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NYC Human Rights Commission Bans Workplaces From Misgendering, Deadnaming Transgender People

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The New York City Commission on Human Rights has stated that based on existing discrimination laws, employers can be heavily fined if they call transgender employees by the wrong name, gender, or pronoun. Employers face a fine starting anywhere from $125,000 to $250,000 depending on the nature of the contact—if it was willful or malicious, for example.

This clarification (more of a guidance, really) represents a major shift in understanding on behalf of policymakers in New York City. Many states are still struggling to catch up to hitting this standard. New York has had the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (or GENDA) kicking around its legal system for years now, and this statement by the Commission could be softening the space up for a possible passage of this act. Most recently, it was passed over in August during the New York Senate’s last session.

In the absence of GENDA, the Commission likely saw a need to protect trans individuals from unfair discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, hence the guidance. The guidance mentions three specific protections for trans people: employment, housing, and public accommodations. That last one extends to bathroom usage—that’s right, it’s finally unlawful to bar a trans person from using a single-sex restroom that is in line with their preferred gender identity.

The guidance is also interesting in that it calls specifically calls out misgendering and deadnaming (the act of using a trans person’s old name). It reads:

Gender-based harassment can include unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; however, the harassment does not have to be sexual in nature.  For example, refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.  Comments, unwanted touching, gestures, jokes, or pictures that target an individual based on gender constitute gender-based harassment.

Under this guidance, if an employer, landlord, or provider of services consistently harasses you using an incorrect gender pronoun or your deadname, they could be fined by the state. The full statement is worth reading, especially if you live in New York City. This is a pretty nice step forward in terms of enacting protections for transgender people in the state and nationwide.

(image via Flickr/Brian Turner)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.

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