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Trans Rights Come of Age

Trans Rights Come of Age

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Published by: transgenderlawcenter on Jul 10, 2012
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01/24/2014

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Trans rights come of age
By Christopher DaleyI would hazard a guess that few people in California realized that when they wound downtheir celebrations of the arrival of 2006, they were celebrating in the most transgenderfriendly state in the country. That lack of realization isn’t surprising. While the changesthat have been made on the state and local level in the last 15 years are profound and far-reaching, they have happened largely outside of the spotlight.That’s not to imply that transgender activism began only 15 years ago. Transgenderpeople throughout the state have been standing up for their rights for at least severaldecades. This year we celebrate the 40
th
Anniversary of the very political Compton’sCafeteria Riots. A little more than a decade after the riots, activists in Los Angeles got thestate’s first anti-discrimination law passed on a local level. But it was right around 15years ago that local activists in Santa Cruz got the state’s second civil rights law passedand two years after that when San Francisco passed the third. Since then, at least fivemore local jurisdictions have followed suit. More far reaching, though, have been thechanges on the state level.Beginning with a law in 1999 designating crimes motivated by gender-identity-bias ashate crimes, California public policy has advanced quickly and solidly towards fullyrecognizing and supporting transgender people as equal participants in civil society. Statelaw now clearly protects transgender people from discrimination in public education(2000), housing, employment, and the foster care system (2004), and publicaccommodation and insurance (2006).Of course, the passage of each of these laws was the culmination of years of individualand organized efforts for dignity and justice. Each time a transgender employee inFresno, parent in Orange County, student in San Jose, health care patient in San Diego,attorney in San Luis Obispo, asylum applicant in Los Angeles, tenant in Oakland, andCity/County Commissioner in San Francisco stood up for themselves, their families, andtheir friends they set the stage for the profound social change that California isexperiencing.But passing these laws does not end the conversation. They are the manifestation of apublic potential for full inclusion of transgender people and their families. That potentialwill only be realized through the continued efforts of activists, artists, writers, policywonks, insiders, outsiders, and “civilians” to move an agenda that is broad-based,inclusive, strategic, and self-reflective.While transgender people have been and will continue to be in the “driver’s seat” of thismovement, those of us who aren’t transgender have our role to play. After all, these lawspassed through a state legislature that doesn’t contain a single “out” transgender electedofficial. And each time a parent welcomes the person they thought was their daughterhome as their son, a co-worker supports the creation of a non-discriminatory work 

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