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Providing equal rights for everyone

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Whether it's in the workplace, at school, or out in public, it's a battle no doubt that many in the LGBT community face the challenge of equal rights very day. A measure was tackled today that hopes to bring some much needed resolve when it comes to gender identity.

"They are teachers attorneys, chefs, veterans, clergy, government workers, students, brothers, fathers," explained Lasia Casil. "Fanoghe is not just for straight people, it's for everyone." On Monday, members of the LGBT community met with Senators to discuss Bill 164. Introduced in August by Senator Joe San Agustin and Speaker Benjamin Cruz, the bill would clarify the definition of "sex", to protect trans and other gender identities.

Casil, co founder of ISA LGBT Guam and Guam Pride, cites cultural barriers and daily discrimination that has forced many to leave island. "They want to be a part of Guam but they're persecuted on a daily basis," she explained.  "The interesting thing we found out about Guam compared to national statistics is that there are zero instances of LGBT discrimination we are either living on Paradise or there's a real fear of coming forward."

"There's a real fear deeply ingrained we don't confront this it's family we don't want to bring shame it's a real cultural thing."

Scarlett Dixon, a transgender woman, as well, says even though it seems the tough times are long gone, acceptable societal norms still push out her fellow sisters. "The island culture is more accepting than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago," she told KUAM News.  "I have not been discriminated in the bathroom, I have not dealt with a lot of the issues my other friends have dealt with..

"Because if one of my sisters has a deep voice, they're treated differently than I am, they can't use the restroom - but I can."

Bill 164 hopes to clarify the language for the LGBT community. University of Guam professor Ron McNinch is proudly in support of this bill, but suggested a referee for enforcement, and that sex offenders be the exemption to the rule, saying, "Worried about men that are sex offenders the wolf in sheep's clothing time going into a female restroom, shower room, claiming to be of another gender and using and exploiting the genuine civil rights purposes of this law."

Despite this concern, Dixon was grateful and hopeful for the future, where the LGBT community will find a home on Guam, saying, "This legislature has been the first legislature to have compassion towards the LGBT community."

Compassion and another step towards equal rights for all.

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