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Letter: Extend Protections to All New Yorkers (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

To the Editor:

The state Assembly took an important stand for equality and justice last week by overwhelmingly passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which will extend basic civil rights protections to transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers. No statewide law explicitly prohibits discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people, who often face harassment and mistreatment in their daily lives. People who are fired from jobs, denied housing and services and mistreated because of their appearance or gender identity have no clear legal protection.

GENDA will fix this by adding gender identity and gender expression to the categories included in New York’s anti-discrimination laws.

Sixteen states have passed laws protecting the civil rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people. It’s time New York joined them. All New Yorkers deserve the same protections. Rochester led the way in the passage of marriage fairness in 2011 with the support of vital Senate allies like state Sen. James Alesi. As a friend to LGBT New Yorkers, Alesi should work with his Senate colleagues and Gov. Cuomo to enact this long-overdue civil rights legislation.

Kaelyn Rich, Director of Genesee Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union

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