By DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — People born in New York City who do not identify their gender as either male or female would have the option of choosing a third category for their birth certificates under a new proposal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the new category of “X” would be available through the proposal, which is expected to be introduced by Johnson on Thursday with public hearings to be held later this month.
Currently, if parents of a newborn do not want to identify a sex, they can say the sex of the child is undetermined or unknown. The “X” category would be something adults could choose for their own birth certificate.
If it passes, New York City would join California, Oregon and Washington in having the third category on birth certificates, while Washington, D.C. allows it on driver’s licenses.
Both elected officials noted that June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
“Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and re-affirm our commitment to protecting all New Yorkers from discrimination,” de Blasio, a Democrat said. “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.”
Johnson said, “This is about making it easier for people to be who they truly are and letting them know that New York City understands them and has their backs.”
The change also is expected to be considered on June 5 at a meeting of the Board of Health, with a hearing in July and a vote in September if the board agrees. The legislation in the City Council will match the language of the proposal that the Board of Health is considering.
“Transgender New Yorkers, like everyone else, should have birth certificates that reflect their true gender identity,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner. “We know that being able to live your authentic gender and gender expression is critical to physical and mental health. Now more than ever, we must ensure that all people can live their best and healthiest lives.”
Johnson, a Democrat, also introduced legislation in 2014 that removed a requirement for a person looking to change his or her gender designation on a birth certificate to have undergone sex reassignment surgery.
But even after that, the process still required a medical or mental health professional to fill out an affidavit or affirmation saying the applicant’s gender identity was more accurately reflected by changing the gender designation.
The legislation being introduced this week also would remove that requirement, and allow people filing for the change to submit their own affidavit saying it was to affirm their gender identity.