New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at One World Trade Center,...

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at One World Trade Center, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Credit: Corey Sipkin

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday signed the Gender Recognition Act into law, allowing nonbinary New Yorkers to use an "X" on official state documents for gender questions and provides additional protections for transgender, nonbinary, intersex and nonconforming people.

The act allows an "X" to be used instead of male or female choices on state driver’s licenses. Supporters say that will go a long way to changing or omitting gender designation on other official documents. The law also allows the use of "parent" instead of requiring the listing of the mother or father in birth certificates and allows current birth certificates to be changed.

Nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers also will be better protected from discrimination by making it easier to seal records of name changes and sex designation.

Before this law, name changes had to be published in the legal notices of newspapers. Advocates of the bill said created a way for people to be discriminated against or targeted for assault.

Cuomo said the law allows transgender, nonbinary, nonconforming and intersex New Yorkers "to identify their own gender, not by any government-designed form."

One of the State Legislature’s champions of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender New Yorkers said the law is a milestone in the effort.

"The Gender Recognition Act … will make life safer for trans individuals, reduce stigma, and affirm trans individuals' identities," said Assemb. Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). "Our work for equal rights is far from over, but we have proven that love is love, that trans lives matter, and that we are ready for the fights ahead."

Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said the law he co-sponsored will make it far easier for nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers to get a job, travel and go to school.

"It remains incredibly hard for many New Yorkers to get the identification documents they require," Hoylman said. "This bill will change that, making it easier for gender-nonconforming, transgender, nonbinary, and intersex New Yorkers — including minors — to get IDs that accurately reflect their identity."

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