VICTORY! New York Governor Signs Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill Into Law

January 25, 2019 • 12:19 pm

NY now 20th state with comprehensive laws protecting LGBTQ people; 15th state to ban conversion therapy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) into law, providing explicit and comprehensive protections for transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, public spaces, and education. GENDA passed in the Assembly by 100-40 and was approved by a vote of 42-19 in the Senate, both with bipartisan support. With Cuomo’s signature, New York becomes the 20th state in the nation to provide comprehensive and explicit protection for LGBTQ people.

Governor Cuomo also signed legislation today to prohibit so-called “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ people, a dangerous and debunked practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. New York joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia that also have laws or regulations protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.

“This long-awaited victory sends a strong message that transgender people are worthy of every equal protection under the law,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “As we celebrate today in New York, we are also reminded that we have our work cut out for us: Thirty states nationwide still lack comprehensive and explicit protections for LGBTQ people under state law, and we won’t stop until every LGBTQ American is protected by fully comprehensive laws that cannot be trumped by those seeking to erase us.”

New York legislators introduced the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) every year for over a decade, but it previously remained stalled in the state Senate. This year, Governor Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins both quickly identified GENDA as a top priority after the midterm elections. Cuomo issued an executive order in 2015 which provided some nondiscrimination protections to transgender people, but executive orders are susceptible to reversal by future administrations and protections were not codified in state law. GENDA builds on Governor Cuomo’s previously issued regulations and now ensures strong, comprehensive, and explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in housing, employment, public accommodations, and education.

The timing of the victory is also symbolic: this June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City which, led by transgender women of color, sparked the birth of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. New York is now home to approximately 700,000 LGBTQ people. Transgender advocates have been working toward this victory for nearly two decades, since lawmakers removed gender identity protections from the nondiscrimination bill that became known as the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in 2002.

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