Skip to main content

While the New York State Senate was approving same-sex marriage, the most recent version of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) was lying fallow.  Passed by the Assembly 78-53 for the fourth time (it was originally passed by the Assembly in 2007, then again in 2009, 2010, and this year), and having a reported 32 senators committed to voting for the bill, which would be enough for passage, it was never brought to the floor for debate or a vote.  And unlike marriage equality, there was no visible public campaign demanding a vote.

The majority leader, Long Island Republican Dean Skelos, controlled the agenda in the Senate, so GENDA was parked in the Rules Committee, which he controlled, where it sat until time ran out on 2011’s regular session.

Before we blame the Republican leadership, let's recognize that the Democratic Party controlled the Senate in 2009 and 2010 and there was still no movement on the bill.

 In the interests of some background, we note that the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) was passed in 2002 after a two-year effort to include gender identity and expression language came up empty.  A transgender inclusive amendment failed 19-41 largely along party lines.  SONDA passed 34-26 with 21 Democrats and 13 Republicans voting in favor of the bill.

So, while there is a revolution for gays and lesbians in New York that reverberates across America and around the world, trans people in New York State, outside of New York City, Suffolk County, Ithaca, and few upstate counties can still be fired because of their gender identity or expression, can still be arrested if accused of using an incorrect bathroom or locker room, can be still be thrown out of their homes if a landlord is offended by witnessing a sometimes slow process of gender transition, and can still be forced to be mis-gendered by doctors and hospitals.

For transgender and transsexual people in New York, the expanding freedoms afforded gays and lesbians still feel far away.

--Melissa Sklarz

A major problem is that since transfolk have protections in The City, legislators in Albany who do not represent the City are not interested in listening to activists from there.

Transpeople are left to wonder what the progressive and queer rights movements will move on to as their next item of focus.  What will now become more important than our rights?

We have repeatedly been told to elect more progressive state senators. We did that in 2006 and 2008, and yet we still failed. How many progressive senators are needed to pass trans rights in New York?


Although we are told that next year is "the year", it is not lost on us that next year is a presidential election year.

And so we plan and meet and ponder and wonder, and look to our friends and colleagues and the new kids. We hope for the best. Soon, we still say, our time will come.

--Melissa Sklarz

The time to start working on this is NOW.

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by TransAction.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site