Connecticut House Approves Transgender Non-Discrimination Bill

On Thursday, May 19, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted 77-62 to approve a bill that would protect transgender people from discrimination.  The bill now heads to the Senate. If approved, the bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of "gender identity or expression" in employment, public accomodations, the sale or rental of housing, the granting of credit and other laws that fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. In the bill, "gender identity or expression" is defined as a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, regardless as to whether it differs from that assigned at birth. Depriving someone of their rights based on the individual's gender identity or expression would be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony, according to the bill, and the punishment would be spending up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield) said her Christian faith instructed her to support the bill. "It's because my faith is so important to me that I support the bill," said Fawcett.  "I want to ensure that people, even if they're different from us, are treated equally under the law." The Connecticut House vote is encouraging, especially considering the high-level of discrimination experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people in various aspects of their lives.  For more information on the prevalence of discrimination within the transgender community, please see the report "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey," released earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). GLAAD applauds the Connecticut House for their vote last Thursday - a vote which sends the important message that all people are to be treated equally.  We look forward to the bill's passage in the Senate, and to the day when it becomes the law in Connecticut.  (This would happen on Oct. 1, 2011, at the earliest.)  In the meantime, GLAAD urges the media to report on the significance of what this legislation would mean for the transgender people who currently aren't protected against discrimination - at home, in the workplace or in public.