Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced that he would take executive action extending non-discrimination protections to transgender New Yorkers.

Cuomo, a Democrat, announced his decision at a dinner held by Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate.

According to The New York Times, the governor will direct the State Division of Human Rights to issue regulations clarifying that a 1945 law which prohibits discrimination based on sex extends to transgender people.

“Transgender individual deserve the same civil rights that protect them from discrimination,” Cuomo said. “In 2015, it is clear that the fair legal interpretation and definition of a person's sex includes gender identity and gender expression.”

LGBT rights activists praised the move.

“This critically important step by Governor Cuomo is not only consistent with case law, but is the moral choice to protect thousands of transgender New Yorkers and visitors,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “We congratulate the Governor on his leadership and vision on LGBT equality which has and will continue to inspire the nation.”

“As we've painfully witnessed again and again this year, transgender people face epidemic rates of violence, harassment, and discrimination in this country,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “Explicit protections based on gender identity and expression, like those New York is adopting and which 19 other states have in place, are a critical part of creating a society where all people can survive and thrive.”

Legislation to address such issues – the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act, or GENDA – has repeatedly stalled in the New York Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

HRC said that the move makes New York the 20th state to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination.