TLDEF Praises New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for Addressing Transgender Rights in his State of the State Address, A Historic First for New York

Covernor CuomoTLDEF commends New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for including transgender rights in his State of the State address in January. Cuomo expressed the vital need for New York lawmakers to finally pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). The legislation would protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit. It would also ensure that transgender people are covered under New York State’s hate crimes law.

The Governor’s comments marked the first time that transgender rights have been included in a State of the State address in New York.

Governor Cuomo stated in part:

“It is no secret that transgender New Yorkers experience pervasive discrimination in all areas of life. Many have been denied housing and a significant portion of them have become homeless. Further, recent surveys indicate that approximately three-quarters of transgender New Yorkers experience harassment, mistreatment or discrimination in employment, including being fired from jobs or being passed over for hire or promotion due to anti-transgender bias. Because of who they are, many transgender New Yorkers live with economic insecurity and in poverty. However, it is not who we are, as New Yorkers, to permit this type of pervasive discrimination to continue without recourse. Rather, New York is a place where our differences are celebrated and form the foundation for our achievement; they are not a source of division.

“The Governor believes that New York State Human Rights Law should be amended to protect New Yorkers’ gender identity or expression from discrimination. Doing so reflects the values of New Yorkers — a people who believe that every person should be treated equally and fairly, and empowered with the opportunity to succeed.”

We thank Governor Cuomo for his strong words in the State of the State, outlining what is at stake for transgender New Yorkers who face immense challenges with no comprehensive state law to protect them. The Governor’s comments echo the leadership he has demonstrated in the past year in expanding health insurance for transgender New Yorkers and eliminating the State’s requirement that transgender people undergo surgery in order to correct their birth certificates.

New York has made many advancements in transgender rights, but there is one crucial piece missing. As advocates, we will not rest as long as transgender people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes and denied basic public services just because of who they are. New York’s failure to adopt a statewide anti-discrimination law leaves transgender residents vulnerable to mistreatment and discrimination, and must be remedied.