Moving Forward: 12 States Ban Gender Identity Discrimination

Some states including Iowa, Vermont and Oregon are including Gender Identity in their non-discrimination polices at work. This progress may be slow but more and more companies are moving forward and protecting ALL their employees from discrimination. Please see a related article below:

More States Ban Discrimination on Gender Identity, Expression

By Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, June 2007

The signing of legislation in Iowa, Colorado, Vermont and Oregon means that 12 states now ban discrimination based on gender identity, according to a June 2007 announcement by the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), a Washington, D.C.-based human rights organization.

In May 2007, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in employment. Vermont and Oregon also passed gender-inclusive non-discrimination legislation in May.

“These laws are so important not only because of their significance toward protecting all Iowa, Colorado, Vermont and Oregon residents from discrimination, but also because they set an example for the federal government and for states that lack gender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of GenderPAC, in the announcement. Such laws exist in California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and the state of Washington as well as Washington, D.C.

“While celebrating the tremendous progress of state legislatures in recent years, it’s important that the federal government recognize this turning tide and implement legislation ensuring full equality for all Americans, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” added Wilchins.

The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA), a bipartisan piece of federal legislation, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24, 2007. This legislation would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

A version of ENDA has been introduced in Congress every year since 1994, but it made it out of committee only once, in 2002. The change in congressional leadership makes movement of ENDA more likely during the 110th Congress, but enactment is considered unlikely because of several key aspects of the legislation. Since its introduction in 2007 it has been referred to four House committees.

More than one-third of the U.S. population is now covered by a combination of state, county and municipal protections, andnearly 200 major corporations and scores of colleges and universities have also adopted gender-inclusive policies in recent years.

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is online writer/editor for SHRM.

Related Reading:

Bill Banning Sexual Orientation Bias Introduced in House, HR News, May 1, 2007

Transgender Issues Could Push Diversity Envelope for Some Employers, SHRM Online Diversity Focus Area, April 19, 2007

Is It Time To Add Gender Identity to Your EEO Policy?, SHRM Online Diversity Focus Area, May 2006

Equality’s Latest Frontier, HR Magazine, March 2003