Maryland transgender rights bill passes

By Victoria Greene,

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that will ban discrimination against transgender individuals in the state.

The bill was introduced in January by Senator Rich Madaleno, according to The Washington Blade. After two hours of deliberation, the bill, which is called “The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014," was passed with a vote of 82-57.

"I am proud of my 81 colleagues who voted in support of fairness for transgender Marylanders today. Allowing people to earn a living and live without fear of discrimination is the right thing to do,” Delegate Luke Clippinger said in a statement issued by the Coalition for Trans Equality.

According to Metro Weekly, while there is overwhelming joy from many for the passing of this bill, protections for transgender individuals was a long fought, arduous battle in Maryland. The bill was proposed every year for eight years and rejected until 2011. Even after the bill was voted to move to the floor, it faced problems in regards to the agencies and individuals who had to vote on it before it went to the house.

House Republicans made their opinions about the bill and transgender individuals known.

“We are a confused state, voting for a confused bill,” said state Delegate Michael McDermott said.

Other Republicans claimed to worry about public safety.

State Delegate Anthony O’Donnell proposed an amendment to the bill that would ban anyone from asserting their gender identify to “enter a place of public accommodation for the purpose of committing an illegal activity.”

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga asked that bathrooms be exempt from the bill. “Please protect women. Please protect little girls,” she said.

The proposed amendments were dismissed.

“What we could see could be a naked man in a girl’s locker room at a public pool. This is a bad bill. This does not protect women. This does not protect children,” said State Delegate Kathy Afzali. She wrote a letter about House Bill 1265 – otherwise known as the Bathroom Bill – stating that, that law would ‘normalize abnormal behavior.'

House Bill 1262 and today’s passed bill have both been implemented to give transgender people the same rights that cisgender individuals are given without question, as a birth right, and despite the opposition of those who are blissfully ignorant of their own cissexism, justice has prevailed.

"The Maryland transgender community can at long last celebrate its equality as full partners in the LGBT community," Dana Beyer, the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, said in a statement. "After eight long years of struggle, thirteen years after the passage of the sexual orientation anti-discrimination act, Maryland joins with seventeen states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, in providing comprehensive LGBT equality."

Beyer also thanked "Delegates Peña-Melnyk, Clippinger and Cullison for their successful efforts this session, but I also want to remember the efforts of Delegates Hubbard, Mizeur, Kelly and others over the years who made this vote possible."

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