Saginaw, Mich., to Consider Stripping Trans Protections From Nondiscrimination Ordinance

With the uncertain status of a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance, some advocates of Saginaw, Mich.'s LGBT rights ordinance are considering removing some trans protections as a means to sway voters.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

May 19 2014 4:44 PM ET

Saginaw City Hall

After nearly a month since the last public hearing, Saginaw, Mich.'s City Council will again meet tonight with the goal of passing a citywide nondiscrimination bill.

After postponing a final vote on the bill during its April 21 meeting, the City Council will be weighing an amendment to the bill, designed to sway some of the council's more conservative members.

Unfortunately for trans residents of the Michigan city, the amendment to be considered would strip gender identity public accommodation protections from the ordinance.

According to MLive.com, the proposed amendment would exempt the following from compliance:

  • Places of public accommodation with five or fewer employees
  • Places of worship or associated functions or facilities and religious organizations, their associated groups, activities, or personnel
  • Gender-specific facilities, activities, functions, or places of public accommodation like lavatories, locker rooms, athletic teams, boarding houses, vehicles or educational or recreational classes or activities
  • An individual's exercise of state of federal constitutional rights, or discrimination based on a protected characteristic when such discrimination is allowed by state, federal or local law

Passage of an ordinance that does not include explicit trans public accommodations protections may make the future inclusion of such protections that much harder, as often, the public is less willing to accept protections for trans individuals alone as opposed to when those protections are rolled up into an inclusive LGBT bill.

After passing a sexual orientation-specific statewide nondiscrimination act in 2002, New York LGBT advocates have struggled time and again to pass a bill that would provide transgender citizens with the same rights as their lesbian, gay, and bisexual counterparts.

"This deeply offensive and dangerous amendment is intended to specifically exclude me and every trans and gender-nonconforming person from participating in public life by making it almost impossible for us to attend any public event in Saginaw," teacher and trans activist Charin Hudson Davenport told The Advocate. "Schools, recreation areas, public buildings, Little Leagues, public housing -- you name it. We're not allowed. The irony is that I became legally qualified to perform same sex weddings, but if the reception is in a public place, I won't be able to use the bathroom."

Tonight's City Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

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