LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

December 3, 2019

LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

New York – Today, leading LGBTQ, women, and survivor advocacy organizations, including Girls for Gender Equity, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, New Hour for Women & Children Long Island, NYC Anti-Violence Project, Violence Intervention Program, Inc., Women’s Prison Association, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Hudson Valley,  released the following statement about the bail reform measures which will go into effect in January, 2020:

“We are survivors fighting for a better, safer and more just New York – and we know that this requires transforming our discriminatory pretrial system.

As advocates serving thousands of  survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence a year, including Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and gender non-binary New Yorkers, we fought for transformative bail reform in New York State, calling for the elimination of money bail and the implementation of a pretrial system that substantially limits pretrial incarceration and ensures due process and individualized justice. With support from the vast majority of residents across the state, bail reform legislation enacted last session and will go into effect on January 1st.

Rather than celebrate the work of New Yorkers to end the criminalization of poverty and protect the presumption of innocence, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) has tried to stymie the implementation of the new reforms by stoking fear about “public safety.”

However, as advocates and people who have been impacted by intimate partner violence, we know that Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ, and women survivors are often themselves criminalized and that pretrial incarceration can undermine the safety of survivors. Mandatory arrest laws and cursory primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to –  the person engaging in a pattern of abusive partner behavior. The Family Violence Program of the Urban Justice Center in New York City found that survivors of IPV had been arrested in 27% of cases received through their hotline in a two-year period. 85% of survivors arrested had a prior documented history of being subjected to domestic violence, and 85% were injured during the incident that led to their arrest.

As anti-violence organizations, we know that pretrial jailing can be deadly. According to the Bureau of Justice, 471 New Yorkers died in county jails between 2000 and 2014. The State Commission on Correction has found that “gross incompetence” cost the lives of people in jails from Nassau to Onondaga, including India Cummings in Erie County and Layleen Polanco in New York City.

Pretrial incarceration also harms children and families. The vast majority – 80% – of incarcerated and detained women are  mothers and primary caregivers. Even a few days of pretrial detention can result in the loss of employment and housing and the initiation of child neglect cases with devastating long-lasting impacts on the financial stability, health and well-being of families.

We are acutely aware that too often, survivors’ experiences are exploited when prosecutors work to pass laws to give themselves broad discretion and leverage in court in order to increase convictions. Every day, we hear from survivors that what they really need is economic stability, housing, health care, and trauma-informed services.

If District Attorneys are interested in supporting survivors, they need to listen to us and fight for emergency shelter and long-term housing, economic justice, and access to robust healthcare.

This is what survivors need. This is what New York State needs.”

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mlj0014st.pdf

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/05/13/mothers-day-2018/

A Special NCAVP Report on Anti-LGBTQ Violence During Pride

This year, Pride celebrations around the country marked June as the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and New York City hosted the international community for a World Pride celebration. While our communities experienced an increase in visibility, Pride season was also marked by repeated reports of violence in the LGBTQ community. 

Today, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is releasing a special report, Pride and Pain: A Snapshot of Anti-LGBTQ Hate and Violence During Pride Season 2019. This report outlines the incidents and trends of violence documented nationally in the two-month period from May 15 to July 15, 2019

Beverly Tillery, New York City Anti-Violence Project’s (AVP) Executive Director said:

“It’s important to remember that violence against the LGBTQ communities continues and in some cases is intensifying. For many of us Pride is a time for celebration, a time to honor our roots in the Stonewall Rebellion, and a reminder of the important legislative and cultural victories that are worth celebrating. This Pride season, we were reminded over and over again of the violence that plagues our community, particularly transgender members of the  community. This snapshot provides another window into the various forms of violence our community faces, and shows how the visibility of Pride season can sometimes lead to greater targeting and attacks.”

Report Summary: 

  • 14 homicides from May 15 – July 15, 2019 including 7 homicides of Black trans women. This was an average of nearly 2 (1.75) homicides each week and more than three times the hate violence homicides recorded between January 1 and May 14, 2019
  • 2 fatalities of trans women of color while in detention, Johana Medina and Layleen Polanco
  • 6 dating, hook-up, and intimate partner violence related incidents
  • 22 anti-LGBTQ protests at pride activities, drag queen story hours, and LGBTQ establishments

 

Ericka Dixon, NCAVP National Capacity Building Coordinator said: “While we recognize that there is no way to know and account for all LGBTQ people who have been targeted and harmed, we can raise and amplify the stories we do know. NCAVP tracks these incidents of violence nationally as a way to better understand how violence impacts LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. This informs our work in preventing and responding to incidents of violence against our community, and in educating LGBTQ people and our allies on ways to create systemic and social change.”

