Any hopes that New York would join other states this year and enact a law explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity were dashed Tuesday when a Republican-controlled Senate committee voted down a transgender rights measure.
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, was defeated in the New York Senate Investigations & Government Operations Committee by a 5-4 party-line vote. The measure would have amended the state human rights law to bar discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression and would have added transgender people to the state human rights law.
New York is one of three states — including New Hampshire and Wisconsin — with a state law barring anti-gay discrimination, but not anti-trans discrimination.
The committee killed the measure in the same year the New Hampshire state legislature, which is controlled in both chambers by Republicans, sent to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu a similar transgender non-discrimination measure. Sununu is expected to sign the bill.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who’s gay and the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement the defeat of the transgender rights bill in committee was “appalling.”
“Human rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue – and they aren’t in other states,” Hoylman said. “Earlier this month, in fact, the Republican legislature in New Hampshire passed protections for LGBT people, making it possible that New York will soon be the only state in the northeast without statutory protections for its transgender citizens.”
Earlier this month, the Democratic-controlled Assembly approved GENDA by a vote of 100-43. Had the Senate agreed to the measure, it would have headed to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature. The vote marked the 11th consecutive year the Assembly approved GENDA. The full Senate, which remains in Republican control, has never taken up the measure.
Although the measure has died in committee, transgender people in New York still have recourse if they feel they’ve experienced discrimination on the basis of gender identity. In 2015, Cuomo signed an executive order interpreting state law barring gender discrimination to apply to transgender people.