Taking a Step Forward: Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law in New York

Last year, as four times previously, the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). And, just like the last four times the Assembly passed GENDA over the past decade — an anti-discrimination law that would add “gender identity and expression” to the existing New York State Human Rights Law — the New York State Senate failed to act on the civil rights legislation before it.

In an October 2012 public forum sponsored by State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, New Yorkers and their families, law enforcement representatives, advocates, and public officials from around the state gathered to testify about the theoretical impact of GENDA on the lives of transgender New Yorkers.

According to testimony presented by the Empire State Pride Agenda:

  • One out of every three transgender New Yorkers have been homeless at one time.
  • Two out of every three transgender New Yorkers have experienced discrimination at work.
  • Nearly 30 percent of transgender New Yorkers have experienced sexual assault.
  • Nearly four out of five New Yorkers are in favor of a transgender civil rights bill.
  • Transgender New Yorkers risk losing their jobs, being refused service at restaurants and in stores, and even being evicted from their homes.

Currently, New York’s civil rights laws make it illegal to discriminate based on age, race, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, Gender, military status, and family status. But the law does not extend that protection to transgender people. New York’s civil rights lawyers urge the state Senate to act on GENDA to finally include transgender people among those minorities protected by New York’s laws.

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