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Howard weighs gender identity bill after statewide law fails

Transgender advocates turn to county to ensure anti-discrimination protection

November 20, 2011|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

"Right now, it doesn't affect us too much," said Brian Singer. "It's easy to protect Jackie because she is only six." Still, he said, she has already faced bullies who don't understand why a boy would want to dress as a girl — and she sometimes wonders why she is not accepted in the girls lavatory at school.

He says the legislation in Howard will become increasingly important as Jackie grows up.

Referring to the attack on Polis, he said, "I don't want that to happen to my daughter."

The incident at the Rosedale McDonald's, captured on a restaurant employee's cellphone, pushed discrimination of transgender people into the forefront of public debate. One of the teens involved in the altercation has since pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to one count of first-degree assault and one hate crime count.

The beating came shortly after the failure of a state law that would have provided some protections for transgender individuals in Maryland. The final version of the bill didn't include public accommodation protections that could protect transgender people from being discriminated against in restaurants and public places; Howard's bill contains those provisions.

The statewide bill had made it further than in past years, passing the House of Delegates. But it failed to earn enough support on the Senate floor.

Under the bill in Howard, transgender individuals would receive the same protections that aim to prevent discrimination based on race, religion or political beliefs.

"It's about basic human rights, being treated fairly in public places," said Heath Goisovich, a PFLAG co-chair of the advocacy committee.

Brackett said there are a number of transgender individuals in every community. Proponents on Monday will wear purple in a show of support.

"You probably know a transgender person but you don't even know it," she said.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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