Changing Transgender Birth Certificates

New regulations make it easier to alter the gender listed on birth certificates.
Monday, October 02, 2006

The New York City Board of Health has approved a proposal to change the process by which transgender individuals can get the gender listing on their birth certificates changed. The change is being welcomed by many in the transgender community who say the process has left them open to discrimination.

The current practice, which has existed since the 1970s, required trans people to show proof of convertive surgery. The gender on their certificate would then be expunged, but no alternative gender would be put in its place.

“Any time that one of us shows a birth certificate that either shows no gender or the wrong gender, in a best case scenario it will be confusing,” said Gabriel Arkles, staff attorney at the Silvia Rivera Law Project, which has been working on the issue for four years. “But all too often people are subjected to discrimination or harassment or even violence, or are accused of submitting false documents and are denied the service that they need.”