After years and years of attempting to protect transgender New Yorkers, the New York state legislature has finally passed GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.
The legislation explicitly bans discrimination in the state based on gender expression and gender identity. The bill won passage with a vote of 100-40 in the Assembly and 42-19 in the Senate.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people will now be protected in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
While New York State has had laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2002, trans people across the state have fought for 17 years for clear protections under state law.
“This is truly an historic day,” Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, told The Daily Beast. “We are finally welcoming a fairer and more equal New York because of the bold and tireless leadership of trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, GENDA passed in the state Assembly 11 times over the years, but the GOP-controlled Senate would kill the bill. Only now that Democrats control the Senate has the legislation finally passed and will head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.
#BREAKING: The New York State Senate just passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression and adding protections for transgender NYers to the state’s Hate Crimes Law.
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) January 15, 2019
Additionally, a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ passed in both chambers, making New York the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice.
The legislation passed in the state Assembly 134 to 3, and in the state Senate by a vote of 57-4.
“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.
“Due to the efforts of countless advocates and leaders, transgender New Yorkers will now be explicitly protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and LGBTQ youth will be protected from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,' added Griffin. "This is a monumental day for fairness and equality across the Empire State.”
Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness.
So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicide.