Newly installed New York State comptroller Alan Hevesi on Monday expanded an executive order banning sexual orientation-based harassment of employees in his office to include transgendered and gender-variant individuals. "I want to send a message to our staff and to all New Yorkers that I will not tolerate discrimination or harassment," Hevesi said in a statement announcing the policy.
"Some legal decisions have determined that existing protections against discrimination based on sex also protect transgendered people," the New York City Democrat said. "However, I believe that it is important to state clearly in our policy that 'sex' includes gender identity or expression." The state comptroller's office employs about 2,100 people. A spokesman for Hevesi said officials had no idea how many of the employees might be transgendered.
In December, Gov. George Pataki signed legislation outlawing sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public services. While approval of the landmark legislation drew praise for the Republican governor and the state legislature from gay rights groups, transgender activists complained that they should have been specifically offered similar protection. An amendment to add protections for transgendered people to the legislation was defeated.