Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his newly issued executive order protecting transgender people from discrimination. The order takes the same initiative that is found in the proposed bill, Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) as a plan to protect transgender people from discrimination in New York State. This law is intended to safeguard transgender people from unfair treatment and harassment in the workplace, academic institutions and in situations where they should be judged only on their financial standings, such as bank loans or housing.
According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, 74 percent transgender New Yorkers have been harassed or mistreated on the job, 19 percent denied a home or apartment and 53 percent harassed in public areas, of which includes public transportation and restaurants.
Given the prevalent discrimination transgender people face on a day to day basis, the law aims to curb the casual hatred and prejudice which has plagued the community. High levels of suicide or attempted suicide have been reported in the past decade due to aggressive transphobia.
We at The New Paltz Oracle, believe that this is a justifiable piece of legislation that will be beneficial to the transgender community as well as all citizens statewide. We commend Cuomo for his progressive and dutiful action. The prominence of the gender identity discussion is important and should be considered by all New Yorkers including our assembly members and senators.
In 2002, New York passed major legislation of which protects the rights of gay and lesbian New Yorkers. With increasing public awareness of transgender individuals — brought upon by transgender celebrities and social media activism — it is only natural that this would follow suit with the development of LGBTQIA+ protection laws.
The workplace and academic institutions should not be hunting grounds for those who are different, but instead should be a safe haven where work is the priority and all are treated equal. This is not to say, however, that the transgender community will be receiving “extra rights,” as Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said in an interview regarding the implementation of gender neutral bathrooms for transgenders. They will, however, be treated with the decency and respect as everyone should be given. It is likely that if this law were to be passed as protection in the workplace as well as academic institutions, it could extend into public spaces.
This is another step to a fully inclusive workplace; this is not unlike sexual harassment statutes and civil right safeguards that are already in place. Considering this is one of the most liberal and progressive measures in the country, Cuomo is against the odds in getting this law passed in the Senate which is traditionally Republican. However, we believe he should continue with his fight for equality for all New Yorkers.
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