Transgender rights victory in Maryland

Great news! As of yesterday, Montgomery County, Maryland considers it unacceptable to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. Although the county council passed the anti-discrimination law almost a year ago, the measure was blocked from taking effect by conservative groups who launched a petition effort against it. The groups wanted to put the anti-discrimination law to a ballot vote in November, but a court ruled yesterday they could not.
Now those groups are whining that they’ve been “disenfranchised” — which is rich, coming from people who sought to protect discriminatory policies.
A quick note about the coverage this law has received. While most headlines couch it in terms of preventing discrimination against transpeople (which, of course, the law does), the actual language bars discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This is a broader term that covers people who may not identify as trans, but run the spectrum of gender-nonconforming presentation. As E.J. Graff wrote, back when the debate was raging over the inclusion of gender identity in the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act,

Here’s the idea. When there is discrimination against, or recoil from, lesbians and gay men, it’s not just because we fall in love with others of the same sex. It’s because we don’t neatly fit our gender identities; we’re often “genderqueer” as well. Our girls tend to be boyish; our boys tend to be girly. Not always, and not all of us. But gay men and lesbians who “pass”– who are “straight-acting,” in the terminology, who more closely fit sex stereotypes (like me, despite my short hair)–run into the least trouble on the job. It’s the fey men (and, depending on the situation, the butch women) who run into trouble. And that’s the ground on which they need the most protection: gender identity.

She goes on to say that even the woman who was fired for refusing to wear makeup could have claimed protection under a gender-identity clause. This is important stuff to keep in mind as we consider how all of these issues are connected.
More on the Montgomery County victory at Pam’s House Blend, Broadsheet, TransGriot, Questioning Transphobia, and ACSblog.

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