You are reading

State Lawmakers Repeal ‘Walking While Trans’ Ban

Black Trans Lives Matter sign (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Feb. 3. 2021 By Michael Dorgan

New York state lawmakers have repealed legislation that critics say has been used by police to target transgender people in the name of curbing illegal prostitution.

Lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that repealed section 240.37 of the penal code which is commonly referred to as the “Walking While Trans” ban.

The section was originally passed in 1976 to criminalize people who loiter in public to solicit prostitution.

However, opponents have long argued that it has been used by police to discriminatorily harass and arrest transgender individuals – particularly those of color – without cause and often based on their appearance. The governor signed the repeal legislation into law late Tuesday.

The bill was introduced by State Sen. Brad Hoylman, an openly gay man representing part of Manhattan, who said that it had been a top priority for the LGBTQ community in New York.

“This outdated, discriminatory statute has led to hundreds of unnecessary arrests of transgender women of color and a broader culture of fear and intimidation for transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers,” Hoylman said in a statement.

The bill’s memo stated that Section 240.37 had led to police targeting “marginalized women in the commercial sex industry, a group at high risk for trafficking and other exploitation and abuse.”

From 2012 to 2015 for example, 85 percent of people arrested under the law were Black or Latinx, the memo stated citing city-data.

The bill was co-sponsored by Queens lawmakers Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos in the Senate.

Ramos called the vote “historic” and said that the WWT ban had been used by police to make discriminatory arrests.

“Repealing this law that only further adds to the mass incarceration of marginalized communities is the right thing to do,” Ramos said in a statement.

Queens lawmakers Catalina Cruz, David Weprin, Catherine Nolan and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas were among the co-sponsors of the Assembly version of the bill.

The bill does not decriminalize prostitution. However, it does seal prior convictions made under the statute.

Gov. Cuomo said that the bill was a critical step toward reforming the state’s policing system and reducing the harassment and criminalization of transgender people.

“For too long trans people have been unfairly targeted and disproportionately policed for innocent, lawful conduct based solely on their appearance,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“New York has always led the nation on LGBTQ rights, and we will continue that fight until we achieve true equality for all.”

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

‘Where do we go now?’ Michaels set to close its doors in Fresh Meadows next month

The Michaels located at 187-04 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows will be permanently closing its doors on Feb. 23. The announcement that Michaels will be leaving the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center has led to an outpouring of reactions from many community members.

“We know this is disappointing to our customers in Queens, but we hope to continue to serve them at our other locations in New York City or online at Michaels.com,” a spokesperson for Michaels said in a statement to Patch.com.