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California Assemblymember Toni Atkins introduces Gender Nondiscrimination Act

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SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, has introduced the Gender Nondiscrimination Act (AB 887) sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

AB 887 seeks to strengthen employment, housing, and other civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

“California’s non-discrimination laws guarantee equal protection under the law for all people,” Atkins said. “It is critically important for employers, housing authorities, and everyone to have clear guidance on how these protections are implemented.”

AB 887 takes existing protections based on gender identity and expression and enumerates them as protected categories in non-discrimination laws. In addition, the bill clarifies that gender identity and expression are included in the definition of gender and sex in all California codes.

“Existing non-discrimination laws are confusing and vague for employers, housing authorities and others who bear the responsibility of ensuring that the laws are enforced,” Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors said. “This bill would reduce the harms caused by discrimination by inserting language into state law that is direct and easily understood. In addition, by being clear about what the law requires, it will reduce litigation and costs to employers, landlords, and others.”

California non-discrimination laws already define “gender” to include a person’s gender identity (how they see themselves) and gender expression (how other people see them). AB 887 specifically enumerates gender identity and gender expression in order to simplify compliance with existing legal protections.

“The discrimination that transgender people face is life-threatening,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “It affects our physical and economic security by denying us opportunities in everything from basic housing to gainful employment. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act would make California’s non-discrimination laws clearer and stronger.”

In 2009, the Transgender Law Center released its State of Transgender California report. The report revealed overwhelmingly that Californians who experience discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression at work or elsewhere often times do not file complaints because they are unaware that they are protected as a result of confusing non-discrimination laws.

More than 100 cities across America and hundreds of employers already provide clear non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and gender expression. Cities that list them as separate protected categories in non-discrimination ordinances include San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland and West Hollywood.

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