Birth Certificates in NYC Have General Neutral Option Now

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 04, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New York City is now allowing its birthers to designate their own gender on birth certificates. Though this is limited to just those born in New York City, it is a major win for transgender and gender-neutral individuals, since it allows individuals to select their own gender, without requiring a doctor's note. 

"You don't need a doctor to tell you who you are and you shouldn't need a doctor to change your birth certificate to reflect your true self," states New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. NYC now joins the ranks of other states that allow for personal designations, and these numbers are expected to rise in the coming years.

New Laws Allows for Gender Change and "X" Without Doctor's Note

Back in 2015, NYC passed a law that allowed individuals to change their gender on their birth certificate if they provided a signed affidavit from a healthcare provider. Prior to 2015, proof of gender-reassignment surgery was required. This new law, which went into effect January 1, 2019, allows individuals to change their gender on their birth certificate (including a new label, "X", to reflect non-binary gender identity) without a doctor's note. However, individuals will have to provide a notarized application affirming that the change is to reflect their "true gender identity and is not for any fraudulent purpose". The "X" option won't be available at time of birth, but will be an option for those wanting to change youth birth certificates. This only applies to city-issued birth certificates, and not state-issued items, such as driver's licenses.

NYC joins the ranks of a few others states that allow individuals to change their gender to neutral "X" designation on birth certificates without medical affidavits, including California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. New Jersey is set to put this into effect next month. In Maine, Oregon, California, and Washington D.C., individuals can get gender neutral driver's licenses without a doctor's note. But what about at the federal level?

What About Federally Issued Passports?

In a recent case, Judge R. Brooke Jackson, a U.S. District judge in Denver, ruled that the U.S. State Department cannot refuse to issue a passport merely because an individual truthfully does not identify with either gender. Though the individual in that case is still waiting to receive the passport with an "X" designation, the State Department has been ordered to work on issuing it immediately. Perhaps some legal changes at the federal level will come in the next few years.

If you or someone you love is experiencing discrimination based on gender identification, contact a local civil rights attorney. The laws in this field are changing rapidly, and a legal advisor can review the facts of your case, apply the most recent laws, and offer you helpful legal advice.

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