Advocates: Gender identity amendment needed in Nassau law

The push for changes to Nassau's Human Rights Law has been renewed in the wake of the Orlando terror attack that targeted the LGBT community.

Joanne Borden, 90, of Valley Stream, came out as a transgender woman at age 85. She says she has addressed the Nassau Legislature almost every month since then, asking lawmakers to amend the language of the Human Rights Law. She says it does not protect transgender people.

The amendment would put Nassau County in line with Suffolk and New York City in giving a more complete definition of the term "gender." The amendment would state that gender means actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person's gender identity and gender expression.

Legislator Judy Jacobs says she's tried to add the amendment that would address workplace and housing discrimination based on gender identity for six years, but has been blocked by Republicans.

A spokesman for Republican Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves says the word "gender" already covers all people. In a statement, Gonsalves said, "Narrowing the language does not expand the protections of the law."

Juli Grey-Owens, the executive director of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, disagrees.

"They're either motivated politically, afraid of some kind of repercussion in their party, or they're transphobic," says Grey-Owens.

News 12 asked the Nassau County attorney who was appointed by the Executive Ed Mangano, if he thinks the Human Rights Law covers all people as written. He said, "the answer is yes, it does."

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