WATCH: Mara Keisling on MSNBC: Trans People Need Proper ID to 'Participate Fully in Society'

Activist Mara Keisling talks transgender ID issues with MSNBC's T.J Holmes.

BY Rebecca Juro

July 11 2014 3:52 PM ET

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, schooled viewers on the importance of proper legal identification for transgender people in an appearance on MSNBC’s Live With Craig Melvin this past weekend.

Keisling discussed a newly proposed New York City law that would allow those applying for a city ID to self-identify their own gender. This would be a boon to transgender New Yorkers, enabling them to circumvent antiquated and burdensome restrictions in acquiring identification that properly reflects their presented gender, such as those still in force that prohibit the correction of gender markers on the birth certificates of transgender people who were born in the five boroughs of New York City. New York State has already modernized its regulations and instituted a simple process for correcting the birth certificates of transgender New Yorkers born outside the city limits.

When asked by guest host T.J. Holmes to describe some of the practical impacts of being forced to carry and present ID that doesn’t match one’s presented gender, Keisling didn’t hesitate to give Melvin a list.

“Well, most Americans don’t think about their ID much. They bring it out all the time. You have to use it a couple times a day in many cases,” Keisling told Holmes, “In our post-9/11 world, you can’t have a job … you can’t go shopping, you can’t, you know, buy a beer, you can’t open a bank account. So you can’t participate fully in society unless you have ID that matches who you are.”  

Asked about the onerous New York City birth certificate regulations currently still in effect, Keisling told The Advocate, “New York State did the right thing by modernizing their birth certificate policy, allowing transgender people to update their gender marker without expensive and onerous medical requirements. But these same benefits aren’t yet available to transgender people living in New York City. The National Center for Transgender Equality urges New York City to follow the state’s lead in dropping these outdated requirements. And by doing so, the city can be in line with the medical consensus on treating gender dsyphoria and recognizing gender transition.”

“Without modernized birth certificate policies, transgender people will continue to face difficulty enrolling in school or getting a job.” Keisling continued, “Birth certificates are an important source document too, so another challenge is that without accurate birth certificates, transgender people face difficulty getting other forms of ID like driver’s licenses. The problem requires a really simple fix and provides enormous relief for transgender people.

“While NCTE applauds New York State for modernizing their birth certificate policy, they can improve their policy by removing unnecessary burdens for people who are under 18 years old and people who are incarcerated. We urge New York City to reference other model policies, such as the policy passed in the District of Columbia last year, and work with local and national advocates to develop a procedure that facilitates access to updated birth certificates for all transgender individuals.”

Watch the MSNBC segment below.

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