Archive for Friday, March 6, 2009

Lawrence group seeks legal protection for transgender people

Lawrence could become the first city in Kansas to outlaw discrimination against cross dressers and transgendered people.

March 6, 2009


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A Lawrence group is asking the city to change its anti-discrimination law to protect people who consider themselves transgender.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition has sent a letter asking commissioners to include transgender protection as part of the city’s human rights ordinance. The change would make it illegal for landlords and employers to deny someone housing or a job based on their transgender identity.

“They deserve this,” Maggie Childs, chair of the coalition, said of the proposed legal protection. “It is just clear to me that this is a very vulnerable group.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “transgender” as “having personal characteristics (as transsexuality or transvestism) that transcend traditional gender boundaries and corresponding sexual norms.”

City commissioners are expected to officially receive the letter at their meeting on Tuesday evening. Commissioners, though, are not expected to debate the proposal. Instead, they plan to send the issue to the city’s Human Relations Commission for a recommendation. The issue likely won’t come back to the commission until after the April 7 City Commission elections.

There will be some opposition to the change, said the Rev. Leo Barbee, pastor of Victory Bible Church in Lawrence. Barbee said that transgender individuals are engaging in deviant and sinful behavior, and that landlords and employers should be allowed to judge people on their behavior.

“They are saying that this is my lifestyle, and I’m going to make you accept it regardless,” said Barbee, who has come out in opposition to previous Lawrence issues regarding homosexual rights. “I think a person has a right to say no. I don’t agree with your lifestyle, and I’m not mandated to accept it.”

Childs said people who are transgender generally don’t consider it to be a lifestyle choice.

“When they talk about transitioning, they talk about how that is the first time their outside has felt in sync with their inside,” Childs said. “They don’t talk about it as a choice.”

The city’s human rights ordinance already is unique in the state. Since the mid-1990s, Lawrence has been the only city in the state where it is illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation. Lawrence also became the first city in the state to create a domestic partnership registry that gives some legal recognition to same-sex couples. That registry was created in 2007 after the Kansas Equality Coalition lobbied for it.

Childs said recent research indicates that 108 cities or counties across the country have anti-discrimination laws that protect transgender people. Those include: Kansas City, Mo.; Boulder, Colo.; Champaign, Ill.; Austin, Texas; and Iowa City, Iowa, according to information from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Childs said she wasn’t aware of any publicized incidents of discrimination or hate crimes against transgender people in Lawrence. But the coalition’s letter points to a 1993 murder — the subject of the film “Boys Don’t Cry” in Lincoln, Neb. It also points to a 2007 case in Florida where a city manager was fired after transitioning from a male to a female.

“It is not that we’ve had a spate of problems in Lawrence, but we would rather be proactive and encourage awareness and acceptance before we have a tragedy,” Childs said.

Groups that may be required to abide by the new law generally were just learning of it for the first time on Friday. Matt Hoy, an attorney for the Lawrence Apartment Association, said his group would study the proposal.

“Our members will want to thoughtfully review it,” Hoy said.


KansasVoter 9 years, 3 months ago

“They are saying that this is my lifestyle, and I’m going to make you accept it regardless,” said Barbee

Christianity is a lifestyle choice. Gays, lesbians, and the transgendered are born that way.

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 3 months ago

Barbee -

I don’t agree with your lifestyle, and I’m not mandated to accept it.

Lucky for us, filth like this "man of god" don't get to make the rules outside of the cult.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 3 months ago

Chad Lawton editorializes under cover of reporting by claiming, "Rev. Leo Barbee... said that transgender individuals are engaging in deviant and sinful behavior, and that landlords and employers should be allowed to judge people on their behavior."

At NO point in the two paltry paragraphs that Lawton dedicates to the opposition (out of a thirteen-paragraph article) does Barbee even reference landlords or employers.

C'mon, Lawton. At least pretend to be objective.

Dayna Lee 9 years, 3 months ago

This article makes me rather concerned for the Reverend. I know that the loss of his wife must have been hard. She would not have let him speak this opinion publicly, even if he believed it privately. Someone in that family please make sure that he gets the attention that he is obviously praying for with such ridiculousness. Some people are gay. Some people are transgendered. Fact.

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 3 months ago


Perhaps you don't understand reporting. Just because there aren't quotation marks around something, doesn't mean it wasn't said. It's called paraphrasing, and it happens in nearly every article you read.

But by all means, if the dear reverend has been misquoted, let him step forth and correct the LJW. I'm all for it.

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

So by telling someone that you won't employ them or let them rent a place (which they can pay for ) you are saying you don't approve of their behavior? No, I think that is discriminatory.

A landlord can't reject someone on the basis of color, so why should they be able to reject someone based on the way they dress or what they believe in, as long as it doesn't harm anyone or the property?

bunnyhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

Maggie Childs is 100% correct. We need to specify legal protections for transgender people. I have seen horrible things done to transgender youth in the name of 'treatment' that no one should ever have to exprience.

I'm just waiting for the day when we need to provide legal protections for the mean and ignorant among us because they're afraid to show their true selves in public! Wouldn't that be something!

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

demonfury (Anonymous) says…

If gays, lesbians, transgendered, bipolar, multiracial, autistic, bible thumpers, smokers, non-smokers, diabetics, homeless, Jews, cancer victims, Catholics, pitbull owners, Christians, Harley riders, Blacks, Skinheads, Muslims, Asians, immigrants, single mothers, obese, anorexic, rich, poor, man, woman, and every other perceptionally discriminated group in America would stop trying to cram their identity crisis down my throat, I might just be happy to ignore them.

I see.... you like your alone time. So be it./

Bradley Kemp 9 years, 3 months ago


"Normal" does not mean "good."

Janet Lowther 9 years, 3 months ago

Some people find the term "crossdresser" offensive because it assumes that inanimate objects like clothing have a gender.

Do pants have a gender? Do skirts? How about shoes? None of them have an essential gender, it is entirely a social construct.

Sexual equality will not be achieved until men are equally likely to be fashion victims as women are.

Paul Decelles 9 years, 3 months ago


I am not convinced gender is entirely a social construct. People do seem to develop a notion of gender identity very early on.That said, clothing, shoes etc do have a lot of symbolism and THAT is a social construct in many cases.

As for men, they ARE fashion victims- just of a different sort.

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