Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried announced today that for the third consecutive year the Assembly approved the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination ACT (GENDA), a landmark bill intended to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in areas of everyday life. The measure would also add gender identity and expression to protections included in New York's hate crimes law.
Since 2008, the Assembly has approved the legislation (A.5710-A/Gottfried) that would include transgender people within the protections provided by the Human Rights Law and prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Often targets for intolerance and outright bias, transgender people whose gender identity, appearance and behavior differ from those attributed to their sex at birth are vulnerable to hate crimes and face discrimination in housing, employment, credit and public accommodation.
"No New Yorker should face the day-to-day harassment experienced by so many transgender people who have lost their jobs or apartments because of their gender expression," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "For transgender individuals, GENDA provides equal protection under the law and provides legal recourse for those who have been denied access or harassed for their gender identity. The Assembly has long supported protections for all groups of people and, this critical bill is another indication of that commitment."
"This is an important and overdue protection of human rights," said Gottfried (D-Manhattan). "The experiences 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."
Speaker Silver noted that transgender people are not covered under the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), which was passed in the Assembly for years before being signed into law in 2003. GENDA has long carried the support of many Assembly members, across political parties and all regions of New York.
"We are hopeful that 2010 is the year that GENDA is finally signed into law in order to uphold the core values of equal protection generations of New Yorkers have fought to uphold," said Silver. "We hope that the Senate will join us in passing this important legislation."