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Equality for California's Transgender Citizens! Governor Signs Bill Into Law

California Governor Gray Davis presented the gift of freedom to thousands of his fellow Californians on Saturday, August 2nd. In signing AB196, which clarifies the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by including gender-identity and expression, Governor Davis brings California into a leadership position of a growing human rights struggle. California now becomes the most populous jurisdiction to enact equal rights for transgendered citizens.
For Immediate Release: Dated August 3, 2003
From: The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC)
Contacts: Roby Walters, Seattle, Washington
Chair, Vanessa Edwards Foster; Houston, Texas
Contact Email: ntacmedia (at) aol.com
media (at) ntac.org
Contact Phone: 832-483-9901
360-437-4091
Website: www.ntac.org

Equality for California Transgendered Citizens! Governor Signs Bill Into Law

California Governor Gray Davis presented the gift of freedom to thousands of his fellow Californians on Saturday, August 2nd. In signing AB196, which clarifies the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by including gender-identity and expression, Governor Davis brings California into a leadership position of a growing human rights struggle. California now becomes the most populous jurisdiction to enact equal rights for transgendered citizens.

The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), who endorsed the bill in this session and in its previous attempts, was “overjoyed? with Gov. Davis’ signature. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), sponsored by Equality California (EqCA), and formally supported by more that 50 other local, state and national groups.

Many in the transgender community were pleasantly surprised with news of the Gov. Davis’ signature. This was the third attempt for this legislation, and the embattled governor has recently had plenty of partisan salvos to fend off. While the prospects for enactment seemed less optimistic given the political environment, the results were positive.

“I can't even begin to explain the joy and surprise I feel,? said an ebullient Gwen Smith, founder of Remembering Our Dead, a website devoted to transgendered victims of murder. “I’m amazed – and pleased – that Gov. Davis chose to sign this bill, even in the midst of mounting attacks from the religious right and from the conservatives behind the recall attempt.?

“Transgender people seek nothing more than the opportunity to support ourselves and our families and to be treated with dignity and respect,? said Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the California-based National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “By enacting AB 196 into law, Californians are sending a powerful message that no person can be denied employment or housing based on gender-related characteristics.?

The amended California law describes discrimination based on ‘sex’ as including discrimination based on ‘gender,’ which includes a person’s “identity, appearance or behavior whether or not that identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.? Thus, the law protects effeminate men and masculine-appearing women as well as the transgendered.

“The governor exhibited clarity under pressure,? said Vanessa Edwards Foster, chair of NTAC. “We only wish more of our political leaders could show as much leadership. Gov. Davis demonstrated his concern for all of California’s citizens – not simply those who think, look like, or contribute to the same causes as he does,? Foster commented. “It’s far too rare a trait in these politically polarized times.?

NTAC applauds the fair-minded California legislators for joining Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Mexico in protecting transgender citizens from discrimination. NTAC believes that all nondiscrimination laws and bias crimes laws should include gender-identity and expression. Discrimination has no place in our nation.

Gwen Smith summed it up simply. “It is a big win for California's transgender community.?

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Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a §501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.
 
 


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