FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | July 7, 2004
Joins Growing List of Communities to Expand Human Rights Ordinances
(Miami Beach, FL, July 7, 2004) — Today, local, state, and national human rights organizations applauded the Miami Beach City Commission's decision to expand its nondiscrimination law to provide protections to transgender people.
Equality Florida, SAVE Dade, the National Gay and Lesbian task Force, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) spent the last several months working with the transgender community, local groups, and the City Commission in support of expanding Miami Beach's human rights ordinance.
"Today, Miami Beach joins Key West and Monroe County in clearly stating that transgender people may not be discriminated against in employment, housing, public accommodations and lending. We believe today's vote represents a growing trend in Florida toward the realization that transgender people are part of our communities and must be included in basic human rights laws," said Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida's South Florida Director.
Miami Beach joins a growing number of municipalities across the country to add such protections, becoming the 71st jurisdiction to expand its law. In 2003 Key West and Monroe County both added similar protections by unanimous votes.
"We fought hard to keep Miami-Dade's human rights ordinance as inclusive as possible, and today Miami Beach has taken that inclusiveness to a new level. This ordinance protects not only transgender people, but anyone who suffers discrimination because they do not fit traditional gender stereotypes," said Heddy Pena, Executive Director of SAVE Dade.
Increasingly, Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Nike, and American Airlines are amending their policies to include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies. In 2000, Wilton Manors also recognized the need to protect transgender people, passing a law that required all business that contract with the city to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies.
"It was such a privilege to work on this issue with Miami Beach city officials," said NCLR staff attorney Karen Doering. "It was clear from the outset that Miami Beach was committed to ensuring that all its residents and visitors are treated with dignity and respect."
"Today is a very big day, not only for transgender people, but for anyone who suffers discrimination because of their differences. I endure discrimination everyday, but today I can walk around Miami Beach knowing I am part of a community that will not tolerate any form of prejudice," said Rajee Narinesingh, a local Transgender Rights Educator and Activist.
Since the Miami Beach charter already included the term gender, to avoid confusion, city officials decided to add a transgender inclusive definition of gender rather than adding a separate category for "gender identity or expression," which is the standard practice. The Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force helped develop this language. The new language protects not only transgender people, but anyone who suffers discrimination because they do not fit traditional gender stereotypes.
Save Dade is a Miami-Dade based advocacy organization whose mission is to educate and to advocate for equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation, with emphasis on issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community
Equality Florida is a statewide education and advocacy organization dedicated to building a state of equal rights for all Floridians inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national, lesbian-feminist non-profit law firm that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, founded in 1973, was the first national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization and remains the movement's leading voice for freedom, justice, and equality.