ALBANY, N.Y. -- New Yorkers will be able to designate their sex as “female,” “male” or “X” on driver's licenses and birth certificates under a law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Thursday.
Nonbinary New Yorkers sued in March arguing the state was discriminating against them by failing to provide the “X” option to indicate nonbinary, intersex, undesignated or other.
The new law will take effect in 180 days.
New Yorkers will no longer have to publish their name change, address, birth place and birth date in a newspaper, which the previous law requires within 60 days of a name change. They could also ask to seal sex designation papers because of the risk of violence or discrimination. And the law precludes courts from requiring the individual to notify federal immigration authorities about their sex designation change.
Bill supporters, including Democratic sponsors Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, said it's too hard for transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers to obtain accurate ID documents needed to access health care, employment, travel, housing and education.
Nearly two-thirds of transgender New Yorkers said none of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred in a 2015 survey of nearly 1,800 New York residents by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“The Gender Recognition Act won’t just allow people to access accurate identity documents,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “It will bring an end to the government-sanctioned stigma, red tape, and discrimination that has accompanied New Yorkers seeking identity documents that reflect who they are for far too long.”
The law would also allow space on a drivers' license that indicates if an applicant is a veteran.