Yesterday, April 30, 2012, just in time for May Day, a day traditionally known for activism, the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) which would provide protections around gender identity and gender expression in a range of areas including housing and employment. Rochester and other cities across the state including Ithaca and Albany already have similar local ordinances prohibiting this discrimination. This bill would be particularly important for transgender individuals because according to The Empire State Pride Agenda's findings, 74% of them experience harrassment or mistreatment on the job (fact courtesy of The Advocate).
Traditionally the bill has passed in the Assembly and then stalled in the Senate. Hopefully this vote will be bolstered by the recent ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which said, "that a refusal to hire or otherwise discriminate on the basis of gender identity is by definition sex discrimination under federal law."
In addition, there has been creative organizing around GENDA through projects such as the TRANScribe project which will hopefully bolster efforts, as well as collaboration between a variety of stakeholders ranging from transgender people, faith leaders, employers, partners and family members of transgender people.
Were the law to pass it would have significant health benefits. For example, without employment discrimination transgender people would be more likely to be employed and thus more likely to access housing insurance.
Hopefully the additional organizing and pressure from the federal level will be enough to encourage the NYS Senate to pass this law which would significantly improve the health of transgender individuals across the state.