Congress Begins Work to Protect Transgender People by Introducing the Equality Act
The US House of Representatives is introducing the bipartisan Equality Act, which would expand civil rights laws to include specific, national protections against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“No act of Congress can end bias overnight or stop all attacks against transgender people. But the Equality Act is a clear, consistent and nationwide statement that says our country believes that all people – including those who are transgender – should be treated fairly and with respect,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“For transgender people, every trip to the store, every dinner out, every job interview or attempt to rent an apartment carries the risk of disrespect , discrimination and potentially violence. The Equality Act will help allow transgender people to live their lives openly and without fear.”
“This is our best chance in ten years to get this important piece of legislation passed,” Keisling continued.
The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, jury service, federally funded programs (including health care), and public spaces. It also prohibits discrimination against women and girls in public accommodations for the first time in federal law.
Finally, the bill expands the list of public spaces to include retail stores, service providers like accountants, transportation services like ride sharing providers & taxis for all groups covered.
To do this, the Equality Act would amend several crucial pieces of non-discrimination legislation — such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — to clearly prohibit gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. This would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in the same way these laws already prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.
“Across the country, state legislators are taking aim at transgender people, trying to deny us appropriate health care, prohibiting us from participating in school sports or denying us access to public facilities,” Keisling said. “The Equality Act does more than just expand non-discrimination protections; it has the potential to dramatically change the lives of transgender people for the better.”