Feb. 22nd, 2011

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Transgender state workers get aid from governor
Activists see order as step toward new law
By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / February 18, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick quietly issued an executive order yesterday banning discrimination against transgender workers in state government, a move that advocates view as a first step toward passing statewide legislation.

Patrick signed the order in a private ceremony in his office attended by advocates and several transgender state employees. He did not list the event on his public schedule or send out a press release afterward.

The order expands the state’s current civil rights policy by forbidding state government and its contractors from discriminating on the basis of “gender identity or expression.’’ The state already forbids discrimination based on a host of other characteristics, including race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and religion.

Patrick said he signed the order after being asked to do so by advocates.

“It’s really this point about leading by example,’’ he said following an unrelated event late yesterday. “We have so much talent in this Commonwealth, and it resides in every single corner and in every single community, and we want to make as clear as possible that we welcome that talent and its contributions.’’

He said he was not trying to avoid questions about the controversial subject by signing the order in a private ceremony.

“You’re kidding, right?’’ Patrick said.

He pointed out that he supports a similar measure in the Legislature that would ban discrimination against transgender workers in both public and private settings statewide.
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