Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Connecticut Considers Gender Identity Protections Bill

The Connecticut House Judiciary Committee is currently considering HB 6599, "An Act Concerning Discrimination," which would add "gender identity or expression" to the state's anti-discrimination statute, protecting them from discrimination in employment, education, housing, public accommodations and credit.  This statute already includes protections for gay people.

There was some very moving testimony given at a recent hearing on the bill, particularly by Jennifer Ann Paradis of Columbia, Conn., whose friend at a state school in CT dropped out because of harrassment by her peers, which could not be stopped because CT law does not protect transgender people from discrimination.

"The principle behind adding gender identity and gender expression to Connecticut's non-discrimination laws could not be clearer," said Paradis.  "These are our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and loved ones who are targets of discrimination in many areas of their lives and this marginalization exposes them to social and economic insecurity.  The fact is protecting these citizens through our anti-discrimination laws is a no-cost way to close a gap in our state's non-discrimination statutes ensuring that all hard-working people have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families."

Of course, not everybody supports the law; the usual anti-LGBT folks used their scare tactics during their testimony, conjuring up imagery of men dressed as women sexually assaulting little girls in the women's bathrooms; Connecticut lawmakers were unamused.

Gov. Dan Malloy (D) supports the legislation; similar bills had passed the state Senate but had failed in the state House.

I support HB 6599, and I strongly urge all Connecticut lawmakers to vote for this bill; I wrote an email to my state representative, Jonathan Steinberg, saying as much.  It is time to recognize transgender people as equals, by ensuring they are treated equally under the law and can have an opportunity to make an honest living without fear of being ostracized or fired because of who they are.  Connecticut can be a leader in full LGBT equality: this bill will bring us closer than ever before to truly being an LGBT-friendly state.

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