On January 15th, the New York State legislature made history, passing the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and banning conversion therapy across New York State.
GENDA, which updates New York State’s antidiscrimination laws to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of protected classes, provides critical protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, prohibiting discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.
These protections are the culmination of efforts that span over a decade. While New York’s laws have prohibited sexual orientation discrimination since 2002, many individuals have continued to face discrimination based on their gender identity or expression and have had difficulty redressing these harms. New York City adopted laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in 2002, but the State did not follow suit; while GENDA was first proposed in 2003, it languished in the State Senate for over a decade.
In addition to GENDA, lawmakers passed a law that bans conversion therapy, prohibiting the practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation. Until now, this atrocious and dangerous practice has been legal in New York and carried out throughout the State and even in New York City, the birth place of the gay liberation movement.There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide.New York is the fifteenth state to ban the practice.
The Gender Equality Law Center applauds the passage of these bills and celebrates this momentous victory for all New Yorkers. Now, the law leaves no room for doubt as to whether our clients across New York State are protected from discrimination based on their gender identity or expression, and individuals across New York will be able to vindicate their rights in court. As federal courts throughout the nation continue to disagree about the scope of federal legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is critical for all states and localities to ensure that these individuals are protected.
GELC continues to stand with its clients and all those who have faced discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. If you believe you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, please don’t hesitate to reach out to GELC’s attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org.