NYC Makes Birth Certificate Gender Correction Easier

There’s good news for New Yorkers this week! On December 8, the New York City Council voted to end the discriminatory policy requiring transgender people to undergo surgery before being issued a birth certificate with their corrected sex. The new legislation comes after Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of three transgender people who were refused an accurate birth certificate four years ago. Now, the process will be significantly easier.  The city will require only a statement from a licensed health care provider indicating that an individual’s true sex is not accurately recorded on their current birth certificate.

As an organization with a number of transgender staff members, peer counselors, and clients—and as an organization who cares about doing what’s right—we are excited about this change.

Since proper ID is essential to many facets of daily life, not to mention a source of pride and a reflection of how we live our lives, this legislation is a true victory. Birth certificates are often the only form of ID that low-income New Yorkers have when applying for jobs or public benefits.  Particularly relevant to Harlem United’s work, a birth certificate often is the key to access necessary health care. Laws and structures that prevent people from living their full lives put individuals at risk for HIV as well. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reports that 40% of transgender people face harassment when presenting ID that does not match their gender identity, 15% report being denied entry, and 3% have faced physical assault.

If you’re looking for health services for trans New Yorkers, we have doctors and a mental health counselors at multiple locations and a program for LGBT young adults.

This past June, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo moved to change the policy statewide. New York City, which has its own Vital Statistics department and issues its own birth certificates, did not follow suit. With the passing of this legislation, we join California, Iowa, New York State, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, and Washington DC. Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law and the Board of Health has already put the new regulations in place.


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