Protection of Transgender Rights: “GENDA” Passes Assembly

Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has broad and bi-partisan support
June 15, 2011

The bill to protect transgender people under the State Human Rights Law passed the Assembly with bi-partisan support on Tuesday, June 14 by a vote of 89 to 55. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is currently in the State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee. This is the fourth consecutive year it passed the Assembly.

“This is an important and overdue protection of human rights,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill, A.5039. “It is unconscionable that transgender individuals still do not have protection from discrimination.”

“The discrimination that transgender people face is 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.”

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. The transgender community is not protected under current state law.

“By eliminating the fear of losing their jobs, homes, and fair treatment in communities across the state, we can make certain that every New Yorker receives equal opportunities regardless of gender identity,” said Gottfried.

Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, and Rochester, and the counties of Suffolk and Tompkins have already enacted local GENDA laws. Fifteen states, Washington, D.C. and over 90 other localities across the country have passed transgender-inclusive civil rights legislation.

Assembly passage of GENDA remains a top legislative priority this year of the Empire State Pride Agenda, Housing Works, and dozens of other LGBT organizations across New York. Many Jewish, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Catholic, Presbyterian, Unitarian-Universalist, and the United Church of Christ clergy and congregations have expressed their support. The New York City Bar Association, and numerous unions, including the New York State AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 32BJ, AFSCME District Council 37, UAW Region 9A Metro NYC CAP Council, and New York State United Teachers are among additional organizations in support of the bill.

The Assembly bill has 54 co-sponsors, including members of both political parties representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York. State Senator Thomas K. Duane sponsors the Senate bill, S.2873. It has 20 additional sponsors.