- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2000

BOULDER, Colo. The city of Boulder, which already bans discrimination against women, racial minorities, homosexuals and bisexuals, has now extended legal protection to another minority: transsexuals.
The Boulder City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend the city's 27-year-old Human Rights Ordinance to protect transsexuals from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
The vote, which was greeted with applause from the audience, met with little opposition after being first proposed by the city's Human Relations Commission in November.
The law, which takes effect March 1, defines transsexuals, or "gender-variants," as those having "a persistent sense that a person's gender identity is incongruent with the person's biological sex."
Boulder, a university town known for its liberal politics, becomes the first city in Colorado and the seventh in the nation to extend human-rights protections to transsexuals, a list that includes San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Cambridge, Mass.
"It's very important for Boulder to take a stand against this type of discrimination," said Boulder Mayor Will Toor.
In its recommendation to the council, the commission noted that the amendment could prove troublesome to employers if, for example, the transsexual engaged in cross-dressing at work.
With that in mind, the ordinance requires "reasonably consistent gender presentation of workers," meaning that an employee cannot "change gender identity in the workplace more than three times in any 18-month period."
As for public locker rooms, showers and bathrooms, the ordinance allows "transitioned transsexuals" full access to "the facilities of their new sex, while a more flexible 'reasonable accommodation' requirement is imposed for transitioning transsexuals."
The ordinance is expected to apply to about 400 people who live and work in Boulder. About 10 residents are known to have undergone a sex-change operation, said city officials.
All but two of the roughly 20 residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting supported the measure.
Janet Bellis, who lives in Boulder, said she disagreed with including lifestyle choices in the human-rights ordinance.
"It's unnecessary because we are all awarded constitutional rights against discrimination," said Miss Bellis. "And I really think that creating small protected classes is discriminatory in its own right."
But the council sided with the majority of speakers, some of whom identified themselves as transsexuals who had suffered from discrimination.
Council members said they hoped the ordinance would encourage other cities to follow suit.
"I hope this sends a message much further than just our state," said council member Lisa Morzel.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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