ENDA and GLBT Rights against Discrimination

Transgender
Transgender

The GLBT and Equal Rights community’s are working hard to bring the equal rights issues facing transgender people every day to the average citizen. Since we all live together in this great United States it only makes sense that we all try to get along together. In fact I would say this is a global issue and should be a global movement, however for the sake of this article we stick to the USA point of view. We cover the basics of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) and what it covers. We then look at a few specific issues and end with an update so far.

The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) is written to extend federal employment discrimination protections that are currently provided based on a person's race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. This legislation would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee simply based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance. A fully-inclusive ENDA, which covers both sexual orientation and gender identity is required to protect all facets of our population. A key tenet of the civil rights movement is that people be honored at work solely on their merits so that hardworking people could not be kept from supporting their families and contributing to the economic life of our nation because of perceived characteristics that have no bearing whatsoever on one’s ability to do a job. Yet it remains legal in 29 states to fire or refuse to hire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation; in 34 states it is legal to do so solely based on an individual’s gender identity or expression. Congress now has a chance to pass meaningful civil rights legislation that would end this injustice! Early in the 110th Congress, for the first time, a version of ENDA was introduced in the House of Representatives that included both sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill had broad bipartisan support with 184 co-sponsors. Unfortunately, as the bill moved to the floor congressional leaders decided to remove gender identity from the bill. Today, gender identity protections have been restored, and we continue working with Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

> Already nearly 40% of the US population (13 states and over 100 localities) protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination. However, coverage is inconsistent across the country, including from state to state, and local ordinances are often under-enforced. A federal law is needed to expressly and uniformly prohibit workplace discrimination throughout the United States.

> Corporate America who generally opposes discrimination has enacted policies protecting its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. More than 200 Fortune 500 companies have policies that include gender identity & expression. Companies have adopted these workplace non-discrimination policies because they are motivated by the bottom line which is hiring and retaining the best, most experienced person for the job. Which simply makes good business sense. Employees who do not have to fear discrimination are loyal and productive; and searching for and training replacement employees is expensive. For more on specific companies check out, http://www.outandequal.org/.

> ENDA applies to the same entities covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes private employers with 15 or more employees, labor unions, employment agencies, and federal, state and local governments. The legislation exempts the Armed Forces, religious institutions, and employers with less than 15 employees. Which is still discriminatory but better than without ENDA.

> Gender identity is essential to the bill. It is critical that the bill cover both sexual orientation and gender identity. The express inclusion of gender identity is vital because transgender people face pervasive workplace discrimination, and existing federal law has proven inadequate to protect these workers. We must move forward with employment protections that will protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. ENDA strengthens our community by ensuring that an employer cannot fire or refuse to hire a gay employee for an “effeminate” walk or a lesbian employee for dressing “too butch.”

> Recent national surveys have found that 65% of people believe it should be illegal to discriminate against transgender people in employment.

Take a stand in the state, city and county that you live and check to see if your community includes these protections for the GLBT community even if you are not part of this community directly. We all know at least one gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender person that is a part of our community whether you realize it or not. There are 8.8 million gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons in the U.S based on the 2005/2006 American Community Survey, which means that approximately 1 in 10 people in US are GLBT, this is not to mention the supporting community of parents, siblings and friends. Of course we must understand that the exact number is not important. What is important is that we all stand together whether we like it or not as I mention in the first paragraph, why not support one another and in so doing make this country one to be looked up to as a model for the rest of the world?

more info at - http://transequality.org/

Rainbow Flag
Rainbow Flag

On to more specific issues such as bathroom etiquette at work or in public. What should be a simple act of going to the bathroom is being made complex by some constituents. This would not be an issue if we just went by the way a person presents themselves. Women or those dressed that way go to the women’s bathroom and those dressed as men to the men’s room. We should not be peeking at each other in the restroom as some things are private! The real question is do we base our society on sex or gender? The fact that we all use the same parts for going to the bathroom as we do sex does complicate things, but we already have laws that protect both men and woman in a public restroom against rape or molestation. US code Title 18 chapter 109a covers sexual acts against one’s will. The argument in opposition of ENDA is that it would allow sex offenders to enter a bathroom and commit crime. How absurd is this, they are using the bathroom already for God’s sake (I hope) and ENDA has nothing to do with sexual misconduct! ENDA is about equal rights, not criminal rights. Bathrooms are for relieving ourselves and nothing more unless it is a locker room and that brings up other issues. The good news is that women have separate stalls to use privately and it is the men that have more privacy issues. A Female to Male transgender individual has as much right to use the “Men’s Room” without having to expose themselves as any genetic male does. Standing at a row of urinals can be very humiliating even for some men. Community showers are a fact in some places and I am sure there are many individuals both male and female who are cautious about using them. The simple fact is that homosexuals have existed since the beginning of man and since we have been living together for 10,000 years as a civilization this is nothing new! It really goes back to what Mom used to say, “there is a time and place for everything”. Do we need laws to tell us how to behave in every instance? For now we have them and they serve a useful function. ENDA simply gives us the right to use the bathroom appropriate to our gender expression. So even if you are a man dressed as a woman you would go to the woman’s room. Respect for one another is basic to all public places and restrooms or locker rooms need be no different.

The deeper issue that the GLBT community brings to our society at large is respect for one another to appear, behave and live differently than others. We all know that we are the same on the inside, as Human Beings. The equal rights movement is simply taking it’s logical course and is bringing us closer as a society. So please consider supporting ENDA and notifying your congressman and or senator to let them know that as a community the people of the United States stand together.

Update Spring of 2012

The latest news I get is the 112th Congress on April 6, 2011 introduced an ENDA bill (H.R. 1397) in the House by Rep. Frank to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And on April 14, 2011, Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced an ENDA bill (S. 811) in the Senate. The bill had 39 original cosponsors. Many senators including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Representatives Barney Frank, and Jared Polis are saying ENDA will be passed this year. The good news is the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy for the military has come to an end even though this does nothing for transgender service members. The VA does have new policies so the government is moving in the right direction. The federal government has made equal rights a law for all federal employees now to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It is only a matter of time before ENDA becomes a law that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. In the mean time, continue treating others as you would like to be treated, be kind and honorable to those who are not so to you. Please stay focused on equal rights for all.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has good info on ENDA and other issues concerning the Transgender community. The other site used to glean info is Wikipedia which has a nice chart of the history.

How would you VOTE FOR ENDA?

Do you support ENDA as it stands now with both sexual orientation and gender identity included?

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Comments 2 comments

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

In my opinion, any type of discrimination is wrong. ENDA rights must move into the year 2011 and equalize our workforce.

K9


sequoiablessed profile image

sequoiablessed 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for your comments and for supporting ENDA. I am hopeful it will be passed soon. Until then I will continue to Support it with my words, thoughts and actions.

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