Forty six states have hate crimes laws but only 13 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia that have protections that include gender identity and expression. Their protections vary, from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations. More than 100 municipalities (including New Orleans) protect the rights of transgender people.
In 1998, thanks to the advocacy effort of several organizations, including members of Forum For Equality, the New Orleans City Council amended the City’s Bill of Rights to penalize employers who discriminate against any person on the basis of his or her gender identity. In addition, only few states currently have laws that ban harassment against students in public schools based on their gender identity or expression. In spite of these laws, more cases of violence and murders of transgender people are not reported or are not classified as anti-transgender hate crimes. In our own area, our transgender people of color have brought to our attention cases of police harassment and intimidation. In response, we have hosted meetings with transgender persons and representatives of the US Department of Justice to investigate these cases. We have also participated in outreach and educational to the New Orleans Police Department in collaboration with Officer Janssen Valencia, Director of the Public Affairs Office of the New Orleans Police Department, and have established collaboration with Larry Bagneris, Executive Director of the Human Relations Commission, a municipal agency which enforces the City’s Human Relations Rights Laws.
Commensurate with our mission, Forum For Equality has adopted an official policy to promote state legislation and local laws that explicitly and indisputably include gender identity as characteristics to be protected in all our proposed anti-discrimination laws. For example, the non-discrimination executive order we successfully promoted in Shreveport is inclusive of gender identity. In addition, our proposed executive orders and resolutions in other locales, our anti-bullying House Bill 112, and our ENDA Senate Bill 211 (part of the 2011 Forum’s legislative agenda) also include language of transgender inclusion. Read our policy on diversity and inclusion here.
A new report has come out with very important information regarding transgender individuals, their treatment by society, and their remarkable resilience. “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” has been recently published jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The report contains information based on scholarly research conducted on among 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming participants. This ground breaking report would allow individuals, organizations and policy makers to design and execute actions to protect the rights and welfare of transgenders. Forum For Equality is committed to follow the suggestions made in the report and invite individuals and organizations to partner with us as we follow these directives to fight for the rights and welfare of transgender persons. Read the Executive Summary of the Report on Transgender Discrimination Survey here. Read the full report here.
We recognize that we still have a long way to go, particularly with regards to the acceptance of gender expression in some communities. To that end, we will focus our efforts on the promotion of anti-discrimination laws inclusive of gender identity and gender expression. We urge you to participate in our Transgender Initiative by joining our Diversity Committee.
1. Support the efforts and our field directors on educating elected officials about the importance of enacting hate crimes laws that protect the transgender community from discrimination.
2. Support the effort and our field directors on educating elected officials about the importance of enacting anti-discrimination laws that include gender identity and gender expression.
3. Work with corporations, organizations, and schools to adapt all-inclusive anti-discrimination policies.
4. Work with our Health and Wellness Committee to increase awareness of the medical community about the medical care of transgender people.
5. Name a transgender person to each one of our Board of Directors.
6. Develop one collaborative project with the New Orleans Human Rights Commission and one collaborative project with the Louisiana American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) to educate law enforcement officers and others on reducing discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
To become involved with our transgender initiative contact: