Following news at the weekend of the brutal attack on Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore McDonald’s restaurant by two young women, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-District 21) has called on Maryland lawmakers to take up a bill to specifically protect trans-identifying individuals from discrimination in the workplace, the credit sector and public accommodations, so as to send a strong message that anti-trans hate and discrimination is not acceptable.
From the letter (h/t Pam’s House Blend):
Incidents such as this illustrate why the transgender community in Maryland and elsewhere needs to be protected through antidiscrimination legislation. Supporters of House Bill 235 in this past legislative session recognized this need and stood up for the rights of this community. While HB235 did not include protection from discrimination in public accommodations due to the intense pressure opponents placed on the bill’s supporters, the bill would have raised public awareness of the issue and paved the way for complete protection for Maryland’s transgender population. Contrary to statements made by those who should be leading the fight for civil rights in Maryland, this was not an anti-family bill, but a basic civil rights bill. The failure of this bill goes against Maryland’s long history of being in the forefront of civil rights movements.
This attack, which took place in District 8, has been broadcast all over the national news, and the video has gone viral, bringing shame to the State of Maryland for allowing such things to take place. I challenge each of the Senators who voted to recommit HB235 on sine die (see the link at http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/votes/senate/1123.htm) to serve as primary sponsors of a stronger version of HB235 in the 2012 legislative session. It is time to rectify the wrong that has been done to transgender citizens of our State.
HB235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, was shelved on the last day of the legislative session after Senate lawmakers voted to recommit.
The bill had been controversial among trans rights advocates because, while it did offer limited housing protections, an earlier clause giving full protection in public accommodations had been stripped from the bill by lawmakers who said that without doing so, the bill would not have a chance of passing. However, trans rights groups pointed out that without those protections trans citizens would be left vulnerable and it would be unlikely that lawmakers would then remedy this omission at a later date.
Maryland senate president Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, a Democrat, is credited in part with the failure of Maryland’s Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act after it emerged he called the bill “anti-family” during a television interview that aired April 8. He also said that senators wouldn’t employ “people with male sexual organs who wear a dress to serve as receptionists” so why should lawmakers ask the public to.
Following the attack, Trans rights advocates point out how the “bathroom bill” meme and the reducing of trans people solely to their sex characteristics serves to feed into the dehumanization of gender variant and trans individuals and therein contributes to anti-trans violent attacks.
A crowd of around 300 people including Chrissy Lee Polis’ family gathered at the Baltimore McDonald’s restaurant Monday to protest anti-trans violence. Read more here.
To read more background on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, please click here.
TAKE ACTION: SUPPORT A FULLY INCLUSIVE TRANS ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT!