First Executive in the Nation to Issue Statewide Regulations Prohibiting Harassment and Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity, Transgender Status or Gender Dysphoria 

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Last week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced regulations through the New York State Human Rights Law that bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people. These regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York.

“The scourge of harassment and discrimination against transgender individuals is well-known – and has also has gone largely unanswered for too long,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has always been a beacon for the country on LGBT rights. We started the movement at Stonewall, we led the way with marriage equality, and now we are continuing to show the nation the path forward. We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment against transgender people anywhere in the State of New York – period.”

Backlash to the Governor’s executive action was swift.

“It should be no surprise to New Yorkers that Gov. Cuomo intends to effectively amend the Human Rights Law without consulting the State Legislature; not long ago, the Governor overstepped the bounds of his executive authority in regard to the minimum wage to be paid to fast-food workers,” said Rev. Jason McGuire, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.

The Bathroom Bill would force New York employers to accommodate cross-dressing employees in the workplace, would make New York businesses liable for real or invented transgressions upon a civil right to “gender identity or expression,” and would give intact biological males who assert female gender identities access to women’s locker rooms, changing areas, and restrooms in places of public accommodation, thus compromising the privacy and safety of women and girls. While the details of the Governor’s proposed regulation have yet to be made available, any regulation similar to the Bathroom Bill would be completely unacceptable.”

Should men who identify as women be allowed to see your female relatives when they are undressed? Should such men be allowed to undress in front of your female relatives?”

“The Governor cannot be allowed to usurp the role of the State Legislature, and the needs of women and girls cannot be brushed aside in a craven attempt to curry favor with transgender activists,” said McGuire.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James applauded Governor Cuomo’s executive action ensuring that transgender New Yorkers are treated equally and fairly. “For too long, members of the transgender community have been forced to live in the shadows of society and have been subjected to great discrimination while this common-sense civil rights legislation has stalled in our legislature, said James in a press statement. The City’s Public Advocate noted that in an era of equality victories, Cuomo’s action was another critical step forward toward ensuring that every person in New York State has an equal opportunity for a happy and fulfilling life.

Andrew Cuomo_ESPA GalaGovernor Cuomo made the announcement at the Empire State Pride Agenda Fall Dinner in New York City last week.

Over the years, both New York and federal case law in this area has developed to support protection for transgender individuals on the basis of sex. In the State of New York, the Human Rights Law offers substantially more protection than federal antidiscrimination laws, because gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition that falls within the broad definition of disability found in the state law, as New York courts have recognized. This additional protection affords increased rights for transgender individuals in New York, such as the right to reasonable accommodation for those who allege a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

New York was the first state in the nation to enact an anti-discrimination Human Rights Law. The Law, enacted in 1945, affords every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” Individuals who feel they have been harassed or discriminated against can file complaints in State court, or with the New York State Division of Human Rights, without charge. Those complaints are promptly investigated at regional offices throughout the state.


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