Attorney General James Announces Change To NYS Health Policy Allowing Transgender Minors To Correct Sex Designation On Birth Certificates
Process to Correct Birth Certificates Will Also Be Made Easier for Transgender Adults
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a change in policy at the New York State Department of Health, Vital Records, that allows transgender minors to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates if they were born in New York State. Following a case brought on behalf of a transgender minor — referred to as M.H.W. — who wanted to correct the sex designation on his birth certificate from female to male to match his gender identity, the state changed its policy to ensure M.H.W. and other transgender youth do not need to wait until they are 18 years old to make the change. Now, transgender individuals born in New York State can obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate that accurately reflects their sex, consistent with their gender identity.
“Thanks to the brave determination of this young man, New York State has made the right decision and changed its policy to allow minors to obtain birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender identity,” said Attorney General James. “Effective immediately, transgender individuals born in New York will have the right to make this deeply personal decision without the government’s unwarranted denial or without having their privacy violated. In New York State, we will not allow an outdated policy to stop us from providing every individual with equal dignity and respect.”
“This is awesome. Now all my identity paperwork matches, and I can go forward not having to worry about legal documents conflicting with who I am again. I get to just go on being me,” said M.H.W.
“Every person should be recognized and respected for who they are,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal and counsel for M.H.W. “Today, New York State has come forward with a change in policy allowing transgender minors to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates, consistent with their gender identity. It shouldn’t take litigation for a person’s rights to be recognized. But with this announcement, New York State eliminates an outdated and unjust barrier to transgender minors’ ability to be themselves and have accurate, essential identity documents. We are grateful to Attorney General James and the Cuomo Administration for this new policy, and of course, to M.H.W. and his parents for standing up for what is right and just.”
Previously, New York State had a wildly outdated policy that perpetuated the stigma faced by transgender individuals by requiring those born in New York who sought to correct the sex listed on their birth certificate to be at least 18 years old and to submit a notarized affidavit from a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant confirming that surgical procedures had been performed on the applicant to complete sex reassignment. Alternatively, one of these medical professionals could submit an affidavit confirming they had treated, or reviewed and evaluated, the gender-related medical history of the applicant for a series of diagnoses — noting that the provider was making findings on independent and unbiased reviews and evaluations, not related to the applicant.
Starting today, no medical affidavits will be necessary to apply to correct the sex designation on a birth certificate for adults or minors, and individuals under the age of 18 can submit an application to correct their birth certificate. Those age 17 or older can make their request to the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, by submitting 1) a completed and signed application (DOH-5305) and 2) a notarized affidavit form affirming their gender identity (DOH‑5303).
Minors age 16 or younger can make the request for a correction to a birth certificate through their parents or legal guardian(s). The requests must include 1) a completed and signed application by their parents or legal guardian(s) (DOH-5306), as well as 2) a notarized affidavit form affirming the gender identity of their child (DOH‑5304). If those making the request are simultaneously requesting that a name be changed on a birth certificate, that should be noted on the application as well.
Questions concerning the new policy or correcting or amending birth certificates may be directed to the Bureau of Vital Records by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (855) 322-1022.
In the suit filed on behalf of M.H.W., the plaintiffs rightfully argued that “the government’s refusal to recognize a person’s sex not only denies a transgender person equal dignity and respect by undermining — indeed denying — their very existence, it also authorizes and invites other public and private entities to similarly discriminate and deny recognition.” Further, a 2015 study showed that transgender individuals who have shown identity documents with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted by others.
This new policy is intended to move New York State one step closer to ending discrimination by both public and private entities that stigmatize transgender individuals.