New York City has added a third gender category of X to its birth certificates, making it the fifth jurisdiction to do so after California, Oregon, Washington state and New Jersey.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the provision into a law on Tuesday, NBC News reported, saying it gives New Yorkers the freedom to “tell the government who they are and not the other way around.”
“Imagine if you were told you were something that you did not consider yourself to be,” de Blasio said.
The mayor had a message for transgender New Yorkers.
“You be you. Live your truth,” he said. “And know that New York City will have your back.”
Transgender advocates, insisting strict male and female categories are a form of discrimination, are pressing for similar changes on other government documents.
The New York City law allows allows people to change the designation they were given at birth with only a personal affidavit.
“This change may seem small but it is monumental,” transgender activist Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker told NBC News.
Walker, who took part in the signing ceremony, said transgender people face anxiety over their identification.
“Imagine having to out yourself over and over and over again to strangers,” Walker said. “Future generations will not have to suffer.”
Already, a 2014 law allows transgender people in New York City to easily change the gender on their birth certificates from male to female or vice versa without first having to go through surgery and a name change.
NBC pointed out, however, that the issue of recognizing the X designation in other states has yet to be tested in courts.
Federal documents, such as U.S. passports, have only male and female designations and require a person to have received clinical treatment before changing a gender designation.
A federal court in Denver, NBC noted, ruled in September that the State Department cannot deny a gender-neutral passport to an “intersex” person.