Last night, the city of Rochester, New York expanded their definition of discrimination to include “gender identity and expression.” This legislation embraces a more robust definition of discrimination into their city code in order to extend protections to all people in Rochester regardless of their gender identity or expression.
Rochester is one of 12 cities in New York to have a non-discrimination ordinance. Last year, Rochester scored 98 points on HRC's Municipal Equality Index, which was one of the top scores in the state. By offering transgender-inclusive health care policies to city employees Rochester is on track to excel again on the new, more challenging 2014 MEI scorecard.
There's still no state law in New York prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Transgender New Yorkers are frequently denied employment, evicted from their homes, or harassed in public because of their gender identity.
According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, 74% of transgender New Yorkers have been harassed or mistreated on the job, 19% denied a home or apartment, and 53% harassed in public accommodations, such as a restaurant, library, store, or public transportation.
Rochester State Senator Ted O’Brien has sponsored the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would ensure that no one can be discriminated against because of who they are.
The New York Assembly in June passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) for a remarkable seventh time, but the bill has never received a vote in the State Senate.
It's past time for the Senate to act.