By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced the first statewide regulation that bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people.
The new regulation protects all transgender people under the state’s Human Rights Law in areas including employment, housing, and business. Many LGBT groups in Central New York are ecstatic about the news but say it wasn’t easy to reach this point.
Kim Dill, Executive Director of Sage (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) Upstate, has been pushing for this day since 2003.
“It’s something that a lot of us have been working on for a very long time,” Dill said. “Up until this regulation came into effect, transgender people could be fired from their jobs and denied housing.”
The organization, targeting seven counties across Central New York, has offered transgender people support and a place to turn for help, Dill said. Over the years, she has helped transgender people cope with difficulties shopping in stores, buying houses, and getting jobs. However, there was limited recourse the organization could offer prior to the regulation, Dill said. It’s been a long journey, she added.
“There have been some real consequences for transgender people,” Dill said. “It’s a really serious issue.”
Mallory Livingston, co-founder of the support group the Transgender Alliance of Central New York, has also been working with Sage Upstate to help transgender people gain equality. Livingston said this new regulation is merely just the start.
“This doesn’t mean discrimination’s not going to happen,” Livingston said. “But at least we agree now that it’s wrong.”
Livingston doesn’t see the new order as radical change, but instead as a small step on a long road. The next goal is to get the State Senate on board, she said. The Senate has yet to pass the GENDA bill, which would outlaw discrimination in New York based on gender identity or expression, according to the State Senate website.
“Regulations like this represent the minimum morality of the community,” Livingston said. “It says ‘this is what’s right and this is what’s wrong.’”
She hopes the community learns from the new regulation to get the ball rolling for legislation in the future.