A statement from Executive Director Glennda Testone on the passage of GENDA
January 15, 2019
After years of fierce advocacy and activism in transgender and gender nonconforming communities, it is with great pleasure that The Center wholeheartedly applauds New York State lawmakers for passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA, A747/S1047), a major step forward in ensuring that transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary (TGNCNB) people are treated fairly and equally under the law. By adding gender identity and expression as a protected class under the Human Rights Law, GENDA provides TGNCNB people with protection against harassment and discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces like restaurants and shops.
This hard-fought victory is a result of more than a decade of dedicated activism, bravery and persistence, led by TGNCNB advocates and allies across New York State and beyond. We thank them for never giving up on this crucial piece of legislation and fighting so that TGNCNB people in our community are affirmed, protected and celebrated.
We also applaud the passage of A576/S1046, legislation that now bans the dangerous and medically-discredited practice known as ‘conversion therapy’ in New York State. By banning conversion therapy, New York will protect LGBTQ youth, especially TGNCNB youth, from being unduly victimized and traumatized simply for living their authentic lives.
The Center was proud to include GENDA and the statewide ban on conversion therapy as key priorities for our advocacy initiative, RiseOut, as part of a broad, unified effort to pass LGBTQ-affirming legislation with LGBTQ community leaders from every region of the state.
As we celebrate the historic progress made today, we must also recognize that one law is not a cure-all for the systemic oppression and discrimination that TGNCNB New Yorkers face. To most effectively protect marginalized communities who continue to be disproportionately impacted by hate crimes and targeted by the criminal justice system, lawmakers must also address the overrepresentation of queer, TGNCNB people and people of color in the criminal justice system. To this end, The Center has proposed a reporting bill as a companion to GENDA that would gather data to help legislators understand how criminal penalties under the Hate Crimes Act are applied. It will report on the sexual orientation, gender identity and racial or ethnic identity of victims and alleged perpetrators of hate crimes.
Today represents a bright moment in New York State’s progressive history. We applaud our legislature’s steadfast leadership and commitment to civil rights as we look forward to continuing our work to build a stronger, more inclusive New York State where all LGBTQ people are welcomed, affirmed and fully protected.