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Public Accommodations Protections for Transgender People in Massachusetts

GLAD is a member of the coalition Freedom Massachusetts, which has been working for passage of An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination.

The bill would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations. Massachusetts law currently prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion, and marital status.

Current non-discrimination law in the Commonwealth does not expressly protect transgender people in public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, hospitals, public transportation, and parks.

“In failing to expressly protect its most marginalized citizens as they go about their daily business, Massachusetts is falling behind in its leadership role on equality for all. Being able to point to a statewide policy of inclusion and support will give me and many others the authority we often need to respond when others are telling us to leave a public space or that we are wrong to be there.”

- Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director, in testimony on the bill

For the latest information on the bill, and to take action, visit www.freedommassachusetts.org

Ending Conversion Therapy in Vermont

The Vermont state Senate has passed a bill, S 132, which would prohibit persons licensed to provide professional counseling from engaging in dangerous and injurious practices aimed to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill is now being considered by the House.

GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright has submitted written testimony in support of S 132:

"This practice, most commonly known as 'conversion therapy,' strays from Vermont's long-standing history of preserving the safety and dignity of its LGBTQ residents. As the first state in the nation to offer legal recognition to same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions, the Vermont legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBTQ people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 132 is a critical step necessary to further these goals."

Wright's testimony describes the consensus in the medical community that so-called conversion therapy is ineffective and, in fact, harmful, and asserts that the passage of this bill will send a positive message to all LGBTQ youth:  

"The harms that come to LGBTQ youth as a result of negative feelings about their own identities, as well as the prevalence of bullying and harassment by others, can be traced in significant part to the underlying notion of abnormality or "otherness." Passage of S 132 will send a powerful and important message to all people: there is nothing about one's sexual orientation or gender identity that needs to be changed because being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer is normal and healthy."

Read the full testimony

GLAD’s Jennifer Levi Testifies in Support of Transgender Equality

Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, testified today at the Massachusetts Statehouse in support of a bill providing protections in public accommodations for the state’s transgender citizens. 

Testimony on SB 735 and HB 1577 was heard before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Current non-discrimination law in the Commonwealth does not expressly protect transgender people in public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, hospitals, public transportation, and parks.

“In failing to expressly protect its most marginalized citizens as they go about their daily business, Massachusetts is falling behind in its leadership role on equality for all,” said Levi in her testimony, the full text of which can be read here on GLAD’s website. “Being able to point to a statewide policy of inclusion and support will give me and many others the authority we often need to respond when others are telling us to leave a public space or that we are wrong to be there.”

An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations. Massachusetts law currently prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion, and marital status. GLAD is a member of the coalition Freedom Massachusetts, which has been working for passage of the bill. 

GLAD’s Jennifer Levi Testifies in Support of Modernizing Process for Amending CT Birth Certificates

GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi testified today in support of CT HB 7006, An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments.

HB 7006 would modernize Connecticut's standard for correcting birth certificates issued to transgender people who are born in Connecticut. The bill would revise Connecticut law to reflect the contemporary medical standard of care for transgender people and make it possible for transgender people to have documentation that recognized their lived experiences and that diminishes their exposure to discrimination, harassment, and violence.   

Excerpts from Levi's testimony:

"It is important for a transgender person’s emotional well-being that everything in their life aligns with their chosen name and gender identity.In addition, transgender people still face serious discrimination in their lives, and a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and the sex listed on an identification document can result in “outing” the person and increasing the chances that the person will be discriminated against or be subjected to harassment or violence.  Not having documentation that matches a person’s gender identity can lead to discrimination in housing, education, and employment, and increases the risk that a person may be reliant on government support for basic subsistence.  Also, in this age of increased security, a gender mismatch on an identification document makes every day experiences more challenging. 

The current standard for correcting gender designations on birth certificates [in Connecticut] is outdated and not supported by contemporary medical views... The proposed amendment would bring Connecticut in line with 7 other jurisdictions and several federal agencies who have modernized their birth certificates standards. Included among them are the states of Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, as well as the District of Columbia.  Federal agencies that revised their standards include the State Department, Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, Office of Personnel and Management, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Connecticut’s Registry of Motor Vehicles also allows transgender people to change the gender designation on their driver’s licenses with no requirement for surgery."  

You can read Levi's complete submitted written testimony here.

Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors

HD 3202 sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and also known as the "conversion therapy ban bill," would ban practices, erroneously called “therapy,” that purport to heal or change a minor’s same-sex attraction or transgender identity.

Specifically it would:

  • Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging with a minor in therapeutic practices aimed at changing or healing the minor’s sexual orientation, in particular same-sex attraction.
  • Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging in therapeutic practices aimed at eliminating a minor’s sincerely held conviction that their birth assigned gender is different or inappropriate from their actual gender identity, and related practices aimed to discourage that minor from seeking a transition to the gender they identify as.
  • Charge state mandatory reporters to report cases of suspected instances where a minor is being subjected to reparative or conversion therapy by a state licensed professional.
  • Define advertisements of such reparative therapy or conversion therapy as deceptive acts or practices in violation of state consumer protections laws, and subject to rules and regulations by the state Attorney General. 

Read more

Addressing LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in Massachusetts

GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright submitted testimony to support the Boston City Council’s effort to address unaccompanied youth homelessness, an epidemic impacting the health and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in Massachusetts.

Excerpts from her testimony:

"In order to address this epidemic, homeless shelters within the city of Boston must be held accountable under Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws as well as Boston City ordinances, and should adopt LGBTQ inclusive policies to ensure LGBTQ youth are receiving services at homeless shelters free of discrimination."

"National studies estimate that up to 40% of youth who are homeless or are at-risk of becoming homeless identify as LGBTQ. Family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is the primary factor contributing to homelessness amongst LGBTQ youth - most of whom are youth of color."

"Once homeless, LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of physical and sexual violence and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, including, but not limited to, HIV. Unaccompanied homeless LGBTQ youth are also at higher risk of developing substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and physical health issues.  Finally, unaccompanied homeless LGBTQ youth are more likely to engage in survival crimes like sex work and petty theft.  Thus, they are at higher risk of interacting with the criminal justice system." 

"The city of Boston should encourage homeless shelters within the city to adopt transgender-inclusive policies that ensures the full inclusion and equal treatment of transgender people who reside at the shelter."

Read Allison Wright's full testimony, and see the Sample Gender Identity Policy

Working for Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections in New Hampshire

Victory! The Portsmouth City Council passed this resolution on March 3 with a unanimous vote of 9-0! Read more

Read GLAD and Transgender New Hampshire's FAQ

Portsmouth Herald/Seacoast Online: City Councilors Should Back Transgender Protections

Testimony from GLAD and Transgender New Hampshire

Background:

GLAD has been working with local partners, including Transgender New Hampshire, to lay the building blocks to winning statewide gender identity non-discrimination protections in New Hampshire.

On March 3, Portsmouth has an opportunity to add a critical building block by being the first city in New Hampshire to provide crucial employment protections for transgender people.

Portsmouth city councilors will consider a proposal brought by Assistant Mayor Jim SplaineA Resolution Directing the City Manager to Adopt a Policy of Non-Discrimination Regarding Transgender Municipal Employees and Supporting Statewide Anti-Discrimination Protections for Transgender Individuals

New Hampshire residents can take action now to encourage the city council to ensure transgender people have the same opportunity as anyone else to get a job and contribute to their town. The resolution also sends the message that New Hampshire should join more than 200 municipalities, 17 states, and the District of Columbia in providing non-discrimination protections for transgender people in all areas of life.

Using this link New Hampshire residents can send a message to all Portsmouth city councilors urging them to support this important resolution. Sample language for your message is provided here, but it's always best to use your own words:

Subject: Transgender Non-Discrimination Resolution

Dear Councilor,

I'm writing to urge your support of the resolution to protect transgender people from discrimination. Any person who applies for a job should be valued by their work ethic and not dismissed simply because of who they are. Transgender people pay taxes and make Portsmouth a more vibrant city; they should have the same opportunities as anyone else. This is a step in the right direction for Portsmouth, and will send the message that we need protections for transgender people in all of New Hampshire.

Sincerely, 
Your Name

 

New Hampshire is the last state in New England to have no non-discrimination protections in place for transgender people.

Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Bill

Testimony of GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi before the Massachusetts Judiciary Committee in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill

Opposing An Act to Amend the Application of the ME Human Rights Act Regarding Public Accommodations

GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi presented testimony yesterday before the Maine Judiciary Committee in opposition to LD 1046: An Act to Amend the Application of the Maine Human Rights Act Regarding Public Accommodations.

