The DC Human Rights Clarification Act of 2005 Would amend the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977 to add “gender identity or expression” to the list of already enumerated classes protected by law. It would also add the following definition: “Gender identity or expression” means a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual's assigned sex at birth. The current law protects against discrimination based on: “… race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, source of income, and place of residence or business.” Talking Points The amendment is being introduced today by Councilmembers Jim Graham and Vincent Orange in response to DC residents and workers who have expressed the need for clear protection against anti-transgender discrimination. The Human Rights Act of 1977 has already been interpreted by courts and by the Commission on Human Rights to apply the phrase “personal appearance” to cases of discrimination against trans people. But because the Act does not specifically include gender identity and expression, the extent of this protection is unclear. And because these decisions are only available through legal research, transgender people do not know that the law is available to them, and businesses that are not aware of the law are needlessly exposed to liability. The Human Rights Clarification Act will make the law clear, and the new language covering gender identity and expression will appear on EEO posters in places of employment throughout the District, alerting transgender people to their rights and helping employers follow the law. This amendment will fill a gap in the law that has left many transgender people in Washington, DC without jobs, homes, and health care. The Washington Transgender Needs Assessment Survey, funded by the Administration for HIV and AIDS of the District of Columbia, found that 60 percent of the transgender population of DC surveyed had no income or a yearly income of $10,000 or less. By passing this law, Washington DC will take our place alongside other major cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Los Angeles that have affirmed their commitment to civil rights for all residents. Other cities with this protection include Denver, New Orleans, Louisville Kentucky, Dallas, Seattle, Portland and over 50 other jurisdictions; states include Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and California. Over 27 percent of the U.S. population is now covered by laws protecting people from this kind of discrimination. Washington, DC residents, workers and community organizations understand the need for clear protections against discrimination, and support this measure. The organizations supporting this amendment include Transgender Health Empowerment, the GLBT Center, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Metropolitan Community Church, La Clinica del Pueblo, HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), GLSEN DC (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), PFLAG DC (Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays), Different Avenues, Latinos en Accion, and DC Outfront. The Coalition to Clarify the DC Human Rights Act, the grassroots effort behind the amendment, delivered postcards today from nearly twelve hundred Washington, DC residents and workers who want this amendment passed by City Council.
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