The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act passed on Jan. 15 in the New York State Senate in a landslide vote of 100 to 40.
The bill will amend current NY human rights laws that protect against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. GENDA’s amendments also mean that offenses related to gender identity and expression will now be classified as hate crimes in the NYS penal law.
Joseph Anderson ’20, president of the LGBTQ student union Haven, said that the bill’s passage is long overdue.
“It is a moment to celebrate and thank our lawmakers in Albany for protecting transgender, gender non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals,” he said.
Members of Haven have been involved in lobbying for GENDA, bringing attention to the bill through social media and organizing a day trip to Albany in collaboration with Cornell State Relations.
The bill was originally introduced in 2003 but failed to reach a vote on the senate floor until this year, when Democrats regained control of the Legislature. Previously, the bill has been voted on successfully in the Assembly for ten consecutive times.
Along with GENDA, a bill banning mental health care professionals from attempting conversion therapy on minors also passed last Tuesday. Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation.
Health care professionals who violate the legislation would now be subject to discipline by their licensing entity. Similar laws banning this practice have been passed in 14 other states and Washington D.C.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-NY) took the lead on both GENDA and the bill regarding health care professionals. Hoylman called the move “a quantum leap forward.”
But the fight is not over yet. Following GENDA’s passing, Haven will continue to lobby for the “end of the gay and trans panic defense and many other important issues,” Anderson said.