HRC’s Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson testifies on Connecticut gender identity
March 26, 2009
Our Associate Director of Diversity, Allyson Robinson, was in Hartford, Connecticut last Thursday to testify in favor of House Bill 6452, which would add gender identity and expression to the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws. She shared this story today from her visit:
The Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Judiciary has an unusual system for receiving testimony in public hearings. Witnesses are given a place in line by lottery, meaning that they testify in a more or less random order, and consecutive witnesses may offer testimony on completely different bills. Though it might seem confusing, this system worked in my favor as I was selected to testify after an opposition witness who seriously misled the Committee. My testimony (along with the rest of the seven-hour long hearing) was broadcast on CT’s statewide public access channel and can be seen here (WMV). My testimony starts at 5:20. My written testimony can be viewed here (PDF). Though this particular opposition witness’s testimony was crammed full of misinformation on the lives of transgender people and our need for anti-discrimination protections, one assertion he made was especially deceiving. He claimed that employment, housing, and public accommodations protections based on gender identity and expression were a fad, too new to have a clear understanding of their impact. When I was called to testify, I set aside the written statement I had prepared and addressed this lie head-on. I told the committee that, beginning with Minnesota in 1993 – that’s 16 years ago – twelve states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws similar to the one under consideration in Connecticut. In addition, five states bar discrimination based on gender identity in public employment by executive order or personnel regulation. On top of that, over 100 cities and counties have these kinds of anti-discrimination laws on the books, with Minneapolis leading the way in 1975 – thirty-four years ago. In all that time, no jurisdiction has reported any negative effects of taking a stand against discrimination. When the opposition has to resort to lies to make their case, you know they’re getting desperate. And when we can counter the lies with truth, we win. Use HRC's action alert to write your state legislators in support of HB 6452, a bill to expand the state's existing anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity and expression.