26 March 2012

He Would Have Had An Easier Time In Georgia

The State of Georgia actually makes one aspect of life for transgender people easier than the City of New York does.

Yes, you read that right.

How did I learn that?  Experience.

You see, I was born in Georgia.  I spent only the first seven months of my life there and have only been there once, for a few hours, since then.

After I had my surgery, I had to send my birth certificate, a certified letter from Dr. Bowers and a certified copy of the court order for my name change, along with $35.  Within two weeks, a new birth certificate with my new name and true gender arrived in the mail.

Compare that with what happened to Louis Birney, right here in New York City. Around the same time I had my surgery, he had his.  He is nearly two decades older than I am.

He sent the letter from his surgeon to the City's Department of Health, which issues birth certificate.  (In Georgia, they're issued by the Department of Public Records.)  In response, the DoH demanded a psychiatric report and detailed surgical records in order to turn the "F" to an "M" on his birth certificate.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Paul G.Feinman has ruled that the Health Department should re-evaluate Birney's case.  The judge also questioned the Department's understanding of "the lives and experience of transgender people," noting that "It does not seem likely that an individual would go through all the required years of preparation for surgical transition, including psychotherapy, undergo major surgery, assume life under his or her new gender, and then decide it was all a mistake and change back."

Feinman faulted the Department had provided a "clear, straightforward list" of requirements for changing his birth certificate.  To their credit, the Georgia officials provided such a document for me.  So did the State Department before I applied for a new passport. 

It's about time for the city to catch up to Georgia and the State Department.  

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