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Miami-Dade County is the latest Florida municipality to extend individuals legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
On Dec. 2, 2014, county commissioners voted 8-3 to amend the county’s human rights law to ban discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, family leave, and credit and financing practice based on gender identity. Previously, the commissioners had given unanimous preliminary approval to amending the law in a Sept. 16 vote.
Miami-Dade County’s former gay-rights law, passed in 1998, didn’t cover transgender individuals. Other Florida counties had updated their human rights ordinances in the intervening years: Monroe County and Key West in 2003, Miami Beach in 2004, Palm Beach County in 2007, and Broward County in 2008.
The Miami-Dade County revised law, which became effective Dec. 12, expands the list of characteristics protected by law to include “gender identity” and “gender expression.” Protected characteristics formerly included only race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, marital status, familial status, and sexual orientation.
The new law defines “gender identity” as “a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate).” It defines “gender expression” as “all of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. Social or cultural norms can vary widely and some characteristics that may be accepted as masculine, feminine or neutral in one culture may not be assessed similarly in another,” the law states.
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