For years, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has been conceived as a transgender rights bill, but many don’t realize that the bill would provide protections to gender non-conforming individuals as well.
In fact, Housing Works advocate Marcie Chase has been fighting for the passage of GENDA since the bill’s inception because she believes everyone deserves equal protection under the law. She also participated in Housing Works’ recent GENDA Campaign to draw attention to the bill and the power of cis-gender allies.
I recently spoke to Marcie about her interest in the bill, politics, and she thinks will happen next. This is her story.
-Sunny Bjerk, Housing Works’ Communications Manager
My name is Marcie Brianna Christian-Chase. I am 49 year-old parent and grandparent, and I am a woman of cis-gender experience. I am of Afro-Caribbean Latina heritage, and I am currently studying to become a Surgical Technician.
I have been fighting for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) since it came into action way back in 2002, although it seems like more than eleven years that we have been fighting for this measure of protection for all people that don’t quite fit into the gender binary of male and female, masculine and feminine. It’s shameful that people who do not ascribe to a two-gendered system continue to be treated as “less than” by New York State.
GENDA is important for all New Yorkers because so many will benefit from passing this bill. While GENDA is often conceptualized solely as a transgender civil rights bill, it is not. Certainly, many transgender New Yorkers will benefit from passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, but the bill would also provide protections to all people in New York state who want to express their gender in the way they that they choose without the threat of harm.
I lived in the Caribbean during my childhood, and in that culture, the word “transgender” leaves a bad taste on the tongues of many citizens and being transgender or gender non-conforming is not tolerated. This has also been my experience growing up in Central America as well.
But in the United States, when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we say, “For liberty and justice for all.” But what does that truly mean? Are we united then in our non-citizenship protections because some politicians are uncomfortable with some people’s gender expression?
Everyone in New York work, votes, and pays taxes, though transgender people in the state face significant barriers to finding employment precisely because of their gender identity. People with diverse gender expressions continue to be marginalized by politics, public accommodation services and facilities, employers, and the right to education. Knowledge, housing, jobs, and access to public accommodations are not indispensable. Everyone deserves the right to exist in a world with freedom of expression supported by all levels of government, starting with New York State.
It’s time to stop holding up a vote on the bill. New York Senate, we are waiting.
This year Housing Works has spearheaded a campaign urging the New York Senate to vote on GENDA in 2013. Please visit the Housing Works passgendanow.org webpage to sign the Change.org petition, share it through your social media networks, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.blog comments powered by Disqus