Transgendered citizens could be protected by Tampa’s Human Rights Ordinance after a second reading.

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Tampa City Council passed an ordinance today which would amend the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to add “gender identity and expression” as a protected class. The amendment will now include transgender-identified individuals as a recognized group to be considered for equal treatment under the law.

Philip Dinkins is the Chair of the City of Tampa Human Rights Board, and asked the council to vote for the amendments today.

13 states plus 17 municipalities in Florida have included gender identity in their ordinances. Dinkins says Tallahassee was the most recent city to issue such an ordinance.

Councilmember Joseph Caetano voted no on the amendment, predicting potential legal concerns.

Concerned about the permanence of an individual’s decision to identify as transgendered, Charlie Miranda asked Assistant City Attorney Robin McKinny for clarification.

McKinny said there is a difference between cross-dressing and the decision to undergo permanent gender change.

Councilmember Mary Mulhern voted in support of the ordinance.

The Human Rights Ordinance has already protected against other forms of discrimination, and Councilmember John Dingfelder notes that this will merely provide a broader spectrum of protecting individuals from discrimination.

A second reading of the ordinance will be held November 19, at 9:30 AM.