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 August 28, 2003
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Pennsylvania governor makes transgendered a protected class
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Philadelphia-AP -- Pennsylvania's governor has made transgendered people a protected group when it comes to state employment.

Governor Ed Rendell has signed an executive order barring state agencies from discriminating based on "gender identity or expression." The state's protected categories already include race, religion, age and sexual orientation.

Rendell says his order recognizes personal dignity and freedom. It generally affects people who are transgendered -- a broad term referring to cross-dressers, hermaphrodites, transsexuals or those who have surgically changed their sex.

The order caught state Republicans by surprise. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Sam Smith says it seemed to come out of the blue. He says he didn't know discrimination based on gender identity had been an issue.

But the chair of the state's Human Relations Commission says he knows of several cases in which state agencies fired workers based on gender identity.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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