The full snapshot can be found here: avp.org For Media Inquiries contact Eliel Cruz at ecruz@avp.org

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Letter to New York City and State: #Justice4Layleen Demands

AVP Contact:
Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy
aray@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 18

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications
ecruz@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 26

Dear Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio,

We, the undersigned organizations have come together in response to the tragic death of Layleen Xtravanganza Cubilette-Polanco who died while being held on $500 bail in the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island on June 7, 2019; she is one of 10 Black transgender women to die from individually targeted or state-sanctioned violence so far this year. After the historic commitments made by New York State to end cash bail and New York City to close Rikers Island, her death is unconscionable. Layleen’s death is the result of delayed changes to the criminal legal system and the terrible convergence of city and state carceral policies that disregard the humanity of trans women of color and criminalize their survival.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is currently working closely with Polanco’s family and demand action from both the city and the state so that Polanco’s family can get answers about the circumstances of her death and seek justice, and to ensure that the conditions that led to her death are remedied. We ask you to take immediate steps to see that the following happen.

 

On the city level:

  • The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office must expedite the results of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s autopsy. They initially told Layleen’s family they must wait up to 12 weeks for answers about the cause of her death. This is unacceptable for any family.
  • New York City Council must pass Intro No. 1535-A and the Mayor must sign it into law immediately. This local law will establish a task force to review the Department of Correction’s (DOC) policies related to the treatment and housing of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary (TGNCNB), and intersex individuals in DOC custody.
  • New York City must commit to massive, citywide decarceration that significantly reduces the number of people in jail, divests from incarceration as a solution, and reinvests resources in the Black and Latinx communities most harmed by over-policing and incarceration.
  • In the wake of Polanco’s death, Rikers has reported that it has emptied the women’s solitary unit; it must remain empty until all the jail facilities on Rikers Island are closed. The DOC must stop isolating TGNCNB people in de facto “solitary confinement” while claiming it’s for their own safety. Solitary confinement isn’t just a designated space within a jail, it is the intentional isolation of a person away from general population.

 

On the state level:

  • New York State must pass HALT Solitary Confinement Act to end the torture of solitary confinement, including ceasing the operation of the restrictive housing units where Polanco was detained.
  • New York State’s newly passed bail reform legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2020 but District Attorneys and judges can and should stop setting bail immediately. Polanco would not have been held on bail in 2020, and she should not have been held on bail this year. The State must also go further. Although New York’s elected leaders committed to the complete end of money bail, the legislation passed in April did not eliminate money bail on all charges. New York State must commit to the next stage of bail reform to end money bail and protect pretrial liberty for all people, regardless of charge.
  • New York State must pass legislation that decriminalizes sex work, and must cease operating the court-mandated services of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, which pose as a compassionate alternative to incarceration but keep survivors of violence court-involved and vulnerable to re-criminalization. Polanco missed court dates as part of this alternative to incarceration and was detained as a result. The provision of services should not be mandated and must not lead to incarceration.

 

Finally, New York City and State must invest significant resources in the health and well-being of trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB)  Black, Latinx, and people of color. This requires a multi-pronged approach, including: funding health care programs and utilizing regulatory power to guarantee affirming care related both to medical transition and all care unrelated to transition; creation of housing that is safe and affordable for TGNCNB people; employment programs for TGNCNB people of all ages, and other economic justice programs.

