Long Beach City Council members Tuesday night unanimously approved transgender rights protection laws for city workers.
The new legislation adds transgender to the city’s nondiscrimination policy manual, which already includes age, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability as protected groups.
The city defines someone’s sex as “actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned at birth.”
Long Beach city policy protects those groups from harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
David Kilmnick, chief executive of the Long Island LGBT Network, said workplace protection laws are needed to stop discrimination before it happens.
“Discrimination can be an everyday experience for transgender people and affects nearly every area of life,” Kilmnick said at the council meeting. “I’m deeply proud of the City of Long Beach for reaffirming a deep commitment to all its residents.”
He cited a national survey that found 50 percent of transgender individuals have been harassed on the job, 78 percent of students were harassed and 26 percent of transgender individuals lost a job because of discrimination.
Long Beach was selected by the LGBT Network to host next year’s Long Island PrideFest, which is being expanded to include a parade and three-day event on the beach.
The city’s anti-discrimination bill does not cover use of bathrooms or other facilities, but should be expanded, Kilmnick said. General anti-discrimination laws don’t always translate into fair treatment, he said, and governments should also pass laws stating transgender people have the right to use sex-specific facilities that match who they are.
Nonetheless, Kilmnick said the city has the most advanced transgender rights protections on Long Island.
“Long Beach is doing exactly what is needed and is an example of the type of policy that should be implemented from Mineola to Albany and everywhere in between,” he said.
Councilwoman Eileen Goggin said the protections will send a message to other municipalities and through the state to advance transgender rights.
“The city recognized a real need to protect individuals who unfortunately face harassment for their gender identity,” Goggin said after the vote.