When you hear and see, as I do, the phrase “Bathroom Bill” used every time an antidiscrimination bill or ordinance comes up for a local, state, or federal piece of legislation that includes gender identity or expression, you may conclude — as I do conclude — that transgender people having become the most visible boogiemen of social conservatives.
So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to have read this from a January 14, 2011 article by the Gay People’s Chronicle, entitled Kasich lets LGBT job bias rule expire:
Governor John Kasich, who took office on January 10, allowed his predecessor’s executive order barring such discrimination to expire.
Neither Ohio nor federal law provides any protection from anyone being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
But an order signed four years ago by former governor Ted Strickland prohibited such discrimination against all 60,000 state employees in hiring, layoff, termination, transfer, promotion, demotion, rate of compensation and eligibility for training programs.
Never fear though, Ohio Governor John Kasich did put out an antidiscrimination executive order of his own. From the Columbus Dispatch‘s Kasich alters order on work rights; ‘Gender identity’ not included in anti-discrimination policy (emphasis added):
Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order yesterday setting an anti-discrimination policy for state-government employment and announced the retirement of a cabinet appointee after two weeks on the job.
Kasich said in his campaign that he would continue a 2007 order from former Gov. Ted Strickland that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but Kasich’s order leaves out “gender identity.”
The new governor’s order protects state employees or candidates for state employment from discrimination based on “race, color, religion, gender, national origin (ancestry), military status (past, present or future), disability, age (40 years or older), genetic information, or sexual orientation.”
…Kasich had said in response to a Dispatch questionnaire that he would continue Strickland’s 2007 order, and the question specifically mentioned gender identity.
Asked why Kasich decided to omit it, spokesman Scott Milburn replied: “The governor is opposed to discrimination in state employment and has made that clear in this executive order in the way that he feels is most appropriate.“
Perhaps it’s just an education issue? Again, from the Columbus Dispatch’s article:
Lynne Bowman, the former executive director of Equality Ohio, said gender identity is not covered in any definition of sexual orientation. She said she hopes Kasich still can be “fully educated” and add gender identity to a revised order.
“It is disappointing that the governor feels it is appropriate to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.”
This appears to me to be something more than just about the Governor not being “fully educated” on transgender people, and the employment discrimination transgender people often face.
So apparently it’s now “appropriate” to discriminate against those state employees in Ohio who were who were once protected by the gender identity provision of the previous governor’s antidiscrimination order.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but feel that Republican Governor John Kasich threw a bone to social/religious right conservatives — he singled out a very small minority population that were once protected by the state’s antidiscrimination policy, and has now has left them vulnerable. The chances of a large and effective enough protest against the change of policy means he gives his socially conservative base something to be pleased about that won’t be effectively countered by a broad coalition of people on the left.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
We in transgender community — as well as we in the broader LGBT community — have become so used to tolerating injustices. It seems to me that too often things don’t seem to phase us are things that we shouldn’t be tolerating.
Broader liberal and progressive communities about us don’t seem to note that just as the rolling back marriage equality with Proposition 8 in my home state of California was a taking away of hard fought civil rights and protections, so is the rolling back of civil protections for transgender state employees in Ohio. However, since it’s just a small super-minority that is impacted by the removal of gender identity from Ohio’s nondiscrimination policy, we probably won’t hear much uproar about it in mainstream media, progressive circles, or even in LGBT community.
With regards to freedom, equality, and justice, when do we stop tolerating the intolerable?