Addressing the needs of Black, Latinx, and people of color TGNCNB communities is an ongoing conversation that has to center their voices. We hope that the Mayor’s Office and the Governor’s Office will schedule meetings with impacted communities in order to move forward on more inclusive policy and legislation

Signed,

The New York City Anti-Violence Project

GMHC

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Association of Legal Aid Attorneys LGBTQ Caucus

The Bronx Defenders

Queeramisu

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

The Legal Aid Society

Transgender Law Center

Make the Road New York

VOCAL-NY

Peter Cicchino Youth Project (PCYP) of the Urban Justice Center

Girls for Gender Equity

Desis Rising Up & Moving

ACT UP NY

BiNet USA

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

JustLeadershipUSA

Global Action Youth Project

GLAAD

The LGBT Community Center

NYC Jails Action Committee

Center for Constitutional Rights

Brooklyn Defender Services

Decrim NY

Black & Pink

 

STATEMENT FROM THE ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT ON PROPOSED HHS ANTI-TRANS RULE

In response to a newly anti-trans rule by the Department of Health and Human Services to limit the definition of sex discrimination, The New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed HHS rule attempting to limit the definition of sex discrimination would deny access to basic and potentially life-saving heath care to transgender, gender nonconforming (TGNC) and non-binary people and all those seeking reproductive care. This is yet another attempt by this administration to enshrine discrimination into our laws and will ultimately put millions of people in danger. Nondiscrimination protections are crucial in ensuring all people have equal access to necessary health care.

Over the past several years, our country has witnessed severe and escalating violence against TGNC and non-binary people. In the past week alone, three transgender women of color lost their lives to homicide. Gutting anti-discrimination protections only serves to put transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary people at further risk for violence.

This latest attack is a clear opportunity for LGBTQ and women’s organizations to join together to demand that our government respect and protect our collective humanity and self-determination.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

Statement from the Anti-Violence Project on Proposed HUD Anti-Trans Rule

In response to the newly proposed rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that would allow for transgender people to be turned away from supportive housing, the New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed rule from HUD is cruel.  It undermines the 2016 Equal Access rules, strips protections for vulnerable trans and gender non-conforming people, and could block access to supportive housing for transgender people. For this rule to be proposed just days after three Black trans women have been murdered is especially outrageous. Access to resources such as employment, healthcare, and housing curb violence against trans people who are disproportionately homeless, poor, and impacted by hate violence. These continued attacks on the trans community from this inept administration perpetuate the climate of violence in which trans people are dying. To turn trans people away from shelters is to knowingly put already vulnerable lives at risk.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

Diverse Group of NYC Community Organizations Rally For Hate Violence Prevention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications, NYC Anti-Violence Project
ecruz@avp.org 
212-714-1184

FOLLOWING RISE IN HATE VIOLENCE, DIVERSE GROUP OF NYC COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, ELECTED LEADERS DEMAND A NEW STRATEGY

Jewish, Arab-American, LGBTQ, immigrant, Black and Brown communities held a press conference today to announce new initiative that goes beyond policing,
and press for City funding.

NEW YORK CITY, March 27, 2019 – A diverse group of nine New York City community-based organizations, working citywide across identities, rallied at City Hall steps in support of the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative. The initiative calls for City Council funding to support community-based work, coordinated by a coalition of groups, to make New York safer for our communities.

Over 300 hate crimes were reported to the New York Police Department in 2018. However, the city’s response to incidents of hate violence are ineffective, do not prevent crimes, educate or heal communities, and overly relies on policing. Obtaining a resolution to a hate-violence related incident through reporting to the police is insufficient for healing in communities, does not address the underlying tensions and ideologies that lead to hate violence, and increases penalties for hate crimes which are unlikely to deter assailants from committing acts of violence.

When a 12-year-old allegedly chalked swastikas on the playground of PS 139 in Rego Park, Queens a few weeks ago, we opposed a police-driven response with criminal penalties. Instead, we immediately reached out to the school and the community, and held an antisemitism workshop for children in the neighborhood led by a team of professional youth educators. This reflects our commitment to fighting hate violence using strategies that produce the long-term impact, healing, and learning all which we believe will prevent future hate incidents and knit communities closer together.

We believe that hate violence and bias incidents must be prevented in community, not by the police or by prosecutors. Organizations doing work in community to end hate violence not only work with communities to create safety and accountability in the diverse neighborhoods of New York, but are also working toward economic and racial justice for our communities.

