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Lambda Legal Applauds Passage of Gender Recognition Act

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June 10, 2021
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Today, the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which had passed the New York State Senate the day prior. The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law. Ethan Rice, Senior Attorney with the Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal, released the following statement:

“Lambda Legal applauds the passage of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), an important and long-awaited bill we have strongly supported for years. We helped to draft an initial version of this bill, that updates the protocols around correcting identity documents for transgender and nonbinary New Yorkers in order to help them navigate life without having to fear or risk discrimination and harassment. This long-awaited bill would remove the publication requirement for name changes, allow for a self-attestation system for  DMV-issued IDs, including drivers’ licenses, allow for gender-neutral X markers on state-issued IDs, and codify into law several recent legal wins by Lambda Legal and others such as allowing for self-attestation and X gender markers on NY State birth certificates, permitting corrections to the gender marker on minors’ birth certificates, and permitting parents to correct the parent’s name and gender on their child’s birth certificate, among other important updates. We encourage Governor Cuomo to quickly sign this bill when it comes to his desk to ensure all transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming New Yorkers have access to correct documentation.”

This bill comes on the heels of two different Lambda Legal lawsuits against the State of New York. In March 2020, in response to MHW v. Cuomo, New York State announced a policy change to allow self-attestation for birth certificates and permit corrections for transgender minors’ birth certificates. Likewise, in response to Saba v. Cuomo, a lawsuit currently pending in courts, New York State announced in court filings its intention to allow X markers on state drivers’ licenses in the future, though the current policy prohibiting such markers remains in place.

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More about MHW v. Cuomo:

On January 2020, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging New York State’s policy categorically prohibiting transgender minors from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates – a critically important document for transgender people seeking to navigate through life with accurate government documents. The minor who challenged the policy – identified only by his initials M.H.W. –is a transgender boy born in Ithaca, New York, who currently resides in Houston, Texas. In March 2020, New York State announced it was changing its policy prohibiting transgender minors from correcting the sex marker on their birth certificates in a manner consistent with their gender identity. In addition, the State announced that as a result of the case it would move to a self-attestation model in order to correct the gender marker on birth certificates.

More about Saba v. Cuomo:

Lambda Legal represents Sander Saba, a nonbinary transgender New York resident who is seeking an accurate New York driver’s license that reflects their gender. The lawsuit challenges New York State’s existing discriminatory policy that categorically prohibits nonbinary people from obtaining an accurate driver’s license that reflects their gender, instead forcing them to choose either “male” or “female.” Saba, a 26-year-old lawyer, is seeking an accurate driver’s license with an “X” marker. Mx. Saba has a New York City birth certificate with an “X” marker, but their Commonwealth of Pennsylvania driver’s license with an accurate X gender marker expired in November 2020. They currently have no state-issued identification card that accurately communicates their gender and therefore are unable to go about their day-to-day life like other New Yorkers.  In response to the lawsuit, New York State announced, thru court filings, that it intended to permit people to obtain driver’s licenses with an “X” marker in the future, likely in 2022. The current discriminatory remains in effect in the meantime, however.