Along with California, Washington, New Jersey, and Oregon, NYC is moving away from pre-determined gender identification at birth by adding an "X" option to birth certificates along with "male" and "female." This is a huge step towards greater equality and dignity, not only for transgender and nonconforming New Yorkers, but for the next generation, who will now have the ability to start their lives without a label to live up to. As The Source explains, "The option could be used by parents of intersex children or by parents who want their child to be able to choose a gender at a later date," as well.
As per NBC News, "The New York City Council and Board of Health voted on Wednesday (9-12-18) to include a third gender category, 'X,' on birth certificates starting Jan. 1, 2019. Furthermore, the legislation will discontinue the need for a doctor's note or health care provider's affidavit to change one's gender marker." The bill was adopted by a 41-6 vote. This means people can also update their existing birth certificate to reflect their identity retroactively.
The proposal for this change was presented in June 2018 by Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Johnson stated, "This groundbreaking legislation will make New York birth certificates more inclusive for all and will send a powerful signal to the world that New York City government works for everyone."
Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett added, "By allowing self-attestation and 'X,' the Health Department and City Council are reaffirming our commitment to the self-determination of the transgender and gender nonconforming community. We know that being able to live your authentic gender and gender expression is critical to physical and mental health. Now more than ever, we must ensure that all people can live their best and healthiest lives."
Along with California, Washington, New Jersey, and Oregon who are already on board with the "X" option for birth certificates, additional states are making strides in this direction too. As NBC News reports, "Maine, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., currently enable residents to opt for a nonbinary gender marker on their driver's license, and California will join them starting in January." Other states have gender-change laws in place, most only for male-to-female (and vice versa) updates. For a state-by-state listing, see the Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project's report.
"Today is a historic day for New York in its role as a worldwide champion for inclusivity and equality," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told NBC News. Will the remainder of the country follow in the Big Apple's footsteps? From the looks of things thus far, change is contagious.