the state were more than willing to work with him to change the policy when they heard about Holobaugh’s case.
Woohoo! Way to go, Maryland! (For real, only three states do this?!)
GLSEN strongly believes that change should come from the community who is most impacted by an issue. The Transgender Student Rights advisory committee is one way students who are experiencing the issues around gender identity and gender expression can create change first hand, in their schools. The 2013-2014 advisory committee recently chose their successors, and we’re excited to work with the new members throughout the next year as they advise our work and programming around trans issues in schools. The committee consists of ten bright and strong leaders who bring diverse perspectives and experiences around the issues facing trans and gender nonconforming students around the country. Without further adieu, we’d like to introduce you to some of the members of our 2014-2015 Transgender Student Rights advisory committee!
Be sure to follow Transgender Student Rights on Facebook, Tumblr, and/or Twitter to stay connected with the latest news, tools, and resources for creating safe schools for trans and gender nonconforming youth.
Colleen Simon was fired from her job at the St. Francis Xavier Church food pantry because she’s gay. Now she’s filing suit against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Roman Catholic diocese and its bishop, saying that she had been told upon getting hired that her being a lesbian “would be no problem.”
Simon took the job of director of social ministries last year, at which time she informed priests outright that she was gay. This May, though, a local publication mentioned that she was married to a woman, and she was fired on the spot. She’s seeking unpaid wages and fringe benefits, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney fees.
“While I feel betrayed by the unjust action of the diocese, it is still my greatest desire to return to my position and to serve the parishioners and those at the margins in the surrounding community,” Simon said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. She said she believes the church hired her under false pretenses; if priests had told her that her sexual orientation would be an issue, she would not have taken the job. She added that as a cancer survivor, she is in grave need of health insurance.
The diocese declined comment on the specifics of the suit, but issued a statement saying, “As needed, we will defend our constitutional freedom to practice our faith and uphold the integrity of our mission and public witness.”
Upholding your “constitutional freedom” to spread bigotry and intolerance is a greater priority than respecting a member of your congregation who dedicates her life to helping the underserved. Riiight.