Press

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Praises Boston City Council For Passing Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law

Date: 
October 23, 2002

Mayor Expected to Sign Measure

Boston, Massachusetts - The Boston City Council today voted nine to one with one abstention to pass a measure adding gender identity and expression to the city's anti-discrimination law. In August, Mayor Thomas M. Menino indicated that he would support the measure if passed.

According to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director Lorri L. Jean, "Boston is the eleventh city this year to demonstrate that when we educate legislators about the discrimination that transgender people face, they will support laws that prohibit discrimination. Boston reaffirms its commitment to diversity and forward-thinking with the passage of this law."

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) led the effort to pass the bill, working closely with lead sponsor Chuck Turner (D-7th District). The bill adds "gender identity or expression" to Boston's anti-discrimination law, which covers employment, housing, public accommodations, and education. No one spoke in opposition to the bill at the committee hearing on September 30. Sexual orientation was added to the law in 1984.

With the Mayor's signature, Boston will become the eleventh jurisdiction in 2002 to pass a law to explicitly add gender identity protections to an existing law, either simultaneously with the addition of sexual orientation or standing alone.

NGLTF lent support to MTPC throughout the effort, providing strategic assistance as well as being co-leaders of an activist training in Boston with MTPC, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition. NGLTF also mailed an action alert to its members in Boston urging them to contact the mayor and their city ouncilperson to support the measure. Including the Boston law expected to be signed by the mayor, NGLTF has assisted activists involved in efforts of six of the eleven jurisdictions passing ordinances this year.

Cole Thaler of the MTPC noted, "The City Council has unmistakably shown that it is dedicated to protecting the rights of all who don't conform to rigid sex stereotypes. With the help of NGLTF, along with the dozens of community members who testified for the ordinance at the public hearing, we've helped Boston become safer for all varieties of gender identity and expression."

The ten other jurisdictions that have passed anti-discrimination laws that include transgender people this year are: Allentown, PA; Buffalo, NY; Erie County, PA; Dallas, TX; Decatur, IL; New Hope, PA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Salem, OR; and Tacoma, WA. With the addition of Boston, there will be a total of 50 jurisdictions in the United States that explicitly include transgender people in their anti-discrimination laws, including 41 cities, seven counties and the two states of Rhode Island and Minnesota.

"2002 has been a landmark year for passing transgender anti-discrimination laws," said Jean. "In terms of the number of laws passed per year, what was an upward trend over the last few years has become a near vertical climb in 2002."

NGLTF's Transgender Civil Rights Project provides legislative and strategy assistance, including evaluation of legislative language, to activists and organizations working to pass trans-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances or add transgender people to existing laws.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.