Today, June 11th, is the statewide call-in day to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State, organized by Empire State Pride Agenda. Polls indicate that 78% of New York State residents support the act, which if passed would prohibit discrimination based on a person's gender identity or expression in employment, education, housing, and public accommodations. Such legislation is already in effect in 16 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in many individual cities and counties both within and outside of New York State.
The protections included in the GENDA bill are crucial to the safety and welfare of New York State's transgender and gender non-conforming residents. Without them, many of New York's transgender and gender non-conforming people have no legal security, and are much more vulnerable to discrimination and even hate violence: they can be fired at any time, denied housing, kicked out of school, refused transportation, and refused entry to banks, restaurants, and shops – often having to turn to an "underground economy" to get by. Such treatment is wrong and dehumanizing. Its current legality indicates that New York State does not believe that its trans and gender non-conforming residents are full citizens deserving of respect, safety, and the use of public resources.
For five years in a row, the GENDA bill has successfully passed the New York State Assembly, but the Senate has refused to bring it to a full vote. Including today's session, there are only seven legislative sessions left before the Legislature breaks for the summer. In order for GENDA to finally pass before the 2013 legislative session ends, New York State residents must reach out to their state senators and urge them to support the bill.
GLAAD encourages New York State residents to take action and make the state safe and friendly for everyone. In order to find your NY State senator's phone number, go to http://www.nysenate.gov/ and enter your address in the top left corner. Talk to a staffer or leave a message expressing the bill's urgency, and then tell your friends and family to do the same.