With the start of a new legislative session in Maryland right around the corner, this report from Sharon Brackett, Board Chair for Gender Rights Maryland, is welcome news indeed:

Last evening I had a brief moment to chat with Governor O’Malley just after he had finished a rare and wonderful performance with his band O’Malley’s March in Annapolis. I asked him about the upcoming Gender Identity legislation and he stated clearly “The gender identity bill is a legislative priority!” I could not be more encouraged to hear this.

Gov. O’Malley’s statement is a natural follow-on to the powerful call to action he issued in May, 2011 in the wake of the brutal attack on Chrissy Lee Polis, a trans woman, in a McDonalds in Rosedale, Maryland.

[M]ore must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people. In the struggle for justice and equality for all, I’m committed to working with the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session to increase awareness and provide even greater protections for transgendered people.

Gender Rights Maryland was awarded “Best New Organization” of 2011 by Baltimore Outloud editor Steve Charing, who said of GMRD, “it’s motivated, mobilized and already has a victory to tout”. That victory was the passage of gender identity and expression anti-discrimination legislation in Howard County, Maryland earlier this month.

The outlook looks bright for passage in 2012 of a statewide law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. With Howard County joining Montgomery County and Baltimore City as Maryland jurisdictions supporting gender rights, with a vibrant and effective new organization on the scene dedicated to passing comprehensive statewide legislation, and with Governor O’Malley’s continuing commitment, momentum is on the side of civil rights.