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Hochul ends Pride month by signing new bills supporting New York’s LGBTQ community

Governor Hochul marches in the New York City Pride Parade.
Don Pollard
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Hochul marches in the New York City Pride Parade.

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed two bills supporting LGBTQ New Yorkers.

"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," Hochul said. "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."

The first bill establishes the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. The money will support organizations that offer critical services for transgender, gender-nonconforming and non-binary people.

The bill is named for Lorena Borjas, a transgender activist who immigrated from Mexico to New York. She was known for supporting the transgender commmunity through medical care, legal fees and housing.

Robert Vitelli, the vice president and chief operating officer at the Long Island-based LGBT Network, said the new funding will fill harmful gaps in the legal system — just like Borjas did.

“It really helps to meet those unmet needs of legal services and representation, social justice and criminal justice, and really reforming some of the systems that really criminalize trans, non-binary and other folks who identify on the gender-expansive spectrum,” Vitelli said.

The second bill adds a non-binary gender X as an option for elected officials and candidates. The new option recently became available on State University of New York records and drivers licenses.

Vitelli said the new law will allow for a more diverse pool of candidates in upcoming elections.

“I think being able to have people run as non-binary people, and for them to put that X marker down, is just an incredible acknowledgement and an incredible advancement, and I think it's going to increase representation,” Vitelli said. “And I think overall, it's going to help increase policy that's going to provide safer and more supportive spaces for all LGBT people, and especially trans and non-binary people.”

Molly is a reporter covering Fairfield County. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.