NY Governor Expected to Extend Transgender Protections

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday December 15, 2009

In the wake of the recent defeat of marriage equality in the New York State Senate, Gov. David Paterson is scheduled to make an announcement about transgendered New Yorkers that is widely anticipated to be an announcement of statewide trans protections.

A release from Michael Silverman, the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense Education Fund, invites the reader to attend an event at Greenwich Village's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in honor of Paterson's "Special Policy Announcement" on Dec. 16. "We've got a special treat for all of our friends in the New York City area," the release reads. "And we're pretty sure that the rest of you will like it, too."

Though the release would only tease about the announcement Paterson is set to make, saying, "The Governor's office has asked us not to reveal what he will announce," Silverman promised that, "you'll definitely want to be there to hear it for yourself on Wednesday morning.

"It's important that we have a strong turnout to thank the Governor for his tireless efforts on behalf of the entire LGBT community in New York State," the release continued. "I'm incredibly excited about what the Governor is doing and I know that you will be, too."

Transgendered New Yorkers have been pushing for inclusion in the state's hate crimes law following the shooting death of Lateisha Green, a transwoman killed last year. This past summer, Dwight DeLee was convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime--but not because of Green's status s a transgender person. Rather, the hate crime provision came into effect when the prosecution made a convincing argument that the shooting was motivated by anti-gay sentiment, an Oct. 12 New York Times story said.

But the expected policy statement is not so far-reaching in scope. Rather, a Dec. 15 New York Times story said, Paterson will announce an expansion of anti-discrimination protections for transgendered state employees.

Trans equality activists viewed the anticipated executive order as a matter of catching up rather than one of breaking new ground. "It has been a long road, and I think New York is behind," Lambda Legal trans attorney Dru Levasseur told the Times. "So this will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness."

The article noted that thirteen states around the country, as well as over 100 cities--including a number of New York municipalities--already offer anti-discrimination protections based on gender identity or gender expression.

The article noted that it lies outside the scope of Gov. Paterson's power to extend anti-discrimination protections to private employers via executive order. Moreover, the new policy will only protect trans employees who work for the executive arm of the New York state government.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.