Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Residents discuss changes to anti-discrimination policy

August 30, 2009


The city’s Human Relations Commission met with about 30 area residents Saturday morning at City Hall to further discuss adding gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

Kansas Equality Coalition in March asked the city to add gender identity to the policy, which now protects Lawrence residents from discrimination based on categories such as age, race and sexual orientation.

Lori Tapahonso, commission chair, said the meeting’s purpose was to solicit feedback from residents and further educate the commission and residents about the issue.

“The commission as a whole had a lot of questions,” Tapahonso said about the initial proposal.

The addition of gender identity to the policy would aim to protect against discrimination in areas such as housing and employment for Lawrence residents who identify with a gender other than the one they were born into.

About a dozen people, mostly in support of adding the category to the city’s policy, spoke at the meeting.

The meeting became emotional at times as several transgender people discussed their personal experiences of discrimination based on their gender identity.

Stephanie Mott, a male-to-female transsexual who spoke at the meeting, said adding gender identity to the policy would go a long way in creating a more understanding community.

Mott said she’s been subject to employment discrimination and wants others to know that such discrimination has a significant impact on someone’s life.

“They just don’t know,” she said of those who lack personal experience on transgender issues.

During the meeting there was considerable discussion about what terminology a potential proposal would include, and community members made suggestions to the commission.

Concerns were expressed about whether further language was needed to include those discriminated against based not only on someone’s actual, but also perceived, gender identity status.

Two speakers at the meeting discussed potential problems with possible changes, including how the policy would address issues concerning the usage of restroom and showering facilities at area businesses.

Regardless of the final language on a possible proposal, Tapahonso said the main point is to ensure all Lawrence residents are protected.

“Our community should be discrimination-free. No question about it,” she said.

The commission will continue to consider language and potential repercussions of any proposal, and the commission plans to vote on a proposal at its next meeting on Nov. 19, she said.

If the commission approves a recommendation for changes to the existing policy, a city commission vote will be required before changes can be implemented.


Bradley Kemp 8 years, 2 months ago

The proposed change to the ordinance would in no way affect a company's power to inforce a dress code.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 2 months ago

Let us take gender ambiguity to the next level. (Of course, then I'll need to be changing clothing hourly.)

igby 8 years, 2 months ago

I thought this was already covered in the Handicap regulations. Unless you are one in 10 million who have the gene then it's a mental health issue. None of these so called gender benders have ever been tested for the gene, so their not born with it. It's al in their head, so it's a mental health issue.

If your taking drugs and hormones to become an unnatural gender, it's a mental and physical health issue and it's already covered in the handicap regulations.

It's all about sex and attracting sexual partners.

On the other hand, I suppose if women can dress lewdly to attract their wants, there is a strong argument that gender benders could do the same as well. However, there is nothing more repulsing that an ugly tranny. Potbellied, peg-legged dorky typed ones with no taste for the female fashion. A dress is just a dress unless you have what makes a dress secondary and a complement.

The same rules should apply too those burly dikes as well. Women like mussels on a man.

So, it boils down to fashion and looks.

The city will need to hire fashion police to roam the streets of Lawrence, and issue violations to the gender benders with poor taste.

Dan Eyler 8 years, 2 months ago

Any expectation that cities should write laws that legitimize bizarre behavior and mental illness should not be up for discussion. These behaviors are not normal in a public venue. Attempting to provide counseling is a good idea. These good people need help from the medical and psychiatric world. The thought that a community would pass laws that force their children to share access to public restrooms or anywhere else where men dress as women or women as men is another example illness far deeper than laws can protect.

begin60 8 years, 2 months ago

Help stamp out busybodies! Too many Lawrence residents interfere with the freedom and safety of complete strangers in public based on 18th-century prejudices. Please spare others you meet in public by chance your impossibility thinking. Discrimination cannot occur when we mind our own business. "Help" coming from an ego-based need for status is an offense and when it involves approaching others based on offensive,mindless stereotypes it is stalking and profiling and discrimination. Zip your lip and learn not to impose limiting and unfair assumptions on others. Please respect the privacy civil rights law protects.Thanks for your understanding and support of equal rights, privacy, and independence.

Kendall Simmons 8 years, 2 months ago

It's pretty obvious some folks don't understand what being transgender means and are weirded out by gender identity issues.

There's a good chance this stems from their being uncomfortable because it's a "sex" issue. The idea of dressing like the opposite sex for other than comfort (women wearing pants) or acting out for fun reasons (a bunch of guys dressing up as cheerleaders for a fundraiser) isn’t something that turns them it creeps them out.

They don’t understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are two very distinct concepts that aren’t at all necessarily linked together.

But, because they don’t understand, and are bothered by the “sex thing”, out come the lewd remarks. And the rude remarks. And the nasty remarks.

And don't forget the ever-popular public restroom fears, as if there are no such things in the 21st century as Family Restrooms or one-toilet restrooms (like we tend to have in our own homes, in case you hadn't noticed) that simply say "Restroom" on the door and have a lock inside. (God forbid moms ever take their preschool sons into the women's restroom as opposed to sending them solo into the men’s room.)

And, of course, don't forget the always-expected mental illness - "handicap" comments, as if you need to be mentally ill to grow up feeling that the body you have doesn't match your gender self-identity. (Homosexuality was also long considered to be a mental illness...and some of you probably would still love to argue that it is...but it's not.)

Rather, the pressure from society to hide one's gender identity can cause terrible depression, feelings of self-loathing, etc. that often result in people needing mental health treatment.

Like it or not, not a single one of us woke up one morning when we were young and realized, "Oh, yes! THIS is the day I get to choose my sexual identity! I choose...hmmm. Let me think about it. I could choose to be straight but, no, I think I'll choose an identity that can get me ridiculed, beaten up, discriminated against, and treated like a freak. Yeah…that’s my choice! My family will be soooo happy."

You want to explain why anyone would deliberately choose to be gay or transgender, when they could just as easily choose to be heterosexual?? What’s that you just said? It’s an issue of attracting sexual partners?

Seriously. All you straight folks out there who are having difficulty understanding this. Think back. When did YOU get to decide to be straight? When was that choice given to you?? What was your Sexual Identity Choosing Day ?? (Yeah. That's what I thought.)

Oh, and I just can't resist. This is for igby. Why on earth would any woman "like mussels on a man"??? Seems awfully messy. And, of course, I assume it’s alright that we don’t want our men to have crabs :-)

Paul Decelles 8 years, 2 months ago


"Oh, and I just can't resist. This is for igby. Why on earth would any woman “like mussels on a man”??? Seems awfully messy. And, of course, I assume it’s alright that we don’t want our men to have crabs :-)"

Do those come with some sort of dipping sauce? eg

DragonScorpion 8 years, 2 months ago

I must say I'm amazed this subject would even come up in Kansas. I would have thought this too controversial to be even remotely on the radar screen.

I think it is telling, the juxtaposition between the critics here, who show themselves to be uninformed and rigid in their beliefs, and the advocates. This is especially so for the most opinionated critic — Igby, who comes off as crass, ignorant, insulting, uneducated, and conversely the most opinionated advocate, Acornwebworks, who comes off as being reasonable, informed, respectable, intelligent & capable of humor.

It is clear to see who the enlightened one is.

I admit that this isn't a subject I've given much thought to, but I think Acornwebworks made some excellent points. I believe we, as a society, should strive to eliminate unfair discrimination where possible and to a reasonable extent. People should be judged by the content of their character. Stereotypes and generalizations are for the lazy and the bigoted.

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