The Honorable John J. Flanagan NYS Senate Majority Leader Room 330, State Capitol Building Albany, New York 12247
January 29, 2016
Re: Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, GENDA [A.4558 (Gottfried)/ S.61 (Squadron)] Dear Senator Flanagan,
As a group of concerned organizations and individuals committed to achieving true legal equity and social equality for all transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in New York State, we write today to call for your leadership on this critical issue.
In October 2015, Governor Cuomo announced that he would direct the Division of Human Rights to promulgate regulations explicitly protecting transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers. You immediately denounced the appropriateness of this move, claiming that the legislature is the proper place for deliberation on such issues.
However, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (A4558/Gottfried) (S61/Squadron), also known as GENDA – a bill that would write explicit protections for transgender and gender- nonconforming individuals into the human rights statute itself – has yet to be brought to the Senate floor for deliberation over the past 13 years, after passing the Assembly 8 years in a row.
Each day the Senate drags its feet, an estimated 58,000 transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers continue to face often insurmountable barriers to employment, housing, health care, education, social services, and public accommodations – all basic facets of life that non- transgender individuals like yourself enjoy and take for granted. This community – particularly transgender women of color – experience open hostility, harassment, discrimination, and violence every day of their lives from family members, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers alike. Indeed, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals consider themselves “lucky” to get through a day without experiencing these traumas – and that is an unacceptably low standard of humanity and decency to maintain for anyone in this great state.
Senator Flanagan – the Senate’s 13 years of inaction on this issue have not only failed to address and ameliorate the systemic atrocities transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers must overcome on a daily basis, but in fact the Senate’s silence has effectively enabled these discriminatory and violent systems to continue and grow. You have publicly stated that the legislature is the proper place for action – and so in your second year of leadership in the Senate, we call on you to act. We ask that you move forward with the necessary deliberation of this life- saving legislation for the extremely marginalized and vulnerable community you referenced in your response to the Governor in November. Don’t allow this untenable situation to stand under your watch. The Senate and New York cannot afford to fall behind on this critical human rights issue. We need you to work with your colleagues to make sure that GENDA passes in 2016.
Milo Primeaux, Esq.
Staff Attorney, LGBT Rights Project Empire Justice Center firstname.lastname@example.org (585) 295-5721
Affirming Transgender Rights Albany Damien Center
American Association of University Women NYS Anti-Defamation League
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center Central New York HIV Care Network Choices Counseling & Consulting Eleanor’s Legacy
Family Allies for Trans Equality in NYS Family Planning Advocates of NYS Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Greater NYC for Change
Housing Works Lambda Legal
Lesbian & Gay Family Building Project
LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL)