Position Statement – 2011
A. 05039 / S.2873
Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA”)
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York supports the proposed bill entitled The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a/k/a GENDA, Bill # A.05039 / S.2873.
GENDA is a proposed bill that is intended to protect Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming New Yorkers by outlawing discrimination in New York State based on gender identity and/or expression. GENDA amends the executive law, the civil rights law and the education law in relation to prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression, and also amends the penal law and the criminal procedure law including offenses regarding gender identity or expression within the list of offenses subject to treatment as hate crimes.
The proposed legislation prohibits discrimination based on “gender identity or expression,” defining these terms as having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth; and it further includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression within the list of offenses subject to treatment as hate crimes.
The legislative findings and intent regarding GENDA reaffirm that the state has the responsibility to act to assure that every individual within this state is afforded an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life, and that the failure to provide such equal opportunity, whether because of discrimination, prejudice, intolerance or inadequate education, training, housing or health care not only threatens the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants, but menaces the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state and threatens the peace, order, health, safety and general welfare of the state and its inhabitants. This legislation is intended to codify and ensure that the public understands that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression is prohibited.
Currently, it is legal under New York State to be denied housing, to be fired from your job, to be harassed in places of public accommodation, or to be denied credit simply for being transgender.
Transgender discrimination is pervasive in New York, as it is elsewhere. Transgender people are often discriminated against in childhood, at their homes, in school systems, on the streets, at the grocery store, at the hotel front desk, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, in airports, bus and train stations, sex-segregated facilities, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, health care workers and other service providers. This proposed legislation would extend current law, which protects an individual’s age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or victims of domestic violence, to also ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression; it would add gender identity and expression to these same categories already included and protected under the New York Hate Crimes Law. Passage of the GENDA bill will ensure equal treatment, protection from discrimination, and will be another positive step for human rights.
WBASNY is proud to lend its support to this important and valuable legislation, along with other esteemed organizations, such as, inter alia: the Empire State Pride Agenda, the League of Women Voters of New York, the Legal Project of the Capital District Women’s Bar Association, NARAL, NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Family Planning Advocates of New York, and the New York State Bar Association.
WBASNY’s mission includes obtaining the equal administration of justice for all people, equal access to the courts and equality under the law.
WBASNY has long supported anti-discrimination legislation and its members strongly believe in equality for all.
Supporting GENDA’s goal to add legal protection for GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION clearly comports with WBASNY’s mission to ensure equal access to justice and the courts, and equality under the law for all people.
WBASNY strongly supports the passage of this proposed legislation.