July 7, 2011 | by Phil Reese
Connecticut adds gender identity to non-discrimination laws

With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature, Connecticut became the 15th state to join the District of Columbia in extending workplace protections to trans workers.

The legislation passed the Connecticut House on May 19, and the Senate on June 4. The law will go into effect on October 1. HB-6599, known as “An Act Concerning Discrimination,” bars employers and state contractors from discriminating in hiring and firing on the grounds of “gender identity or expression,” which will give transgender residents legal recourse if they are unfairly kept from employment or fired from their job solely based on their gender identity, as opposed to job performance.

The law defines gender identity or expression as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” Connecticut has protected employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1991.

In a statement released Wednesday, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Rea Carey, congratulated the New Englad state.

“Our national survey spotlights just how pervasive and severe discrimination is toward transgender and gender non-conforming people. The alarming personal stories and stats show that transgender people face injustice in many places — from exclusionary workplaces to the grocery store to doctors’ offices. Connecticut responded appropriately to this crisis. We thank Gov. Dan Malloy and lawmakers for ensuring that the people of Connecticut, regardless of gender identity or expression, are protected from such discrimination. Congratulations to the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition and CtEquality and all those who have advocated for these critical protections.”

In New Englad, currently, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine have laws barring gender identity and expression discrimination in employment. Connecticut neighbors Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, but advocates have been unsuccessful in these states protecting jobs for transgender workers in the law.

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1993, Minnesotta passed a law barring discrimination based both on sexual orientation and gender identity, becoming the first state to do so. The District of Columbia’s rules protecting transgender workers went into effect in October 2006. Virginia does not provide any protections in either sexual orientation nor gender identity for even state workers, however, Maryland — while missing gender identity protections — does provide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation for all of its citizens.

The group Gender Rights Maryland was formed earlier this year with the mission to push for an upgrade of the legislation.

 

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