The initiative includes the Audre Lorde Project, Arab American Association of New York, Brooklyn Movement Center, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Desis Rising Up & Moving,, Global Action Project, Make The Road New York, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, and the New York City Anti-Violence Project and would support these organizations to lead:

  • Bystander/upstander intervention trainings to empower community members to ally themselves with victims when an incident of hate or harassment is underway in public.
  • Community-based, culturally competent reporting of hate violence incidents. Marginalized communities feel safest reporting incidents to community-based organizations, which can help them to make a safety plan and determine whether or not they would like to report to law enforcement or another city agency.
  • Community care, including community-led transformative justice processes that focus on challenging and transforming the perspectives of people who do harm in our neighborhoods, as well as counseling and peer support services for survivors of violence.
  • Rapid incident responses that may include community alerts, town hall meetings, neighborhood safety events, and will also create space for targeted school-based and neighborhood education across multiple identities.

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“No group in New York City is immune from the alarming increase in hate crimes here, and all New Yorkers must come together to combat this epidemic.  We need to support the community-based organizations that are on the ground in the impacted communities, ensuring they have the resources to help prevent and respond to the terrible acts of bias impacting so many,” said City Council Member Mark Levine.

“At this urgent juncture in our history, with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic hatred on the rise across the planet, I’m so deeply encouraged to see Jews, Muslims, immigrants, people-of-color, LGBTQ New Yorkers and so many others coming together to combat hate, strengthen compassion across difference, and build a city where all of us can thrive,” said City Council Member Brad Lander.

“At the end of the day, truly addressing hate crimes is not simply a question of law enforcement, it’s about building solidarity between all communities. Acts of hatred and violence cannot be eradicated by force. Building a sense of trust and understanding across our city, and country, is a highly complex and long-term endeavor, but it’s the only real way forward. Thank you to Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and all of its partner organizations for advocating a far more holistic, and ultimately effective, approach,” said City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“The Hate Violence Prevention Initiative is an important grassroots effort to prevent and reduce hate violence and bias incidents across New York City. This new initiative recognizes that many vulnerable and marginalized New Yorkers are much more likely to report hate violence and bias incidents to trusted local organizations in their communities than to the police or other law enforcement agencies. The Hate Violence Prevention Initiative will help ensure that survivors of hate violence receive the support they need to heal and recover. And it will give our communities crucial tools and resources for transforming the perspectives of those who cause bias-related harm in our communities,” said Monifa Bandele, a leader of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

“When LGBTQ people experience hate violence on the street, at home, or on the job, they want to be sure that the person they report to affirms not only their experience but also their identities. That’s why 282 LGBTQ survivors reported hate violence to AVP’s hotline in 2017 while 325 people across all identities reported hate crimes to the NYPD. Community based organizations, like the New York City Anti-Violence Project, are best positioned to support survivors of violence, and city council must fund us to do this work. We know what we need, and it isn’t more policing,” said Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

“The Center for Constitutional Rights stands in solidarity with our community-based partners, who are leading transformative practices without dependence on law enforcement,” said CCR Advocacy Program Manager Nahal Zamani.

“I know my community in Queens. I know that there is kindness and cooperation, and also that there is antisemitism. We need to find solutions that are restorative and preventative. We need to find ways for neighbors to see a path forward where we understand our differences, and stick up for one another anyway. The NYPD can only come in once the damage is done, and too often, an approach that relies on the criminal justice system just creates more pain and resentment. The smart, effective, community-based approach of the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative is exactly what we need in Western Queens,” said Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, founder of Malkhut and co-chair of the JFREJ Rabbinic Council.

 

Open Letter by LGBTQ, Women & Survivor Advocacy Organizations in Support of Bail Reform

We believe in survivors. And we believe in real bail reform.

Dear New York State Legislators and Governor Cuomo,

As organizations committed to supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, we want to add our voice to the growing call for true, progressive bail reform in New York State. As anti-violence organizations, we support the elimination of money bail and the implementation of a pretrial system that substantially limits pretrial incarceration and ensures due process and individualized justice. We strongly oppose the inclusion of any misdemeanor charges in the net of pretrial detention, including in misdemeanor domestic violence cases. As advocates and people who have been impacted by domestic violence, we know that Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ, and women survivors are often themselves criminalized and that pretrial incarceration can undermine the safety of survivors.

From our experiences and those of our clients, we know that decades of reliance on the carceral system has had damaging effects. Mandatory arrest laws often ensnare IPV survivors in the criminal legal system and feed mass criminalization and incarceration of communities of color and low-income communities. This turn to policing as the primary strategy to fight intimate partner violence has also left out the voices of marginalized survivors, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants who often experience further harm at the hands of the police and prison system.

