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NY Agencies Collecting More Gender Data

Thursday Jul 24, 2014
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State agencies have begun adding gender identity to their data collection, part of an effort Gov. Andrew Cuomo said will help the state better meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender New Yorkers.

A new report Wednesday identified eight agencies, including the Department of Health, collecting or updating their data systems to gather those demographics.

"New York State has a long history of advancing progressive ideals," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "By being more inclusive with how state agencies monitor the demographics of those they serve, we can address health and financial disparities, safety concerns, and a myriad of other issues that impact LGBT New Yorkers."

New York's Office of Mental Health in 2011 began including sexual orientation and gender identity questions on admission forms at state mental health facilities, using it in a training curriculum for clinicians intended to improve treatment for LGBT people.

In 2012, the state Office for the Aging updated its system to ensure including LGBT seniors, whom research indicates are likelier to live alone and lack some vital support systems.

Jonathan Lang, director of governmental affairs and community projects for the Empire State Pride Agenda, said the information "will allow us to create more tailored approaches to effectively reduce the well-documented health disparities adversely impacting our community."

The advocacy group said transgender New Yorkers still face disproportionate disadvantages for basic needs and services, most have been mistreated on the job, half have been harassed in public accommodations like restaurants and mass transit, and many have been denied a home or apartment.

Rochester this week clarified and strengthened its local law against transgender discrimination, while 10 other municipalities statewide now have similar measures, Empire State Pride Agenda spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said. Others are New York City; Albany, Tompkins, Suffolk and Westchester counties; and the cities of Buffalo, Binghamton, Syracuse, Ithaca and Albany.

New York leads other states in collecting that data on gender identity with its coordinated, multi-agency program, though others including California and Colorado have a more limited but similar approach, Steinberg said. However, 19 other states have transgender discrimination protections, while similar legislation has passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly seven times in New York, but hasn't reached the floor of the state Senate, now controlled by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats.

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