Renewed Commitment to Transgender Equality

Source: Equality North Carolina

Raleigh, NC (2004 Oct 4) – At their September 23 meeting, the Board of Directors of Equality North Carolina and the group’s educational foundation, Equality NC Project, voted unanimously to adopt a policy committing the organization to Transgender-inclusive legislation.

The policy states, “Because Equality North Carolina is committed to securing full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and Transgender North Carolinians, it is the policy of this organization that we will only support relevant legislation that is fully inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. If a bill is changed or amended to remove protections for either of these categories, Equality North Carolina will withdraw our support for the bill.”

“Not only is it right to demand inclusion of gender identity or expression in legislation, it is also the right strategic decision,” said Ian Palmquist, Executive Director-Programs. “None of us is fully protected from discrimination until we all are.”

Palmquist noted that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are often targeted for harassment, violence, and discrimination not because the perpetrator has any actual knowledge of their sexual orientation, but because their gender expression does not fit traditional masculine or feminine ideals.

A current analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force shows that, if gender identity protections are not passed at the same time as sexual orientation protections, it takes an average of 13.8 additional years to secure protections for gender identity or expression. Equality North Carolina is unwilling to put equal rights for Transgender North Carolinians on hold.

“We cannot allow the rights of any part of our community to be traded away in political deals,” added Ed Farthing, Executive Director-Development. “We are excited to move forward in continued partnership with the Transgender community.”

This policy is part of Equality NC’s long-standing commitment to Transgender equality. In 2001, Equality NC Project was one of the first groups in the nation to conduct polling on anti-Transgender discrimination. The positive results of the polling aided the nationwide effort to get LGBT organizations to commit to inclusion of gender identity or expression in federal and state employment non-discrimination legislation. Equality NC was successful in securing the introduction of an inclusive hate crime bill in the 2001 and 2003 legislative sessions, and an inclusive anti-discrimination bill for state employees in the 2003 session.

Similar inclusive policies have been adopted by many other statewide LGBT advocacy organizations, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, and other national gay rights groups.

Equality NC’s commitment to Transgender equality is not limited to the legislative arena. Through Equality NC Project, the group will continue to incorporate Transgender issues into educational programming and strategic research, and will create additional programs that educate the LGBT and mainstream communities about Transgender issues.

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