Lambda Legal Celebrates Repeal of “Walking While Trans” Ban and Recognizes the Leadership and Advocacy of Transgender Women of Color

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February 2, 2021

Lambda Legal today hailed the elimination of the “Walking While Trans” ban, Section 240.37 of the New York penal law relating to loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense. Richard Saenz, Senior Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist, released the following statement:

“Lambda Legal applauds the historic passage of the bill to repeal P.L. § 240.37, the Walking While Trans ban, in the New York legislature today. Since its passage in 1976, critical concerns about P.L. § 240.37 have included questions about the constitutionality of the law and its potential for abuse.

“This repeal is a call for justice. It is a significant step to address violence perpetuated against transgender women and women of color by the state. The repeal eliminates a discriminatory law that has been used by police officers as a 'stop-and-frisk' to profile, stop, search, harass, and arrest LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people based on their clothing or appearance. It will remove an overbroad, racist and discriminatory law which is used to target and criminalize marginalized women – specifically and disproportionately transgender women of color.

“Lambda Legal wants to recognize the extraordinary leadership and advocacy work by transgender women of color, the Walking While Trans coalition, community members, and organizers to achieve this moment. This repeal represents years of advocacy, education, and organizing. Sadly, we have lost leaders and community members who have been in this fight – though their spirits will always be with us.

“We applaud Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin who sponsored the bill. We thank Governor Cuomo for quickly signing this bill and providing much needed justice for transgender women who needlessly suffer because of unfair and discriminatory policing.”