For the fifth time, the New York State Assembly has passed a bill enshrining non-discrimination rights for transgendered people in the state’s charter. According to Advocate.com, the bill must now move to the State Senate, where, so far, every such rights bill has failed to pass.
Raw Story spoke to Mara Keisling, Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “It has been a decade since the sexual orientation law got passed,” said Keisling, referring to New York’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), which was signed into law in December of 2002, and guaranteed protections for gays and lesbians, but did not include transgendered workers.
“This is just about general human decency and dignity,” she said, calling the Senate’s failure to pass a transgender rights bill “an embarrassment to New York.”
Statewide LGBT rights group Empire State Pride Agenda said in a statement that the state assembly passed the bill with broad bipartisan support. A spokesperson for ESPA told The Advocate, “Now it is time for the State Senate to remedy the patchwork of protections that cover transgender people in localities and counties across the state and pass this statewide law.”
Certain municipalities have already passed protections for LGBT workers, including capital city Albany, New York City, Buffalo, Binghamton and others. 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia all have non-discrimination protections in place for transgendered workers. According to Pride Agenda, 78 percent of New Yorkers favor the same kind of protections for transgendered people as for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.
Discrimination and harassment of transgendered people in the workplace is widespread. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 97 percent of transgendered people report experiencing discrimination or mistreatment in the workplace, with 26 percent reporting being fired or forced out of a job because of their transgendered status.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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