Helmut Schmidt / The Forum
FARGO – City Commissioner John Strand called upon the city’s Human Relations Commission to push for more protections in Fargo for transgender people after two women testified Thursday, Dec. 21, about discrimination and the need for training and increased awareness of the issue.

“I encourage the Human Relations Commission to pull out all the stops” and model local policies and ordinances on those seen elsewhere in the nation to prevent discrimination and attacks on transgender people, “despite the state’s lack of protection,” Strand said. “And if we run into a wall, let’s fight for what’s right!”

Strand, the city commission’s liaison to the Human Relations Commission, challenged the group to “really step up our approach to fighting for protections and find a way to accomplish it within the means we have available to us.”

Brianna Cassady, a transgender woman from Fargo, told the commission about how she had been discriminated against Dec. 4 in a south Fargo spa, and left after arguing with an employee who had insisted that she use the men’s locker room to prepare for a regularly scheduled massage appointment.

Also sharing testimony was Faye Seidler, an advocate for transgender individuals.

Seidler said there are about 500 transgender people in the Fargo area and many have experienced discrimination in trying to use public accommodations.

Cassady, an over-the-road truck driver, said “I think there’s a lot of trans women in our community today that don’t come forward” for fear of losing their jobs or suffering other retribution.

She said she’s grateful for the support of her employer.

“My company loves me. They’re proud that I put it in the paper. I encourage that other transgender women do the same” and step forward to call out discrimination, Cassady said.