From Queer Channel Media:
Two agencies charged with enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination laws issued a proposed rule change earlier this month that would exempt the Department of Corrections from complying with the D.C. Human Rights Act as it applies to transgender prisoners.
In a July 11 notice of proposed rulemaking, the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the city’s Commission on Human Rights called, among other things, for waiving a requirement that city government agencies “classify, house or provide access to gender-specific facilities to transgender individuals according to their gender identity or expression if the transgender individual is incarcerated, institutionalized or otherwise within the District’s custody.”
Department of Corrections officials have said the rule change was needed to address “safety and security” issues that have surfaced in the D.C. jail in connection with transgender inmates.
It gets better.
Gay and transgender activists this week said they were surprised and disappointed that the Human Rights Office and Commission on Human Rights apparently heeded requests by the Department of Correction to propose rolling back non-discrimination protections for transgender prisoners.
Among the Commission’s members are Christopher Dyer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Affairs; and gay D.C. residents Michael Ward and Thomas Fulton.
Mario Acosta-Velez, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest gay political group, served as acting chair of the commission until his term expired in early July. Although Acosta-Velez no longer serves on the commission, he was a member at the time that Alexis Taylor, general counsel of the Office of Human Rights, introduced the proposed changes to the commission.
Acosta-Velez said he appointed a subcommittee of the commission to consider the proposed changes but chose not to become a member because his term on the commission was ending.
“This is not saying in any way that the commission is agreeing to these proposals or that it favors cutting back on the Human Rights Act,” Acosta-Velez said. “We decided to let them go through the process and to seek out comments from the public. It was our understanding that the proposals would come back to the commission for a vote, and that’s when the matter would be decided.”
Ward echoed that sentiment, saying he has concerns over parts of the proposed rule changes.
“We all expected there would be some controversy,” he said. “That’s part of the reason for putting them out there for public comment.”
Did they have the same laid-back attitude when Marilyn Musgrave and Wayne Allard put the Federal Marriage Amendment “out there for public comment”?
Somehow I doubt it.
Among the groups joining the D.C. Trans Coalition in opposing the proposed changes are Transgender Health Empowerment, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), D.C. Prisoners’ Project, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) and Human Rights Campaign.
Oh yeh – I’m sure all of that expertise from the geniuses on Rhode Island Avenue will solve this whole controversy before you can say…
D.C. is as D.C. does.