“We applaud Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration for taking the necessary steps to remove the surgical requirement for New Yorkers to obtain a gender marker change on their birth certificates. The policy, which hasn’t been updated since the 1970s, brings New York in line with a number of federal agencies and a growing number of states that are modernizing standards for gender marker change in recognition of current medical best practices,” said Transgender Rights Project Director Dru Levasseur.
“In 2010, the U.S. Department of State updated its policy regarding Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (a federal birth certificate for U.S. citizens born abroad) and U.S. passports to require that a person’s treating or evaluating physician write a letter certifying that the person has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition,” Levasseur added. “No proof of surgery is required. Other federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Veterans Health Administration and the Office of Personnel Management followed suit. In June 2013, the Social Security Administration became the most recent federal agency to adopt this standard.”
The new state policy won’t affect New York City, though, because the city issues its own birth certificates.
“We are considering a similar change through the Board of Health, and look forward to discussing this important issue with members of the transgender community soon,” the department said in a statement.
“It is time for New York City to follow the lead of New York state by adopting policies that treat transgender New Yorkers fairly and equally,” said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
“This is significant news for many New Yorkers who remain vulnerable without matching identification documents. Under the new policy, transgender people over 18 can change their gender on their birth records by providing certification from a physician confirming that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition,” said Levasseur.
More information, including further instructions about the process can be found at the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Records.
For more information on identity documents, visit Lambda Legal’s Transgender Know Your Rights hub.