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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 115-06
Tuesday, December 5, 2006

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; 788-3058 (After Hours)
Geoffrey Cowley (gcowley@health.nyc.gov)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)
Sara Markt (smarkt@health.nyc.gov)


BOARD OF HEALTH MAKES NYC CONSISTENT WITH NEW YORK STATE AND MOST OF THE UNITED STATES BY ALLOWING SEX-SPECIFIC TRANSGENDER BIRTH CERTIFICATES

Health Department Withdraws Proposal to Change Standard for Certifying Gender Change, Citing Broader Social Implications and Forthcoming Federal Rules

NEW YORK CITY – December 5, 2006 – The New York City Board of Health today approved the Health Department’s proposal to allow transgender individuals to acquire new birth certificates reflecting their acquired sex. The change makes New York City policy consistent with practices in New York State and most of the United States. The City’s Office of Vital Statistics has amended birth certificates for transgender individuals since 1971, but until now revised birth certificates have not designated the acquired gender. "The new form will enable transgender individuals to document their acquired identity,"said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden. "The new gender-specific birth certificate will make it easier for transgender people to live, work and travel."

Though it approved the proposal to allow changes of gender on birth certificates, the Board concurred with the Health Department’s recommendation to withdraw a measure that would have created a new standard for certifying a change of gender. The Department’s draft proposal would have allowed the issuance of new birth certificates to individuals who had made a full gender transition – whether surgical or medical – and expected to remain permanently in the newly acquired gender. Applicants would have needed "reliable documented evidence from a licensed physician and a mental health professional that they had completed the transition from one gender to the other and intended to permanently remain in their acquired gender."

After reviewing that plan and input received during the public comments period, the Health Department concluded that the proposal would have broader societal ramifications than anticipated. Besides being a key element of identity, gender has important implications for many societal institutions that need to segregate people by sex. These include hospitals, schools and jails, as well as some workplaces.

In withdrawing the second proposal, the Health Department also cited forthcoming federal regulations which are anticipated in 2007 and which are anticipated to include provisions on birth-certificate security, death-birth matching, and verification of driver’s license applications with birth certificates.

The Health Code will continue to require proof that the applicant has undergone convertive surgery. Upon approval of the application, the Office of Vital Records will issue an amended birth certificate and the original birth record will be placed under seal.

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