Transgender Rights (New York Times editorial, 8.29.00)

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Transgender Rights

New York Times
29 August 2000

People who have had sex-change surgery, cross-dressers and others whose gender identity does not conform to societal norms are often targets of violence and bias that force them to live in fear for their safety or the loss of their jobs and shelter. A bill now before the New York City Council would give this marginalized population basic protection against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

The city’s human rights law has long barred discrimination based on gender. Since the 1980’s, the law has also prohibited discrimination based on ”sexual orientation.” But that provision focuses on issues of heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. It does not protect those who identify themselves as transgender. The new legislation, which has 28 sponsors in the City Council, would broaden the definition of ”gender” to include not only a person’s sex, but also a person’s expression of gender identity, self-image and appearance.

Similar anti-bias laws have been enacted in nearly two dozen cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco and Minneapolis. The proposed measure has strong support from civil rights groups and political leaders, including Public Advocate Mark Green and City Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Council Speaker Peter Vallone, however, has not taken a position on the measure. Mr. Vallone should move swiftly to get the bill passed, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani should sign the measure.

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This was the first editorial published by the New York Times endorsing transgender-specific legislation — in this case, Int. No. 24, the transgender rights law ultimately enacted by the New York City Council in April 2002; the editorial originally appeared in the 29¬†August 2000 issue of the New York Times.

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