Legal Advice With Yetta G. Kurland

Answers to your real-life legal questions with Yetta G. Kurland

Dear Yetta, 

I’m in the process of transitioning, but I’ve had a lot of trouble with my identity documents. I haven’t been able to correct the gender marker on my birth certificate or driver’s license yet, and whenever I have to show someone my ID, which has the wrong gender, I’m worried that I’m going to be given a hard time. This has already led to a number of uncomfortable situations. Is there anything I can do now to get an ID that accurately reflects my gender? –Tracy

Dear Tracy,

Obviously having gender-affirming identification is extremely important—whether you’re applying for a job, renting an apartment, or just getting a beer at a local bar. I’ve heard from many people who are in the process of ensuring that their identity documents accurately reflect their identity and expression, and they all talk about the red tape they’re forced to cut through to get these documents issued or reissued properly by the myriad government agencies which maintain them. A lot of times an attorney can help move the process along, but in the interim many people find themselves in need of accurate, “government-issued” identification. One possibility, even if you have all your other documents in order, is checking to see if your city or county issues municipal identification cards to its residents.

Municipal identification cards are a relatively new thing, which are generally touted as providing a resource for undocumented or out-of-status immigrants who are not able to obtain a driver’s license or a passport. However, municipal identification cards can also help transgender residents to obtain accurate identification which affirms their gender identity. For example, New York City recently announced that it would be making a New York City Identification Card, or “IDNYC”, available to residents in the five boroughs. This new ID card allows applicants to self-attest their gender without providing any sort of medical documentation. The card also provides three options for applicants: male, female, and “not designated”.

While a municipal ID card is not a driver’s license or a passport, it is considered to be “government-issued identification,” and can help transgender people avoid uncomfortable or unsafe situations where their identity is being questioned. This valid and widely accepted gender-affirming documentation will hopefully increase access to employment, housing, and other benefits for the transgender community.

Thanks for your question and good luck!


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