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Owen Smith

Views & Voices

Non- discrimination laws will improve the lives of transgender Marylanders — and everyone else

Thursday, February 28, 2013
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The Fairness For All Marylanders Act, a bill that would extend non-discrimination protections to transgender people in Maryland, was heard in a state Senate committee on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Sen. richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery), Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) and 21 others, finally transgender Marylanders have a real shot of gaining having rights to access to housing, employment, public spaces and lines of credit that most Marylanders take for granted.

The data on discrimination against transgender people in Maryland is astounding.

According to Injustice at Every Turn (the largest study on transgender populations in the country), one in five Maryland respondents report having lost their job due to being transgender; twelve percent have been, or are homeless and over half of the transgender population has been harassed and or denied service in a public space — such as on a bus, in a movie theater, or at a grocery store — just for being who they are.

These statistics paint an unfortunate, but accurate, picture of how transgender Marylanders are being treated by their fellow Maryland residents, including their families, their co-workers, and their neighbors.

Like any marginalized community, it is hard not to internalize this really hurtful mistreatment.

Some have suggested that transgender people should be provided with mental health counseling to convince them to not be transgender. Today, nearly all medical professionals who have studied and treated transgender people reject “conversion therapies” as abusive and dangerous.

Instead, medical and mental health professionals support transgender people in living out their lives in a way that matches their internal sense of self.

According to these mainstream medical associations, transgender people can live successful, productive lives indistinguishable from anyone else when they are unburdened by societal discrimination.

For example, the American Psychological Association has formally stated that it “encourages legal and social recognition of transgender individuals consistent with their gender identity and expression.”

They further stated that the “APA opposes all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity and expression” and “supports the passage of laws and policies protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all gender identities and expressions.”

The American Psychiatric Association also supports non-discrimination laws protecting people on the basis of gender identity, and the American Medical Association passed resolutions against discrimination based on gender identity.

Credible medical and mental health providers are all in agreement that transgender people should be supported in living their lives authentically, and protected with the non-discrimination laws that others enjoy.

This bill would just be another important step to ensuring every Marylander is celebrated for their life and their person.

The Maryland General Assembly already passed a hate crimes law and a safe schools law that includes gender identity. This bill will create an educational moment for employers and housing providers about the issues that face the transgender community and their loved ones.

They will discover that transgender people are just people like everyone else.

Educating these important community institutions to be welcoming of differences should translate into transgender people experiencing acceptance instead of intolerance and being able to internalize these experiences, instead of the ignorance and hate they too often internalize instead.

This bill provides more then legal protections; it provides the foundation for all people in our state to be treated with dignity and respect, not only improving all aspects of life for transgender Marylanders, but also, hopefully, everyone else who is considered to be different.

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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