Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shelby County lawmakers take lead on transgender equality in TN General Assembly

State House Representative Jeanne Richardson and Senator Beverly Marrero are sponsoring two bills that seek to make Tennessee a safer and fairer place for transgender citizens. The Memphis Flyer has the story here.

Each lawmaker is sponsoring bills that would add gender identity or expression to the current hate crime law in Tennessee. Another bill would overturn a law that prevents changing the gender on birth certificates in Tennessee.

Sen. Marrero explains the reasons for the the birth certificate legislation:
"A transgender person who has been through a surgical procedure to go from male to female or female to male cannot change their birth certificates, and that makes it difficult to travel or obtain a passport. The current law also makes it difficult for transgender people to obtain driver's licenses and Social Security cards, since both documents require a birth certificate. It seems mean-spirited to me that there are people who would be concerned about denying somebody the ability to have this stuff straightened out and make their lives easier."

Rep. Richardson is already encountering resistance from her fellow lawmakers:
"Some of my colleagues from the more rural areas don't see the world in the same way as people from Memphis or Nashville do. The first couple of people I talked to said they wouldn't support [the hate crimes amendment]. A lot of people up here are very afraid of pro-gay legislation because there's a whole lot of judgment still going on about sexual orientation."

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