New York legislature passes historic anti-transgender discrimination bill

Published: Jan. 15, 2019 at 3:57 PM EST
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January 15, 2019

The New York Legislature passed a historic bill Tuesday making gender identity a protected class in areas of housing, employment and public accommodation, protecting transgender people from discrimination.

Democrats in the state legislature have tried to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, for 16 years, but the bill was repeatedly shot down in the historically Republican-controlled state Senate. As Democrats took a sweeping majority in the state Senate in the 2018 election, they are now taking advantage of complete control of the state government by enacting progressive policies.

In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order directing the New York State Division of Human Rights to adopt regulations protecting transgender individuals from discrimination. GENDA codifies those protections into the New York Human Rights law. The bill also added protections on the basis of gender identity to the state's hate crimes law.

The state Legislature also passed a law banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth on Tuesday. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have already banned conversion therapy.

Cuomo was a strong supporter of both bills and is expected to sign them promptly.

"At a time when the federal government is doing everything it can to roll back the hard won rights of transgender Americans, New York State is once again stepping up for full equality and equal protections under the law," Cuomo said in a statement after the bill was passed. "This is an issue of basic fairness, and today marks an historic day for those in the LGBTQ community who fought tirelessly for the passage of this bill."

Cuomo is one of several New Yorkers considered to be potential presidential candidates in 2020, although he has denied that he will run for president.