New York State Assembly Passes the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act!(Albany, NY)
The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, today applauds the New York State Assembly Members on both sides of the aisle for passing for the seventh time the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, (A.4226/Gottfried).
“We’re pleased that the New York State Assembly came together for the seventh time to pass GENDA and send a message to the Senate that we’re past due to pass this important bill for the thousands of transgender New Yorkers who deserve equal protections under the law,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “We’re at a critical juncture now and transgender visibility and civil rights are advancing swiftly. We risk our title as leader on civil rights when New York fails to keep up with the pace of the country.”
The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, has passed in the Assembly more than half a dozen times, but Senate Leadership has failed to bring it to the floor for a vote in the Senate. GENDA has broad support across the state, including from municipal leaders, law enforcement leaders, women’s rights organizations, faith leaders and 78% of polled New Yorkers on both sides of the aisle. Local laws protect 60% of the state, but the patchwork of laws creates a confusing and uncertain landscape for transgender New Yorkers who may live in an area that offers protections but travel through or work in another that doesn’t.
This news comes on the heels of several, monumental achievements for transgender equality. A Federal ruling just deemed the exclusion of Medicare’s transition-related healthcare illegal, Maryland became the 18th state to prohibit discrimination against its transgender residents and transgender actress and activist – and New Yorker - Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time Magazine.
“The experience of transgender individuals is unique,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill. "The discrimination they face should be unambiguously identified and rejected in our State's civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity. Many cities and counties around the state have enacted local GENDA laws; it’s time to add it to the State Human Rights Law. It’s time for the Senate to act and stand with the Assembly for equality.”
“Today’s victory in the Assembly is only one of many incredible victories for transgender New Yorkers in the past several weeks and one more indicator that New York, like the rest of America, really is in transition – becoming a more just and equal society for all LGBT people,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Transgender Rights Organizer Eòghann Renfroe. “It’s time for the Senate, and for the Governor, to join in on this historic moment and make sure that GENDA becomes law!”
In our own state, Governor Cuomo just announced an update to the state’s policy around changing gender markers on birth certificates, removing the surgical requirement and making it easier and safer for transgender New Yorkers to match official documentation with their gender identity. Also, the City of Rochester recently announced at the Pride Agenda’s Spring Dinner that it will extend transition-related healthcare to transgender municipal employees, making it the third city in the U.S. to offer inclusive coverage. The New York City Department of Education also recently issued new guidelines for making schools safer and more accepting for transgender students.
The Pride Agenda continues to fight for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to bring New York up to speed with the more than one third of the country that already provides protections on the basis of gender identity and expression. The bill would outlaw discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression in places of employment, housing and public accommodations.
The Pride Agenda commends the New York State Assembly for passing GENDA for the seventh year in a row and will continue to work with the Governor and the State Senate to pass GENDA into law.