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RELEASE: Hochul signs bills creating Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund and a non-binary gender X to options in elected positions that require elected people be of varying genders.
For Immediate Release: 6/26/2022


Establishes the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund in a Historic Effort to Build Equity for the Transgender Community

Signs into Law the Gender Inclusive Ballot Act Which Enables Individuals Who Do Not Identify as a Binary Gender to Run for Party Positions

Empowered by Governor Hochul, State Agencies Release Programs that Uplift LGBTQ+ New Yorkers Across New York State

State Landmarks to be Illuminated Through the End of June

Governor Kathy Hochul signed three bills today honoring LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Legislation S.8884-A/A.9418 establishes the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to support organizations that provide critical services for the transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community. Legislation S.6901-B/A.7933-C will add a non-binary gender X to the potential options for gender designations in elected positions that require that the elected people be of varying genders. It ensures that non-binary New Yorkers can fully participate in our democratic system. Additionally, Governor Hochul has called for New York State landmarks to be illuminated in the colors of the LGBTQ+ pride flag and the transgender flag on varying nights until the end of Pride month, demonstrating our state's solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. These announcements build upon the major advancements in LGBTQ+ equity that were part of the FY 2023 Enacted Budget.

"New York is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and has always been the leader in advancing equality and justice for LGBTQ+ Americans, but elected officials in other states are using their powers to take those rights away," Governor Hochul said. "Today, I am proud to sign legislation that further advances equality and equity for the LGBTQ+ community. By establishing funds and addressing inequities experienced by gender non-conforming and non-binary New Yorkers, we can ensure that our state truly is a safe and affirming place for everyone and that the voices of all are heard."

Legislation S.8884-A/A.9418 establishes the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to support organizations that provide critical services for the transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary and intersex (TGNCNBI) community. The FY 2023 Budget includes $13.5 million for the Department of Health - an increase of $8 million over the prior fiscal year - to support the LGBTQ+ community and network of providers, with direct health services, cultural competency education and training, organizational capacity building and transgender wellness initiatives. This includes $2 million, in addition to $1 million from the legislature, serving the TGNCNBI community, consistent with the intent of this bill. Lorena Borjas, who was lost to COVID in 2020, was a transgender rights advocate in Queens who dedicated her life to supporting transgender immigrants, many of whom fled transphobic oppression in their home countries. She helped trans women experiencing poverty, sex trafficking, food insecurity, and other equities. By establishing this fund, our state builds upon Lorena's legacy.

Legislation S.6901-B/A.7933-C requires political parties to change their rules to permit people who do not identify as a binary gender to be elected to party positions. Currently, party rules may require candidates to select "male" or "female" when seeking office, excluding non-binary people or requiring them to select a gender that they do not identify with. This historic legislation ensures that non-binary New Yorkers can fully participate in our democratic system, and that the state's political parties have the opportunity to be truly reflective of the state's diversity.

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "Pride Month is ending with a bang with this timely and powerful legislative package from Governor Hochul. I'm honored my bill is included to codify the Lorena Borjas Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Wellness and Equity Fund into a permanent part of our State Law. The state allocated $3 million in this year's budget to provide housing, mental health resources, health services, and cultural initiatives to our state's most vulnerable populations. Today, we are saying, loud and clear, that New York will not watch from the sidelines as trans kids are attacked nationwide. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of advocates and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, New York will always be a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community."

State Senator Zellnor Myrie said, "Our democracy is strongest when everyone can participate and have a seat at the table. While other states pass laws to discriminate against transgender and gender nonbinary people, I'm proud New York is breaking down barriers so anyone can make their case to voters and serve their community. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this important bill into law."

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, "What greater way to commemorate Pride Month, and what greater way to honor my dear friend and advocate for the TGNCNBI population, than with the signing of the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. I am honored to have carried this bill in my house, where it passed with overwhelming support this legislative session. The TGNCNBI population faces appalling social disparities that include high rates of unemployment, food insecurity, mental health concerns, and unstable housing. The economic crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 crisis had an especially adverse impact on TGNCNBI individuals who were already struggling before the pandemic. This fund addresses these needs by setting aside monies solely focused on assisting the TGNCNBI population. I want to thank the Governor for her partnership, as well as her commitment to increase monies for the fund. I am also incredibly grateful to our Senate sponsor Brad Hoylman, who fought tirelessly to pass this bill to get it signed. Lastly, I want to thank the advocates, who have been working on this cause for decades and never gave up on Lorena's dream that the TGNCNBI population be treated and cared for in the way they deserve."

Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said, "At a time in this country when the human rights of queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people are being rolled back, the nation is turning to states like New York for action and hope. That is why I'm thrilled that the Gender Inclusive Ballot Act is being signed into law today. As the rights of communities are being stripped away, my bill will help non-binary people build power in New York by being able to run for a political party office and meaningfully engage in elected positions. I want to thank all the advocates for fighting for this day to come. I'm grateful to Senator Myrie for his partnership on this, Speaker Heastie for helping us advance it, and Governor Hochul for signing it into law. Despite all the setbacks that are occurring, this move helps us progress forward, elevate our LGBTQIA community, and truly feel a strong sense of pride in our commitment to equity in New York."

State landmarks to be lit in recognition of LGBTQ+ Pride Month from June 23 through June 30 include:
One World Trade Center
Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
State Education Building
Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
Empire State Plaza
State Fairgrounds - Main Gate & Expo Center
Niagara Falls
The "Franklin D. Roosevelt" Mid-Hudson Bridge
Grand Central Terminal - Pershing Square Viaduct
Albany International Airport Gateway
The Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex
MTA LIRR - East End Gateway at Penn Station

The landmarks will be lit in the rainbow flag colors on June 23, June 25 and 26, June 28 and June 30. All other days will be the color of the transgender flag.

Last month, Governor Hochul announced that New Yorkers now have the option to choose "X" as a gender marker on their driver license, learner permit, or non-driver ID card at all Department of Motor Vehicle offices statewide. The change has been implemented in accordance with New York's Gender Recognition Act -- landmark legislation that provides expanded protections for transgender and non-binary New Yorkers through this change at the DMV and by making it easier for people to change their names, change their sex designation, and change their birth certificates to reflect their identity.

These announcements follow the major advancements in LGBTQ+ equity Governor Hochul fought for and secured in the Enacted Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget. The Budget includes $13.5 million for the Department of Health to support the LGBTQ+ community and more than doubles the annual LGBTQ+ Health and Human Services funding. In addition, the Budget includes legislation requiring state agencies to provide an option for individuals to mark their gender or sex as a non-binary "X" on all state forms that collect gender or sex information. Agencies will also be required to include that information in data collection. The Budget also enables transgender New Yorkers to change their names or gender designations on marriage certificates without leaving their dead names on them.

New Pride Agenda Executive Director Elisa Crespo said, "Today is truly a historic day as we sign the Lorena Borjas Trans & Non Binary Wellness & Equity fund into law creating a $3 million investment in trans led organizations in New York. Our goal in advocating for this fund has always been to foster new and emerging trans leaders, and this fund will do just that. More importantly, for the first time in history, Trans New Yorkers will be recognized in the state budget and that deserves to be celebrated. We thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law."

Equality New York Executive Director Amanda Babine said, "While this month there have been attacks on the LGBTQI community and our rights and visibility all over the state, we are lucky to have a leader and ally like Governor Hochul. She continues to show her Pride and partnership with signing these lifesaving bills."

SAGE CEO Michael Adams said, "SAGE is thrilled to see Governor Hochul sign this bill into law, which designates LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV in New York as populations of greatest social need. This legislation will help ensure all older LGBTQ+ and HIV+ New Yorkers can access the services they need to age with the dignity and support they deserve. We thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law and applaud the leadership of Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Harry Bronson, and the New York State legislature in passing this legislation. Today we take an important step toward full inclusion and equity for LGBTQ+ elders."

Destination Tomorrow Executive Director Sean Coleman said, "The Lorena Borjas Trans Wellness and Equity Fund is a crucial piece of the puzzle to ensure that all TGNC New Yorkers have access to safe, affirming services, regardless of where they reside in the state. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for your continued leadership and commitment to paving a way to a more inclusive community with our queer and trans siblings of color centered in these advancements."

New York City's LGBT Community Center Executive Director Glennda Testone said, "At a time when we are witnessing rollbacks to longstanding protections and outright attacks on LGBTQ rights across the country, we are encouraged that New York State is once again taking necessary steps to ensure that our communities are fully supported, safe and affirmed. We applaud Governor Hochul's historic investment to directly support TGNCNBI New Yorkers, the continued commitment to advancing inclusive efforts that will allow LGBTQ New Yorkers to age with the dignity and respect they deserve, as well as ensuring the visibility and affirmation of all LGBTQ people so that our state's policies and society recognizes our humanity.

Émilia Decaudin said, "I am so grateful to Governor Hochul, Assembly Member Gonzalez-Rojas, and Senator Myrie for helping to bring this important piece of legislation to the finish line. For decades, non-binary New Yorkers have been legally excluded from the most fundamental form of political participation in our state. With the signing of the Gender Inclusive Ballot Act into law, that ends today."