The proposed legislation would remove protections for transgender people in public accommodations that have been in place in Maine law for five years.  As Jennifer said in her testimony yesterday, the current law has been working for five years, and this proposed amendment would only create more confusion - and litigation - for businesses while sanctioning discrimination in Maine.

Read Jennifer’s testimony

Public hearing for HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination

The Connecticut Judiciary Committee Public Hearing on HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination took place on March 21, 2011.

If passed, HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination will add gender identity and gender expression to CT non-discrimination law.

Jennifer Levi, GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project Director, was among the many who testified in support of the bill.  You can read Jennifer’s testimony here.

You can watch video of the hearing at CT-N and see photos of some of those testifying from the Rainbow Times

For more information about the bill and to get involved, visit ctEquality.org

MA: Ask Your Legislator to Pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill

February 17, 2011

Earlier today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed an historic Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in state employment. It applies to all state agencies in the Executive Branch, as well as businesses and organizations that contract with the Executive Branch. (Read more)

Now it’s up to lawmakers to do the rest. Please contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to match the Governor’s commitment by passing the Transgender Equal Rights Bill this session, so that all transgender workers have the same protection. 

To find your legislators go to
www.malegislature.gov/People/FindMyLegislator

This will bring up your State Representative and State Senator and then you click on the link for each one which will bring you their phone number and email address.

Sample language you can use for your phone call or email:

Dear (name of Legislator)_____________

I am a constituent of yours from (list your town______). I am writing because I would like you to support “An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights” which has been filed in the House by lead sponsors Representatives Carl Sciortino and Byron Rushing and in the Senate by lead sponsor Senators Ben Downing and Sonia Chang-Diaz.

Today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in state employment. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who need the protection offered by this executive order but who will not get it because they are not state employees. Transgender residents of the Commonwealth face pervasive job discrimination and workplace harassment. A study released earlier this month by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force found that 76 percent of transgender respondents from Massachusetts were harassed or mistreated on the job, and 20 percent reported losing their jobs, because they are transgender.

Massachusetts should be a place of fairness and equality for all people, including transgender people. By updating the state’s non-discrimination and hate crimes laws we are extending fairness and equality in Massachusetts through these basic protections.

Please let me know where you stand on this important piece of legislation.

Thank you,
(Your Name)

MA: Ask Your Rep to Make Transgender Rights a Priority

A new poll just released by Lake Research Partners shows that 76% of likely voters in Massachusetts, including 81% of women, support H 1728 An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. These results prove what we all knew all along; ending harmful discrimination against the transgender community is a Massachusetts value and ought to be made a priority of the state legislature.


We need you to ask your Representative to make this a priority now. Transgender Civil Rights cannot wait any longer.


An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes is currently being held in the Judiciary Committee, with no set date to be released for a full vote in the legislature. Please take a moment to contact your Representative, and ask them to call on House Speaker DeLeo to make An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes a priority this year.


Click here to send an email, or to be even more effective, make a phone call today.


Representatives and their staffs tell us that calls and emails make all the difference! You can find out who your Representative is here and find their phone number here.


You can use this message when you make your call:


My name is _____ and I am a proud resident of (your city). I am calling to ask you as my Representative to contact House Speaker DeLeo to urge him to make H 1728, the transgender rights bill, a priority this year. I can be reached at _______ (give your phone number). Thank you.



Thank you for supporting equality for all Massachusetts citizens.

Why do we need non-discrimination laws that cover gender identity and expression?
Watch this video:

New Hampshire: Ask Senator Gregg to Support ENDA

On Thursday, November 5, the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) will receive an important hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  Without passage of ENDA, no federal legislation explicitly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg sits on the HELP committee, but has not yet declared his support for ENDA.  Now is the time to contact Senator Gregg and let him know how crucial this legislation is for LGBT citizens in New Hampshire and across the U.S.

