Transgender People and the Law
1. Are there state and local laws that clearly prohibit discrimination against transgender people?
Yes. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all have such laws. Their protections vary. For example, Nevada’s law bans discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations like restaurants, hospitals, and retail stores; Maine’s law covers those categories plus access to credit and education.
At least 200 cities and counties have banned gender identity discrimination, including Atlanta, Austin, Boise, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, El Paso, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and San Antonio, as well as many smaller towns.
The governors of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania have issued executive orders banning discrimination against transgender state workers. Some cities and counties have also protected their transgender public employees through local ordinances, charter provisions, or other means. People discriminated against by public entities on the basis of gender identity might also be able to argue that the government’s action was unconstitutional.
2. Do laws banning sexual orientation discrimination protect transgender people?
In some cases, yes. If a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation defines “sexual orientation” to include gender identity (as, for example, the ones in Colorado, Illinois, and Minnesota do), it protects transgender people as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Also, most sexual orientation discrimination bans protect people not only based on their actual sexual orientation, but also on the basis of how people perceive them. This means that in most places where sexual orientation discrimination is illegal, it’s against the law to discriminate against a transgender person because of a belief that the victim is “gay”– even if that perception is wrong!
3. Do federal laws protect transgender people against housing and employment discrimination?
So far, Congress has been slow to pass laws that clearly protect people against discrimination based on gender identity. However, in recent years a series of court decisions and other developments have made more and more clear that federal laws against discrimination based on “sex” apply to discrimination based on gender identity.Read Full Article