Maryland House committee passes Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act

The Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee today passed the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 235), which would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and credit. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been working in partnership with Equality Maryland to pass the bill, which now moves to the full House for a vote.

Lisa Mottet, director of the Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project, testified in favor of the bill during a March 9 committee hearing. She shared data from the recently released groundbreaking report “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force with the National Center for Transgender Equality. This nationwide study included more than 6,400 people in the U.S.

The study found that Maryland transgender and gender non-conforming people were being fired, harassed, passed over for promotion and not hired simply for being who they were. This was not a small problem: 71 percent said they experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and 18 percent reported losing their job just because of who they are. Likely due to this discrimination, transgender Marylanders experienced poverty (having a household income under $10,000 per year) at nearly three times the national average; 12 percent of transgender Marylanders reported experiencing homelessness; 17 percent said they were denied a home/apartment due to being transgender, and 22 percent reported having to find temporary spaces to stay in an attempt to avoid homelessness.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey stated today:

The startling statistics and heart-wrenching personal stories found in our national survey on transgender discrimination show that this law will literally save lives. Income from employment is critical to paying for shelter, food, health care — basic necessities that many people simply take for granted. No one should fear being jobless, homeless and going hungry because of bias and discrimination. Maryland should provide these basic tenets of equal opportunity to transgender Marylanders, as it already does to many others. We thank the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee for passing this important legislation, and urge the full House and Senate to quickly follow suit.

The Task Force has been partnering with Equality Maryland by contributing financial support to underwrite the salaries of a field director and a field organizer; committing organizers to work on the ground in Maryland throughout the legislative session; and providing training and technical assistance to Equality Maryland’s field team.