Call (202-224-3324) or email Senator Gregg today and remind him that no qualified employee should be denied workplace opportunities simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

For more information and talking points on ENDA, visit www.unitedenda.org

Why do we need an employment non discrimination act that includes sexual orientation and gender identity?
Watch this video:

 

Testimony of Jennifer Levi on MA Transgender Non-Discrimination Bill

Download Jennifer’s full testimony, including citations [pdf]

Statement by Jennifer Levi, Esq.
Before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in Support of H. 1728/S. 1687
An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes

Honorable Co-Chairs Senator Creem, Representative O’Flaherty and Members of the Committee:

I am grateful for the opportunity to testify in strong support of H. 1728/ S. 1687, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This legislation would add “gender identity or expression” protections to the Massachusetts non-discrimination statutes, including the Massachusetts general anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, credit and lending, Chapter 151B; the Massachusetts education laws, Chapters 71 and 76; the Massachusetts public accommodations laws, Chapter 272; and the Massachusetts hate crimes law, Chapter 22C.  The proposed legislation updates Massachusetts non-discrimination and hate crimes laws to ensure that they clearly and uniformly protect all people, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression.


I am the Director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).  As an attorney at New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ensuring legal equality for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those living with HIV or AIDS, a key focus of my work has been addressing the pervasive discrimination faced by transgender people in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and other areas.  I am also a Professor of Law at Western New England College whose teaching and research interests focus on the subjects of this legislation.  My goal today is to explain why it is so crucial that the legislature add the phrase “gender identity or expression” to the Massachusetts non-discrimination statutes.


I. Gender Non-Conforming People Desperately Need Legal Protection From Discrimination.

The need to protect people from discrimination and violence on the basis of gender identity or expression is great.
 
Every day across this country, transgender people are disproportionately the victims of non-random, targeted violence.  They include Jamie Rondeau, a citizen of the Commonwealth, who just a short time ago was beaten on the streets of Lowell, Massachusetts. The attackers repeatedly called Jamie “faggot” and made sexual slurs directed toward their victim. They include people like Angie Zapata in Colorado, who while born male, began living as a woman six years ago.  Last year, at the young age of 18, Angie was brutally beaten to death with a fire extinguisher when the perpetrator found out that she was transgender.  And while it is difficult to accurately document the frequency of these crimes due to vast underreporting, it is clear that hate-based violence against transgender people is a widespread and significant problem.


Likewise, employment discrimination can severely undermine an individual’s ability to make a living and support his/her family.  For example, Anthony Barreto-Neto, a decorated police officer in Vermont who had been recognized for his longstanding public service was run off the police force by fellow officers after they learned about his transgender status through an internet search.  After discovering that Mr. Barreto-Neto was born female and transitioned to male, fellow officers issued him faulty equipment and subjected him to a continuous pattern of harassment and inferior work conditions that became so severe he had to leave his job.

 
Unfortunately, these cases represent just the tip of the iceberg.  Transgender people throughout Massachusetts, in cases which have not received the public attention of those just mentioned, face serious discrimination every day in jobs, housing, and public accommodations.  I hear from these people every day when they call GLAD’s Legal Infoline for help.  Unfortunately, when they do call, I have to tell them there are no explicit protections for them in Massachusetts law.  Because of this pervasive prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding, transgender people need a law to allow them to do that which most people take for granted – walk safely on our streets, work, seek and find housing, and use public accommodations without being subjected to prejudice and discrimination.

Nothing could be further from the spirit of Massachusetts’ commitment to freedom and liberty for its citizens.  This law would make clear that such discrimination and violence is condemned by state policy.


II. Explicit Protections Are Needed To Fill A Void in Massachusetts Law.

There are no clear, explicit and established laws protecting transgender individuals in Massachusetts from discrimination – under either state or federal anti-discrimination laws.  Explicit protections for transgender individuals will help affirm and clarify the Massachusetts anti-discrimination protections, so that it is clear to all that Massachusetts does not tolerate discrimination based upon a person’s gender identity or expression.  These are important provisions both for those covered by the laws and those subject to them.

While GLAD believes that transgender individuals should be protected under existing sex and disability discrimination protections in Massachusetts, which generally follows federal case law interpretation of sex discrimination under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, see White v. Univ. of Mass., Boston, 410 Mass. 553, 557 (1991) (“The analysis of a discrimination claim is essentially the same under the State and Federal statutes.”), these legal protections have not been uniformly applied by courts to protect transgender individuals.
 
The modern national trend in case law interpreting sex discrimination protections is for both state and federal courts to interpret existing sex discrimination prohibitions to protect transgender individuals.  See, e.g., Schroer v. Billington, 577 F.Supp.2d 293 (D.D.C. 2008) (holding that an employer’s refusal to hire employee because she informed them of her intention to transition from male to female was “literally discrimination ‘because of sex’”); Smith v. City of Salem, Ohio, 378 F.3d 566, 573 (6th Cir. 2004); Maffei v. Kolaeton Indus., Inc., 626 N.Y.S.2d 391, 396 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995).


