Trans validation: transgender activists are claiming mixed results in battles for equality in New York and Maine
By Paul VanDeCarr
(The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
May 10, 2005
“Restrooms are among the most contested sites for transgender people,” says activist Pauline Park, cochair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy. “This settlement is an important legal victory, and I also hope it will help empower transgender people in relation to public accommodations.”
Even as the women celebrated their victory, the Hispanic AIDS Forum of New York City had a setback in a similar area A New York State appeals court dismissed the forum’s lawsuit accusing a former landlord of refusing to renew its office lease because its transgender clients were using the building’s common-area bathrooms.
Meanwhile, Maine took a major step forward in protecting transgender people, as Gov. John Baldacci signed a law prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations, and education on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Maine joins five other states and the District of Columbia in banning gender identity–based discrimination.
“The Maine law is a terrific victory,” says Michael Silveman, an advocate in the case against Advantage Security and executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, “and it goes to prove a point. We won our settlement in New York City because there is now a law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. The Hispanic AIDS Forum suit was dismissed partly because it was tiled before that law existed. These cases point to the same conclusion: Local and state laws are incredibly important.”