Archive for Thursday, May 21, 2009

Human Relations Commission to participate in forum on transgender discrimination

Panel considering proposed law seeks information on transgendered

A new law would make it illegal to discriminate against cross-dressers and others who are transgenders.

May 21, 2009


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The event

Human Relations commissioners tentatively agreed to attend a forum sponsored by Plymouth Congregational Church. The event — scheduled for 7 p.m. June 18 at the church — will include a screening of the documentary “Call Me Malcolm,” and a facilitated discussion about transgender issues.

A proposed city ordinance that would legally protect transgendered individuals from discrimination in Lawrence needs more study but is promising, the leader of the city board overseeing discrimination law said.

Members of the city’s Human Relations Commission — a city-appointed advisory board that oversees local codes prohibiting discrimination — said they wanted to participate in a forum this summer to hear stories of how transgendered individuals suffer from discrimination.

“But I think Lawrence probably is due for a change like this,” said Lori Tapahonso, chairwoman of the commission.

In March, the Lawrence-Douglas County chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition asked city commissioners to create an ordinance that would make it illegal for landlords and employers to deny someone housing or a job based on transgender identity.

Transgender individuals include transsexuals and other people who identify with a gender other than the one they were raised with.

“We realized that the transgender community currently doesn’t have any protection from discrimination, so we decided to ask for it,” said Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the local equality coalition.

Supporters of the ordinance told the Human Relations Commission that transgender individuals in Lawrence do face discrimination. The board was told that a Lawrence male who is transitioning to a female was denied access to a bathroom in a convenience store. Other instances include a woman who is transitioning to a male being harassed by co-workers, and questions about whether a male transitioning to a female should be allowed to sleep in the female area of a local homeless shelter.

The Human Relations Commission has been asked to provide the City Commission with a recommendation on whether an ordinance should be adopted.

Human Relation Commission members said they wanted to get more information before making a decision. Questions were raised by the board about how employers would be protected from unfounded discrimination claims from people who claim to be transgendered. Questions also were brought up about whether the ordinance would protect people who don’t consider themselves to be transgender but do participate in cross-dressing activities.

“Right now, I’m still trying to gather information so I can understand the issue and understand the impact,” said Ernesto Hodison, a member of the Human Relations Commission.

Commissioners tentatively agreed to attend a forum later this summer sponsored by Plymouth Congregational Church. The event — scheduled for 7 p.m. June 18 at the church — will include a screening of the documentary “Call Me Malcolm,” and a facilitated discussion about transgender issues.

Human Relation commissioners did not set a timeline for forwarding the issue on to city commissioners.


wordgenie8 8 years ago

Oh yeah, move to Lawrence and expect not to be the target of hate speech and inappropriate, annoying, self-appointed Christian do-gooders who are out to save the world way before they put their own houses in order.

Daniel Bone 8 years ago

Consumer, maybe you should attend the forum and make the case for why you should be able to retain your right to discriminate against this 'special' population.

Graczyk 8 years ago

I agree that discrimination is wrong, but I thought that current EEO laws and FHEO laws addressed discrimination of transgendered people under the heading of "sex", e.g. gender. Is this necessary?

RaqiGirl 8 years ago

Graczyk, I think that part of the problem lies in the understanding of the difference between two words, sex and gender. Sex is our genitalia. Gender is a function of personality or identity. We who are transgendered are often discriminated against because we appear differently from our sex, or our perceived sex. I believe that is the discrimination the commission is trying to deal with.

SamNSyd 8 years ago

Graczyk, maybe you should ask some of the transgendered community if they have been discriminated against.

The laws we have here are not specific enough to protect the trans community. There is more of that community in Lawrence than you can imagine and they should be protected by the same laws as everyone else.

cranfranz 8 years ago

I knew someone who was a successful building estimator in Lawrence with a wife and two kids. When he announced that the was transitioning from male to female, he was fired. Divorce soon followed. A lawsuit against his ex-boss went unresolved. This person then left Lawrence, depriving it of a useful citizen. Transpeople do not want so-called "special rights." Just equal rights.

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