This comes after the New York City Council again passed a resolution on Dec 10, asking that the legislature repeal a law that has come to be known as the Walking While Trans Ban.
The law, originally passed in 1976 with the intent to prohibit loitering for the purpose of prostitution, has been used with an extremely broad definition of loitering that led to the arrest of law-abiding transgender and cisgender women of color. Many local district attorneys have voluntarily stopped enforcing the law, recognizing its discriminatory impact.
“COVID exposed low tide in America and the ‘walking while trans’ policy is one example of the ugly undercurrents of injustices that transgender New Yorkers – especially those of color – face simply for walking down the street,” Governor Cuomo said. “For too long trans people have been unfairly targeted and disproportionately policed for innocent, lawful conduct based solely on their appearance. Repealing the archaic ‘walking while trans’ ban is a critical step toward reforming our policing system and reducing the harassment and criminalization transgender people face simply for being themselves. New York has always led the nation on LGBTQ rights, and we will continue that fight until we achieve true equality for all.”
Norma Ureiro, Member of Make the Road New York, on behalf of the organization’s 24,000 members, said, “For more than 40 years, Black and brown transgender woman like me have been harassed, profiled, and arrested for expressing our gender identity in public. I am thrilled to hear that today the state legislature made history and repealed the Walking While Trans Ban, and that Governor Cuomo will continue his support by signing A3355/S1351. The ‘loitering with the intent for prostitution’ (P.L. §240.37) statute is sexist, racist and transphobic. Once, my boyfriend and I were arrested under the penal code 240.37 for simply walking together and holding hands, and until this day I still carry the scars and fears of the interaction with the police and the unjust arrest. But today I am excited that we will be able to provide protection to future generations of transgender women, reduce the interactions with police and violence against trans women of color.”