As reported in the Troy Record, this past Monday, the Albany County Legislature unanimously passed an amendment to our human rights law which protects individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity and gender expression.
This has been a long fought victory for advocates of transgender rights in Albany County. I want to thank all of my fellow legislators including Majority Leader Frank Commisso, Minority Leader Christine Benedict, Legislator Noelle Kinsch and Legislator Chris Higgins for their work on getting this passed. And I would be remiss if I did not mention former Albany County Legislator John Frederick who has been advocating for this issue for many years.
I also want to thank the advocates and members of the transgender community in Albany County for their tireless efforts. I want to thank them for coming down to the Legislature month after month and educating myself and others on what can be a very complicated topic. I will be honest and admit that early on, I had many questions and concerns regarding how this would impact our society. But after sitting down with Renate Reeves-Ellington and Byrgen Finkleman of the New York State Citizens for Transgender Rights, I understood that this was about basic human rights. It was about the rights of all of us to pursue our happiness as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
Having grown up in the projects, I know what it was like to be discriminated against. I know what it was like to be looked at as “different.” As a society, no matter what our personal views, we should always strive to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law. I’m proud to say that this week, Albany County has made yet another strive toward that goal.