Hate-crime law
may be expanded

Transgender people want inclusion
as a group at risk of abuse

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Members of Hawaii's transgender community told lawmakers Friday that they should have the same protection that Hawaii's two-year-old hate crime law provides homosexuals and others targeted for violence because of their differences.

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"Though I was assigned a male gender at birth, I have lived as a female since Feb. 28, 2002, in a medically supervised, medically endorsed and generally successful effort to establish mental health," Amy Kali Donahue, a 30-year-old University of Hawaii graduate student, told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I am a constant target of hatred by certain members of this society. I have been physically assaulted in one instance and verbally intimidated in countless others," Donahue said.

Hawaii's hate-crime law passed in 2001 imposes longer sentences for crimes motivated by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin.

The Senate bill would also provide longer sentences if the crime was motivated by the victim's "gender identity or expression."

Committee Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) said she'll recommend approval when the members vote next week to include "a group that has fallen between the cracks."

"It seems like the next step because we already have the prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and transgender is the perception issue," she said.

Deputy Public Defender Susan Arnett said that may be difficult to prove because the terms in the definition of the new category are not specific and could lead to wide interpretation.

"While our community should be sympathetic to any group of persons who feel they may be targeted as a victim due to some aspect of their life, the simple fact is that not every possible type of victim can be categorized," she said.

Hanabusa said she also expects to recommend approval of a bill to close a loophole that saw invasion of privacy charges dropped in October against a Pearl City man accused of being a video voyeur at Ala Moana Center.

Tyler Takehara, 49, was charged with video taping at least 29 unsuspecting women wearing short skirts by using a small, concealed video camera held at a low angle while they were riding escalators.

Prosecutors determined the law criminalizing secret cameras in private places, such as bathrooms, didn't apply to Takehara's case.

The bill would prohibit recording "another person's intimate area underneath clothing by use of any device, and such image is taken while that person is in a public place and without that person's consent."

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