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State Rep. Ajello Says RI Transgender Discrimination Laws Offer Ample Protection

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A Providence lawmaker has withdrawn a bill that would have provided explicit protections for transgender people to use public bathrooms. State...

A Providence lawmaker has withdrawn a bill that would have provided explicit protections for transgender people to use public bathrooms. State Representative Edith Ajello said the state’s current law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity provides enough protection for transgender people. 

Ajello said she came to the conclusion after speaking with local LGBT advocates, and seeing the letter from the Obama Administration directing schools to allow students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

“Introducing the legislation could send the message to people in the Trans community, and others, that our current law isn’t doing the job, isn’t sufficient," said Ajello.  "And that would be chilling to people in the Trans community.”

Ajello said she might reintroduce the bill in the event of a lawsuit.

“If the result of the lawsuit was that our law was not explicit enough, then I would certainly consider introducing legislation to fix it,” said Ajello.

Transgender rights have become a national topic of conversation after North Carolina passed a law saying people must use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth-certificates. Lawsuits are already pending over the North Carolina law.

In Rhode Island, current law does not specifically address access to public bathrooms, but it does prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ajello said issues related to transgender discrimination have arisen but were settled outside of court.

A gender-neutral bathroom sign. Some critics say separate, gender-neutral, facilities are not enough.
A gender-neutral bathroom sign. Some critics say separate, gender-neutral, facilities are not enough.