A Historic Day: Equality for Trans New Yorkers, Protections for Youth

Gabriel Blau of Equality New York reacts to the passage of GENDA, flanked by Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, and Senator Liz Krueger

In a day of historic progress for New York, both houses of the state Legislature passed civil rights protections for trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers and banned anti-gay, anti-trans “conversion” therapy. Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign both bills into law in coming days.

GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, was 16 years in the making and had been passed by the New York Assembly 11 times. With the change in majority after November’s election, the Senate today joined in approving the bill.

PFLAG NYC salutes and thanks Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, lead sponsor of the legislation in the Assembly, and Sen. Brad Hoylman, sponsor in the Senate. They were joined over years by others, including Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell, former Sen. Tom Duane, and many more, in pushing to make protections for the trans community a reality in New York state.

Sen. Hoylman also led the way to ban so-called conversion therapy, saying, “To the LGBTQ youth across the state of New York: we hear you, we see you, and we have your back.”

PFLAG NYC members visited Albany in May 2018 to lobby for GENDA and the conversion-therapy ban. Here, Executive Director Drew Tagliabue, Program Coordinator Kalima McKenzie-Simms, Board Chair Judy Sennesh, and PFLAG NYC parents Robert Johnson and RoseAnn Hermann, and others visit Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell.

Our biggest thanks go out to the hundreds of PFLAG NYC families who have raised their voices, shared their stories, and demanded equality for every single one of their loved ones. Many of you have journeyed to Albany more than once to speak out at the state capital. Today, we have been heard.

Judy Sennesh, board chair of PFLAG NYC, released the following statement to the media:

Today is a landmark day for transgender and gender non-confirming citizens of the State of New York. PFLAG NYC families and allies are immensely grateful for the many years of hard work and persistence of GENDA’s sponsors and all legislators who’ve supported this incredibly important bill from the beginning. My son and the children of so many families I’ve come to know over the years are now protected by law in our state, and can live, work, and learn with the civil rights and dignity they deserve. We are all delighted and relieved and want everyone to remember that without a ‘redesigned’ State Senate this couldn’t have happened. Every vote counts!”