Lambda Legal Applauds New York City Law to Ease Birth Certificate Changes for Transgender People

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December 9, 2014

The New York City Council has announced that it has passed a bill eliminating the surgery requirement for transgender people seeking to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.

We applaud the New York City Council for taking the necessary steps to make it easier for transgender New Yorkers to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates to reflect who they are, and we are grateful to Councilmember Corey Johnson for his leadership on this legislation. With this, New York City has joined a growing list of federal agencies and states that have modernized standards for gender marker change to be in line with the contemporary medical standards for transition.

Lambda Legal and other organizations worked with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration to change the New York State policy, which was announced this past June. We are glad that New York City has followed suit with an even more expansive policy that offers a range of medical providers who can attest to the correction, including social workers,  physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. The policy removes unnecessary hurdles allowing transgender New Yorkers to have accurate identity documents.

Know Your Rights: Transgender, a legal guide for trans people and advocates.

New York City also joins the U.S. State Department which removed surgery requirements for passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad in 2010, as well the Social Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Veteran’s Health Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, California, Iowa, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.

This is significant news for many New Yorkers who face increased discrimination and harassment when they do not have identity documents that match who they are. The lack of matching identification documents puts them at considerable risk.

For years, Lambda Legal’s Help Desk has received calls from transgender people who are mistreated because they are unable to correct their birth certificates. Policy changes such as this have a tangible impact on people’s lives, from employment to school to housing. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 40% of transgender people have faced harassment when presenting identity documents that did not match their gender identity/expression. In addition, 15% report being denied entry or asked to leave because of gender mismatches, and 3% report facing physical assault due to mismatched IDs.

Read the press release.

Transgender Rights