California DMV Shows Ambivalence Over Transgender Hatred

A couple months ago, I wrote an article about Amber Yust, a transgender woman from California who was sent a shocking letter after she went to the DMV for a name change on her license. She was easily able to get a driver’s license with her new name, but the employee who processed the name change felt a need to take matters into his own hands.

He took Yust’s personal information from the DMV office and mailed a transphobic letter to her home, calling her an abomination. In response, over 1,000 people signed this Change.org petition to the DMV, asking them to hold the employee accountable.

News just came that the petition didn’t fall on deaf ears — but the DMV didn’t act quickly or respond appropriately to the incident. The clerk who mailed the letter was originally suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. According to DMV spokesman Michael Marando, the employee was placed on administrative leave with pay after the incident, so that the DMV could investigate the clerk’s misconduct before taking further action. In addition, the DMV issued a statement saying it doesn’t condone this type of misconduct, apologized to Yust, and brought in a staff training led by the Transgender Law Center.

Then last week, word came that the employee has resigned. That’s a welcome development, given his obvious abusive and unethical actions. But were the DMV’s actions adequate in this instance?

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In The Life Steps Up To Stop Harmful Stigmas

There is a high human cost to the stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS, with misinformation and fear creating problems within the justice system and society as a whole. These stigmas ultimately cause laws to criminalize HIV.

This month, In The Life, a public television program covering LGBT issues, takes a look at how stigma affects the justice system and how myths and fear about AIDS caused harmful laws. According to In The Life, “more than 30 states have laws criminalizing HIV exposure, transmission or nondisclosure of an individual’s HIV status.” These laws are meant to prevent the disease from spreading, but instead, they hurt those with HIV.

The program, called “The Cost of Stigma,” also covers how misconceptions about bisexuality may link bisexuality and poor health. Research shows that bisexual women face a massive health disparity, and that this health disparity may be caused by systemic stigma and invisibility of the community of bisexual women.

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