The New York State Department of Health, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, just announced it has modernized its policy regarding updating gender markers on birth certificates. New York joins several other states, as well as the federal government, in modernizing birth certificate policies and removing burdensome and unnecessary barriers so that individuals can obtain a birth certificate that reflects who they are. Many New York-based organizations have been advocating for an updated policy over the last several years and NCTE is proud to have participated in these advocacy efforts. New York State’s previous policy, in place since the 1970s, required an individual to undergo sexual reassignment surgery as a condition to change the sex listed on their birth certificate. Now, the policy change allows individuals to update the sex on their birth certificate by submitting a letter from a licensed medical provider stating that the individual is undergoing appropriate clinical treatment. Read the rest of this entry »
As of today updated birth certificates are much more accessible and affordable for individuals born in the District of Columbia.
The new law removes outdated medical requirements and allows individuals to get an updated birth certificate without a court order. Individuals can now get new birth certificates issued with no indication that the gender and/or name was updated. Folks who were not born in DC can get a court order from the DC courts attesting to their gender change. Finally, under the new law individuals no longer need to publish their name change in a newspaper. The streamlined and accessible process created by this law makes DC a model modernized birth certificate policy.
As of today individuals can request updated birth certificates directly from the DC Department of Health Vital Records Division. To request a new birth certificate, an applicant must submit a signed gender designation request form along with a form signed by their healthcare provider stating that the applicant has had treatment appropriate for that individual for gender transition. The Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate with the designated gender and updated name if applicable.
Today the Washington, DC City Council modernized the policy making it clearer and easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificate.
In addition to dropping outdated and harmful surgical requirements to update ones’ records, DC’s new policy ensures transgender people will get a new birth certificate, instead of an amended one. It drops the requirement that transgender people get a court order as well, letting people go straight to the agency with a letter from a licensed health care provider.Additionally, the modernized policy allows non-residents of the District who were born in another state to get a court order from DC asking the vital records agency in their state of birth to update their birth certificate, if they need one. The new law in DC makes it a model for the rest of the country.
Last week, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling and intern Kye Campbell-Fox joined HuffPost Live to look at barriers facing transgender people and identification. Other panelists included the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Reina Gossett, transgender activist Patricia Harrington, and Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund attorney Noah Lewis. Panelists celebrated the recent Social Security Administration policy change dropping surgical requirements to update SSA records. However panelists also recognized that overwhelming hurdles still exist with securing drivers licenses and birth certificates that correctly reflect people’s gender identity.
Kye Campbell-Fox discussed costly barriers to updating his ID and how incongruent drivers license, birth certificate, and health care records led him to postpone emergency medical care. Mara Keisling discussed the complicated nature of advancing fairer ID policies state by state.
Watch the full segment here.
Concerns Remain Over Pat-Downs and Training
Photo: Adam Fagan
Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that they were moving one type of invasive body scanning machines out of major airports and placing them in smaller airports. The machine, which use backscatter technology, reveal the outline of a traveler’s body to airport security officers for screening. Over the last several years, the National Center for Transgender Equality has expressed concerns with the TSA about how the these machines may lead to “outing” and unnecessary pat-downs of transgender travelers.
Under Section 13405 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), you now have the right to ask your healthcare provider to withhold your medical information from being shared with your health insurance company if you pay for medical care with cash or other forms of payment in full. ARRA was an economic stimulus bill enacted by Congress.
This is incredibly important for transgender people who pay for transition-related medical care out-of-pocket, even if they have health insurance coverage. Many people do so because of health insurance companies’ transgender health exclusions, which are often times interpreted so broadly that even routine healthcare is denied.
The Coalition for Patient Privacy has a form on its website that can be used to instruct medical professionals to keep medical information private when medical care is paid in full by cash or other means of payment. It can be found at http://patientprivacyrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Private-Pay-Form.pdf.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that countless transgender people’s lives have been saved by books. Many of us first encountered others somewhat like ourselves in books painstakingly searched for in libraries, publications ordered through the mail – or more recently, through information located online. Decades ago, personal memoirs and obscure medical text furnished critical information and affirmation for isolated individuals. Recent years have seen an explosion of books on transgender topics – from personal essays to scientific treatises, historical tomes to manuals for helping professionals. These resources are invaluable for individuals who are exploring their gender identities, considering coming out to their loved ones, or contemplating transition.
One of the most crucial values of online resources – and increasingly of online books – for trans people is the ability to access them privately, from one’s own home. So it’s great news that Google is on the verge of expanding its online books services, Google Books, to make millions of books available for browsing and reading online. But Google’s lack of privacy protections for Google Books users should greatly concern trans people. As it stands, the company’s system design allows them to track what books users are accessing, what pages they’re interested in, and even what notes their making in the books’ electronic “margins.” Nothing is stopping Google from not only collecting and analyzing this information, but also sharing it with other businesses or government agencies (in the U.S. or abroad).
The ACLU of Northern California is running a public campaign to ask Google to commit to some basic privacy protections on Google Books. You can read more about their campaign, and send a message to Google, through the ACLU NC’s website.