NYC's new anti-discrimination laws champion trans rights

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On Monday, the New York City Commission on Human Rights offered details on the type of protections offered to the city's trans community, and examples of what, explicitly, counts as discrimination.

Under the new rules, employers, home renters and sellers and others could be fined up to $250,000 for "failing to use an individual’s preferred name or pronoun," "refusing to allow individuals to utilize single-sex facilities and programs consistent with their gender," "imposing different uniforms or grooming standards based on sex or gender," and more. The commission lays out what it might look like when people violate the rules:

Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses… Calling a woman “Mr.” because her appearance is aligned with traditional gender-based stereotypes of masculinity… prohibit[ing] a transgender woman from using the women’s bathroom… enforcing a policy in which men may not wear jewelry or make-up at work.


Plus, the commission specifies that trans individuals should not have to prove, with legal documents or anything else, their gender identification.

The guidelines expand on the city's Transgender Rights Bill, which was passed in 2002 as a way to ensure that trans men and women were protected under the gender discrimination clause of the New York City Human Rights Law.

In a statement, group commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis said the "guidance makes it abundantly clear what the city considers to be discrimination." Malalis was appointed leader of the human rights commission last year, when she promised to make the commission more effective. The New York Times wrote back in March that when Malalis took over, "the commission received 4,975 inquiries from the public in 2014, but formally opened only 633 cases, city statistics show. Of the cases resolved that year, only 10 percent were found to have probable cause to move forward."

LGBTQ rights groups are pleased with the new rules. Michael Silverman, who heads the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said the new guidelines mean "New York City vaults to the front of the line” when it comes to trans rights. The Advocate described the guidelines as "go[ing] far beyond existing federal ones," and pointed out that "guidelines also go beyond current case law on the issue of dress codes."


It's a start.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.

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