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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

NYC rejects birth certificate change regs

The New York City Board of Health voted unanimously today to turn down the proposed regulations permitting transgender people to change their birth certificates prior to sex reassignment surgery. I blogged on this issue two weeks ago, reviewing the issue in detail.

The reason given by the health commissioner is that officials need to look more carefully at the issue, particularly to insure that it would not conflict with federal identity document rules being developed. But the Board of Health's own staff and an eight-member panel of transgender experts and vital records offices across the country reviewed this issue in depth for four years and made a strong recommendation in favor of the proposed regs. This would seem to constitute "in depth." And those federal identity rules are the only going to affect drivers' licenses, so the proposed Board regs couldn't conflict with it. (Here's the Real ID Act - check out Title II.)

One friend of mine who was involved with this effort was initially very optimistic, as the Board members seemed very positive, but then turned increasingly pessimistic as the media coverage mounted. It was his guess that the Board was going to fold under pressure. He was right.

The Reuters article also provides the following quote "For example, how can you send a person with a penis to a women's prison?" said one health department official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the department. This statement betrays ignorance of the issues, because a change in birth certificate would not send require sending people with penises to women's prisons. As noted in my last blog on this issue, the recognition of a change of gender on a birth certificate does not mean that the change must be recognized for all purposes. At the same, I also note that placement of transgender persons by gender identity rather than physical anatomy in correctional institutions has been successfully instituted in facilities around the county. In addition, sex-segregated situations like homeless shelters has been accomplished successfully for years around North America, now including Boston, Toronto, San Francisco and, yes, New York. Based on this, the unnamed official's naive response suggests that the official has not done his homework.

While the Board voted down the proposal to allow a change of birth certificate before surgery, they did vote to provide new certificate with a changed gender, rather than the blanked out gender previously provided.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

NYC is a nightmare to change anything. I have a court order from Washington State that changes both my gender and name. I have had top surgery and gonad removal and I have letters for all plus a shrink. I have been trying for almost a year to get my birth certificate changed in Manhatten. The first round they changed my name by drawing a line through the female name and totally ignored the gender change. So I sent the application back requesting a change of gender. We shall see how they handle it now. I am sure it will take another year to resolve. However, if one gets a court order changing gender and name it is quite simple to change all the other ID, including a passport...I did all that stuff in two days. I waited for the passport at the federal building and paid extra but it was worth it. They don't reject your application when you are standing there looking like a man with a judge's order and a glare in your eye. I kept the original passport on the pretext that I had lost it in case I ever have to prove who I was. You will need your original birth certificate for the passport. After the new passport, a quick visit to social security and DL bureau and done. However, the birth certificate has proven to be a real challenge so far.

Anonymous said...

One can only be bewildered by this stance. I had SRS in 2000 and struggled with NYC for almost 8 months to process the original change that has of course no gender on it.

Then I lose it and file with a company to get a copy. Well then I find out that the new birth certificate records are hidden away somwehere so if you try to get that done it is through normal routes and ask for a copy it just doesn't work that is a hassle also.

Today I am reading that they have a law in Mexico to consider giving trans people civil rights. How long is it going to take NYC to catch up to NYS and the majority of this country.

Leigha