WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on Friday issued this statement, marking today’s 2011 Transgender Day of Remembrance, and memorializing transgender Americans who have lost their lives as a result of violence.
“I am proud to stand and be counted as an ally to the transgender community and to every person and family impacted by anti-transgender violence.
“What began as an online project in 1999 to memorialize the murder of a transgender person will this year include hundreds of vigils and events throughout the country and around the world.
“I hope that this year’s commemoration will serve as an opportunity to shine a brighter light on both progress made and the challenges ahead.
“The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality recently joined me at the U.S. Department of Labor to present a comprehensive study on the experiences of transgender people in America. More than 90 percent of transgender people experience harassment and mistreatment in the workplace, with nearly half being fired or denied a promotion. This is unacceptable.
“And while my department focuses on the nation’s workforce, I am equally troubled by the experiences of transgender people in their homes and in our schools and hospitals that promise to shelter, educate and heal.
“This administration has taken specific steps to protect our transgender citizens. In 2009, the president signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the 1969 United States federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s gender identity. The following year, our federal government updated its nondiscrimination policy on USA Jobs to explicitly include protection on the basis of gender identity.
“I am proud to say that the Department of Labor this year joined other executive branch agencies in updating its policy on equal employment opportunity and its policy on harassing conduct in the workplace to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. And I am also proud that transgender individuals serve openly at the U.S. Department of Labor.
“To address the pervasive issue of bullying among our youth, including those targeted due to their gender identity or expression, the administration hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, and the president and many of us in the cabinet recorded “It Gets Better” videos to assure our youth that they are not alone.
“On this day of remembrance, as we pause to reflect on the lives that have been lost, we renew our commitment to an America that celebrates and values every person.”