New York State now allows trans minors to change the gender on their birth certificates. The news comes two months after one 14-year-old trans boy sued New York for refusing to change his birth certificate.
After filing the lawsuit, the trans teen known as MHW explained in a statement that “having an inaccurate birth certificate can cause the disclosure of my transgender status” and therefore “expose me to possible harm.”
Now that the state’s policy has changed, MHW called the new policy “awesome,” according to NBC OUT.
“Now all my identity paperwork matches, and I can go forward not having to worry about legal documents conflicting with who I am again,” MHW said, according to a statement from Lambda Legal. “I get to just go on being me.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the new legislation on Tuesday.
“Effective immediately, transgender individuals born in New York will have the right to make this deeply personal decision without the government’s unwarranted denial or without having their privacy violated,” James said. “We will not allow an outdated policy to stop us from providing every individual with equal dignity and respect.”
This legal victory will affect not only MHW, but so many other trans teens just like him. There are almost 10,000 trans teens under the age of 18 living in New York State. Like all trans folks, they are especially vulnerable to discrimination and harassment, which can be worsened by inconsistent legal documents.
“Every person should be recognized and respected for who they are,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a Lambda Legal attorney who worked on MHW’s case, said in a statement. “It shouldn’t take a minor and his family suing the state to get their rights recognized, but with this announcement, New York State eliminates an outdated and unjust barrier to transgender minors’ ability to be themselves and have accurate, essential identity documents.”
Per Lambda Legal, only a few other states allow minors to change their birth certificate gender markers, including Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, and Washington.