NEW YORK – Governor Cuomo today repealed Penal Law §240.37 (“Loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution”), also known as the Walking While Trans Ban, which will also seal prior convictions and violations under this statute.
Over the past four decades, this particular penal law has enabled law enforcement to target Black and Brown transgender women, non-binary people, immigrants, and low-income communities for innocuous behavior like waiting for a friend or waving down a taxi. Violations and convictions under this statute create barriers to accessing employment, housing, and adjusting immigration status.
In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:
"Today, Albany lawmakers and Governor Cuomo recognized the human rights imperative to repeal the Walking While Trans ban and seal prior convictions, removing one of the most nefarious stop-and-frisk laws for women of color from the penal code for good.
For decades, law enforcement has used this constitutionally dubious statute to target Black and Brown transgender women and non-binary people for merely having the audacity to exist in public spaces. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers have been irreparably harmed by false arrests, profiling and abuse that undermine their access to housing, education, and employment. The ways women of color present themselves should never be policed, criminalized, or result in an arrest or criminal record.
We thank the Governor for supporting Black and Brown transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers over the past year by calling for this discriminatory statute to be wiped from New York’s penal code. We celebrate this end to decades of dehumanization alongside our transgender and gender nonconforming advocate partners, and will continue to fight for the dignity of women of color statewide.”