History In NY: Cuomo Signs Transgender Bill Into Law, Conversion Therapy Ban

Transgender Bill

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Yesterday, Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Governor, signed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) into law, which brings “conversion therapy” to an end and protects transgender people across the state.

“As the most progressive state in the nation and as the home of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, New York has always been on the front lines fighting for full protections for every individual,” Cuomo said at the signing ceremony at the New York City LGBT Community Center, according to the Advocate. “By signing into law GENDA and a ban on the fraudulent practice of conversion therapy, we are taking another giant step forward in advancing equal justice for every New Yorker – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We are once again sending a clear and proud message that there is no place for hate in our state, and anyone who engages in bigotry and discrimination will be held accountable.”

GENDA provides unequivocal and comprehensive protections for transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, public spaces, and education. Cuomo’s signature signals that New York now becomes the 21st state in the nation to add gender identity as a protected class to the state’s non-discrimination laws. New York also now joins fourteen other states and the District of Columbia by making illegal the practice of “conversion therapy.”

“Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed what millions of New Yorkers already know: LGBTQ people are born perfect, and our lives should be celebrated – not silenced,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO at GLAAD. “At a time when the nation is living with a President whose agenda includes turning back the clock on LGBTQ progress, it’s reassuring to have allies like the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo advocating for full acceptance for all marginalized communities.”

The passage and signing of GENDA will explicitly codify these protections into law once and for all.

“At a time when the Trump administration and Republicans continue to roll back protections for LGBTQ people, Democratic governors and state legislatures are stepping up. After decades of advocacy and hard work by organizers, LGBTQ New Yorkers will now be equally protected under the law,” said DNC LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta via a release. “All Americans should have equal opportunity to thrive in every aspect of their lives without fear of harassment or discrimination. Now, it is finally clear that in New York, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals cannot be discriminated against in education, housing, credit, employment, public accommodations, or hate crime prosecutions. Further, LGBTQ youth can no longer be subjected to the abusive and inhumane practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ which has been denounced by mental health professionals across the country.

The signing comes after the Supreme Court conservative majority Justices lifted nationwide injunctions allowing the Trump administration’s implementation of the transgender military ban.

“This long-awaited victory sends a strong message that transgender people are worthy of every equal protection under the law,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “As we celebrate today in New York, we are also reminded that we have our work cut out for us: Thirty states nationwide still lack comprehensive and explicit protections for LGBTQ people under state law, and we won’t stop until every LGBTQ American is protected by fully comprehensive laws that cannot be trumped by those seeking to erase us.”

GENDA passed in the Assembly by 100-40 and was approved by a vote of 42-19 in the Senate, both with bipartisan support.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo and New York Democrats, New York continues to lead in LGBTQ rights. This legislation should serve as a model for other states to follow and a reminder that all Americans, regardless of who they love or how they identify, deserve to be treated equally and live free from discrimination,” said Acosta.

Read a more comprehensive story about it in The Rainbow Times’ February 2019 issue.