Posts tagged Federal Law

New Policy regarding Gender Change for Passports

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The State Department announced yesterday that it would be changing a long-standing policy that controlled how transgender or transsexual individuals changed the gender marker on their passports. The old policy required that such individuals have surgery before they could change the gender marker.

According to the press release on the policy, surgery will no longer be required. The new policy requires that an attending medical physician certify that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” However, regulations regarding exactly what appropriate clinical treatment may be required under the new policy have not yet been disseminated.

The policy does not allow passport officials to ask for additional medical information other than the certification.

Updated: 2:30 P.M. The guidelines are available here.

The medical certification permits a psychiatrist, internist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, or urologist to give certification. The certification must include the physician’s full name, their medical license or certificate number, the issuing state or other jurisdiction of their medical license, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number assigned to the physician, the address and telephone number of the physician, and must contain the following language:

(1) Language stating that he/she is the attending physician for the applicant and that he/she has a doctor/patient relationship with the applicant;

(2) Language stating the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (male or female);

(3) Language stating “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct”: and

(4) Annotate the application “gender transition” to record the reason for issuing the full validity passport in the new gender.

Presidential Memo Extending some Benefits to Same-Sex Partners

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On Tuesday, June 2, President Obama signed an Executive Memorandum that extended some health benefits to family members of federal employees involved in same-sex relationships. The effect of this memorandum is to give some benefits that are currently given to married partners of federal employees to domestic partners of federal employees.

The practical effect on you, if you are an employee of the federal government and if you and your same-sex partner are domestic partners, includes the following:

Your children may be able to get the same subsidies for child care as your counterparts with opposite sex spouses.

Your partner may be able to get some benefits that are given to family members under employee assistance programs.

Your domestic partner may qualify for portions of your federal retirement annuity if you provide for them to do so.

Your domestic partner may qualify for evacuation, relocation, travel, or other payments, under certain circumstances.

You can now take some time under the Family Medical Leave Act for the needs of your domestic partner.

Your partner may be entitled to other payments or assistance under federal law where such assistance is given to partners of married employees.

Despite these benefits extended for domestic partners of federal employees, the memorandum does not extend health coverage or other benefits that are currently given to married partners. The President indicates that legislative action is needed in the future to provide more benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.

Advance Health Care Directives and the LGBTQIA Community

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Usually it takes a series of noteworthy occurrences to call our attention to things we may take for granted.  Perhaps this is because of the seeming recent advances in LGBT rights (or lack thereof, as the case may be).  Within the last week we, as a community, have been reminded of the necessity of advance health care directives.  An advance health care directive, sometimes called a health care proxy or medical power of attorney, is a document that every individual should have. 

 The purpose of an advance health care directive is, in part, to name your agent for health care issues and decisions.  Next of kin sometimes try to interfere with the designated wishes of their family members.  By creating an advance health care directive, you can ensure as best able that your family follows your health care wishes.

The President’s recent memorandum requests that rulemaking be initiated, to ensure that hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid comply with federal regulations, and that additional recommendations by the Department of Health and Human Services on these issues be provided to the President within 180 days of April 15, 2010.  While the underlying issues and stories address and acknowledge the issues of couples and chosen, non-blood related, family within the community after the aftermath of the tragic separation of Clay and Harold, the memorandum does not create any right or new law that protects the community and its members.  Despite this recent action, every individual should take steps to protect themselves by taking the time to create an advance health care directive. 

In Maine, the standard advance health care directive form published by the State of Maine incorporates elements that allow you to designate your health care agents, your end of life sustaining treatment, funeral or burial wishes, a DNR (short for “Do Not Resuscitate”), and a section for other requests.  These sections all provide places for you to designate your wishes for someone to act on your behalf.  You can specify individuals you do not wish to be consulted about your health care decisions.  You can also specify what you want your agent to do on your behalf.  You can use a directive to designate visitation for the family that you have chosen in life, not just to your near and dear blood relatives.  In addition, if you are transgender, you can request that your family or agent and medical providers use appropriate gender pronouns and that they provide continuing hormone or other medical treatment.

In short, an advance directive gives the individual power to say what he or she wants for treatment and who he or she wants to be able to make those decisions, if they become incapacitated.  This crucial document is worth the time and thought to not only create, but to discuss with your family, loved ones, and medical providers.

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