November 2, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Howard County considers trans non-discrimination bill

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, said she is confident Howard County has the votes to pass a transgender non-bias bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Four members of the Howard County, Md., Council introduced legislation on Oct. 27 that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, financing, health and social services and law enforcement.

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a statewide transgender advocacy group, said supporters believe they have enough votes on the Council to pass the legislation.

“All hard-working people in our state, including transgender people, should have a chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families,” said Sharon Brackett, board chair for Gender Rights Maryland. “Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”

Among the bill’s lead supporters is the Howard County chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

“As parents of transgender children we want the same thing for our children as all parents want: we want them to be happy to get a productive job, and to move out and support themselves,” said Catherine Hyde, coordinator of PFLAG Howard County’s Transgender Parent Network.

“Discrimination against the transgender community is rampant in Maryland,” she said. “The data shows that one in five transgender people in Maryland have lost a job because they are transgender, and 12 percent have become homeless. This law is a matter of life-or-death for many Marylanders, including my child. It is time for Howard County to say enough is enough.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • I wish the best of luck to Howard County. Let’s hope that this is the stepping stone that we need for a statewide GENDA. But in order for that to happen, Equality Maryland is going to need to get off of their high horse and let GENDA go through first. Let’s make sure that the transsexual/transgender community have full baseline protections before we build on. Marriages from DC are already recognized in Maryland. I do want to see marriage equality in Maryland but I feel at this time, the trans rights bill should take priority. I don’t want to see a repeat of New York (or the political mudslinging that happened in the ’11 MD session) and please keep Pena-Melnyk out of the markup sessions. She destroyed last year’s GENDA so she could get her disability legislation passed (which also died).

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