The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 5th annual Municipal Equality Index was released this week, and among its encouraging findings is the consequential progress being made on transgender equality in cities across America.
This continues a positive trend that the MEI has tracked – and encouraged – since 2012. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits are being offered to employees of 86 municipalities this year – up from 66 in 2015 and just five in 2012 – and the growth of cities offering those benefits to their employees outpaces the growth in the number of cities rated. The MEI’s issue brief on Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits is available here.
In a year when anti-transgender state bills grabbed headlines across the country, cities continued to listen to the voices of transgender youth and adults in their communities, responding appropriately and respectfully to their needs and committing to ensuring equality for all. In Cleveland, which has had a non-discrimination ordinance on the books for some time, took the additional step of removing a transgender exclusion from the public accommodations section of the city ordinance. Chicago did the same.
Both Jackson, Mississippi, and Juneau, Alaska, joined the ranks of cities offering non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to their residents and visitors. And Charlotte joined these cities and many more when it passed a non-discrimination ordinance that led anti-LGBTQ state legislators to pass the discriminatory HB2.
Nineteen states and more than 100 cities, including all but three of the 20 largest cities in the United States, now have non-discrimination protections for transgender people in places of public accommodation. More than 135 million Americans—or 42 percent of the U.S. population—live in jurisdictions with these protections. Municipalities continue to lead the way: 24 million Americans live in cities where the local ordinances outpace the state in offering nondiscrimination laws that protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.