The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act ("GENDA," A3358/S7010), State Human Rights Law and the hate crimes law, was approved by the Assembly today.
"Transgender people - whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth - face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and other areas of life, and they are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of GENDA. "It's an embarrassment to New Yorkers that 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws barring discrimination on the basis of gender expression or identity while GENDA can't even get a vote in our State Senate."
"Governor Cuomo took strong action in 2015 when he issued state-wide regulations under the State's Human Rights Law that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and transgender status," said Gottfried. "But adding gender expression and identity to the human rights and penal laws will give the community proper recognition, protection against repeal of the regulations, and add protection under the State's Hate Crimes Law."
The Trump administration has taken steps against transgender rights, including banning transgender Americans from military service, withdrawing Federal guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, and undermining transgender access to homeless shelters. "With an administration of bullies in Washington, New York must stand up for common sense, fairness, and justice," Gottfried added.
"It is the shame of New York State that transgender citizens are not protected under the Human Rights Law," said Senator Brad Hoylman, Senate sponsor of GENDA. "This is particularly urgent in the current climate, as hate crimes against transgender people are dramatically increasing and the hostile Trump Administration continues to dismantle protections for transgender Americans, old and young alike. Time is of the essence. The State Senate must follow the Assembly's action today and pass my and Assembly Member Gottfried's Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act as soon as possible."
"It is astonishing that after fifteen years our community is still begging for explicit and permanent protections from discrimination that all other New Yorkers have and enjoy," said Juli Grey-Owens, Community Lead Organizer of the GENDA 2018 Campaign. "Ironically, states like Iowa and Utah have already taken steps to protect their gender-expansive communities. It is time for our State Legislators to act quickly and decisively to protect transgender and non-binary New Yorkers with explicit anti-discrimination protections in our Human Rights and Penal laws."
"We are grateful to Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Hoylman for their leadership, to the Assembly for passing this important piece of legislation, and for the commitment to equality and justice," said Gabriel Blau, Co-Founder of Equality New York. "Trans people, especially those of color, are among the most attacked in our nation, facing discrimination, verbal and physical attacks, and murder. The passage of GENDA is an important piece of the path to protection, and we call on the State Senate to do the same. We have made great strides in the pursuit of equality and justice for LGBTQI New Yorkers, but there is work left undone."
Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and the counties of Albany, Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester have already enacted local GENDA laws. Numerous private employers have also adopted policies protecting transgender employees from discrimination, including American Express, Eastman Kodak, and I.B.M.
"All transgender people, but especially children, are at great risk of being bullied and targeted by ignorant haters and the result is frightening suicide rates in this community," said Judy Sennesh, Board Chair of PFLAG NYC and founder of PFLAG NYC's Trans Families Project. "As the mother of a transgender child I once again am urging the State Senate to be on the right side of history. Being transgender is a way that people are born, not a choice. The State Senate needs to pass GENDA now! Not doing so empowers people who bully, who discriminate in the most hateful ways, and murder. Transgender rights are human rights and civil rights, nothing more."
"We appreciate our many friends and allies within the Assembly passing this for the 11th time and showing that there are people with power and privilege who dare to speak out against the violence and discrimination in our community," said Ari Moore, longtime member of the Spectrum Transgender Group of Western NY and board member of the Anti-Violence Project of Western NY. "The transgender community is not second-class citizens. To our allies and friends: Do not hide your light of truth and justice under the shadow of discrimination, but let justice and equality shine."
GENDA is supported by New York State United Teachers, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Housing Works, dozens of LGBT organizations, a broad range of religious and faith communities, the New York City Bar Association, and numerous labor unions including the NYS AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, AFSCME District Council 37, United Auto Workers Region 9A Metro NYC CAP Council, CSEA, Screen Actors Guild, and Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
The Assembly bill has 63 sponsors including Assembly Members representing urban, suburban, rural, downstate, and upstate New York. This is the eleventh time the Assembly has passed GENDA. The companion bill is in the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.