Transgender Activists Celebrate Victory in New York City
For Immediate Release December 22, 2004
Transgender advocates and activists are celebrating the release of Guidelines Regarding Gender Identity Discrimination from the New York City Commission on Human Rights this week. These guidelines interpret the Human Rights Law and are designed to educate the public about the prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity and expression that became part of New York City human rights law with the passage of Int. No. 24, the transgender rights bill signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Local Law 3 of 2002 in April of that year.
"These guidelines are a vital step toward preventing discrimination against transgender people in New York City," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a member of the working group that worked on the guidelines with staff of the Commission on Human Rights. "Many employers, landlords and business owners do not understand let alone know how to avoid discrimination based on gender identity and these guidelines provide real education and guidance."
"The transgender community still faces persistent and severe discrimination, being turned away from housing, health care, and employment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression," says Carrie Davis, a working group member and coordinator of the Gender Identity Project (GIP) at New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. "These guidelines will help our community know its rights and make this law more effective at preventing a systemic discrimination, one that frequently affects our most needy and least powerful members."
The Guidelines come after a two-year process of drafting undertaken by a working group of community advocates, legal experts, and Commission staff. "The release of these guidelines brings New York City into line with other cities across the country that are ensuring equality by both passing laws to prohibit discrimination, and providing detailed guidance to prevent discrimination," said Melissa Sklarz of New York Transgender Rights Organization.
"This is an historic accomplishment for New York City," said Pauline Park, co-chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, Inc. (NYAGRA). "It is inspiring to see transgender community representatives working closely with city government to achieve such an important step forward."
The Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations, including city agencies. The group was eager to see these guidelines put into action to improve transgender access to basic services throughout the City. "The transgender community is excited to continue working closely with New York City agencies such as the Department of Homeless Services to use the guidance provided by the Commission this week to improve policies city-wide and help transgender people access the basic goods and services that every New Yorker is entitled to," said Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and a member of the working group.
"These guidelines are a powerful new tool for advocates working to end discrimination against transgender people," said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. "While much education and advocacy work remains to be done, the guidelines add tremendous depth to the Human Rights Law."
"The clarity that these guidelines give this important law will be felt throughout New York State and the country, articulating an understanding of what equality looks like for the transgender community," said Moohhawk River Stone, co-chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, Inc. (NYAGRA).
Contact info for Working Group:
Moonhawk River Stone, M.S.
Co-chair, New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, Inc.
(518) 393-7577; HawkRStone@aol.com
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
322 8th Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 337-8550 x 3, 2
Available December 22-January 1 at (415) 621-2960
Carrie Davis, MSW
Coordinator, Center CARE Group Services
Coordinator, Gender Identity Project (GIP)
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street, New York City 10011
T: (212) 620-7310
F: (212) 924-2657
Michael D. Silverman
Executive Director & General Counsel
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.
40 East Ninth Street
New York, New York 10003-6422
New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO)
New York Chapter
212-869-8926, ext. 5 (work)
Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
90 William Street, Suite 1201
New York, NY 10038
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA)
24 W. 25th St., 9th floor
New York, NY 10010
(212) 675-3288, ext. 338
(718) 424-4003 (h)