Transgender people born in New York state outside of NYC don't need to prove that they've undergone sex-reassignment surgery to change genders on their birth certificates anymore, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said on Thursday.
"It's a document that tells the world who you really are," said Jonathan Lang, director of governmental projects and community development at the Empire State Pride Agenda. "Some people have been waiting years for this change."
New York City, with a records system separate from the rest of the state, still requires proof of surgery to alter gender on a birth certificate.
"We are considering a similar change through the Board of Health, and look forward to discussing this important issue with members of the transgender community soon," the city's Health Department said in a statement.
About 100 people statewide seek the change to their birth certificates every year, Cuomo's office said. Since the 1970s, this required proof of gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatments, which some transgender people choose not to undergo, Lang said.
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Under the new policy, which went into effect May 23, a transgender person still needs to provide a notarized affidavit from a doctor treating themfor "gender dysphoria." But the doctor only needs to confirm their patient is receiving "appropriate treatment," rather than specific treatments.
Lang said the Empire State Pride Agenda has been pushing for the policy shift since Cuomo took office. Administration officials said that time was spent speaking to members of the transgender community and ensuring the change was consistent with current medical best practices.
"Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is reclaiming its rightful place as the progressive capital of the nation and made significant progress to advance the rights of all New Yorkers, including members of the transgender community," Alphonso David, New York's deputy secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.
"Much work remains and this administration is committed to promoting laws and policies that are fair and just for all,” David said.
Four other states have similar policies, according to the Empire State Pride Agenda. In 2010, The U.S. State Department also dropped the surgery requirement for changing gender on passports.
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