Gov. Brown signs historic transgender bills

Members of the LGBT community have gained considerable ground with the recent passing of two bills aimed to help transgender Californians.

The Gender Nondiscrimination Act and the Vital Statistics Modernization Act were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 9 after a months-long campaign to recognize the basic rights of transgender people.

“We’re definitely excited about the positive effect the passing of these bills will have on the transgender community,” said Mark Snyder, spokesman for the Transgender Law Center, an organization that co-sponsored the bills.

For months, the Transgender Law Center, along with Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA), have worked together to tackle the issues facing transgender people in California.

Among these issues is the lack of knowledge many employers, housing authorities, health care providers, and even transgender people have about discrimination laws, said Jill Marcellus, communications coordinator for the GSA Network.

Many people are unaware that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender Californians, she said.

The Gender Nondiscrimination Act, or AB 887, authored by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, takes existing protections based on gender and strengthens the language of those laws, making it clear that gender expression and gender identity are included in those protections.

The new language will clarify the responsibilities of employers, schools, landlords and other institutions and ensure that transgender people are aware of their rights, she added.

By making these protections explicit, people will more clearly understand California’s nondiscrimination laws, increasing the likelihood that employers, schools, housing authorities, and other institutions will work to prevent discrimination, she said.

“As Californians, we are committed to equal treatment for all,” Atkins wrote in a statement on her website. “I am gratified that the governor recognizes the importance of these protections.”

AB 887, which was also co-sponsored by Equality California and the GSA Network, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

The Vital Statistics Modernization Act, or AB 433, authored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, will “alleviate the confusion, anxiety and even danger that transgender people face when they have identity documents that do not reflect who they are,” according to Equality California.

AB 433 would also allow eligible petitioners living or born in California to submit a gender change petition from any jurisdiction in the state. The current statute states a gender-change petition must be submitted in the jurisdiction of a person’s place of residence, conflicting with the case law that states gender change petitions can also be submitted in the jurisdiction where a person was born.

Equality California noted that AB 433 does not make changes to the law but simplifies the process through which people go about to complete a gender change petition.

AB 433 also goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

“Our victory is a testament that California is at its best when we work together to realize the ideal that everyone should be treated fairly and equally,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center.

“The barriers that transgender people face are life-threatening, and we applaud Gov. Brown, Assemblywoman Atkins and Assemblymember Lowenthal for their tremendous leadership to remove some of the obstacles that prevent transgender Californians from living as our authentic selves.”

  • Anonymous

    David, that’s wonderful …so long as you are part of the group in power at the moment.  Trans people are discriminated against primarily for two reasons:  Failed Christian beliefs based not on the Bible but on ego and thirst for power, and ignorance.  Which do you claim?

    • David the small-L libertarian

      Sorry, but for the government to order “free” people not to discriminate (whatever that means) against whomever for whatever reason, is tyranny.  Just so you know, I’m not in favor of people maligning or maltreating others or for people not serving particular groups but people should be free to do so.  Societal pressure and good manners will prevent others from being oppressed in most cases.  Again, the government should treat everyone as equal.

      I’d make one exception:  There should be a federal law against Democrats spreading lies about or otherwise maligning Republicans and conservatives.

      • Old Glory

        “Societal pressure and good manners will prevent others from being oppressed in most cases. ”

        Yeah, that worked well in the south under Jim Crow. What bubble are you living in?

        • The Jim Crow laws that were instituted by the state? Not exactly a prime example of why special treatment should be given.

          This piece of legislation will actually harm the LGBT community by incentizing employers to not employ them. Why employ someone you dislike when you can hire someone you like at the same price? Why employ someone, regardless of whether you like them, if they’d require special treatment over other applicants? M. Friedman and several labour economists have already well established how anti-discrimination laws have the reverse effect.

          • Old Glory

             Jim Crow may have been instituted by the state but walk into any diner in the south prior to 1965 and you were black I am sure you would not be served. Is that fair?

            I never said I agree with the new law. I just didn’t buy David’s argument. I agree that this may harm the LGBT community more than help. In addition this will harm landlords, employers and businesses with more false accusations of discrimination.

        • David the small-L libertarian

          There were plenty of white people in the South who opposed Jim Crow laws.  And those laws were enacted by state and local governments, by Democrats I might add.

          Did you know, for example, that private bus companies refused to abide by Jim Crow laws until police started boarding buses and began arresting drivers?  I suspect that few people know about this.

    • Old Glory

      I don’t think he claimed to discriminate against trans-gender people. He was saying the Government should have no say in what a person does or believes in.
      But I will agree that part of the problem is the god loving transgender hating Christians. How soon we forget how many people came to this country to escape religious persecution only to persecute others.  

  • David the small-L libertarian

    The new language will clarify the responsibilities of employers, schools, landlords and other institutions and ensure that transgender people are aware of their rights, she added.

    When “special” groups like the transgendered are given specific protections it takes away the “rights” of everyone else.  Government should be prohibited from discriminating against all these special groups but citizens should have the freedom to do as they please.