To the editor:
My first reaction to the Human Relations Commission vote (6-3) against recommending a change in the city’s human rights ordinance to include gender identity as a protected category did leave me speechless, as Friday’s article noted. But I’ve found my voice.
The commissioners’ discussion seemed to imply support for the change requested by the Kansas Equality Coalition. Then we heard public comments that reflected irrational fear and lamentable ignorance. Several speakers said they feared for their daughters’ safety in public restrooms. They implied that transgendered persons are likely to be child molesters.
This is absurd. The transgendered persons that I know have suffered so much from their sense of not belonging in their own bodies and from the harassment of others that they have developed deep compassion. Their efforts to be true to themselves in a culture where most people cling to rigid gender stereotypes have helped them develop great courage and integrity.
There were also questions about the potential expense of a change in the human rights ordinance in lean times. Since when is there a price tag on equality in America? How cheap does dignity have to be before we decide it’s affordable?
Was the Human Relations Commission swayed by the fear and ignorance expressed by the public? I would hope they have more backbone than that.
Perhaps we can hope that the City Commission will not follow their recommendation.