The New York State Assembly approved legislation Tuesday that would finally add gender identity and gender expression to the state's non-discrimination law.
It is the seventh time the measure has passed in the Assembly, but has yet to be approved by the New York Senate, according to Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of the bill.
"This is a long overdue protection of human rights," Gottfried said in a statement. "Every year my colleagues and I speak for transgender human rights and equal protection under the law — and every year, opponents spin imaginary horror stories, none of which have anything to do with this bill. Local GENDA laws have been on the books in large parts of the state for years, and no one has pointed to any of these hypothetical events actually happening. It's time to protect all New Yorkers' right to fair housing and employment."
Assembly members voted 78-44 to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, which would strengthen the state's human rights law to prohibit discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, public accommodations, and education because of a person's gender identity or expression. It would also expand the state's hate crimes law to include crimes against transgender people.
The bill will now be referred to the New York Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee. Gottfried, along with LGBT advocates and other proponents of the bill, called on the Assembly to act and stand with the Assembly "for equality."
"We are thrilled that this passed through the Assembly with bipartisan support for the seventh time," Allison Steinberg, director of communication at Empire State Pride Agenda, told BuzzFeed. "It is now overdue for the New York Senate to pass this and make it law."
Current state law provides such protections on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, or marital status, but there are no existing protections for transgender people.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously said he would sign the legislation into law, according to the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Just last week, Cuomo announced that state officials will make it easier for transgender people to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates.