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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

NYC lawyer's association to address transgender legal rights

Here's an interesting seminar coming up in New York City at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York:

A panel discussion about current judicial, legislative, and political developments on the local, state, and federal levels, affecting the legal and civil rights of transgendered persons. Tuesday, October 17, 2006 7-9 pm

Now, a lot of you out there might think that New York City is so transgender friendly that New York City lawyers would have to deal with transgender issues on a daily basis and know all about it. However, the truth is that most transgender people don't have the type of jobs that would interest the plaintiff's bar, and even when they do, your average judge and jury doesn't always see anti-trans behavior as discriminatory. If you think I'm exaggerating, check out the recent ruling by a Manhattan judge that transgender persons cannot change their names to one traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

At the same time, however, that is beginning to change, as more transgender people of the middle classes are able to retain their jobs after transition, and feel free to retain some visibility. In addition, New York City recently passed a law in 2002 providing explicit protection on the basis of "gender identity," so it's now on the radar of the plaintiff's bar (though the state courts have interpreted protection for transgender employees for a decade, which shows you the practical difference between a court opinion and a statute). That means the corporate bar needs to ante up, and they are.

In addition, a large number of employers in the New York City area have their own EEO policies that include "gender identity," so lawyers need to understand these issues. These companies read like Who's Who, including ITT, Barclays, HarperCollins, Nixon Peabody, Deloitte & Touche, Con Ed, Keyspan, Credit Suisse, New York Life, MetLife, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cadwalader, KPMG, Pepsi., New York Times, Viacom, IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Starwood Hotels, Merrill Lynch, Estee Lauder, Accenture, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Pfizer, and Lehman Brothers.

The speakers are an interesting bunch, so it promises to be an interesting evening. The panel features some transgender lawyers, which is interesting in itself; a sign that the community is coming of age.

One of the organizations, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which is dedicated to transgender legal issues, has much useful information on transgender employee issues, as well as info on that always fascinating topic: the bathroom. They also have a link to the full text of the NYC guidelines, a ten page booklet which specifically discusses what is and is not permitted under NYC law. These should be instructive for HR managers out there who are wondering what kinds of actions are or are not appropriate under their company's "gender identity" EEO policies.

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