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The Tompkins County Office of Human Rights advocates for the passage of GENDA to protect transgender New Yorkers

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The Tompkins County Office of Human Rights advocates for the passage of GENDA to protect transgender New Yorkers

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Tompkins County Office of Human Rights stands with the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, alongside LGBT New Yorkers and allies to call on the New York State Legislature to pass the long overdue Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and secure basic civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers.

Tompkins County’s local ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAW protects all of its citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. Localities all around New York State are standing up today to state how important their own non-discrimination laws have been in helping to create a better life for all their residents and to collectively call on the New York State Legislature to pass GENDA. Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and New York City are all raising their voices today in unison to demand that GENDA be signed into law this session. “We hope the state will join Tompkins County in protecting all transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers by enacting GENDA,” said Karen Baer, Director of the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights.

“We’re proud to stand with Tompkins County today to commend them for laws and policies that protect all of its residents from discrimination, including transgender individuals who continue to be treated as second class citizens when they travel outside of Tompkins County because of their gender identity or expression, and to collectively call for the passage of GENDA,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “What Tompkins County has demonstrated is that protecting its transgender residents has actually created a safer, stronger and more economically sound city for everyone. It’s time for the New York State Senate to pass GENDA into law because no one should be denied housing, employment or access to services simply because of who they are. New York needs to do better than that.”

In a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo in June of 2014, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, Michael Lane stated, “When Tompkins County passed its local law, we did so in the belief that strengthening existing laws and allowing more people the freedom to work, live and be productive members of our community should be fully supported.  I submit that the same perspective should be applied by State leaders when considering the GENDA legislation.”

About GENDA
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) would add gender identity and expression to the list of classes protected under New York State’s existing Human Rights Law. The bill would prohibit discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers in housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations. More than one third of the country, including eighteen other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, has already passed similar laws, and eleven local governments across New York State have passed non-discrimination ordinances, which means nearly 60% of New Yorkers already live with such protections.

Under the leadership of Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the Pride Agenda has worked tirelessly to pass GENDA through the State Assembly – seven years in a row. Yet the State Senate has repeatedly failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote year after year. Each day that the State Senate fails to act is another day we risk losing transgender New Yorkers who live or work in parts of the state without anti-discrimination laws.

Learn more about the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act at prideagenda.org/GENDA.
Find out more about the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights at tompkinscountyny.gov/humanrights.