However, there is not complete uniformity across these court decisions, and some courts have found otherwise.  See, e.g., Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority, 502 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir. 2007); Oiler v. Winn-Dixie Louisiana, Inc., Order and Reasons, 2002 WL 31098541 (E.D. La. Sept. 16, 2002).  As a result, legal uncertainty and inconsistency exists in Massachusetts as to the extent of sex discrimination protections for transgender individuals.
 

By adding explicit protections for gender identity or expression alongside other characteristics in Massachusetts non-discrimination laws, H. 1728/ S. 1687 provides clarity to our courts and citizenry as well as promotes consistency in our laws.  Employers, landlords, businesses, educators and all Massachusetts citizens deserve clarity in our laws.  In addition, the specificity of language included in H. 1728/S. 1687 is necessary as a matter of due process for perpetrators to insure that transgender people are protected against targeted hate-based violence.
 

III. Gender Expression Is A Necessary Protection Under This Bill. 

In this bill, “gender identity or expression” is defined as “a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”  This concept refers to people whose identification as either male or female does not match up with what they were assigned at birth, such as transsexual individuals.  It also includes any person whose outward expression of their gender does not fall within society’s stereotypes of what a man or woman should act like, such as a masculine woman and a feminine man. 
The term gender identity without the addition of the phrase gender expression could potentially be interpreted to only include transsexual people—people who have transitioned medically from one sex to another.  If the phrase gender expression is left out—it leaves out people who may have characteristics or mannerisms typically associated with the other gender but who identify with the gender that they were born.  For example, that could potentially leave out women with short hair or men with high-pitched voices from protections against being fired for nothing related to their job performance.
 

Protections for a person’s gender-related expression, appearance and behavior need to be broad because our past experience has shown that sex discrimination and race discrimination protections have been interpreted by some courts narrowly.  For example, a recent federal appellate court ruled that an employer could fire a female employee for not wearing make-up.  Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co., 444 F.3d 1104 (9TH Cir. 2006).  This would not have been the case if there had also been broad protections based upon characteristics associated with a person’s sex. This historical lesson demonstrates the need for broad protections for a person’s gender expression.


Because such explicit language is necessary to provide complete protections not only to the transgender population but the entire population, protections based upon a gender-related appearance, expression or behavior have become a standard protection amongst the 13 states that including gender identity or expression in their antidiscrimination laws.


IV. All Individuals Deserve To Be Able To Use Public Restrooms In Safety And With Privacy; Nothing In H. 1728/ S. 1687 Undermines Anyone’s Safety or Privacy

Everyone deserves to use restrooms in safety and with privacy.  Transgender people pose no special safety risk to others who are using a restroom.  In fact, transgender people are more likely to be the subject of harassment and safety threats in bathrooms, which is why explicit protections in the Massachusetts anti-discrimination law are all the more necessary.
 
And if there are instances of harassment or inappropriate use of bathrooms by any person – whether or not they are transgender – there are already civil and criminal laws to ensure people’s safety in restrooms.  Employers and public accommodations will continue to have an obligation to make restroom facilities safe and accessible for all people.

We should not allow safety concerns to become a proxy for prejudice against transgender people.  A full 37% of the American population, in 13 states, live in an area covered by a transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination law,  and there have been no reported incidents involving a transgender person threatening the safety of anyone else in a restroom facility.


The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women, along with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women have supported this bill and denounced opponents’ arguments about bathrooms as meritless.  It is time to ignore these frivolous and disrespectful attacks and focus on the real and pressing issue of discrimination and violence against a vulnerable sector of our community.



V. Nothing in this Bill Undermines an Employer’s Ability to Enforce Reasonable Dress, Grooming and Appearance Requirements

An employer or school may require employees to follow reasonable dress codes and reasonable grooming standards; nothing in this bill changes that.  Transgender individuals will still be required to follow an employer’s reasonable and lawful dress codes for men and women.  The transgender employee or student simply must be permitted to conform to the dress code and standards of the gender with which they identify.


