In 2015, New York Governor Chris Cuomo introduced regulations through the New York State Human Rights Law that would ban harassment and discrimination against transgender people, and now hundreds of trans advocate and ally organizations have sent a letter to the governor asking that he now pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. Also known as GENDA, the act would expand the current human rights law to include gender identity and expression.
Organizations such as the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Ali Forney Center, PFLAG, Planned Parenthood and the New York State Nurses Association signed the letter which, in part, asks for Governor Cuomo to use his executive power to move the bill through the State Senate, where it has been halted for nine years in a row after being passed by the New York State Assembly.
“Our initial request is to have you include GENDA in the six regional ‘State of the State’ addresses you will be giving to New Yorkers in January. Your clear and emphatic call for passage of GENDA sets a tone of inclusion, acceptance, and importance,” the letter states. “This needs to be said and heard by the public and, hopefully our Legislators, so everyone knows about our community’s lack of basic human rights protection. This assurance will impact the lives of thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming people across the state by giving them hope that the end of harmful discrimination is close at hand.”
The letter specifies that Governor Cuomo execute change the text of the Human Rights Law to grant explicit protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as it currently makes no mention of gender identity, gender expression, or transgender/gender non-conforming protections in the text of the New York State Human Rights Law. This means there are no specific protections for these individuals in the cases of housing, employment and public accommodations, and the bill’s being stalled for so long has greatly affected thousands of New Yorkers who are still being discriminated against.
It appears Governor Cuomo has yet to respond to the letter (at least not publicly), but his support of GENDA has been mentioned in previous speeches (including his address at the DNC), saying that the bill, alongside marriage equality “are not dreams. These are realities. Progressive government works and we proved that progress government works.”