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5 Questions About Transgender Rights

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Because transgender persons have historically been neglected and marginalized by mainstream issue advocates, transgender rights represents a relatively new frontier in civil liberties activism.

1. Why is transgender rights a civil liberties issue?

Because transgender persons do not yet receive the same level of civil rights protections as non-transgender Americans, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause as well as more fundamental principles of human equality.

2. What sorts of problems do transgender persons face?

Forms of discrimination impacting transgender Americans include workplace discrimination, housing discrimination, discrimination in public accommodations, and bias-motivated violence.

3. What sorts of laws have been passed to address these problems?

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. There is also an effort underway to amend the Civil Rights Act to include both sexual orientation and gender identity, which would prohibit discrimination against transgender persons at the federal level.

4. Why do some people oppose transgender rights?

People who oppose transgender rights tend to say they say do so for religious reasons and/or because they do not recognize transgender status as legitimate.

Some critics of antidiscrimination legislation argue that laws protecting transgender persons from discrimination in public accommodations would effectively mandate unisex restrooms, but it is difficult to see how. Because staff do not customarily examine the genitals of visitors before allowing them to use the restroom, it seems safe to assume that most transgender persons relieve themselves in peace even without the benefit of nondiscrimination laws.

Simple bigotry is, more likely than not, the primary reason why some people oppose transgender rights.

5. How can I help support transgender rights?

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project work to secure transgender rights on a national level.

Other organizations that include a civil rights plank for LGBTs (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons) also addressed transgender rights issues and would more than likely welcome your donations and volunteer efforts. These organizations include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Human Rights Campaign, and Lambda Legal. These organizations offer opportunities to focus one's activist energies on issues impacting transgender persons.
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