Transgender protection snuffed
A law to grant transgendered individuals protection of gender identity and expression was sent back to the Rules Committee after the 2011 Maryland General Assembly.
The law would have protected these individuals from denial of housing, and credit and employment discrimination. The bill was derailed by a 27 to 20 vote from the Senate, sending it back to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where it was killed on a 7 to 4 vote.
As passage of the legislation was blocked in the Maryland session, senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller deemed the legislation to be “anti-family.”
“I was very disappointed when the bill went back into the committee,” Maren Greathouse, director of LGBT student development at Towson University, said. “The bill had many legal ramifications for transgender and gender variant Marylanders, some of who are Towson students.”
The denial of this bill has left many transgendered people feeling neglected by their elected representatives in the government. Greathouse said transgender individuals endure severe social stigma that this bill would have provided protection from. They face discrimination in the workplace that puts them at a disadvantage because employment is fundamental to survival.
“To not prioritize this legislation is an affront to the community it affects,” Greathouse said.
GenderBlur, an on-campus organization for transgender students and allies, functions as a support group and as an environment for transgender people to talk about issues they face in a safe space. Kyle Davis, secretary of GenderBlur, said he is undecided about his feelings on the failure of the anti-discrimination bill.
“So much of the trans community was against the bill because it did not cover public accommodation,” he said.
Many transgender people are homeless, and since this law would not provide protection from denial to homeless shelters, Davis was not fully supportive.
He said because the law was killed, transgendered people are still not considered to be a protected class.
They can be denied housing, employment and credit on the basis of their gender identity or expression.
Members of GenderBlur were not surprised the bill did not pass. At their meeting this week, they discussed feelings about the failure of the bill and what that means for transgender people across the state.
“I’m really disappointed that the bill got shot down,” Noel Heimpel, vice president of GenderBlur, said. “I’m a citizen of this country too, so I deserve the same protection as everyone else who lives here.”
Along with students in GenderBlur, Greathouse said she has hope the bill will be re-introduced in a future general assembly with the inclusion of public accommodation as an area of protection.
Despite disappointment, some transgender students say they are remaining hopeful about the future of the bill.
“They shot our bill down, but they didn’t shoot us,” Heimpel said.