[New York, NY] In a significant step forward for transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary New Yorkers, today at the Edie Windsor SAGE Center in Manhattan New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio signed groundbreaking legislation to add a third gender option on birth certificates. The legislation also eliminates a prior invasive policy requiring a letter from a physician or an affidavit by a licensed health care provider to change gender markers on birth certificates. Now people born in New York City can submit their own affidavit attesting to and affirming their gender identity.
De Blasio signed the legislation alongside New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, actor and activist Asia Kate Dillon, and the Council's LGBT Caucus. The new gender category will be included on all birth certificates beginning on January 1, 2019. New York City joins the states of Oregon, California, Washington, and New Jersey, all of which have passed similar legislation allowing for a third gender marker on identification documents.
"For too long, older transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people have lived in the shadows, unable to live their lives openly and authentically, suffering widespread discrimination, high rates of violence, significant social isolation, and mounting health care barriers," says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. "We are exceptionally proud and honored to host Mayor Bill De Blasio as he signs this groundbreaking legislation. We stand with the Mayor, the Speaker, the First Lady, and other LGBT leaders and allies today to say to transgender New Yorkers: You are not invisible, we are behind you, we are here for you, and we will continue to fight alongside you for your right to fully be who you are."
Adams continues, "This legislation goes a long way for transgender older people, who came of age during the decades when transgender people were heavily stigmatized. For our city's transgender elders, being able to obtain a birth certificate that matches their genderwithout the need to go through a healthcare provideris vital to assert their selfhood. Today, older transgender people, and all New Yorkers, know that the City has their back."
Continuing to clear the barriers of discrimination that transgender people face is a critical priority. The federal government's attempts to roll back protections and make allowances for religious-based discrimination means that the City must continue to do all that it can to protect LGBT people. The expansion of a religious license to discriminate at the federal level threatens the lives of transgender older people because 85 percent of nonprofit continuing-care retirement communities are affiliated with a religious institution. This has the potential for severe negative consequences for the care of LGBT elders as they age. That's why SAGE recently launched Care Can't Wait, a campaign to enlist supporters to stand with LGBT elders who need care without discrimination.
To end discrimination nationwide, SAGE has also joined civil rights advocates, religious leaders, labor groups, health organizations, and businesses to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, and launched a National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative to combat housing discrimination on many fronts. SAGE is advocating nationally against housing discrimination, training eldercare providers to be LGBT culturally competent, educating the LGBT community about their housing rights, and helping builders across the country replicate LGBT-friendly housing.
—From a press release
SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org .