• February 9, 2023

New York Repeals ‘Walking While Trans’ Law : NPR

The new measure, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday, bans an old law that resulted in decades of police discrimination against women of skin color and transgender people. Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

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Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

The new measure, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday, bans an old law that resulted in decades of police discrimination against women of skin color and transgender people.

Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Tuesday repealing a state anti-loitering bill commonly known as the “Walking While Trans” ban. Critics say police harassed and arrested law-abiding trans people in particular.

The new measure effectively removing the books a 1976 law prohibiting loitering for the purpose of prostitution. Politicians and LGBTQ advocates say the law resulted in decades of law enforcement discrimination.

“Lifting the archaic ban on ‘walking while trans’ is a critical step in reforming our police system and reducing the harassment and criminalization that transgender people face just for being themselves,” said Cuomo said in a statement.

Proponents of the repeal of the anti-loitering law said it was previously used with a broad definition that police used to justify arresting someone for the clothes they were wearing or standing on the street.

“New Yorkers have struggled for years to end what has become a stop-and-frisk for color-coded transgender women, and the Walking While Trans ban allowed the profiling and arrest of transgender New Yorkers for just being stood or walked in the street, “said Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, in a statement.

Data shows discrimination

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill’s main sponsor, cited police reports said that the 1976 Act was used to prevent people from “wearing a skirt,” “waving at a car,” and “standing anywhere other than a bus stop or taxi rank”.

Quoting data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Holyman said that in 2018, 91% of those arrested under the law were Black and Latinx, and 80% were identified as women.

The governor’s signature removes the law for the entire state. However, the changes had already taken shape before the ban was lifted on Tuesday.

In 2016 the Legal Aid Society filed a civil rights lawsuit against New York City on behalf of women of the same color, many of whom are transgender, and who have been wrongly arrested under the law. The case was settled three years later and the New York Police Department agreed to revise their section on the patrol leader of the Criminal Code.

And local prosecutors, one just last week, voluntarily stopped enforcing the law because of its discriminatory nature.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced His office would vacate “Walking While Trans” bank warrants and the underlying fees in the community.

The first batch contains 262 warrants dating from 2012 that were vacated last week and whose underlying cases were dismissed. Older arrest warrants are to be rejected at a later date.

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