Gender Identity and Expression

Wisconsin has a proud tradition in fairness, becoming the first state in the nation to adopt anti-discrimination protections for our state’s gay and lesbian citizens in 1982.  However, this law does not provide protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. This means that even though an employer, landlord, or owners and workers in a public space cannot discriminate against bisexual, lesbian and gay individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, transgender individuals can, and often do, experience discrimination based on their gender identity and expression.

Where are we now?

A handful of local governments ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

All of Dane County bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, county government (public) employment, and for companies that contract with the county. If you have questions about the Dane County ordinance or have been discriminated against you should contact the Dane County Office of Equal Opportunity.

The City of Madison includes all these protections, and additionally protects against discrimination in public accommodations and in private employment. If you have questions about the City of Madison ordinance or have been discriminated against you should contact the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission.

The City of Milwaukee bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression in private and public employment, housing, and some public accommodations (companies that need city licenses to operate). If you have questions about the City of Milwaukee ordinance or have been discriminated against you should contact the Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission.

Where do we go from here?

Fair Wisconsin believes that current non-discrimination protections at both the state and local level need to be extended to the transgender community. We recognize that significant education must happen before we can successfully update current law to protect the transgender community, therefore we will be taking a comprehensive and disciplined approach to achieve these vital protections.

We believe that the current protections in Dane County and the City of Milwaukee are helping educate the public about how important these protections really are, and we are continuing to build on those successes, as well as connect transgender and allied activists in local communities in order to achieve statewide protections.

For more information about how to get involved in advancing protections for the transgender community, visit our Action Center.  Or check out our Legal & Discrimination page to learn more about Wisconsin’s discrimination laws and what to do if you are a victim of discrimination.