It's a good day for LGBTQ people in the Empire State.
State lawmakers in Albany have officially passed two pieces of inclusive legislation: one protecting transgender residents from discrimination, and another banning gay conversion therapy for minors.
For more than a decade, Democrats in the state legislature have tried to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a trans-inclusive add-on to 2002's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act protecting gay, lesbian, and bisexual New Yorkers. With Republicans in control of the Senate until very recently, the bill failed to make it to the governor's desk, meaning trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers weren't technically protected from gender-based discrimination under state legislation.
As of January 2019, Democrats have regained control of the Senate—and with the Senate, the Assembly, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo all on board, GENDA has finally come into fruition, reports the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
In a statement, Glennda Testone, executive director of The LGBT Community Center in New York City, thanked trans and gender non-conforming advocates and allies for "more than a decade of dedicated activism, bravery, and persistence" in urging lawmakers to pass GENDA: "By adding gender identity and expression as a protected class under the Human Rights Law, GENDA provides [trans and gender non-conforming] people with protection against harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces like restaurants and shops."
Zeke Stokes, vice president of programs at GLAAD, also praised lawmakers in the Empire State for the inclusive step forward: "New York can be a model for the nation when it comes to standing up for transgender and non-binary people, who deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law."
According to the Movement Advancement Project, New York is now the 21st state in the United States to include gender identity as a protected class in its statewide hate crimes law.
In addition to GENDA's approval, New York lawmakers also okayed a bill banning mental health care providers from practicing gay conversion therapy on minors. New York has now become the 15th state in the U.S. to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, joining the likes of Delaware, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Maryland, and more.
"So-called conversion therapy is child abuse, plain and simple," wrote Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat representing Manhattan and an out gay man himself, in a statement to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Gov. Cuomo has already pledged his support to both causes and is expected to formally sign both bills into law as early as this week.