New York Governor David Paterson signed
an executive order Wednesday protecting transgender state employees
from workplace discrimination.
Flanked by gay rights activists,
Paterson signed the order at a press event at the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village.
“For generations, New York has been a
national leader on civil rights, yet the State has lagged far behind
in securing basic civil rights for transgender New Yorkers,”
Paterson said. “I am proud to sign this important measure to not
only bring workforce protection to the transgender community under
the law, but to bring greater equality and civil rights to the State
of New York.”
“From now on, transgender New Yorkers
will be protected from discrimination because of who they are,” he
Gay activists have lobbied for a
similar statewide measure in the New York Legislature. Lawmakers in
the Assembly have twice approved the Gender Expression
Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a bill that would protect transgender
persons in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations,
education and credit, but the Senate has so far refused to hear the
“This executive order sends a strong
message that it is simply not acceptable to discriminate against
someone because they fail to live up to another person's expectations
on whether they act masculine or feminine enough,” Alan Van
Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's
largest gay rights advocate, said in a statement.
“Hiring and promoting decisions
should be made based upon qualifications and performance and not on
anything else. New York now begins to catch up to where many other
states have been for quite a while,” he added.
But the order falls short of what many
other states have approved. It does not apply to employees working
in the public sector or include housing and public accommodation
provisions like many states have enacted. Paterson, however, cannot
implement those changes without approval from the Legislature.