Hawaii close to banning gender identity-based employment discrimination

Good news coming out of Hawaii. From TransGriot comes word the House and Senate have passed a bill that bans employment discrimination based on gender identity. Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill. The state already bans discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on gender identity and expression. These protections mean a lot for trans and gender non-conforming folks, who face overwhelming discrimination in the public sector.

This news is a bit of a relief after the recent failure of Maryland’s limited, flawed gender identity protections bill. I’ve criticized the tactics behind this legislation, but that in no way means its failure is a good thing – it’s a sad loss. And unfortunately what’s happening in Hawaii doesn’t much help trans folks in Maryland. We desperately need a trans inclusive federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but advocates have already given up on that passing in the current Congress despite it’s introduction. So state-based legislation is especially crucial right now.

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Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    Perhaps Hawaii can set another example of how well such a policy can work (perhaps with some fine tuning) that other states can mimic later on. It’s not to write-off the failure in Maryland, but Hawaii should provide some long-term momentum on the issue.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhoanna/ Rhoanna

    I’m pissed off about the Maryland vote. I’m especially ticked off at the trans groups that opposed the bill. Yes, a law that includes public accommodations would be better. But banning employment and housing discrimination would be far better than nothing at all. Not that they’re necessarily to blame. That rests more on senators who, for whatever reason, backed off on their support. The same thing happened in the House of Delegates on the same-sex marriage. I don’t know whether we need better lobbying or vote counting or voting those guys out of office or what, but something needs to be done better.