MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. New Jersey has joined a growing number of states by enacting a law making it illegal to discriminate against transgendered people.
The law, which sailed through the state Legislature in December, has received little attention in a state that’s gaining a reputation for being welcoming to lesbian, gay and transgendered people. Earlier this year, New Jersey began allowing same-sex couples to unite in civil unions.
Advocates hope the state’s law prohibiting transgender discrimination, which went into effect Sunday, will lead to more acceptance of transgender people nationwide. New Jersey is the ninth state to adopt such a law.
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center of Transgender Equality in Washington, said she expects more states to follow, including a handful in 2007 and 2008.
“It’s really simply a reaction to there being more [transgender] people who are out,” Keisling said. “As more people transition, it becomes safer to transition.”
The law makes it illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant because of his or her gender status, and companies cannot refuse to hire people because they are transsexual, cross-dressers, asexual, of ambiguous gender or simply not traditionally feminine or masculine. The law also bans discrimination in credit, business contracts and public accommodations such as stores or restaurants.
Violators could be subject to up to 90 days in jail or fines up to $500.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 22, 2007.