Intimate partner violence can be devastating for survivors, families, and communities. The process of healing from trauma caused by an abusive partner can take years, and survivors often face a variety of consequences related to health and wellness, safety, employment, finances, housing, and relationships with loved ones. In order to truly heal from, and end IPV, we must find solutions to violence that are genuinely healing and not themselves grounded in violence.

We oppose the pretrial incarceration of people accused of misdemeanor domestic violence because:

  • Survivors are often arrested. Mandatory arrest laws and poor primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to – the person engaging in a pattern of abusive partner behavior.
    • In a survey of domestic violence survivors, 1 in 4 women reported they had been arrested or threatened with arrest during a partner abuse incident or while reporting a IPV to the police.
    • The Family Violence Program of the Urban Justice Center in New York City found that survivors of IPV had been arrested in 27% of cases received through their hotline in a two-year period. 85% of survivors arrested had a prior documented history of being subjected to domestic violence, and 85% were injured during the incident that led to their arrest.
  • Pretrial incarceration disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Survivors who are women of color, low-income, or LGBTQ are far more likely to be arrested for domestic violence. Racialized gender norms inform who is perceived as a survivor by the police and can increase the possibility of arrest for survivors who deviate from these norms. For example, due to racist stereotypes that position Black women as “aggressive,” Black women survivors are more likely to be seen as a perpetrator when they stand up for themselves, regardless of the circumstances and their actual experience of violence. Queer and trans survivors are also more vulnerable to arrest.
    • In a New York City study, 66% of survivors who were arrested alongside or instead of their abusive partner were African American or Latina and 43% were living below the poverty line.
  • Pretrial incarceration puts non-citizen survivors at great risk. Non-citizen survivors who are arrested and incarcerated pretrial are subject to immigration detainers which can result in prolonged immigration detention, deportation and permanent or prolonged family separation following the conclusion of the criminal case.
  • Pretrial incarceration harms children and families. Incarcerated and detained women tend to be primary caregivers. Even a few days of pretrial detention can result in the loss of employment and housing and the initiation of child neglect cases with long-lasting impacts on the financial stability, integrity, and well-being of families.
  • Pretrial incarceration does not keep survivors safe. Research indicates that incarceration often increases risks for domestic violence by decreasing the economic well-being and stability of incarcerated people, increasing risks associated with PTSD and use of violence, and weakening neighborhood and community support systems that people rely on for violence prevention.

The groundswell of support for bail reform and an overhaul of New York State’s pretrial justice system presents a critical opportunity for anti-IPV advocates – and anyone who cares about survivors of IPV and efforts to end IPV – to chip away at the harm caused by our movement’s misguided faith in criminal legal responses to gender-based violence. While we are committed to supporting survivor choice, including the choice to utilize law enforcement, we desperately need solutions that are not rooted in criminalization and incarceration. Pretrial incarceration is not a solution. It perpetuates, rather than alleviates, the violence survivors experience and puts marginalized survivors at great risk. Instead of incarceration, we call on legislators to increase funding for safety planning, emergency shelter, and long-term housing. These are the resources that survivors need.

New York State Legislators, we urge you to stand alongside survivors of intimate partner violence and anti-IPV advocates: pass bail reform that ends money bail and guarantees pretrial liberty for the vast majority of people, including (but not limited to) all people charged with misdemeanors. Allowing an expansive net for pretrial detention does not serve the interests of survivors or our communities at large.

Signed,
Ali Forney Center
Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley
Day One
Girls for Gender Equity
NYC Anti-Violence Project
STEPS to End Family Violence
Violence Intervention Program, Inc.
Women’s Prison Association

For more information, or to sign on, contact Audacia Ray at aray@avp.org

LGBTQ, Women, & Survivor Advocacy Organizations Support The Discovery For Justice Reform Act

STATEMENT BY LGBTQ, WOMEN, AND SURVIVOR ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE DISCOVERY FOR JUSTICE REFORM ACT (S.1716-Bailey/A.1431-Lentol)

New York, NY (Feb. 6, 2019) – Today, five leading LGBTQ, women, and survivor advocacy organizations released the following statement in support of enacting early, open, and automatic discovery reform in New York State.

