Mr. President, What Will Be Your Civil Rights Legacy?

This was originally posted on The Huffington Post

Watching President Obama take the Oath of Office four years ago was a historic moment I will never forget.  I remember meeting him when he was an Illinois state senator, lobbying him when he was a U.S. Senator and meeting with him at the White House a week after the November 2012 elections. He is one of the most astute and charismatic leaders that I have met during my 30+ year career, and the fact that he, too, is African American makes me proud.

One week from now, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the President will take the Oath of Office again, and deliver an Inaugural Address that we hope both inspires Americans and addresses substantive and pressing issues his administration must focus on in his second term.

On the minds of many Americans as they watch the address will be not only economic issues, but also a full range of domestic civil rights and civil liberties issues that will be deliberated on in the next four years by Congress, the Supreme Court, and state legislatures—namely gun violence prevention, immigration, and voting.

Gun Violence Prevention

There’s a strong possibility that Vice President Joe Biden’s task force will recommend federal funding of police officers at schools nationwide on Tuesday. As a mother, I’m especially attuned to the need to protect children from gun violence, but scaling up the presence of police officers in schools will have unintended negative consequences.  For example, in New York City, 5,000 “school safety agents” and 200 uniformed officers patrol inside public schools. Last school year, the NYPD arrested or ticketed more than 11 students each day, and more than 95 percent of arrests were of black or Latino students. Police data suggests that relatively few of these incidents involved actual criminal behavior.

As the New York City example indicates, cops in schools often work without guidelines and proper training. As a result, many school police end up dealing with relatively minor misbehaviors, like drawing on desks or outbursts in the classroom, as if they were crimes. When law enforcement is involved, infractions that ought to be handled by school administrators as disciplinary matters soon become “disorderly conduct” charges. The results can be devastating, particularly for students of color and those with disabilities, who continue to be pushed out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems—a national trend known as the school-to-prison pipeline.


America is proudly a nation of immigrants. Federal action on immigration reform must honor this noble history and create a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens, who should no longer fear separation from loved ones and the lives they have built here by contributing to our communities. Reform must also recognize that the Constitution protects immigrants, with due process cornerstones like access to counsel and judicial review as well as through its prohibition of racial profiling.

Every day, thousands of immigrants who pose no flight risk or danger are being unnecessarily detained for prolonged periods of time, at an annual cost of $2 billion. Tens of thousands of unauthorized border crossers presenting no public safety threat are sent to overcrowded and substandard federal prisons every year through the expensive Operation Streamline program, which funnels taxpayer dollars into private prison company coffers. This is unnecessary, absurdly expensive, and offends our values when, for the first time in history last year, Latinos constituted more than half of those sent to federal prison. A report issued last week by the Migration Policy Institute found that the U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined – a shocking fact. Legalization of aspiring citizens with a reasonable, humane roadmap to citizenship will help restore proportionality and fairness to the immigration system after 1.5 million deportations over the last four years (including more than 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children in the last two).


America’s voting system needs repair. Many who voted in the November 2012 election faced barriers casting their ballots. Voters fought through suppression tactics, misinformation, and long lines—conditions which disproportionately affected people of color. Now is time for Congress to take action and implement new reforms to help remove these and other barriers to voting. We need uniform federal election standards that would help stop voter suppression efforts and eliminate voter-access problems arising from the election administration process. The need for voting reform is overwhelmingly supported by the public.  According to a study by the MacArthur Foundation, nearly 90 percent of voters support the creation of national election standards.

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a key civil rights law provision that must be upheld in order to protect minorities’ constitutional access to the ballot box. According to a congressional report, without Section 5, "racial and language minority citizens will be deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, or will have their votes diluted, undermining the significant gains made by minorities in the last 40 years." I could not agree more.

America has made incredible strides expanding civil rights and liberties to those once denied them. President Obama knows this better than most. By getting these policies right, he will ensure a stronger, safer, and freer United States for generations to come. While the election of Barack Obama is an indication of the racial progress of which I am so proud, what will be even more important are the policies that will last far beyond his tenure in office.

