Press

Miami Beach Provides Transgender Protections; Joins Growing List of Communities to Expand Human Rights Ordinances

Date: 
July 07, 2004

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

Today, local, state, and national human rights organizations applauded the Miami Beach City Commission's decision to expand its nondiscrimination law to provide protections to transgender people.

Equality Florida, SAVE Dade, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) spent the last several months working with the transgender community, local groups, and the City Commission in support of expanding Miami Beach's human rights ordinance.

"Today, Miami Beach joins Key West and Monroe County in clearly stating that transgender people may not be discriminated against in employment, housing, public accommodations and lending. We believe today's vote represents a growing trend in Florida toward the realization that transgender people are part of our communities and must be included in basic human rights laws," said Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida's South Florida Director.

Miami Beach joins a growing number of municipalities across the country to add such protections, becoming the 71st jurisdiction to expand its law. In 2003 Key West and Monroe County both added similar protections by unanimous votes.

"We fought hard to keep Miami-Dade's human rights ordinance as inclusive as possible, and today Miami Beach has taken that inclusiveness to a new level. This ordinance protects not only transgender people, but anyone who suffers discrimination because they do not fit traditional gender stereotypes," said Heddy Pena, Executive Director of SAVE Dade.

Increasingly, Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Nike, and American Airlines are amending their policies to include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies. In 2000, Wilton Manors also recognized the need to protect transgender people, passing a law that required all businesses that contract with the city to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies.

"It was such a privilege to work on this issue with Miami Beach city officials," said NCLR staff attorney Karen Doering. "It was clear from the outset that Miami Beach was committed to ensuring that all its residents and visitors are treated with dignity and respect."

"Today is a very big day, not only for transgender people, but for anyone who suffers discrimination because of their differences. I endure discrimination everyday, but today I can walk around Miami Beach knowing I am part of a community that will not tolerate any form of prejudice," said Rajee Narinesingh, a local transgender rights educator and activist.

Since the Miami Beach charter already included the term gender, to avoid confusion, city officials decided to add a transgender inclusive definition of gender rather than adding a separate category for "gender identity or expression," which is the standard practice.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Transgender Civil Rights Project helped develop this language. The new language protects not only transgender people, but anyone who suffers discrimination because they do not fit traditional gender stereotypes.

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.

Save Dade is a Miami-Dade based advocacy organization whose mission is to educate and to advocate for equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation, with emphasis on issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Equality Florida is a statewide education and advocacy organization dedicated to building a state of equal rights for all Floridians inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national, lesbian-feminist non-profit law firm that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.

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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.