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GMHC Welcomes New Law on Altering Gender on Birth Certificates

9.12.2018

New York, NY (September 13, 2018)--Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) today celebrated the successful passage of a bill by the New York City Council that will allow individuals born in New York City to more easily change birth certificate documentation to reflect their gender. Under the new law, the process will no longer require a person to seek gender affirmation from a licensed medical professional to make these changes.Additionally, the new law will allow for a non-binary or gender-neutral gender designation on birth certificates, which can now be marked with an "X" to avoid locking gender identities into one name.

The updated rules will go into effect January 1, 2019 and will allow New Yorkers who were born in the city to apply for a birth certificate gender change with a signed and notarized statement by the individual attesting that the request for a change of gender to female, male, or "X" will reflect the person's gender identity. New York City is the first U.S. city to enact this legislation and joins three states with similar policies: California, Oregon, and Washington.

"We often see individuals looking to discriminate against transgender community members by demanding that they identify based on what is on their birth certificate-not based on how they identify outside of a piece of paper that is filled out without their consent," said GMHC Managing Director of Policy Cecilia Gentili. "This new law gives power back to the transgender community to make their own changes, as they know themselves best.

"Having to go to a medical professional to get proof and validation of your gender identity is incredibly dehumanizing and delegitimizing," Gentili said. "It makes you feel that you must always be ready to defend yourself to a stranger. Being able to change your gender marker without jumping through hoops will help to break down many of the gatekeeping barriers the transgender community currently faces across so many levels."

"Not only does this decision help the trans community, but it also helps the intersex community--a community that constantly deals with the issue of having birth certificates that force individuals into one gender/sex designation despite their bodies not fitting into boxes and outdated concepts of the realities of gender and sex," said GMHC Advocacy Specialist Kaleb Dornheim. "We've seen such a push to start thinking about gender outside of a binary of male and female, and this legislation helps give trans and intersex folks a clear, concrete way to take back control over their identity documents, starting with birth certificates."

GMHC thanks Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Mark Levine, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Mathieu Eugene, Karen Koslowitz, Ben Kallos, Carlina Rivera, Brad S. Lander, Daniel Dromm, Helen K. Rosenthal, and Costa G. Constantinides for standing up for the TGNB (transgender, nonbinary) communities and ensuring their identity documents accurately match who they are without involving gatekeeping from the medical industry. We look forward to seeing similar legislation come out for trans folks across New York State for all forms of identity documents in 2019.

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Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 13,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.