Gender X: Bill Adding Third Option on Birth Certificates Passes New York City Council
By Jillian Jorgensen
New Yorkers who do not identify as male or female will be able to change their birth certificates and select a third option -- X -- under a bill passed by the City Council Wednesday and expected to be signed into law by Mayor de Blasio.
The legislation will also mean New Yorkers can change the gender on their birth certificate without a doctor's sign-off -- instead, they will be able to self-attest to their gender identity.
The X option is aimed at recognizing New Yorkers who identify as gender non-conforming or nonbinary, meaning they can have multiple genders or none at all.
"There are plenty of New Yorkers who don't identify as either male or female," Johnson said at a City Hall press conference. "Gender is a spectrum for many folks, and it's not a fixed thing. So for New Yorkers who are transgender, who are gender non-conforming, who are non-binary, to have an option to better self-identify on such an important document, their birth certificate, unlocks all sorts of things for them."
Birth certificates are necessary to access many city services, Johnson said, and transgender people whose gender on the certificate no longer matches their appearance often face difficulty accessing those services.
"To actually have a certificate that matches who you are, it's not just the importance of unlocking the things you deserve. It also gives that individual a level of internal comfort, a level of safety, that they're going to be OK when they're in average, everyday situations -- to not be harassed and to not be questioned, 'is that who you really are?'" Johnson said.
The proposal was jointly announced by Johnson and de Blasio earlier this summer, and the mayor is expected to sign the bill into law.
"This proposal will allow transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and make our City fairer," de Blasio said in June.
Until 2014, New Yorkers needed to show proof they were undergoing hormone treatment or were getting sex-change surgery in order to change the gender on their birth certificate. That requirement was lifted under a law Johnson sponsored in 2014 -- something he said today was his proudest legislative achievement in his first term -- but the requirement for a doctor or nurse to sign off on the change remained.
The legislation passed in the Council by a vote of 41 in favor and six against.
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