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15 Systematic Policies and Legal Rules That SRLP Helped Change

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It’s been almost 15 years since SRLP was founded as a multi-racial, trans-led collective organization working for economic, racial, and gender justice. You might not know that over the last 15 years SRLP has worked to win the following important victories:

  1. Morrill v. Morrill, establishing a transgender parent’s right to visit her children.
  2. Doe v. Bell, establishing that transgender youth in foster care in New York State cannot be forced to wear clothing associated with their birth gender.
  3. In re Guido, establishing that evidence of genital surgery and divorce cannot be required of a transgender name change applicant in order to be granted a name change.
  4. In re Golden, establishing that transgender people may not be denied a name change on the basis that it could lead to “confusion”.
  5. In re Powell, establishing that the Court’s authority to review a name change application is limited and a person’s incarceration or criminal convictions are not grounds for a denial.
  6. Rodriguez v. Johnson, providing a money settlement for our client and ongoing obligations on the part of the Office of Children and Family Services, the agency that had cut our client off hormones, placed her in boys’ detention facilities, and disciplined her for expressions of femininity.
  7. Office of Children and Family Services policy and guidelines, the result of continued negotiations and coalition work following Rodriguez v. Johnson, establishing that OCFS and contract agencies may not discriminate against youth on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and, for the first time, allowing youth to go by a preferred name, to choose to wear “male” or “female” undergarments, and to be free from discipline for not meeting gender stereotypes.
  8. Board of Corrections – Minimum Standards for New York City Jails on Visitation. Due to broad coalitional work, SRLP contributed to regulations adopted in 2015 which insured that the NYC jails did not limit visitation to biological or legally recognized nuclear “families” but understood that many individuals rely on found family, social service organizers, and many other people not traditionally recognized.
  9. Board of Corrections – Minimum Standards for New York City Jails on Prison Rape Elimination Act(PREA). Due to broad coalitional work, including the leadership of formerly incarcerated members and clients, SRLP has been working since 2015 to ensure that New York City adopts a meaningfully heightened version of the federal PREA law that accounts for the identities and needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people.
  10. Department of Homeless Services policy, the result of years of policy work to make New York City’s homeless shelter system safe for transgender people, stating: “Trans people will be placed in shelters according to gender identity, not birth sex, appearance, or identity documents” and “Trans people will not be forced to wear clothes that doesn’t comply with their gender identities.”
  11. Administration of Children’s Services policy, prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender foster youth.
  12. Published the groundbreaking “It’s War in Here” on the realities that trans women face in men’s prisons in New York State. This report has been cited in cases such as Manning v. Griffin (2016 WL 1274588).
  13. Provided trainings to New York State court clerks, Judges, court officers, and other staff on respectfully working with transgender litigants. This work has been cited in decisions such as Wilson v. Phoenix House which set the groundbreaking precedent that New York State and City’s Human Rights Laws are violated when drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs deny  transgender individuals the right to be housed or participate in programs according to their gender identities.
  14. Participated in the creation and training of staff for the Transgender Housing Unit. SRLP’s incarcerated and formerly incarcerated members repeatedly informed SRLP staff that a voluntary unit for transgender and gender non-conforming women and feminine people was essential to cultural accountability, mental health, and overall safety within the NYC jail system. Over the course of many years SRLP worked to create a unit within the Department of Corrections that addressed these concerns. While our overall goal is to not see anyone inside a prison or jail, we have overwhelmingly heard from the people who are able to get into the THU that they feel safer being housed with community and it is easier to hold DOC staff accountable for unacceptable behavior. In partnership with NYLAG, SRLP continues to teach classes within the unit twice a month.
  15. Fighting for acceptable standards of healthcare for incarcerated people in NYS custody. SRLP has worked for over a decade on increasing the right to access life-saving medical care for transgender and gender non-conforming people in NYS prisons. In the past decade, SRLP won a modification to the governing directive (HSPM 1.31) allowing individuals who were not getting hormones through a qualified doctor’s office prior to incarceration to have a path to either continuing hormones under a doctor’s supervision or receive hormones for the first time. We continue to work on expanding this policy until it reflects the evolving standards of care and community healthcare standards for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
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