“As advocates for survivors of violence, including Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and gender non-binary New Yorkers, we strongly support urgent reforms to dismantle injustice in our society and end mass incarceration in our state. Specifically, we urge the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign early, open, and automatic discovery reform legislation (S.1716/A.1431) immediately.

For too long, New Yorkers, including survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence, have been criminalized and punished without ever having access to the evidence in their cases. Under New York’s current law, prosecutors are not required to turn over police reports or other crucial information until the eve of trial, making it impossible to prepare a defense. Worse, New York is one of only four states where prosecutors do not have to turn over evidence prior to offering a plea deal. This means that New Yorkers are making critical decisions about their lives without even the basic facts of the case. Like all aspects of the criminal legal system, this injustice disproportionately harms marginalized people, as well as communities targeted by over-policing. It also fails to serve the interests of survivors. There is no justice in wrongful convictions or coerced pleas, and many survivors are themselves criminalized.

Discovery reform does not threaten the safety of survivors of assault and abuse. Nearly every other state in the country has passed discovery reform, leading to greater justice and transparency, and not to witness or victim intimidation. Furthermore, the proposed discovery law has very specific provisions to protect the safety of survivors, in the rare cases where they may be threatened if their information is shared with people facing criminal allegations or the defendant’s attorney. In these cases, judges have the discretion to withhold that information, as very clearly stated in the Discovery for Justice Reform Act. We reject calls by prosecutors for the unilateral power to withhold or redact information that may prove crucial to the defense of criminalized LGBTQ people, women, immigrant, and people of color survivors of violence. Early discovery turnover helps cases to move forward faster and more fairly, an outcome in the interest of survivors and all New Yorkers.

As advocates, we are acutely aware that too often, survivors’ experiences are exploited when prosecutors work to pass laws to give themselves broad discretion and leverage in court, in order to increase convictions, but the people we serve want to move forward with their lives,and economic stability, housing, health care, and trauma-informed services can support them in doing that. Denial of discovery does not serve this purpose. Instead, it increases the unchecked power of prosecutors and contributes to the unjust incarceration of Black and brown people, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants.

We call on policymakers to stand strong for justice and pass comprehensive discovery reform (S.1716/A.1431) this year.”

Signed,
Ali Forney Center
Center for Anti-Violence Education
Girls for Gender Equity
NYC Anti-Violence Project
STEPS to End Family Violence
Survived and Punished NY
Sylvia Rivera Law Project

TGNC Civil Rights Protections Passed in New York State

New York, NY, January 16, 2019 — Today at AVP we are celebrating the historic passage of GENDA – the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act in New York, which adds protections based on gender identity and expression to the state’s human rights laws and the state ban of abusive conversion therapy. GENDA has been seventeen years in the making, since the legislature passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in 2002 which did not include protections based on gender identity and expression. We are especially proud that the LGBTQ community has united to ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people across the state will finally have these long overdue rights and protections. Both laws are important steps toward making LGBTQ New Yorkers safer and fully respected.

This victory marks the first LGBTQ specific legislation passed by the New York legislature since it enacted marriage equality in 2011 and comes at a time when the current federal administration continues to rollback protections for the LGBTQ community and has specifically targeted TGNC people.

We are grateful to the State Assembly leadership who pushed this bill, Representative Dick Gottfried, the Assembly bill sponsor who has consistently been standing up for TGNC people and Senator Brad Hoylman, a strong advocate in the Senate and the bills sponsor who was able to bring it over the finish line. We also recognize that we would not be here today without the visionary leadership and dedication of Senator Tom Duane, AVP’s former board member, who introduced the original GENDA bill years ago. And of course, this milestone belongs to the tireless efforts of TGNC organizers, who refused to accept less than full protections, sharing community experiences of discrimination and lobbying for this legislation.

While we celebrate the passage of GENDA, AVP has concerns that the law also includes increased penalties for people convicted of committing hate crimes against TGNC people, consistent with consequences for all other hate crimes in the state. AVP initially advocated for this hate crime enhancement. However, through our work, we recognize that the use of enhanced penalties for hate violence disproportionately impacts people of color, does not prevent future acts of hate violence, and  does not make our communities safe. AVP celebrates the passage of GENDA, as well as the conversion therapy ban, and will continue to work towards justice that centers LGBTQ survivors and creates greater safety overall.

