The Delaware Legislature passed the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act Wednesday, adding gender identity as a protected nondiscrimination category alongside race, age, religion, and sexual orientation.

The bill passed in the Delaware House Tuesday and yesterday passed in the Senate with a vote of 11-9. Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law that evening, stating that discrimination against transgender people is “inherently wrong.”

Trans* advocate Sarah McBride speaks at Gov. Markell's signing of SB 97. Photo courtesy of Sarah McBride.

Trans* advocate Sarah McBride speaks at Gov. Markell’s signing of SB 97. Photo courtesy of Sarah McBride.

“The Delaware Legislature sent a clear message today,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, “that transgender residents deserve to be treated equally and protected under the law.”

Supporters of the legislation say the law is necessary because transgender individuals may be straight or gay and thus not all are protected under current anti-discrimination laws. The legislation will also allow for Delaware’s hate crimes law to include punishments for targeting someone based on their gender identity.

Delaware is the 17th state to protect transgender individuals from discrimination under the law.

Sources: Press Release 6/19/2013; Washington Post 6/18/2013