The Definition Of “Gender Identity Or Expression” in CT Non-Discrimination Law
While I was recently crowing about our tremendous legislative victory in Connecticut getting a transgender non-discrimination law passed, someone mentioned to me that there were rumors spreading from within the transgender community that there should be cause for concern because of the definition of “gender identity or expression” ultimately included in the law. Apparently, some people were saying that the language “sold out the non-transsexual part of the community,” by requiring evidence of medical transition; others said it was introduced by some segment of the feminist community to limit the scope of the protections. Both are complete falsehoods.
To say that I was surprised and concerned is somewhat of an understatement. Given how hard, tirelessly and cooperatively our coalition of advocates had worked over the last 7 years to get this law passed, I was disturbed that anyone, not to mention anyone within our community, would question the strength of the law, or the commitment of its supporters.
But looking back at the definition, knowing how alienating legalese can be, and being aware of the bitter divisions within other state’s LGBTQ communities, it makes sense that people might wonder about why we eventually settled on the language we did in the Connecticut law. First, the basics. The Connecticut law defines “gender identity or expression” as a person’s gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. That language is consistent with the existing Connecticut hate crimes law and comparable to the definition of gender identity or expression included in the 14 other jurisdictions to have adopted similar laws.
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