NYC Adds 3rd Gender Marker For Birth Certificates Under New Law

May 9, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

NEW YORK — “X” marks the gender. New Yorkers will be able to pick a category other than male or female on their birth certificates under a law Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Tuesday.

Starting next year, anyone who doesn’t identify with the two existing options will have a third choice, “X,” to display on their birth certificates. New York City joins New Jersey, California, Oregon and Washington in offering the additional option, the mayor’s office said.

The law will also make it easier for transgender and non-binary New Yorkers to change their gender marker by allowing them to declare their own gender identity, the mayor’s office said. Such a switch currently requires medical and mental health professionals to attest to the person’s identity, according to the mayor’s office.

“New York is sending a clear message to people who are transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary that we are here for you,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “This law will help those friends, neighbors and colleagues better self-identify on their birth certificates, a document that’s so important in everyday life.”

City officials first proposed the change in June to make birth certificates more inclusive for transgender and non-binary people.

The move aims to ease the difficulty those New Yorkers face in finding employment, housing, health care and other services, the mayor’s office said, as documents that don’t match one’s gender can lead to discrimination and harassment.

Transgender people face various obstacles to updating identification documents such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Only about a fifth who have transitioned have updated all their records and IDs while about a third haven’t updated any, according to a 2015 survey by the center.

LGBTQ advocates praised the city’s new law as a simple but important step toward helping marginalized people affirm their gender identities.

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“This is a matter of equality and access for non-binary New Yorkers to be recognized and respected for who they are,” Ethan Rice, a senior attorney with the Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “Everyone should have documentation that accurately reflects their identity so they are able to live openly and authentically.”

(Lead image: Revelers are seen in the New York City Pride Parade on June 24, 2018. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)