Click here for a list of ACLU’s 10 ten things the Obama Administration needs to achieve in the first 100 days of its second term in order to earn the label of the “civil liberties presidency.”

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During the nine months after transitioning, the excellent above par, Superior comments disappeared; replaced by not being a team member, not willing to work with anyone, to even not being invited to meetings I was once a part of. I should note this was not for all of the personnel, for there were a great deal of coworkers whom were supportive, and others who saw the courage it took to do this and my behavior, values and ethics, worked to change their attitude and not only accept me, but call me their friend. For them I am eternally thankful.
The next instance seemed to be being set up for failure by the group supervisor, and the upper management. As I had done in years prior I lead Quality driven events at Contractor locations to ensure quality items, only to have them take at least 2 personnel from each away trip for at least a day for their own agenda, and informed no one, or usurped the lead position to tell me I was there to support the Contractors in our office, and that was my job, instead of coordinating and leading the effort.
Other items included the team I worked on having off-site meeting where I was not invited and not only did the supervisor condone harassment, derogatory remarks, and find even the smallest thing to bring to management for complaints, he not only encouraged it he initiated, and took part in it, both with his team and with one of the Prime businesses that we had contracted to work with to support our troops. This resulted in snide remarks, snickers, and hostility which resulted in my removal from that office ten months after transitioning there.
Upon my return to the Agency I came from, I was given little or no tasking, and things I had done unsupervised or as a lead were no longer a lead, but a menial series of tasks, that either no one wanted to do, did not have time to do, or did not want to do. All tasks I performed were done under supervision, met with extreme criticism, review of efforts, and no support, with greater allowances and excuses for those whom chose not to respond until past the deadline. Reviews of completed work often came weeks or months after the completion of the task and always seemed to have to be redone, when they same formats and data of the reports had received comments like innovative, excellent work, or superior technical analysis.

I have seen where the Department of Labor and EEOC states there is no discrimination based upon gender identity but there is no regulation or Code of Federal Regulation to back that up. There are several executive orders and court cases, as well as the Office of Personnel Management; there is little of no specific training on LGBT, unless you wish to count the umbrella term “Diversity”, no training clearly spells this out. Take this coupled with the statement on USA Jobs, there is a gap the size of the Marianas trench on actual policy, which leads a great deal of discriminatory practices, it is no wonder the employees can do or say what they want.
There have been no changes to the health insurance, they still discriminate, on surgery, hormones, and counseling, they say they will provide you with a “CARRY” letter that the insurance co must accept required testing if that part of your other gender is present, and treat you as your new gender. It does not work, they have refused to pay for many visits and tests, stating that is because I am transgender. Other circumstances can only compare the mindset pre civil rights or women’s suffrage, to utilize as a comparison.
Even the Lawyer representing the Agency referred to me as he, she, it, madam, Miss, Sir, Mister, even stating well have you had the final surgery. She even on record stated this was her first case like this, she had no prior experience, and no guidance since I was the first transgendered person she had ever met or had to work on the complaint with.

The impact to me has been devastating professionally, but I am a strong person and look for the blessings each day of being on this journey.

The Employment Equal Opportunity office investigation against the harassment and hostile work environment have no results over a year and a half after the incident occurred, and the Federal EEOC investigation against the Business contracted to perform work, and does have a non-discrimination policy for LGBT, and even the Office of Special Council for the federal government have yet to resolve any portion(s) of the complaints, all is still on-going, and the EEO is now approaching 300 days and there is no word on the status, there has been a fact finding, there has not been any other guidance, and the Investigator in the Fact Finding allowed his bigoted prejudicial item to be shown , and even after asking questions to the management, and managements witnesses limited, restricted and censored the same comments from the witness we provided.


What about the fact the Commission on civil rights addressed congress last week regarding the issue of rape and sexual assault in the military. Will all the victims finally get their justice?!

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