NEW YORK—This week, the New York State Assembly and Senate both passed the Gender Recognition Act (S.4402-B/A.5465-D) sponsored by Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) and Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) to making it easier for transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary and intersex New Yorkers to update and obtain government-issued identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. Today, transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers face incredible difficulties in obtaining accurate identification documents that are key for accessing health care, employment, travel, housing, and education.
Assembly Member O’Donnell said: “Today is a proud day for New York State, as we secure our standing as a leader in LGBTQ rights and ensure that transgender, nonbinary, and intersex New Yorkers have the equality and dignity they deserve. No one should face overwhelming financial, medical, and bureaucratic barriers simply to have their existence officially recognized. These obstacles only serve to make people’s lives harder and more dangerous, particularly for trans New Yorkers of color who too often have limited resources, face disproportionate rates of violence, and are already marginalized by our legal system.
"I am deeply honored to carry this important bill and thank all of the trans, nonbinary, and intersex advocates who have worked tirelessly to shape and support it."
Senator Hoylman said:“Each and every New Yorker should be recognized for who they are by their government. But today, it remains incredibly hard for many New Yorkers to get the identification documents they require for travel, to get a job, and even to go to school. This bill will change that, making it easier for gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers - including minors - to get IDs that accurately reflect their identity.
“I am thankful for the advocates in those communities for their input on this critical bill. And I’m proud to live in and represent a state that respects and values the needs of these communities - particularly as queer, and especially transgender people, have come under attack in recent months across our country.”
Charlie Arrowood (they/them), TLDEF’s Name Change Project Counsel, said: “After years of advocating for these necessary changes, we are elated to see the NYS Gender Recognition Act finally going to the Governor’s desk for signature. Among many important changes, this bill makes updating ID documents easier and less expensive by removing both the requirement for a doctor’s note to change gender markers and the publishing requirement for name changes. Having accurate ID documents that reflect who you are is critical for the health and safety of transgender and nonbinary New Yorkers.”
Eòghann Renfroe (he/him), Empire Justice Center’s Policy & Communications Manager, said: “This bill is not just about securing documents that reflect our identities as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex people, it’s about securing our safety, our housing, our education, our health – in all the situations and places where that little ID card or scrap of paper is between us and what we need to survive and thrive. We are grateful to Senator Hoylman and Assembly Member O’Donnell for their leadership as sponsors of the NYS Gender Recognition Act, as well as Assembly Members Jessica González-Rojas and Harry Bronson for their support, and former Assembly Member Ortiz for his prior championship of the bill. This legislation can serve as a model for other states looking to protect and support their transgender and nonbinary communities.”
While accurate identification documents are key for obtaining health care, employment, travel, housing, and education, the National Transgender Survey found that among transgender New Yorkers:
- Only 12% have been able to update all of their IDs,
- 25% have been able to update some IDs
- 63%have not been able to update any IDs
Today, once a name change order has been approved by a court, the petitioner must publish the name change at least once in a newspaper of record in that county within 60 days of the order. At a time of heightened violence against transgender Americans, outing oneself can be dangerous.
Judges in New York currently provide publication waivers at their own discretion, but this process lacks consistency and transparency. This bill does away with this risk by eliminating the publication requirement entirely.
In addition, this bill would create a gender neutral ‘x’ designation on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, allowing nonbinary people to obtain documents that accurately reflect their gender. It would also do away with the current requirement for healthcare provider attestation in updating driver’s licenses. This requirement is retrograde and can impose significant financial burdens on transgender and gender non-confirming New Yorkers.
Finally, this bill will codify recent administrative changes to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming minors, with appropriate permission from their parents or legal guardians, have access to correct birth certificates.
The Gender Recognition Act was drafted and supported with substantial input from the transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary and intersex community, including: Arrowood Law, Brooklyn Law School’s LGBT Advocacy Clinic, The Center for Elder Law & Justice, Empire Justice Center, EQNY, Gender Equality New York (GENY), GMHC, Lambda Legal, Latino Justice PRLDEF, Law Office of Milo Primeaux, Legal Services Staff Association #2320, The LGBT Center, Make the Road NY, Law Office of Milo Primeaux, The New Pride Agenda, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), New York Social Action, New York State Gender Diversity Coalition (NYSGDC), New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG), The Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center, The Phyllis B. Frank Pride Center of Rockland County, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, Pride for Youth, SAGE, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), TransLatinx Network, Western NY Law Center, and Youth