Last week, Rep. Taylor Small and Rep. Mari Cordes’ bill to protect transgender people unanimously passed through the House Judiciary Committee. The Human Rights Council has called 2020 the deadliest year for transgender and gender-nonconforming people yet, so it is critical that our lawmakers reexamine how our systems can better serve Vermonters of all genders.
If passed, this legislation would prevent perpetrators from using a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a defense for their own violent reaction, including murder. Called the LGBTQ+ panic defense, perpetrators have argued in court that receiving unwanted sexual advances or discovering a transgender person’s gender identity at birth should exculpate them from legal responsibility for their own violent acts.
Stopping this homophobic and transphobic legal defense is a basic protection that we should extend to all Vermonters. I’m grateful to see Rep. Taylor Small and Rep. Marie Cordes raise this important issue and proud to have the House Judiciary Committee move it forward. A companion bill in the Senate has been introduced by Sen. McCormick and now awaits a hearing. I look forward to seeing our legislature modernize our legal system to reflect the values of equity and inclusion that voters of our state support.