This week, the ACLU of Ohio launched a video series that spotlights our state's transgender residents and the legal and personal issues that they confront. The underlying message throughout the series is that Ohio laws do not protect transgender individuals from discrimination.
As social awareness grows, the hope is that legislators will listen to the people and address the widespread and ongoing discrimination against a segment of their constituents. After sitting on the bill for years, Cleveland City Council approved an ordinance in 2016 that prohibits discrimination against people based on gender identity. The state has not done anything like that.
"What interested me in being part of the ACLU video series was the opportunity to tell my personal story in hopes of educating the public," Christian Hemminger, who appears in several of the videos, tells Scene. "Research shows that people are more likely to support good non-discrimination policies if they know someone who is transgender."
In the U.S., 1.4 million adults identify as transgender.
"I personally feel this number will only grow as more people find courage in sharing their story," Hemminger says. "Likewise, our community will still be at risk to be denied jobs, equal housing and health care. What's more is the staggering rise in violence against transgender individuals — 13 percent last year.
"Therefore, my hope is that people see that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals can and do lead normal lives and are in need, just as anyone else, of non-discrimination policies to protect their families and lives."