Transgender New Yorkers Sue to Alter Birth Certificates

Birth-record rule needs to change, plaintiffs say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2011 6:39 AM CDT
Transgender New Yorkers Joann Marie Prinzivalli, Patricia Harrington, and Sam Berkley listen as attorney Noah Lewis, far left, speaks during a news conference in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(Newser) – Three transgender New Yorkers are suing the city in a bid to change what they call an outdated and discriminatory policy on changing birth certificates. The city requires people to undergo genital surgery and a psychiatric evaluation before the gender on birth certificates can be changed. The plaintiffs say that having hormone or other treatment should be enough and complain that the policy exposes them to discrimination and harassment, the AP reports.

The State Department now requires only a doctor's certification of treatment to change gender on a passport, and the plaintiffs say that should be good enough for New York City. The lawsuits note that many transgender people can't afford the surgery or have medical issues that make it impossible. "I don't feel comfortable with the government deciding whether I'm a man or not," says one plaintiff who had a double mastectomy and holds a driver's license saying he's male, but can't get New York City to correct his birth certificate. "It's been a long journey for me," says another plaintiff. "I would just like my identification to reflect who I am."

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