New York City’s human rights commission has announced the nation’s toughest laws on transgender discrimination.
A 2002 law already banned discrimination based on gender identity and expression in housing, employment and public spaces, but never said what constituted prejudice.
The new guidelines released on Monday (21 December) give explicit examples of violations, including:
- Intentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman ‘him’ or ‘Mr’ when she has made it clear that she prefers female pronouns and a female title.
- Refusing to allow individuals to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender identity. For example, barring a transgender woman from a women’s restroom out of concern that she will make others uncomfortable.
- Enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender. For example, enforcing a policy that requires men to wear ties or women to wear skirts.
- Failing to providing employee health benefits that cover gender-affirming care or failing to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals undergoing gender transition, including medical appointments and recovery, where such reasonable accommodations are provided to other employees.
Those who break the New York City Human Rights Law could face civil penalties of up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.
New York City now goes further in protecting the rights of transgender people than other large cities with gender identity protections, such as Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
‘New York has always been a diverse and welcoming city and our laws are designed to protect every New Yorker, regardless of their gender identity,’ said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
‘Today’s new guidelines strengthen those laws by ensuring that every transgender and gender non-conforming person in New York receives the dignity and respect they deserve.’
There are an estimated 25,250 transgender and gender non-conforming people living in New York City.
According to a recent survey, 75% of transgender New Yorkers reported harassment and mistreatment in the workplace, 20% were refused a home, 17% were refused medical care, and a staggering 53% were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.