Key West approves transgender discrimination protection

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com January 11 2003 12:00 AM ET

The mayor of the gay-friendly island city of Key West, Fla., was expected to sign into law on Friday an ordinance banning discrimination against transsexuals and transgendered people.

The Key West city commission unanimously amended its human rights ordinance late Monday to include protection against discrimination based on gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodations, and lending.

"Transgendered people, either through expression or surgery, have human rights like everyone else,'' said openly gay city commissioner Tom Oosterhoudt, 52. "Thirty years ago, my first lover was a drag queen. Throughout my life, there have been incredible characters who've been drag queens. All of these people deserve to work and to have a roof over their heads.''

The measure orders the state attorney's office to address housing violations, with other issues to be handled in civil lawsuits.

The law will be a "keystone for other communities,'' said Scott Fraser, who runs the 400-member Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Key West. "We hope our law will become a model.''