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New year, new rights: Transgender people now have more protections in New York state

Written by
Jillian Anthony

It's 2016, and humanity is making progress! New York state's Division of Human Rights has changed its regulations to protect residents against harassment and discrimination based on their gender identity. That means transgender people will now enjoy more basic human rights.

DNAinfo reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo worked to amend the list of protected categories under the state's Human Rights Law, which also prohibits discrimination and harassment based on age, race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, military status or disability. The law defines a transgender person as someone who "has a gender identity different from the sex assigned to that individual at birth." The regulations were last changed in 2003 to add protections for sexual orientation and military status. 

This new addition basically means is if you're facing harassment or discrimination from a boss or landlord because you are transgender, or if it happens in a public service area like a hotel, doctor's office or park, you now have the right to take legal recourse and file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights.

This seems like an issue that should have been taken care of long ago (the sexual orientation protections added in 2003 seemed very sluggish, too), especially in New York. After all, trans characters have been important in the theater world for decades, and the city even has a popular transgender modeling agency. And, of course, transgender people are human beings that deserve to feel as safe and respected as everyone else. But no matter how overdue, it's great to see these laws go into action.

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