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The Public Advocate

for the City of New York


Letitia James Public Advocate

June 19, 2017

Veronique Hakim
Interim Executive Director
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Dear Director Hakim,

As Public Advocate for the City of New York, I honor my duty to protect New Yorkers
from discrimination in all its forms. I am writing today because I believe that certain
policies of the MTA undermine the protections granted to New Yorkers against
discrimination based on gender identity or expression. I am calling on you to remove the
sex/gender designation on Long Island Railroad and MetroNorth monthly rail passes as
well as on reduced fare MetroCards for seniors and people with disabilities. This
designation is not necessary and is a liability for the MTA and its employees. Several
other U.S. transit agencies have taken this step, and it is time for New Yorks transit
agencies to do the same.

The New York City Human Rights Law, Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of
New York, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. This
prohibition extends to providers of public accommodations. Further, Article 15 of the
New York State Executive Law similarly prohibits the withholding of accommodations,
advantages, facilities or privileges thereof on account of an individuals sex. Title 9 of
the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations defines sex as including gender identity
and the status of being transgender. Both the New York State and City laws acknowledge
the protection against discrimination of individuals whose gender identity, self-image,
appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the
legal sex assigned to that person at birth.

I believe that the MTAs policy of including sex/gender designations on its fare cards and
passes violates the spirit, if not the letter, of these laws. When ordering online, a customer
must indicate their gender. When ordering from a ticket booth, an MTA employee
determines the gender of the customer based on that customers appearance. Customers
may be told that their fare card is not being honored because of a suspected mismatch
between the gender indicated on the card or pass and the appearance of the customer.

This unnecessary, antiquated, and reductive system poses serious constraints on a range
of groups, including transgender individuals, those whose dress or appearance is gender
non-conforming, and anyone who doesn't feel their gender is relevant to riding public
transit. As a supposed protection against fraud, the gender designation is clearly

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ineffectiveanyone appearing to be of the same gender could easily use another
customers card. Transit agencies in Chicago and Philadelphia have removed any
mention of sex or gender from their fare cards and passes, and there has been no
appreciable effect on fraud. Further, I believe that it is inappropriate and unfair to expect
MTA employees to make determinations about the sex or gender of MTA customers, and
opens the MTA and its employees to charges of discrimination or harassment.

I call for the immediate end to the use of gender markers on all fare cards or passes used
by the MTA. The MTA should direct its employees to stop enforcing the policy of
matching a customers perceived gender with that on the fare card, and the MTA should
no longer require customers to indicate their gender when ordering a card or using the
ETix smartphone application.

Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals suffer discrimination, harassment,


and violence on a regular basis. By making these changes, we can make these individuals
feel more welcome and safe when boarding an MTA train or bus. We must all work
together to affirm the Citys commitment to making New York an inclusive, diverse, and
welcoming city.

Sincerely,

Letitia James
Public Advocate for the City of New York