Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , April 11, 2013
Photography by Arnaldo Vargas
As many of you may know, in New York state it is legal to discriminate against someone because of their gender identity or expression in education, employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations. This means that thousands of New Yorkers can be fired, evicted or refused service because of their gender identity without any protections under state law. (You can learn more about GENDA here).
But today, Housing Works is very proud to unveil a new effort to bring GENDA to a vote in New York state. Titled “Equals! Pass GENDA Now,” our campaign takes fierce aim at the New York Senate Leadership and calls on them to bring the bill to a full vote, rather than sweeping it aside as they have done in the past.
To help kick-start the campaign, we are proud to unveil our campaign webpage, which features our Change.org petition, asking the New York Senate Leadership to stop ignoring the rights of tens of thousands transgender New Yorkers and bring GENDA to a full vote in 2013!
(For you history buffs, the New York State Assembly has supported the bill in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, while the New York State Senate has failed the bill each time by refusing to bring GENDA to a full vote, despite not costing taxpayers a single dime).
In addition, the webpage also features the personal stories of our GENDA campaign advocates, which are available to view and share at passgendanow.org. These advocates—from Housing Works’ Transgender Evening Program—have shared their challenges and successes, barriers and triumphs, and intimate life stories with the world in hopes of showing that GENDA isn’t just a bill—it’s about our lives, our access, our opportunities, and our futures.
I know that some readers may be wondering what GENDA has to do with HIV/AIDS or homelessness, or why Housing Works is invested in the passage of GENDA.
Well, it’s not just because transgender people have an HIV/AIDS rate five times greater than the general population or that they are routinely refused medical services because of their gender identity or expression, which puts them at great peril for living successfully with the disease, although these are obviously apt reasons. Housing Works supports GENDA because questions about who is vulnerable, marginalized, or silenced simply cannot be addressed by examining race, class, gender, or sex as separate identities or mutually exclusive categories, as evidenced by the disproportionate numbers of transgender individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
As activists and advocates, we must fight bigotry, discrimination, and hate wherever and whenever we find it. You don’t have to be living with HIV/AIDS to fight stigma, identify as gay or lesbian to fight for LGB rights, and you don’t have to be transgender to fight for GENDA and transgender New Yorkers. And I hope you will join us.
Over the next few weeks, we will continue to unveil and share new and exciting components of our campaign to help pass GENDA in New York state. Stay tuned for some great infographics, photo stories, and share them with your networks who also support the rights of transgender New Yorkers.
Join us in this campaign and help take the fear out of GENDA and spread something more powerful: EQUALITY.
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