For the last three years, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has passed in the New York Assembly just to die in the Senate. Lots of blogs, LGBT organizations, and web users helped pressure NY Senators to pass marriage equality. Where were those people when our trans-siblings needed help getting GENDA passed?
First, let’s let Monica Roberts from TransGriot explain what GENDA is exactly:
If passed [GENDA] would amend the state non-discrimination laws to add gender identity and expression to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination in employment, education, public accommodations, housing and credit. It would also add gender identity and expression to the state hate crimes law.
Sadly, J. Rudy Flesher at The New Civil Rights Movement said the New York Transgender Rights Organization (NYTRO) counted 32 Senators who pledged to pass GENDA, but the bill never made it out of Senate committee.
Before the end of the legislative session Roberts quipped:
“Once again the ‘all marriage all the time’ GL movement has the noise machine cranked up for same sex marriage passage, but not a amplified peep out of the noise machine for GENDA, which will benefit far more people than the ability for a few to get married.
As I’ve said repeatedly, it does you no good to be able to marry someone if you can’t hold a job to pay for the wedding ring, the wedding and the wedding reception and the haters can keep you from renting the reception hall.”
But once the legislative session ended, Roberts came back and said, “The bottom line is that we trans people also have the ultimate responsibility of looking out for our damned selves just like the New York GL peeps did on the same sex marriage bill and pass the civil rights laws we need.”
She then asked these questions of the trans-community:
Where were the local leaders, orgs such as NYTRO, NYAGRA, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and others that advocate for trans rights and transpeople?
Why didn’t you New York based trans advocates ask your trans family in other states for help in getting the word out that GENDA was percolating through the NY legislature?
Does that mean that the trans-community has reason to resent the GL community for lack of action? Well, naturally it depends on who you ask. Kyril at DailyKos.com actually sees some benefit in marriage equality for trans-people:
And for LGB trans people, [recognition of LGB marriages is] important. For a long time, we weren’t even allowed to transition unless we could pretend to be straight. We weren’t taken seriously. People, including the medical establishment, believed that “real” men were attracted to women and “real” women were attracted to men. Homosexuality was seen as abnormal or dysfunctional long after it was delisted from the DSM. And medical professionals were loath to let people transition into what they saw as a dysfunctional, incomplete, gender-inappropriate lifestyle.
The availability of transition for LGB trans people has grown with the social normalization of homosexuality. And in New York today, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals are legally fully “normal.” Our relationships are valued just like everyone else’s. And that means the world to me – not just as a gay man, but as a trans man.
Never the less Kyril also adds, “please push your congresspeople to support GENDA next session. And everyone call your federal congresspeople about ENDA. Non-discrimination is the next big piece of the equality puzzle.”
Hear, hear. Queerty will do its part to help make that happen.