The law is a changeable, dynamic, and ever-evolving concept. As our lives change, and the way we define “justice” becomes more refined, our legal guidelines continue to transform. This is why it’s so important to ensure you’re up to date with the latest versions of different laws in your state when you’re in the midst of or beginning to start a family law case.
If you’ve visited this website before, you’ll know I regularly use my blogs and articles as an opportunity to explain some of the laws which may be relevant to my clients. This sometimes involves offering an introduction to meaningful changes in certain legal guidelines.
Today, we’ll be looking at the “Gender Recognition Act”, a legal act which was signed into law officially on the 24th of June in 2021. This new Act has a significant impact on the legal processes surrounding the changing of a person’s name and gender marker.
What is the Gender Recognition Act?
The Gender Recognition Act, introduced in June 2021, is a new set of legal guidelines drafted for a time where people are beginning to develop better understandings of themselves as individual beings with unique identities. The Gender Recognition Act does a number of things in the family law landscape, including changing various aspects (the following link will bring you to a page describing the name change law before the Gender Recognition Act) of the “name change” process.
Thanks to this act, it is no longer a legal requirement for someone undergoing a name change to publish an announcement of their name change in a newspaper. Additionally, the standards for sealing the information about a person’s name change have been updated. The Gender Recognition Act further mandates public and private entities within the New York State to comply with a name change order and provides in-depth insights into the circumstances wherein the court of New York might require consent or notice for a name change.
The new legal guidelines dictate that in the state of New York, it is possible for an individual to petition for a “sex designation change” at the same time as their name change. The court can then issue an order permitting an individual to change their gender markers on official documentation. For instance, you can change your name to Miss, instead of Mr., or Mr. instead of Mrs.
The Gender Recognition Act dictates that no medical evidence or documentation of a person’s gender is required to petition for a change in sex designation. Rather, the petitioner needs only to highlight their gender identity, or provide a reason behind the change. In these cases of gender marker changes, the gender change will be automatically sealed to the public upon request of the applicant or upon the court’s own motion.
Changing Gender Designation in New York
For many, but not all documents in New York, changes to the Gender Marker were able to be accomplished without a court order, just on the basis of self-attestation.
This means the individual themselves in any situation can simply attest to their own gender designation and use the correct pronouns and markers accordingly. Birth certificates assigned by New York City and New York State can also be corrected on a self-attestation basis. However, this was already possible based on policy available at the administrative level (rather than the legislative level).
Previously, the ability to simply change gender designation on official documentation using self-attestation was not possible for the identification issued by the DMV, which required certification given by a physician. However, the Gender Recognition Act changed this. Provisions regarding the issuance of identification by the DMV will come into effect on June 24th, 2022. At that time then and thereafter, all elements of this new act will be in place.
The Gender Recognition Act explicitly outlines that court orders are not required for sex designation changes to identifying documents provided by the state of New York. However, there are some states which will still require a court order. For New York residents with a birth certificate from another state, it may be necessary to request a court order if the issuing state requires a court order for sex designation changes.
Defining Gender in the Eyes of the Law
The Gender Recognition Act established by the laws of New York also allows for individuals to use “gender neutral” defining elements in their identity, for birth certificates, and IDs issued by the DMV. As with other provisions relating to the documents issued by the DMV, this new gender neutral “X” designation will be available from June 24th, 2022, onward.
Notably, the Gender Recognition Act will also strengthen policies at the administrative level which have previously given parents the option to change their name on the birth certificate of their child, and designate their official title as parent, mother, or father. Further rights given by the Act also codifies policies for New York City and New York state when it comes to allowing minors the right to change their gender marker on birth certificates.
If you have more questions about the Gender Recognition Act and how it might influence any cases you might have upcoming in the legal world, you can contact our office for further guidance. You can contact us to get on our calendar for a free initial consultation of up to 30 minutes. You can also find further guidance on this website.