GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act, a bill to add gender variance to the list of protected statuses in the New York State Human Rights Law, was approved by the Assembly for the fifth time on Monday, gaining bipartisan support.
This is an important and overdue protection of human rights. 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.
This bill has been in the Senate for 11 years; it is time for New York to stand up.
–Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of bill, A5039
Yes, five times the State Senate in New York has let the bill die. I’m not sure why we expect better this time, but we do.
In case some of the Senators don’t know what is going on, the New York Civil Liberties Union has produced a report which documents harassment of and discrimination towards transpeople in the state. The report, entitled, Advancing Transgender Civil Rights in New York: The Need for GENDA (2012), is available here.
A 2009 national survey that included 531 transgender people in New York found that 74 percent reported harassment or mistreatment on the job and 20 percent lost a job or were denied a promotion. In addition, 53 percent were verbally harassed or denied service at hotels and restaurants and 49 percent reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance. Also, 18 percent had become homeless because of their transgender status and 27 percent were either denied an apartment or were evicted. And 17 percent were refused medical care due to their gender expression, the survey said.
There have been good developments on the federal level, but we still need GENDA to make the law crystal-clear, uniform and consistent in New York.
–Melissa Goodman, the NYCLU’s senior litigation and policy counsel