Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the spire of One World Trade Center and the Kosciuszko Bridge will be lit in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The structures will be illuminated in the colors of the transgender flag tonight in memory of transgender individuals who tragically lost their lives to hate-based violence and to celebrate the leadership of transgender communities. This event, started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, memorializes those who have been murdered due to transphobia, and has grown into an International event observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.
“With the lighting of these iconic New York landmarks, we remember those in the transgender community whose lives were senselessly cut short to hate and bigotry, and honor the leadership and resiliency of those who continue to fight for equality to this day,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has always been a leader in protecting the rights of LGBTQ people, and while many strides have been made, we know our work is not done. As Washington continues to sow hate and intolerance, we stand with the transgender community and pledge to continue to fight for a safe and equal state for all.”
An epidemic of violence against transgender people is still gripping this country, especially those in communities of color and others that are multiply marginalized. In the U.S., transgender women of color’s average life expectancy is just 35 years, less than half of the overall national average. Despite this unacceptable number, transgender women of color continue to fight for their communities’ ability to not just survive, but to thrive.
Throughout Governor Cuomo’s administration, New York has led the nation in supporting and advancing the rights of the LGBTQ community. In 2015, Governor Cuomo implemented regulations affirming that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, prohibiting all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others from discriminating against transgender persons. The Governor, in recognition of the legacies of two transgender women of color, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, along with marriage equality activist Edie Windsor, implemented an inaugural NYS LGBTQ Fellowship to support efforts to ensure a diverse, welcoming state government for trans, gender nonconforming and all LGBTQ people. Governor Cuomo said, “With these actions, we are helping to ensure that diversity is embraced and promoted across the state, and that New York will continue to serve as a beacon for all.”
Last year, the Governor established a Hate Crimes Task Force and a hotline for individuals to report bias or hate crimes, and implemented new regulations to ensure fertility treatment for all women—regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. This year, in partnership with the NYS Education Department, the Governor has worked to protect transgender students through the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) with new regulations protecting gender expression and gender identity.
Also, in anticipation of the federal government’s rollback of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the Governor directed state agencies to issue regulations prohibiting health care providers and insurers from discriminating against transgender patients and signed an Executive Order to further protect New Yorkers’ civil rights by banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination.
These are just some of the measures New York is committed to as a state that recognizes the basic humanity of all people, and to serve as a beacon for the rest of the country. The State’s role, working in partnership with the transgender community, is to lift up the voices of transgender communities and to shift the epidemic of violence that claims the lives of too many members. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will continue to fight for the safety of transgender individuals so that all New Yorkers can live freely as their whole selves.