As of June 2014, the New York State Department of Health will no longer require proof of gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatments in order to change one’s gender marker on a birth certificate! New York City amended its policy more recently in December 2014, effective in January 2015, and also removed the surgical requirement to correct one's birth certificate.
Until now, to change gender markers on their birth certificates, transgender New Yorkers were required to provide extensive, private medical records, including documentation of specific surgeries (i.e. an operating room report describing all procedures in detail), a psychological report and a statement from a physician regarding hormonal treatments. Yet many transgender people – for financial, health or other personal reasons - choose not to undergo surgery or hormone therapy. For those who do, the physical transition process can take years to complete, leaving them without matching identification documents for a very long time.
This policy change removes one of the most burdensome and unnecessary barriers transgender New Yorkers faced in obtaining identification documents that reflected their true gender identities. The Pride Agenda has been advocating for this policy change for the past several years and worked closely with the Governor's office and several partners including the New York Civil Liberties Union, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to make it a reality for the thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.
The amended policy will allow a change of gender markers on birth certificates for applicants who provide a certification from a licensed medical provider stating simply that the applicant is undergoing appropriate clinical treatment. The policy, which hadn’t been changed since the 1970s, now reflects current medical best practices and federal precedents, and brings the process into line with existing agencies protocols such as the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Department of State, the Social Security Administration, among others.
More information, including further instructions about the process can be found at the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Records at: health.ny.gov/vital_records/birth.htm.