Employers, landlords, and cops in New York City are now legally required to use people's pronouns of choice when addressing them — and restaurants are no longer allowed to deny service to men just because they refused to wear a tie.
These and other new policies are included in document issued on Monday by the New York Commission on Human Rights. The document is meant to explain the specific ways in which the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio intends to enforce a a 2002 local law designed to protect the rights of transgender people.
The new guidance states the city's official position on a number of issues. It explicitly establishes that it is illegal to deny people access to bathrooms and shelters that correspond with their gender identity, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. Here's the relevant passage:
The [New York Civil Rights Law] requires that individuals be permitted to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender, regardless of their sex assigned at birth, anatomy, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on their identification. The law does not require entities to make existing bathrooms all-gender or construct additional restrooms. Covered entities [such as landlords, city agencies, and employees] that have single-occupancy restrooms should make clear that they can be used by people of all genders Some people, including, for example, customers, other program participants, tenants, or employees, may object to sharing a facility or participating in a program with a transgender or gender non-conforming person. Such objections are not a lawful reason to deny access to that transgender or gender non-conforming individual.
The document also states that employers, landlords, and city agencies — including the NYPD — are required to refer to people using the pronoun and name of their choice, even if the person's official identification states a different name. The guidance explicitly allows for the use of gender-neutral pronouns, such as ze and hir, in official city business.
Among other provisions, the guidance states that requiring different dress codes or uniforms for people of different gender expressions is illegal in New York. This means, for example, that restaurants are no longer allowed to require men to wear ties in order to be served. Here's the passage explaining the city's reasoning:
The variability of expressions associated with gender and gender norms contrast vastly across culture, age, community, personality, style, and sense of self. Placing the burden on individuals to justify their gender identity or expression and demonstrate why a particular distinction makes them uncomfortable or does not conform to their gender expression would serve to reinforce the traditional notion of gender that our law has disavowed. Differing standards based on gender will always be rooted in gender norms and stereotypes, even when they may be perceived by some as innocuous. When an individual is treated differently because of their gender and required to conform to a specific standard assigned to their gender, that is gender discrimination regardless of intent, and that is not permissible under the NYCHRL.
Violations of the new policies could result in civil penalties of up to $250,000, according to the guidance document.
You can read the entire guidance document here.
Nicolás Medina Mora is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Nicolás Medina Mora at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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