Gov. Cuomo Signs the Gender Recognition Act

(Photo from governor.ny.gov).

Press release from governor.ny.gov.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Gender Recognition Act, removing longstanding barriers to equality under the law and ensuring expanded protections for transgender and non-binary New Yorkers. The legislation (S.4402-B/A.5465-D) allows New Yorkers to use “X” as a non-binary sex designation on New York State driver’s licenses. It also ensures that New Yorkers will be able to have their gender identity on official documents and provides protections to reduce discrimination against nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers by permitting name change and sex designation changes to be sealed more easily. Finally, the legislation will provide New Yorkers the ability to amend their birth certificates and use a designation of mother, father, or parent for the first time.

“Every New Yorker deserves to be free from discrimination and have state-issued identification and processes that respect them for who they are, recognize their gender identity and protect their safety,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York continues to lead the way in ensuring LGBTQ people are treated equally in every part of the law and society, and this bill is another landmark that ensures New Yorkers can express ourselves for who we are.”

Prior to the Gender Recognition Act’s signing, New Yorkers who wanted to change their names were required to publish their new and previous names, current address, place of birth and date of birth in a designated newspaper. This potentially allowed opportunities for discrimination against transgender and nonbinary people who legally changed their names. The Act eliminates this practice. The new law also creates a process to petition a court to change an individual’s sex designation or recognize their gender identity. The petition can also be sealed to protect against fear of reprisal or retaliation. Finally, the law creates an easier process to change a birth certificate, and allows the use of the term “parent” for the first time.

New York continues to lead the way in ensuring LGBTQ people are treated equally in every part of the law and society, and this bill is another landmark that ensures New Yorkers can express ourselves for who we are.

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Getting the Gender Recognition Act over the finish line and signed into law is a wonderful way to celebrate Pride month in New York. Each and every New Yorker should be recognized for who they are by their government. But today, it remains incredibly hard for many New Yorkers to get the identification documents they require for travel, to get a job, and even to go to school. This bill will change that, making it easier for gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers – including minors – to get IDs that accurately reflect their identity. I am thankful for the advocates in those communities for their input on this critical bill. I’m thankful for Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell for championing this bill with me. And I’m proud to live in and represent a state that respects and values the needs of these communities – particularly as queer, and especially transgender people, have come under attack in recent months across our country.”

Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell said, “Today represents a milestone in our fight to secure LGBTQ rights. When I first joined the Assembly, LGBTQ people could not marry the person they loved; were not yet protected from workplace discrimination; and still faced the risk of conversion therapy. New Yorkers could even use sexual orientation and gender expression as a legal justification for the murder of gay and trans people. In the past decade we have changed all of that. Today, we celebrate love and equality. On the 10 year anniversary of marriage equality, we can look back with pride on how that victory laid the groundwork for a decade of progress to protect and support the LGBTQ community. I am proud of our progress on LGBTQ rights in the last ten years and am deeply honored to continue that work with the Gender Recognition Act, which will make life safer for trans individuals, reduce stigma, and affirm trans individuals’ identities. Our work for equal rights is far from over, but we have proven that love is love, that trans lives matter, and that we are ready for the fights ahead.”

The Act establishes new criteria to petition and seal change of name and change of sex designation papers. New Yorkers can now seal their name or sex designation papers if there is a risk of violence or discrimination against the applicant. This includes such applicant’s status as transgender or as the subject of domestic violence.