In May 2016, the New York Human Resources Administration, the city’s benefits and public assistance agency, announced a new policy to make it easier for clients to change their gender in the HRA systems. Surgery is no longer required to change your gender with HRA! The new policy allows individuals to change their gender with only one of the following documents:
- A letter from Social Security confirming the client’s gender
- A New York State driver license or non-driver ID with the correct gender
- A passport or changed birth certificate with the correct gender
- A signed statement from a medical provider affirming appropriate clinical treatment
This update follows other recent changes by HRA, such as their policy update to no longer include gender markers on their Common Benefit Identification Cards. While all benefit cards do not have a gender marker as of Spring 2015, the prior update did not formalize a system to update your gender with HRA and the State.
Many of these changes would not have been possible without years of organizing by trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) communities, and by all the allies and advocates who fought for this change. We got here after some notable attempts by HRA to affirm and assist TGNCI communities, especially with the creation of the LGBTQIA Liaison, which is led by former SRLP Survival and Self- Determination Project Director, Elana Redfield.
This new policy also is important because clients who are TGNCI will be given a Restriction/Exception Code to fix many billing issues. Since some treatments are coded by gender in insurance plans like Medicaid, members of the TGNCI community often face billing issues when obtaining the treatment they need. The Restriction/Exception Code helps to fix this problem! For example, a transgender or intersex person considered a male in the system can be covered for necessary OB-GYN appointments.
To request a gender change and the Restriction/Exception code, TGNCI folks should bring the appropriate documents to their local HRA benefit office. Clients who receive Medicaid through the New York State Department of Health must request the code and gender change through the New York State of Health Marketplace.
If you face discriination or have trouble updating your gender and name with HRA, please feel free to come to SRLP during our Legal Drop-in Clinic, currently Thursdays from 1:00-4:30 p.m. You may also e-mail HRA LGBTQIA Affairs at LGBTQI@hra.nyc.gov or report the issue to the Commision on Human Rights by calling 311 from any New York number.