The reality is that social norms about dress and appearance are changing and courts have had to deal with complaints by both men and women about the restrictiveness of enforced and sometimes outdated social norms about appearance requirements.  In cases where a dress code objectifies women or creates a perception that women are less professional than men, some courts have disallowed such gender-based dress codes.  See Carroll v. Talman, 604 F.2d 1028, 1032-33 (7th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 929 (1980) (“[T]he disparate treatment is demeaning to women. While there is nothing offensive about uniforms Per se, when some employees are uniformed and others not there is a natural tendency to assume that the uniformed women have a lesser professional status than their male colleagues attired in normal business clothes.”)  Where dress codes simply differentiate between men and women employees but do not affect either group adversely, most courts have upheld such rules.
 

The importance of this legislation is that it ensures that transgender people who are well-qualified and capable of working are permitted to work and can do so with the dignity they deserve.  This bill does not change the fact that if a gendered appearance requirement in the workplace is currently permissible, it may be enforced.  It simply ensures that transgender people will be allowed to perform in those workplaces effectively.
 

Some opponents of this legislation have said that this bill will encourage people to cross-dress in the workplace or “flip-flop” in their appearance.  These scenarios simply do not happen in reality.  There has been no outbreak of cross-dressing or flip-flopping in the workplace in the jurisdictions and states that have adopted similar anti-discrimination provisions.  The City of Minneapolis has had a transgender-inclusive non-discrimination law since 1975, and there has been no increase of cross-dressing activity in the workplace in that or any other jurisdiction.

VI. Massachusetts Will Join Other States And Local Jurisdictions That Ensure Freedom From Discrimination Based On Gender Identity or Expression.

Massachusetts need not fear that by explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression, it will be entering into uncharted territory.  Instead, Massachusetts will join the growing number of state and local governments that have already recognized that preventing discrimination based on gender identity and expression is both necessary and desired and therefore should be addressed explicitly in law.  In passing H. 1728/  S. 1687, Massachusetts would become the 14th state to explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender people, joining Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.  The District of Columbia also has a comparable non-discrimination law.


Over 30 years ago, Minneapolis became the first municipality to adopt transgender-specific non-discrimination language.  Since then, the number of additional jurisdictions that have adopted similar measures has grown at a dramatic rate.  In addition, there are hundreds of employers and dozens of universities with non-discrimination policies protecting transgender people. 
It is time for Massachusetts to join this national movement towards equality and freedom from discrimination and violence for all citizens, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
 

July 14, 2009
Submitted by:
Jennifer Levi, Esq. 
Director, Transgender Rights Project
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

Download Jennifer’s full testimony, including citations [pdf]

MA Transgender Non-Discrimination Bill Hearing July 14

“An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” (H. 1728/S. 1687) will be heard by Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on the Judiciary next Tuesday, July 14. This bill will give all Massachusetts citizens equal protection under state law regardless of gender identity or expression. In doing so it will send a clear message that all citizens of the Commonwealth should be able to work, go to school, and live without fear.

Contact your legislators today and ask them to support this important bill. 

GLAD is part of a statewide coalition working to pass this legislation. Key supporters include Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization of Women (MassNOW), and Jane Doe, the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.

A similar bill was sent out for study after its Judiciary Committee hearing last year. It was re-introduced this year in the House by Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing and in the Senate by Senator Benjamin Downing.


Watch the video - Everyone Matters: Dignity and Safety for Transgender People

Read The Time is Now for Transgender Rights: An Update on Transgender Rights Legislation Across New England

NH Transgender Non-Discrimination Legislation Resources

Last week, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee dealt a blow to our community -  they rejected the transgender non-discrimination bill by a vote of 5-0.

The Committee’s vote means that the bill will go to the full Senate for a vote this Wednesday, April 29,  with a recommendation of “should not pass”.

We can still save the bill, if you do two things right now:

1) call or email your Senator and
2) write a letter to the editor of your local paper

When you call or write, please remain positive and encouraging.  One by one, people come over to our side when we engage them in an open, constructive way.

GLAD has been working hard with allies and legislators to make sure that our stories are told and our voices are heard.  We can turn this around - we’ve done it before, and we can do it again!

Please show that our community is strong and united, and that we won’t rest until we have full equality under the law.

Other ways to help:

Please call or send an email today, and help make New Hampshire a place where transgender people can work, go to school, and live in peace and safety.  Your comment should focus on the need to provide equal rights and protections for transgender people in New Hampshire. 
 
Phone calls are most effective to show your support, although personalized letters (signed and hand-addressed) and emails can also be effective.  If you do send an email, please state your support of HB 415 directly in the subject line, and include your name, address, and town. 

