CONTACT: Seth Hoy,, (212) 416-0156


Commission charges centers with gender identity discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, including refusing to admit transgender patients, assigning rooms according to patients’ gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, and subjecting patients to physical exams to determine gender identity

NEW YORK – The NYC Commission on Human Rights announces today four complaints filed against substance abuse centers across the City for discriminatory policies involving the intake of transgender patients. The complaints, which the Commission filed on behalf of the City, were the result of proactive testing conducted by the Commission following reports of discrimination from advocates. The centers include Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (Brooklyn), Addicts Rehabilitation Center (Manhattan), Promesa Residential Health Care Facility (Bronx), and the Thomas and Marie White Health Center (Queens).

The Commission’s complaints, filed by its Law Enforcement Bureau, charge the centers with gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations, and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms. The substance abuse centers involved in these investigations have been notified of the alleged violations and the Commission continues the investigations.

“It is a sad reality that transgender New Yorkers continue to face discrimination when they seek services or utilize public accommodations,” said Councilwoman and Chair of the LGBT Caucus, Rosie Mendez. “It is reprehensible to think that social service providers at substance abuse treatment centers are denying services to anyone who is seeking assistance. Furthermore, it’s offensive that these providers are denying services to the transgender community. I want to thank the NYC Human Rights Commission for investigating the claims of transgender individuals who sought and were denied services. Our city does not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and I am grateful that our agencies continue to hold institutions accountable for their actions.”






Contact: John Blasco, (212) 677-1077,


After 11 years Intro 1233, which would ban wild or exotic animal circus performances in New York City has passed in the New York City Council

New York – On Wednesday, June 21st 2017 New York City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Corey Johnson passed their bill Intro 1233, a bill to ban exotic animals in circuses, by a vote of 43-6-0 with another 34 councilmembers as co-sponsors and the Public Advocate Letitia James. Councilmember Mendez celebrated this victory with her colleagues and advocates who have been in the forefront of this 11 year journey: constituent and activist John Philips, The Humane Society of the United States, Animal Defenders International and many others.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez first introduced the legislation in April of 2006. Intro 1233 has always been about the safety of animals and humans. The conditions in traveling circuses, including constant travel, limited facilities, long periods of restricted movement, separation from natural groupings, stress, and physical coercion inevitably compromise the welfare of animals, which can lead to abnormal behavior and increased risks to the public. Banning the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and shows is the most efficient way to safeguard both animal welfare and public safety. The passage of this bill will add New York City to the list of 125 localities in 34 states across the country that have enacted partial or full bans on circus animals.

“It has been a little over 11 years that I first introduced legislation that would ban the display of wild or exotic animals,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. “We had our first hearing on October 20th, 2016 and since then Council Member Corey Johnson and I worked with NYC Council attorneys to address issues raised in the hearing. Intro 1233 is and always has been about the safety and security of animals, as well as and human beings. This legislation will ensure that animals are in their natural state, not confined in small boxcars and/or treated in other inhumane ways. Equally important, human beings will be safe from animals that may act ferociously.”

“We now know more about the proper treatment of wild and exotic animals than we did in the past,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Entertainment alone is not an excuse to put these animals through more than they ever should have to endure. As a City, it’s easy to say that we value the proper treatment of animals. The difficult part is ensuring that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent animal mistreatment. I thank Council Member Rosie Mendez for her leadership on this issue, as well as our colleagues in the Council and countless advocates who have joined with us in this effort.”

“Eleven years ago when this bill was first introduced, no one dreamed Ringling Bros. would go out of business, or that cities all over the world would be enacting bans on the use of wild animals in the circus. It was because of compassionate, pioneering officials like Council Member Rosie Mendez that the tide shifted,” said John Phillips, a prominent animal rights activist who brought the issue to the Council Member’s attention in 2006 and led the grassroots campaign to pass Intro 1233. “With the passage of this historic bill, the largest city in the United States is standing up for the rights of wild animals and saying no to the beatings and captivity that they’ve long endured. The next chapter in NYC history will be a kinder one.”

“New York City has taken a major step forward for animals by ending the use of tigers, elephants, and other wild animals in circuses. There is an ugly and unpleasant back story for all of these animals in traveling circuses. The HSUS applauds City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson, for championing this path-breaking effort and seeking to close this chapter in our mistreatment of animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the Unites States

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “Animal Defenders International thanks Councilmember Mendez for her years of dedication and determination to protect wild animals and the public. ADI has repeatedly documented the suffering and abuse of wild animals in circuses, and applauds the New York City Council for its leadership in prohibiting these cruel and dangerous acts.”

