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Opinion

July 3, 2013

In My Opinion: Equal rights for transgender

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is New York state’s transgender non-discrimination bill.

GENDA successfully passed the State Assembly for the sixth straight year in April 2013. The Republican leadership of the Senate still refuses (up to and including the last day of their session, which ended recently) to bring the bill up for a vote, especially when there is a majority of support for its passage from both sides of the political aisle.

GENDA seeks to add the category of “gender identity and expression” to New York’s already existing human-rights laws. Currently it is illegal in New York to discriminate on the basis of age, race, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and other categories in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, education and fiancé/credit.

This bill seeks to also ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Every person in New York has the right to be treated fairly and equally under the law, regardless of “who they are,” by the very laws that govern us in our state. The basic Human Rights Law in New York needs to include prohibitions of discrimination for people who are daily losing their jobs; being refused services, including medical, mental health, meals in restaurants and public accommodations; denied credit from financial institutions and even being evicted from their homes simply because they are transgender.

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan Schaefer noted in his recent statement on this issue: “Virtually every major New York newspaper, including the New York Times, called for the Senate to pass the bill, which this year passed the Assembly for the sixth time with a nearly two-to-one bipartisan majority.

“In addition, 78 percent of New Yorkers polled support ending discrimination against transgender people. A sixth city, Syracuse, passed their GENDA law; a ninth county, Albany County, passed theirs, bringing the percentage of New Yorkers living in a jurisdiction that protects all of their citizens equally to 60.25 percent.

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