Earlier today, the New York State Department of Health issued updated guidelines pertaining to the documentation needed in order to change the gender marker on one's birth certificate.
Effective immediately, the state will no longer require those looking to update their birth certificate to undergo a gender-confirming surgery. Moving forward, trans individuals will be able to receive a corrected birth certificate, needing only an affidavit from a licensed medical provider confirming that the individual has received "appropriate clinical treatment."
The state's prior policy had been in place without update since the 1970's, and required New Yorkers to submit a significant amount of paperwork, and mandated that they have undergone reconstructive genital surgery.
"This is tremendous news for transgender people across the country who were born in New York State," said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. "A birth certificate is a fundamental form of identification. This will ensure that transgender people can obtain accurate birth certificates that reflect who they are. It also means they will stop being subjected to harassment and discrimination in areas like employment where identification is essential to proving eligibility to work.”
Unfortunately, this new policy does not impact trans individuals who were born in New York City, as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has its own separate system for issuing birth certificates, and will continue to require trans individuals to undergo surgery in order to correct their birth record.
New York becomes the sixth state — along with California, Iowa, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. — to waive the surgical requirement. The federal government does not require proof of surgery for the purposes of updating one's Social Security or passport information.
This move comes just days after the World Health Organization issued a report urging governments to lift surgical requirements in the cases of trans and intersex individuals who seek legal recognition as their true gender.