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.

Join the Conversation

  • Mara

    I’m very proud to say that I live in Montgomery County, Maryland. I’ve been watching this issue since it began, sending letters, and generally hoping for this result.
    I’m just so happy that my home, a place I love, has taken this very big step.
    And it’s happened despite opposition that has done nothing but lie to the voters of this county since it started. They’ve used horrid tactics that stopped just short of taking out ads claiming that this would cause widespread child abuse! (Actually, they might have even done that. I wouldn’t be surprised.)

  • Abby B.

    Oh Maryland, my Maryland. I am suddenly overcome with a bout of homesickness. Things like these make my still recent grad school relocation to Nebraska difficult.

  • JenTheFem

    Woohoo! That’s where I live :)

  • Roodies24

    Yay!!! I’m from Montgomery County, MD too!!
    I was really worried about this–the anti-campaign was the worst. I remember receiving phone calls saying that I would be raped in the bathroom if the law was passed.

  • susanstohelit

    I grew up in MoCo, even though I’m a Jersey girl now, and I’m so proud to come from this awesomely liberal county. YAY!!

  • Elissa

    I live in Montgomery County also and I too am very proud that the place I love with all my heart is moving forward in this way. I have paid attention to this for months and I am so glad it has finally taken effect.

  • Destra

    I love, love, love that transgender rights are getting laws to support them. Love it. And while not all news attention to the subject is flattering, at least they’re talking about it unlike 10 years ago.
    On the make up case: I can’t see that this Appeals Court case will go very far. It’s my impression that the majority of Federal Courts across the districts would rule quite contrary to this case.
    I had very similar thoughts as to different requirements for dress when I worked for a very conservative office in high school. Women were expected to wear makeup, nylons, and heels. And men were expected to have collared shirts and pants. Even before my feminist awakening, I knew that that policy was just not right. Why should women and men be treated differently? No, I take that back, I had these thoughts even in pre-school. I was so angry that the boys got to take off their shirts when it was hot out, and not the girls. It was just unfair. Feminist at age 4!

  • Mina

    All I can say is, very great news! :D

  • Dark_Angel

    Very good news and a great day for us all. I can only hope that this type of action makes it way down south where they still live in the old days.