Giana Desir was kicked out of her home by her landlord in 2015 when she began to transition. According to LGBTQ Nation, Desir met Henry Walter, an employee of Empire State Realty during her search for a new place to live. Henry was polite over the phone, but things changed when he met her and realized she was trans.
He told her she could not rent an apartment "around children" but offered her a place "in a basement somewhere with its own entrance." According to the Commission's report, he said to her, "Why didn’t you tell me you were transgender? Thank God I had you come here at night. What would people have thought if they had seen you."
When Desir testified in court, she told them Walter asked her extremely inappropriate questions about what she liked sexually, and threatened to spank her. He also said that if anyone found out he'd helped her get an apartment they'd assume sexual favors were traded. He even had the audacity to tell her that he was allowed to discriminate against her despite the fact New York's Human Rights Law began protecting trans people from this very thing in 2016.
The initial award was for $25,000, but The New York Commission on Human Rights doubled it. Walter also has to pay an additional $25,000 civil penalty and he and his employees have to take anti-discrimination training and undergo an anti-discrimination audit.
“All this has been about was the fact that I was so devastated when I was looking for housing and it appeared that I was going to be homeless and the only thing I was doing wrong was being who I was,” Desir said in an interview with Gothamist.
Katherine Carroll, Assistant Commissioner at the Commission on Human Rights, said, "Having a decision on the books that lays out what these protections are very clearly makes it much easier for us to prosecute similar claims in the future because we can say, ‘Here is a published decision and order that says you cannot discriminate against people who are trans, or gender-non-conforming-on the basis of anyone’s gender identity, you cannot discriminate against them.'"
We here at #Gaye send our love and best wishes to Giana. If you're a trans person who's been the victim of harassment and discrimination, reach out to the Transgender Law Center: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/