Sarasota – The Sarasota City Commission unanimously voted to pass an amendment that will add gender identity and expression to its already in place human rights ordinance.

The final vote was Nov. 17 via consent agenda with no discussion. Now transgender residents of Sarasota have equal protections and rights when it comes to public accommodations, housing and employment, effective immediately.

The measure was also unanimously passed on Nov. 3 at its first vote. City Commissioner Suzanne Atwell proposed the amendment Sept. 2, saying she felt the amendment was needed because sexual orientation was added to the HRO back in 2000 but nothing in the HRO included gender identity.

Former Sarasota City Commissioner and Vice Mayor Ken Shelin and Equality Florida Transgender Inclusion Director Gina Duncan have been working toward amendment for the City of Sarasota for a while now. Duncan is also pushing for transgender protections added to HROs across the state, including a similar measure for the County of Miami-Dade.

“It means a lot to the community and the fact that there is momentum in full inclusion and equality for all citizens, including transgender people,” Duncan said. “I think that comes from increased education, awareness and visibility, and those are objectives that Equality Florida has been working all of the state to get accomplished. A lot of it has come from the visibility and bravery of the transgender community to step forward and be visible and help with the education, and also by major incorporations that believe that a fully inclusive and nondiscriminatory Florida is where they want to be. We have a strong ally in our corporate partners.”

The unanimous vote comes just days before Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20, when people reflect and commemorate the lives of transgender individuals who have passed away due to violent crimes.

From our media partner Watermark