Nation’s Largest State Passes Transgender Non-discrimination Bill

August 04, 2003

California Becomes Fourth State to Outlaw Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals; Kudos to Equality California for its Extraordinary Work

On Saturday August 2, California Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 196, making it illegal in California to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in housing and employment practices. California now becomes the fourth state to offer such protections with explicit wording in its law, joining New Mexico, Rhode Island and Minnesota.

"That a second state this year has enacted this type of law is more evidence that enacting non-discrimination protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals is supported by our public officials," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director. "Congratulations to our friends at Equality California for their hard work in getting this bill passed - this is a fantastic win for the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community."

The law, which will take effect on January 1, 2004, was introduced by Assembly Member Mark Leno. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 23-11 on July 24 and passed the Assembly with a vote of 42-34 on April 21.

"By enacting this law, California builds on the national trend to ensure fairness for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the workplace," said Lisa Mottet legislative lawyer for the Task Force Transgender Civil Rights Project. "State-level non-discrimination laws are important because transgender individuals often face fierce discrimination; yet, unfortunately, there is no explicit federal law offering protection when people are discriminated against."

When the California law goes into effect, a total of 68 million Americans (24% of the U.S. population) will live in a jurisdiction with explicit language prohibiting anti-transgender discrimination. Many other jurisdictions have non-explicit coverage, either through court interpretations or administrative agency determinations of existing anti-discrimination provisions, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

So far in 2003, one other state (New Mexico) and eight local jurisdictions have also passed explicit laws prohibiting anti-transgender discrimination: Covington, KY; El Paso, TX; Ithaca, NY; Key West. FL; Monroe County, FL; Peoria, IL; San Diego, CA; Springfield, IL. In 2002, protections doubled from 18 million to 36 million people living in a U.S. jurisdiction with an explicitly transgender-inclusive non-discrimination law.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 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 bills or to add transgender protections to existing laws.


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.