US: New law allows NYC transgender citizens access to gender-affirming ID

On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill to create a municipal identification card for residents who face obstacles obtaining government-issued identification.

This law will make it easier for transgender populations, who often face difficulty securing accurate identification, to obtain documents affirming their gender.

New York City is the first in the nation to allow transgender people the ability to self-designate their gender on ID without the need to provide other documentation.

The law will also help undocumented immigrants and other New Yorkers who face barriers to obtaining identification.

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Michael Silverman said in a release: “New York City’s municipal ID law will be a tremendous help to transgender New Yorkers who are often unable to obtain ID that matches who they are as men and women.

“Without accurate ID, transgender people face tremendous difficulty fully participating in society, whether that means finding jobs or accessing benefits and services.”

The city still requires transgender people born in New York City to undergo surgery before it will issue them birth certificates with correct gender designations. The TLDEF has a lawsuit pending that challenges the city’s surgery requirement.

Silverman said: “With the creation of a New York City ID with self-designated sex, the City should now follow New York State’s lead and drop its requirement that transgender people undergo surgery to update the gender marker on their birth certificates.

“The vast majority of transgender people have not undergone the surgical procedures demanded by the city. Due to discriminatory insurance exclusions, most people cannot afford these medically necessary procedures. For some, they are also medically inappropriate.

“While we believe New York City’s new municipal ID program is a big step in the right direction, it is still important that New York City adopt a birth certificate policy that treats transgender New Yorkers fairly and equally.”