01 April 2011

Maryland HB-235: Trans People Thrown Under The Bus, Again

What is it with LGBT legislation?  It seems that it's only for the L's and the G's.

Mind you, I don't believe that legislation is the way to achieve equality.  If anything, I think less legislation will do us more good. 

Same-sex marriage is a case in point. First of all, I think that government has no business in marriage.  If the government has no right to decide who is and isn't married, then there can be no favoritism in the tax codes or in any other part of the body of law.

But when laws are passed with clearly-defined language for lesbian or gay rights, but not for transgender people--or when gay-rights laws are "amended" by adding the words "gender identity and expression--that is worse than having no law at all, for such laws create new inequalities that didn't exist before.

Such has been the case in New York State for forty years.  And now it looks like Maryland is going to emulate The Empire State in that regard. 

HB-235 in Maryland is one of those pieces of legislation that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and other areas.  However, the way "housing" and "public accomodations" are defined has more holes in it than an old pair of pantyhose.  That is part of the "compromise" that's supposed to make it at least somewhat palatable to middle-of-the-road legislators.  

So why is that discriminatory against transgender people? Well, it still means that, as the bill is written, transgenders could still be denied the right to stay in a homeless shelter or a "safe house" for women who are fleeing domestic violence.  It also means that someone who is trans--forget that, any male or female whose appearance is not in line with societal standards of masculinity or femininity--can be arrested for using the "wrong" bathroom in an office building, restaurant or other establishment.  

I am not the only one  who thinks the bill was deliberately written that way to appease the ones who think that men in dresses are going to bathrooms to molest little boys, or some such thing.  Much as it pains me to say this, Archbishop Timothy Dolan was right about something:  He pointed out that most child molesters are straight married men.   And, I would add, very few of them wear dresses or any clothing that isn't stereotypically masculine. 

(My experience reflects what Dolan said:  In my childhood, I was molested by a married man who probably never even wore anything red,  let alone pink,  in his life, and by another man who, as far as I know, was straight.) 

The thing is, no law that even pretends to be trans-inclusive will ever win the approval of anyone who thinks that way.  The few who might have been swayed by the "compromises" may have been swayed by other means.  So, if the bill passes, inequalities are enshrined in law:  another case of trans people being "thrown under the bus."

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