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Officials postpone action on city law.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

Presented with a 10-point community education plan, the Eugene Human Rights Commission on Tuesday decided to hold off recommending changes to the city's anti-discrimination law aimed at protecting transgendered residents.

Commission members said they need more time to consider and possibly revamp the plan put forth by the Lane Gender Task Force, a gender identity group that asked the commission to delay taking action.

Some commission members said they want more feedback from other transgendered residents and the public at large, and questioned how effective an education campaign would really be in changing people's minds on the issue.

Members also said they don't want any delay to be misinterpreted as a lack of concern about the issue.

"This discrimination is intolerable and something has to be done about it," commission member Elizabeth Aydelott said. "But I'm ready to trust the task force when they say we need to be very careful and need more time for the educational process."

The task force's 10-point plan ranges from advocating for a secular homeless mission - deemed more hospitable to transgendered homeless than the Christian-based Eugene Mission - to having the city sponsor an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event spotlighting the discrimination faced by transgendered people.

The proposal to delay action comes after local transgendered residents were unable to agree on anti-discrimination language.

Some felt the law should allow people to use whichever public shower, locker or bathroom they regarded as "most appropriate," while others felt the law should require transgendered people using such facilities to provide documentation proving they are legally the gender they claim to be.

Task force member Maceo Persson said he and other transgendered residents believe that efforts to go forward now, without a greater education campaign, would result in a "chaotic media frenzy."

The word "transgender" applies to a range of individuals who identify with the full or partial reversal of gender roles, including transsexuals who may or may not have undergone surgery or hormone injections to effect a change in sex.

Commission Chairwoman Carmen Urbina said she supports the task force's recommendation. "These are hard issues, and this is a hard conversation for our community to have," she said. "But it hits at the core of the discrimination we are facing in this community, and it is only increasing."

Underlying tensions around the issue were noted by commission member David Lottier, who said he was dismayed by a recent flurry of e-mails on the subject that he viewed as coercive - insisting that he must vote a certain way.

"This needs to be a safe place to have different points of view," he said.

The commission hopes to devote another meeting to the topic in early March.

In other business, commission members said Tuesday they remain hopeful of persuading The Register-Guard to revise its policy on the publication of birth notices.

Commission members last month voted unanimously to place the issue on their work plan, after a same-sex couple protested the newspaper's refusal to include both their names as part of their child's birth notice.

Earlier Tuesday, Managing Editor Dave Baker said the newspaper plans to stick with its current policy.

`We've heard some complaints and concerns, but our policy is that we don't include in birth announcements the names of unmarried partners unless they're biological parents,' Baker said.

The issue first surfaced last May when Rebecca Flynn and Sharon Flynn asked that the newspaper publish the notice of the birth of their daughter, Hailey. Sharon Flynn gave birth to the child; because the couple wanted a child with both their features, they arranged for Rebecca Flynn's cousin to provide the genetic material.

In a letter to the newspaper in October, the Flynns said the newspaper's refusal to list their daughter's birth, alongside both their names as parents, was "upsetting and shocking." They said they decided against submitting an announcement listing only Sharon Flynn, so as not to "create the inaccurate impression that Hailey has only one parent."

Rebecca Flynn, an attorney and homemaker, is a member of the Human Rights Commission. Sharon Flynn is an internist.


Task force lists 10 strategies

Ask Human Rights Commission to take lead in education efforts

Build secular homeless shelter

Organize annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event

Provide gender identity protection to city workers

Provide transgender-inclusive health insurance to city workers

Ask Human Rights Commission to mediate cases of discrimination

Provide education to Eugene, Bethel school districts

Provide education to police

Provide education to Interagency Diversity and Equity Coalition

Sponsor transgender art shows, speakers' bureau

- Lane Gender Task Force
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Title Annotation:Government; Commissioners need time to consider how best to protect transgendered people
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 22, 2006
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