Maryland could become the next state to offer nondiscrimination protections for its transgender and gender-nonconforming residents.
On Jan. 14, state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D) introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodation. The state already has protections based on sexual orientation.
The bill will be heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 4. That committee rejected the legislation last March.
This year’s version has 25 cosponsors in the Senate, and Del. Luke Clippinger (D) has announced his intent to introduce a companion piece in the House of Delegates, which approved the legislation in 2011.
Organizations like Equality Maryland and Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality have made this piece of legislation a top priority for 2014.
Currently, only one city and three counties in Maryland include protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Baltimore, along with the counties of Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery, ban trans discrimination. Also, 23 of the state’s top-25 employers offer trans-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Verizon, Giant Foods and Marriott International, Inc.
According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, 18 percent of transgender Marylanders had lost a job because of discrimination based on their gender identity, and 42 percent said they had experienced other difficulties at their place of employment. About 17 percent of transgender residents in the state reported being denied housing and 54 percent said they had been harassed in public places, such as restaurants, retail spaces and theaters.
The law will not affect employers with 15 or fewer workers, or religious institutions, schools, associations or apartment complexes with fewer than five units.
It is legal in 32 states to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression.
Equality Maryland, Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality and the Human Rights Campaign will host a lobby day from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis.
For more information, visit mdtransequality.org.