First Civil Unions and Now Fighting for Transgender Employment Protections in Hawaii
February 24, 2011 by Tony Wagner, Western Regional Field Director
Not only are we working in Hawaii to pass the Civil Unions legislation (check!), we are also mobilizing our members to support HB 546, a bill banning employment discrimination against transgender individuals. Hawaii statute already includes gender identity protections in housing and public accommodations, but only through court and administrative rulings does it also apply to employment discrimination.
This bill would codify those protections. If you’re a Hawaii resident, please send a message to your legislators and Gov. Neil Abercrombie urging them to support this legislation! Tuesday, I offered testimony in support of this legislation at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of HRC’s 4,000+ members and supporters in the state. The testimony focused on addressing issues raised by our opposition and driving home the point that workers should be judged based on their job performance and not on who they are. Through my work at HRC, I’ve met many transgender people whose stories drive home the need for this law.
I heard stories about being fired or denied housing, and facing a tragic lack of options in finding a health care provider or having an appropriate gender identity marker on a driver’s license. The good news is, times and attitudes towards these issues are changing, though not fast enough, and protections are being added throughout all levels of government and in the business world. My message to the members of the committee was simple – providing basic protections to the transgender community is the right thing to do and I asked them to support this common-sense legislation. Ultimately, the committee did just that and sent the bill to the full House for consideration on a 15-0 vote.
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