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The bill to protect transgender people under the State Human Rights Law was approved by the Assembly today.  The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA, A4226B/S195B) will now be referred to the State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

“This is a long overdue protection of human rights,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill, noting that the Assembly has passed the measure seven years in a row.  “Every year my colleagues and I speak for transgender human rights and equal protection under the law – and every year, opponents spin imaginary horror stories, none of which have anything to do with this bill.  Local GENDA laws have been on the books in large parts of the state for years, and no one has pointed to any of these hypothetical events actually happening. It’s time to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair housing and employment.”

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 not protected under current state law.

“No New Yorker should fear losing a job or a home because of their gender identity,” Gottfried said.

Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and the counties of Suffolk and Tompkins have already enacted local GENDA laws.  Eighteen states, Washington, D.C., and over 150 other localities across the country have passed transgender-inclusive civil rights legislation.  Numerous private employers have also adopted policies protecting transgender employees from discrimination, including American Express, Eastman Kodak, and I.B.M.

Empire State Pride Agenda, Housing Works, and dozens of other LGBT organizations across New York have called for the passage of GENDA.  Additional support for GENDA includes a broad range of religious and faith tradition communities, the New York City Bar Association, and numerous labor unions including the NYS AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, AFSCME District Council 37, United Auto Workers Region 9A Metro NYC CAP Council, NYS United Teachers, CSEA, Screen Actors Guild, and Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

The Assembly bill has 61 sponsors including members representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York.  State Senator Daniel Squadron sponsors the Senate bill.