The following information provides a limited sampling of how ‘gender identity’ (and related terms) is viewed in various jurisdictions.
United States of America
The City and County of San Francisco includes, among other grounds ‘gender identity’ in their City and County of San Francisco 1996 Charter. The Charter is the fundamental law of the City and County to which all ordinances and regulations with respect to municipal affairs must comply. The City of San Francisco also has a number of ordinances, which extend the protection of individuals on the ground of ‘gender identity’ into various aspects of City activity. An example is found in the Administrative Code Chapter 12B Nondiscrimination in Contracts HRC-12B-101 (4-97) which requires companies providing products or services to, or acquiring a real property interest from, City government to agree not to discriminate against specified groups for specified reasons, and to include a similar provision in subcontracts and other agreements.
Iowa City, Iowa, has a population of approximately 63,000. The Iowa City Human Rights Commission enforces the Human Rights Ordinance, Title 2 (1995), Iowa City Municipal Code. The Human Rights Ordinance is Iowa City's anti-discrimination law. The law gives the Human Rights Commission the jurisdiction to investigate allegations of discrimination in the areas of employment, credit transactions, education, public accommodations and housing. It is the mission of the Human Rights Commission to eradicate discrimination in Iowa City, based on age, colour, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. In the area of housing, discrimination based on familial status, presence or absence of dependants or public assistance source of income is also prohibited. The Ordinance defines ‘gender identity’ as “ A person’s various individual attributes, actual or perceived, in behaviour, practice or appearance, as they are understood to be masculine and/or feminine”. The Iowa City Human Rights Commission lists among it accomplishments in fiscal year 1997 the following;
- 5. Provided training on gender identity to employers and the Iowa City Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, Campus Security, and the Coralville Police Department.
- 6. Taped interviews with individuals participating in the Human Rights Commission's film on gender identity.
- 9. Attended National Transgender Conference to discuss gender identity protection under Iowa City's Human Rights Ordinance.
In Minnesota the Minnesota Statutes 1998, Chapter 363 HUMAN RIGHTS Subd. 45. defines sexual orientation as “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one's biological maleness or femaleness." There is also a section in the legislation, which states that “nothing in this chapter shall be construed to: mean the state of Minnesota condones homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle; or authorise the recognition of or the right of marriage between persons of the same sex.”
In the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: discrimination is covered under the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, Title Six – Conduct\Article V: Chapter 651(Ord. 20-1992). This Ordinance covers the exercise of the City’s powers for the protection of the public safety and the general welfare, for the maintenance of peace and good government and for the promotion of the City's trade, commerce and manufacturers, to assure the right and opportunity of all persons to participate in the social, cultural, recreational and economic life of the City, and to assure equal opportunity for all persons to live in decent housing facilities, free from restrictions because of race, colour, religion, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, sexual orientation, familial status, age, or disability or use of service dogs because of the blindness of the user. In 1997 the ground of ‘sex’ was defined as follows; “the gender of a person, as perceived, presumed or assumed by others, including those who are changing or have changed their gender identification.” It is interesting to note that the Ordinance contains what could be described as a disclaimer which states the following; “Nothing in this article shall be construed as supporting or advocating any particular doctrine, position, point of view, life style, or religious view. To the contrary, it is the intention of this article that all persons are treated fairly and equally and it is the express intent of this article to guarantee fair and equal treatment under law to all people of the City.”
In Britain, on May 1, 1999 the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 came into force. The regulations clarify the law relating to gender reassignment. Their effect is to insert into the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 a provision which extends the Act, insofar as it refers to employment and vocational training, to include discrimination on gender reassignment grounds. Thus, for the purposes of employment and vocational training, discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment constitutes discrimination on grounds of sex, and is contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act (1975). This regulation reflects a ruling by the European Court of Justice that the dismissal of an employee undergoing gender reassignment is contrary to the European Equal Treatment Directive. The UK (and all Member States) is obliged to implement such European law.
In Australia the Commonwealth Parliament’s Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee held and inquiry into sexual discrimination as a result of the introduction of the Sexuality Discrimination Bill (1995). This Bill proposed changes to Commonwealth legislation in order to protect against transgender discrimination. While there were some useful terms and forms of protection in State and Territory anti-discrimination legislation, discussions identified a need for Commonwealth legislation that would; formally meet Australia's international 'obligations'; provide a standard for Australia that would overcome less progressive legislation; and minimise confusion and expense by providing a comprehensive law. To date this Bill has not progressed past the committee stage.
New South Wales has a single statute, Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, racial vilification, age, compulsory retirement, pregnancy, marital status, transgender, transgender vilification, homosexuality, homosexual vilification, disability, HIV/AIDS vilification and who you are related to or associated with. The Act covers discrimination in employment, partnerships, trade unions, qualifying bodies, employment agencies, education, access to places and vehicles, provision of goods and services, accommodation and registered clubs.
In the province of South Australia has the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. This legislation is intended to promote equality of opportunity between the citizens of this State; to prevent certain kinds of discrimination based on sex, sexuality, marital status, pregnancy, race, physical or intellectual impairment or age; to facilitate the participation of citizens in the economic and social life of the community. In the Act "sexuality" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transsexuality; and further defines "transsexual" as a person of the one sex who assumes characteristics of the other sex.