The law is designed to be a changeable concept, ready to adapt to our evolving perceptions of justice, and fairness. As the world has continued to evolve in the last few years, and communities around the world have begun demanding further recognition and acceptance of a person’s individual identity, the law has had to adapt accordingly.
In 2021, a new set of regulations began to roll out in New York, regarding Gender Recognition and Name Changes. This update, known as the “Gender Recognition Act” is continuing to have an impact on the way people can legally identify themselves in the eyes of the law today.
On this blog, I’ve already discussed some of the changes implemented by the Gender Recognition Act, and what they might mean to name changing law. Today, I’ll be looking a little closer at the mechanism provided by the Gender Recognition Act for New Yorkers petitioning to have the courts change their official sex designation.
Updating Gender Identity in the Eyes of the Law
Increasingly, people around the world have grown increasingly confident in their ability to confirm the gender they identify with may not always be the same as the sex assigned to them at birth. Unfortunately, continuing to use the same identifiers for gender as they were given at birth can cause significant discomfort and emotional distress for some individuals. This is why it’s important for people in New York to have the opportunity to update their gender identity on their own or with the help of a family law attorney.
The Gender Recognition Act introduced in 2021 specifically provides a mechanism New Yorkers can petition the court for leave to adjust their sex designation. This petition can be made by an individual at the same time as a name change petition, or separately. In the case of minors, it’s also possible for a petition to change the sex designation of a child to be brought to the courts by a parent on the minor’s behalf.
According to the official guidelines of the Gender Recognition Act, the Civil Rights law in place up until 2021 was to be amended to add a new article, known as 6-A. This article provides the court shall issue an order allowing the petitioner to assume their proposed new sex designation and amend their sex identifier on requested identification documents using self-attestation.
This essentially means the individual requesting a change to their sex identifier does not need any medical documentation or other professional documents to support their request.
The Update to Self-Attestation for Gender Identity Changes
Self-attestation was already the basis used for amending the gender marker on a New York Sate or New York City certificate of birth before this update.
Starting from June 2022, it will also be the standard for changing information on DMV issued IDs. Up until this point, individuals looking to change their gender identification with the DMV will still need to submit medical testimony or certification form a profession attesting to their gender identity.
In comparison, moving ahead from June 2022, only an affidavit will be required from the petitioner attesting to their gender identity, or their reason for making the sex designation change. Provided the court is satisfied there is no reasonable objection to be given to the sex designation change, it will typically issue an order without further investigation.
There are circumstances in which the New York court may need to consider the circumstances of the petition more carefully. For instance, in the case of a request to change a minor’s sex identity, the court will need to be satisfied that making the change satisfies the best interests of the child.
The Article 6-A portion of the Gender Recognition Act make some significant changes to the law on the behalf of those attempting to access clear recognition of their identity. Aside from creating a mechanism allowing indivduals to obtain orders recognizing their gender identity, the document also explicitly provides no such order is required to amend an identity document issued within the state of New York.
New Yorkers born out of state, in locations where a court order may be required to alter a sex designation on a birth certificate, will now be able to get a court order that could allow them to change the birth certificate where they were born. If New Yorkers are already looking into a name change, they can petition for a change of sex designation at the same time in the same petition.
Leveraging the New Gender Recognition Act
The Gender Recognition Act makes important alterations to the laws held in New York for those seeking proper identification according to their gender identity. The new regulations help to ensure those seeking a name change can also access a sex designation change at the same time where necessary, with minimal need for extra documents or external testimony from medical professionals.
The Act also allows for the record of a proceeding changing an applicant’s name and gender designation can be sealed upon request from the applicant, or via the court’s own motion. Unlike in previous cases, there is no longer a need to find an open record may jeopardize the safety of an applicant before the record can be sealed.
If you’d like to learn more about name change law, you can contact my office to schedule your free initial consulation (up to the first half hour is free). You can learn more about family law and the new Gender Recognition Act by browsing the blogs published here and my website pages.