Regulations implementing transgender protections are final
|To:||GLAA List (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Sent:||Monday, November 13, 2006 3:52 PM|
|Subject:||Regulations implementing the inclusion of gender identity|
or expression in the D.C. Human Rights Act are final.
In addition to other good news on Election Day, we found in our mailbox the final regulations implementing the inclusion of gender identity or expression in the D.C. Human Rights Act. http://newsroom.dc.gov/show.aspx/agency/ohr/section/2/release/10121
Although transgender people have been covered in the Human Rights Act since 1973, and numerous cases demonstrate the effectiveness of the law, changes in language and the educational potential of new legislation prompted the introduction of the Human Rights Clarification Amendment Act of 2005 by the Coalition to Clarify the DC Human Rights Act. The bill became law in March.
GLAA, which fully supported the bill [http://www.glaa.org/archive/2005/glaaonhumanrightsclarificationact1017.shtml], did push for a few changes. The initial definitions of gender identity or expression were problematic, and the first draft of the bill would only have amended the preamble of the bill, leaving it completely toothless and unenforceable. GLAA also wanted to make sure that the bill was moved through the Council in a way that would not invoke Congressional opposition. It the Congress had blocked it, transgender people might have been left without any protections from discrimination. We were pleased that the bill passed the Council unanimously, and did not create a backlash by the Congress.
The first draft of the implementing regulations also had a number of problems. Among them was that they left out the D.C. Governmentís obligations not to discriminate and they would violate the First Amendment. Passing unconstitutional regulations would have been a disaster by making the regulations unenforceable.
GLAA worked with the D.C. Human Rights Commission, the ACLU of the National Capital Area, and the D.C. Attorney Generalís Office to correct the regulations. Fortunately Art Spitzer, ACLU/NCAís Legal Director crafted a small change that made the regulations constitutional, and preserved the intent of delineating what acts that would create a hostile environment.
GLAA and the ACLU had previously wrangled with the balance between protecting people from discrimination and not infringing on others constitutional rights. We are pleased that once again the issue was worked out to everyoneís satisfaction.
GLAA is working on other legislation to make sure that the rights of transgender people are protected. We have been talking to D.C. School Board members to ensure that the school regulations are amended to include gender identity or expression. We have drafted legislation that would similarly expand the D.C. hate crimes law, and we are looking through the rest of the D.C. Code to find other sections that need similar amendments.
GLAA recently testified [http://www.glaa.org/archive/2006/glaaonshelterbill0606.shtml] on legislation creating inspections of homeless shelters to ensure that enforcement of the Human Rights Act be included. We have heard anecdotal stories that transgender people are discriminated against in shelters, but we havenít been able to identify an instance where discrimination could be proven. Inspections should help with this problem.
GLAA continues to demand training for D.C. Police, Fire, and EMS employees so that they will interact with transgender people respectfully and professionally. http://www.glaa.org/archive/2006/ohrglaatestimony0303.shtml and http://www.glaa.org/archive/2006/glaaonfireemsbudget0330.shtml. We want to ensure that Tyra Hunterís ordeal is never repeated.
GLAA will also be working with the Office of Human Rights to ensure that the workplace posters http://ohr.dc.gov/ohr/cwp/view,a,3,q,558960,ohrNav,%7C30953%7C.asp are updated and sent to every business and school in D.C. Workplaces are required to post the D.C. notice of non-discrimination, but many only have the federal notice, which is far less comprehensive and excludes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression among other categories.
GLAA has been on the forefront of protecting the rights of transgender people since 1971, and it remains central to our mission.
GLAA President 2000-2003