Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, hailed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for taking a bold step to extend vitally important non-discrimination protections to transgender New Yorkers and visitors in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In a historic move, Governor Cuomo’s administration will be issuing regulations clarifying that gender identity is included in the definitions of sex and disability which are protected under current state non-discrimination law.
“This critically important step by Governor Cuomo is not only consistent with case law, but is the moral choice to protect thousands of transgender New Yorkers and visitors,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We congratulate the Governor on his leadership and vision on LGBT equality which has and will continue to inspire the nation.”
New York law authorises state agencies to issue regulations regarding the state’s non-discrimination laws. The state’s new regulations build upon state and federal case law, including a 2012 decision in Macy v. Holder where the EEOC determined that discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity is sex discrimination and thus constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act.
Transgender New Yorkers are frequently denied employment, evicted from their homes, or harassed in public because of their gender identity. According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, 74% of transgender New Yorkers have been harassed or mistreated on the job, 19% denied a home or apartment, and 53% harassed in public accommodations, such as a restaurant, library, store, or public transportation.
The Governor’s important administrative action follows a lack of leadership from the New York State Senate which failed to consider and pass the state’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) – a bill that would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing, and public accommodations.