Trans Citizens Gain Protections in Conn.
The governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, signed a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination bill on the evening of July 6, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release.
"In addition to guaranteeing a level playing field in employment, the new law will ensure that housing opportunities are made available to all, students are free from discrimination in schools, and no one has to forego basic needs such as heat or telephone services based solely on who they are," the release said.
"Our national survey spotlights just how pervasive and severe discrimination is toward transgender and gender non-conforming people," agreed Rea Carey, head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The alarming personal stories and stats show that transgender people face injustice in many places -- from exclusionary workplaces to the grocery store to doctors’ offices.
"Connecticut responded appropriately to this crisis," added Carey. "We thank Gov. Dan Malloy and lawmakers for ensuring that the people of Connecticut, regardless of gender identity or expression, are protected from such discrimination."
"It is well-documented that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are shown less desirable properties for purchase or rent, are excluded from schools activities, receive less favorable customer service, or encounter outright refusal of service," noted the HRC release. The new Connecticut law, the HRC noted, "does not prevent employers from firing incompetent employees and do not prevent landlords from turning down unqualified renters.
"Instead, this law simply makes sure that all employees get a fair chance at working hard to get ahead without discrimination or bias and that no one is singled out for arbitrary discrimination when it comes to areas like housing, education, public accommodations, utilities, and access to credit."
The release went on to note that with the addition of Connecticut, 15 states now have trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws on the books.
But in some states, such laws have been vigorously protested and even derailed by activists who deride them as "bathroom bills," reducing the complex array of trans needs and rights to a single charge that such protections would open the door to anyone who wishes to cross-dress for the purpose of invading women’s restrooms and locker rooms in order to spy or even commit acts of rape.
Just such rhetoric greeted the passage of Connecticut’s measure. A posting at the Patriot Action Network accused Gov. Malloy of being a "communist" for singing the measure "in the dead of night," and warned that businesses would flee the state as a result.
The bill was signed before 6:30 in the evening.
Transgender Soviet-era Russians enjoyed no protection from harassment and persecution. Nor do contemporary trans Chinese.
In Massachusetts, where marriage equality first became legal in America seven years ago, faith leaders have pressed reluctant state lawmakers to approve similar protections.
Among the faith leaders seeking comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was state Episcopalian head Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, who told local newspaper the Boston Globe last April that fully 25% of transgender Massachusetts residents had faced a loss of employment due to their gender identity. Almost all transgender citizens of the state had been harassed in some manner, he said.
"Supporting this legislation, and supporting transgender people in the life of the church and in secular society really has to do with the living out of my baptismal covenant," Shaw told the Globe.
The issue of trans protections has been a fractious one even within the GLBT community. Two years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives set off a firestorm by proposing a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that provided protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers, but left out any provisions for trans employees.
The Human Rights Campaign backed that bill, and received heavy criticism from the GLBT community as a whole. When ENDA was re-introduced subsequently, language to extend protections for trans workers had been reinstated.
The new law in Connecticut will take effect Oct. 1, the Washington Blade reported on July 7.