Since the Sylvia Rivera Law Project opened our doors in 2002, we have been at the forefront of the battle to make birth certificate changes more accessible to transgender people. Since 1971, New York City and State’s rules for a person changing their gender on their birth certificate had been very restrictive, requiring extensive evidence of invasive surgeries that many transgender people do not undergo–whether for financial, health, or personal reasons. Without a birth certificate accurately reflecting their current gender, trans people can face serious obstacles in accessing employment, housing, services, and other identity documents. Having documentation that doesn’t match current gender can often trigger bias, harassment, discrimination, or groundless accusations of fraud.
The materials linked below further document the history of SRLP’s work on this issue, and may be helpful to activists working on similar issues elsewhere. Read about some of our work here:
SRLP’s Work on Birth Certificates
June 2014: New York State updated its birth certificate policy updated its birth certificate policy to allow transgender New Yorkers to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing surgery. While a positive step in our work to increase access to identity documents for trans people, this policy excludes people born in New York City, youth, and people in prison. Learn more here.
- BREAKING: New York State Updates Birth Certificate Policy, Removing Surgical Requirement (June 5, 2014)
- How to Change Your Gender Marker on Your Birth Certificate in New York State
December 2006: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene withdrew a proposed amendment to the Health Code that would have given access to accurate birth certificates to many transgender people. Read More
October 2006: Proposed changes to New York City’s birth certificate policy:
2002-2003: Below are the letters we sent to DOHMH, which may be useful to you if you are doing similar advocacy in your city or state.
- Initial Letter to Department of Vital Stats
- Leave Behind for Meeting at Vital Stats
- Follow Up Letter about Legal Issues
SRLP News about Birth Certificates
- TUNE IN at 7 PM on 10/16: SRLP Attorney John Skwiersky to Speak on Birth Certificates with Corey Johnson on NY1 (10/16/2014)
- SRLP Commends New York City Council on Proposed Birth Certificate Policy (10/9/2014)
- BREAKING: New York State Updates Birth Certificate Policy, Removing Surgical Requirement (6/5/2014)
- SRLP Victory: Appellate Court Upholds the Right of Incarcerated Transgender People to Have Name Changed (5/31/2012)
- STATE DEPARTMENT REMOVES SURGERY REQUIREMENT FOR CHANGING GENDER MARKERS ON U.S. PASSPORTS !!!!! (6/9/2010)
- The fight for fair access to birth certificates continues… (12/5/2006)
- BOARD OF HEALTH PRESS RELEASE: BIRTH CERTIFICATE POLICY (DEC 2006) (12/5/2006)
- Letter to Board of Health, October 2006, re: Birth Certificate Policy Change (10/30/2006)
- Talking Points in Support of Proposed NYC Transgender Birth Certificate Regulations (10/9/2006)
- FAQ for New Transgender Birth Certificate Regulations Proposed in New York City (10/8/2006)