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New York State Makes It Easier to Change Gender on Birth Certificates

2 minute read

New York State has made it easier for transgender people to change their gender on their birth certificate.

Previously, the state required that transgender people provide proof of sex-reassignment surgery to change their name on their birth certificate — but many transgender people choose not to undergo surgery, for medical, financial and personal reasons.

Now New York will issue updated birth certificates once applicants provide a medical affidavit stating they have received clinical treatment.

LGBT and transgender organizations have lauded the change, calling it a modernization of the state’s policy.

Pro-LGBT organization Empire State Pride Agenda said the rules, which were several decades old, presented barriers for transgender people trying to obtain documents that matched their identities. Birth certificates that show a different gender to the one the holder identifies themselves with can open transgender people to harassment and discrimination in areas like employment.

Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), praised the decision. “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.”

New York will be the fifth state to change its policy, after Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California. Washington, D.C., also has a similar policy.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York is reclaiming its rightful place as the progressive capital of the nation and made significant progress to advance the rights of all New Yorkers,” said Alphonso David, deputy secretary for civil rights for New York State.

The policy change will not apply in New York City, however, which issues its own birth certificates. TLDEF and other LGBT organizations are calling for New York City to follow suit and change its policies to match the rest of the state.

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