Congress will vote on gender identity later this week. What is that? Well it’s:
The amendment would expand ENDA’s protections to persons discriminated against based on gender identity, defined as the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth. The amendment includes language concerning shared facilities, dress, and grooming standards, as well as a paragraph stating that the construction of additional facilities are not required.
ENDA was first proposed in 1974 and is expected to pass without the additional clause above, which will be voted on separately. In other words there’s a tension between LBG ENDA and a LBGT ENDA covering transgender issues.
So the law will read that you can’t fire butch women or fey men, straight or gay. I’m sure employers can always find other reasons to fire people and I’m also sure that firing someone or just discriminating against them (eg., not promoting them) because of who they are rather than performance is wrong.
But isn’t this the first time we’ve had a debate about identity? This is presumably not a sexuality issue. It’s not sexual orientation–that’s covered already. Does it include straight transvestites (eg., the British comedian Eddie Izzard)? I’d guess the courts, as usual, would decide these issues. Which is perhaps where most of the opposition comes from–tying up the court’s with people claiming they’ve been passed over for promotion because they’ve got a high voice or have close cropped hair etc.
I think this goes beyond the issues of discrimination we’ve typically become accustomed to: sexual orientation, religion, race, gender. (‘m not saying it shouldn’t be passed, I assume one day it will be passed, although I don’t think it will be passed this week as a matter of actual politics.)
Calling all anthropologists!