“Wild animals have been suffering in New York City circuses since 1794, when monkeys were forced to perform at Ricketts Circus on Broadway. Council Members Rosie Mendez and Corey Johnson have made history—and made New York a much more civilized city,” said Dan Mathews, PETA’s Senior Vice President of Campaigns.

“The Humane Society of New York applauds the NYC Council for helping to make NYC a more humane city for all of us– two and four legged– by passing legislation to end the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses. Special thanks to Councilmember Rosie Mendez for her persistence and leadership. Wild and exotic animals used in entertainment suffer psychologically and physically from continuous confinement, cruel training, and being forced to perform acts totally unnatural to their species,” said Elinor Molbegott, Esq., Legal Counsel, Humane Society of New York.

“New Yorkers recognize that circus animal acts aren’t entertaining, they’re cruel,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We applaud Council Member Mendez’ tenacity in her long battle to ensure that wild and exotic animals are protected from the misery and indignity that public performance entails.”

“Big Cat Rescue strongly supports the passage of Intro 1233. This crucial bill will end the suffering of tigers, lions and leopards forced to perform in circuses when they visit NYC. As the largest city in America, this is an opportunity for New York City to be a leader in the humane treatment of big cats,” said Susan Bass, Director of Public Relations for Big Cat Rescue.

“The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) applauds the New York City Council for its vote to end the use of wild animals in circuses, closing the chapter on an outdated and inhumane spectacle that routinely subjects elephants, tigers and other wild animals to abusive and unnatural conditions. Today’s action reflects an important evolution in public attitudes toward greater concern and respect for captive wildlife and away from the use of wild animals for novelty and amusement. PAWS especially commends Intro 1233 sponsor, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, for her compassion, leadership and longtime dedication to ending the suffering of wild animals in circuses,” said Ed Stewart, President of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

“We congratulate Council Member Mendez on her 11 years of persistence and leadership to pass a law to stop circuses from exploiting wild and exotic animals for human entertainment in New York City. With the passage of Mendez’s bill, New York will show that such practices have no place in a city that values the dignity of other beings,” said Matthew Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations, Nonhuman Rights Project.

“CompassionWorks International applauds Council Members Mendez and Johnson and the city of New York for making the humane and compassionate choice to ban the use of animals in traveling entertainment. With this historic ban, New York shows the power of truth and justice for all, including for those who suffered for decades to provide others with a few minutes of entertainment. Thank you, New York City, for recognizing that animal cruelty has no place in a modern and caring society,” said Carrie LeBlanc, M.A., Executive Director, CompassionWorks International.

“Born Free USA applauds Council Members Rosie Mendez and Corey Johnson for their efforts with Intro 1233. This bill is another step in the right direction to banning wild animal performances, and to do so in New York City is a real accomplishment. We hope other jurisdictions will follow suit to end the use of animals in entertainment,” said Prashant K. Khetan, Esq., CEO and General Counsel of Born Free USA.

“HEART is grateful to Councilwoman Mendez and the co-sponsors of Intro.1233 for taking this significant step toward creating a more compassionate community in NYC. Wild animals in the circus have had to endure mistreatment, coercive training and unnatural living conditions for too long. It is important for children to see that their legislators have compassion for these highly intelligent and social animals. We are pleased that our city can serve as a humane model for our students,” said Meena Alagappan, Executive Director, Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART).




Contact: John Blasco,


 The LGBT Caucus introduced a bill that would require the City to include Gender Pronoun options on City-Agency documentation forms; including gender-neutral pronouns

C7FAALZW4AAZyw_.jpgNew York – On Wednesday, May 10th 2017, the LGBT Caucus, Chaired by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, introduced a bill that would require agencies to provide training to agency staff regarding individuals’ gender pronouns and to require agencies to amend their official forms and databases to collect and retain gender pronoun information. Intro 1604, introduced by the 7 member-body, made its appearance at the Council Stated meeting on Wednesday and has come in time for Pride month in June where New Yorkers will celebrate the 48th annual New York City Pride celebration.

The Gender Pronoun Bill would require the Mayor’s Office of Operations to ensure that city agencies provide mandatory trainings to frontline staff members regarding the use of city residents’ gender pronouns when interacting with such residents. The training would consists of an overview of the need to address an individual by their gender pronoun; an explanation of each pronoun option required to be included on the form, and an explanation that residents shall be given the option of completing all paperwork in a private space.

