By Associated Press

New law goes into effect 3 months after end of legislative session

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Attacks against transgender people could be prosecuted as hate crimes under a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Gregoire signed the measure Wednesday, April 22. It takes effect three months after the end of the 2009 legislative session, scheduled to adjourn Sunday, April 26.

Under current law, it’s a felony to threaten, damage the property of, or physically injure a person because of ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

The hate-crime definition of sexual orientation previously covered gay, straight or bisexual people. The bill signed by Gregoire on Wednesday adds "gender expression or identity" to the definition, making the law apply to attacks on transgender people.

The bill is Senate Bill 5952.

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