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Maryland bans discrimination against transgender residents

Maryland on Thursday became the 18th state to ban discrimination based on gender identity.
A passenger is seen at an LGBT Pride Celebration & Parade June 30, 2013.
A passenger is seen at an LGBT Pride Celebration & Parade June 30, 2013.

Gov. Martin O'Malley this week made it illegal for residents to discriminate against transgender individuals.

The Democratic legislator signed a bill into law on Thursday that will make Maryland the 18th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to prohibit intolerance based on gender identity. The measure, known as the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, will protect transgender residents from discrimination in all aspects of daily life, including labor, housing, public accommodation and employment.

O'Malley's signature marks the end of an eight-year effort to add gender identity to the state's anti-discrimination act, according to an article in the Washington Blade. The law will take effect on Oct. 1.

Both the Democratic-controlled House and state Senate passed the bill earlier this year in March

Previously, only sexual orientation was protected statewide. Certain counties, however, had enacted laws that provide such protections.

Transgender citizens in other states, however, continue to fight for fairness. In Texas, a woman claimed the Salvation Army denied her shelter because she is transgender. Jodielynn Wiley last month attempted to switch from an emergency shelter program to a transitional shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Services Center in Dallas, run by the Salvation Army, but was rejected, according to msnbc. The faith-based organization, however, refuted Wiley's claims and said there weren't any vacancies at the time of her request.

At the federal level, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights this year extended protections to transgender students. Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally-funded education programs and activities, now bars prejudice toward transgender students.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last weekend alluded to being open to reviewing the military's policy on transgender troops, msnbc previously reported.

Additionally this week, the U.S. Department of Defense publicly began considering a transfer for Army Private Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison so she can undergo treatment for her gender disorder. Manning, named "Bradley Edward Manning" at birth, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing classified information to WikiLeaks.