Human Rights Campaign Praises Cuomo, State Legislative Leaders For Swift Action To Repeal New York’s ‘Walking While Trans’ Law

by Wyatt Ronan

This evening, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Assembly Bill 3355 (Paulin) and Senate Bill 1351 (Hoylman), repealing New York state’s Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution law which originally passed in 1976. This law, colloquially known as “Walking While Trans” has resulted in widespread police profiling, unjust arrests, police harassment and police violence — particularly in LGBTQ communities, immigrant communities and Black and Latinx communities. Cuomo and New York State Legislative leaders committed to making the repeal of this law an early priority in the 2021 session.

"After years of fighting alongside partners and advocates to end what has become stop-and-frisk for transgender women of color, tonight the 'Walking While Trans' era is finally over. Thanks to the swift action by Governor Cuomo, transgender New Yorkers can no longer be profiled and arrested for doing nothing more than standing or walking on the street.

This marks yet another step forward for equality in New York. Governor Cuomo's urgent signature demonstrates how attentively he is listening to the voices of transgender advocates and shows his deep commitment to advancing LGBTQ equality. Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, and bill sponsors Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Amy Paulin heard our community's call for change and made this important issue an early priority of this legislative session. We thank Governor Cuomo, Legislative leaders, and grassroots advocates, led by the Repeal Walking While Trans coalition, for their strong advocacy as well as their quick and decisive action. Today is a new day for transgender New Yorkers."

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

At the 2020 Human Rights Campaign Gala, Governor Cuomo committed to signing a repeal of the “so-called Walking While Trans statute, so that people will no longer be unfairly targeted for what they look like.” In 2018, there was a 120% increase in arrests under the statute, with 47% of all arrests across New York state happening in Queens. Black and Latinx women, including transgender people, remain the most impacted. According to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, in 2018, 91% of people arrested under the statute were Black and Latinx people, and 80% identified as women. Further compounding the problem of discriminatory and arbitrary arrests, more than 60% of transgender New Yorkers recently surveyed had previously been subject to police harassment and misconduct, including incidences of sexual assault, that discouraged them from seeking assistance from law enforcement all together.

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