NYC Mayor Takes Action to Strengthen Protections for Transgender New YorkersBy Adam Polaski • March 10, 2016 • 1:12 pm
This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a policy affirming that transgender individuals are able to use the restroom and facilities that align with the gender they live every day. The decision strengthens existing non-discrimination protections in New York, which have protected people from discrimination in public accommodations (as well as employment and housing) based on gender identity since 2002.
The protections extended by Mayor de Blasio provide important clarification of existing laws so that it’s crystal clear that in New York, people use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity – it’s that simple. The decision, which affirms the reality that transgender women are women and transgender men are men, will certainly be helpful in ensuring that transgender individuals are not harassed because of who they are.
In making his announcement, Mayor de Blasio said:
“I think New York City has an obligation to lead. I think we have an obligation show that everyone should be embraced and everyone should be accepted. Change comes from the grassroots. Change comes from the ground, and if people who believe in human rights don’t stand up for them, it lets those negative voices dominate.”
New York City has long been a leader in pushing fairness and equality forward for LGBT residents and visitors. In 1986 the City began extending non-discrimination protections to residents based on sexual orientation – and in 2002 it became one of the first few dozen cities in the nation to extend these same protections based on gender identity.
In New York State, transgender people are covered by non-discrimination laws under a 2015 executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The executive order, while a clear step forward, is not a replacement for the statutory protections required to ensure full, permanent protections for transgender people.
This week’s movement from Mayor de Blasio is a step toward strengthening the protections that have already existed, modeling for the rest of the country the work required to ensure that no one is discriminated against because of who they are.