New Law Recognizes Third Gender on NYC Birth Certificates

By David Brand

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, New York City birth certificates will feature a third gender category — gender X — for the first time.

 Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law to include a third gender on New York City birth certificates. // Photo by Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a new law to include a third gender on New York City birth certificates. // Photo by Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

A new law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday will make it easier for transgender and gender non-binary people born in New York City to amend their birth certificates to better reflect their gender identities.

“New Yorkers should be free to tell their government who they are, not the other way around,” de Blasio said. “This new legislation will empower all New Yorkers — especially our transgender and gender non-binary residents — to have birth certificates that better reflect their identity, and it furthers the city's commitment to defending the rights of our LGBTQ community.”

The law will enable individuals to self-attest their own gender identity on birth certificate applications without requiring that people seek input from medical and mental health professionals.

“Today is a landmark day for our city,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “New York is sending a clear message to people who are transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary that we are here for you. This law will help those friends, neighbors and colleagues better self-identify on their birth certificates, a document that’s so important in everyday life. I am proud of my Council colleagues, the administration, and advocates for making this a reality.”

Oregon, California, Washington and New Jersey already offer Gender X for birth certificates and Oregon, Maine, California and Washington, D.C offer the designation for driver’s licenses.

LGBTQ leaders and human rights advocates hailed the new law.

“This legislation is a historic and vital step forward for our city and country,” said Ashe McGovern, director of the NYC Unity Project. “As a non-binary trans person, I intimately understand the discrimination our communities face as a result of mismatched or inaccurate identity documents. With this move, the Mayor is signaling clearly that New York City sees us, hears us, and deeply supports our fundamental right to self-determination.”

 LGBTQ advocates cheered the new law the bill signing event Tuesday. // Photo by Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

LGBTQ advocates cheered the new law the bill signing event Tuesday. // Photo by Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“For too long, transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, and older people in particular, have lived in the shadows, suffering widespread discrimination, high rates of violence, social isolation, and mounting health care barriers,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “For our city’s transgender elders, being able to obtain a birth certificate that matches their gender – without the need to go through a healthcare provider – is a vital to assert their selfhood. Today, older transgender people, and all New Yorkers, know that the City has their back.”