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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Chicago City Council Approves Gender Identity Amendment

[CHICAGO, IL] - Today the Chicago City Council passed an amendment to the city's anti-bias laws that would protect the city's transgender and gender variant population by making it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of gender identity.

Aldermen Billy Ocasio and Bernie Hansen introduced the ordinance a little over two years ago. The ordinance passed City Council's Human Relations Committee last week with a unanimous vote. And today it passed the City Council also by a unanimous vote.

The new law amends Chicago's Human Rights Ordinance, Fair Housing Ordinance, and Personnel Code. These laws provide protection from discrimination in private and municipal employment, in public accommodations, housing and credit transactions.

Gender identity is defined in the ordinance as "the actual or perceived appearance, expression, identity, or behavior, of a person as being male or female, whether or not that appearance, expression, identity or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's designated sex at birth."

Beth Plotner
Beth Plotner, Chair of Illinois Gender Advocates, was thrilled at the vote. She said, "I'm so proud that Chicago has joined the growing list of jurisdictions that recognize our community is entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else. Thank you, Mayor Daley, for your support."

Illinois Gender Advocates, formerly known as It's Time Illinois, had been working on this ordinance for over seven years. Through public forums, documentation and advocacy, the organization helped unite members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, as well as many other allies, behind the ordinance.

Over the years, many organizations and individuals helped with the effort. Nearly 100 organizations, both Chicago-based and national organizations with large Chicago memberships, endorsed the ordinance. Among the dozens of people who helped advocate for the ordinance, there are three who deserve special recognition. They are Robert Castillo, Mary Morten, and William Greaves.

Robert Castillo, a member of the Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues (ACGLI), is a leading advocate for the rights of transgendered individuals. He introduced several resolutions in ACGLI in support of the Gender Identity Amendment. Mary Morten, Mayor Daley's liaison to the gay and lesbian community from 1997 to 2000, laid much of the groundwork in City Hall for the ordinance, and continued to advocate for its passage after she left that position.
Miranda Stevens-Miller
And Bill Greaves, the current liaison to the gay and lesbian community, continued to act as the point person for the ordinance with City Hall.

Miranda Stevens-Miller, Political Director of Illinois Gender Advocates, who has been advocating for transgender rights since 1995, said, "I am grateful to all the wonderful people who have helped make the passage of this ordinance a reality."

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