Update: Finally up for a vote, 2.5 hours later. Bill goes to full committee.
In reality, HB0335, introduced by Memphis Rep. Jeanne Richardson (HD-89) is a pretty simple piece of legislation. It takes TCS 40-35-114 (17) and changes the word “gender” to “gender, or gender identity or expression”.
Something so seemingly innocuous, a couple of words changed in a law designed to protect people who are routinely targeted because they are “different” may seem like a waste of time for the state legislature, but this has been an error of omission for transgendered people in the state of Tennessee.
The highly publicized beating and eventual murder of Duanna Johnson was not the first incidence of transgendered people being targeted in Tennessee. On July 1, 2008 Ebony Whitaker was shot and killed just outside a Memphis daycare. On January 7, 2007 Nakia Baker’s body was found in Nashville. Baker had been beaten to death. On February 16, 2006, Tiffany Berry was shot after she stepped out of her apartment in Memphis. At the time of this report there had been seven other instances of crime targeted at transgendered people in Nashville alone. (Source) This, of course, doesn’t account for the crimes that are either not reported, or not recognized as hate crimes.
Richardson’s bill will be before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Practice and Procedure tomorrow at noon in room HHR31. Please contact the members of the committee by following the links or using the phone numbers below and ask them to support this reasonable fix to Tennessee hate crimes law.
Eric Watson, Chair, R-Cleveland (615) 741-7799
Janis Sontany, Vice-Chair, D- Nashville (615) 741-6861
Eddie Bass D-Prospect (615) 741-1864
Karen Camper D-Memphis (615) 741-1898
Chad Faulkner R-Campbell and Union County (615) 741-3335
Judd Matheny R-Tullahoma (615) 741-7448
Also check out this post from Grand Divisions.