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Gender Variance

Boulder's local human rights ordinance, which prohibits discrimination within the city limits of Boulder, now protects against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on gender variance.

On Feb. 1, 2000 , the Boulder City Council unanimously voted to add gender variance to the forms of discrimination prohibited under the local human rights ordinance. Gender variance is defined as the "persistent sense that a person's gender identity is incongruent with the person's biological sex." The definition further excludes "the element of persistence for persons under the age of 21 and including, without limitation, transitioned transsexuals."

This ordinance change was initiated by requests from community members, and was recommended to City Council by the Human Relations Commission. Key HRC findings, based on extensive study and public hearings, include the following:

  • Discrimination does currently exist in Boulder with regard to transgendered status. Nationally, there have been many horrible and concerning incidents. Some have resulted in death. While the situation in Boulder is acknowledged to be generally more accepting and supportive, there is concern that transgender persons do suffer hardships due to discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. This can affect people's basic civil rights--including their ability to get and keep jobs, have a place to live and get services in the community.
  • The resident's group has also stressed that transgendered persons are present in every race, every culture, and that every epoch of recorded history includes evidence of the existence of transgendered persons. They work in many types of fields: transgendered physicians, college professors, teachers, bankers, attorneys, and auto mechanics. Transgendered persons are subjected to humiliation, harassment and discrimination.
  • The process of coming out and transitioning as transgendered is a complex and arduous experience, and not an experience entered into frivolously or capriciously.

General Provisions
This change adds gender variance to the list of classes protected by law against discrimination. Other legally protected classes include race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, national origin, ancestry, and mental or physical disability, genetic characteristics. Additionally, in housing discrimination is prohibited based on parenthood, pregnancy or custody of a minor child. Further, in employment, discrimination is prohibited based on age, specifically between the ages of 40 and 65 years.

The human rights ordinance affords protection against discrimination in three areas:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Public Accommodations (any place of business engaged in sales or services)

This is not to say that someone of a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, or other quality listed above can never be turned down for housing, employment, or public accommodation. It is to say that none of these characteristics can be factors in decisions regarding housing, employment, or public accommodations.

Provisions Specific to Gender Variance
Several specific issues are addressed in the ordinance relative to gender variance, including:

  • Permits workplace supervisors to require reasonably consistent gender presentation of workers.
  • Requires that a worker not change gender presentation in the workplace more than three times in any 18-month period.
  • Does not include any requirements regarding bathrooms.
  • Requires reasonable accommodation of transitioned and transitioning transsexuals in locker rooms and shower facilities.
  • Adds exemptions to gender variance discrimination for sports and for sex-segregated housing for persons under age 25.

For more information about Boulder's Human Rights ordinance and/or the provisions related to gender variance, contact the Office of Human Rights at 303-441-3141. Boulder's Human Rights ordinance is available on the city's website: Human Rights Ordinance or upon request from the Office of Human Rights.