Transgender Equality Update

While the movement toward equality for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals has been blessed with a number of significant victories in 2011 and 2012, so far this year, the progress toward full equality for transgender people has been a bit more checkered.

One of the biggest victories came with the end of a six-year fight in Wisconsin to overturn a state law that banned prison medical care for a condition unique to transgender people. According to the ACLU, “The law prevented prison doctors from ever prescribing transition-related medical treatment, including hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery, to transgender prisoners.” Two years ago, a federal district court struck down the law as unconstitutional, and an appeals court affirmed the decision in August 2011. The conclusion to this fight came last month when the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to hear the case, which means the law will remain invalid.

In Massachusetts, transgender individuals are finally protected against many – though not all – forms of discrimination. The law, signed in January of this year, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, and post-secondary education. In addition, the legislation expands Massachusetts’ hate crimes statute to protect transgender people as well. However, Massachusetts advocates and the governor himself say work remains to be done: A provision was removed from the bill which would have required all “sex-segregated facilities,” such as public restrooms, to grant admission based on gender identity rather than biological sex.

Yet even more work remains to be done in other states: In Maryland, a bill similar to the one passed in Massachusetts has stalled. The Maryland legislation would have protected transgender people from employment, credit, and housing discrimination. It will likely not be voted on this legislative session.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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Noah Baron

About Noah Baron

Noah Baron is a 2011-2012 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Princeton Junction, NJ, and a graduate of Columbia University.

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