March 23, 2011 / 3:06 PM / 6 years ago

Transgender New Yorkers sue over birth certificates

3 Min Read

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A group of transgender residents filed a lawsuit against New York City over what they say are burdensome requirements for them to change the gender on their birth certificates.

The city's birth certificate requirements amount to discrimination for transgender residents, said Noah Lewis, an attorney representing the residents in the case.

New York's Health Department requires residents to show proof of surgical procedures in order to change the gender status on a birth certificate.

But the lawsuit, filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in state Supreme Court on behalf of three residents, said many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.

Instead, a note from a doctor verifying someone's transgender status should be sufficient, it said.

The requirements mean many transgender people cannot get up-to-date or usable identification, Lewis said.

"This subjects them to harassment and discrimination. They can be laughed at or turned away doing everyday transactions like going to the DMV (the Department of Motor Vehicles) or applying for jobs," he said.

One of those suing the city, Joan Prinzivalli, said she would like to get the surgery the city requires to prove she is female but she is unable to for health reasons.

"This policy is unfair to me and to other transgender people who just want IDs that match who we are," she said.

City attorney Gabriel Taussig said the Health Department would review the group's concerns.

"We are very sympathetic to the petitioners' concerns and recognize that this is a complex issue," he said.

"The Health Department must be satisfied that an applicant has completely and permanently transitioned to the acquired gender prior to the issuance of a birth certificate."

Birth certificates for transgendered people in New York were an issue earlier this month when the city made an apology to a transgendered couple asked to show birth certificates when getting married because the clerk claimed they did not appear to match the people in their photo IDs.

They threatened to sue because state laws do not require couples to show birth certificates when getting married.

Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton

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