 

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Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz
Director of Communications
ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

New Report Outlines Widespread Employment Discrimination Against TGNC New Yorkers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2018

Media Contacts:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications: ecruz@avp.org
Ciarra Ross, Communications Coordinator: cross@avp.org

New Report Outlines Widespread Employment Discrimination
Against TGNC New Yorkers

New York, NY –  A new report from The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) captures the systemic employment discrimination against trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people in New York City. Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice contains survey responses collected from 118 TGNC respondents, revealing clear patterns of discrimination during the job search process, harassment in the workplace, unemployment and poverty rates higher than that of the general public, and a disconnect between their education level and income.

“As with all forms of violence, reporting incidents of employment discrimination can help trans and gender non-conforming folks figure out what the best next steps are for them. Unfortunately, our survey found that trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers aren’t aware of the options for reporting to city agencies, and when they report discrimination inside their workplaces they often face retaliation,” Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at The New York City Anti-Violence Project said.  “It’s imperative that New York City Council introduce legislation that extends the amount of time people have to file employment discrimination complaints with the City Commission on Human Rights from one to three years. This extension will allow for more trans and gender non-conforming survivors of workplace discrimination to report and receive recourse from the violence they experienced.”

Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice survey responses were collected during an 18 to 23 month period following the 2016 implementation of the city’s Gender Identity/Gender Expressions Legal Enforcement Guidance. The guidance, a clarification on the Transgender Rights Law passed in 2002, contained specific enforcements of the law detailing the rights of TGNC community in New York City. Still, despite protections, trans and gender non-conforming residents in New York City are struggling to find jobs and facing discrimination at their places of work.

LaLa Zanell, Lead Community Organizer at The New York City Anti-Violence Project said:
After the Mayor rolled out the Executive Order and City Commission on Human Rights released the Legal Guidance, trans and gender non-conforming community members decided to investigate the initial effectiveness of the local policies. Our objective with the survey was to learn whether community members knew about the policies, if the policies were working, and if there were any changes in community members’ entry points into employment. This report addresses the progressive strides made and what we need to continue to do around trans and gender non-conforming economic justice.”

Some key findings:

  • TGNC people have diverse genders, and many do not identify with the gender binary. 48% of survey respondents indicated that they identified as gender non-conforming, non-binary, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, agender, androgynous, or trans. 31% of respondents use they/them/theirs pronouns.
  • 22% of TGNC New Yorkers surveyed are unemployed, which is nearly five times higher than the New York City unemployment rate.
  • For jobs in which filling out an application form is required, 57% of respondents had to fill out a form on which they had to choose a gender that did not match their identity. Thirty-one percent of respondents were asked about how they were assigned at birth, which is an illegal question in an application and interview process in New York State.

 

“New Yorkers, no matter where they come from, have the right to have their pronouns, name, and title respected, regardless of what is on their identification documents. When an employer or coworker misgenders or deadnames a trans or gender non-conforming colleague, that is violence, and is discrimination under the New York City Transgender Rights Law,” Lolan Sevilla, Training Coordinator at The New York City Anti-Violence Project said. “All employee databases across the city must have options for trans and gender non-conforming people who have not taken legal steps to change their name or gender marker so that trans and gender non-conforming employees feel respected and protected.”

The Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice report is released in conjunction with community based report Speak Up About It! Geared towards the TGNC community, Speak Up About It! includes practical information on rights New York City upholds for TGNC people, interviews with community members, and actions TGNC New Yorkers can take if they are are discriminated against or their rights are violated including recommendations from the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

“As we know all too well at the NYC Commission on Human Rights, TGNC individuals endure a range of discrimination and harassment in their daily lives, including in the workplace. This is simply unacceptable,” said Chanel Lopez, Transgender Communities Liaison at the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “Under Mayor de Blasio, the Commission has significantly increased its efforts to combat gender identity discrimination citywide — more than doubling the number of investigations in this area over the last two years — but the fight to protect, uplift, and empower TGNC New Yorkers continues. We look forward to continuing our work with AVP to educate TGNC communities about their rights and how to report discrimination and continue to work with employers to ensure that TGNC folks get the respect and opportunities they deserve.”

Both Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice and Speak Up About It! can be read in full at avp.org

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The New York City Anti-Violence Project empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.