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Hawaii’s Trans Workplace Nondiscrimination Bill Advances

Hawaii’s Trans Workplace Nondiscrimination Bill Advances

A bill that would expand existing workplace nondiscrimination rules to encompass perceived or actual gender identity was advanced by the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee this week in a 3-2 vote.

The bill, HB 546, was passed by the House at the beginning of March and would prohibit discrimination “on the basis of gender identity and expression as a public-policy matter and specifically with regard to employment.”

Protections in public accommodations already exist for trans Hawaiians. Workplace protections also exist, but this has been achieved through rulings made by the state Civil Rights Commission and not, as yet, state law.

In making this addition to the statutory ban on workplace discrimination, it is hoped that employers will have a clearer picture of their responsibilities where trans employees are concerned.

Former governor Linda Lingle vetoed a near identical bill six years ago, but according to Judiciary Chairman Sen. Clayton Hee, who spoke to following the vote, advocates remain confident the provision will become law given the wide support for the bill and that Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie is thought to support the bill.

The bill must go through a process of reconciliation between the House and Senate versions, however this looks set to be procedural rather than anything relating to the substance of the bill.

The issue of recognition for same-sex partners in Hawaii was finally addressed earlier this year when, after years of struggle, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill making civil unions legal in the state. Read more on that here.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.

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12:37PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:00AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

And Monica shows exactly why I'm out and will remain so. I'm very happy to answer questions, as people who ask them show that they want to try to understand. I applaud them.

2:11PM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

All I would do differently if I realize an employee is trans, is some patience with those of us who may be having our first encounter with trans people. Help us by being open and advocating for your needs or preferences, like I would want to know how they want to be addressed or like, what pronouns they want to use. Stuff like that.

Be patient because an offense may be out of ignorance, not out of bigotry.

An example is what Josephine did on here, patiently explaining something. Now we know more than we used to, and that is good, that makes us more open and accepting.

I have had LGBT friends and co-workers who were cool about answering questions, and today I am a vocal straight ally, largely thanks to their open attitude. I don't want to discriminate, so a person kind enough to let me see their own perspective truly helps me to not do so.

10:59AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

I assumed, by passing the civil union act, this legislation would have been a non issue. I'm glad its being addressed.

12:47AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:17PM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

Hawaii! You're showing the world the power of live-and-let-thrive!

3:53PM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

Way to go Hawaii....

1:39PM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

This is great news. I hope other places will have the sense to do the same.

9:31AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

Thank you for posting.

7:21AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

Agreed, I only want to have employees that can do the job they were hired for, while not causing trouble for other workers or clients/patrons. The same standard for any person.

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