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All New Jersey Residents and Now One-Third of the U.S. Covered by Transgender-Inclusive Anti-Discrimination Protections

NJ Becomes Ninth State to Pass Trans-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Legislation; Bill Clears Legislature, Awaits Governor's Signature

(December 14, 2006) - Today New Jersey made a historic stride forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender people. New Jersey's Senate passed bill S362 on Monday, December 11, by a vote of 31-5. The Assembly version, A930, passed New Jersey's lower house today by a vote of 69-5, and now goes to Governor Jon S. Corzine, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once signed, New Jersey will become the ninth state in the country to make discriminatory practices based on gender identity or expression illegal. New Jersey joins California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington in legislating statewide transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. These state-level laws in addition to similar transgender-inclusive protections in the District of Columbia and in over 80 cities and counties now protect one-third of the US population based on gender identity or expression.

"The legislation in New Jersey represents a huge civil rights victory for transgender communities," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). "I applaud the amazing efforts of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ), Garden State Equality and local advocates who showed that when we stand up for what's right, we can win. While we celebrate that one-third of the US population is now covered, NCTE continues to fight for explicitly transgender-inclusive protections on the federal level."

New Jersey's new law prohibits discriminatory practices in employment, housing and public accommodations based on "gender identity or expression"-the legislative language that covers transgender people. Too often transgender people face harassment and discrimination on the job or when applying for employment; when attempting to secure housing through rental properties or real estate; and in accessing everyday public accommodations, such as hospitals, schools, shops, hotels, restaurants and theaters.

"We are tremendously pleased to see this bill go to Governor Corzine for his consideration," said Barbra Casbar, political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and National Center for Transgender Equality Board of Advisors member. "GRAANJ and our allies have worked very hard to educate the public and policymakers on the critical importance of making protections for transgender New Jersians explicit in our state's law. The vastly positive vote for the legislation proves conclusively that effective education will tear down the walls of ignorance and discrimination"

"The overwhelming support of our Legislature shows that New Jersey's elected officials recognize the need for civil rights protections for all of their constituents," said Donna Cartwright, a founding member of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Prohibiting discrimination based on a person's gender identity or expression is common-sense given the level of prejudice that transgender people face at work, in securing housing and accessing vital public accommodations such as hospitals." In June 2006, the National Center for Transgender Equality held its first national Target States Conference to provide legislative advocacy training to support local efforts in New Jersey and in eight other states where anti-discrimination laws included "sexual orientation" but not yet "gender identity or expression." GRAANJ's Barbra Casbar and Terry McCorkell were among the activists who attended NCTE's Target States Conference.

"We are ecstatic," said GRAANJ Co-Founder Terry McCorkell. "The people of New Jersey have historically been stalwart champions of justice and equality. Today we demonstrate to the nation that New Jersey is second to none in guaranteeing fair treatment under the law for all people in the Garden State."

Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against transgender people, currently eight states, the District of Columbia and 80+ cities and counties across the country have now passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. Upon Governor Corzine's signature, New Jersey will become the ninth state with inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover 33.5-percent, or one-third, of the US population.


New Homeland Security Rule Would Out Transgender People at Work

(August 15, 2006) - The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) receives calls regularly from transgender people across the country who have been "outed" to their employers by the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) unfair gender "no-match" employment letter policy.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently proposed new rules regarding no-match letters which, if approved in their current form, could cause transgender people increased problems and exacerbate the already serious invasion of medical privacy for many workers.

In consultation with legal experts, NCTE submitted an official comment on the proposed rule to the Department of Homeland Security on August 14, regarding flaws in the no-match letter system.

Click here for more information.

Click here to read the text of the proposed rule change (PDF).

Click here to read NCTE's official comment to the Department of Homeland Security (PDF).


Hawai’i Enacts Transgender Inclusive Public Accommodations Law and Vermont’s Trans-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Bill Clears Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature

May 8, 2006 - Last week, two states, Hawai’i and Vermont, made historic strides forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people. On May 3, Hawaii’s second transgender-inclusive bill passed into law, and on May 5 an expansive nondiscrimination bill in Vermont cleared the Legislature, positioning Vermont to become the ninth state in the country to make discriminatory practices based on gender identity or expression illegal. The District of Columbia also amended its anti-discrimination law in March to include gender identity or expression.

“The legislation in Hawai’i and Vermont represent huge civil rights victory for the transgender community,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “I applaud the efforts of state groups and local advocates who showed that when we stand up for what’s right, we can win.”

Hawaii’s new law explicitly prohibits discriminatory practices in public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.” Public accommodations include any facility whose operations affect commerce, such as hospitals, shops, hotels, restaurants, museums, theaters, and schools. The law strengthens Hawaii’s existing protections, building on the state’s housing nondiscrimination bill, which passed into law just last year.

The bill passed into law without the signature of Governor Linda Lingle. Last year, a bill passed through Hawaii’s Legislature that would specifically ban employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression, but was vetoed by the Governor. Other elected officials recognized the need for civil rights protections for all of their constituents, like recent bill supporter Representative Blake Oshiro (D-33rd).

The same day, a Vermont bill that would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression passed the Senate, and on May 5 a final 88-47 vote of concurrence sent the bill to Governor Jim Douglas. First introduced four years ago as H. 478 by Representative Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg), the favorable concurrence vote has built momentum for the bill to be signed into law. Last February, the National Center for Transgender Equality held an advocacy training in Vermont to support local efforts in the state.

“I am so excited,” said Christopher Kaufman, executive director of the R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center in Burlington. “It’s going to make a huge difference. People are going to feel like they have protections in this state.”

The bill covers employment, housing and public accommodations, and is a bold step forward in providing equal protection under the law for all Vermonters. Vermont’s hate crimes law already includes “gender identity and expression” language. If Governor Douglas allows the bill to become law, Vermont will be the ninth state to pass an explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination law.

Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against gender-variant people, currently eight states, the District of Columbia and 80 cities and counties across the country have now passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover 31-percent of the US population.


 

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