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New York Department of Labor Finds Bias Against Trans/Nonbinary Employees

New York Governor Kathy Hochul authorized a Transgender Employment Study in August 2022. The “first of its kind” study looked into the workplace experiences of transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary New Yorkers. Its finding: Employment discrimination based on gender identity is pervasive throughout the state.

The New York State Department of Labor collected its data through meetings with LGBTQ+ advocates and community leaders, five focus groups, interviews, and over 350 online public comments from all over the state. The study reflects transgender, nonconforming, and nonbinary individuals have higher rates of unemployment, lower incomes with the same degrees, less educational attainment, and higher rates of justice involvement than cisgender workers. Respondents reported having a "genuine fear for safety" in the workplace. In addition, the report found a "lack of cultural competency statewide regarding gender identity and expression." Not surprisingly, experiences differed for members of the transgender/nonbinary community in New York City and other major metropolitan areas versus more rural areas.

The Governor's report made recommendations, including providing programming specifically for transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary individuals to address their challenges; mandating cultural competency and training across the state; advocating for uniform data collection on gender identity by federal agencies; exploring ways the state can reduce barriers to obtaining affirming legal identification; modeling best practices for employers; and addressing barriers to employment for justice-involved individuals. Advocates for this community hope the data will be a big step toward addressing the underlying bias issues. Hochul affirmed New York’s commitment to providing “greater respect, stronger protections, and better opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community.”