New Yorkers will soon be able to select a third gender on their birth certificates, after new legislation was passed last week.
The legislation, which is due to come into effect from 1 January 2019, is aimed at adults who don’t identify as either male or female, or those who would prefer not to be categorised by gender at all.
Those who want to change their gender to “X” will be allowed to do so without a doctor’s sign off. The bill was passed last Wednesday and the city’s board of health also signed off on the new rules.
The move makes New York one of the only US cities where people can identify as being gender non-binary, with California and Washington state having previously made similar moves.
The “X” designation is also expected to be used for babies who are born intersex.
Corey Johnson, New York city council speaker, told the Guardian that there are plenty of New Yorkers who “don’t identify as either male or female.”
“When you don’t have something as basic and essential as a birth certificate that identifies you as who you really are, it’s a problem,” he said.
He also said that the move was sending an important message of acceptance to trans and non-binary people, particularly as there has been a spike in violence against the community.
He also pointed out that trans and non-binary people can encounter difficulties with a number of tasks that require identification, and hopes that the new legislation will make those tasks easier.
The city was previously praised by trans people after a new rule in 2014, which was enacted in 2015, made it easier for them to change their gender identity on their birth certificates.
Hundreds of trans New Yorkers legally changed their gender after the rule change, however this new legislation is expected to make it even easier again for city residents to change their gender.
However, some LGBT+ New Yorkers were disappointed earlier this week when Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon failed to secure the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York.
If elected, Nixon would have been New York’s first openly gay governor.