The Transgender Law and Policy Institute
MEDIA RELEASE – December 5, 2006
NYC Rejects Changes to Birth Certificate Policy
New York, NY--The New York City Board of Health voted today to reject, in part, a proposal to update New York City’s policy permitting transgender people born in New York City to change the gender on their birth certificates to bring the policy – which has not been updated since 1971 – into line with contemporary medical knowledge and practice. While the Board did vote to allow new birth certificates to be issued with a transgender person’s new gender marked on them, they rejected a common sense medical recommendation to better recognize a person’s transition from one gender to another.
"I'm extremely disappointed that the Board rejected the widely supported recommendations in such a cursory manner," said Paisley Currah, Director of the Transgender Law & Policy Institute, a national advocacy organization based in New York City. "The recommendations were the work product of a dedicated advisory committee and were proposed after two years research and consideration. It’s simply indefensible that nonsensical reasons blamed on identity security were cited as the key reason for rejecting the recommendations. The proposed amendments would have increased security, not compromised it.”
The proposed amendments, presented to the Board of Health in September, were believed to have a lot of support on the Board. A public hearing in October generated further positive public comments. At Monday's meeting, however, Lorna Thorpe, a Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, recommended withdrawing the proposal because of previously unraised "federal identity documents for vital records post-9/11 and broader societal concerns." The Board unanimously voted in favor of removing the new policy from consideration.
Transgender advocates, who had worked for four years with officials at the Bureau of Vital Statistics on the new policy proposal, expressed great surprise and disappointment at the Board’s turnaround.
Currah, who is also an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, represented the Transgender Law and Policy Institute on a panel of outside experts and advocates convened by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in late 2004 to develop a new policy proposal. Other groups represented on the committee included the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and the LGBT Community Center of NYC.
The Transgender Law and Policy Institute is dedicated to engaging in effective advocacy for transgender people in our society. The TLPI brings experts and advocates together to work on law and policy initiatives designed to advance transgender equality. Visit us on the web at www.transgenderlaw.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.