Transgender New Yorkers Now Protected from Discrimination

Jan 22, 2016

  Transgender Central New Yorkers now have the legal backing to file any complaints of discrimination or harassment.  New regulations took effect this week under the state’s human rights law.  The regulations prohibit discrimination against anyone because of their gender identification or how they present their gender.  That could now be considered discrimination on the basis of sex or disability.  Director of the Syracuse/Onondaga County Human Rights Commission Barrie Gewanter says this change is critical.

"Prior to these regulations being established, transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers could not go to the division of human rights and be assured that their cases would be considered as falling under the prohibitions against discrimination in New York State human rights law."

Governor Cuomo became the first executive in the nation to issue such regulations back in October.  They protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination by employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors, and others.  Gewanter says it’s now the job of her commission to explain the regulations and options to someone who feels they’ve been victimized.

Barrie Gewanter, left, is congratulated by Onondaga County Legislator Linda Ervin on her new post as Executive Director of the Syracuse/Onondaga County Human Rights Commission. County Commissioner of Adult and Long Term Services Lisa Alford looks on.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"We'll be able to provide them information about an additional path of redress that they may not have had before in an effective way. So this is an additional tool, an additional piece of information that we can provide to the public."

  Gewanter says they’re also ready to assist employers and businesses who may have questions about the new regulations…and she expects they might get some inquiries.  She says the discrimination that occurs because of stereotypes and intolerance about gender can have a devastating impact. 

 "Leading to people being homeless, being unemployed, being under-employed, not receiving medical care, not receiving emergency care.  So this path of redress is very, very important."

The Syracuse/Onondaga County Human Rights Commission phone number is 435-3565.