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Activists: Repeal of ‘Walking While Trans’ law is a victory for the community

The law was first passed in 1976 to prohibit loitering for the purpose of prostitution. But activists say it led to the arrest of law-abiding trans and cisgender women of color.

News 12 Staff

Feb 5, 2021, 1:16 AM

Updated 1,234 days ago

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Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that repeals the so-called Walking While Trans law.  Activists say this is a victory for the trans community. 
They say the law unfairly targeted people of color. The law was first passed in 1976 to prohibit loitering for the purpose of prostitution. But activists say it led to the arrest of law-abiding trans and cisgender women of color. 
Stefanie Rivera, director of client services at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, was picked up under the policy years ago and says it still haunts her. 
"I had my hands broken, and I was not allowed to seek medical attention. I had to take myself to the hospital after the fact, and so I remember stuff like that and so for me, it's like those types of things live with you,” said Rivera. 
State Sen. Brad Hoylman was proud to sponsor the bill in the Senate. He says the transgender community has been overlooked for decades. 
“When the human rights law was signed over 20 years ago, it didn't include transgender New Yorkers, and we fixed that just two years ago,” said Hoylman. 
Now, advocates say it’s a small step that will allow members of the community to feel safe. 
Another aspect of the repeal includes sealing records of those convicted of the offense, which previously prohibited trans people from seeking employment and housing. 


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