New York City will begin offering a third gender option — to be designated by “x” on municipal birth certificates — under a bill Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he signed so transgender people can “live your truth.”
Beginning in January, by filing a notarized declaration, applicants born in the five boroughs can alter the gender originally listed on their birth certificates — choices include male, female or the “x” — and paying a $40 “correction fee.”
A parent or guardian would be responsible for taking these steps for an applicant under 18.
“We want to make sure that people are not dependent on the subjective judgment of anybody else, including a doctor,” de Blasio, a Democrat, said at a signing ceremony in Midtown Manhattan.
New York City has allowed people born in the five boroughs to alter their birth certificates, in some form, for the past 47 years.
Beginning in 1971, under a policy considered progressive at the time, people could remove gender altogether from their birth certificate, but only after anatomical surgery, a post-op exam, and a psychiatrist's note.
In 2006, the city started allowing a person to switch the gender listing, but scuttled a broader proposal to remove the surgery mandate, citing concerns such as how to assign hospital roommates and house prisoners, and whether federal rules would pre-empt the change.
In 2014, the de Blasio administration eased the rules, allowing the document to be amended only with a clinician's approval, which is no longer required under the new law.
There are about 122,000 births in the city each year, according to city health department spokesman Chris Miller. Since the 2014 change, there have been about 330 gender-change requests per year. Miller said there is no cap on the number of times the gender can be amended on the birth certificate.
Most jurisdictions do not allow a third-gender option, though some states, like New Jersey, California and Oregon, have made provisions for documents for those who say their gender does not conform to traditional notions.
There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States, about 0.58 percent of the population, according to the Williams Institute policy center at UCLA Law School.
Speaking before de Blasio signed the bill, Introduction 954-A, the actor Asia Kate Dillon, star of the Showtime program “Billions,” lamented how a doctor made a gender determination based on "a quick glance at my external genitalia,” which “marked me as ‘she,’ ‘her,’ ‘miss’ ‘ms.,’ even ‘ma'am' " — female or "f."
“The ability to change that f to an x as a way of eschewing the binary systems of male and female, and man and woman, is an essential step towards the breaking down of binary ideological systems created in order to justify and uphold social, political and economic oppression,” said Dillon, one of the first nonbinary people to star in a major American television show, who uses the pronouns “they” and “them.”
Dillon, who was born in Ithaca and not New York City, won’t be able to take advantage of the law.