Lambda Legal Urges City Council to Strike ID Requirement from Chicago Human Rights Ordinance

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June 8, 2016

Today, Christopher Clark, Counsel and Young Adults, Teens and Children Program Strategist for Lambda Legal testified before the Chicago City Council’s Commission on Human Relations in support of an amendment striking a provision of the city’s Human Rights Ordinance that requires people to use public facilities in Chicago that match the sex marker on their government-issued identification. Read the testimony here.

From Clark:

This ID Provision in our law is harmful to transgender and gender nonconforming Chicagoans and visitors to our city because it essentially allows businesses, and even the general public, to demand to see a person’s identification before allowing them to use facilities such as restrooms.

This unlawful policing of transgender and gender nonconforming people causes needless humiliation and embarrassment and it prevents the many people whose government-issued identification doesn’t match their gender identity from accessing facilities.

The proposed amendment, entitled Equal Access Consistent With A Person’s Gender Identity Amendment, would eliminate the language currently in Chicago’s human rights ordinance that allows people to use a public accommodation that is distinctly private in nature, like a restroom or locker room, if the gender designation of the facility matches the sex on their government-issued identification.

According to a recent study only 59% of transgender people have been able to update the gender marker on their driver’s license. That number drops to 26% for people who have updated their passport.

Clark added:

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, while trail-blazing when enacted in 2002, is in desperate need of an update that respects the realities of day-to-day life for transgender people.

This provision violates the Illinois Human Rights Act which bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity and it is also inconsistent with the recent guidelines issued by Chicago Public Schools which state that transgender students should be allowed to use the facilities consistent with their gender identity.

If we don’t update this now, we send a troubling message to transgender and gender nonconforming people that the harassment and discriminatory treatment they experience is justified and that would destroy Chicago’s proud reputation as a city that is welcoming to all.

Read the press release.