Staten Island Democratic Association takes official position on Transgender Rights

trans-symbol1Yesterday at the August meeting of the Staten Island Democratic Association the club voted unanimously to adopt a paper written by fellow club member and Social Secretary Bryan Ellicott (myself).

The paper was discussed at length at the July Monthly membership meeting. Which included speakers like New York State Senator and Co-Sponsor of GENDA (Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act) and LGBT Liaison to Comptroller  Scott Stringer’s office Eric Holguin.

The Staten Island Democratic Association started in 1961. They are the oldest, largest and most Progressive Democratic Club in Staten Island. The paper covers the topics of Public Awareness and Advocacy, Legal and Political Action.

This was an extremely powerful moment especially because its Staten Island and the uphill battle our borough faces when it comes to the discussions on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

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TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
POSITION PAPER

 

Since the founding of The Staten Island Democratic Association in 1961, we have taken pride in being Staten Island’s oldest, largest and most Progressive Democratic Club. It has come to the attention of the Staten Island Democratic Association that we must take a stand on the rights of Transgender Americans, New Yorkers and especially Staten Islanders.

It is a time when so many Transgender people are under attack for nothing less than being who they are.

Harvey Milk (the first openly gay person elected to public office in California) once said “It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

 

Background

 

Gender is a human social system of differentiation by sex for roles, behaviors, characteristics, appearances, and identities (e.g. “man” or “woman”). Gender maps cultural meanings and norms about both sex and gender on human bodies. Everyone has an internal sense of their “gender” and this sense is called “gender identity”.1     “Most people’s gender identity is congruent with their assigned sex, but many people experience their identity to be discordant with their natal sex (sex assigned at birth)2

“Transgender” is a broad term used to describe those whose gender identity or gender expression is in some sense different from, or transgresses social norms for, their assigned birth sex. Transgender may include those who identify as being transsexual, cross dresser, androgynous, bi-gender, no-gender or multi-gender, genderqueer, and a growing number of people who do not identify as belonging to any gender category at all. For some transgender people, individuals discomfort with a social gender role is accompanied by a profound sense of mismatch of the physical body to their internal bodily experience. This body dysphoria (known as “gender dysphoria”) causes significant distress, negatively impacts daily functioning and well-being, and requires medical services in order to realign the body with the self. There are many transgender people with medically diagnosed inter sex conditions. 3     In the absence of systematic data collection, estimates vary widely as to the number of transgender individuals in the United States, ranging from 3 million to as many as 9 million individuals 4. Prevalence of transgender identities is likely to be on the order of at least 1:100 (i.e. 1%), and transsexualism is also not rare, with prevalence now being estimated at between 1:2000 and 1:5000.5 Reports now indicate there may be roughly equal numbers of male-to-female and female-to-male transsexual people.6

Transgender people encounter difficulties in virtually every aspect of their lives, both in facing the substantial hostility that society associates with those who do not conform to gender norms and in coping with their own feelings of difference. Considerable verbal harassment and physical violence accompany the powerful social stigma faced by transgender people 7 and may be accompanied by racial and ethnic discrimination 8 .Transgender people also experience dismissal from jobs, eviction from housing, and denial of services, even by police officers, and medical emergency professionals..9 Restrooms, the most mundane of public and workplace amenities, often become sites of harassment and confrontation, with access often denied     10 ).

Transgender and transsexual people are often denied appropriate medical and mental health care and are uniquely at risk of adverse health care outcomes. 11 Basic services may be denied because of ignorance about or discomfort with a transgender client. To align the physical body with the experienced sense of self usually is an integral part of the social transition away from the sex assigned at birth. Transsexuals and some other individuals require medical services (for example, hormone replacement, facial electrolysis, or surgical and other procedures, as appropriate to the individual). Despite ongoing evidence that the vast majority who access these achieve congruence and well-being 12 It is important to underscore the denial of basic health care, and also the extreme race and socioeconomic status disparities: Needs assessments in major cities show that severe marginalization and barriers to transition contribute to high rates of joblessness, and disproportionately affect people of color. Lack of employment leaves many without health insurance, and because insurance carriers often deny coverage for transgender individuals other nontransition related services, transgender individuals often lack access to all ongoing basic health services, even when employed. 13

