New York State Makes It Easier For Transgender People To Change Their Birth Certificates

People born in New York State will no longer have to provide proof of sex-reassignment surgery to change gender markers, but the requirement still stands for those born in New York City.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Derek Gee

New York state has eased its requirements for transgender people seeking to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates — dropping the need to provide proof of sex-reassignment surgery.

Advocates from Empire State Pride Agenda and several other LGBT and transgender organizations applauded the policy change from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s Department of Health, saying it removes barriers for transgender people to match crucial documents with their gender identity.

“This is tremendous news for transgender people across the country who were born in New York State,” Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a statement. “A birth certificate is a fundamental form of identification. This will ensure that transgender people can obtain accurate birth certificates that reflect who they are.”

Under the change, the state will issue birth certificates with corrected gender markers after applicants provide an affidavit from a licensed medical provider stating that they are receiving the appropriate clinical treatment. Previously, the policy included what advocates say was “invasive” requirements, such as proof of surgery — surgery that many transgender people choose not to undergo for personal, medical, and financial reasons.

New York now joins four other states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California — along with Washington D.C. and a number of federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of State and the Social Security Administration that have similar policies, according to Arli Christian, policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

However, the policy will not affect those who were born in New York City, which issues its own birth certificates, according to Silverman at TLDEF. The organization has a lawsuit pending against the city and its Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to end its requirement on surgery for gender marker changes.

“Transgender people in New York City cannot be denied the right to update their birth certificates to reflect who they truly are simply because they were born within New York City rather than elsewhere in the state,” he said.

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