Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • Why Conversion Therapy Hurts All of Us

    This afternoon, Amanda Simpson -- Executive Director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, and the first openly transgender woman Presidential appointee ever -- sent the following message to the White House email list. Her message explains why "conversion therapy" is so harmful to all of us, and why it was important for the White House to stand up against the practice.

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    Across the country, there are doctors working to convince people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. It's known as "conversion therapy," but it could also be called brainwashing, or reprogramming.

    Loving and compassionate parents and ministers who are trying to do the right thing are doing just the opposite. They are influenced by bad science, not grounded in fact. This so-called "conversion therapy" is harmful.

    A couple of days ago, the White House came out in support of efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy. And as a transgender woman, this is especially personal to me.

    No one should be forced to be someone they're not. Everyone should be valued for their authentic, true self -- who they are -- regardless of the gender with which they identify, or who they love.

    I recently talked with a few other people in the Administration about why conversion therapy is so dangerous, and why it was so important for the White House to take a strong stance against the practice.

    Here's what we have to say:

    Watch on YouTube

  • Join a Tumblr Q&A on Issues Facing the LGBT Community

    Tumblr Q&A Header_April 2015

    Ed. Note: The live Q&A has concluded. You can check out the full conversation below:

    Last week, the Obama administration took important steps toward LGBT equality and fairness. President Obama's Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination went into effect -- protecting about 1.5 million Americans from discrimination based on who they are or who they love. The White House also responded to a petition signed by more than 120,000 Americans about banning the practice known as conversion therapy: President Obama agreed. 

    To continue the conversation about last week's actions and the Administration's commitment to LGBT equality, we hosted a Tumblr Q&A on Friday with:

    Here's the full conversation:

    Hello All!! Welcome to our tumblr q and a. Excited to be here to answer your questions. Ask away.

    Welcome to the Tumblr Q&A With Valerie Jarrett_April 2015


  • Recognizing the Unique Challenges of Transgender Women of Color

    During Women’s History Month, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls have honored the achievements of women across the country and throughout history, while continuing the conversations about the challenges women across the nation still face. On March 31 -- National Transgender Day of Visibility -- I had the honor of speaking with leaders of the transgender women of color community during the White House’s first-ever discussion solely focused on the challenges this community faces.

    Community organizers, non-profit leaders, and policy advocates from all over the country shared their stories and spoke about the issues that uniquely affect transgender women of color. We heard from panelists on issues ranging from employment and economic opportunity, to family and intimate partner violence, to access to health care. These frank conversations helped to shine a light on the work left to be done, and possible community and government solutions.

  • Another Step Toward Equality for LGBT Workers

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog here.

    We're also holding a special Tumblr Q&A on Friday about the steps the President has taken to expand opportunity for the LGBT community. Ask your questions on the White House Tumblr, and officials from across the Administration will answer some of them throughout the day on Friday.

    Today, President Obama’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination goes into effect. It prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.

    As I said when the Executive Order was announced, this is a civil rights victory consistent with our founding principles. It will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people. It advances the principle that we should be leaving no one on the sidelines, that America is strongest when it fields a full team.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to EO 11478

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • LGBT Health Awareness Week: The Affordable Care Act Is Working for You

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' blog. See the original post here.

    Every day here at HHS, we work hard to ensure that all Americans have the building blocks to lead healthy and productive lives. That is especially important for groups that have unique health needs or have traditionally been underserved, like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This week is LGBT Health Awareness Week, and I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the progress we’ve made in our work to ensure LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans.

    Over the last few months, we’ve been focused on getting people signed up through the Health Insurance Marketplace. After another successful Open Enrollment period, millions have gained access to health care coverage – some for the very first time. While there is more to be done, the evidence is clear – the Affordable Care Act is working and delivering access, affordability and quality. Since several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions began to take effect in 2010, about 16.4 million uninsured people have received coverage. That’s the largest reduction of the uninsured in four decades.

    So what does all this mean for those in the LGBT community?

    We know that, on average, LGBT Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer, obesity, tobacco use, HIV/AIDS and mental illness than the rest of the nation. Five years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, we know we’ve made real progress.

  • National LGBT Elder Housing Summit

    On February 10, the White House Office of Public Engagement welcomed 100 service providers, advocates, community leaders, and Administration officials who are dedicated to supporting the needs of our aging LGBT community members.

    As the number of Americans age 65 and older surges over the next few decades, the number of LGBT older adults is estimated to double to 3 million by 2030. By this year – 2015 – one in two individuals who are HIV-positive in this country will be over age 50. Many struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing.

    The National LGBT Elder Housing Summit was a unique opportunity for the White House to bring together the LGBT community and the aging network to discuss the intersecting challenges communities across the country have faced in providing affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to LGBT older adults and older adults living with HIV/AIDS. Through panel discussions and open dialogue, experts from far and wide talked about some of the most pressing needs for the LGBT aging population, as well as successful, creative programs and services.

  • 3 Days Left for LGBT Americans to #GetCovered

    There are three days left to #GetCovered under the Affordable Care Act. These next three days couldn’t be more important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans across the country.

    Before the Affordable Care Act, an estimated one in three low- and middle-income LGBT Americans were uninsured. LGBT Americans are disproportionately affected by certain types of cancer, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and mental illnesses, which means that for many LGBT Americans, having health care is a matter of life or death.

    But since President Obama signed the ACA into law, we’ve seen drastic improvement in the insured rates of LGBT Americans across the country, especially given that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against LGBT Americans – because it’s the law. As a reminder, here are five (of the many) Affordable Care Act benefits for the LGBT community:

    • Plans purchased through the Marketplace can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • You can’t be charged a higher premium just because you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
    • There's no more denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or mental health diagnoses.
    • Legally married same-sex couples are treated equally for financial assistance when purchasing coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, regardless of where they live.
    • There are no more lifetime limits on coverage for people with chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS.

  • Obama Administration Brings Global LGBTI Community Together to Advance Human Rights and Development

    Last month, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, where I work, co-hosted the third-annual Conference to Advance the Human Rights of and Promote Inclusive Development for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons. The international conference brought together public and private donors, civil society activists, and the private sector.

    While this gathering wasn't the first of its kind -- previous such conferences were held in 2010 in Stockholm and in 2013 in Berlin -- participation in this year’s event grew significantly, including representation from 30 governments from all regions of the world. When combined with advocates from civil society organizations, more than 50 countries were represented, as well as 9 multilateral agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank.

    More than 25 governments and multilateral organizations signed a joint communiqué affirming their commitment to increased cooperation, coordination, and communication to advance the human rights of and promote inclusive development for LGBTI persons around the world.