TAMPA — The Tampa City Council agreed Thursday to explore adding transgender people to individuals protected under the city's human rights ordinance.
The council made the decision after hearing from Philip Dinkins, chairman of the city's human rights board.
"A need exists in our city for legal protection of these individuals from discrimination," Dinkins told the council. "Ensuring that the city of Tampa takes a strong stand against discrimination in all its forms will have a positive impact on our city's economic development. Progressive companies seek out communities committed to diversity and opposed to discrimination."
Dinkins said no transgender individuals have filed complaints with the city's board regarding discrimination because the group is not a protected class.
But he noted that the topic became highly publicized two years ago when Largo city manager Steve Stanton was fired when it was learned he planned to have sex change surgery. Now Susan Stanton, she has a job with a city on Florida's east coast.
"While not happening in our community, it happened across the bay in a very visible situation," he said.
Unlike gay people, transgender people can't hide their identity if they need or want to, he said, which makes legal protection even more important.
Council members directed the administration and legal staff to research the matter and come back with a recommendation.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.