In a panel discussion at the U of M’s Cecil B. Humphreys Law School last Thursday, state representative Jeanne Richardson and state senator Beverly Marrero discussed a bill they’re co-sponsoring that would add “gender identity and expression” to existing state law. Attorney Murray Wells, Tennessee Equality Project board member Darlene Fike, and hate crime victim Jack Robinson also were on the panel.
Though “sexual orientation” was added to the state hate crimes law in 2001, Richardson introduced a bill last February to enhance the law with protections for transgender people.
“One of my colleagues actually said to me, ‘I don’t like [expletive] queers,'” Richardson told the panel. “I’ve been a lifelong Midtowner and downtowner and I haven’t heard those kinds of comments about gay people in years. But they’re alive and well.”
If the bill makes it out of the House, Marrero will have to convince her colleagues in the Senate to pass it as well.
Richardson encouraged those who support adding transgender protections to state law to contact their representatives.
“Don’t make it easy for people to do the wrong thing,” Richardson said. “The more people who contact them about this issue, the more likely it is to pass.”