New York’s seminal report on equity

MILLERTON — In August 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul took a significant step in promoting the rights of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB) individuals in New York by signing legislation that directed the New York State Department of Labor, in collaboration with the New York State Division on Human Rights, to conduct a comprehensive study on the employment experiences of these communities.

The groundbreaking report, released Jan. 5, is the first of its kind. In her introduction to this pivotal document, Hochul emphasized New York’s deep-rooted commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, recalling the state’s historical significance as the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement with the Stonewall Riots of 1969. She acknowledged the persistent hurdles that TGNCNB individuals face in securing fundamental services such as housing, healthcare and employment, underscoring the importance of this report in addressing these ongoing challenges.

Kiara St. James, a community organizer and public speaker, is the founder and executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, a trans-led, grassroots nonprofit organization. In a letter that accompanies Hochul’s, she writes: “I have always known that until data was collected on the TGNCNB community we would not be able to effectively advocate for resources such as affirming healthcare, housing, and employment opportunities. Collecting data leads to identifying the needs and priorities of marginalized communities.

“This is why I advocated for this report, and I am so appreciative of Governor Kathy Hochul for understanding how vital this data is to build a more inclusive space for TGNCNB New Yorkers.”

Key findings of the report point to the pervasive employment discrimination against TGNCNB individuals throughout the state, the still greater disparities faced by TGNCNB people of color and the lack of cultural competency regarding gender identity and expression across New York.

The report also noted the fear for safety in the workplace among TGNCNB individuals and the trend of these individuals seeking self-employment due to discrimination and other employment barriers. It also highlights the differences in experiences between TGNCNB individuals in urban centers and rural areas.

The report features quotes from individuals questioned for the collected data. Said one individual who self-identified as a trans male from the Hudson Valley: “I have been outed and was let go from my job. When I tried to find new employment, the previous employer lied about why I was let go and made it extremely difficult to find another job. I have had to tolerate queer-phobic work environments and hostile comments from bosses and employees.”

To address these issues, the report recommends several policy changes, including advocating for uniform data collection on gender identity by federal agencies, providing specialized workforce development programs for TGNCNB communities, mandating cultural competency and GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act) training across the state, reducing barriers to obtaining affirming legal identification, and establishing best practices for employers.

The report aims to provide insights into the work lives of TGNCNB New Yorkers and identify ways to overcome barriers they face. In a time when anti-trans sentiment and laws are on the rise nationwide, New York state remains dedicated to advancing equality and inclusivity for TGNCNB individuals in the workforce, setting an example for the rest of the country.

Find the report at nysdolreports.com/gwg/2023-tgncnb/

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