October 11, 2011

Transgender Rights Group Hails Enactment of California Law Removing Surgery Requirement for Changing Sex on Birth Certificates

Group Calls Upon New York City to Follow Federal and California Lead and Provide Transgender People With Accurate Identification Documents

New York, New York - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) applauded Sunday’s enactment of California’s Vital Statistics Modernization Act, which removes the requirement that transgender people born in California provide proof of surgery in order to obtain an updated birth certificate reflecting their lived sex.  In place of the blanket surgery requirement, the Act requires that transgender people present a medical certification from a doctor stating that they have undergone “clinically appropriate treatment.”  California follows the United States Department of State, which similarly requires that transgender people provide a doctor’s statement that they have undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in order to receive a passport with an amended sex designation.

“A birth certificate is a fundamental form of identification,” said Noah Lewis, staff attorney at TLDEF.  “By providing a realistic mechanism for transgender Californians to obtain birth certificates that reflect who they are, the Vital Statistics Modernization Act will help transgender people avoid harassment and discrimination in areas like employment, where ID is essential to proving eligibility to work.”

“We applaud Governor Jerry Brown for signing this law and congratulate Equality California and the Transgender Law Center for their leadership on this issue.”

TLDEF currently is prosecuting a lawsuit against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene challenging the city’s practice of requiring transgender people to undergo surgery before it will issue them birth certificates with corrected sex designations.  This is the first lawsuit to challenge a surgical requirement for correcting whether someone is classified as male or female on a birth certificate.  It alleges that the city’s surgical requirement is arbitrary, and that it subjects transgender people to harassment and discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.

“It is time for New York City to follow the lead of the United States government and California, our nation’s most populous state, and allow transgender people born here to update their birth certificates to reflect their lived sex without regard to surgical status,” added Lewis.