Posted on June 11, 2010
by David Cohen
 
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) sent me an email, and I need to share the news with you the readers.

Last night the US Department of State announced new guidelines for issuing passports to transgender people. Beginning today, applicants for a gender marker change on their passports will need to submit certification from a physician that they have received ‘appropriate clinical treatment’ for gender transition. Most importantly, gender reassignment surgery is not required under the new policy. The new rules will also apply to changing a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for US citizens who were born outside of the United States. CRBA’s are the equivalent of a birth certificate.

For years, NCTE (The National Center for Transgender Equality) has been advocating with the State Department to change their rules about gender markers on passports and CRBA’s.  Previously they had required proof of irreversible sex reassignment surgery before the gender marker could be changed, although there were exceptions for temporary, provisional passports to allow someone to travel for surgery.

NCTE and other advocates have stressed with the State Department that this policy unnecessarily called attention to transgender travelers whose appearance and gender marker were at odds. In some destinations, this had the potential to create an extremely dangerous situation when a traveler is outed as transgender in an unwelcoming environment or in the presence of prejudiced security personnel.

Fortunately, the new rules represent a significant advance in providing safe, humane and dignified treatment of transgender people.  There are details in the guidelines about what information a physician must provide and we will communicate those to you as soon as possible. However, the State Department notes that applicants will not need to supply any additional medical documentation and that there is no SRS requirement.

“’We want to extend our thanks to the Obama Administration, and particularly to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, for understanding the need for this change and then responding to make travel safer for transgender people," commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE.  This shows how changes in government policy directly impact people’s lives, in this case, for the better. "In the next few days, NCTE will be issuing a definitive resource that fully explains the new guidelines and outlines the ways in which transgender people can make changes to their passports and CRBAs." 

Many people—from elected officials to LGBT advocates—have worked for years to change these policies and deserve credit and thanks. Particularly important work was done by Rep. Barney Frank as well as Rep. Steve Israel in the House of Representatives; Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), which represents LGBT employees and their families working in foreign affairs offices for the US government; all of our allied LGBT organizations who have been committed to this work, including the Center for Global Equality, The Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign; and those working on medical policies, including the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).
 
 
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Friday, June 11th, 2010

by David Cohen

Within walking distance from the world-famous Duval Street in Key West, the Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa is offering a luxurious vacation experience “par excel-lance”.
 
During Gay Pride, the Hyatt is offering a special deal to LGBT guests - The Pride Welcome Package which offers the best rates on the island, along with a welcome amenity valued up to $25, daily full American breakfast for two, 4 p.m. late checkout and personalized service from a GLBT focused concierge.

To take advantage of this special offer and enjoy posh accommodations for as low as $300 a night you need to mention the code LGBT10, by visiting www.keywest.hyatt.com, or calling 1-800-233-1234. This offer is good through December 30, 2010.

Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa featuring 118 guest-rooms, each with a private balcony boasting stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.  A centrally-located swimming pool and the eclectic Blue Mojito Pool Bar and Grill provide the perfect ambiance for enjoying a cocktail or delicious lunch. When it’s time for total relaxation, the 24-hour StayFit@Hyatt gym is one option.  A visit to Jala Spa is the second option and it is a must. Treatments are ranging from deep tissue massage  to a Cuban Coffee Body Glow. There is no doubt in my mind, you will rejuvenate your body and soul.  For a true taste of the Keys, treat yourself to dinner at SHOR American Seafood Grill which features fresh seafood caught daily from the Gulf of Mexico.

Conveniently located the Hyatt is within walking distance of Key West’s top restaurants and attractions. My favorite restaurant is nine one five on Duval Street. Owner Stuart Kemp and his lovely wife make sure you will have one of the best dining experiences in Key West. The food is authentic, simple and fresh. Many of the ingredients are imported from  Europe and the restaurant has a great wine list at reasonable prices.

After dinner walk toward Petronia Street, the core of the gay nightlife in Key West. The legendary 801 Bourbon Street and 801 Duval bars at the corner of Duval and Petronia have been a part of the Key West landscape for over 30 years. In the Cabaret you will find nightly shows headlined by such famed performers as Sushi, Kylie, RV Beaumont, and many more. Don’t miss Aqua Nightclub, one of Key West’s largest gay dance club. It is the home for many life entertainment that include nightly drag shows, karaoke, dueling bartenders, Go-Go dancers and much more. A visit to the Island House is a must where clothing is optional. This is the biggest gay resort in Key West and recently was named “The best gay men’s resort in the world” by OUT Traveler Magazine.  For more information visit www.gaykeywestfl.com.

Key West draws many visitors from all over the world who come here to experience many of the water activities. para-sailing. With gentle dry take offs and landings, you will find para-sailing to be an exhilarating way to experience one of  Key West water adventures. From above you will enjoy breathtaking views of the emerald blue waters, and amazing panoramic sights of the southern part of the city that can only be seen from the air. With a friendly staff, the Fury Boats hold 12 passengers, they are safe, comfortable and reasonably priced. You can book any of the water  adventures at the gift store at the Hyatt.

For more information or for reservations, visit keywest.hyatt.com or call 1-800-55-HYATT.