State Assembly Passes “GENDA” to Protect Rights of Transgender New Yorkers

Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has Broad and Bi-partisan Support
June 3, 2008

The Assembly voted today on GENDA (A. 6584-A/S. 3753-A) for the first time since it was introduced in 2003. The bill, which passed 102-33, would protect transgender people under the Human Rights Law by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Commenting on the strong majority vote for the bill, the sponsor, Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, said “It is an important and overdue protection of human rights.”

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 still not protected under state law.

“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,” said Assembly Member Gottfried.

“People of transgender experience deserve nothing less than equal protection under the law,” said State Senator Thomas K. Duane, the sponsor of S. 3753-A. “I applaud Assembly Member Gottfried, Speaker Silver and their Assembly colleagues for passing this critical legislation. I call upon Senate Majority Leader Bruno to give us the same opportunity in the Senate.”

Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York, and Rochester, and the counties of Suffolk and Tompkins have already enacted local GENDA laws. Thirteen states, Washington, D.C. and 93 cities and counties in the United States have passed transgender-inclusive civil rights legislation.

Assembly passage of GENDA is 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, congregations, and religious bodies have expressed their support.

“Thank you to Dick Gottfried, Speaker Silver, and the New York Assembly for passing GENDA, to support the civil rights of trans people. It is a crucial step in the effort to reject discrimination in any form,” said Melissa Sklarz, Director, New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO).

“Transgender New Yorkers are in constant fear that they will lose their jobs, get kicked out of their home, or simply be denied service when they go into a restaurant. It goes without saying that these members of our community should be able to go about the business of living their lives openly and without fear,” said Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle.

The Assembly bill has 73 sponsors, including members of both political parties representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York.

The Senate bill, introduced by Senator Tom Duane, has 17 sponsors.