Chicago City Council Stands Up for Transgender People
Equality Illinois Thanks Supporters for Ordinance Ensuring Equal Access to Public Facilities
CHICAGO (June 22, 2016)–The Chicago City Council stood up for the rights of transgender people today when it passed the Equal Access Ordinance, a measure supported by Equality Illinois that will ensure equal access consistent with a person’s gender identity in places of public accommodations in Chicago.
The ordinance passed the 50-person council on a vote of 45-5, and it has the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“As other states try to erase transgender people from public life, let’s recognize that this ordinance is about more than public accommodations. In the wake of the violence against LGBT people in Orlando, it is about standing up for the dignity of all Chicagoans and ensuring our city remains a welcoming and affirming place,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.
Equality Illinois, now in its 25th year advocating for the civil rights of LGBT Illinoisans, was a leading advocate for the Equal Access Ordinance. The organization submitted a letter of support to all 50 aldermen and activated our more than 50,000 supporters in Chicago to directly contact their alderman. Equality Illinois also delivered messages of support from hundreds of residents in a majority of the city’s wards calling on their aldermen to approve the initiative.
The Equal Access Ordinance closes a gap in the city’s Human Rights Ordinance that currently allows places such as a restaurant, hotel or store to ask for a government ID as proof of gender identity in order to use a restroom, fitting room, or other such facility.
“You should not have to prove your gender identity to use a bathroom in a restaurant, hotel or store. The existing law has the effect of humiliating transgender and gender non-conforming people, many of whom have been unable to correct the gender markers on their IDs. Chicago’s current law is fundamentally unfair,” Johnson said.
“We thank the Chicago City Council for overwhelmingly approving the Equal Access Ordinance, and especially the sponsors, Aldermen Ed Burke, Tom Tunney, Deb Mell, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Raymond Lopez and James Cappleman and Chicago Human Rights Commissioner Mona Noriega, and, of course, Mayor Emanuel,” Johnson said. “The ordinance continues Chicago’s proud tradition of advancing the equal treatment and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens.”
Equality Illinois’ advocacy for the Equal Access Ordinance is part of the organization’s continuing agenda to advance lived equality for transgender Illinoisans. In 2014, Equality Illinois published the Guide to Name and Gender Marker Changes in partnership with Seyfarth Shaw. The guide, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/EI-Guide, is a 44-page toolkit of legal instructions and forms for name and gender marker changes.
Equality Illinois is also continuing its advocacy for state legislation to modernize the standard in Illinois for a transgender person to correct the gender marker on their birth certificate. Equality Illinois advocates will meet with legislators over the summer to discuss the experiences of transgender Illinoisans and build support for the measure.