On December 21, 2016 New York City updated its 2002 Human Rights Law to include protections for transgender citizens from discrimination. The law now prohibits unlawful discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment on the basis of gender. The law states, “Gender is defined as one’s “actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.”
Gender discrimination under the NYCHRL includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status.
The definition of gender also encompasses discrimination against someone for being intersex. Gender discrimination is prohibited in employment, housing, public accommodations, discriminatory harassment and bias-based profiling by police.
Under the law gender-based discrimination is prohibited in the following areas:
Employment: It is unlawful to refuse to hire, promote, or fire an individual because of a person’s actual or perceived gender, including actual or perceived status as a transgender person. It is also unlawful to set different terms and conditions of employment because of an employee’s gender.
Public Accommodations: It is now unlawful to deny any person full and equal enjoyment of a public accommodation because of gender. This include’s those who identify as transgender.
Housing: It is now unlawful to refuse to sell, rent, or lease housing to someone because of their actual or perceived gender, including actual or perceived status as a transgender person.
There is intense over exaggeration in the media when it comes to a provision regarding the proper use of pronouns. Many outlets opposed to gender equality have gone on record stating one would be fined $250,000 for failure to use someone’s preferred pronoun. The misconception is that this fine would be levied even if someone made a mistake. The actual law states the fine is applicable for anyone who intentionally uses the wrong pronouns in an attempt to discriminate. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses. This also includes refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title because they do not conform to gender stereotypes.
On the subject of transgender bathroom use, refusing to allow individuals to utilize single-sex facilities and programs consistent with their gender is now against the law.
It is now a requirement for any employer that provides health insurance to their workers to cover transgender related care, including gender reassignment surgery. The law also includes provisions against harassment, gender stereotyping, gender based dress codes and retaliation.
This is a bold statement by the City of New York as it grants legal rights for transgender citizens. The State of New York is quickly becoming the leader in valuing their diversity and standing up for human rights for all of its citizens. It is a big victory for transgender New Yorkers.