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Federal Court Orders Lambda Legal Case of Nonbinary New Yorker Seeking Accurate Driver’s License to Proceed

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"New York is denying nonbinary the ability to fully participate in society and causing ongoing harm to their well-being."g harm to their well-being
April 30, 2021

New York Federal District Hon. Judge Lewis J. Liman ordered on Friday that a lawsuit against New York State on behalf of a nonbinary transgender New Yorker resident seeking a an accuratea driver’s license that accurately reflects their nonbinary gender identity should proceed, in court dismissing the government’s State’s arguments that the case was moot.

“I’m grateful and satisfied to see that the court will hear the merits of my case and that if the policy changes many other nonbinary and gender nonconforming New Yorkers would be able to access a driver’s license that reflect who we are and avoid us having to face issues or discrimination,” said plaintiff Sander Saba.

The lawsuit, Saba v. Cuomo, was filed by Lambda Legal on Januaryin July 2020 challenging New York State’s discriminatory policy that categorically prohibits nonbinary people from obtaining an accurate driver’s license that reflects their gender identity, instead forcing them to choose either “male” or “female.” Saba, a 265-year-old New York University Law School graduatelawyer, is seeking an accurate driver’s license with an “X” gender marker.

“We feel optimistic that Saba will have theira day in court and we hope the judgeJudge Liman will find affirm that this New York state State’s policy is discriminatory and deprives nonbinary people of state-issued identification that accurately communicates who they are while they  from important identity document essential to navigate so many aspects of life, interact with agencies and access services,” said Carl Charles, senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal. “By continuinge to prohibit nonbinary people from a quintessential state-issued identity document that accurately reflect their identity, having accurate driver’s licenses, New York is limiting denying nonbinary people of opportunitiesthe ability to fully participate in society and causing ongoing harm to their well-being."

Mx. Saba already has a New York City birth certificate with two identity documents with accuratean “X” markers – their New York City birth certificate and an earlier driver’s license issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvaniamarker, 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.  need an accurate New York driver’s license to ensure they are abiding by New York State law requiring its residents to exchange out-of-state license for a New York one and have fully congruent documentation.

There has been some progress already within the state to make policies more inclusive for nonbinary and transgender people. New York City already changed its law in 2019 to allow nonbinary people to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. Furthermore, New York State also already allows transgender adults to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates, and just this year as a result of an earlier Lambda Legal lawsuit, implemented a new policy to allow those changes for transgender minors. Last year, in response to another lawsuit, New York State’s Department of Health began to allow nonbinary people to obtain birth certificates with an X gender neutral marker.

Handling the case on behalf of Lambda Legal are Staff Attorney Carl Charles and Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan and lawyers from the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Explore Lambda Legal’s “X” gender marker map: https://www.lambdalegal.org/map/x-markers

Read more about Lambda Legal’s Saba v. Cuomo lawsuit here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/saba-v-cuomo

Read the complaint of Saba v. Cuomo lawsuit here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/saba_ny_20200728_complaint

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Contact Info

Samy Nemir, (312) 545-8140, snemir@lambdalegal.org

Related Issues: Transgender Rights

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