April 21, 2009

Assembly Passes Gender Expression
Non-Discrimination Act

Measure Protects Transgender New Yorkers from Discrimination

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried today announced Assembly passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a measure aimed at ensuring transgender people are protected from discrimination in areas of everyday life. The bill also would add gender identity or expression to the state's hate crimes law.

First introduced in 2003, the bill (A.5710/S.2406) would protect transgender people under the Human Rights Law by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Transgender people, whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth, are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes and commonly face discrimination in housing, employment, credit and public accommodation.

"All New Yorkers have the right to safe and equal protection under the law. The long overdue Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act will make it illegal to fire someone from their job, kick someone out of their apartment or deny credit to someone simply because of their gender identity or expression," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "This is a crucial step in supporting civil rights of the transgender community."

"The experience of transgender individuals, and the discrimination they face, are unique, and should be specifically identified and unambiguously rejected in our State's civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity," said Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill.

The legislative leaders noted that many people who supported the recent Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) believed that it covered transgender discrimination. However, being transgender is not the same as being homosexual. The Assembly GENDA legislation has 70 sponsors, including members of both political parties representing urban, suburban, upstate and rural New York.

Building on a commitment to protect all New Yorkers, the Assembly recently passed the Dignity for All Students Act aimed at ensuring public school communities provide students with a learning environment free of discrimination. Provisions of the legislation (A.3661B/S.1987A) prohibit harassment and discrimination based on race, color, weight, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or sex.

"The Assembly Majority has always been a supporter of equal rights and we hope our new partners in the Senate will join us and pass this very important piece of legislation," added Silver.