Many transgender children and youths face harassment and violence in school environments. Those who do not feel safe or valued at school cannot reach their potential and may drop out. 14   Medical protocols exist for children whose body dysphoria may lead to severe depression and suicidality, including endocrinology intervention to prevent or delay unwanted puberty.15  There are few support resources for transgender children, their parents or surrounding social institutions, leaving transgender youth particularly vulnerable to so-called “reparative” treatments. 16

Issues Statement

Transgender people experience the stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and extreme hostility known as transphobia on a daily basis. Although gender non-conforming experience can be traced across history, and the successful social and medical transition of transsexuals is well documented since the middle

of the twentieth century, it is only in recent years that this/has emerged in the public discourse. Unfortunately, most in our society have little or no understanding of the profound discomfort some may feel in trying to conform to rigid gender roles assigned to them by virtue of their physiology. Similarly, ignorance and insensitivity prevail regarding the debilitation that accompanies body dysphoria, and the damage done to those left without access to medical and social transition.

We as human beings have the responsibility to understand and appreciate the full range of differences that exist among human beings and to explore any and all prejudices that result in oppressive and unjust treatment.

 

Policy Statement

Staten Island Democratic Association (S.I.D.A.) recognizes that considerable diversity in gender expression and identity exists among our population.

S.I.D.A. believes that people of diverse gender- including those who are included under the transgender umbrella- should be afforded the same respect and rights as any other people.

S.I.D.A asserts that discrimination and prejudice directed against any individuals on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, whether real or perceived, are damaging to the social, emotional, psychological, physical, and economic well-being of the affected individuals as well as society as a whole.

S.I.D.A. reaffirms a commitment to human rights and freedom and opposes all public and private discrimination on the basis of gender identity and of gender expression, whether actual or perceived, and regardless of assigned sex at birth, including denial of access to employment, housing, education, appropriate treatment in sex-segregated facilities, appropriate medical care and health care coverage, appropriate identity documents, and civil marriage and all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges.

S.I.D.A. encourages the repeal of discriminatory legislation and the passage of legislation protecting the rights, legal benefits, and privileges of people of all genders identities and expressions.

Public Awareness and Advocacy

S.I.D.A. supports efforts to provide safe and secure educational environments and promote an understanding and acceptance of self in which all youth including youth of all gender identities and expressions, may be free to express their genuine gender identity and obtain an education free from discrimination, harassment, violence and abuse.

S.I.D.A. supports a development of, and participation in, coalitions with other professional associations and progressive organizations to lobby on behalf of the civil rights of all people of diverse gender expression and identity.

S.I.D.A. supports collaboration with organizations and groups supportive of the transgender community to develop programs to increase public awareness of the mistreatment and discrimination experienced by transgender people and of the contributions they make to society.

S.I.D.A. encourages the development of programs, training, and information that promotes proactive efforts to eliminate psychological, social and physical harm directed toward transgender people and to portray them accurately and compassionately.

S.I.D.A. supports the development of programs within schools and other child and youth services agencies that educate students, faculty, and staff about the range of gender diversity and the needs of transgender children and youth.

S.I.D.A. supports the creation of scientific and educational resources that inform public discussion about gender identity and gender diversity, to promote public policy development and to strengthen societal and familial attitudes and behaviors that affirm the dignity and rights of all individuals, regardless of identity or gender expression.

 

Legal and Political Action

S.I.D.A. advocates for increased funding for education treatment services, and research on behalf of people of diverse gender expression and gender identity.

S.I.D.A supports the legal recognition of marriage, domestic partner, and civil unions, regardless of either the sex or gender status of the betrothed or partnered individuals.

S.I.D.A. encourages the repeal of laws and discriminatory practices that impeded individuals in their identification with, and their expression of the gender which matches their sense of themselves in all areas of the public arena, especially employment, health care, education and in a housing including in custodial settings.

S.I.D.A. encourages the adoption of laws that will prohibit discrimination against, and protect the civil rights of, and preserve the access to health care and well-being of, individuals who identify with and express their gender identities, in education, housing, inheritance, health and other types of insurance, child custody, property and other areas.

S.I.D.A. acknowledges the importance of working with groups in and around the community of Staten Island to support the transgender community’s development and help larger community organizations help overcome ignorance and fear of transgender people, and to move toward equality and justice.

