News Column

Transgendered May Be Sheltered by Nev. Hate Crime Statute

March 21, 2013

Cy Ryan, Las Vegas Sun

The Senate on Thursday approved a bill adding transgender people to the list of those covered by Nevada's hate crimes statute.

"We all should be about the business of righting the wrong of discriminating against people because of their physicality," said Sen. Patricia Spearman, who sponsored Senate Bill 139, which now heads to the Assembly.

The vote was 20-1, with Sen. Joseph Hardy, R-Boulder City, dissenting. Hardy said he was concerned the bill would protect individuals who aren't transgender but tried to claim being so to provoke an attack. He said a minor change in the Assembly could take care of his concerns.

Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, did not have an estimate of how many transgender people live in Nevada or the number of crimes committed against them.

She cited a case in Las Vegas where a woman waiting at a bus stop was beaten because she was transgender. The woman never reported the attack to police because she was afraid, said Spearman, .

The bill allows a judge to add a consecutive sentence of 1 to 20 years if it is proven that a crime was due to the victim's gender identity.

"If you have never been a member of a minority group, you have no idea what it feels like to be discriminated against because of physical characteristics," said Spearman, an African American.

"However God created you, God is in love with all of God's creations," said Spearman, a minister at a church in Clark County.

Source: (c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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