New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation repealing the state’s so-called “Walking While Trans” ban which has been used since 1976 to harass and discriminate against transgender women.
From the governor’s office: “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.2253/A.654) repealing portions of a law – known as the ‘Walking While Trans’ ban – that led to arbitrary and discriminatory policing of transgender women. The law, originally passed in 1976 with the intent to prohibit loitering for the purpose of prostitution, has been used with an extremely broad definition of loitering that led to the arrest of law-abiding transgender and cisgender women of color. Many local district attorneys have voluntarily stopped enforcing the law, recognizing its discriminatory impact.”
Said Cuomo: “COVID exposed low tide in America and the ‘walking while trans’ policy is one example of the ugly undercurrents of injustices that transgender New Yorkers – especially those of color – face simply for walking down the street. For too long trans people have been unfairly targeted and disproportionately policed for innocent, lawful conduct based solely on their appearance. Repealing the archaic ‘walking while trans’ ban is a critical step toward reforming our policing system and reducing the harassment and criminalization transgender people face simply for being themselves. New York has always led the nation on LGBTQ rights, and we will continue that fight until we achieve true equality for all.”
Added Senator Brad Hoylman: “New York today corrects an injustice in our penal code that has permitted law enforcement to arrest transgender women—namely those of color, along with immigrants and LGBTQ youth—simply for walking down the street and the clothes they wear. This outdated, discriminatory statute has led to hundreds of unnecessary arrests of transgender women of color and a broader culture of fear and intimidation for transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers. Thanks to the hard work and determination of the LGBTQ community—in particular, transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers who bravely shared their stories—New York has repealed this statute once and for all. I’m deeply grateful to LGBTQ+ advocates, including TS Candii, Bianey Garcia, Kiara St. James, Norma Ureiro and many others, four their passionate advocacy. And I’m grateful for the efforts of Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who was instrumental in ensuring passage of this legislation in her chamber. We are able to pass this bill today because of the historic leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and it’s being enshrined into law today because of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s continued commitment to LGBTQ equality in New York.”