The 11th largest city in the country just banned anti-transgender discrimination.
After a grueling 2 hours of other council business, I emerged from the Detroit City Council meeting with good news. The Council voted 8-1 in support of amending the City's human rights ordinance to include "gender identity or expression."
Detroit has nearly 940,000 residents, but of course this ordinance not only covers those living in the city, but also those visiting, shopping in and working in the City. The formal effort to amend the ordinance began back in October, and we were hoping it would pass around the time that the Creating Change Conference was here in February, but city politics delayed it a tad.
The only member of council to oppose the ordinance was Kwame Kenyatta. He voted "no" in committee and claims it was because the protections for sexual orientation were adequate to cover transgender individuals.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, the Human Rights Department showed up to oppose the amendment. The very people charged with enforcing human rights showed up to block language that would expand human rights. Someone was playing politics with this department because they arrived at the hearing two weeks ago not even knowing this was on the agenda. Someone called them, I believe, to come out against the ordinance.
A representative from the Department actually said that she thought cross dressing could be disruptive at work. I quickly fired back, at the hearing, that it was discrimination that was disruptive, not cross dressing. If you can't do your job because someone in the next cubicle dresses in a way you are not comfortable with, then you are not a professional and maybe should find another job.
Anyway, we are basking in our victory today. We are so happy that trans folks here in Detroit are a little "closer to free" than they were yesterday.