On Wednesday, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) announced that New Yorkers will have the option to mark their gender identity as “X” when applying for benefits through the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
The OTDA “X” gender marker will become available January 1, 2024, according to the NYCLU’s announcement. New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York City Human Resources Administration documents will also have an “X” gender marker option. (New York State has allowed residents to select an “X” gender-marker on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates since May 2022.)
The change is a result of a settlement stemming from a 2021 lawsuit by the NYCLU against the OTDA. The OTDA argued that the NYCLU’s policy os requiring applicants applying for benefits to choose between “male” and “female” discriminated against non-binary New Yorkers.
The settlement also will require that OTDA, NYSDOH, and local social services staff receive training in regards to the changes.
Jules Donahue and Jaime Mitchell were plaintiffs in the case along with Princess Janae Place, a Bronx-based organization that aids in assisting trans people from homelessness to independent living.
Jevon Martin, executive director of Princess Janae Place, referred to the settlement as a “critical policy change.”
“As a transgender advocate leading an organization that provides gender-affirming support, I have seen firsthand the devastating mental health effects of misgendering people. OTDA’s new policies will help restore a greater degree of autonomy and self-determination for all nonbinary New Yorkers, recognizing their fundamental dignity,” Martin said in a written statement, according to Gay City News.
“While today’s agreement does not erase the emotional harm of being misgendered, I am grateful for OTDA’s policy changes, which will help non-binary people like me to feel more at home in their bodies, their lives and their societies,” they continued.