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By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
What was once a hotly- debated topic when it was approved by the Gainesville City Commission several months ago is now getting established in city hall. A number of different city departments got their first training in how to deal with transgendered issues. The goal is to teach city employees how to provide services without discriminating either intentionally or unintentionally.
At a typical Gator football home game, odds are there are between 150 and 400 people in the stands who identify their gender different than their sex at birth.
Monday's seminar is the first ever to give city employees some of the basic knowledge they need to make sure that group is not discriminated against. For example, what do you do if you are a police officer who stops someone who appears to be female and goes by Joanne, but when you check their driver's license, you find out they are male and their legal name is John?
"It's very easy," says Dr. Jennifer Sager who taught the seminar. "Because it's just to be respectful. You'd ask for their legal name, but then you continue to use the female pronouns and the name they gave you out of respect."
"if one person is discriminated against, they are not provided a service that they should be provided them, then we've done an injustice and we do want to make sure we provide justice for everyone," says Jimmie Williams, the director of Gainesville's Equal Opportunity Office.
Gainesville is the 97th city or county across the United States to explicitly ban discrimination based on transgender issues. City departments represented today included Police, Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Human Resources--many that have the greatest potential to run into a potentially sticky situation.
One of the over-arching messages was to recognize your personal feelings and biases and to not let that influence how you act as a representative of the City of Gainesville.
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