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Transgender New York Employees Get Workplace Rights

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By Kamika Dunlap on December 29, 2009 5:50 AM

Transgender state workers will now get equal workplace rights.

Transgender New York employees will be protected from discrimination in the workplace under New York law.

It is the first step toward including gender identity and expression protections in state law.

The New York Times reports that Gov. David Paterson plans to extend antidiscrimination protections through an executive order he will sign this week.

This comes on the heels of New York lawmakers rejecting a bill that would have made their state the sixth to allow gay marriage, and a similar decision by Maine voters last month.

Gov. Patterson's orders however will not have the sweep of a statute enacted by the State Legislature and will apply only to state agencies.

New York State has about 300,000 residents who identify as transgender, according to one survey conducted by the State Department of Health.

Currently about 12 states and the District of Columbia have broad laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender expression or identity.

Minneapolis became the first city to have such a law in 1975. The jurisdictions are gradually being increased throughout the country.

About 98 cities and counties reportedly prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment ordinances that govern public and private employers in those jurisdictions.

These laws protect not only people who have had gender reassignment surgery or who live as a member of the opposite sex, but also men who are discriminated against for appearing overly feminine or women for appearing overly masculine.

At the federal level, the Obama administration has drafted a policy explicitly warning federal supervisors about discrimination against transgender employees.

The provisions are designed to help give transgender workers avenues within the federal government to protest a job action as discriminatory. 

According to a new survey of 6,450 transgender people conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 97 percent reported mistreatment at work.

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