Today is an historic day: the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act takes effect in New York State. For far too long, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in New York had waited for their rights to be recognized, with discrimination and bigotry standing in the way of opportunities they should never have been denied.
That ended earlier this year with the passage and signing of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a bill which I introduced in the Assembly eighteen times before it finally passed both houses of the Legislature in January, and took effect today. In past years, the Assembly had passed the bill 11 times, but the Senate's Republican Majority refused to let the bill have a floor vote. In 2019, the new Democratic Majority joined the Assembly in protecting the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression.
GENDA protects the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers and makes gender identity or expression one of the state's protected classes.No one should ever be denied basic needs like housing and health care or employment opportunities because of another's narrow-mindedness.Today, the provisions of GENDA that make it a hate crime to harm a person based on their gender identity or expression go into effect, providing more protection from discrimination.
Earlier this year, the Assembly and the Senate also passed a law that bars the 'gay and trans panic' defense, which had allowed a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity to be used as an affirmative defense to reduce a murder charge.This "blame the LGBT victim" legal stratagem helped bias-driven killers try to evade responsibility for their own actions, instead of calling the murders they committed what they are - hate crimes.
The fight against bigotry against members of the LGBT community is far from over, but New York won't stand idly by while people are discriminated against for being themselves.GENDA is a victory for all transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers.