Delaware passes gender identity nondiscrimination law

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Legislators in Delaware have passed a bill that includes gender identity as a protected class under nondiscrimination and hate crime laws. 

The bill, which passed the Senate committee on June 5, was heard in the full Senate yesterday and passed 11-7.

“In the end, discrimination is wrong, it is as simple as that,” said chief sponsor Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, accroding to the Washington Post.

However, there has been some serious backlash in regards to the bill.

The Delaware Family Policy Council stands for “marriage, life and religious freedom” as stated on its CitizenLink website.

“Legislators are being told that this bill simply eliminates discrimination against transgender individuals, but the implications of this bill are outrageous,” read the website. “This law makes gender about how someone ‘feels right now,’ instead of their biological DNA.”

This is an extremely offensive and transphobic statement and draws to attention the hugely misunderstood notion of transgender identity.

CitizenLink wrote up their interpretation of the bill and its perceived consequences. 

“Organizations must allow people to access gender-segregated programs, activities, and facilities in accordance with the sex they choose. For example, an all-girls school would have to allow a biological male to participate in classes or athletic programs.

“Organizations such as schools with dorms, homeless shelters or rehabilitation centers would have to allow individuals to be housed with the gender that they choose. A women’s homeless shelter, for example, must allow a biological male who professes a female identity to sleep in the women’s facilities. 

“Organizations would have to allow individuals to access bathrooms, showers, and locker-room facilities in accordance with the sex they choose. Creating a separate “‘family”’ or “‘unisex”’ bathroom is proving to still not be enough to prevent a lawsuit.””

Not only does this extremely offensive and transphobic interpretation seem to be based in myth, it is also highly offensive and off the mark. To describe a transgender woman as a “…biological male who professes a female identity” is simply incorrect, and moreover, draws to attention how hugely misunderstood transgender identities are.

Transgender men and women are exactly what they identify as: men and women. They are whole-hearidlyheartedly, spiritually, and fundementally their expressed gender. Transgender is not a passing phase, nor is it any kind of lifestyle choice.

In many states, transgender individuals are not protected by anti-discrimination laws, meaning they can be fired from a job or refused housing based on their gender identity.

Additionally, transgender individuals are denied access to public accomodations such as bathrooms and other gender-applicable insititions. If transgender people are denied access to gendered spaces such as public restrooms, enormous (not to mention potentially dangerous) issues can arise for the individual.

Cis-gender (non-transgender) people have an unrealized priviledge of having access to public accommodations, gender-specific schools, sports teams – the list goes on.

The proposed Delaware legislation is, among other things, in opposition of Arizona politician, Rep. John Kavanagh, who authored the so-called “Bathroom Bill,” which proposed a criminal charge for those whom used a bathroom opposite of their biological sex. The bill died in the Senate.

As pointed out by Think Progress, an ad against the “Bathroom Bill” showed a man, not a transgender woman, entering a woman’s bathroom right after a young girl went in. Aside from the subject being a man, he was framed in a way which was intended as creepy and alluded to a pedafile. The ad was meant as a scare tactic, and completely missed the point.

The Delaware Family Policy Council used this same ad with a tag line, “Is this what you want for Delaware?” to persuade Delaware voters to oppose the nondiscrimination bill. Ironically, however, the “Bathroom Bill” brought more awareness to the issue and has stirred up activists, legislators, and opponents on the matter.

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