SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California is on track to becoming the first in the nation to require workplace training about gender identity.
The new bill comes in response to a new survey showing a high unemployment rate in the transgender community.
The National Center For Transgender Equality says transgender workers experience unemployment three times the national average. Unemployment is at 15 percent for transgender people while the national average is 5 percent.
Rachael Hudson is the guru on transgender training. She offers free education on how to communicate with and around a transgender coworker.
"For a trans person it's tough especially misgendering a trans person," she said.
Hudson made the transition from male to female more than 10 years ago. The difference now is California has laws shielding transgender workers, including a new one that requires all single stall bathrooms to be gender neutral.
But civil rights advocates say there are just not enough rules protecting transgender people against discrimination on the job.
"This is really about respecting people for who they are," said Jo Michael.
Michael is with Equality California. He's pushing a new bill dubbed The Transgender Work Opportunity Act.
"There's just a lack of acceptance of people who are transgender," he said.
The bill would apply to every employer in California with 50 or more employees, requiring training on gender harassment as part of current sexual harassment training. And it reaffirms that transgender workers are allowed to go by their preferred names and pronouns.
"You are now forcing them to say something that they don't believe in," said Greg Burt.
Greg Burt is with the California Family Council, a conservative Christian group that says its worried Democratic lawmakers are threatening workers' religious liberties.
"Training that requires you to teach something that opposes your fundamental views, that's going to be an issue," he said.
But if acceptance is the issue, Hudson believes, they can all work together to solve that.
"What I've experienced is people want to know, and they just don't," she said.
The Transgender Work Opportunity Act is heading to the Assembly for a vote. It's one of several state bills dealing with gender discrimination.
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