It has been an eventful week for transgender issues across seven states in the US along with news out of Canada and India.
Here are your latest updates:
Montana – Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order extending nondiscrimination protections to state employees and state contractors based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Governor issued the following statement on his Facebook page:
Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recommit to the values and principles he fought for every day – compassion, acceptance, and equality. I am honored to stand up for all Montanans to ensure that no one is denied full and equal participation in our state’s workforce based on discrimination and intolerance. Today I am issuing an Executive Order to expand prohibitions on discrimination in state employment and state contracts. You can read it in full here: http://ow.ly/d/4elz
“There is “no safety issue” of people being attacked in bathrooms by transgender people.”
Oklahoma – Republican Senator Joseph Silk introduced bill 1014, which would force people to use public bathrooms based on their gender at birth according to a report by the Independent. The Senator claims he has “overwhelming support” for the measure citing concerned parents. Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, went on record stating the bill is trying to find a solution to an issue that is not a problem. He cited there is “no safety issue” of people being attacked in bathrooms by transgender people.
Virginia – We have an update to Virginia House of Representatives Delegate Mark Cole’s proposed House Bill 663. The bill would require school students to use restrooms according to their “anatomical” sex. Civil Rights Activist Tim Peacock ignited a frenzy after posting on twitter sating the bill would require students to undergo genital x-ray inspections before using the restroom.
— Tim Peacock (@TimAPeacock) January 12, 2016
This prompted a response from Delegate Cole which stated his proposal does not require genital X-Rays along with a clarification from Peacock on his blog.
Indiana – The latest update from Indiana has the state legislature set to debate two of their proposed gender identity bills on January 27th. According to IndyStar, they will be debating Senate Bill 100. The bill would provide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but with exceptions for small wedding service providers and religious-affiliated organizations, including hospitals and universities affiliated with a particular faith. The second bill, Senate Bill 344, was drafted after growing qualms over transgender issues and would grant civil rights only to gays and lesbians. It would also include somewhat broader exemptions for religious objectors.
Nebraska – In a report by the Sioux City Journal, the Nebraska School Activities Association board approved a process to allow transgender students to participate in sports. The controversial measure won by a vote of 6-2 and will take effect immediately.
Unfortunately state legislators have proposed a new bill that would require a student to produce a birth certificate to participate in sports. If approved, the bill would take precedence over the just approved process. The issue goes to a vote in April.
Florida – A Sarasota, Florida school becomes the first in the Tampa Bay area to adopt a policy for transgender students. According to WFLA News Channel 8, transgender student Nate Quinn has been fighting to be allowed to use the bathroom associated with his gender identity for over a year. Parents in the district were notified by an automated phone message. The policy has great support in the Sarasota community and they are pushing to have the policy adopted for the entire district.
“Today we are sending the message loud and clear that New York will not stand for discrimination against transgender people”
New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his executive action regarding transgender protections goes into effect today. In a report by the Albany Times Union, the Governor issued the following statement:
“Today we are sending the message loud and clear that New York will not stand for discrimination against transgender people,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It is intolerable to allow harassment or discrimination against anyone, and the transgender community has been subjected to a second-class status for far too long. This is an issue of basic justice and I am proud that New York is continuing to lead the way forward.”
The Human Rights Campaign has provided a brochure detailing ongoing measures in 11 states for 2016. You can download it here.
Alberta, Canada – Alberta’s education minister, David Eggen, released guidelines for sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expression in Alberta schools. Though they are not mandatory the guidelines allow each student to define their own gender identity without the need to produce identification. It also states that students are able to choose their own pronouns, dress according to their preference and participate in sporting activities according to the gender they identify with. The guidelines also allow students to use the restrooms they identify with.
India – The Human Rights Watch penned a letter to the India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, on Tuesday. The letter urges the Indian government to strengthen its groundbreaking 2015 Bill which provides legal protections for the country’s transgender population.
According to a report in The Hindu, Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director at HRW issued the following statement. “(the)Transgender Persons Bill will help protect and empower India’s transgender population, but the government needs also to address the bill’s shortcomings,” said Ganguly, “With the input of the transgender community, the government should ensure that a new law lays out a strong legal framework in line with the constitution and international law, and provides effective enforcement.” The HRW feels the bill should be amended to ensure that self-identification is the sole criterion for legal gender recognition without psychological, medical, or other “expert” intervention.