House Amends, Passes Bill Prohibiting Gender Identity Discrimination

Amendment clarifies definition of ‘gender identity,’ allows ‘reasonable accommodations’ on basis of gender identity where disrobing is likely

DOVER – The House passed legislation Tuesday protecting transgender people from discrimination based on their gender identity, but not before amending the bill to clarify the definition of “gender identity” and to address concerns raised during a House committee hearing last week.

Senate Bill 97 would add the term “gender identity” to the already-existing list of prohibited practices of discrimination and hate crimes. It would forbid discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations and insurance.

Rep. Bryon Short, the lead sponsor in the House, successfully amended the bill to clarify the definition of gender identity to include that gender identity may be demonstrated by “consistent and uniform assertion” of the person’s identity or other evidence that it is part of their core identity. The amendment states clearly that gender identity shall not be asserted for any improper use.

Rep. Short’s amendment also allows public establishments to provide “reasonable accommodations” on the basis of gender identity in areas where disrobing is likely, such as separate or private areas, for people whose gender-related identity is different from their assigned sex at birth.

“During the committee hearing last week, we heard from opponents of this bill that they did not oppose providing transgender people the same protections that are afforded to other Delawareans based on race, age, sex, religion or ethnicity. Their concerns involved the ‘public accommodations’ part of the bill,” said Rep. Short, D-Brandywine Hundred. “We listened to the concerns raised by constituents, took their comments seriously and crafted an amendment to address them.

“Through our efforts, we’ve actually strengthened the protections that didn’t exist in public accommodations by stating that asserting gender identity cannot be used for any improper use. I feel that this amendment addresses the major concern that was raised last week and provides transgender people with the long overdue protections they deserve so they don’t have to live in fear of discrimination.”

Sixteen other states have laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, some of which have been on the books for 20 years.

The amended version of SB 97, which passed the House 24-17, returns to the Senate for final consideration.