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Congress Holds
Groundbreaking Hearing on Transgender Issues

Congress Holds
Groundbreaking Hearing on Transgender Issues

The first-ever congressional hearing on transgender issues was held Thursday in Washington, D.C. The hearing on discrimination against trans people in the workplace was held by the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Democratic congressman Robert Andrews of New Jersey.

The first-ever congressional hearing on transgender issues was held Thursday in Washington, D.C. The hearing on discrimination against trans people in the workplace was held by the House education and labor subcommittee on health, employment, labor, and pensions, chaired by Democratic congressman Robert Andrews of New Jersey.

This historic hearing was a long time coming, said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. "For far too long, transgender people have lived with the fear of losing their job simply because of who they are," she said. "Today's hearing marks a critical step in addressing this travesty once and for all."

American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel Christopher Anders echoed Carey's sentiments. "Regardless of our gender identity, we all deserve a fair shot at job opportunities and advancement," he said. "In America, it should be hard work, education, skills, and experience that determine our success in the job market."

According to Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the very presence of such a hearing before Congress is cause for celebration. "The idea of Congress holding a hearing [on transgender issues] was a huge long shot," she said. "It shows that Congress understands that this is a significant problem. It's progress -- it's not enough progress and it's not fast enough, but it's progress."

Based on the testimony of several witnesses, advocacy groups hope Congress will be compelled to pass legislation protecting transgender individuals from discrimination on the job. Among those who testified were Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who was one of the attorneys who helped win marriage equality in California; out congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; and retired Army colonel Diane Schroer, whose job offer to be a terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress was rescinded when her supervisor-to-be learned she had been born male. (The Advocate)

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