MARYLAND

Md. Senate committee considers transgender anti-discrimination bill

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The gay marriage bill has been enacted in Maryland with Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature Thursday evening, but the next civil rights battle has only begun.

A Maryland Senate committee is considering an anti-discrimination bill for transgender people.

In Maryland certain laws prohibit discrimination, but transgender people don't have those protections. But by the end of this legislative session, that might change.

Dr. Dana Beyer, a retired eye surgeon from Chevy Chase, was raised as a man, but always felt like a woman. And like many transgender people she faced discrimination. Twenty years ago during a workplace lawsuit, she says a judge called her a pervert, and attorneys said she didn't deserve respect. She says she didn't get a fair trial.

But Maryland lawmakers have taken up a bill that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public facilities, housing, and employment.

A beating of a transgender woman at a McDonalds in Rosedale, Maryland gained national attention after an employee caught it on tape.

But some oppose the measure on principle.

In a statement, the Maryland Catholic Conference wrote, "The bill would undermine in law a recognition of the inextricable link between a person's human nature and his or her identity as a man or woman. We urge you to oppose this legislation."

Thirteen states, the District, and more than one hundred counties and cities have adopted such measures.

Some who oppose it fear men could pretend to be women and enter ladies rooms. Beyer says areas with similar laws haven't had that problem.

"It's time to grow a spine and do the right thing," says Beyer. "This is a basic civil rights law. There really shouldn't be much argumentation about it."

Last year, the Md. House passed a similar bill but it died in the Senate. An aide to one senator told ABC7 today he believes both bodies will vote on it this legislative session.

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