The New York Assembly has for the fifth time passed a vital trans rights protections bill, moving the bill on to the Senate which has repeatedly allowed the bill to die.
The bill, known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), passed with broad bipartisan support on Monday. The legislation has been approved by the lower chamber in the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 sessions. The bill must now move on to the Senate, but it is unclear if the legislation will meet with more success than in past years where it has repeatedly been ignored.
It is currently still legal for New York employers to fire someone on grounds of their gender identity or expression, and for a trans person to be kicked out of their rented accommodation simply because of their identity.
GENDA would extend basic civil rights protections to cover trans citizens in employment, public accommodations, the housing and credit sectors, and in education. The bill is also designed to add gender identity to the state’s hate crimes statute.
“Today, the New York State Assembly, yet again, demonstrated their commitment to making sure that all New Yorkers, including transgender New Yorkers, are treated fairly and granted equal protection under the law,” said Lynn A. Faria, Interim Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance, and that is exactly what this bill would prevent.”
“The New York State Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, has consistently set an example on transgender rights, and today is no exception,” continued Faria. “Now it is time for the State Senate to remedy the patchwork of protections that cover transgender people in localities and counties across the state and pass this statewide law.”
The Assembly’s passing of GENDA comes on the heels of last week’s ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that federal law protects people from gender discrimination in employment and that this protection extends to transgender people.
It is estimated that around 78% of New Yorkers are in favor of a transgender civil rights bill. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws on the books, while several NY cities including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City and Rochester have passed trans-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.