In what will no doubt be celebrated by millions of New Yorkers as an important milestone in the city's march toward a more inclusive future, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio on Tuesday signed into law a bill that will make it much easier for transgender individuals and others who don't ascribe to one of the "traditional" genders to make sure their "correct" gender identity is reflected on their birth certificate and other identifying documents.
The bill creates a third gender - 'X' - that can now be listed in the place of male or female on birth certificates. De Blasio signed the bill at a ceremony flanked by his wife, First Lady Chirlane McGray, and a host of LGBTQ activists, several of whom spoke at the signing.
One trans activist said that while the bill might seem like a "small change", for trans and non-binary individuals, it's "monumental."
"This might seem like a small change, but it's monumental to many of us," said Tanya Walker, a trans activist who spoke at the bill signing ceremony. "We won’t longer need a doctor to decide what we know is our identity. We won’t have to be out again and again."
“This might seem like a small change, but it’s monumental for many of us”- @Tanyaasapansa63 co-founder of @NYTAG1 NY Trans Advocacy Group. “We won’t longer need a doctor to decide what we know is our identity. We won’t have to be out again and again.” pic.twitter.com/CbNs0t4IUe— Samy Nemir Olivares (@Samynemir) October 9, 2018
McGray celebrated the law, saying it would help more LGBTQ individuals live life with "dignity."
"Now New Yorkers will be able to have a birth certificates that reflect and affirm who they are and go through life with the same dignity," said First Lady Chirlane McGray at the ceremony.
“Now New Yorkers will be able to have a birth certificates that reflect and affirm who they are and go through life with the same dignity” -@NYCFirstLady @Chirlane McGray at signing into law bill to provide people option to self-attest their gender & option of third gender “X”. pic.twitter.com/8kfJyCPp85— Samy Nemir Olivares (@Samynemir) October 9, 2018
The new law, which was first introduced by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, will also allow transgender city dwellers to change their designation to the 'correct' gender without documentation from a nurse or a doctor. The law passed the City Council last month and was intended to make it easier for transgender individuals to obtain a birth certificate that reflects their gender identity, while creating a third option for people who reject the gender binary.
Previously, another law passed in 2014 removed a longstanding requirement that individuals provide proof that they're undergoing hormone treatment or sex-change surgery to change their gender designation.
"You don't need a doctor to tell you who you are, and you shouldn't need a doctor to change your birth certificate to reflect your true self," Johnson said last month, when the bill was first passed by the council. "Some people don't want to check off male or female, and this is going to give them that third option."
What's more, children under the age of 18 will be able to make these changes without their parents' consent.
Since birth certificates are required to renew or update other forms of ID like drivers' licenses, the birth certificate law will make it easier for New Yorkers to change their gender on all their identifying documents. Before the law was passed, parents had the option of choosing "undetermined" on their child's birth certificate.
De Blasio celebrated the achievement, saying the LGBTQ rights movement was "born in New York" and that the city will continue to be at the vanguard of ensuring equal treatment for all.
The LGBTQ rights movement was born in NYC. Today, we're making history again in the fight for dignity and respect. https://t.co/TZikDlwGxa— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 9, 2018