New York City May Make Legal Sex Change Easier


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It may soon become easier to legally change one's sex in New York City. Both the de Blasio administration and the City Council are pushing a change that would allow people to amend the sex listed on their birth certificate without having undergone gender reassignment surgery. 

Under the new proposals, individuals could request the legal change with approval from of any of a variety of health care professionals, from psychotherapists to nurse practitioners. This expert must simply testify that the change "more accurately reflects the applicant's sex" and is consistent with "contemporary expert standards regarding gender identity." From The New York Times

Officials and advocates said the policy would be among the most progressive for transgender rights around the country, easing a long-established burden for many New Yorkers wading through bureaucratic labyrinths as they seek employment, driver's licenses or pension benefits, among other things.

The U.S. State Department has allowed for passports to be changed without convertive surgery since 2010. California and Oregon have also eliminated the surgical requirement; and New York state changed its policy—with the exception New York City—in June. That same month, the American Medical Association announced its support for eliminating the surgical requirement for birth certificate sex changes.

Opponents say that regardless of someone's current gender identity or genitalia, their birth certificate is a historical document and shouldn't be changed. But this same argument could be used against amending birth certificates post sex-reassignment surgery, also, and most states now allow that. (I'm not saying that's necessarily a good argument for it, merely that it's not as radical/unprecedented as some might think.) And it's not as if the original birth documents or records are destroyed, though they are generally sealed. The basically administrative change simply allows transgender individuals to navigate more easily through official state paperwork and such.

"Your gender becomes less about your physicality and more about how you live as a human being," New York City Councilman Corey Johnson said.