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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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Update on Transgender Employment Issues

So many interesting things have happened in the last month on transgender employment issues, I'm going to make a list. The most important news is about the signing of legislation in Iowa, Vermont, Colorado and Oregon. But not all is rosy...

- The Governor of Iowa signed the bill including gender identity into the state's antidiscrimination law, as did the Governor of Vermont, the Governor of Colorado, and the Governor of Oregon.

The Governor of Ohio by executive order restored a ban on discrimination against state employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation, which had been removed by his predecessor in 1999 However, the Governor also noted his opinion that any Ohio legislation purporting to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity would be rendered unconstitutional by the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage It is difficult to understand the connection, and I note that federal court opinions already cover all transgender employees in Ohio.

A transgender employee won a lawsuit against an insurer, Highmark Blue Shield, that refused to cover the costs of her sex reassignment surgery This comes on the heels of reports that more employers are covering the costs of such surgery

However, not all is rosy for transgender employment rights:

The Connecticut legislature failed to pass legislation adding gender identity to the state's non-discrimination law (I note that all transgender employees in Connecticut are covered by a state administrative ruling.)

The transgender experience in the job market: The American Lawyer publishes a letter, by one of the few transgender lawyers in a large law firm, discussing its article on strides made by gay lawyers in overcoming employment discrimination in large law firms, and noting that transgender lawyers have not been included in the largesse

ENDA: An editorial published in the Washington Blade, an important gay newspaper, suggests that the inclusion of transgender people in anti-discrimination legislation threatens gay people

Identification records: At a "Town Meeting" held on the newly released regulations under the Real ID Act, two witnesses testify about the negative effects on the transgender community, with one noting that "you don't know what it's like to get carted off the security line by a couple of burly cops" (comments at 41:00 and 1:15)

ENDA: The Concerned Women of America suggest that the federal legislation to ban employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would be an unconstitutional infringement of employers under the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion

Corporate Diversity: Micron Corp., after a shareholder resolution requiring protection of employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation, adds sexual orientation but refuses to add gender identity

And here are some other notable transgender tidbits:

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign release a groundbreaking guide for transgender people about coming out as transgender

Identification records: Transgender passengers are having more and more passport problems because of federal rules written by people who don't understand transgender identities

A transgender police officer on the Kansas City police force came out, and things are going well for her so far

The San Francisco police commission elected a transgender woman as its president

Schools K-12: A Texas transgender high school student, suspended from school for dress code violations, is reinstated after intervention by a pro bono lawyer

Transgender experience in the job market: The Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, aimed at reducing chronic unemployment and underemployment in the transgender community, established in San Francisco, and a similar program in Los Angeles, the Transgender Job Placement Program

Trans culture: Executives at Frameline, San Francisco's LGBT film festival, made the unprecedented decision to yank a film, The Gendercator, from this year's schedule due to community outrage over its satirical portrayals of transsexuals in a mythical future

A transgender woman, Jenny Bailey, has been chosen mayor of Cambridge, England, as it celebrates its 800th anniversary

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