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AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS

New York Needs Uniform GENDA Protections

Posted by Sunny Bjerk , May 13, 2013

New York Needs Uniform GENDA Protections


Despite having been introduced over a decade ago, there continues to be a number of misconceptions and misinformation surrounding the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). From Assemblymembers’ questions as to whether the bill covers sexual orientation (no), a lumberjack wearing a dress walking into a women’s restroom, (also no), to if New York already has GENDA protections, the questions appear to be endless.

And while the questions about lumberjacks wearing dresses are dumbfounding—especially from elected officials—the question about if New York state already has GENDA protections deserves a conversation.

While the short answer is no: New York state does not have GENDA protections, 3 counties and 7 cities across New York do have local gender-expression non-discrimination laws. These areas are: Suffolk, Tompkins, and Westchester Counties; and Rochester, New York City, Buffalo, Ithaca, Albany, Binghamton, and Syracuse. In other words, while transgender individuals within these 3 counties and 7 cities are protected from discrimination, discrimination based on gender expression or identity is still perfectly legal across the rest of New York state. If you view a map of these protections, it is very clear how many transgender New Yorkers are still without protections.

For instance, if you are a transgender person who lives in Suffolk county but works in Nassau county, you will be protected from discrimination in your home, but not your job.

Or, if you are a transgender person who lives in Albany and wants to visit your family in Plattsburgh, NY, you will see that no cities or counties along I-87 have local GENDA protections, which makes traveling north of Albany a precarious venture for transgender individuals.

Clearly, these spotty protections not only highlight the myriad of ways that transgender people are still vulnerable: at home, at work, at school, at hospitals, etc., but also the nonsensical way that GENDA protections are unevenly applied across the state.

We need uniform protections in New York. With uniform GENDA protections, transgender people would be protected in all aspects of their lives, all across the state.

Tell the New York State Senate that it’s time for GENDA protections all across the state. Tell the New York State Senate that GENDA is not a question of why, but a question of when. Sign our petition urging the Senate to bring GENDA to a floor vote in 2013.

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