New York City drops surgery requirement for birth certificate changes


NEW YORK — A person does not need to have sex reassignment surgery to change the gender designation on his or her birth certificate, the New York city council has decided.

New-YorkThe council on Monday passed a bill eliminating what it called the “antiquated” requirement, which California, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., also have removed.

Advocates have long argued that making the surgical procedure mandatory is discriminatory. The city’s previous policy required anyone wishing to change his or her birth certificate to undergo the surgery, which can be medically and financially prohibitive.

In a statement, the council said the old requirement “effectively bars the vast majority of transgender New Yorkers who do not have sex reassignment surgery from amending their birth certificates.”

“This bill will help affirm the basic human rights of transgender New Yorkers and will go a long way in addressing disparities faced by transgender individuals,” Democratic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.

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A mismatched identification can lead to harassment, discrimination and sometimes accusations of fraud and impedes access to health care and economic opportunity, the council said.

The legislation was introduced by Democratic Councilman Corey Johnson and is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio. The legislation takes effect 45 days from enactment.

A medical or mental health professional must fill out an affidavit or affirmation attesting that the changed designation more accurately reflects the applicant’s sex or gender identity.

Johnson said having such a critical document that correctly reflects a person’s gender identity “is a basic human right that too many transgender people have been denied for far too long.”

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