Top Tags



Protecting the Right to Gender Identity and Expression:
Governor Signs “GENDA”

Statement by Assembly Bill Sponsor Richard N. Gottfried

“Today is an historic day,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried,Assemblysponsor of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA,” A747/S2017).  “Governor Cuomo took strong action in 2015 when he issued statewide regulations under the State’s Human Rights Law that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and transgender status.  But adding gender expression and identity to the Human Rights Law and the Penal Law will give proper recognition, protection against repeal of these regulations, and add protection under the State’s Hate Crimes Law. With an administration of bullies in Washington, New York is standing up for common sense, fairness, and justice.”

### – New York State May Soon Finally Eliminate Explicit Consent From HIV Testing in Care Settings

By Tim Murphy, November 29

Laws about HIV testing have created decades-long controversy in New York State, pitting health officials who want virtually universal HIV testing against advocates — especially those who remember a darker, more discriminatory time — concerned about the privacy and protection of patients. It was that concern, after all, that in 1988 led to a stringent law requiring that health providers obtain from patients signed consent for HIV testing separate from consent for all other routine tests. And it was that same concern that, in the mid-2000s, led to mighty pushback from advocates when then-NYC health commissioner Tom Frieden tried to downgrade the law from written consent to mere oral consent, with the provider noting as much in their chart. That change did not occur until 2014.

But now, more than a decade later, there is solid evidence not only that early HIV detection and treatment means better long-term health outcomes, but that steady treatment makes people unable to spread the virus. It appears that most of the HIV advocacy community in New York City and the state at large now agree that the current law still obstructs testing for health providers — largely because they find it awkward asking patients if they can test for HIV.

These advocates agree that levels of testing high enough to truly end the state’s HIV epidemic cannot be achieved unless everyone who walks into an emergency room or primary care setting is routinely tested, with no notice to patients except for a sign on the waiting-room wall telling them they can opt out if they speak up and say so. And they are ready to lobby for that change with the state legislature in Albany next year.

On October 31, at the Brooklyn offices of Housing Works, representatives from that agency, Montefiore Medical Center, the large LGBTQ health provider Callen-Lorde, Bronx and Brooklyn Legal Services, the Latino Commission on AIDS, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Harlem United, the LGBT Center, Boom!Health, and other organizations met. According to Housing Works cofounder Charles King, “I think we came to a working consensus that we want to move HIV testing forward in a routine way.”

King said that the next step would be another meeting in which constituents write a rough draft of proposed bill language that would mandate that health facilities do routine HIV testing and that they post that information clearly in waiting or other public areas, letting patients know they must explicitly refuse HIV testing in order to not be tested.

More than a decade ago, Housing Works was among the leading voices against such a move, engaging in a sustained public protest against Frieden’s efforts that created acrimony between the city health department and much of the city’s HIV/AIDS services community. Thirteen years later, says King, “Less than 10% of all HIV-positive people in New York State don’t know their status,” and many of them are those whose only point of contact with health care is a visit to the emergency room — hence the need to test everyone in those settings.

“It’s imperative that we identify these folks and get them into care if we’re going to not only save their lives but stop all new infections of HIV in New York State,” says King.

He is part of the state’s Ending the Epidemic initiative, which aims to get new HIV infections in New York to 750 or below by 2020, as well as to make sure that the vast majority of all New Yorkers with HIV are both in regular care and virally suppressed on treatment. These are all necessary factors to effectively end the AIDS epidemic in New York State, historically the nation’s worst.

“In recent years, we’ve learned that the sooner someone with HIV starts on treatment, the better their outcomes,” King says. “We’ve also learned that someone who’s virally suppressed can’t pass on HIV. Those are huge game-changers that have tipped the balance in terms of whether it’s worth intruding on someone’s privacy.”

Donna Futterman, M.D., longtime director of the Adolescent AIDS Program at Montefiore, agrees. She’s long called for getting rid of requiring explicit consent from patients to HIV-test them. “The current stipulations are a proven barrier to more people knowing their status,” she says. “We want it to be part of a routine blood panel. Why do we still need HIV exceptionalism when it comes to testing? No one says, ‘Oh, we’re screening you for cancer,’ but often, routine tests are how you start to find cancer.”

She continues: “With HIV right now, a lot of nurses use unverbalized judgment on who they ask to be tested, based on race, age, or who they think is gay. They shouldn’t have to make that call. Thirty-five years into this epidemic, it’s time for us to let go of some of our old notions, especially now that we have the blueprint to ending this epidemic, and testing is the first piece of that.” NYC Advocates Slam Trump’s Push For Transgender ‘Genocide’

By Noah Manskar, October 24

NEW YORK CITY HALL — A Trump administration proposal that would essentially end federal recognition of transgender people drew fire Wednesday from New York City advocates and elected officials, some of whom compared it to genocide.

“It’s inhumane, it is cruel, it is discriminatory and shockingly dangerous. It will lead to genocide,” Laura McQuade, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, told a crowd of more than 200 at a rally outside City Hall.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed defining sex as an unchangeable biological characteristic under a federal civil rights law, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing a memo that was drafted last spring.