If passed by the NYC Council and the Mayor, the official forms will include the following gender pronoun options: [1] he/him/his, [2] she/her/hers, [3] they/them/theirs, [4] ze/hir, [5] an option for individuals to write in gender pronouns not included on such forms and [6] additional terms as determined by the office of operations. The forms would also indicate that providing gender pronoun information is voluntary. All official forms that have New York State or Federal limits on them will not be impacted by this legislation.

“I am proud to introduce this piece of legislation with my brothers in the LGBT Caucus,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, Chair of the LGBT Caucus. “The Human Rights Law states that individuals should be addressed by the gender pronoun that they have stated they identify with. If there is a human rights law that mandates this, then our official forms should reflect this basic human right. We are a City of diverse individuals and we must take every step in ensuring that our Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Queer, and many others are respected.”

“To respect someone’s preferred gender pronoun is to respect their dignity as a human being,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “By directing city agencies to collect data on constituents’ gender pronoun usage, this common-sense legislation will help ensure that people interacting with agency staff are addressed and treated appropriately.  I am proud to work alongside LGBT Caucus Chairperson Rosie Mendez on this effort to make city services open and accessible to all New Yorkers.”

“Addressing a person with the correct gender pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their identity. Referring to someone with the wrong pronoun can make them feel disrespected, alienated, or dysphoric. City employees and data systems don’t always know someone’s correct gender pronoun by their name, appearance or a voice on the phone. With training and data guidelines, City agencies can help all residents feel respected for who they are and how they identify,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“Amending training protocol and city forms will ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender identity, are treated with dignity and respect. This is an essential step in recognizing and honoring that identity does not look or feel the same for all people. I applaud Councilwoman Mendez for introducing this legislation on behalf of the LGBT Caucus and look forward to helping push this in Council,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“New York must preserve its place as a leading bastion of inclusivity,” said Council Member James Vacca. “As progress is made, we must make sure that the bureaucracy is accommodating to all communities. By amending forms and applications to include various gender pronouns, we are making a statement that New York is open to all.”

“When providing personal information on an official city form, it is a traumatic experience to feel forced to choose from a rigid and unrealistic set of options that don’t reflect the beautiful diversity of our city,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “As a proud openly gay elected official, I strongly support this bill that will require city agencies to train staff members on the appropriate and considerate use of gender pronouns and change official city forms to affirm our values of inclusion and respect. With this bill, the City of New York will send a strong message to all who live and work in our city: You can be your true self, and your government recognizes, respects, and values you.”

“This bill supports the basic respect and fundamental dignity that we owe all New York City residents,” said Jillian Weiss, Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc. “Addressing transgender people with the appropriate pronoun is the least we can do to say ‘You are part of our community, and we value you.’ Thank you to the New York City Council LGBT Caucus for extending a hand to transgender New Yorkers in this important way.”

“In a time when being able to honor one’s identity is more important than ever, we applaud the LGBT Caucus of the New York City Council for introducing important legislation that will allow our community members to do just that,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “The Center, the City and many others have worked for years to make our home a place of equality and this legislation is another important step on that path. By pairing increased access to a wider variety of gender pronouns on official forms with cultural competency training for the employees tasked with the completion of these forms, the LGBT Caucus is making a commitment to ensuring that our community continues to feel supported and welcomed in the City we all call home.”

“The Sylvia Rivera Law Project applauds Council Member Mendez and the LGBT Caucus in their efforts to recognize the gender identities and expressions of trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities. Our clients and members often experience discrimination at government agencies – we hope that this change is one of many steps towards meeting the demands of our communities,” said Ethan Lin, Director of Grassroots Fundraising & Communications.

“We thank the LGBT Caucus for listening to the Transgender community and drafting legislation requiring city agencies to include Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGP) on City forms,” said Sean Coleman, Executive Director, Destination Tomorrow. “By allowing PGP we will finally be able to accurately account for the hundreds of thousands Trans and Gender non-conforming (TGNC) New Yorkers. With this data, we will be able to provide accurate numbers detailing how large our community is, when requesting adequate funding to provide expanded services and programs to members of the TGNC community, a community in need of support equal to that of its Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual counterparts.

“The New York City Anti-Violence Project commends the LGBT Caucus of the NYC Council for introducing The Gender Pronoun Bill this week. Respecting people’s pronouns is essential to their safety, self-determination, and to ensuring that LGBTQ New Yorkers are treated with the dignity that we all deserve,” said Beverly Tillery, Executive Director, New York City Anti-Violence Project.