New York's Governor Set to Extend Employment Protections to Transgender New York State Employees

rsz_governor-paterson_croppedThis morning The New York Times reported that Governor David A. Paterson plans to sign an executive order protecting transgender public employees from discrimination in New York State. On Wednesday December 16, the governor will appear at a ceremony at the New York LGBT Community Center at 10:30am to celebrate New York becoming the seventh state to protect public employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.  Go here to view details of tomorrow’s event. While the order will stand as one of the broadest extensions of protection for transgender New Yorkers, it represents only a first step toward full workplace equality. According to Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Attorney with Lambda Legal, Gov. Paterson’s order “will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness.”  The executive order will apply only to state employees working under the executive branch and not to those in the private sector.  LGBT rights advocates have been working to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act in the New York legislature since 2003, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in any workplace, as well as in housing and public accommodations. GENDA passed the New York Assembly last April but has yet to reach a vote in the Senate. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has stalled at the federal level, leaving transgender people in the 38 states without state protections vulnerable to harassment and adverse job consequences. We applaud Governor Paterson’s decision to create change within his executive branch and urge the media to closely follow this issue in other states and at the federal level and report on the necessity to extend  these vital protections to transgender employees around the country.