S.I.D.A. supports the statements of both President of the United States Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in support of the transgender and non-conforming community across the country.

 

References

  1. Stone, 2004
  2. Lev, 2004, p. 397
  3. Xavier, 26 Honnold & Bradford, 2007
  4. Bushong 1995; Olysl*ger & Conway, 2007
  5. Olysl*ger & Conway, 2007,p.23
  6. Bullough, Bullough, & Elias, 1997; MacKenzie, 1994
  7. Clements-Notes, Marx, & Katz, 2006; Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing, & Malouf, 2001; Wyss, 2004
  8. Jung, 2006
  9. Xavier, 2000; Xavier, Honnold, & Bradford,45 2007
  10. Transgender Law Center, 2016
  11. Dean et al., 2000; Xavier et al., 2004
  12. De Cuypere et al., 2005; Newfield, Hart, Dibble, & Kohler, 2006; Pfafflin & Junge, 1998;   Rehman, Lazer, Benet, Schaefer, & Melman, 1999; Ross & Need, 1989).
  13. Xavier et al, 2004
  14. D‘Augelli, Grossman, & Starks, 2006; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 2004; Grossman,       D‘Augelli, & Slater, 2006; Wyss, 2004
  15. Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Smith, van Goozen, & Cohen-Kettenis, 2001; Spack, 2005
  16. Menvielle, Tuerk, & Perrin, 2005; PFLAG, 2004

 

 

 

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New York City adopts ​gender-neutral bathrooms

Single-occupant restrooms at restaurants, bars and other public places in New York City will all be gender-neutral under a new law signed Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The bill, which requires that “men” and “women” signs on single-stall restrooms be replaced with ones indicating they are Gender Neutral is “yet another step toward becoming a place where all can live with dignity, free from fear and free from judgment,” the mayor said.

The legislation was designed with transgender/ gender non-conforming people in mind, though it could also benefit the women who get stuck in long lines while the men’s room is empty and parents tending to children of the opposite sex.

Similar legislation has been adopted in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., West Hollywood, and Austin, Texas .

The New York bill passed the City Council on a 47-2 vote last week and has met with little opposition.

“Most New Yorkers take their unfettered access to bathrooms for granted, yet every single day, transgender and gender nonconforming individuals must grapple with the fact that their choices may lead to harassment or worse,” City Councilman Danny Dromm

“Other places in the country are trying to divide Americans with small-minded things, such as who can use a restroom. We’re dedicated to accommodating all people in New York City,” speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.

Kevin Dugan, regional director of the New York State Restaurant Association, which has lobbied against previous bills like the one requiring chain eateries to post calorie counts, said he didn’t expect the bathroom law to hurt business.

This piece of legislation was personal for me because for almost a year this has been my project. I saw it thru the legislative process and advocated for it. Read The Text of 871-A

Look Past Pink & Blue Campaign in NYC

New York City first municipality to launch citywide campaign on bathroom use and gender identity

Ads will appear in subway cars, bus shelters, phone booths, NYC TV, ethnic and community newspapers, and on social media

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Commission on Human Rights today launched the nation’s first government-led citywide ad campaign affirming every New Yorkers’ right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.

“No one deserves to be denied access to bathrooms or discriminated against for being who they are. Every New Yorker has the legal right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, no questions asked – and these powerful ads affirm this right,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City has long been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and these ads are further evidence of the City’s unwavering support of our diverse communities. While other cities and states are legislating intolerance and taking away individuals’ right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, we are proudly standing with our transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”

“Every New Yorker has the right to use the restroom that matches their gender identity and where they feel comfortable and safe,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Honorary Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “No New Yorker should have to worry about hiding their gender identity to take care of basic human needs. Others may advance hateful agendas that discriminate based on gender or gender identity, but that kind of bigotry will never be acceptable here, and we will keep fighting to root it out until no New Yorker feels discriminated against.”

The campaign, which kicks off LGBTQ Pride Month, includes ads and videos featuring transgender New Yorkers and instructs readers to “look past pink and blue” and to “use the restroom consistent with who you are.” The ads will appear in subway cars, bus shelters, phone booths, ethnic and community newspapers, and in ads in digital publications and across social media in English and Spanish. Ethnic newspaper ads will appear in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Russian and Bengali. Later this month, the Commission will release two digital videos, also featuring transgender New Yorkers, as part of the campaign affirming the bathroom access rights of transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.

