Another round in Oregon?

Uh, oh...


Katz Asks Police Bureau to Collect Data on Hate Crimes

Relating to Age, Disability, and Gender Identity

PORTLAND -- Mayor Vera Katz and Commissioner Dan Saltzman are seeking feedback on their proposal to add protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity into the City’s civil rights ordinance.

"Civil rights laws are about protecting the vulnerable -- that’s why we added source of income, gays and lesbians, and other minority groups in the past," said Katz. "The transgendered community is probably the most misunderstood group in the community and currently endures direct discrimination, harassment, and sometimes violent abuse, unprotected by state or federal civil rights laws. It is time for the City to do the right thing and work to protect them as much as possible." Many other cities around the country have established protections for transgendered people in the last decade.

The City’s Civil Rights Ordinance currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and source of income, in addition to standard state and federal protections against discrimination for race, religion, color, sex, marital status, familial status, national origin, age, mental, or physical disability. Katz and Saltzman propose adding "gender identity" as a protected class. Gender identity is defined as a person’s actual or perceived sex, including a person’s identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.

"Nothing could be more important than ensuring the basic civil rights of all citizens," said Commissioner Dan Saltzman. "This action by City Council will clarify the basic and fundamental guarantee of civil rights to every Portland citizen."

Katz and Saltzman will forward their proposed ordinance to City Council for a formal hearing December 13, 2000 at 10:30 a.m. in City Hall’s Council Chambers. Details on the proposed code changes can be found on the Mayor’s website at There is also a link to a page for people to provide feedback, in which people are asked to include "transgender civil rights" as the subject line. The proposed ordinance will also be available on the site early next week.

"Transsexual and transgendered people have long sought a recognition of their human rights and a place of dignity and safety in this society," said Lori Buckwalter, Executive Director of IT’S TIME OREGON! and gender rights advocate. "By this act, the City of Portland affirms its commitment to their aspirations and to the fullest diversity of all its citizens."

The proposed ordinance provides guidance on how the new ordinance would work in the context of employment and in the use of facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms, because these situations typically create the biggest initial questions where gender identity becomes protected under a City law.

For instance, the ordinance sets appropriate standards which respect privacy interests for all in the use of gender-specific facilities such as locker rooms. The ordinance also requires reasonable accommodations to be made for people in the use of bathrooms and locker rooms in the process of gender transition. Research from other cities what have enacted similar laws shows that this can be accomplished through unisex bathrooms which are increasingly common due to ADA requirements, or by having an available "in use" sign.

Under the draft code changes, employers may enact and enforce workplace dress appropriate to a person’s consistently expressed gender. There are also exceptions for religious facilities, and owner-occupied rental housing, and competitive sports.

The implementing ordinance will also direct the Portland Police Bureau to develop procedures which will allow the bureau to collect hate crimes information relating to disability, age, and gender identity. Oregon State criminal intimidation statutes do not cover these groups, yet anecdotal information locally and some national studies show such hate crimes activities do occur.

"I want our Police Bureau to go beyond state law requirements and track crimes committed against all of those who are vulnerable to hate crimes in our city," said Mayor Katz. "If we show a pattern of criminal activity against those groups, that data will be ammunition for them to gain protections at a state level as they deserve."

Katz and the City Attorney’s Office began working on the "gender identity" addition several years ago, but questions about whether transgendered people were already covered under "sexual orientation" and legal challenges to the city’s civil rights ordinance as a whole, stalled the changes. Additionally, over the past year, the City has in essence run a pilot program of its own, through affirmative action, to ensure the City itself delivered equal treatment for transgendered people.

Minneapolis, MN was the first city in the U.S. to include transgendered people in their human rights laws in 1975. Since then many other cities around the have followed suit, including: Atlanta, GA; Ann Arbor, MI; Louisville, KY; Tucson, AZ; New Orleans, LA; Pittsburgh, PA; Iowa City, IA; Cambridge, MA; Toledo, OH; Evanston, IL; and Seattle, WA. Here in Oregon, Benton County already includes protection for transgender people.

