Lambda Legal Applauds New York Birth Certificate Policy Change for Transgender People

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Date: 
06/05/2014

(New York, June 5, 2014) — Today in reaction to the news that the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records has updated its policy guidelines for changing the gender designation on birth certificates for transgender people, Lambda Legal released the following statement by Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Project Director:

"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.

"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. 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.

"This is significant news for many New Yorkers who remain vulnerable without matching identification documents. Under the new policy, transgender people over eighteen 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.

"For years, Lambda Legal’s Help Desk has received calls from transgender people who have been outed to their employer because their birth certificates don’t accurately reflect their gender. 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 ID. Having accurate documentation is necessary to people’s lives, from employment to school to housing. These policy changes will have a real impact people’s lives.

"We will continue to work on ensuring that transgender people have access to identity records and documents that match their gender identity and we will continue to fight for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to bring New York up to speed with the more than one third of the country that already provides protections on the basis of gender identity and expression."

More information, including further instructions about the process can be found at the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Records at: http://health.ny.gov/vital_records/birth.htm.

For more information on identity documents, please see Lambda Legal’s Transgender Know Your Rights hub. http://www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/trans-identity/transgender/transgenderaud1

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Contact Info

Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext.267; Cell: 646-752-3251; Email: jadams@lambdalegal.org Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.