Transgender New Yorkers sue over birth certificates

NEW YORK Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:04am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A group of transgender residents filed a lawsuit against New York City over what they say are burdensome requirements for them to change the gender on their birth certificates.

The city's birth certificate requirements amount to discrimination for transgender residents, said Noah Lewis, an attorney representing the residents in the case.

New York's Health Department requires residents to show proof of surgical procedures in order to change the gender status on a birth certificate.

But the lawsuit, filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in state Supreme Court on behalf of three residents, said many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.

Instead, a note from a doctor verifying someone's transgender status should be sufficient, it said.

The requirements mean many transgender people cannot get up-to-date or usable identification, Lewis said.

"This subjects them to harassment and discrimination. They can be laughed at or turned away doing everyday transactions like going to the DMV (the Department of Motor Vehicles) or applying for jobs," he said.

One of those suing the city, Joan Prinzivalli, said she would like to get the surgery the city requires to prove she is female but she is unable to for health reasons.

"This policy is unfair to me and to other transgender people who just want IDs that match who we are," she said.

City attorney Gabriel Taussig said the Health Department would review the group's concerns.

"We are very sympathetic to the petitioners' concerns and recognize that this is a complex issue," he said.

"The Health Department must be satisfied that an applicant has completely and permanently transitioned to the acquired gender prior to the issuance of a birth certificate."

Birth certificates for transgendered people in New York were an issue earlier this month when the city made an apology to a transgendered couple asked to show birth certificates when getting married because the clerk claimed they did not appear to match the people in their photo IDs.

They threatened to sue because state laws do not require couples to show birth certificates when getting married.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)

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Comments (2)
TheLionScribe wrote:
No Altering Birth Certificates
The public needs to be protected. If BCs area altered, afterwards, people will sue the government for the allowing altered birth certificates which will lead to people marrying the wrong gender biologically.

Marriage requires openness. Once changed in the birth certificate, innocent people who expect to marry a person of the other gender will be getting a fraudulent marriage and unable to have children, because of biologically-fraud records. There are limits. People may choose, but one’s choices cannot deceive innocent people.

The only option remaining is for the public to know whom a person will marry will depend on blood tests. Therefore, blood tests for marriage should be standard, as it was be in some places.

Mar 24, 2011 4:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Agreed. This is one area where there should be no changes allowed whatsoever. Changes to the gender on the BC can only lead to deception, and if it were to happen to me, there would some serious consequences that could not be undone.

If the courts rule that changes can be made without a person having the surgery, then the BC should read, “Gender: Female (TG)”.

There is nothing discriminatory about that, as this is how they wish to be identified anyway. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be members of TG communities.

Mar 24, 2011 1:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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