Assemblymember Atkins Introduces Bill Strengthening Employment, Housing, and other Nondiscrimination Laws

AB 887, sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center, would amend existing state laws to explicitly enumerate protections based on gender identity and gender expression

Sacramento – Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) introduced the Gender Nondiscrimination Act (AB 887) sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center. AB 887 seeks to strengthen employment, housing, and other civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

“California’s non-discrimination laws guarantee equal protection under the law for all people,” said Atkins.  “It is critically important for employers, housing authorities, and everyone to have clear guidance on how these protections are implemented.”

AB 887 takes existing protections based on gender identity and expression and enumerates them as protected categories in non-discrimination laws. In addition, the bill clarifies that gender identity and expression are included in the definition of gender and sex in all California codes.

“Existing non-discrimination laws are confusing and vague for employers, housing authorities and others who bear the responsibility of ensuring that the laws are enforced,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “This bill would reduce the harms caused by discrimination by inserting language into state law that is direct and easily understood.  In addition, by being clear about what the law requires, it will reduce litigation and costs to employers, landlords, and others.”

California non-discrimination laws already define “gender” to include a person’s gender identity (how they see themselves) and gender expression (how other people see them). AB 887 specifically enumerates gender identity and gender expression in order to simplify compliance with existing legal protections.

“The discrimination that transgender people face is life threatening,” said Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. “It affects our physical and economic security by denying us opportunities in everything from basic housing to gainful employment. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act would make California’s non-discrimination laws clearer and stronger.”

In 2009, the Transgender Law Center released its State of Transgender California report. The report revealed overwhelmingly that Californians who experience discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression at work or elsewhere often times do not file complaints because they are unaware that they are protected as a result of confusing non-discrimination laws.

More than 100 cities across America and hundreds of employers already provide clear non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and gender expression. Cities that list them as separate protected categories in non-discrimination ordinances include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland and West Hollywood.

The Transgender Law Center is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities. The Transgender Law Center uses direct legal services, education, community organizing and advocacy to transform California into a state that recognizes and supports the needs of transgender people and their families.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.


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