BY Christopher Mangum
December 16 2009 10:35 AM ET
N.Y. governor David Paterson signed an executive order Wednesday that
broadens nondiscrimination protections for transgender state employees.
Paterson, who signed the order at New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, said the protections are important tools to attract and retain good employees, the Associated Press reported.
While the executive order only covers state employees, more comprehensive legislation to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression throughout the state has also been proposed in New York. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act passed the state assembly in April but awaits action in the state senate.
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 12 states and Washington, D.C., have laws to ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity. New York joins eight other states — Delaware, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan — with executive orders to protect transgender public employees.
The order comes at a point when the nation faces high unemployment rates; New York's is currently at 8.7%. Among transgender people in the state, however, the rate of unemployment is at least 14%, according to an NGLTF survey. Another 19% of transgender New Yorkers responding to the survey said they earn less than $10,000 annually.