Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , January 18, 2013
Guest blog post by Carmelita Cruz, Esq., Housing Works Director of NYS Advocacy & Organizing
A few days ago, Puerto Rican Senator Ramon Luis Nieves of the Popular Democratic Party, introduced a non-discrimination bill that would provide protection on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation to its residents. The bill would provide protections in employment, public accommodations, and in the buying or leasing of real estate. The bill is expected to be debated in the coming weeks, and if passed, Puerto Rico would join the 16 other states and District of Columbia to pass non-discrimination laws protecting their LGBT citizens.
Back here in New York, we are entering our 11th year of fighting for GENDA, the bill that would add gender identity/expression to New York’s Human Rights law. And after these 11 years, it was quite a disappointment to listen to Governor Cuomo’s 2013 “State of the State” civil rights agenda which completely excluded any mention of GENDA or the continued vulnerability of transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.
Discrimination and intolerance have run unchecked in our State for far too long. Because GENDA has not been passed, businesses can refuse to serve transgender people, banks can refuse to lend to transgender people, and landlords can refuse to rent apartments to transgender individuals solely on the basis of their gender identity.
And as GENDA advocacy heats up in 2013, a new group has emerged in Upstate New York to advocate for the needs of the trans community. The Trans Advocates of the Capital District are a new community based group that is dedicated to the equality, empowerment and support of the transgender community. They are amassing a huge following on their Facebook page, and many members are already signed up to joining Housing Works on our weekly GENDA advocacy days in Albany. (If you want to also join us in Albany, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org). The Trans Advocates of the Capital District emerged just as legislation was introduced in Albany County to add gender identity protections to the County Human Rights Law.
If New York passes GENDA, the state will finally be catching up to the movement of passing transgender civil rights across the country. In the past two years, three states passed trans-exclusive civil rights laws, and the Obama administration has been releasing various guidelines banning discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in government agencies.
Even though the Governor excluded this marginalized community on his civil rights agenda for this year, it will not stop thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers from fighting for the protections of all New Yorkers and their gender identity rights. The new GENDA bill number is S.195/Squadron.
Please visit the Transgender Advocates of the Capital Region Facebook page to stay updated on events and advocacy.
If you want to learn more about Housing Works’ trips to Albany, please email Carmelita Cruz at email@example.com.
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