The campaign ads and videos were created following audience research with transgender and cisgender New Yorkers and input from the transgender community and legal advocates. The ads feature real transgender New Yorkers, including Alisha King, a Bronx resident, and full-time mom; Charlie Solidum, a Brooklyn resident and health care professional; Ky Platt, a Bronx resident and technical theater professional; and Ariel Murtagh, a transgender rights activist and rising high school student. Participants joined this campaign to raise awareness of transgender rights and the legal right to use bathrooms consistent with their identity in New York City.

“Bathroom discrimination is a regular occurrence for the transgender community,” said Alisha King. “So much so that many of us avoid even using public restrooms to begin with. I sincerely hope these ads help people understand that transgender people are people just like you. We just want to use the restroom safely and be treated with respect.”

“Given the recent national rhetoric threatening trans peoples’ access to public spaces, I feel privileged to live in New York City, where the laws are explicit about protecting us regardless of our documentation, transition status or gender expression”, said Charles Solidum. “Harassment and discrimination of trans people in bathrooms happen every day, especially for trans women and gender non-conforming folks. These ads help to ensure trans New Yorkers know that the city stands with us and supports our access to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”

Leading the Nation

New York City continues to lead the nation in protecting the rights of the transgender and gender non-conforming community. In December 2015, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued legal enforcement guidance defining specific gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law, including equal bathroom access. In March, Mayor de Blasio issued an executive order requiring City agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public are given equal access to City single-sex facilities without being required to show identification, medical documentation or any other form of proof or verification of gender. Today, New York City becomes the first municipality to launch a citywide campaign specifically affirming the right of transgender individuals to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression.

The City’s campaign ads come at time when many cities and states continue to deny transgender and gender non-conforming people the right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity or expression. At last count, 11 states are suing the U.S. Department of Justice following a letter from the Obama administration directing schools to grant transgender students equal access to bathrooms and locker rooms. To this day, more than 200 bills have been introduced in 32 states this year that would deny LGBT individuals the same rights as everyone else, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

In New York City, equal bathroom access has been a policy for years, including in New York City public schools. Despite the often-cited myth that these policies encourage bathroom attacks, there has been no reported incidence in New York City. The New York City Human Rights Law has protected gender identity and expression since 2002 when then-Council Member Bill de Blasio co-sponsored an amendment to add it to the law as a protected category.

Studies show that transgender and gender nonconforming people routinely experience gender identity discrimination in the workplace, at school, and in public accommodations. In a nationwide survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 63 percent of participants said they have experienced a serious act of discrimination, including bullying, loss of job due to bias and physical or sexual assault. Roughly 90 percent reported discrimination in the workplace, including denied access to appropriate bathrooms at work, and 26 percent reported being denied access to bathrooms in an educational setting.

“Safe and equal bathrooms access is essential for everyone,” said Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis. “And in New York City, it’s the law. We created these ads to remind every New Yorker, cis and transgender alike, that the City protects your right to live and work according to your gender identity and expression, including your right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Far too often, transgender people suffer bullying, harassment, and violence for being who they are. These ads show that transgender people, like everyone else, have the right to use the restroom in peace.”

“Our administration stands by equal access for all,” said Azadeh Khalili, Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. “This campaign will ensure that transgender New Yorkers are aware of their rights.”

“In the 14 years that New York City has protected equal access to bathrooms, we know of no incidents where this policy has presented a public safety concern,” saidPolice Commissioner William J. Bratton. “The NYPD protects the safety of all New Yorkers.”

“New York City is a safe and fair City. Safety and fairness include access to bathrooms. These new ads make clear that gender fairness extends to our City facilities to improve the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley.

“Whether in the bathroom or elsewhere, every person – regardless of their gender identity – has the right to freedom from harassment of any kind, be it insults, bullying or assault,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “By affirming that all New Yorkers have the right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, as the law requires, this campaign continues our City’s tradition as a leader in protecting the right of each individual to full and equal participation in our civil society.”

