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Transgender Protections? Several Counties Consider Making Discrimination Illegal

Advocates for such laws have said transgendered individuals are the remaining group still without discrimination protection.

A debate that has been sweeping across some counties in Maryland is whether transgendered people should receive protections against discrimination.

Howard County passed a law in December that makes it illegal to discriminate against transgendered people in regard to housing, employment and accommodations. Montgomery County adopted a similar measure. Baltimore County became the latest, passing such a measure Tuesday night in a split vote.

Advocates for such laws have said transgendered individuals constitute the remaining group still without discrimination protection. Opponents include the small group who protested Monday outside the Catonsville office of Baltimore Councilman Tom Quirk, sponsor of the recent transgender proposal. Those foes said they are concerned about portions of the bill that deal with transgendered people using public restrooms.

Some protestors said the safety of women and children could be compromised in public restrooms by a predator posing as a transgendered person.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said in a letter to the Baltimore County Council that his county has had no criminal issues as a result of passage of a similar bill in his county. 

Quirk called the protesters' concerns about safety “fear mongering and nonsense.”

Howard County’s Office of Human Rights has not heard any complaints regarding gender identity discrimination or improper bathroom incidents since passage of the bill there in December, said Administrator C. Vernon Gray. Howard County police officials also said they are also not aware of any incidents connected to the recently passed law.

On Catonsville Patch, opinions among users were divided on whether such a law was a good thing for Baltimore County.

“The college I attended (in another state) had the same policy on restroom use for transgendered people and there was never any problem. I always felt completely safe using the facilities, even when my child accompanied me on campus. Kudos to Mr. Quirk for introducing forward-thinking legislation!” wrote  Pattie Gerlach Archuleta

One user said the law could openthe doors for rapists, child molesters and peeping toms into the bathrooms."

Another user said that definitions are unclear about who is a transgender. “It's such a vague classification,” wrote Gina. “There isn't really a way to ‘prove’ anyone is transgender, it's basically however that person feels about themselves.”

MG42 February 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM
To paint a fair picture I don't think Howard County's Office of Human Rights heard any complaints about gender identity discrimination prior to the law's passage, either. If, for example, a landlord doesn't want to rent his apartment to a trangendered person wouldn't the best approach for the transgendered person be to take their money elsewhere? Why reward the bigot by renting his apartment? Not all problems need to be solved with legislation.

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