Under the proposal, one’s sex — male or female — would be determined by one’s genitals at birth and could only be disputed with “reliable genetic evidence,” according to the Times.

The policy change would reportedly erase transgender people from federal law and continue the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back protections established under former President Barack Obama.

The proposal has created confusion and concern in an already difficult climate for transgender and non-binary people, said Sasha Alexander, the director of membership for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

“Now people are wondering, are they going to be able to change their birth certificate, are they going to be able to access surgery, are they going to be able to get married, are they going to still experience the pervasive discrimination and harassment they experience every day even before this happened?” Alexander said.

While the proposal’s exact impact is still uncertain, Alexander said, all current protections for transgender people remain intact as it is not yet enshrined in the law.

But transgender advocates worry it could affect their ability to access health care, housing and other basic rights. The proposal should also alarm women’s rights groups, advocates said, especially given the fact that it would impact Title IX, the civil rights law governing educational institutions that get federal funding.

The statute is a “serious civil rights point where they’re attacking us,” said Tanya Walker, a co-founder of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group.

“Stop acting like our issues do not intersect. Our issues intersect,” Walker said. “They want to control our bodies, our minds and our gender identities.”

The memo argued for a biological definition of sex that is “grounded in science,” according to the Times. But Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) dismissed the policy’s purported scientific basis as “hogwash.”

“That’s at best junk science,” said Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee. “What it really is is bigotry, and we’re going to defeat it.”

The American Psychological Association also blasted the proposalWednesday, saying it “fails to recognize decades of scientific research into psychology, genetics and physiology.”

New York City officials touted the local protections against discrimination based on gender identity. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed a law creating a third gender option for birth certificates and making it easier for transgender and non-binary people to change their gender markers.

But politicians and advocates said there’s more work to do in the state Legislature, where a proposal to explicitly prohibit gender identity discrimination has gotten stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Some urged concerned New Yorkers to get out and vote in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

“The only thing standing between Donald Trump and the transgender community right now is New York State,” said state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan).

El Diario: Vientres de alquiler al banquillo en Nueva York

By Pedro Frisneda, May 24

Las leyes que rigen los “contratos de madres sustitutas”, conocidos más popularmente como “vientres de alquiler”, son muy antiguas, estrictas y punitivas en el estado de Nueva York.

Por esta razón, miembros de los comités de Salud y Judicial de la Asamblea estatal de Nueva York realizaron una audiencia pública este jueves para analizar estas leyes que datan de casi 30 años atrás.

En 1992, el estado de Nueva York aprobó el Artículo 8 (Secciones 121-124) de la Ley de Relaciones Domésticas, que establece que los “contratos de crianza sustituta” con compensación (pago a la mujer que queda embarazada) son contrarios a la política pública de este estado, y son nulos e inaplicables.

Este artículo fue promulgado luego de un caso judicial muy publicitado y polémico en Nueva Jersey, conocido como “Baby M”, el cual involucró a una mujer casada que firmó un contrato por $10,000 con una pareja casada por el que aceptó quedar embarazada a través de inseminación artificial. El acuerdo estipulaba que, luego de nacer el niño, ella renunciar al mismo para entregarlo a la pareja. Sin embargo, después del nacimiento, la mujer se negó a renunciar al bebé.

Aunque originalmente un tribunal de primera instancia de Nueva Jersey decretó que la mujer cumpliera con lo exigido en el contrato de subrogación, una apelación ante el Tribunal Supremo del Estado Jardín declaró “inaplicable” el contrato frente a la política pública de ese estado.

Por antecedentes como éste, los participantes en la audiencia pública, encabezada por los asambleístas Jeffrey Dinowitz y Richard Gottfried, examinaron las formas en que la práctica de la maternidad subrogada o vientre de alquiler ha cambiado desde la aprobación de la prohibición estatal de los contratos de subrogación compensados en 1992.

Legislative Gazette: Legislators voice support for anti-discrimination bills during LGBTQ Week

By Jessie Russell, May 10

As a part of LGBT Week, advocates and legislators have assembled in Albany to show support for several bills that would help combat discrimination and lead to more equality.

Legislation has been reintroduced to the Senate after passing the Assembly for a second time. The bill (A.2662/S.277) is sponsored by Assistant Speaker of the Assembly Felix Ortiz, D-Kings, and Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan. The bill would expand the duties of the Office of Children and Family Services concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender runaway and homeless youth. It is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.

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.

The Villager: ‘We won’t go backward!’ Gays rally vs. travel ban

By Andy Humm, February 9

BY ANDY HUMM | L.G.B.T.Q. people have protested and celebrated outside the Stonewall Inn since the Rebellion in 1969. But on Sat., Feb. 4, in subfreezing temperatures, thousands filled the streets of Stonewall Place to condemn President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations — standing up for Islamic people within and outside the community who have been singled out for persecution by the new administration.

“L.G.B.T.Q. people have been fighting oppression for time immemorial,” said openly gay Councilmember Corey Johnson, who represents the Village and Chelsea. “So, when we see an administration come after vulnerable communities,” Johnson said, “we feel it deeply and personally. We are declaring with one voice that we are in this together.”

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.