Top Tags


Press release: GENDA takes effect today!

GENDA Law Defending Transgender Rights Takes Effect Today!  

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.

I received a pen from Governor Cuomo after he signed GENDA into law at Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center on January 25, 2019. (Also pictured are NYS Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman, the Senate sponsor of GENDA.)

Legislative Gazette – NYCLU demands legislative action on civil liberties issues

By Katherine Carroll, 3/15/17

Members, supporters and advocates for the New York Civil Liberties Union rallied Monday outside the Capitol in support of several bills they say would protect and expand civil rights. Public defense funding and reform, reproductive rights, transgender discrimination, electronic privacy, and police data transparency were all on the agenda for the group’s day of action.

Speakers Jonathan Gradess, executive director of the New York State Defenders Association, and Darren Mack, a former inmate at Rikers Island prison, advocated for the Justice Equality Act (A.1903), sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany.

Times Herald-Record: It’s about protecting human rights

Times Herald-Record, editorial, May 17

In what has been perhaps the most bizarre presidential campaign in this nation’s history, a bizarre diversionary issue has cropped up to grab the public’s attention.

Last week, the president of the United States found it necessary to issue a directive stating that public schools — all public schools — must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. This White House acknowledgement of basic rights for transgender people was made necessary by the denial of such rights by the state of North Carolina.

That state’s Republican-controlled legislature has passed a bill that requires bathroom usage based on the sex stated on a person’s birth certificate. North Carolina’s Republican governor signed it and has defended it. Fear and ignorance, which have played a prominent role in the Republican presidential campaign, are also at the heart of this legislation.

Albany Times-Union: Assembly Passes GENDA Bill

By Rick Karlin, May 9

This has come up repeatedly during the past few years, but once again the Democratic-controlled Assembly  by a 81-46-vote margin has passed a gender non-discrimination bill.

The bill, however, has gone nowhere in the Republican-led Senate, a fact that some of the Assembly Republicans alluded to in the debate.

During the debate,  Manhattan Democrat Richard Gottfried parried with Republicans who expressed fears that such a measure would give free rein to men who, claiming to be transgender, might work their way into women’s locker rooms or other spots where they could launch a sexual assault. Gottfried and others, though, said there’s been relatively little evidence of that and he noted that a man could simply dress as a woman in order to gain access to locker or rest rooms.

As it has in the past, the debate went off on some tangents. Schoharie Valley GOP Assemblyman Pete Lopez, for instance, pushed for a clear distinction between transvestites, or men who dress as women and vice versa, and transgendered people who have switched from the gender they were born with or assigned to at birth.

Associated Press: NY Assembly Votes to Outlaw Transgender Discrimination

May 10, 2016 (via San Francisco Chronicle)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state Assembly has voted again to outlaw discrimination against transgender people amid the national debate about proposals in North Carolina and other states to restrict bathroom access.

The bill, voted on on Monday, would add gender identity and expression to the state’s civil rights statutes, making it illegal to discriminate against a transgender person when it comes to jobs, loans, schools and public accommodations.

An executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year took the same step, but supporters of the Assembly bill say it’s necessary to put the policy into statute so Cuomo’s order can’t be reversed by a future governor.

“Transgender rights are human rights,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the bill. “… While North Carolina and other states try to roll back progress by attacking transgender rights, New York should stand up for common sense, fairness, and justice.”

It’s the ninth time the Assembly has passed the measure, which faces significant opposition in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

The state already prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, disability and gender. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already include gender identity in their discrimination laws.


Contact:                                              For Immediate Release
Mischa Sogut, (518) 455-4941                              May 9, 2016

Protecting Transgender Rights:
“GENDA” Passes Assembly

Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has Broad Support 
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA,” A4558B/S61B), which protects transgender people under the State Human Rights Law, was approved by the Assembly today for the ninth time. The bill now goes to the State Senate.
        “Transgender rights are human rights,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of GENDA. “It’s an embarrassment to New Yorkers that 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity, while GENDA can’t even get a vote in our State Senate.  While North Carolina and other states try to roll back progress by attacking transgender rights, New York should stand up for common sense, fairness, and justice.”
        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.
New York State courts, other state courts, federal courts, and numerous federal agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have held that sex discrimination, under various anti-discrimination laws, includes discrimination based on gender identity or expression. In 2015, the State Division of Human Rights adopted this interpretation of New York’s Human Rights Law. “However, a future governor could reverse that interpretation,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “It is important that the transgender community be protected by statute.”
Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and the counties of Albany, Suffolk, Tompkins and Westchester have already enacted local GENDA laws.  Numerous private employers have also adopted policies protecting transgender employees from discrimination, including American Express, Eastman Kodak, and I.B.M.
        GENDA is supported by Housing Works, New York State United Teachers, dozens of LGBT organizations across New York, a broad range of religious and faith 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 67 sponsors including members representing urban, suburban, upstate, and rural New York.  State Senator Daniel Squadron sponsors the bill in the Senate.

Daily News: Gov. Cuomo announces plan to enact transgender anti-discrimination protections

By Ken Lovett, 10/23

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo Thursday night announced a plan to provide anti-discrimination protections to transgender people.

A bill to ban discrimination in the areas of employment, housing or public accommodations based on gender identity or expression has repeatedly stalled in the state Senate.

Cuomo told the Empire State Pride Agenda he plans to bypass the Legislature — as he did in raising the minimum wage for fast-food workers — by granting transgender people protections through a regulatory process he controls.

Legislative Gazette: Assembly Passes GENDA for Eighth Time

By Karla Ann Cote, June 8

Members of the Empire State Pride Agenda were in Albany on June 2 to witness the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, in the Assembly. Now they are imploring the Senate to do the same.

GENDA would provide equal protection to transgender people under the State Human Rights Law by expanding current legislation to explicitly address workplace harassment, institutionally-sanctioned discrimination, homelessness and unequal access to medical care.

TWC News: LGBT Activists Demand State Senate to Pass GENDA Bill (Video)

By Emily DeFeciani, June 2 (Link includes video)

ALBANY, N.Y. — LGBT advocates rallied at the Capitol Tuesday, demanding the state Senate to pass the GENDA bill for transgender equal rights after the Assembly already passed the legislation for an eigth time.

“Transgender people in New York have no protection in the workplace, they have no protection with healthcare, in housing, and public accommodations,” said Melissa Sklarz, co-chair for the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Different forms of discrimination Sklarz said she has faced personally time and again since she transitioned. She said “the mere act of walking in the street opens people up to abuse.”

State of Politics: Once Again, Assembly Approves GENDA

June 2, 2015

The Democratic-led Assembly on Tuesday once again approved the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill whose fate remains uncertain in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The measure was approved this afternoon, 88-45.

“Various New York cities and counties have already acknowledged the importance of equal rights for all people and passed transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation,” said Speaker Carl Heastie in a statement. “It is time that we make this statewide legislation so that all New Yorkers can live their lives and be true to themselves without fear of being targeted or discriminated against.”

The bill would ban discrimination based on one’s gender identity or expression and also expand hate-crime laws that would explicitly outlaw crimes committed against people due to their identity or expression.

LGBT advocacy groups in recent years have focused on make GENDA the law, especially in the years after the passage of the legaliztion of same-sex marriage.

This is the eighth year in a row lawmakers in the Assembly have backed the bill.

“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,” said the bill’s main sponsor, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. “Local GENDA laws have been on the books in large parts of the state for years, without any problems. It’s time to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair housing, employment, use of public accommodations, and protection against hate crimes.”