New York Lets Transgender Minors Change Birth Certificates

MANHATTAN (CN) — Two months after a transgender 14-year-old sued the state, New York said Tuesday it will let minors revise the sex fields of their birth certificates.

The move is effective immediately, Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, applauding the bravery of the minor who identifies as male and brought a federal complaint so that his birth certificate would match.

“This is awesome,” the teen — named in court records as M.H.W. — said in the statement. “Now all my identity paperwork matches, and I can go forward not having to worry about legal documents conflicting with who I am again. I get to just go on being me.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James smiles during her inauguration on Jan. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Attorney General James called New York’s former policy on birth certificate changes “wildly outdated.” Those wishing to change how their sex was listed had to be over 18 and submit a signed affidavit from a medical provider saying the individual had undergone a sex-change surgery.

Now, those 17 and older can apply directly for a change, and those 16 and under can apply through a parent or guardian.

Represented by Lambda Legal, M.H.W. had detailed to the court why the matter needed attention.

“Possessing accurate identification documents that are consistent with a person’s gender identity — a person’s core internal sense of their own gender — is essential to their basic social and economic well-being,” the January complaint argued. “A birth certificate is a critical and ubiquitous identification document used in many settings to verify an individual’s identity.”

James celebrated the policy change.

“Transgender individuals born in New York will have the right to make this deeply personal decision without the government’s unwarranted denial or without having their privacy violated,” James said in a statement. “In New York State, we will not allow an outdated policy to stop us from providing every individual with equal dignity and respect.”

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