“All New Yorkers should have access to the bathrooms, locker rooms and other single-sex facilities they feel are most appropriate to them without the risk of shaming, baseless policing or an unjustified invasion of their privacy,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Sending that message loud and clear is the right thing to do.”

“New York values mean basic fairness for all,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “As we continue to make progress for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers throughout the state, I thank the City for this step, and continue to urge the state to pass GENDA and codify basic protections for all.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “I’m grateful to the de Blasio Administration for this ad campaign that will help show the rest of the country there’s no debate about which bathroom transgender people should use in the nation’s largest city. As a result, our city will continue to be a safe, hospitable and humane place for everyone.”

Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz said, “I am proud that New York City is leading the way to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual identity, will have equal access to restrooms throughout the five boroughs. A successful advertising campaign will let everyone know that diversity and equality matter. There is no room in New York for the hatred or divisiveness we’ve seen elsewhere.”

“Discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people has no place in our city,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “As a Council Member representing one of the largest transgender communities in New York City, I applaud Mayor de Blasio for launching this historic ad campaign which affirms the right to use the bathrooms consistent with one’s gender identity. I will continue to support this trailblazing campaign and work to enhance protections for all transgender and non-confirming individuals across the five boroughs.”

“This campaign reaffirms our commitment to equality for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “When civil rights are under attack around the country, we in New York emphasize the importance of inclusion and diversity. That’s exactly what this campaign is all about. By bringing exposure to this important citywide policy, we are building a culture of acceptance and proclaiming our values as New Yorkers. I thank Mayor de Blasio and NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis for this important campaign.”

“Once again, New York City continues to be a leader in ensuring rights for all people are protected and enhanced. This campaign is a clear message that our City will protect the right of transgender people to use facilities that are in line with their gender identity and expression. It is an important and visible campaign that speaks loudly to our City’s values,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca said, “Every New Yorker deserves equal access to public accommodations. I am proud my city upholds the right of everyone to define their own identity. As the nation’s leader in LGBT equality, we share an expectation of safe and equal bathroom access. Now, New York City is showing the nation how to promote equality using an ad campaign featuring authentic individuals.  The transgender and gender non-conforming people who have experienced discrimination and faced danger have much to teach us about securing equality for all.”

“At a time when transgender people face staggering rates of discrimination and violence, it’s critical that they receive the same protections as everybody else, including the basic right to use the bathroom that matches who they are,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “With this groundbreaking ad campaign, New York City and Mayor de Blasio continue their strong legacy of support for LGBT New Yorkers.”

“The Center stands firmly behind this powerful ad campaign to reinforce what Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Malalis stated last March – that all New Yorkers deserve the same rights and protections, including our transgender and gender nonconforming community members,” said Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center Glennda Testone. “New York has long been a proud leader in protecting our citizens’ rights, and we’re thrilled to see the city stepping up to ensure that every person has the freedom to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.”

“It’s so heartening that Mayor de Blasio has consistently shown true leadership in making sure that all of New York City’s residents can participate fully in public life,” said Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality Mara Keisling. “Many Americans still don’t know who transgender people are, which can lead them to form inaccurate conclusions. This ad campaign not only reaffirms that transgender people’s safety and well-being are a priority for the Mayor, but will also help people realize that transgender New Yorkers are just New Yorkers.”

Reporting Discrimination
If a member of the public believes they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender or gender identity at work, in housing, or in public accommodations, they should call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights. Individuals also have the opportunity to go to court and file a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/humanrights and follow @NYCCHR onTwitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958

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Democratic Party of Richmond County Convention

Last night the Democratic Party of Richmond held their County Convention nominated State Sen. Diane Savino, Assemblyman Matthew Titone, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, as well as three sitting Civil Court judges, Barbara Panepinto, Kim Dollard, and Philip Straniere to be on the party line for our borough.

Things that happened that WILL NOT be mentioned in our local paper the “Staten Island Advance” half of our party slate is female identified. That’s right HALF! We the Democratic Party of Staten Island are letting Female Identified people LEAD THE WAY. Starting with State Senator Diane Savino.

The party did something else last night that won’t be mentioned in the local paper. The more powerful story somehow missed  last night by the Staten Island Advance was that  for the first time in Staten Island history a transgender person Bryan John Ellicott (Yea that would be me) addressed a political convention, sadly however it was tTHE SAME NIGHT that in  BROOKLYN a TRANSPERSON was ASSAULTED!?! The same day a ciswoman was ASSAULTED in a women’s restroom for “looking like a dude.” in another state. It’s pretty clear that Transgender people are under attack.

