Many everyday activities, like driving, buying alcohol, going to the doctor, and applying for a job require identity documents that mark your gender as either male or female. These everyday activities can easily become sites of violence, discrimination and criminalization when your ID does not match your identity or appearance.
Why is this policy win so important you might ask? Many trans individuals do not undergo surgery or hormonal treatments for a variety of reasons -- sometimes it’s the true expression of their gender identity and bodily desires, and sometimes it’s due to the incredibly high cost of treatment. Pair the high cost of surgery and hormone treatment with the high level of employment discrimination that trans and GNC people regularly experience (yes, even in NYC...) and you can understand why this new policy is an economic justice win.
Identity documents that reflect your gender identity and/or gender expression bring not only dignity to trans and GNC people, but it also lowers the amount of violence they experience within institutions like schools, prisons, detention centers, and hospitals. We also know that this and this violence disproportionately targets trans women and trans people of color. Many groups have been advocating for this change for several years, including the NYCLU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Third Wave’s grantee, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP).
There is no doubt that this is a significant step forward for the rights of trans and GNC New Yorkers. However, identity documents are not the root cause of violence against trans and GNC people which is why Third Wave has been a proud funder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project which works on issues such as transphobia, racism, misogyny healthcare, and community organizing. We also want to recognize that this policy win does not address the inadequacies of having only two legally recognized genders. We’re delighted to see that this year the Indian government has officially recognized a third gender and that over half a million people have already registered!
We hope that this gain also helps to support other campaigns that are fighting for trans justice in NY, such as the SRLP’s current mission to end the Medicaid ban on transgender healthcare. You can learn more about this campaign by clicking here.
Read more about the new gender marker policy here. This is exciting news, and we hope that it will inspire others to carry on with this important fight for gender justice!