Baltimore County passes transgender nondiscrimination bill

Last night, the Baltimore County Council voted 5-2 to pass a bill adding gender identity and expression to county law that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, financing and education. These protections are sorely needed. From the 2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we know that transgender people in Maryland and across the nation experience nearly twice the rate of unemployment as the rest of the population, harassment on the job and in schools, losses of jobs and careers, high rates of housing instability and severe poverty.

Task Force Faith Organizer Orelia Busch supported local partners from Equality Maryland, PFLAG of Baltimore County and Gender Rights Maryland in identifying clergy and people of faith to learn the critical public education skills of telling their stories and communicating effectively with decision makers. According to one council member, the phone calls that the council received from Baltimore County residents, especially from people of faith and clergy, were instrumental in winning the strong support of a majority of the council members.

In Maryland, Baltimore County joins Montgomery and Howard Counties and Baltimore City in providing these essential protections to transgender citizens. Owen Smith, field organizer at Equality Maryland, praised the successful vote: “This common-sense law will allow transgender people residing and visiting Baltimore County to live their lives with more security and peace. Let’s hope that the Maryland General Assembly acts soon to pass comprehensive protections from discrimination for all transgender and gender non-conforming Marylanders so that they may live with safety and dignity that should be afforded to everyone.