Senator Benjamin & Senate Majority Pass GENDA and Ban Conversion Therapy

Brian A. Benjamin

January 15, 2019

(Harlem, NY) The Senate Majority has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) (S.1047) that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and adds transgender New Yorkers to those protected by the state’s Hate Crimes Law. The Senate also passed legislation (S.1046) prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under the age of eighteen years. Both bills were introduced by New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and co-sponsored by Senator Benjamin and the Senate Majority.

For transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers, things many of us take for granted can be a challenge. Finding employment or housing, safely riding public transit or seeing a movie, or even something as simple as comfortably using your name can be a daily struggle, particularly in communities of color, where resources are sometimes scarce,” said State Senate Benjamin.  “Yesterday, we took an important step towards righting that wrong by passing GENDA, which will add gender identity and expression to the New York Human Rights law. I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues to fighting for the LGBTQ community to ensure that every New Yorker can live a complete, proud life free of discrimination.”

While the State Assembly has passed GENDA 10 consecutive times and Governor Cuomo has stated his support, the former Senate Republican Majority refused to allow this legislation for a vote. New York has been the only state in the Northeast without statutory protections for its transgender citizens. A 2016 National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that 26% of transgender individuals lost a job due to bias, 50% were harassed on the job, 20% were evicted or denied housing, and 78% of transgender students were harassed or assaulted.

“I was particularly proud to be joined on the floor by Kiara St. James, who has been working for the last 17 years to make passing this bill possible. As the co-founder & executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, located in Harlem, she has been a major force in improving the lives of trans people here in Harlem and across the state. I was also joined by Gabriel Blau, a fierce advocate for LGBTQ people and the co-founder of Equality New York,” said Senator Benjamin.