Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried today announced the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to protect transgender New Yorkers from being discriminated against in many areas of everyday life such as employment, education, consumer credit, public accommodation and housing. The measure also expands the state's hate crime protections to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.
"We cannot have our fellow New Yorkers living in fear that they may lose their jobs, apartments or access to educational or vocational programs simply because of their gender identity or expression," said Silver. "The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act would impose a statewide ban on this type of discrimination, providing significant and much needed support for the civil rights of transgender individuals."
"The experience of transgender individuals and the discrimination they face, are unique and should be specifically identified and unambiguously rejected in our state's laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability or ethnicity," said Gottfried, the bill's sponsor.
The GENDA legislation (A.4226-B, Gottfried), which the Assembly has passed annually since 2008, would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression whether or not the gender identity, appearance or self-expression is different than the sex assigned to a person at birth. People who discriminate against transgender individuals under this bill would face the same provisions and penalties found in the state's hate crime laws.
"For transgender individuals, GENDA provides protections under the law and legal recourse for those who have been denied access or harassed for their gender identity," said Assemblymember Steve Englebright. "This measure will help ensure that all New Yorkers are treated fairly."
"GENDA provides basic human rights and protections under the law to transgender individuals," said Assemblymember Joseph Lentol. "We are a state and nation of freedoms and so it is only reasonable to include among those liberties the right of an individual to express their own gender identity or expression without fear of discrimination."
"In the interest of fairness, GENDA appropriately provides long overdue civil rights protections to the transgender community," said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. "I urge the Senate to embrace the 21st Century and pass GENDA so the full measure of the state's anti-discrimination laws can be strengthened to benefit all New Yorkers."
"With the passage of GENDA for the seventh year in a row, the Assembly has once again demonstrated its long standing commitment to equality for all," said Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell. "New Yorkers should not have to hide who they truly are to avoid harm. I commend Speaker Silver for his leadership on GENDA, and I am proud of my Assembly colleagues for leading the way in the fight to extend the protections of the law to all our citizens."
"All New Yorkers should be entitled to protection under the state's human rights law, but unfortunately for the transgender community those protections have been elusive," said Assemblymember Matthew Titone. "With the passage of GENDA, we intend to make it crystal clear that transgendered individuals are entitled to the same anti-discriminatory rights and protections.
"The Assembly has been laying the groundwork for the rights and protections of the transgender community since 2008," said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. "Tolerating discrimination of any kind is simply unacceptable. I am proud to say that once again this house has passed GENDA to advance the rights of all of our citizens and to continue the fight against prejudicial and exclusionary practices."
The anti-discriminatory provisions of GENDA have been adopted in the cities of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York, Rochester and Syracuse, and the Counties of Albany, Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester, as well as by157 cities and counties throughout the nation.