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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


City of Buffalo Extends Protection against Discrimination in Employment and Housing to Transgendered Persons

On Tuesday September 17, 2002 Buffalo NY, known as the 'City of Good Neighbors,' proved its heart. In a near unanimous vote, the Common Council of the City of Buffalo extended protection against discrimination in employment and housing to transgendered persons. Mayor Anthony Masiello has announced that he will sign the amendments into law.

The amendments adding protection for "gender identity and expression" were initiated and sponsored by Councilman Antoine Thompson, who said, "It's another step to break from Buffalo's past and encourage tolerance and diversity."

Earlier this year, Councilman Thompson gathered a group of community leaders to help draft amendments to Buffalo's anti-discrimination laws. Although "sexual orientation" was already included under existing laws, the Anti-Discrimination Advisory Group felt that the phrase "gender identity and expression" needed to be explicitly included as a protected class.

The amendments garnered widespread support, bridging across divisions of race and sexual orientation. Organizations supporting the amendments included: Men of Color Health Awareness Project (MOCHA), New York State Transgender Coalition, Stonewall Democrats, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

"In my outreach and education efforts throughout the Buffalo area, I often encounter transgender individuals who are in constant fear of losing their job, their apartment or being the victim of a hate crime," said Camille Hopkins, a City Hall employee and male to female transsexual. Hopkins testified before City Council that she had lost her apartment simply because her landlord did not like transgendered persons. "I just want to live an ordinary life," she finished, "without fear of reprisal from those who want me to disappear."

Speakers on behalf of the amendments included Carol Speser, founder of Western New York Stonewall Democrats, and Lana Bentovich, Executive Director, National Conference of Community and Justice. Ms Bentovich, who is also a. member of Buffalo's Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations stated, "If we are going to be the City of Good Neighbors that we have been described as for decades, this is one way of showing what we are."

"I am thrilled over the passage of this Gender Identity and Expression Amendment," exclaimed Buffalo resident Joy Schroeder in response to the successful ordinance vote. Schroeder, a male to female transsexual, added, "I believe this is a big first step towards bringing equality and protection from the injustices that we face every day of our lives."

Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a 501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.

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