New York drops surgery rule for changing sex on birth certificate

Thu Jun 5, 2014 1:41pm EDT
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Transgender people born in New York state, with the exception of New York City, will no longer have to prove that they have had sex-reassignment surgery to change the sex marked on their birth certificate, Governor Andrew Cuomo's office said on Thursday.

About 100 people a year seek to change the sex on their birth certificate in New York state, according to the office of the governor, who is a Democrat. New York City has a separate records system from the rest of the state and still requires proof of surgery for such a change.

Under the policy, a transgender person will still need to provide a notarized affidavit from the doctor treating them for what the American Psychiatric Association calls gender dysphoria, previously known as gender identity disorder, in order to get their birth certificate modified.

But under the policy the doctor will no longer need to affirm that their patient has had surgery, only that they are receiving "appropriate treatment."

Transgender rights groups say many transgender people, who identify as having a different sex from their one at birth, do not need, do not want or cannot afford sex-reassignment surgery.

Being unable to change the sex marked on their identity documents can leave them vulnerable to discrimination or embarrassment, these rights groups say.

"This change brings New York in line with the current standards of medical care for gender transition - it's not 'one size fits all,'" Dru Levassuer, the transgender rights director for the advocacy group Lambda Legal, said in an interview.

"It is important to have accurate identity documents that reflect who people are in the world," he said.   Continued...