Guest post by: Dana Beyer, Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland.


It’s time, Maryland.

We’ve made great progress protecting transgender and gender non-conforming persons in Baltimore City, Montgomery, Howard and Baltimore counties. Fifty percent of the state is now covered, more than 2.5 million people, the last two counties both within the past three months. It is no longer fair that there be disparate treatment of trans people, between those who live and work in the I-95 corridor, and those who are from western Maryland or the Eastern Shore.

In December, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that transgender persons are a protected class under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 11th Circuit covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Yes, Alabama. And just last week Pakistan passed comprehensive gender identity protections, and added affirmative action programs. Today I have more rights in Alabama and Waziristan than I do in Annapolis.

It’s time, Maryland.

I want to talk about what we often take for granted, but which needs to be said. We have been around for a long time, not only in Maryland, but throughout the United States, and present throughout recorded history. We are your children, your parents, your siblings and your neighbors. We are your doctors and lawyers, air traffic controllers and software designers, your teachers and retail assistants. We live, work and play among you, and pay our taxes as well. We go into fast-food restaurants and use their bathrooms. We have been doing so for many decades, with no untoward consequences to others. The only untoward consequences happen to us, and are sometimes fatal.

That needs to end. Denying a trans person the right to a job is to condemn that person to destitution. Denying a trans person a right to a home is to condemn him to homelessness. Denying a trans person equal access to any public accommodation, be it a lunch counter, a movie theater, bus, courthouse or public bathroom, is to condemn her to unconscionable second-class citizenship. That is not my America, and I know it is not yours, either.

In 1964 President Johnson, on the signing of the landmark Civil Rights Act, said:

“It does not restrict the freedom of any American so long as he respects the rights of others. It does not give special treatment to any citizen. It does say that the only limit to a man’s hope to happiness shall be his own ability. It does say that those who are equal before God shall be equal in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and other places that provide service to the public.”

In our country we expand freedom, we don’t restrict it. We increase rights, we don’t rescind them. Our Declaration and Constitution delineate the meaning of our Pledge, “With liberty and justice for all.”

It’s time, Maryland.

We ask that you welcome your transgender citizens to full citizenship under the law. SB 212 is a civil rights bill; it is neither a gay nor straight bill. Just a civil rights bill.

We ask you to allow SB 212 to pass through committee and have a fair vote on the Senate floor.

Thank you very much.


Originally posted at Washington Blade.