The Metropolitan Human Rights Center (MHRC) has already begun soliciting feedback from the transgendered community and is working to facilitate testimony for those who may not feel comfortable doing so in public. To make arrangements for testimony, individuals can call MHRC Executive Director Amalia Alarcon-Gaddie at 503-823-5136.

[This message has been edited by Bowser (edited November 18, 2000).]
Wow. Gotta admit,that's a little out of left field, but I guess I live in a city where this protection already exists, which I admit is strange to think about since it isn't that much of an issue to me.

On the one hand, your comment in another thread about everyone being a minority comes to mind.

But I still think it's a good thing. After all, we have enough misunderstandings in the world that result in violence. If someone beat the hell out of me, I would prefer it be for money or food, the two things we all fight over anyway, and not because they took it upon themselves to dislike my evening gown.

I mean, sure, if I drive around and beat up enough people in town for wearing fleece-lined denim jackets and camaro-mullets, we might be able to include racists under our local hate-crime laws.

It seems much of this attention, though, is focused on employment. When I lived in Oregon, I experienced the following bits about dress codes, all legal under Oregon law:

* Women can have hair past their shoulders, men cannot have hair past their jaw (Domino's Pizza) ...

* ... men cannot wear their hair past their collars (Hollywood Video--in fact, if your hair reached your collar, it was too long, unless you were good friends with your boss to begin with) ...

* Women must wear brassieres (Woolworth's subsidiary)

* Women must wear nylons, hose, stockings, &c. (generally universal; however, at the Woolworth's subsidiary aforementioned, this applied to women wearing slacks and socks).

I remember being at one job in Eugene where women were expected to wear dresses. The end of that code spelled debacle, in which women were allowed to wear dresses, skirts, shorts, culottes, slacks ... anything, really, but jeans. Now, this isn't so bad, but if "dress shorts" (as such) are inappropriate on a man, why not on a woman?

The issue then came up, What if a man shaves his legs?

Well, women still have to wear nylons.

What if a man shaves his legs and wears nylons?

Well, frankly, he would have been fired.

Seems to me that Vera Katz's idea is at least in tune with equalization. Perhaps the people aren't as enthused, but when they realize they're getting rights they never knew they weren't allowed to know about ....

Anecdote: I was at a party a little over a week ago, attended by a friend and her transvestite associate. Now, I get along famously with Nikki, inasmuch as we ever speak. However, twice have I been at parties in which men would hit on Nikki, and she, being pleased by this, is always receptive. Most recently, fistfights almost broke out when someone told the guy who was hitting on her that she wasn't a she. It seems that the suitor in question was quite offended at having been "deceived". Um ... hello? My brother had a rip-off Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt when he was in college that advised, Friends don't let friends Beer Goggle.

In that sense, I'm quite sorry, but Nikki doesn't fully cut it as a woman. My point there being that if a guy is too drunk to notice that you're hitting on a man, perhaps he's too drunk. I mean, Nikki's a fabulous TV, but I can tell, and I generally don't care.

But we can hardly blame Nikki if someone doesn't want to make sure whose whatnot they're trying to sneak into.

Two cents and a chuckle,

Tiassa :cool:

Whether God exists or does not exist, He has come to rank among the most sublime and useless truths.--Denis Diderot
Hmm, I'm thinking of attending, butt-naked, one of the Mayor's events. I'm curious about where her limits might be hiding. If nothing else, she will get a visual thrill.

It's all very large.

[This message has been edited by Bowser (edited November 20, 2000).]
One thing's for sure, Bowser ... if you get beat up while you're doing it, it'll be either a hate crime or a police action. But it won't be for your wallet. Where ever would you hide it? ;)

Tiassa :cool:

Whether God exists or does not exist, He has come to rank among the most sublime and useless truths.--Denis Diderot
"But it won't be for your wallet. Where ever would you hide it?"

You're right! I better bring a purse!

It's all very large.