2008 was a horrible year for transgender people in Tennessee. The attacks and murders put Tennessee on the map in the national media. Some began calling Memphis the most dangerous place to be transgender in the country.
A series of events this year indicates that 2009 could be an important turning point in the rights and protections of transgender people in Tennessee. Just today Memphis-based FedEx announced that its non-discrimination policy will now include gender identity, and 10 Metro Council members in Nashville filed a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Last month, the Shelby County Commission passed a non-discrimination resolution that protects County employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Earlier in the year, Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) and Sen. Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis) introduced a hate crimes bill that adds gender identity or expression to the current statute. The bill actually got out of a House subcommittee this year when much of the Legislature was focused on budget, guns, and abortion.
An incredible effort went into those advances. A lot of credit goes to people in Shelby County who are making an incredible effort to address the discrimination and violence experienced by the transgender community. Their work is helping the entire state have a new conversation about transgender rights. And a lot of credit goes to our allies the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition for their tireless advocacy.
I am hopeful that we are now on a tragectory that will continue to gain momentum. The violence and discrimination suffered by transgender people is a blemish on our state. The policy efforts we've seen this year to address the problem honor us all.