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transgender rights victory in New York City

transgender rights victory in New York City

In a small but significant victory for transgender rights, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City that allows people to use MTA public restrooms in accordance with their gender expression.

The agreement arose from a complaint filed by the TLDEF and the New York City Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Helena Stone, 70, a transgender woman who had been arrested and continually harassed by MTA police officers due to her gender identity.

Stone had been assigned to repair pay telephones at Grand Central station in 2005 by her employer, Verizon. MTA police arrested her three times--twice in 2005, in September and December, and once more in January of this year--when surveillance footage showed her entering the women's restroom.

MTA quickly dropped all criminal charges after a TLDEF-organized protest rally, but no steps were taken to ensure there would be no further harassment of Stone or any other transgender person. TLDEF then requested an injunction to bar MTA from continuing to violate Stone's rights as outlined in the New York City Human Rights Law, which forbids discrimination against transgender people.

As part of the final settlement, MTA agreed to allow people to choose the restroom most consistent with their gender expression, implement gender sensitivity and training programs for MTA employees, and pay $2,000 in damages to Stone.

"I only wanted to go to work and live my life as who I am," said Stone in response to her legal victory. (The Advocate)

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