New York Senate fails to act on GENDA

The Task Force is disappointed with the decision by the New York Senate not to bring the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to a vote. The bill would have protected tens of thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers by prohibiting discrimination based on gender expression.

This year, the bill passed the Assembly for the sixth time with a nearly two-to-one bipartisan majority. In addition, public opinion is at an all-time high with 78% of New Yorkers polled supporting ending discrimination against transgender people. But that doesn’t seem sufficient for Senate leaders that have failed, once again, to give GENDA a chance on the Senate floor.

“It is a shame that a bipartisan bill designed to stop discrimination will not see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor,” said Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director. “New York continues to lag behind 17 states, the District of Columbia, and 174 cities and counties that have enacted protections based on gender identity and expression. These states, cities, and counties have made the decision to literally save the lives of transgender people. We are disappointed New York State did not decide to do the same.”

Discrimination against transgender people is a major problem in the state of New York. A recent study by the Williams Institute found that job discrimination against transgender people costs the state $1 million in Medicare payments annually; discrimination in housing costs the state millions in housing programs for homeless individuals.

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a joint study by the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, found housing and employment discrimination to be a major problem in the transgender community. Twenty-six percent of transgender people have lost a job due to bias, 50 percent have been harassed at work, 19 percent have been denied a home/apartment, and 19 percent were homeless at some point due to bias. Bills like GENDA are essential for protecting this vulnerable population.

Before today’s decision, the momentum was on the side of equality in New York. the New York Times’s editorial board and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently endorsed the bill.

Last month, Puerto Rico gave employment and domestic violence protections to transgender people and just last week, Delaware became the 17th state with transgender protections. We are confident that the votes are there in the Senate to get this bill passed and Gov. Cuomo has vowed to sign it. It is time to get transgender protections in one of the highest populated states.

“For the sake of all transgender New Yorkers, we are hopeful GENDA will come to the Senate floor next year,” concluded Carey.