Posted by: outandequal | May 3, 2011

Advocating for Equality

Justin Tanis and Q Wilson

Justin Tanis, Director of Communications, and Q Wilson, Senior Program Associate, at Transgender Advocacy Day

by Justin Tanis | On Sunday and Monday this week, transgender people, along with their family members and allies, gathered in Sacramento for an Advocacy Day organized by the Transgender Law Center and Equality California. On Sunday, Q Wilson and I represented Out & Equal and helped lead groups preparing to head to the state Capitol and meet with their state legislators the next day.

Among the bills being considered this year is A.B. 887, the Gender Non-Discrimination Act, which would clarify existing California non-discrimination laws that cover gender identity. The state already provides protections against discrimination based on gender identity, by including that as part of the definition of gender. However, because gender identity isn’t named as a separate category, it isn’t always clear to employers, landlords, and others that they have a responsibility to ensure that their businesses do not act in a discriminatory way. A.B. 887 helps clarify what the law already says, making it easy to follow the law and avoid potentially costly lawsuits if employers or their employees violate the law.

Because, despite the existing protections, Q and I heard stories from people in California who had lost their jobs because they had the misfortune of working for a prejudiced manager or for an business that didn’t realize that it was both illegal and wrong to fire people because of who they are here. At Out & Equal, we are dedicated to the principle that people should be judged by the work they do, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A. B. 887 is authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, and was introduced on February 17, 2011. The bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee in early April. For more information, you can view a fact sheet from Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

California is one of only 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have banned workplace discrimination based on gender identity.

Update (May 4, 2011): The California Assembly Appropriations Committee just passed A.B. 887; you can read more about today’s action here.

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