Issues of sexual orientation are highly sensitive and passionately debated. Throw in the issue of sexual identity, and the debate heats up even more.
Representative Barney Frank is currently pushing a bill that would provide transgender workers in the U.S. anti-discrimination rights in the workplace. He backed a similar bill before that grouped the rights of gay workers with those of transgendered workers and met defeat. Some say the 2007 defeat was due to Frank ultimately ditching the transgender rights from the bill in order to have a better chance at at least the gay rights legislation passing.
Frank's previous defeat has changed his approach this time around, and he promises not to neglect the important and equally deserved change in rights for transgender employees. Those rights would protect workers from employer discrimination based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity.
He must stand up to a lot of political pressure, however, to stick to his promise. Republicans and Democrats exist who only want to support the anti-discrimination bill if the transgender component is not included, including California Representative John Campbell.
That mode of operation is not surprising. Out of the 21 states that currently have some sort of employment rights legislation for gay workers, 8 of them exclude transgender employees from those protections.
The new legislation would fit under the country's current anti-discrimination laws, a modification that the Obama administration generally advocates. But just as much of the change that has occurred under this administration has stirred up strong feelings and opinions, Frank's proposed legislation will be no different.
We will keep you posted on the status of this bill as soon as we hear any news.