Las Vegas Sun

August 31, 2015

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Bill would add gender identity to Nevada’s hate crime law

CARSON CITY — With her 7-year-old transgender son — he was born as a girl but identifies as a boy — sitting on her lap, a Sparks mother urged the Senate Judiciary Committee today to pass a bill to expand the law on hate crimes.

Elivira Diaz appeared before the committee with her son Christian, who was clutching his teddy bear. She testified that Senate Bill 139 would stop “some people from committing hate crimes.”

“Help him to have a happy life,” she said, referring to her son.

The bill by Sen. Pat Spearman, D-Las Vegas, has 15 cosponsors in the 21-member state Senate.

At the committee meeting, there was no opposition to the measure, which would provide for an additional one- to 20-year sentence for a person convicted of a crime committed because of the gender or the gender identity of the victim.

The bill would add the category of “gender-related identity” to a law that already allows enhanced penalties for people who commit crimes because of race, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.

Z. Shane Zaldivar of Sparks testified that people have been beaten or lost their jobs because of they are transgender.

“We are treated as second-class citizens,” he said.

Outside the committee meeting, Zaldivar said he was born a female and entered the Marine Corps as a woman. But when he expressed male mannerisms, he was discharged, he said.

He said he is now married and has a child.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said 14 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal government already have similar laws.

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