And then please ask everyone you know to do the same. 

GLAD and PFLAG New Hampshire have put together a packet of information about HB 415.  The packet contains basic facts about the legislation, talking points, information for contacting your legislator, and sample letters to ask your legislator to support the bill.  GLAD has also created this short video with MassEquality and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition about the severe discrimination and violence that transgender individuals face. 

Watch the video Everyone Matters: Dignity and Safety for Transgender People

Download the information packet on HB 415 here

Contact your Senator

Read the text of the bill here

MA Transgender Non-Discrimination Legislation Resources

An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes is currently pending before the Massachusetts legislature.  For more information, and resources for talking to your legislators about supporting the bill, visit www.masstpc.org.

Debunking Myths: The Truth About “An Act Relative to Gender Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” - It’s a Civil Rights Bill

CT Transgender Non-Discrimination Legislation Resources

Lobby Day for the Connecticut Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB 6452) is scheduled for

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Legislative Office Building in Hartford
300 Capital Ave, Hartford; Room 1D

On Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Anti-Discrimination Coalition will be holding its Lobby Day for the Trans Anti-Discrimination Bill at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

This is your chance to learn about the Gender Identity and Expression Anti-discrimination bill [HB 6452] raised in the upcoming CT Legislative session and its impact on our state’s residents. And most importantly you will have the opportunity to talk to your representatives about the bill and why it is important, with materials provided by the Anti-Discrimination Coalition.

For up to date information, please visit: www.transadvocacy.org

Download information and resources on this important legislation below:

 

Save the Date: Lobby Day

Text of HB 6452

HB 6452 Fact Sheet

Transgender Non-discrimination Law Talking Points

Storytelling Tips for Lobbying

Sample Letter to Representatives (doc)

Jurisdictions with Transgender-inclusive Non-discrimination laws (from The Task Force)

GLAD Testifies in Support of NH Transgender Equality Bill

GLAD Attorney Janson Wu testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 5, in support of House Bill 415, “An Act Adding Certain Terms Regarding Non-Discrimination To The Laws.”  The bill would add “gender identity and expression” protections to New Hampshire’s non-discrimination statutes, including New Hampshire’s general anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations, and New Hampshire’s hate crimes law.

Read the testimony

Working for Trans Protection Legislation in MA

Legislation to protect citizens from discrimination based on gender identity or expression is pending in Massachusetts. A hearing before the MA Joint Committee on the Judiciary for MA HB 1722, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes,” took place on March 4, 2008. GLAD Attorney Jennifer Levi presented testimony in favor of the bill.

From The Boston Globe: Governor Patrick Backs Bill
On the blog: Jennifer Levi’s thoughts on testifying
Read The text of HB 1722 [PDF]
Read Attorney Jennifer Levi’s testimony in support of MA HB 1722 [PDF]
Read AG Coakley’s Letter in Support of HB 1722 [PDF]
Fact sheet about the legislation [PDF]
Visit Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition for further information.

Efforts Underway to Add “Gender Identity or Expression” to CT Non-Discrimination Law

Proposed legislation would add “gender identity or expression” to Connecticut’s non-discrimination law, thereby prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in education, employment, housing, public accommodations and lending. Should this bill pass, Connecticut will be joining 13 other states and Washington, D.C. in protecting its residents from this kind of discrimination.

The proposed bill, HB 5723, “An Act Concerning Discrimination” had a public hearing on Wednesday, March 19 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. GLAD Attorney Jennifer Levi presented testimony at the hearing.

Info Sheet on the CT Bill [PDF]
Q & A on the CT Bill [PDF]
Read Attorney Jennifer Levi’s testimony in support of the CT Bill [PDF]

Vermont Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Discrimination Law

Vermont joins Maine and Rhode Island as the third New England state to protect transgender residents by explicitly banning discrimination based on gender identity. On May 22, 2007, Governor Douglas signed legislation adding “gender identity” to the state’s non-discrimination law.

Similar legislation passed both the House and Senate in early 2006, but the Governor vetoed it, citing reservations about the bill’s language. GLAD worked with partners in Vermont throughout the year to address these concerns, and we are pleased to see the bill pass this session.

“New England is very much leading the country in codifying protections in law for trans people,” says GLAD Attorney Jennifer Levi. “Through both court rulings and legislation, GLAD’s work in New England has laid the foundation for the rest of the country to follow.