Transgender People Have Been Left Behind

Commentary by Boyce Hinman

For a long time now, I’ve had the impression that lobbyists for the LGBTI community (which includes me, of course) have not been giving a fair share of our time to lobbying for legislation that benefits the transgender community.

Recently I put that assumption to the test. I created a report listing all the LGBTI friendly bills enacted in California since 1998. The results confirmed my suspicion. Of the 62 LGBTI friendly bills enacted since 1998, more than 95 percent of them benefit lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, but barely more than 53 percent of them benefit transgender people.
You can see the report by directing your browser here and then scrolling down to and clicking on the link at the bottom of the web based version of this commentary.

If you inspect the report you will see that the bills benefitting lesbians gays and, bisexuals go into exquisite detail addressing almost all aspects of life faced by those three groups. However, the state laws enacted to benefit transgender people cover only the most basic issues.

Laws addressing the needs of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals prohibit sexual orientation based employment, housing, and insurance discrimination. They require employers to give the same benefits to the registered domestic partners of employees as they give to the spouses of their employees. They require insurance companies to give domestic partners the same family premium discounts that they give to married couples. There are also laws to protect the inheritance rights of domestic partners and to protect them against property tax increases when one of them dies.

Other laws prohibit businesses from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Still others allow a domestic partner to qualify for unemployment insurance when he or she quits a job to be with his or her partner. A new law even allows people who are soon to register as domestic partners to qualify for unemployment insurance when they quit a job and move to be with a soon to be domestic partner.

By contrast the state laws enacted to benefit transgender people cover only the most basic issues.

It is worth noting that only three of those laws have the sole purpose of helping transgender people. 

It is long past time that we address that inequity. Much more legislation is needed to meet the many and complex needs of transgender people in California.

We need to build a very assertive plan of action to address those needs. I urge the transgender community to be outspoken in expressing their needs and in helping to shape legislation that addresses those needs. I submit that this plan should probably be a multi year plan.

However, at present, most of the legislative clout of the LGBTI community resides in organizations (again including California Communities United Institute) that are focused more on the needs of lesbians and gays. I call on all such organizations to lend their considerable lobbying expertise to building a body of law that fulfills all the needs of transgender people in California.

Boyce Hinman is the founder of the California Communities United Institute. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or

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