The bill to protect transgender people under the State Human Rights Law was approved by the Assembly with bi-partisan support on Monday, April 30. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) will now be referred to the State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.
"This is an important and overdue protection of human rights," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of bill, A5039. "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."
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, Binghamton, New York City, and Rochester, and the counties of Suffolk and Tompkins have already enacted local GENDA laws. Sixteen states, Washington, D.C., and over 140 other localities across the country have passed transgender-inclusive civil rights legislation. The bill has passed the Assembly four times in previous years.
Empire State Pride Agenda, Housing Works, and dozens of other LGBT organizations across New York have called for the passage of GENDA. Additional support for GENDA includes a broad range of religious or faith tradition communities, The New York City Bar Association, and numerous unions.
The Assembly bill has 54 sponsors, including members of both political parties representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York. State Senator Daniel Squadron sponsors the Senate bill, S6349.
"This bill has been in the Senate for 11 years; it is time for New York to stand up," added Gottfried.