While same sex marriage continues to be controversial across the country, LGBT activists in New York are focused on a different issue. YNN's Zack Fink has more on Tuesday's rally at the Capitol in support of the bill known as GENDA.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Melissa Sklarz was born male, but began the long process of gender transition in her early thirties. It was not easy.
"When I first started out my transition, within a month, I was fired from my job. I was out of work for about three years. I did whatever work I could find to get by," Sklarz said.
For others, like Mel Wymore, who was born a woman, the discrimination he experienced was more subtle.
Wymore said, "Discrimination comes in a lot of different forms. It’s not always direct and it’s not always violent. In my case, it can sometimes be as subtle as being excluded from a group of friends or feeling uncomfortable."
Empire State Pride Agenda, a civil rights and advocacy organization, held a rally and lobbying day at the Capitol Tuesday. At the top of their agenda is a bill that would ban discrimination against transgendered people, those whose outward appearance often does not match with the sex that appears on their birth certificates. The bill is known as the "gender expression non-discrimination act" or GENDA. State Senator Daniel Squadron is the Senate sponsor.
Squadron said, "Marriage equality is an enormous, historic achievement, but it doesn't mean that we've achieved complete equality that we need across this state."
Governor Cuomo pushed hard for gay marriage last year.
"The governor has publicly committed to supporting GENDA and ending discrimination against transgendered people. He has stated that he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk," said Lynn Faria of Empire State Pride Agenda.
The bill has already passed the Assembly, although its fate in the Senate remains uncertain. Supporters say New York, even though it has a reputation as a progressive state, actually lags behind on this one, since 16 other states have already passed similar legislation.