The California Senate this week passed a bill that would strengthen the state’s existing nondiscrimination laws to explicitly protect trans citizens.
“Californians support fair and equal treatment for everyone, but many employers, landlords and transgender people themselves are unaware that the law protects transgender people,” said Atkins. “As a result, transgender people experience housing and employment discrimination and often are not even aware they have any recourse. AB 887 will strengthen our state’s anti-discrimination laws and move us closer to equality for every Californian.
California non-discrimination laws already define “gender” to include a person’s gender identity (how they see themselves) and gender expression (how other people see them). AB 887 specifically enumerates gender identity and gender expression in order to simplify compliance with existing legal protections.
In 2009, the Transgender Law Center released its “State of Transgender California” report. The report revealed overwhelmingly that Californians who experience discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression at work or elsewhere often times do not file complaints because they are unaware that they are protected as a result of confusing non-discrimination laws.
As mentioned above, current laws already protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity and gender expression because California’s non-discrimination laws define “gender” in a way that is inclusive of those terms (Educational Code 66260.7 and Penal Code 422.56). However, existing laws are somewhat vague and may be confusing for employers and housing authorities who need to know exactly what their responsibilities are in these areas.
It is hoped that by simply clarifying the law, employers will feel empowered knowing exactly what is expected of them, and that California’s trans population will know precisely what their rights are and if those rights have been violated.
The legislation now heads to Governor Brown’s desk. He is expected to sign.