The Orlando City Council has approved non-discrimination protections for transgender people, in a unanimous vote of 7-0.
The council, headed by Mayor Buddy Dyer, approved a Human Rights Ordinance amendment adding gender identity as a protected class in regards to housing, employment, and public accommodations. Transgender people are now protected alongside classes such as sex, race, disability, and religion.
Equality Florida’s Transgender Inclusion Director, Gina Duncan, told the Orlando Sentinel, “It cannot be overstated how important this is. For the first time, we have an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects all people.”
During the city council meeting on August 11, no one objected to the non-discrimination measure, and nearly a dozen people spoke out in support of it. According to Duncan, it was also unanimously approved during its first council reading in July and when it was reviewed by Orlando’s Human Relations advisory board.
Duncan added that it took a long time to get to this point. While gay rights have been advancing steadily over the last decade, the transgender community has been left out of a considerable number of those victories. Orlando is no exception—though it was one of the first cities to add sexual orientation as a protected class, it was over twelve years before that same protection was extended to gender identity.
According to Buzzfeed, she said, “We have been fortunate in Central Florida that the city council has been open to new and progressive ideas. Our city council members have had a decent amount of interaction with transgender people. As always, the success story comes from awareness, education, visibility and interaction with transgender people. The fear goes away and issues like the bathroom are discussed.”
Speaking to the Sentinel, Mayor Buddy Dyer added, “We’ve gotten to the point where we can do—with very little controversy—things we ought to be doing, so I’m very proud of that.”
As of this writing, the Human Rights Campaign lists fourteen other cities and counties in Florida with non-discrimination ordinances that include gender identity.