I was asked by Assemblymember Matthew Titone to second the nomination for his re-election.

“Few people (we later found out none) like me have had this chance. I made the most of it. However, I am thankful to Chris Bauer, Michael Arvanites, Bobby Digi and the other men in the room…who understand what needed to be said. While we supportAssemblymember Matthew Titone as our voice of the vulnerable citizens of SI.”

I spoke of his continued fight for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) next to sponsor Assembly Dick Gottfried. The continued struggle of the LGBT community…and how important it is in Staten Island that we support across the borough our only LGBT elected official and one of few in Albany.

(featured photo credit: Michael Arvanites)

 

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Photo Credit: Roy Moskowitz 

 

Letter to NYS Majority Leader John Flanagan on GENDA

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.

Sincerely,

 

Milo Primeaux, Esq.

Staff Attorney, LGBT Rights Project Empire Justice Center mprimeaux@empirejustice.org (585) 295-5721

 

ORGANIZATIONS

 

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)

 

 

Thoughts on Empire State Pride Agenda

The announcement of the shut down of Empire State Pride Agenda is a difficult one to understand as a member of the transgender community and as a person who has supported Pride Agenda for many years w/ my dedication and passion for the work they do.

 

While knowing personally many members of their staff and board of directors, I can’t help but feel betrayed by the people who are supposed to fight and protect my community and myself. Especially when we know that the work needs to be done still to advance the LGBT community to be completely equal and protected under the law in many ways in our own state and across this country.

 

We still have so much work to do for the community for issues like GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act) that still needs to be passed regardless of the executive order. We still need to ban conversion therapy for our youth and pass the Child-Parent Protection Act so that LGBT couples can feel free to create their families how they choose too. We still need to fight for our LGBT Homeless Youth and make sure funding is given to those organizations that work with at risk populations. These are just some of the things we need to do, I hope ESPA will reconsider their decision to shut down.

 

 

Governor Cuomo Introduces Regulations to Protect Transgender New Yorkers from Unlawful Discrimination

Last night Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he had directed the Department of Human Rights to create new regulations to protect transgender New Yorker’s from discrimination in public and private housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations at the Empire State Pride Agenda dinner.

Now, ALL LGBT New Yorker’s will have the support of New York State in the face of unconscionable discrimination. While I  Thank Governor Cuomo and his administration for standing up for equality for transgender New Yorker’s

I congratulate the countless transgender activists and allies across the state who have led this fight – including our own  Melissa Sklarz, LaLa Zannell,Sean Coleman and many others as well as myself for our continous efforts for the passage of GENDA all these years.  Our work and determination in achieving anti-discrimination protections for trans New Yorkers has lead to another step forward in achieving full LGBT equality.

October 22, 2015-- New York City -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo receives the Silver Torch Award from Lady Gaga's mother, Cynthia Germanottam at the Empire State Pride Agenda Fall Dinner at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel Thursday October 22, 2015. During his acceptance speech, Governor  Cuomo introduced regulations through the New York State Human Rights Law that unequivocally bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people. These regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

October 22, 2015– New York City — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo receives the Silver Torch Award from Lady Gaga’s mother, Cynthia Germanottam at the Empire State Pride Agenda Fall Dinner at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel Thursday October 22, 2015. During his acceptance speech, Governor Cuomo introduced regulations through the New York State Human Rights Law that unequivocally bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people. These regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


Though there is a fear of a future administration coming in and undoing this action by Governor Cuomo, even a passing of GENDA won’t be enough. The only way we can ensure LGBT individuals have full equal rights from their home to the office and everywhere in between is to stand up, stand together and continue to elect pro-equality officials. Without pro-equality elected officials at the helm, fighting for us, our friends, families and communities, there will always be a fear of going backwards.
As we move into the 2016 election year, we will be very focused on who will be our next President. But we can’t forget our Senate, Congressional and State elections. All politics is local. And if we don’t get out the vote to elect pro-equality legislators in every race, we will continue to be held back from achieving full equality in New York State.