After being killed in committee by the Republican-controlled State Senate last year, the newly Democratic legislature has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), expanding transgender rights across the state. GENDA extends anti-discrimination protections to people who identify as transgender, as well as adding transgender-related offenses to New York’s Hate Crimes Law.
“As the Trump administration continues to roll back protections for LGBTQ Americans, today’s victory sends a strong message to LGBTQ New Yorkers across the state: you are loved, understood and protected by your state government,” said Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the bills. “We will not let you down.”
The other bill protecting transgender rights passed by the Senate will ban doctors and psychologists in New York from practicing “conversion therapy” on transgender minors, which is the practice of trying to force a person to change their sexual or gender orientation. The Human Rights Campaign describes the method as “dangerous and debunked,” and Barack Obama came out against the practice in 2015.
“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.
“Years of hard work” is no understatement. Though GENDA was only first introduced to the Senate in 2017, the State Assembly passed some version of it ten consecutive times, starting in 2009.
A national survey done in 2016 found that three in four transgender students said that they have been harassed or assaulted, and one in four transgender people have lost their job because of their gender identity. Once Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law, transgender New Yorkers will have better means of recourse.
“After years of Republican opposition, I am proud to be part of a Democratic majority that works to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers,” Hoylman said.