Task Force testifies in favor of local transgender nondiscrimination bill in Howard County, Md.

The Task Force, with several other national and local organizations, provided testimony last night to the Howard County Council in support of a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the list of protected categories in Howard County, Md.

If enacted, Bill No. 54-2011 would ban discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people in the areas of housing, employment, law enforcement practices, credit and public accommodations. It would also make Howard County the third local jurisdiction in Maryland to enact such protections, following in the footsteps of Baltimore City and Montgomery County. Four of the five council members have co-sponsored the bill.

Bill supporters, including several council members, showed their support by wearing purple.  The overwhelming majority of testimony provided was in support of the legislation. It included empirical data and personal stories of discrimination that transgender and gender nonconforming people have experienced, coupled with the request that this discrimination not be allowed to continue in Howard County. The Task Force cited statistics from its groundbreaking report released earlier this year, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

Of the limited opposing testimony, despite repeated requests for statistics or even anecdotal evidence, no supporting information could be provided.

A vote on the measure is slated for Dec. 5.