Alex Blaze

Maryland House Passes Gender Identity Bill

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 27, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender expression, gender identity, Maryland, transgender

The controversial gender identity anti-discrimination bill in Joseline-A-Pena-Melnyk.jpegMaryland that doesn't include protections for public accommodations protections was passed by the house yesterday. It goes on to the senate and then to the governor.

Interestingly enough, even though public accommodations was taken out of the bill specifically to spike the bathroom issue (oooh, scary, people using the bathroom), the was exactly what at least one Democrat brought up as a reason to oppose the bill:

Kelly's remaks followed those of Del. Joseph Minnick (D-Baltimore County), who mocked male-to-female transgender individuals he saw in the men's bathroom when the bill was in committee and said women should be "appalled" by the legislation.

The bill's lead sponsor says that comments like that are the very reason for the bill:

Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's), lead sponsor of the bill, talked about how it has taken four years to get the gender identity bill to the House floor, and the difficulty in taking out "public accommodations." She said she has spoken to many members of the LGBT community who are angry about the removal of "public accommodations." She said the debate heard on the House floor is exactly why she removed it, so the bill would not be killed.

"I did so beause the political reality is I could not have gotten the bill out," she said, "look at the discussion here today."

"You have to forgive me I told them," she added, "it's not what you want, it's not perfect, but it gives you protection."

I'm not familiar enough with the landscape in Maryland on this issue to know if there were actually Democrats who were willing to vote for the bill but wouldn't if public accommodations language was included, but it does seem like they don't all seem to get that bathrooms are limited to public accommodations language. More importantly, voters don't really care about the bathroom issue, as evidenced by several ballot initiatives for antidiscrimination language that have been won even though the transphobes fear-mongered heavily with the bathroom issue.

Kathy Padilla emailed with the amendments that were offered in committee for the bill, which appear to remove protections for genderqueer people and LGBT protections when it comes to real estate. Dana Beyer told Metro Weekly that the amendments were of "no great significance."

img of Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk via Facebook

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The bill is useless without the PA language

Half empty - half full. Depends on how you look at it.

I hope the political advocates for equality in Maryland, and all other states that do not have civil rights protections with gender identity included, note that the exclusion of public accommodations did *not* prevent the bathroom lie from being used against it. The reason for this is simple. It's a lie, it isn't based on anything but the fevered imagination of those who would grasp at any flimsy straw to justify discriminating against TBGL people. It has no basis in reality so it has infinite flexibility.

I hope I will soon begin to see a LOT more argument against the bathroom lie from the cis LGB community. We haven't seen enough of that yet. The truth remains that there have been NO examples of the doomsday fantasies promoted by our political adversaries in places where such laws have already been passed, the first in 1976 in Minneapolis! More voices are needed!