Transgender protections in the workplace to expand Jan. 1st

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A state law goes into effect on January 1 that expands protections for transgender people in the workplace.  Senate Bill 396, which was signed by the governor in October, requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide new training to supervisors.  The new training includes education on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

“We want to make sure everyone has the information they need to treat trans people with respect and to understand that the law requires that we treat trans people equally,” said State Senator Scott Wiener, (D) San Francisco.

Veronika Fimbres, the first openly transgender person to serve on a city panel in San Francisco history, said she thinks the law is “beautiful” but offered one caveat. “Too often they have people who are not trans implementing the law and doing [the training] and there are certainly enough of us qualified.”

The director of Oakland’s LGBTQ Center, Joe Hawkins, said he hopes momentum from the “Me Too” movement will extend to protections for transgender people in the workplace.

“Trans people have to constantly remind people that they are not a 'he' or a 'she.’ They might be a ‘they.'  They might be a 'he' and you're calling them 'she,'” Hawkins explained. 

Given the hurdles faced by the transgender community in 2017, including a threatened ban in the U.S. military and so-called “bathroom bills” in a number of states, Hawkins said he’s glad California appears to be making strides.

“I think we are ahead [of the rest of the country] but we have a lot of work to do, specially when it comes to the trans community.”