Still Separate, Still Unequal – By Laura Laing

Bill To Offer Equal Rights To Transgender Individuals Fails In State Senate

A bill designed to offer anti-discrimination protection to Maryland’s transgender population failed in the state’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, surprising advocates. Introduced by senators Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore) and Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) Senate Bill 516 would have added “gender identity and expression” to the state’s anti-discrimination clauses, protecting transgender citizens in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations. Sexual orientation was added to the state’s anti-discrimination laws in 2001.

“The senators just said that it’s OK to discriminate against me,” says Wendy, a transwoman who testified in favor of the bill and was profiled last month in a City Paper cover story about transgender people in Baltimore (“In Between Days,” Feature, March 14). Wendy, a Baltimore County resident, has been looking for employment since she had sex-reassignment surgery last year. “This bill was not going to instantly get me a job,” she says. “But it would have least started to pave the way.”

Dan Furmansky, Equality Maryland’s executive director, is dismayed by the 6-5 vote against the bill. “We had such minimal opposition to the legislation,” he says. “Legislators on both committees were sympathetic.” The bill was cross-filed in the House Judicial Proceedings Committee.