Archive for Friday, June 19, 2009

City panel gathers information about transgender issues

Community members discuss proposed change to anti-discrimination policy

June 19, 2009


Members of the transgender community spoke to about 40 people Thursday night at a forum aimed at increasing awareness about transgender issues.

The forum was hosted by Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., and followed a showing of the 2004 documentary film, “Call me Malcolm,” about a transgendered seminarian student.

Several members of the city’s Human Relations Commission attended the gathering as part of an information-gathering process about a proposed change to the city’s anti-discrimination policy, said Commission Chair Lori Tapahonso. The commission was asked by the City Commission in May to study a proposal to add transgender identity status to the list of protected categories in the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

“As a group, we wanted to fully understand the issue,” Tapahonso said. After further study, the commission will make a recommendation to the City Commission regarding any possible changes to the policy. Tapahonso said that there is no timeline for the process, but that the issue would be discussed publicly at an Aug. 19 meeting.

Transgendered individuals include people who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with. Including such a category in the policy would provide protections against discrimination based on gender identity in the same ways that other categories such as race and age are protected.

Brad Kemp, a member of the Kansas Equality Coalition, the organization that brought the proposal to the City Commission in May, said he attended the forum in hopes of providing the commission with more information on gender-identity issues and raising awareness in the community about such issues.

Kemp said adding transgender identity to the list of protected categories is a step in the right direction for equal rights within the city and in Kansas.

“It’s just unfair,” Kemp said of the current absence of the status as a protected category.

Lawrence couple Jay and Jessica Pryor were both on the panel and spoke about some of the issues of discrimination that those in the transgender community face. Jay is a female-to-male transsexual, which means he was born a woman but has transitioned to a man. He said that providing legal protections for the transgender community is one way Lawrence can make a statement about the value of all citizens.

“To have it (transgender identity) in the ordinance means safety,” Pryor said. “Not everybody has that.”


aldo 8 years, 9 months ago

Good Grief. Do city staffers and the commission have nothing better to do ? What's next, special status for lefties, goat ropers and pickup truck drivers? Not wanting to discount the seriousness of the discrimination that some are apparently experiencing but there is a place where there is no discrimination of any type in any way. It's called "self employment". Start a business of your own and hire yourself. In KS you don't even have to register a DBA or fictitious name with the state. Just do it. Build your own thing. Oh, but that presents another problem more serious than the first: you can't hire anybody you want to because you've helped create rules that won't allow you to do that.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago


Sadly, a policy like this has the effect of identifying and leveraging people's differences. Rather, we should strive to unite around our commonalities.

aldo 8 years, 9 months ago

Agreed! What happened to good employees simply being good employees who had the appropriate skills and attributes for the job? I know a fellow who wasn't hired because he has all sorts of scary looking tatoos and a job he applied for involved contact with the general public in a way that the employee needed to be relateable to all sorts of potential customers. This persons solution was to find a job where it didn't matter. Who wants to work at a job that is not appropriate for them or the employer ? This is a LOSE-LOSE, not a WIN-WIN. Should the employer be forced to hire them anyway? I sure hope not ! Fred Flintstone was denied a job at an aspririn bottle filling plant because his fingers were too fat. so he got a job at the rock quarry. Are you listening City Commission? Please don't waste our resources on one more minute of this. Instead, how about come by and fix my storm drain that's collapsing into the hole.

Donna_Crosser 8 years, 9 months ago

I would like to let you know a few things. 1. Your Good city employees came out to this on their own free time 7PM is well after close of business for city goverment. 2. The guy with the tatoos made a choice to get the tatoos. Being Born this way is not a choice! 3. It would seem the City Commission is listening. I would not be supprised if the person comes by and fixes that storm drain. 4. Maby the Transgendered Engineer who knows exactly whats wrong with your drain did not attempt to get the job for fear or discrimination.

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